January 19, 2009 archive

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You Don’t See on TV

(I wrote this diary last year for MKL’s B-Day, and I thought it was just as relevant today as we prepare to inaugurate our first African American President as it was last year.  The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You Don’t See on TV

With just a couple revisions and a brief update, here it is again.)  

I want to talk about the Dr. King you likely won’t see on TV.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without “human rights” – including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.

Media Beat (1/4/95)

More, after the fold.  

On being a “citizen” and “service”

Lately, there is a lot of talk going on about “national service”.  Ok, so, it’s not new.  President Obama said this back in December 2007:

MT. VERNON, Iowa – Democrat Barack Obama on Wednesday advocated a major expansion of the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and other national service programs, saying “This will be a cause of my presidency.”

The Illinois senator said that the government is not keeping pace with those who want to serve. “We will create new opportunities for all of us to serve,” he said at a rally at Cornell College.

Obama evoked the memory of President John F. Kennedy and his Peace Corps volunteers. “JFK made their service a bridge to the developing world,” he said.

So, what is prompting this essay?  Well, it’s a bit convoluted…

No Coin Out My Pocket

While Jefferson coined the phrase, “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg;” in reference to religion, I have often applied this pearl to systems of economics. Getting a  man to change his house in economics is on par with changing his god(s). I watch with bemusement at both, because no can really affect me, but someone must keep notes on their effects.

I have watched this looting long enough. I knew it was looting before George A. Akerlof, co-winner of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences, said, “What we have here is a form of looting.

I knew the last loot to go down was suppose to be regional banks and credit unions. Their backs broken to a point the large multinationals could just gobble them right up. With a trifecta of zero savings rates, subprime and contractor loans coupled with a bursting of the real estate bubble.

Just take a gander at last years propaganda, here’s Bernanke, show his baboon arse per usual:

Bernanke expects bank failures

Friday, February 29, 2008


Mr. Bernanke expressed confidence there would be no bank failures as recently as last week, so his change of tune yesterday suggests that he recently became aware of banks whose solvency is threatened by what he characterized as a widening credit “crisis.”

“There probably will be some bank failures,” he said, though they are likely to be among smaller regional banks that are particularly exposed to falling property markets.

Wall Street markets, which swooned on Mr. Bernanke’s remarks about banks yesterday, have focused on the health of the biggest banks and investment houses, such as Citicorp, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, which cumulatively have reported more than $150 billion in losses. Despite their monumental troubles, Mr. Bernanke said he thinks the large banks have enough reserves and capital to avoid failure.

“I don’t anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large, internationally active banks that make up a very substantial part of our banking system,” he said.

I love that Bernanke still has a job. He could not have been more wrong. But that is what was suppose to happen, until a horrible truth was discovered. By the very ideals of capitalism, the regional banks were worth more, and actually had advantage over the large, internationally active banks.

See, regional banks had these things called “assets” that weren’t invented and based on fantasy land values. Sure, the multinationals had a lot of commercial paper that said they were billionaires, but that paper was intrinsically worthless. The only reason it had value was because the multinational banks said they did, and no one is taking them seriously anymore.

Regional banks at least had local deposits, even the safe deposit boxes held more value than firms like Bears & Sterns. Because all they and people like Goldman Sachs did was put a pretty letterhead on a bucket.

It’s not like this hasn’t happened before, it use to be felony actually.

Book Shops


Bucket shop is a brokerage firm that “books” (i.e., takes the opposite side of) retail customer orders without actually having them executed on an exchange.[1] These brokerages are also often called boiler rooms. The term is a defined term under the criminal law of many states in the United States which make it a crime to operate a bucket shop. [2]

Typically the criminal law definition refers to an operation in which the customer is sold what is supposed to be a derivative interest in a security or commodity future, but there is no transaction made on any exchange. The transaction goes ‘in the bucket’ and is never executed. Without an actual underlying transaction, the customer is betting against the bucket shop operator, not participating in the market.

Operating a bucket shop would also likely involve violations of several provisions of US federal securities or commodity futures laws[3].

This all changed when Clinton unsigned the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 on a golf course in 1999.

This amazing was legal again, and the tricks of the bucket shops, under the letterhead of the finest financial institutions in the world, these ruses where hidden in legality of commercial paper, and sold to suckers across the world. At no time were these derivatives of derivatives based on a real security or commodity, none of this was fair market value.

Did you know there were derivatives based on whether another derivative would make money based on if a loan was paid off or not? That’s not a security, that’s a bet.

And guess what certain firms did when they realized the loan would not be paid back? That’s right, they sold their own derivatives short. All of this was suppose to create enough “wealth” to gobble up the regional banks, like the hungry hungry hippos that multinationals are.

But it didn’t happen, and now everyone is acting shocked that these big international banks are not easing up the short-term credit system! Of course they aren’t, this is their last chance to cripple regional banks. With the Federal Reserve and the multinationals withholding cash, choosing to reinvest in themselves and unable expand to the regional level, the system will never correct itself.

