January 15, 2010 archive

Original v. Cover — #8 of a Series

This eighth installment of the Original v. Cover series appears one day early this week for perhaps the most compelling of reasons – Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on this day in 1929. Had his life not been tragically ended on April 4, 1968, he could conceivably have celebrated his 81st birthday on this day.  

Martin Luther King Jr Pictures, Images and Photos

Today we celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s remarkable accomplishments; however, cannot escape wondering what may have been were he still alive today. Although King would most likely be encouraged by the progress that has been achieved since his time, his optimism would no doubt be tempered by an ample measure of concern as well.  

Would he have celebrated the seating of an African-American on the Supreme Court at the behest of a Republican president, no less, on October 18, 1991? Would he have considered his mission to be accomplished with the election of an African-American to the highest office in this land, a term which began slightly less than one year ago on January 20, 2009? Or would his feelings, at best, be mixed?

King would undoubtedly have had much to say about those topics.  And his concerns would without question be shared by many perusing this diary.

If you are truly interested in the meaning of King’s life and what it meant for this country, please consider going to the following wikipedia article, which can be found here. If we choose to listen, we will soon discover that he was not speaking just to the people of that day, but to posterity as well.  His message resonates as much if not more so than it did nearly a half a century ago.

Much will be written and said about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. during this weekend. Those whose abilities far exceed this writer’s humble talents will bring his memory to life for those who slow down long enough to remember, and in some cases, with a combination of fear and courage, consider the challenges that he sets before us in our own time.

For those in want of a quick refresher, here is one of the many excerpts from King’s August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, fittingly delivered at the Lincoln Memorial. Fewer among us may be aware that the content of this speech was toned down in response to the concerns of the then president, John F. Kennedy. Malcolm X was among those critical of this event, referring to it as “the farce on Washington.”  

Ralph Nader was right!

While it is true that our system has a winner take all voting system, which means the candidate with the most votes wins irrespective of whether they have even 50% of the vote, and it is true that by voting 3rd party the candidate you least like might win, it doesn’t mean you are not having any effect. You can still use your third party vote to purify the major party of a corrupt candidates, which can make a difference in the long run. Also if enough people vote for the third party it can replace one of the two major parties which is what happened in the 1850’s with the republicans replacing the whigs. Third parties can also win. Look at Jessie Ventura.

It is true that you can agitate to change the voting system, but you must go through politicians that were successful with the old way to get something new. Not a likely prospect in my view.

It is true that you can technically run primary challenges, and get some changes, but if those are so easy to run, why hasn’t anyone run them on a mass scale, that I believe is needed to get reall changes? In reality there are tremendous structural barriers to runnng any kind of primary fight, otherwise people would do more than talk and threaten them. This talk of running primaries has been happening for ten years, and nobody in the final analysis does them.

The people who voted Nader in 2000 may not have helped but they didn’t hurt anything either. The war probably would have happened either way. Lieberman was Al Gore’s pick for vp. Martin Peretz was Al Gore’s mentor. Many dlcers like Gore voted for the Iraq war resolution including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and John Edwards. Obama claimed he would have voted against the resolution, but Obama has claimed to be for, or against many things, that didn’t pan out in reality, because of his commitment to dlc policies. For instance, during the campaign, Obama claimed to be against mandates and excise taxes on cadillac plans. How did that work out in reality. He claimed to be against fisa but voted for it. He claimed to oppose corporate lobbying, and the revolving door, but hired a bunch of Goldman Sachs employees to serve him in his administration. He also claimed to be against the Iraq war, but never missed an opportunity to vote for war funding.

Nader voting changed nothing, in my view, but it did offer and opportunity to vote for someone who told the truth. I so wish I hadn’t bought the lesser evil bs and wasted my vote on Gore, than Kerry and now Obama. The democrats have mislead people for far too long. Obama proves Nader was completely correct, and those of us who sympathized with Nader literally wasted 8-9 years working our butts off for democrats who hate us, and think we are idiots.

