Tuesday, December 29, 2009

GDAE Podcast - Episode 24

US Senate Reform: Filibuster
  • People's History: Voice of Sojourner Truth & thoughts on Deep Social Change...
  • Media Criticism: Washington Post disconnect with public desires for real healthcare reform via Fair and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).
  • Echo of American Exceptionalism: Congressman Alan Grayson and Chris Mathews via the WakeUp AM Podcast.
  • Prosecution of Bush: Jane Mayer's Book "The Dark Side".
  • Musical diversion: Jimi Hedrix "Little Wing".
  • Filibuster: Healthcare legislation is exposing US Senate as a barrier to majority-rule democracy.
  • Poetry: Night Before Christmas Debacle.
  • Bloopers.

Play Episode 24 from this page:

Click to Download Episode 24.

Previous Episodes & 60-Sec Promo:

GDAE Podcast 60-Second Promo

GDAE Podcast Episode 23 November 29, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 22 November 11, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 21 October 18, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 20 October 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 19 September 27, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 18 September 16, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 17 August 31, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 16 July 30, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 15 June 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 14 June 10, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 13 May 22, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 12May 5, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 11 April 24, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 10 April 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 9March 28, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 8 March 15, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 7 March 1, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 6 February 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 5 February 6, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 4 January 24, 2009


Monday, December 28, 2009

Where We Are Today

Russian prince Peter Kropotkin said that

Courage, devotion, the spirit of sacrifice, are as contagious as cowardice, submission, and panic.

This statement was made in his essay entitled "The Spirit of Revolt," which first appeared in Le Rèvoltè in Geneva in 1880. The following excerpt reads as if he were commenting on current events. The notes inserted in the text point to such contemporary examples listed at the end of this blog post.

The Spirit of Revolt

There are periods in the life of human society when revolution becomes an imperative necessity, when it proclaims itself as inevitable. New ideas germinate everywhere, seeking to force their way into the light, to find an application in life[1]; everywhere they are opposed by the inertia of those whose interest it is to maintain the old order[2]; they suffocate in the stifling atmosphere of prejudice and traditions [3]. The accepted ideas of the constitution of the State[4], of the laws of social equilibrium[5], of the political [6] and economic [7] interrelations of citizens, can hold out no longer against the implacable criticism which is daily undermining them whenever occasion arises,--in drawing room as in cabaret, in the writings of philosophers as in daily conversation. Political, economic, and social institutions are crumbling; the social structure, having become uninhabitable, is hindering, even preventing the development of the seeds which are being propagated within its damaged walls and being brought forth around them. [7]

The need for a new life becomes apparent. The code of established morality, that which governs the greater number of people in their daily life, no longer seems sufficient. What formerly seemed just is now felt to be a crying injustice. The morality of yesterday is today recognized as revolting immorality [8]. Daily, the popular conscience rises up against the scandals which breed amidst the privileged and the leisured [9], against the crimes committed in the name of the law of the stronger [10], or in order to maintain these privileges. Those who long for the triumph of justice, those who would put new ideas into practice, are soon forced to recognize that the realization of their generous, humanitarian and regenerating ideas cannot take place in a society thus constituted; they perceive the necessity of a revolutionary whirlwind which will sweep away all this rottenness, revive sluggish hearts with its breath, and bring to mankind that spirit of devotion, self-denial, and heroism, without which society sinks through degradation and vileness into complete disintegration.

In periods of frenzied haste toward wealth, of feverish speculation and of crisis, of the sudden downfall of great industries and the ephemeral expansion of other branches of production, of scandalous fortunes amassed in a few years and dissipated as quickly, it becomes evident that the economic institutions which control production and exchange are far from giving to society the prosperity which they are supposed to guarantee; they produce precisely the opposite result. Instead of order they bring forth chaos; instead of prosperity, poverty and insecurity; instead of reconciled interests, war; a perpetual war of the exploiter against the worker, of exploiters and of workers among themselves. Human society is seen to be splitting more and more into two hostile camps, and at the same time to be subdividing into thousands of small groups waging merciless war against each other. Weary of these wars, weary of the miseries which they cause, society rushes to seek a new organization; it clamors loudly for a complete remodeling of the system of property ownership, of production, of exchange and all economic relations which spring from it.

