So, this morning, I tweeted the following quip:

Immediately thereafter, @GrimestTrigger tweeted this post that he'd written on his blog, Hints And Hunches.

I've read a lot of Ayn Rand debunkers in my time, many of them quite good, but many others grossly overwrought with tortured liberal prose trying to impress the reader with a smug condescension toward all those wayward 9th graders who are still in impressed by the objectivist queen of mean.

Grimest has avoided all of that, yet still nailed the essence of the fallacies in her world view, which has transcended its meager literary beginnings by poking a big stick in the eye of her linchpin character, John Galt, from her annoyingly popular novel, "Atlas Shrugged."  Over the past 50 years, with no small help from conservative book buying clubs and foundations trying to force her convenient beliefs on an intellectually sloppy planet, Shrugged, and her other greedy epistles, like The Fountainhead, have mushroomed into a religion of rancorous rhetoric that underpins that culture of selfishness that is subsuming America's politics, and perhaps the very future of our planet as well. 

Please show it every 9th grader you know, and everyone still thinking like one. It's another example of the kinds of primers I feel that liberals must make a conscious effort to share more of as widely as possible. It took conservatives half a century to teach Americans to think like they do, with no small help from false prophets like Ayn Rand.  It will take us at least that long to help teach a more just and sustainable world view for the human race to live by.

Note: I've been collecting these kinds of works,and plan to share them very soon in an interesting new way. If you have some Rand debunkers or interesting essays about her works or influence, please share them in the comments and I will consider them for possible inclusion in my compendium when it drops!
 

The Myth of John Galt

by Patrick Doyle (@GrimestTrigger)


“We never think entirely alone: we think in company, in a vast collaboration; we work with the workers of the past and of the present. [Across] the whole intellectual world, each one finds in those about him the initiation, help, verification, [and] encouragement that he needs”

Antoine Sertillanges, La vie intellectuelle, 1920
 
 
No one knows who it was that first discovered iron, but legend has it that a man named Magnes who lived in an area of Greece called Magnesia was the first to notice the phenomena of magnetism. His dog was probably named ‘Maggie’.
 
Less legendary are the writings of Lucretius and Pliny the Elder[i]. Later, it was Hans Oersted who showed that magnetism was related to electricity, and it was left to Maxwell to codify the phenomena and establish the basis for the electromagnetic theory.
 
From there, it was a whole cast of actors, over many years, each making their own contribution, that lead to the innovation of the electric motor[ii]. John Galt, hero of Ayn Rand’s second-rate work of fiction, Atlas Shrugged, ‘took’ these ideas and incorporated them into his ‘static motor’.
 
The same dynamic occurred with respect to machine bearings, without which any motor would be worthless.
 
Henry Timken is credited with the invention of the roller bearing, and was awarded patent number 606635 by the United States patent office[iii]. But roller bearings were actually invented thousands of years before Timken was even a twinkle in his mother’s eyes.
 
The first use of roller bearings was by the ancient Egyptians, to build the pyramids. And even they couldn't’t have made use of the idea without the invention of trees, and there’s no consensus who invented them.
 
One can now extrapolate this theme of continuity to the invention of Reardenite.
 
The point of all this is that no one stands alone in space and time, no solitary figure changes the course of history. And, when there is a need, someone will step in to fill that need.
 
Rand, who claims to espouse values that can only be derived through logic and observation, fails to notice the continuity of the innovative dynamic: one person improves upon another’s work; one person sees the possibilities that others overlook, or one person combines the work of several others and ends up with an entirely new product.
 
In each case, as it is in reality, one adds to what’s already there, made possible only because that previous person did the same thing. Collectively (that word!) this is called history, which is a function of reality, unlike Galt, which is not.
 
None of this would matter if not for the many acolytes of this fantasy. Too many of our current policy makers and influencer's read the silliness that is Atlas Shrugged (usually while at a young age, more susceptible flights of fancy) and decided that she’s right. And worse. Among many of Ayn’s acolytes are those who cherry-pick aspects of her worldview, discarding the very threads of logic that would otherwise make it whole. 
 
In the same way that the flu spreads from one person to another, so has Rand’s self-defeating philosophy spread, and the result is that today we have many people in our society who fancy themselves as clones of Galt, who espouse her philosophy.
 
Paul Ryan fits this bill. This man is in a position to affect every person in the country, yet demonstrates no abilities that would legitimately place him there. Sure, he’s graduated college, but he parasitically used his father’s Social Security benefits to so. And, true, he has managed to get himself elected to congress. So did Gopher, from The Love Boat. So, no bragging allowed.
 
The personal independence that the philosophy embraces would not be possible without the sacrifices and hard work of those who came before, in many cases the sacrifice of others was a product of altruism, a despised activity in her constructed universe.
 