While it is true that Lieberman is a leader of these bad dems, it is not true, that lessor dems like Coakley who take money from the insurance companies, and who support mandates bare no responsibility. By only targeting the big sharks, you let little sharks like her off the hook and they continue to vote for the wrong things. You partisans claim that not giving them a 60th seat will be permission to move to the right, but they are already moving to the right so it looks like the mere act of putting right leaning dems in office is permission enough. You claim we don’t vote for Coakley we wont’ have another shot at reform for a generation, yet we are suppose to believe you will come back and improve the bill later on? Come on! We aren’t self-defeating. We are beaten down by corruption! Beating us more won’t help!

reposted from my blog http://dameocrat.blogspot.com

Afternoon Edition

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 US troops reach Haiti amid fears of unrest

by Dave Clark, AFP

14 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Sporadic looting has already broken out amid mounting frustration in one of the world’s poorest nations, as quake victims clamor for badly-needed food, water and medical aid three days after Tuesday’s 7.0 quake.

“As long as the people are hungry and thirsty, as long as we haven’t fixed the problem of shelter, we run the risk of riots,” warned Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, after a visit to the capital Port-au-Prince.

UN officials on the ground pleaded for more medical and food aid for survivors, amid estimates that some three million people — a third of the population — had been affected.

Cass Sunstein wants to re-educate you (v.2)

Cass Sunstein, professor of law at Harvard and Obama’s “Information Tsar,” gets his proto-fascist freak on in Conspiracy Theories, wherein he forwards the thesis that, conspiracy theorists are bad, because they endanger government anti-terrorism policy,  whatever that policy may be,  therefore conspiracy theorists need to be thwarted by a strategy of government-sponsored infiltration and re-education.  Government needs to fight back against independent public thinking!  I kid you not.

Update  Let’s be perfectly clear: Sunstein is literally advocating a government conspiracy against those “conspiracy theorists” he claims are damaging to governmental purposes.  Let that sink in.

Everybody is Fucking Crazy

Why it is as if some disaster was looming….or here….and we all felt powerless to DO anything about it as it crashes down upon us.

Even those who don’t feel that feeling explicitly seem to be feeling…something. Everyone is on edge, every one has a hair trigger, everyone is lashing out and somewhat screaming in frustration at all of the many and myriad completely fucked up shit that is going on.

And no one can agree…or even cogently discuss…what it is we are feeling.

Are we teetering on the edge of a new world? Will we fall back into the old one? Is there time? Are there solutions? Or are we powerless in the face of what is unquestionably….history in the making?

And….why the hell isn’t somebody else doing something about it?

“Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” –

 —  Winston Churchill

Well. After a year of No Drama in what can only be expressed as an objectively dramatic time…..we have one possibility that we haven’t yet tried….

All joining together in taking personal responsibility for taking back and transforming the one tool that has at least a chance of making a difference…the United States Government.

Some of us are ready. Others, apparently, are waiting for things to get REALLY bad before figuring it out. While clinging to the last vestiges of HOPE that someone else will do it for them. After being incredibly aggressively sold that hope, only to have it vanish like every other hope…..that counts on someone else to do what WE need to do ourselves. That ONLY we can do. Yet no one, including me, has any idea how to actually do it.


No wonder everyone is fucking crazy.

Open …..Thread!


Greenwald on Sunstein

I’m still holding out hope that Compound F will re-publish a clean copy of his excellent essay free from fear that it’s not something Sunstein said, because Compound F deserves that respect and a promotion to our Front Page.

But in the mean time Glenn Greenwald has also picked up on this story and I thought some of you might be interested in his take.