The machinery of government, entrusted with the maintenance of the existing order, continues to function, but at every turn of its deteriorated gears it slips and stops. Its working becomes more and more difficult, and the dissatisfaction caused by its defects grows continuously. Every day gives rise to a new demand. "Reform this," "reform that," is heard from all sides. "War, finance, taxes, courts. police, everything must be remodeled, reorganized, established on a new basis," say the reformers. And vet all know that it is impossible to make things over, to remodel anything at all because everything is interrelated; everything would have to be remade at once; and how can society be remodeled when it is divided into two openly hostile camps? To satisfy the discontented would be only to create new malcontents.

Incapable of undertaking reforms, since this would mean paving the way for revolution, and at the same time too impotent to be frankly reactionary, the governing bodies apply themselves to halfmeasures which can satisfy nobody, and only cause new dissatisfaction. The mediocrities who, in such transition periods, undertake to steer the ship of State, think of but one thing: to enrich then.selves against the coming débâcle. Attacked from all sides they defend themselves awkwardly, they evade, they commit blunder upon blunder, and they soon succeed in cutting the last rope of salvation; they drown the prestige of the government in ridicule, caused by their own incapacity.

Such periods demand revolution. It becomes a social necessity; the situation itself is revolutionary.


1) People's access to inexpensive text, audio and visual production technology has allowed germinating ideas to be documented and shared rapidly worldwide. Experiments in alternative business economic models are being tested by necessity in countries, like Argentina, where the corporate globalization model failed catastrophically.

2) The "old order," harbored by corporate shields, is reflected by today's corporate mass media, a model that is itself failing to provide meaningful investigative reporting. News content generators and distribution owners have consolidated and continue to promote a failed world view of corporate-dominated economics. Since 1980, the number of major media content companies has gone from about fifty to about five. Radio ownership has consolidated radically since passage of the 1996 Telecom Act, from a maximum of 40 radio stations per owner to about 1,200 owned at it's peak by the right wing Clear Channel. For many people, TV and mass media represent reality. Now, that reality is in the hands of a few corporations that seek to maintain the status quo. However, the status quo is being challenged by a rapidly growing media reform movement, and alternative sources of information, that are free to explore real solutions because they are not constrained by commercial bondage.

3) The acceptance of corporate globalization as an "immutable, natural economic system" is the most egregious example of a prejudiced traditon. The corporate mass media repeats, "Government: Wasteful, Bad. Big Business: Efficient, Good," until the inherent socially damaging flaws of the corporate capitalist economic system are no longer examined, let alone questioned. Other "traditions," like excessive checks on popular sentiments by the US Senate, stifle solutions to a growing number of real crises.

4) More people are questioning the U.S. Constitution, recognizing it was created by a wealthy elite minority, with provisions for maintaining their economic dominance (Federalist No. 10 is transparent on this topic). The US Senate's service as a barrier to popular progress is one example. Historical elements of the Constitution prove that it isn't as exceptional as we are schooled to believe; the Constitution originally limited voting to land-owning males, did not recognize Native Americans and women, and legalized slavery. Other elements of the Constitution, created to protect the property of the elite minority, are being being questioned particularly as relates to the growing power of corporations.

5) Concerns about historically extreme wealth desparity are so great that they are being voiced in the mainstream media, by Senators on primetime TV, USA Today, MSNBC and stories of Wall Street Christmas bonuses that are so unseemly that corporate leaders send e-mails to caution staff against flaunting their bonuses in public. Social disequilibrium has become so out of balance, and the governing system so incompetent, that prospects for a gradual re-balancing are fading. The potential for rapid, chaotic social restructuring in increasing.