Never mind that many of these same people have never accomplished anything on their own, at the time the book was read by them, and therefore had no real-life experience to compare the fiction to. For someone such as Ayn Rand, who repudiates the philosophy she’s invented through the sheer implausibility of the notion of the ‘independent man’, to inspire others to a pretended state of independence, the irony of it all is invisible and therefore unreal.
 
Just like John Galt.

The Original Text 

Related

 

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to every one who is striking at the root."
Henry David Thoreau

Purpose

This document is meant to provide an overview and reference links concerning "The Lewis Powell Memoradum." Few documents in American history have had its kind of root influence over contemporary everyday American lives, and I felt there should be one document on the web that makes it easier to find and peruse some of the better discussion and commentary about it, and later on, when I can find the time, perhaps the fallout and carnage that has resulted from it, as well. Since I couldn't find one, I created this one.  As a result, with one single link (shoqvalue.com/powellmemo), you can now educate others about this legendary and ruinous conservative manifesto more easily. I hope you will.

Introduction

The Powell Memo At A Glance (72 seconds of a history that may take at least 72 years to undo.)

Probably no other document has shaped the  contemporary American political landscape quite like the now infamous memorandum from Lewis F. Powell, now widely referred to as "The Powell Memoradum."  It was a call-to-arms for American corporations that was written by a future U.S. Supreme Court justice, to his neighbor working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It would summon them to enjoin a battle against a creeping liberalism and its infernal regulations and philosophies that threatened their status, profits, and corporate conversative sensibilities, if not their very existence.

The Powell Memo — sometimes called The Powell Manifesto — has directly and indirectly led to the rise of conservative think tanks, groups, and far-right media organizations and personalities that have over the past 40+ years collectively remade American democracy in an image more suitable to a radical conservative's world view.  When you see or hear those attractive and skilled pundits spouting conservative dogma on TV or radio, you can thank the Powell Memo.  It's a vital document to understand, and one that in my view still needs a well organized push-back from the American Left.

The memo has served to empower thousands of conservative pundits, broadcasters, educators and activists in a polemical language and set of strategies that have been used to bring American democracy to the hyper-partisan, uber-gridlocked dysfunctionalism that paralyzes it to this day. If you love our 21st century plutocracracy, so dominated by souless billionaires like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess, Phillip Anschutz, and the tangled web of malevalent organizations and political machinations which they have spawned, then you'll just love the Powell Memo. With their money and influence, the legacy of the Powell memo has spawned organizations like Cato Insitute, Heritage FoundationAmerican Enterprise Institute, Media Research Center, Competitive Research Institute, Family Research Council, Heartland Institiute, and perhaps the most significant of them all, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

These and countless other right wing organizations and their operatives and propaganda are routinely paraded before the American public every day on Fox News CNN, and other mainstream media outlets. The influence and policy prescriptions of these entities has infested the American political landscape like a virulent cancer, affecting everything from voting rights, to business regulations, to energy and climage change legislation, and nearly every corporate, social, or cultural issue between and among them.  And despite decades or knowing all of this, the American left remains largely powerless to offset this influence with any voter and corporate education efforts of its own.

Powell Memo Resources

The Powell Memo is no secret.  There are countless articles about it, and references to it that can be found all over the Internet. But there are also a lot of bad ones.  So I thought I would create a little knowledge hub to keep track of the better ones, and make it easier for people to pass them on their coworkers, friends and family.  Each has some little fact or dimension that the other lacks, so I advise reading all of them if you really want to be fluent when discussing this dangerous screed and the wreckage that it has left behind. Please share them widely.

Backgrounders on the Memorandum

Commentary On Specifics Of The Memo

Research And Related Resources

Related Works

Glenn Greenwald's daily fixation about the perils and abuses of executive power have always been widely supported and promoted by the Cato Institute, the libertarian "think tank" founded by the now infamous right-wing industrialists known now as simply "The Koch Brothers." Glenn's latest number one fan on Twitter is Cato's (and Reason Magazine's) Julian Sanchez (@normative). The two of them have recently been the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb of the NSA/Snowden outrage machine, gleefully trading-off with and echoing each other's efforts to keep the topics of the NSA, Ed Snowden and Bradley Manning in the forefront of the media's attention span.  And the Kochs just couldn't be happier.

