These are two of the more important essays I've read this year. I got tired of tweeting them separately, so this post will make it easier to distribute them as a pair. I urge you to read them both because they each offer a fresh perspective on the root causes of our growing global socio–political dysfunction. Flying cars may always have been a fantasy, or they may simply not be something our plutocracy run amok cares much about.
Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any child growing up in the mid-to-late twentieth century assumed would exist by now? Even those inventions that seemed ready to emerge—like cloning or cryogenics—ended up betraying their lofty promises. What happened to them?
by @root_e(armchair economic thinker and all-around smart dude.)
David Graeber wrote the first old school left wing essay I have seen in years and it makes the flabby, stale quality of much of what passes for left-wing analysis all the more apparent. Graeber asks what happened to the optimism, the technical ferment, the rapid changes and extensions of prosperity that people in the first world used to assume were inevitable:
If you want to get really, really angry at just how royally fucked we've been over the past quarter century, then take some time to listen to this interview.
It will explain just what business has been doing while progressives have been whining about just about everything except the run-away plutocracy that owns us. If we can't restore basic regulations and economic justice FIRST, then social justice will always be dependent on whatever table scraps can be snatched from the lap napkins of a corporate oligarchy that feasts on the taxpayer's soul, not giving a single damn about anything but next quarter's profit.
It may sound like a tired old harangue, but it's still one we're doing nothing about. And we have to find a way to start doing something. Occupy Wall Street had the right imperatives, if not the right ideas to pursue them. Sadly, they've squandered much of their initative (thus far). But something has to give, and soon, or stories like this one will be familiar across every industry. Sadly, in many cases they aleady are. Remember, even the "Left" media is owned by these international corporate behemoths. They have no interest in having this conversation. None. But someone better start having it. And fast.
Americans are paying high prices for poor quality Internet speeds — speeds that are now slower than in other countries, according to author David Cay Johnston.
He says the U.S. ranks 29th in speed worldwide.
We're way behind countries like Lithuania, Ukraine and Moldavia.
Per bit of information moved, we pay 38 times what the Japanese pay," Johnston tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.
If you buy one of these triple-play packages that are heavily advertised — where you get Internet, telephone and cable TV together —
Typically you'll pay what I pay, about $160 a month including fees
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
A frequent complaint of mine and others who have supported the Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS) from its earliest days, is that it's not demonstrated much interest or skill at organizing the coalitions that have traditonally been the hallmark of progressive political change in America.
Merely suggesting that professional organizers become involved was often met with a righteous scorn and bellicose lamentations over some imminient "co-opting" of the nascent movement that would place it in the hands of the Democrats, organized labor, the Obama campaign, Van Jones, George Soros, or whatever progressive establishment boogeyman was most feared on any given day.
But this may now be changing. MoveToAmend.org, the People for The American Way, and a respectable coalition of other progressive groups have gotten behind the Occupy The Courts campaign. Already over a year old, and with several local ballot initiatives already passed in some communities, this action will be the first big protest to be associated with a very well conceived grass roots campaign that aims to amend the United States constitution and reverse the ludicrous Citizens United decision of the United States Supreme court. According to MoveToAmend's website, the action was largely inspired by an article by Alternet's Joshua Holland, whom I met on Twitter, have spoken with personally, and have a large measure of respect for,
While the Occupy the Courts coalition consists of some groups I have had no great affinity for most of the time, and has latched on to Cornel West and other Obama-bashing attention seekers that I have been publicly contemptuous of, it is still a fairly well conceived (if less than ideally promoted) effort of the kind that Progressives need if they are to really mount a serious challenge to the forces that have seized this country. More importantly, it can demonstrate that a symbiotic relationship between OWS and less "leadersless" organizations with focused objectives is more than possible, and even desirable. Leaderless does not have to mean no leadership, and this kind of action might give rise to an entirely new perception of the movement by the public.
And then again, it may not. While it is good that this organized action is clearly connected to the OWS movement, I am still rather distressed by the relatively poor promotion the effort has has. While I was modestly aware of its planning, I saw relatively few markers on Twitter or elsewhere to suggest it was getting the kind of push that these kinds of initiatives need. Over four months old now, and having benefited from global publicity, and the attention and support of a large number of notables, groups, and celebrities, an action like this, focused on such a universally accepted goal, should have been far larger, much better known, and prepositioned to get a lot of media coverage. I just am not seeing too much of that, and that's disappointing.