6) As noted in (5) above, political institutions, having become polarized and beholden to corporate interests, seem incapable of solving problems of the day. Rather than providing a real solution, the so-called healthcare reform process is poised to force citizens to give their money to private insurance corporations thereby boosting the profits, read political and economic power, of this disdained industry.

7) Saved only by accounting slight-of-hand, the American financial system is bankrupt both literally and morally. Given the off-shoring of jobs, the aging populace and the off-shoring of corporate profits to shield them from tax responsibilities, the United States itself is incapable of raising sufficient revenues to cover its ballooning debts.

8) For example, people are now taking notice of outrageous bonuses being paid out in financial services corporations. More people are realizing that highly paid media celebrities are part of the establishment and thus incapable of rendering an unbiased critique of the status quo of which they are a part.

9) Scandals of the privileged and the leisured have faces like that of disgraced South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, Wall Street titan Bernard Madoff, hypocritical Senator John Ensign, very connected Jack Abramoff, Paris Hilton, and even the vaunted Tiger Woods to scratch the surface.

10) The war of aggression by the US in Iraq, US use of torture and US backing of blatant war crimes by Israel have made a mockery of principles of civilized behavior of nations. These kinds of grotesque actions, combined with the dismissal of global institutions, like the United Nations, designed to provide a moral compass, provide proof that the law of the jungle is the new normal.


a. "Backlash grows against free tradeæ, Mark Trumbull, The Christian Science Monitor February 16, 2007.

b. "The Future is Now," William Greider, The Nation June 8, 2006.

c. Paris Hilton's Tax Relief, Ellen Goodman, June 15, 2006.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Establishment Tool: Filibuster

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the House, people were thinking "the Senate is a barrier to democracy!"

I'm not going to try to rhyme here in saying that the US Senate was set up by our dear founding fathers as a barrier between the unwashed masses and the wealthy establishment elite (AKA our founding fathers).

Yes, as the US Constitution was written in 1789, US Senators were elected by state legislatures, not by the unwashed masses (AKA The People). Then in 1913 the 17th Amendment was ratified to replace the phrase "chosen by the Legislature thereof" with "elected by the people thereof." My grandmother was alive when this little bit of democracy was gained by the unwashed masses.

Today it is becoming painfully apparent that the Senate rule allowing for a minority filibuster now functions as a requirement for a 60-vote super-majority on all legislation. This state of affairs, in a Senate captured by corporate power, is undemocratic and threatens to undermine popular support for Congress. This, in turn, undermines democracy.

It's true that we need checks on excessive power, or "tyranny," of the majority; however, today nearly unsurmountable power, or "tyranny," is being wielded by a corporate-sponsored minority. The situation is a corruption of American ideals and demands attention.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Night Before Christmas Debacle

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Senate
Evidence was mounting of democracy's limit.

The People dismayed by what they were seeing
Sixty votes it takes to do just about anything.

The Constitution took care to protect the minority
A wealthy elite exploiting the majority.

Obama a prisoner of establishment power
Claims "victory" with words that surely taste sour.

As the healthcare battle appears to be done
the people are told, "Go to sleep now, you've won!"

The dejected masses comply and act tame
While Obama unabashedly calls out some names

Now Geithner, Now Orszag, Emanual, and Baucus
On DePearle, On Lieberman, Nelson and Sebelius

A man with a smile audaciously says, "hope"
surrounded by insiders who think I'm a dope.

"We stood up to special interests," he says as he winks
But his words are cheap, this deal really stinks.

The man with a smile says "The struggle is on"
More people look askance as they detect a con.

And when the dust settles the people will see
No healthcare reform from the powers that be.

Though believers continue to heap on their praise
Their numbers dwindle with the passing of days.

The media, corporate owned, just plays along
while the people say, "something's terribly wrong."

The Empire teeters, the establishment takes fright
But with happy faces say, 'To all a good night."




Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Obama's Healthcare Shadow

Remember the old Mad Magazine piece showing a series of cartoon frames in which people are doing one thing, but their shadow is doing something socially unacceptable that they really want to do? Like the example below:

I can't remove the image of Obama, with Rahm Emanuel standing there, saying

By standing up to the special interests who have prevented reform for decades and who are furiously lobbying against it now, the Senate has moved us closer to reform that makes a tremendous difference for families, for seniors, for businesses and for the country as a whole.

Meanwhile Obama's and Emanuel's shadows are high-fiving the health industry executives on sealing the deal. 30 million people forced to buy corporate health insurance, some subsidized by tax payer money, thereby strengthening the corporate power of an industry that is already controlling our governing system. WTF?


Monday, December 14, 2009

Kyoto & the Articles of Confederation

A forgotten bit of United States history provides an analogy to what could happen to the Keyoto Protocols in Copenhagen.

The United States had a constitution before the U.S. Constitution. It was called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, or simply the Articles of Confederation. Article 13 stated that only the Congress of the states could amend the Articles of Confederation.

However, rather than amend the Articles, a series of conferences and conventions were held, which resulted in the Articles being discarded and replaced by the U.S. Constitution. A similar thing appears to be happening to the Kyoto Protocols to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Powerful nations are trying to discard the Kyoto treaty and replace it with something else more favorable to corporate interests.

It's instructive to reflect back on what motivated the dismantling of the Articles of Confederation. Following a meeting in Mount Vernon to address navigation issues between Maryland and Virginia, the conveners recommended a convention of all the States for the following purpose:

"to take into consideration the trade and commerce" of the Confederation. [1]

Ah, yes. Commercial interests at work again. According to political scientist David Hendrickson:

When the war ended in 1783, certain special interests had incentives to create a new "merchant state," much like the British state people had rebelled against. In particular, holders of war scrip and land speculators wanted a central government to pay off scrip at face value and to legalize western land holdings with disputed claims. Also, manufacturers wanted a high tariff as a barrier to foreign goods, but competition among states made this impossible without a central government.[2]

So, out with the Articles of Confederation and in with the U.S. Constitution and a central government. The same interests seem to be at work centuries later trying to say out with Kyoto and in with a corporate-directed approach to global climate change. This establishment approach must be challenged.


1. C. Tansill (ed.), Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States, H. Doc. No. 358, 69th Congress, 1st sess. (1927)

2. Hendrickson, David C., Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding. (2003)


Friday, December 4, 2009

Obama's Exceptional View of America in Afghanistan

In his Afghanistan war escalation speech, President Obama drew on American Exceptionalism to claim US intentions are pure in Afghanistan. It's as if the US dirty wars in Central America, in support of United Fruit and other corporate interests, never happened.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama also praised the United States as a country that has not sought world domination or occupation.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: More than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades, a time that for all its problems has seen walls come down and markets opened, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress in advancing frontiers of human liberty. For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for, what we continue to fight for, is a better future for our children and grandchildren and we believe that their lives will be better if other people’s children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Bacevich, your book is called “The Limits of Power, The End of American Exceptionalism”, responding to... President Obama’s last point about why we are in Afghanistan.

ANDREW BACEVICH*: ... This is the preferred narrative of American history, the way we prefer to see ourselves and, therefore, the narrative that we use to justify all that we do in the world. It is really telling and extraordinary that this president, whose background is quite different from all those other presidents... and who came to office promising to bring about change, it is extraordinary that he himself would embrace that narrative so uncritically. I think that is indicative of the extent to which whether there is going to be any change in Washington, it is simply going to be changes on the margins and that the Washington consensus, the status quo, is firmly in place.

*Andrew Bacevich is a retired colonel and a Vietnam war veteran who spent twenty-three years in the US Army. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University and the author of “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.”


DemocracyNow! December 2, 2009.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hope for the Establishment?

Well, the World Bank is a dirty word in some circles. But I've recently had some experiences that suggest the Global Justice Movement might have influenced The Bank.

Perhaps, the cynic would say, the following statistic is just the Bank engaging in self-promotion the justify their own existence.