This paragraph will help you understand why:

From:  The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right by Lee Fang

Perhaps the most insidious strategy of the Koch brothers has been their ability to co-opt social liberals. The Cato Institute is known for its promotion of gay marriage and support for immigrant rights. In fact, a small number of libertarian fronts that receive funding from Koch charitable foundations do not toe the orthodox conservative line when it comes to issues like evolution or even drug policy. But these otherwise laudable causes are mostly a ruse. While the Koch brothers fund seemingly reasonable social libertarians with one hand, they finance a set of vicious social conservatives with the other. Peggy Venable, a longtime Koch operative, helped mastermind the crusade to rewrite the history textbooks in Texas to promote antigay bigots and to censor references to immigrant civil rights leaders like Cesar Chavez.6 Americans for Prosperity spent considerable resources promoting Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce and Colorado’s Tom Tancredo, two of the leading anti-immigrant politicians in America. Koch also gives heavily to antigay groups like the Heritage Foundation. In fact, Charles attends meetings of the Council for National Policy, the nation’s largest meeting group for far right social conservative donors, and in a speech posted on the group’s website, pledged an “alliance” with the social right to change American society. Essentially, Koch will fund both conservatives and liberals when it comes to social policy. Because for them, social initiatives are more often a Trojan horse for imposing their radical economic views.

[bold emphasis added]

Like most of the Right's calculated maneuverings, organizations like Cato are fond of any effort that attacks any institution of power which far right authoritarians like the Koch's don't now control. For decades, they have paid for an orchestrated effort to destroy the American people's respect for goverment, and thus, any authority that can pass social legislation aimed at greater wealth equality and social justice, which are both outcomes vehemently opposed by the Kochs and their plutocratic brethren. It is not an accident that Progressive civil libertarians and socially-regressive Ron and Rand Paul supporters have come together to noisily protest the evils of the "surveillance state," as Greenwald so lovingly refers to it. It's a strategy long in coming.

I urge you to read Lee Fang's book and understand just how systemic the plutocratic influence has become in America, and why it is leading to what George Packer calls "The Great Unwinding" of the American way of life. It is not that the strident voices like Glenn Greenwald's are not discussing matters important to liberals. They are. After all, Progressives—or at least, those claiming to be progressives—are his market and drive his income. But it is the way they are discussed that is working at cross-purposes with the larger goals of the American left. They rely on a ginned-up outrage directed mostly at mere tokens of authority, such as black Presidents like Barack Obama, and not at the true causes of our problems: the plutocratic elites like the Koch's who are only too happy to promote and pay for this distracting, hyperbolic antipathy toward elected representation and executive power. 

Does Glenn Greenwald openly work with The Cato Institute? No. At least not from any evidence I've seen.  But he has been paid to write for them in the past, and they eagerly stoke the outrage he so easily manifests with his daily writing. Outrage which an army of Julian Sanchez cohorts can get behind and push, helping to steer it in ways more directly in-line with Cato's ultimate goal of dismantling the Progressive agenda on behalf the Kochs and their many right wing friends in the energy, finance, cattle, and agricultural industries.

It is an informal convergence of interests that makes Greenwald their proverbial useful idiot who helps to drive the narratives that they want to see driven. Just as far and as fast as he can drive them.  And since he creates more disaffected progressives with every article he writes; people who often shriek that they are "done with voting","done with democrats," and "done with false hopes and promises," he is helping to drive the American Left right over a cliff and straight into the waiting arms of the quasi-fascist, quasi-theocratic plutocratic elites like the Koch family. The very forces of darkness who have spent at least 75 years trying to become the true fascist authoritarians that Greenwald professes to fear. Revealingly, he almost never actually writes about those fears, choosing instead to write passionately in favor of things like the Citizens United ruling on electioneering, which actually serve to stoke the causes of those fears. Handsomely.

If America, as we once knew it is to survive, the agenda of the Kochs and their elite partners must be stopped. But getting outraged at the latest Glenn Greenwald trope won't do that.  It will only add more fuel to the raging inferno of hate and disillusionment which will ultimately assists the ultra-far right with their ambition to seize total control of the United States. As articles like this demonstrate, they're already almost there. 

For better or worse, and regardless of their motivations or tactics, Greenwald and the Washington Post have helped to bring the NSA security debate to the front of the public discussion.  But now more mainstream journalists, advocates, and elected officials have to step-up and translate all this legitimate concern, and yes, even outrage into effective public policy prescription and legislation that can balance the security vs. liberty scale in a way that most Americans can support. That is an outcome that the Kochs are hoping Greenwald and friends will impede by promoting so much rage, distrust and rancor that only a dysfunctional national apathy remains. And again, we're nearly there.

I feel this entire NSA issue is far to complicated to be solved by any knee-jerk outrage about "civil liberties" and "respecting the fourth amendment."  It's just one more intricate problem that only responsible governance can address. A governance deriving its power from the consent of the governed. A governance with a real and potent authority that Libertarian industrialists, and the pseudo-Libertarian actors like Greenwald simply detest.