Lord only knows where that bailout money really went, to bad we can’t put a stop payment on the check.

And for the sake that is all good and proper, do not Nationalize the banks, as I seen proposed more recently. America can’t just change her house economically overnight, because the last thing I want is the Federal Reserve closer to the mint controls. What needs to happen is a natural correction based on movements of the free market.

The big internationals must be allowed to fail, especially those who do not have a commercial bank people actually have money with. Them fools, them owner of bucketshops, them bums.

Kick them to the street.

Do not make them Caesar.

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports Barack Obama reaches out for John McCain’s counsel. “Over the last three months, Mr. Obama has quietly consulted Mr. McCain about many of the new administration’s potential nominees to top national security jobs and about other issues – in one case relaying back a contender’s answers to questions Mr. McCain had suggested.”

    Nothing surprising here, I just found it interesting. Obama’s way is a distinct change from that of previous presidents.

  2. The Washington Post reports Obama and Chávez start sparring early.

    In an interview shown in the past week on the Spanish-language network Univision, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said that Venezuela’s firebrand president, Hugo Chávez, has hindered progress in Latin America, and he expressed concern that Chávez’s leftist government has assisted Colombia’s biggest guerrilla movement, a group the United States considers a terrorist organization. Chávez responded this weekend by saying that Obama had “the same stench” as President Bush, a frequent target of Chávez’s remarks.

    “There is still time” for Obama to correct his views, the Venezuelan leader said, but he added: “No one should say that I threw the first stone at Obama. He threw it at me.”

  3. The Anchorage Daily News reports Murkowski requests pardon for Stevens. “U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s spokesman said Sunday that Murkowski had asked the White House to pardon the former senior senator of Alaska, Ted Stevens.”

  4. The Guardian reports the Shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist to seek asylum in Switzerland. “Geneva-based lawyer Mauro Poggia said Muntadhar al-Zeidi’s life was in danger if he stayed in Iraq” and so his client seeks political asylum in Switzerland. Al-Zeidi is still in Iraqi detention.

  5. The NY Times reports Interest rate drop has had dire results for legal aid. “Legal aid groups have long benefited from little-known programs that draw interest earned from short-term deposits that lawyers hold in trust for clients during, for example, real estate transactions or personal injury payouts. The interest is mainly donated to legal services for the poor.”

    Now, these groups that “help poor people with noncriminal cases – like disputes over foreclosures, evictions and eligibility for unemployment benefits – are being forced to cut their staffs and services, even as requests for help have soared.”

Barring the Road to The Promised Land

It is tempting, on this almost overwhelmingly rich feast of a weekend that combines MLK Day and the inauguration of our first black President, to think that we have gotten to the Promised Land. We have not. We have however, reached a mountaintop.

And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over.  And I’ve seen the promised land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.


Much is, and rightly so, being made of reaching that Mountaintop. But the Mountaintop is actually just a Vista Point from which to look out upon The Promised Land. With the election of Barack Obama, our nation and the world have joined Martin on that mountaintop. From this Mountaintop we can look out and get a glimpse of the Promised Land, but we can also see how far, far away it still lies from where we are now.

“Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring-when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children-black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics-will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Between Martin’s Mountaintop and that Promised Land there still lies a vast unexplored expanse of terrain. So as we crest one mountain tomorrow and get a small glimpse of the Promised Land, we can also see that vast expanse. We can stand on this newly conquered mountain and look back…. and see how far we have come from both Martin’s and Moses’s day. We must do that, and we must celebrate the long, long journey. We must celebrate those who have guided us to this mountain and we must celebrate all those who have worked so hard to get us up here, each in their own way. From the humblest slaves shouldering their loads to the grand orators, those scouts pointing the way up the mountain with their ideas of what the Promised Land will look like, and the words they spoke of freedom that kept us going through long dark valleys and canyons on this seemingly endless journey.

But as we take a break and catch our breath and reflect on the past, we must also turn around and survey the land…and the challenges before us, and ask ourselves the questions that all good travelers on the road to freedom, the road to the Promised Land, must ask. How do we get there from here?

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is it that keeps us from the Promised Land?

Martin’s death itself, along with the deaths of JFK, Malcom, RFK, and so many others…was one of those deep and lightless canyons. Martin and the others of his day led us to a fork in the road where we as a people had a chance and a choice to go, then, to the Mountaintop, or down into that valley of darkness. Then, as now, a small group of people chose to lead us into the darkness. Now after yet another long struggle, through the valley that the likes of Nixon and Reagan and Bush and those that hewed to their vision of freedom for only a select few, we have finally climbed back to a Mountaintop.

What is it that keeps us from the Promised Land?

Bless Us With Discomfort. Bless Us With Anger.