According to the World Bank, 75-80 of the effects of climate change are being felt in the developing world. So, you have this inverse relationship between cause and effect.

But another take is that the Bank is, 1) acknowledging the existence of climate change, something the Palinistas won't do, and 2) providing evidence for a legal challenge with reparations as the remedy.

By chance I discussed the changes at the World Bank with someone who is #2 for a particular geographic region. In response to a question about changes at the Bank over the past decade, he said that the Bank has deeply changed it's perspective on two things. First, the Bank recognizes the use of "structural adjustments" as a condition of loans was bad policy, in part because it was coercive. Thus, nations would do what was necessary to secure the loans, but were not really committed to the changes.

Second, and related to the first, was to take a more holistic view of the loans, recognizing distribution issues and social issues. In other words, recognizing that the results of the loans need to affect a broader spectrum of people in the recipient country, with particular attention on impacts of the poorest people.

The purpose here isn't to praise the World Bank as much as it is to point to the success of the Global Justice Movement in helping raise the consciousness of an institution like the World Bank.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Financial Elite in a Sea of Poverty

Back in 1975, when oil wealth in the Middle East was accumulating, the Kuwait fund for Economic Development pledged $16 billion to developing countries. According to National Geographic,

The fund's director general, Abdlatif Al-Hamad, 39, explained the philosophy behind such generosity: "We cannot close our doors and say to hell with everyone else. Nothing is clearer than the danger of having an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty."

We've all heard that about the 1% of Americans who own 38% of the wealth. The bottom 40% owned less than 1% of the nation's wealth. These are 2001 statistics and the disparity has grown since then.

Sounds like an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty.

Where is Abdlatif Al-Hamad today?


National Geographic, "Arabs," October, 1975.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Bogus Wall Street Profits Attract Investors

Trust your instincts on your reaction to the following:

Wall Street Headed for Record Profits in 2009

New government figures show Wall Street is on pace to have its most profitable year to date. On Tuesday, the New York Comptroller Office said Wall Street profits are set to exceed the record set three years ago, before the onset of the nation’s financial meltdown. The four largest firms—Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase—took in $22.5 billion in profits through September. The top six banks set aside $112 billion for salaries and bonuses over the same period. In a statement, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said, “The national economy is slowly improving, but Wall Street has recovered much faster than anyone had envisioned.” [1]

My take on this is that the Obama administration knows the following and hopes you don't:

1. These too-big-to-fail financial institutions are insolvent, probably even despite the trillions in tax-payer bailouts.

2.The establishment, including the Obama administration, cannot expose this insolvency because they are trying to attract private capital (investors) to overcome the insolvency.

3. Investors need to see the too-big-to-fail financial institutions as "good investments," therefore these institutions need to be seen making profits.

4. The "profits" of these financial institutions are founded on complex accounting gimmicks.

5. This is all being done for one basic reason: To avoid the social chaos that would follow if the bottom were allowed to drop out of these financial institutions, which would lead to loss of power among many in the establishment.


1. Democracty Now Headlines, November 18, 2009.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let Down by Obama? Steps you can Take

So the Obama afterglow is fading and the word "establishment" is starting to look like both major parties? No need to hyperventilate; you're not alone. There is support among like minded people.

One of those like minded people has taken the time to consolidate some advice for doing something about it. I don't agree with it all*, but you can be the decider.

Check out the recent post: "What to Do If You Are Disatisfied with Obama and Bush" at the Godless Liberal Homo blog.


* One of the "action items" is to "Stay a Registered Democrat." This can be argued both ways.

An alternative perspective is to "Register Green." In doing so, you cast a vote that will be recorded for all to see in the County Election Board tables of registered voters, including Democratic Party operatives.

As the numbers in the Green Party column grow, the Democrats will realize that they are actually to the right of a growing group of people... this will help pull the Dems back to the left. True, you give up your primary vote, so be sure to convince at least one friend who would NOT have voted in the primary to do so... now you've offset the minor benefit of remaining registered Dem and you still have your number reflected in the County Election Board's tally of registered voters for all to see. Simple.