Update#1

Now that he's been shamefully "Pulitzer-recognized" for his famously shoddy work on the Snowden/NSA stories, Greenwald is less and less ashamed of demonstrating his frequent willingness to support the Koch cabal's transparent efforts to suck in the gullible on the left.  Here's the latest example: 
 


 

And not to be outdone, Glenn's frequent partner in these things, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has dropped any and all pretense of caring about any issue but  their hyperbolic hysteria over the "surveillance state." Here, we see their "senior activist" essentially providing an endorsement of the Tea Party because of the empty Liberty Now! rhetoric that EFF helped them refine over the past year.  They suggest not the slightest concern for the well tread fact that Koch/Cato and the Teaparty often use this simplistic civil liberties dogma in precisely the same way that conservatives have always used race*: to seduce voters motivated by narrowly focused, single issue, dogwhistle politics.
 


 

I will let Bob Cesca from the Daily Banter explain this farce to you:

"It’s difficult to find a more ridiculous whitewashing of the tea party outside of the tea party itself. The legacy of the founders? Wow. First of all, the tea party doesn’t even understand the actual Boston Tea Party, much less the intent of the founders. Yet the heretofore respected EFF has bedazzled the tea party with the gilded legacy of the almighty founders. As for the leaders the tea party has elected, is there one — just one — who’s not completely nuts or totally unqualified for the post?"

Here's Bob's entire post. Don't miss it ? Electronic Frontier Foundation Praises the Tea Party, FreedomWorks and Birther Larry Klayman

* Note: On using race and similarly incendiary issues to hang entire political strategies upon, Brian Beutler of the New Republic wrote a great paragraph today in his piece, The Right's Racial Blinders What really explains the politics of the Obama era.  The entire piece is excellent, but this is the money graf for my purposes:
 

See how it works?  The plutocracy will use race, civil liberties, environment, or any other issue they can that will—or might—lure gullible populations into their sphere of influence. They will achieve their selfish agenda by any means necessary.   But then, the same is largely  true of Greenwald. He hung his career on civil liberties, and always had libertarian leanings (to put it nicely) which never much cared for progressive politics or helping progressive causes.  As a result, ginning-up the importance of Koch projects, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, the Teaparty, or any other tool that supports or extends his hyperbolic surveillance state narrative seems a perfectly rational thing for him to do. 

But as more and more journalists and pundits discover him, post-Pulitzer, and finally-tune into his past and tactics, I wonder if he will be so cavalier about being this revealing of himself in the future. It was one thing when he was a nobody, and Tim Jacob Wise wrote a piece like this:

Of Broken Clocks, Presidential Candidates, and the Confusion of Certain White Liberals

But it will be quite another now that he's a Pulitzer Prize contributing author, Glenn Greenwald.

Stay tuned.

Update #2

A far more intellectual dissection of this very problem has just been published. I urge you to read: Cyberlibertarians’ Digital Deletion of the Left

Related

When computers are involved, otherwise brilliant leftists who carefully examine the political commitments of most everyone they side with suddenly throw their lot in with libertarians — even when those libertarians explicitly disavow Left principles in their work.

"Few people have done more in-depth research, reporting, and writing on the post-Obama conservative movement than Lee Fang. The Machine goes beyond the headlines and explores exactly how this ideological movement operates."
—Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter, The Huffington Post

After the 2008 and 2012 elections, we all thought the country was shifting toward liberal values. The right wing saw it too, so they warmed up their machine built over 30 years, stretching from Capitol Hill to local school boards. Think tanks and lobby houses, new media and old, consultants and old-time party hacks all fell into line to rev up The Machine against the newly-elected moderate Democrat named Barack Obama.

Yes, Hillary Clinton, there was and still is a vast right wing conspiracy. Luckily for us, Lee Fang has written the story of the conspiracy in the Clinton years and following right up to the 2012 election. Names, dates, and secret meetings are all in one compact book, where Lee's narrative proves what we all know: A small handful of billionaires and corporations drive politicians, the news, and day-to-day political discourse in this country.

 

And the graphic Greenwald wants you to look at is a fake — an altered version of a Think Progress graphic showing Norwegian anti-Muslim terrorist Anders Breivik’s citations of US bloggers in his “manifesto.” The altered graphic, to which they added my name in a very deceptive manner, with a bright green bar to make sure you didn’t miss it:

I have just read for the fourth time, Sara Robinson's important 2012 essay entitled, "Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America"

It's not long, and one of those reads which I think every 10th grader should be forced to consume, and then be quizzed on again and again until the foundational concepts are ingrained and at least partially understood.  Until such understandings are embedded in each generation's mindshare, each will too easily fall victim to the same forces of plantation economy, aristocracy, and other rank manifestations of predatory capitalism that have soiled the one before.  Free markets have done much for civilization. But only by making them a little less free are we going to be able to constrain their raging excesses and the humanistic failures that have resulted from them.