The creepy mindset behind Cass Sunstein’s creepy proposal

By Glenn Greenwald

Friday, Jan 15, 2010 08:16 EST

Sunstein himself — as part of his 2008 paper — explicitly advocates that the Government should pay what he calls “credible independent experts” to advocate on the Government’s behalf, a policy he says would be more effective because people don’t trust the Government itself and would only listen to people they believe are “independent.”  In so arguing, Sunstein cites the Armstrong Williams scandal not as something that is wrong in itself, but as a potential risk of this tactic (i.e., that it might leak out), and thus suggests that “government can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes,” but warns that “too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed.”  In other words, Sunstein wants the Government to replicate the Armstrong Williams arrangement as a means of more credibly disseminating propaganda — i.e., pretending that someone is an “independent” expert when they’re actually being “prodded” and even paid “behind the scenes” by the Government — but he wants to be more careful about how the arrangement is described (don’t make the control explicit) so that embarrassment can be avoided if it ends up being exposed.  

In this 2008 paper, then, Sunstein advocated, in essence, exactly what the Obama administration has been doing all year with Gruber:  covertly paying people who can be falsely held up as “independent” analysts in order to more credibly promote the Government line.  Most Democrats agreed this was a deceitful and dangerous act when Bush did it, but with Obama and some of his supporters, undisclosed arrangements of this sort seem to be different.  Why?  Because, as Sunstein puts it:  we have “a well-motivated government” doing this so that “social welfare is improved.”  Thus, just like state secrets, indefinite detention, military commissions and covert, unauthorized wars, what was once deemed so pernicious during the Bush years — coordinated government/media propaganda — is instantaneously transformed into something Good.

Who is it who relentlessly spread “false conspiracy theories” of Saddam-engineered anthrax attacks and Iraq-created mushroom clouds and a Ba’athist/Al-Qaeda alliance — the most destructive conspiracy theories of the last generation?  And who is it who demonized as “conspiracy-mongers” people who warned that the U.S. Government was illegally spying on its citizens, systematically torturing people, attempting to establish permanent bases in the Middle East, or engineering massive bailout plans to transfer extreme wealth to the industries which own the Government?  The most chronic and dangerous purveyors of “conspiracy theory” games are the very people Sunstein thinks should be empowered to control our political debates through deceit and government resources:  namely, the Government itself and the Enlightened Elite like him.

It is this history of government deceit and wrongdoing that renders Sunstein’s desire to use covert propaganda to “undermine” anti-government speech so repugnant.  The reason conspiracy theories resonate so much is precisely because people have learned — rationally — to distrust government actions and statements.  Sunstein’s proposed covert propaganda scheme is a perfect illustration of why that is.  In other words, the reason people don’t trust the Government and why “conspiracy theories” are so pervasive is precisely because government is typically filled with people like Cass Sunstein, who think that systematic deceit and government-sponsored manipulation are justified by their own Goodness and Superior Wisdom.

They are lying to you now.

Haiti news bits UPDATE


Anyone feel free to join me here. Im thoroughly disgusted with tv. Ill post a few links from some online sources Ive been perusing.

Video from Miami Herald… Haitians react to Robertson’s idiotic remarks. My advice: skip past the replay of Robertson (about the first minute) or just turn down the volume while you get your kleenex.

Big News: Obama Grants Haitians Illegally in U.S. ‘Protected Status’ for 18 Months (ABC News) h/t thank you Dexter!

The announcement to grant “temporary protective status,” or TPS, to Haitian nationals allows immigrants already in the U.S. to live and work freely here until conditions in Haiti improve. After 18 months the status could be revoked.

“This is a disaster of historic proportions and this designation will allow eligible Haitian nationals in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced late today on a conference call. “Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this Administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery.”

Napolitano estimated that there are 100,000 to 200,000 Haitian nationals currently in the country illegally.

“TPS gives them sort of an intermediate immigration status,” said the secretary. “It allows them — only for a period of 18 months, while Haiti gets back on its feet — to remain in the United States and authorizes them to work during that period, among other things.”