Final Note: Is it only me, or when you first glance at the photo in the upper right, doesn't it look like "Change Label"?


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is Obama a Prisoner?


There is an elite within the establishment that are so influential, they often seem to call the shots. In Central American countries, like El Salvador, this oligarchy is more blatant than in the US and has been called "the 14 Families."

Blaze Bonpane, a former Jesuit priest, recounts an observation from his experience in Central America:

I’ve seen presidents who were prisoners in Guatemala, that were elected and then immediately told by the military, “You will do what we say, or you’re out of here.”

It was in this context that the question is raised with Obama, as recounted by Bonpane.

When Obama went to the meeting with the thirty-two countries, [in] Trinidad, Tobago, the parting shot from the ALBA nations was, quote, “Are you a prisoner?”

I think [the question] came directly from Hugo Chavez—“Are you a prisoner?”

If not a prisoner of the establishment elite, perhaps he's a prisoner of an economic system that is careening out of control, precariously close to collapse.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Obama's Agriculture Trade Rep = More of Same

President Obama’s nominee for the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the office of the US Trade Representative, Islam Siddiqui is currently a vice president at CropLife America. CropLife is a major trade association for the pesticide industry, the members of which include Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow Chemical. He was previously a lobbyist for CropLife. [1]

We can expect Siddiqui to promote a corporate, establishment policy. This policy will consolidate wealth among a small number of ever larger companies that are able to navigate complex transnational trade policies. He will promote policies that undermines diversity in crops, leading to mono-culture crops that are at risk of catastrophic failure. We can predict the crash, but but the establishment stands to make huge profits in the short run, and thus don't care about the future crash.... does this ring a bell?

Obama believes in "compromise." Obama selected Tom Vilsack as head of USDA, who pretty much represents the establishment view of industrial farming. Then, as Deputy Agriculture Secretary Obama picks Kathleen Merrigan who supports organic farming.[1] So, Obama believes, if you put one foot in boiling water, and the other in ice water, on average, you're comfortable!


DemocracyNow!,"Obama Nominates Pesticide Executive to Be Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative," November 17, 2009.

Poster Credit: Drew Heles. See Results of FTAA Art Constest.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Clinton Link to Italian Cleric Rendition Conviction

As all should already know:

In a landmark case, twenty-three Americans, mostly CIA operatives, have been convicted in Italy for kidnapping a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003.... The case marks the first time any American has been convicted for taking part in a so-called “extraordinary rendition.” [1]

The 2003 operation has been described in terms of the "Keystone Cops," ridiculed as inept and corrupted by by excesses:

CIA people had stayed, in five-star hotels, eating expensive meals with vintage wines, rented luxury automobiles—all at taxpayers’ expense. [1]

It's true that this particular operation was conducted on the watch of George W. Bush, and it might be tempting to for liberals to point out this conviction as another strike against Bush administration excesses. Sure, there's some truth in that; however, the reality is that this behavior is indicative of an establishment orientation that goes beyond Bush:

The case marks the first time any American has been convicted for taking part in a so-called “extraordinary rendition,” a practice the CIA has used, dating back to the Clinton administration, to kidnap wanted individuals anywhere in the world. [1]


1. DemocracyNow!, "Italian Prosecutor in Case Against CIA Operatives Hails Convictions for ’03 Kidnapping of Egyptian Cleric," November 6, 2009.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Politicization of the Economy

What does it mean? It could mean the situation that prevails today; corporate power runs Washington, which in turn sets the economic environment in which the corporations flourish, and so on.

A different interpretation could be called democratizing the economy. The people have a say in what happens to the money that is created by banks.

Nobody raises this possibility, rejecting it outright. There is bi-partisan agreement against democratizing the economy. It's erroneously dismissed as "socialism," rather than being called "democracy" as it should be.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Dispossessed People and the Rise of the Security State

Both Repbulican and Democrat alike seem to acknowledge, and fund, the rise of a security state, spurred in great part by 9/11. More electronic equipment and other hardware, more trained staff, more joint task force committees and "centers", etc.