Below are the last few paragraphs of Sara's post. They make for a tidy list of some of the greater threats posed by this centuries old culture war of inbred and nouveau-greed lording over historically disadvantaged populations of compliant serfs. It's a war threatening not just America, but the entire planetary ecosystem of our delicate species.

 

It's not an overstatement to say that we're now living in Plantation America. As Lind points out: to the horror of his Yankee father, George W. Bush proceeded to run the country exactly like Woodard's description of a Barbadian slavelord. And Barack Obama has done almost nothing to roll this victory back.

We're now living in an America where rampant inequality is accepted, and even celebrated.

Torture and extrajudicial killing have been reinstated, with no due process required.

The wealthy and powerful are free to abuse employees, break laws, destroy the commons, and crash the economy — without ever being held to account.

The rich flaunt their ostentatious wealth without even the pretense of humility, modesty, generosity, or gratitude.

The military — always a Southern-dominated institution — sucks down 60% of our federal discretionary spending, and is undergoing a rapid evangelical takeover as well.

Our police are being given paramilitary training and powers that are completely out of line with their duty to serve and protect, but much more in keeping with a mission to subdue and suppress. Even liberal cities like Seattle are now home to the kind of local justice that used to be the hallmark of small-town Alabama sheriffs.

Segregation is increasing everywhere. The rights of women and people of color are under assault. Violence against leaders who agitate for progressive change is up. Racist organizations are undergoing a renaissance nationwide.

We are withdrawing government investments in public education, libraries, infrastructure, health care, and technological innovation — in many areas, to the point where we are falling behind the standards that prevail in every other developed country.

Elites who dare to argue for increased investment in the common good, and believe that we should lay the groundwork for a better future, are regarded as not just silly and soft-headed, but also inviting underclass revolt. The Yankees thought that government's job was to better the lot of the lower classes. The Southern aristocrats know that its real purpose is to deprive them of all possible means of rising up against their betters.

The rich are different now because the elites who spent four centuries sucking the South dry and turning it into an economic and political backwater have now vanquished the more forward-thinking, democratic Northern elites. Their attitudes towards freedom, authority, community, government, and the social contract aren't just confined to the country clubs of the Gulf Coast; they can now be found on the ground from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Wall Street. And because of that quiet coup, the entire US is now turning into the global equivalent of a Deep South state.

As long as America runs according to the rules of Southern politics, economics and culture, we're no longer free citizens exercising our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we've always understood them. Instead, we're being treated like serfs on Massa's plantation — and increasingly, we're being granted our liberties only at Massa's pleasure. Welcome to Plantation America.

How do we even begin to unmask and redress these crises of a modernist empire spiraling out of control? Will it be fixed  by carping on the marginal excesses of it, as seen in the issues of drones, national detention controversies and bank bailouts? Or will it be by finding new leadership and policy precepts that replace the ones which are clearly failing to provide for the common good? Ones not motivated by wealth accumulation or careerist ambitions, but rather by a sincere desire to advance our species toward its collective survival and some kind of satisfying intellectual and cultural status quo that endures long enough to reward successive generations without falling victim to them.

I have my ideas for getting there. I am sure you have yours. It's time we started to share them together, and out loud, in hopes of finding a brighter future before we're denied access to one by a dark and aggressively resurgent past. 

Due to my recent cancer surgery, I have lost any natural chance of having my own biological children. But I hope I have at least a few good years left where I might be able to do something to help all the other children on this rotating sphere of cosmic debris we're all traveling on.  We all get only a very brief span of years to do whatever good it is that we're going to do with them. We should probably get started.

Read the entire post. Then tweet me your thoughts.

Here are three articles I've ready in the past 24 hours that each sum up our "Republican Party Problem" in differents ways.  The first and last are brief. The one in the middle is deeper, but a crucial read.  All of them taken together provide a damn good panoramic view of the landscape of Republican crazy.  And I don't call it that to mock it. I call it that because we need to fear it. I am not one to take comfort in this mess we're in. Desperate animals do desperate things, and the animals who fund these lunatics are very rich, very powerful, and very willing to say and do anything to keep it that way. They have the money to adapt and survive. We cannot let a great Obama win delude us into thinking a war has been won. It was merely a battle.