But this is just the first action, coinciding with the 2nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's descision. Perhaps there is much more planned for the spring and summer, when the climate is more accomodating of street action. I hope so. Now that they are officially out there, and seemingly relevant, I am going to invest some time to learn more about their future plans and will report back here.
But whatever my quibbles about it, I often publicly assert that political pragmatism demands less than ideal approaches at times, and it would be woefully hypocritical for me to not endorse a grass roots campaign as reasonable and well intentioned as this one is.
"If you break the public unions in Wisconsin you can break them everywhere." — Rachel Maddow
Ok, maybe Julian Assange didn't exactly parachute into Wisconsin. But he might have! And the pathetic fact is, that link-baiting baloney is what got you here. And that was my mission.
Why? Because with Gov. Scott Walker's outrageous effort to crush collective bargaining for state workers, the right wing has effectively declared war against unions, progressivism, and the American middle class, while most of the left is still sitting on the side of the road, like a brooding Rent-A-Wreck, with its ass stuck in neutral.
My good friend @karoli can bring you quickly up to speed.
With her usual knack for cutting through all the clutter, via Crooks and Liars:
Is to point out that while this issue has been building for well over a week, the American left has been mostly asleep until yesterday. Naturally, the mainstream media did its best to help it snooze for as long as possible. Only yesterday did CNN even show up in Wisconsin. And until last night, Twitter and Facebook were mostly abuzz with the usual updates about Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, Glenn Beck, a dwindling bit of Egypt, the Chris Christie Minstrels, and the usual celebrity cacophony of moronic blither-blather.
No one was expecting this Battle of the Bulge for the Democratic party and our fading unions to come up in this way, or this suddenly. But here it is. And now, the big question is, will progressives finally fight hard, or just die quickly? If you can't see what the GOP is doing with this issue, you simply don't get anything that's happened to this nation over the past 30 years in general, and certainly in the past five years since Fox News became the steering gear for the Republican Party's ship to nowhere. So just shut the fuck up and get out of the way.
But if you do get it, then you realize that this can and should be a magic moment in our history. A moment where we can rise up and show this fetid teaparty army and their plutocratic puppet masters like David Koch and Sheldon Adelson that there is still a strong majority of sensible people in this country who know that a fair society is the only one that will ever survive long term. And this generation of wrecking crew Republicans won't just delay that fair and just society. They will crush out any possibility of there ever being one. At least in this country.
And that would be a sad fail of unparalleled dimension. An easy win will have passed us right by due to our own apathetic lethargy and a mass delusion that all the horrible things happening to us were never quite as bad as they seemed. Our collective will to resist an obvious insurrection of selfishness will have failed to come alive at the very moment that it must, and the American experiment will probably die right here in the lab.
So maybe we needed a Julian Assange to land in Wisconsin. We shouldn't have needed anything that dramatic to smack us out of our cynical slumber. But now something even better is on the ground our there in cheesehead country. Something very big and very beautiful. We only have to get behind this moment and push it with all our might… and we can win.
…and it should be exposed as such; often and always. There are few right wing lies quite so annoying as "the Nazis were Leftists/Socialists/Communists" lie. The revisionist hooey whores like Jonah Goldberg have made it easier for this orchestrated stupidity to gain new traction with his "Liberal Fascism" screed. The left, as it is quite good at doing lately, has utterly failed to push back against this absurdity in any focused manner, so this too gains acceptance among those who think Obama was born in Kenya, the media is liberal, Canadians are overwhelming the U.S. health care system, and government can't create jobs.
I don't have time to write a detailed primer on this topic, but let me put down a few good articles you can use to defuse this idiotic argument. It's not hard. I will update it as I have time. If you know of some brief or extended articles I should add here, please pass them along to me via Twitter or in comments below.
Please use the Tweet button below and help pass this along to friends, neighbors, and sane countrymen. Thanks!
The GOP uses deception and fears to try to break the president and his agenda for change. Ultra-right broadcasters even lie about our World War II enemy. Their claims about health care, big business and "socialism" in Nazi Germany are not only untrue, but vicious and ignorant
The Myth 1 — The Nazis were National Socialists and therefore Nazism is a form of socialism. The left-wing parties like Labour and the Greens are therefore similar to the Nazis politically.