Security Trumps All

Obama: We Will Do Everything
Possible to Keep America Safe

It’s a big, bad, nasty dangerous world out there. Full of fanatical killers who hate you because you’re free. You got to make sure you’re safe. That’s the most important thing, right?

Everything else ain’t worth sh*t without you’re safe and secure, right?

Right. No question.

I heard on the news today that they’re closer now. In my town.

Sh*t. Now what? I’ve got it! I’ll put up a steel fence around the house. To be safe and secure.

Ahhh, that’s better.

Some Learning Curves are Longer than Others

In recent conversation with a friend, we discussed the means by which any organization or group might best enlighten those who cling to bigoted, ignorant, or otherwise offensive points of view.  It is a conversation no different from the very same ones we have in a multitude of related corners, spaces where abstract theorizing has to take the place of hard fact.  As an anthropologist, my friend is constantly aware of the intersection where intellect and biological construction meet and couches her views from that point.  As she puts it, evolution of any sort is a tediously slow process.  We have, for example, still not really advanced to the point that we have gotten the hang of this whole walking upright issue.  The human body’s propensity to arthritis is but only one of those most visible examples of this fact of reality.  If our skeletal construction are but unfinished business, it would stand to reason that many others are too.  

A message from TheMomCat

I left here

and walked into a real “shit storm”. (sigh). It’s getting worse here but the US Army has sent in troops to “maintain order and provide security” They are honoring our restrictions about weapons in our compounds, clinics and hospitals (such as they are). There is one hospital in Cite Soliel that relatively intact, working on getting fuel to keep the generator running to power the OR and post-op. The World Food Program’s warehouses were looted. USAID has been helpful in coordinating with me on a location for the tent hospital, an area close to the airport is being cleared as e speak. I expect that the final death toll will be over 100,000.

There is still no electricity in most of the city outside the airport. There is NO running water. That is a major problem. There is a shortage of fuel to run generators. We have solar powered inverters for the small stuff like recharging cell phones, lap tops and other small electronic devices. The airport has no jet fuel, so flights coming in MUST have enough fuel for their return flight.

The minute we think we have a handle on one problem, a dozen others pop up.

I have several organizational meeting with our head of mission and the USAID, who have taken charge, for better or worse. I’m seeking out some place to get washed (BIG problem) but there is REAL coffee, Yeah!

I’m dealing mostly with logistics, an occasional medical issue but I have others here to take care of any patients. Catch up with you later. Thanks to you, NPK, buhdy (I hope he’s feeling better)and everyone for their great essays and support (moral and financial). Love you all, TMC

I’m posting this now since I suspect TMC’s time to interact with us will be brief and intermittent and I’m sure it’s a subject of general interest.

A Farewell to Arms: Why I Left ‘The Left’

Barack promised change — and sure enough, things changed for the worse

-Joe Bageant

To Hell with the ‘left’! I am finished, done, disillusioned and over it, the divorce papers have been filed and are now finalized and I am not going back. As of this day, I will no longer allow myself to be affiliated or endorse the ‘left’ in any way, shape or form. So long folks, it was real and it was fun but in the end it was unfulfilling and dare I say, a waste of time and effort. Is this overly harsh? Perhaps it is but the break had to be made and it can no longer be put off. I assure you, this was no hasty decision but rather something that has been a slow and agonizing process, a steady drip…drip…drip.., like Chinese water torture and suddenly the mind goes, the spirit breaks and the ugly reality of the situation cannot be denied or disguised. So to all of my good friends on the left I wish you the very best but I am no longer one of you and maybe I never was, it was never dogma to me only a desire for some sort of social fairness and a fair shot but the American left being a shell of it’s former self with labor broken and the DLC corporatists having taken over the Democratic party it has been reduced to shills for the Democrats and squabbling identity groups each with an agenda that prevents any sort of unity necessary for a mass movement for real change. Sucks but that is just the way it has to be.

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