Leonard Pitts On What They Do That Is So Crazy

The GOP has become it's own worse enemy —  So while the grownups in the party may be reading the writing on the demographic wall and believe it calls on them to abandon extremism, there is every reason to believe the rest of the party will think that writing requires them to double down on it instead. Read

Frank Rich On Why What They Do Is So Crazy

Fantasyland — Daniel Patrick Moynihan might be surprised to learn that he is now remembered most for his oft-repeated maxim that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Yet today most Americans do see themselves as entitled to their own facts, with one of our two major political parties setting a powerful example. For all the hand-wringing about Washington’s chronic dysfunction and lack of bipartisanship, it may be the wholesale denial of reality by the opposition and its fellow travelers that is the biggest obstacle to our country moving forward under a much-empowered Barack Obama in his second term. If truth can’t command a mandate, no one can.  Read

Dan Hodges On What Keeps All The Crazy Going

Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party — As we saw with Benghazi, rather than try to penetrate mainstream media outlets, there was a clear tendency for Romney advisers to do easy "hand-offs" to Fox on issues they wanted up and running. It reminded me of when we in the Labour Party used to just drop our best material in the laps of the Mirror; they would run it big, and we’d think we were talking to the whole country. In fact, we were talking almost entirely to our own supporters. Read
 

In case you missed it, Matt Osborne has blown the remaining testicles clear off the National Blogger's Club over at Crooks & Liars.  Whatever has been raining down in Wingnutville all week, it sure ain't men:

 

Ali Akbar, now President of the National Bloggers Club, is one of the conservative blogosphere's most infamous characters. He began his campaign of notoriety with a crime spree in 2006, blazing a six-year trail of fraud. That's him up there, in the mug shots. Akbar's story is as improbable as the Tea Party movement itself, and a lesson on the privileges of power in the age of Citizens United. How did a petty crook rise to these heights in such a short time? Why does he enjoy such influential connections today?

We ask these questions because we see an emerging bipartisan consensus that Akbar's National Bloggers Club (NBC) is entirely notional. Akbar has never applied to the IRS for 501(c)3 status – despite having claimed as much on the NBC Facebook page. While the NBC requires an unusual amount of personal information from donors, they do not offer those donors an EIN (Employer ID Number) to make their contributions tax deductible.

Read the story

 

 

 

This morning, I tweeted this disturbing and sometimes insightful, but ultimately maddening, guilt-ridden sanctimony dressed up as constructive criticism in  op-ed by Steve Almond in the NYTimes. Wanting to think more about it, the best I could say at the time was this tweet:

RT ‏@Shoq: I've been scolded for saying we mock rather than advance ideas. Still, this a mea culpa from a liberal Fox watcher j.mp/KXyDQR
I shared it with my good friend, Joy-Ann Reid (@theReidReport), Managing Editor at TheGrio.com, and a Miami Herald columnist. As usual, within hours, she'd let loose with blistering critique that captured much of what irked me when I read Almond's piece the first time. You can read her post here. 

On any given day, I agree with almost everything Joy says, and this day was no different, for the most part. But I did have some concerns about dismissing the entirety of Almond's essay too casually, feeling that as is often the case, that all elusive truth may lie somewhere between two poles.  So I wrote this to Joy in response, and felt I'd blog it. Just because I can.

 

Thank you joy,

You have told the other side I've been wrestling with so much better than I could.  But I am still torn because while my reaction this morning was just like yours (and I tweeted about it), after reading it again, I am still plagued by the nagging sense that he (and Karoli) are also more than partly right; that we do give them too all far much attention in a meta sense. While, as you point out, there are damn good reasons do that, it's become such a reactionary passion on the left, that it empowers all the lefty demagogues (those self-flagellating masters of the liberal universe), while generally sucking all the energy from the progressive room. There's just not too much remaining for the political process (which serves the status quo nicely). I see this progressive anger-fatigue every day, and it's really worrying me. I see it worrying others, too. Obama can lose, and lose convincingly. And the Senate may go with him.  We all know this. And I think all the anger-merchandising, so well played by the corporate media (and the liberal and conservative industrial complexes, as well), are to a large degree distracting us from really focusing on shaping messages and getting out that vital progressive congressional and presidential vote, without which, we're probably just doomed.

But what the writer doesn't get right at all (besides the ridiculous title) is that he has no real end game; he never discusses where all that surplus attention that he wants to conserve would go if recovered. He hints at it, but so minimally, that he's implying that just turning the other ear and merely showing up to vote will mitigate the damage that a highly cultivated incivility is now doing to us.  It won't. All the polite rhetorical salon parties he imagines won't make the smallest dent in the Koch/Fox audience axis, and they still vote far more reliably than we do.

No, as you point out, ignoring and negotiating just doesn't work. We have to defund, deflect, or somehow denude their omnipotence; strip it from our politics and culture with a combination of strategies that ignore the more cynical of the noisy megaphones, while pushing back effectively against the most influential of them, denying them social and financial currency where possible In the absence of bigger plans, I am going to keep on with efforts like StopRush, which may yet show that market forces can greatly impact how these influencers really operate on and against all of us.