Finally, someone spoke for me. You know how it is, if you’re at all a news junkie. Face after face, article after article, and yeah, you agree, or no, you don’t. That’s mostly true, gee I wish more people got it. And on one goes. And then, you’re tripping along, and something just…gets you.

Bishop Eugene Robinson’s pre-inaugural invocation got me. He said some things I wanted to hear someone else say. Which make me feel less like the fat kid at the wall, watching everyone dance. Now…just for context. If you asked me if there is a god, I’d tell you, flat out, no freakin’ way. If I go to a ceremony or a ritual, it is probably wiccan, and reclaiming wiccan, at that: I don’t think I have to believe in any of it to know there are parts of ourselves which are connected, which express and experience faith at levels which don’t have much to do with absolute fact. But…even so, I’d say that an invocation beginning with “god of our many understandings” was off on both number and gender, since to the extent I entertain religion, it is in a polytheistic and wiccan frame.

Book Review: A People’s History of the World

To celebrate the revolutionary spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’ve decided to look at a newer volume; Chris Harman’s A People’s History of the World.  This newer book takes off from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which indeed covered the particular impacts of people’s movements (including the one participated in by King) throughout American history.  A People’s History of the World, unfortunately, has to cover far too much ground far too quickly, and so Harman puts out a series of historical explanations which follow his script too closely, and thus misses a lot of the content of people’s history.

A People’s History of the World is nevertheless a fun read which ought to stoke some anti-capitalist fires in the hearts of readers, even if it doesn’t do so thoroughly.  My review will conclude by discussing the import, to activists, of the issues Harman brings up.

Gene Robinson’s Prayer – Obama’s Team apparently didn’t want it seen




Still Climbing the Mountain

I am an activist for my people.  As I have grown older, I have more likely performed my activism with my words, which is the tool I have had at hand.

Sometimes I am repetitive.  I am a teacher.  Some lessons are hard.  That’s a clue to the fact that they are important.  Important lessons need to be taught more than once, again and again, time and again, using different words, approaching the issue from different points of view.  That’s what I do.  Some of you claim that I do it “ad nauseam.”  It’s your nausea, not mine.

Many of you know me as the transsexual woman (or whatever you call me…I’m sure that it is not favorable in many instances).  Some of you know me as a poet.  Some of you see the teacher in me.  Or the glbt activist and PFLAG parent.  I am all of these.  I am a human being.

I was born in a place and time.  I have absorbed the life lessons presented to me since then.  I am still learning.

I’ve tried to pass on what I have learned.  I continue to make that effort, in whatever new venues are available, wherever I can find an opened eye or ear.

Obama Supporters In DC Want Bush Arrested

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Docudharma Tag: petition for a special prosecutor for background

Hat tip to David Swanson this morning…

Obama Supporters in DC Want Bush Arrested

By David Swanson, January 19, 2009 at 07:33:58

Sunday evening I spoke on a panel in Washington, D.C., about war crimes, and in walked a group of spirited activists led by Laurie Arbeiter wearing “Arrest Bush” sweatshirts and carrying “Arrest Bush” signs and they were absolutely dumfounded by what they had just experienced. They’d spent the day at the train station in D.C. and on the streets of D.C. as excited Obama celebrators poured in by the tens of thousands, and they’d been unable to walk a dozen steps without people stopping them to have their photo taken with an “Arrest Bush” sign.

It’s worth remembering that Bush is approved by 22 percent of Americans and a smaller percentage of non-Americans. It’s hard to get under 20 percent in any poll in this country. More people believe in UFOs than approve of Bush. The media meme that prosecuting Bush would cost Obama political capital has not been proven false, but it is absolutely baseless until someone produces something to base it on.

So we had a little strategy meeting Sunday night and produced hard copies of an already running petition asking Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor. We got clipboards and pens and identified teams. As I write this Monday morning we are preparing to gather at Dupont Circle for a rally at 11 a.m. followed by a march to the White House where we will throw shoes at the outgoing war criminal. On Tuesday we have a permit for the whole sidewalk in front of the FBI Building along the parade, and we’ll let you in if you have a sign that says “Arrest Bush.” No other ticket required. At these and many other events and all over the city in the next two days, we hope to add many thousands of new people to the petition and collect their contact information to integrate them into the movement to get tough on (the biggest) crime.

If you’re not in DC, you can sign the petition yourself or print out a PDF to collect signatures in the real world at http://convictbushcheney.org [reproduced below]

This is not a fantasy, boys and girls. The New York Times’ Scott Shane and Attorney General Mukasey agree with me that prosecution is now going to be hard to avoid. When even Nancy Pelosi has figured out where we’re going, you know the winds of change are blowing strong. That’s the dangerous thing about telling people that anything is possible: they’ll end up insisting on what they really want. And they want lots of new laws, but they very dearly want us to start enforcing the old ones too.

Open Thread


I have a dream thread.

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