The Truth 1 — Nope: a common mistake propagated by people who think that a name means what it says. Take the Democratic Republic of Congo, the German Democratic Republic or the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea). Any takers for claiming them as being democracies?
To most people, Hitler's beliefs belong to the extreme far right. For example, most conservatives believe in patriotism and a strong military; carry these beliefs far enough, and you arrive at Hitler's warring nationalism. This association has long been something of an embarrassment to the far right. To deflect such criticism, conservatives have recently launched a counter-attack, claiming that Hitler was a socialist, and therefore belongs to the political left, not the right.
The primary basis for this claim is that Hitler was a National Socialist. The word "National" evokes the state, and the word "Socialist" openly identifies itself as such.
However, there is no academic controversy over the status of this term: it was a misnomer. Misnomers are quite common in the history of political labels
SPLC has some great articles in their archive that reveal just how many of the more vicious and ignorant Nazi myths have been morphed and migrated into American extremist's culture. Often with the tacit approval of many mainstream conservatives and Republicans.
This legendary rant is even better when read. The transcripts I could find always sucked. So I've made what i hope is a more readable version below, so this classic piece of polemical gold can be shared and understood more widely. I've read it dozens of times. I still can't find a flaw in it, or anything even exaggerated. He's right. We're fucked. Unless we think of some way to fight back. I have my ideas. Do you?
Read it first. Then watch the video. Then read it again. Then share it far and wide with the little green button. Retweets do count.
But there’s a reason. There’s a reason. There’s a reason for this, there’s a reason education SUCKS, and it’s the same reason it will never, ever, EVER be fixed.
It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got.
Because the owners, the owners of this country don't want that. I'm talking about the real owners now, the BIG owners! The Wealthy… the REAL owners! The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions.
Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.
They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don’t want:
They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. Thats against their interests.
Thats right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. They don’t want that!
You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fucking place! It's a big club, and you ain’t in it! You, and I, are not in the big club.
By the way, it's the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! Good honest hard-working people; white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means, continue to elect these rich cock suckers who don’t give a fuck about you….they don’t give a fuck about you… they don’t give a FUCK about you.
They don’t care about you at all… at all… AT ALL. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Thats what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick thats being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.
It's called the American Dream,because you have to be asleep to believe it.
This is a wonderful interview, and like most of the Washington Journal good stuff, it was buried in the early morning segment when only we hard core @cspanWJ watchers even saw it.
You really need to spend some time with this segment. He covers a lot of ground, and he knows his subject(s) really well. He's got a gift for casually, but concsisely discussing the practical and hypothetical issues raised by this Bizarro-world remix of modern conservatism, Republican cronyism, and all the Batshit crazy that we've been calling the Tea Party, lately.
Watching this segment, I thought about how much I really dislike the term "Tea Party," because it romanticizes a contrived and entirely wrong conception of what the real Tea Party was. But it also fails to describe what is happening in this "movement," or who and what it really represents, or where's it's going. And it's just too fucking informal for a trend that might ultimately take down the entire American experiment.
So, as is my wont, I set about to define it. It seemed to me that what is happening is a perfect astroturfed storm consisting of:
Generally Republican crony corporate capitalism,
Fox-news-fed "big government" protesting under the guise of fiscal conservatism.
The triple-threat might neatly be termed, Trio-conservatism."
So I liked it so much, I just submitted it to Urban Dictionary as:
Trio-conservatism A more formal designation for the socio-economic blending of corporate, fiscal and social conservatism that now typifies the so-called "Tea Party" movement in the United States.
Love it? Like it? Hate it? Think I should burn this post and never bring it up again?
If UD approves it, it should be published sometime tomorrow. I can improve the definition after they do. It's too annoying to spend time making the perfect definition, only to have some UrbanTard editor reject it for totally random reasons. There is no appeal.
This issue has been mostly concluded for dozens of news organizations and Keith Olbermann. So who am I to wonder why no one is now interested in this "Ed Snider" person who makes big investments in right wing networks, allowing them to borrow his parent company (Comcast)'s name for their early marketing.
Been here before? This page is being updated regularly as it unfolds. Jump to Updates.