It's all I can do… for now.

 

Related

 

 

 

It's a little confusing, who wrote what in this post, but I kind of enjoy that tension between the academic analysis of our options, and Sara Robinson's spin on them.  At least I think they are her spin on them.  For me, the takeaways are all toward the end, where she gets to the crux of the matter: do we wait (for or push for) revolution, or nurture an organic evolution toward a new, sustainable economic model. I favor the latter, but I can sure as hell understand the emotions of those who think the former is almost inevitable.  Evolution takes time. We may be running out of that.

Changing the status quo is always a bitch. It just doesn't want to change because we need or want it to. It protects itself, and the people who benefit from it most. The include such people as the Koch brothers, every working hedge fund manager, and the many thousands of rich and aspiring people who work for them and their ilk, directly or indirectly.

All of the above discussions are also being informed by an evolving understanding of how transformative social change happens.

As long as most people assume that market capitalism is sustainable,  they'll focus on reforming it — cleaning it up around the edges, rewriting regulations, making it work in the public interest, and so on. Many Americans, in fact, still hope that this is all it will take– that technology, political reform and market forces, working in some magic combination, will be enough to save us from ourselves.

Robinson then reminds us here that Revolutions are messy, and they have consequences:

Others among us are holding out for a full-on revolution that overthrows the whole system in one massive push, clearing the way for something entirely new. Revolutions are tricky, though: historically, a lot of them have gone sideways when the revolutionaries couldn't hang on through the chaotic aftermath of what they'd wrought. They often get swept away by some other force that's better organized, and thus better equipped to step in and take over. Anything can happen in the wake of a revolution, and all too often, it's not the thing you hoped for.

The alternative ot revolution is evolution. But can people who still think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church really support anything with that word in it?  Wait…do those people even matter? Yeah, they do. At least until we vote in enough sane politicians who marginalize them by no longer pandering to them, as they have for the past 40 years.

Gar Alperovitz offers "evolutionary reconstruction" as a better alternative to either reform or revolution. Visionaries from Gandhi to Buckminster Fuller have agreed with him. This model focuses our change energy on building new parallel institutions that will, in time, supplant the old ones. Don't fight the existing system, this strategy argues. Instead, just sidestep it entirely and create a new one. As the old system collapses under its own decay, yours will gradually fill in the gaps until it becomes the new dominant paradigm.

My favorite part, where Robinson points out that evolution has already worked. It was just evolved by the wrong people, and for the wrong reasons:

America's right wing has used this model very successfully to take control of our culture over the past 40 years. Starting in the 1970s, they invested in a wide range of parallel education systems, media outlets, professional organizations, government watchdog groups, and so on. These groups groomed a new generation of leaders, while also developing the intellectual, policy and cultural basis for the change they wanted to create. As time passed, they took advantage of opportunities to insert people and ideas from these alternative institutions into the mainstream ones. The result was that 90 percent of the conservative revolution took place almost entirely under the radar of most Americans. One day, we simply looked up to find them in charge of everything that mattered.

 Read the entire post

Related

The Rise of the New Economy Movement, Gar Arperovitz 

 

It’s time to restore corporate power to the people by blasting through the myths about how corporations should be run, and for whom.

This article, by an economist who specializes in corporate wealth, with two talented journalists sitting-in, absolutely destroys one of the most enduring and rapacious myths to be found anywhere: that public corporations are market-driven examples of "free enterprise" at work.

I was planning on doing a kind of explainer site on just this topic this year, so this article landed at just the right time, and in just the right place: my laptop. It's absolutely required reading for anyone who has never fully understood just why "public" corporations behave like private ones, and are so beholden to their shareholders, board members and senior management, many of whom live way up there atop that cherished 1%, and mostly at the expense of all of the rest of us.

Unfortunately, while chock full of important facts and historical sound bites,like so many other articles of its type, it is fatally flawed in the remedy department. Such works do a reasonably good job of diagnosing a problem, but any attempt at even guessing about remedies is relegated to afterthought; something left to those mysterious "other voices" we never seem to hear much from.  The authors toss in a smattering of events or movements like May Day and Occupy Wall Street as things we can do to fight back against this contemptible state of corporate hegemony run amok. All of them romantic, perhaps, but ridiculously timid when not already proven to be woefully ineffectual. Perhaps the authors are writing a book and saving the juice for later.

Since authors of their caliber can't afford to spend too much time truthtelling, we really need to find a way to crowd-source intelligent discourse about our problems.The cost of producing human knowledge is high, and the cost of distributing that knowledge is even higher. All the free Internet in the world won't provide the promotion and awareness of the important words and ideas that need widespread exposure.