The Next Dose Of The Purely Outrageous
In the most despicable and arrogant gesture since the Citizen's United decison itself, Comcast (-Spectacor*) is now partnering with Tea Baggers to create a purely right wing, cable and Internet outlet called the "Right Network." This PDF shows you just how ambitious these professional propagandists are.
How appalling, given that conservatives already outnumber liberals by 3-1 in the general media, and 20-1 on talk radio. And of course, they already have that 24×7 Fox news channel. A right network seems rather redundant, eh?. But that won't stop them from playing the same old "we just have to balance the liberal media" lie. Sort of like how they had to put a stop to those "activist judges," by installing the most activist judges in history.
This "network" will be a nonstop, wingnut bullshit megaphone. A Hulu of hooey. These people are ruining America, in the name of saving it, and until the left wakes up and does something about it, these selfish billionaire-stooge zealots will own what they've wrecked. But that won't make anyone feel better about it.
Comcast is fighting its way through a battle to acquire NBC and related assets (including MSNBC) without being deemed a monopoly (which they are, and should be barred from owning NBC). For a preview of how dangerous it is to have one corporation control access to the Internet and cable TV, have a look at their new joint venture: RightNetwork.
Updates Posts are date &time ordered, most recent posted last.
Gee, how often does a major media company respond to a lowly blog story like this, eh? Oh, and the PDF mysteriously vanished yesterday, too. Of course, someone had the good sense to save it, so you can still see the original
Update4/19/10 — It has been pointed out to me by @KeithOblermann,
that the involvement with RightNetwork is by Comcast-Spectacor's Chairman, Ed Snider, and not Comcast itself. Given all the rest of the circumstantial connections, and he fact that Comcast owns 63% of Comcast-Spectacor, I strongly suspect this is a veiled sham to shield the network from this venture until it's established and proven, and they can ascertain the risks of extending their public profile (and equity) with it. Even so, I apologize for not making the distinction clear.
Misleading? The sales material clearly states the intention to launch on television, web and mobile in the summer of 2010. Here's an image as it was in their PDF "lookbook" on the RightNetwork website before it was pulled last night.
Update4/19/10 —Having been reminded of the details by Karoli's response,
I am sorry I changed the title on my post (this one you are reading), when Keith Olbermann tweeted me about it. @Karoli has a 100% defensible position in calling it a Comcast partnership, The RightNetworks PDF explicitly refers to the comcast partners. Here's a screenshot of the relevant image where the text clearly trumpets "Comcast partners."
Update 4/20/10 — Crooks & Liars issues a fairly predictable statement to a displeased behemoth which feels it deserves all the respect that money can buy. It's so brief, i will include it in its entirety here:
Comcast responded to this post, which caused quite a stir in the media yesterday. Their response confirmed to me that they have nothing to do at all with Kelsey Grammer's new right-wing outfit, RightNetwork.
Here is a statement from Comcast to clear up any confusion:
"We have no partnership with this venture and have no plans to launch or distribute the network. As we have done with hundreds of other content providers, we have met with the network’s representatives. We do carry a number of independent networks on Comcast representing a wide variety of interests and diverse viewpoints.”
Keith Olbermann called RightNetwork liars for making a connection between the two.
Olbermann: A head of one of its subsidiaries has some of his own money in the thing, so RightNetwork starts by lying about who's backing it….
As far as I'm concerned Comcast's answer is fine. We'll also definitely be keeping an eye on RightNetwork. It's got a fishy smell to it.
Update 4/20/10 — Jamison Foser from MediaMatters is the first to point out that Karoli's reporting about this matter was 100% accurate. She reported what was clearly stated in the marketing materials of a professionally produced, big budget multimedia presentation by a company invested in by a senior Comcast executive. What about the words "Partners with Comcast" can't some people understand?"
So, at least for now..this issue has been mostly concluded for dozens of news organizations and Keith Olbermann. So who am I to wonder why no one is now interested in this "Ed Snider" person who makes big investments in right wing networks, allowing them to borrow his parent company (Comcast)'s name for their early marketing. I'm just a silly blogger and Twitter cat.
So If You Think This Sucks…
Just wait until Comcast merges with NBC. We MUST stop this. So please try to do one or all of these things:
The FCC on Friday announced it would extend the time during which the public may comment on the proposed NBC-Comcast mega-merger so that the Philadelphia-based cable giant can submit additional materials.