And so long as nothing is doing that, the people who profit from our collective ignorance and inaction will thrive. At least until the entire system breaks down completely. And that, I fear, is a day not too long in coming if we don't find ways to channel our anger into effective social action that can do even the simplest of complicated things. Things like regulating about 900 massive Public corporations to reduce their self-serving ways as they are so well described in this article. It would be a nice start. And we need a nice start. No, I mean we really need a nice start.

Please retweet this post. It's a story we all need to be telling and talking about. Thanks

See important update at the end.

Forgive my link-baited title, but it was just as contrived, gamed, and inaccurate as this one from Paul Farhi in today’s Washington Post:

Limbaugh sees heat over comments turn down to a simmer

That awful bit of non-reporting spawed these (and other) derived items from so-called “journalists” sucking down free content, with no fact checking whatever:

Rush Limbaugh Is Doing Just Fine

Then of course, we have this gem from Rush’s #1 astroturfed professor at Cornell Law, @leginsurrection, who was all too happy to use the crappy reporting from the so-called “Liberal Washington Post” (owned by arch-conservative, Donald Graham).

#StopRush turns into #MediaMattersStopped

And finally, never to be outdone in the lame department, the DailyBeast jumps in:

Advertisers Stick With Limbaugh
 

Now of course, paid flacks like Cornell’s “Professor Jacobson” are expected to use any kind of drivel the MSM writes to support their astroturfed hysteria.  But the Post and the Atlantic wire? This kind of reporting is absurd, and a prime example of why our media (and nation) are such a mess. 

Since the Washington Post cannot even manage a typical permalink  to specific comments, I have posted my response to Farhi’s reckless reporting here so you don’t have to scroll through 1000 comments to find it:

 
I would like to know which of the 161 dropping or avoiding sponsors listed here http://sn.im/stoprush Mr. Farhi actually contacted. I would wager the answer is zero. If he had, he would know that the only known sponsors to “trickle back” are a single regional sponsor that Rush’s PR flack, Brian Glicklich had CLAIMED wanted to come back (TheSleepTrain) in an LA Times puff piece, and TaxResolutions, a company that never really stopped to begin with (they just said they did to milk some free attention from Twitter). 
 
That’s it. And readers will note that virtually no research of any other kind is indicated in this article. This kind of reporting is merely passing along Premiere’s propaganda. And it does so with almost nothing but conjecture and suppositions based on what the author was obviously told, and not what he himself investigated. Farhi simply absorbed a robust spin-spew of misdirection from Limbaugh and/or Premiere which we have seen coming from his bots and paid proxies all week. Yes, the author called Carusone, and probably spent all of 15 minutes with him to pretend he was actually doing journalism. Anyone who knows Carusone’s efforts knows that what is said here is barely a fragment of the facts concerning this campaign, which can be heard more fully on any of his many radio interviews. In short, this is article comes off as a thinly-veiled PR favor to ClearChannel, a major media corporation which probably has many overlapping relationships with the Washington Post and/or its advertisers. 
 
It is also important to note that while sustaining any “outrage” can be challenging, this StopRush campaign has also coincided with the Trayvon Martin case, which has sucked the oxygen out of most stories emanating from the left in the past two weeks, so naturally some cooling of engagement would be evident. But as someone who sees the engagement of volunteers very close-up, I can tell you that the women, men, and families that Rush has offended aren’t going away, nor are they forgetting his egregious and vile remarks about Sandra Fluke in particular, and women in general. They are simply sharing their passions with other important issues of conservative hatreds which Rush can take great pride in nurturing in today’s America. They are not backing off or backing down. 
 
Mr. Farhi, please do just a bit of homework and update this story with real facts that you have actually verified, and not the convenient and self-serving spin of ClearChannel or their proxies. In short, do your job. 
 
Thank you.

Posted at 11:10 on 3/29/2012

Note: A look through the comments of that post will reveal literally dozens of astroturf bots, come of them posting at least 10 times. The WaPost makes no effort to screen such astroturf, nor even limit it to one or two comments per article. Thus, the astroturfers ensure that their gamed spew will always turn up in the list of most recent comments.

Update

In my haste to respond to the Washington Post, I neglected to point out that the author DID update his story. He removed a completely erroneous misquote where he claimed that Carusone had said “only 5 sponsors had dropped the Limbaugh show.” In fact, Carusone tweeted that after correcting them, the author updated the post and simply deleted the entire misquote. This was more shoddy journalism. The entire premise of the story—now so widely repeated—revolved around that one ludicrously sloppy misquote. The Post should have posted the words “Updated,” and corrected it. They still should.

Please visit http://sn.im/stoprush for more news and information about the #stopRush effort.

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