At the same time, Connecting the Dots, we are witnessing a growing number of dispossessed people, the "jobless" in the "jobless recovery." Detroit and many unnamed towns and cities, like Flint, MI, have had former factory workers sitting on their porches now since the 1980s. (As an aside, the parents of these people sitting on the porches, many of whom have now passed on, got slammed by the Savings and Loan crisis/heist; an "economic failure" not too unlike the sub-prime loan debacle. But I digress....)

The establishment seems blind to the realities of families and individuals who must cope with ... no money... no health care... Where do they go? In the case of Brazil:

These dispossessed people have only two places to flee to: the shantytowns or the Amazon.

We're talking about formerly "lower-to-middle class" becoming destitute. These people "seem" to "go away," and some do, pushed to death. Those who live chop at the edge of rain forests or do whatever it takes to survive.

A glaring image of the dispossessed closer to home (the US) was splashed all over establishment media when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.

The rise of Security State was seen in New Orleans during Katrina; something new was a heavy presence of privatized security, Blackwater being most notable because of reports of their abusive behavior. The key word is "private;" as soon as disasters become profitable, be the natural or man-made, the security industry benefits... disaster capitalism as described by Naomi Klein.

I could go on, but my only point is to connect-the-triangle-of-dots between the growing dispossessed, the rise of the security state and the bi-partisan support of the latter in the face of the former... the establishment fears the unwashed masses, nothing new there.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

American Exceptionalism: The Connection

So, what's the connection between the concept of American Exeptionalism and the Establishment? There are surely many, but one is a subtext of the two-party system... that the both parties accept the myth of American Exceptionalism.

First, American Exceptionalism is a view, deeply ingrained in our culture, that the United States of America superior among nations as if god-given. The "Gods" in this case were the "founding fathers," and the US form of democracy is viewed as not only the best, but unsurpassable.

This notion of being "special" includes a belief that US actions are for the common good of the world. The US spreads democracy, which is a noble pursuit. It is a belief held by both conservative and liberal Americans, albeit liberals acknowledge past imperfections of slavery, the omission of women's rights in the original constitution, etc.

When it comes to foreign policy in particular, American Exceptionalism binds the Democrats and Republicans to very similar views and imperial activities abroad. Take the following doctrine for example:

Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

This policy was voiced in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. To be even more clear, no outside force will impinge on US Control of Persian Gulf Oil... it is unstated that the "benevolent" United States should have control over this oil rather than anyone else. The establishment agrees, and American Exceptionalism is a common underpinning of that agreement.

For More on the mythology of American Exceptionalism, and its implications, check out GDAE Podcast Episode 18 (35 - min).


Monday, August 31, 2009

MUSIC: It's Not Just Bush!

The song "It's Not Just Bush" exposes the establishment-dominated world we live in. Both Democratic and Republican parties are "corporate parties," driven by money interests, while giving voice to the myth of a democratic society. This hard-driving acoustic music by Ryan Harvey is raw on many levels and well worth the 3-minute listen.

LISTEN: It's Not Just Bush

DOWNLOAD: It's Not Just Bush

Link to Ryan Harvey's page at Riot Folk

Riot Folk web page.


Ryan Harvey and Riot Folk brought to you by GDAE Podcast


Monday, August 17, 2009

Establishment Position on Health Care

Obama took the establishment "middle of the road" position on health care reform, and look where it got him? He is capitulating on a public option. My message to President Obama:

By taking the middle of the road on health care, your "compromise" position is falling far short of meaningful reform. I'm urging my representatives to say "no" to any legislation that does not have a strong public option.

I am tired of the establishment controlling everything from the media, to the financial system, to the health care system, to our system of government. So, the message is, "fight for a public option or start over." The next time, take the far left position of which you're being accused, then compromise in the middle. This is negotiation 101.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009


A "Golpista" is someone or an institution that is in favor of a coup. The word is receiving a lot of use in Honduras these days.

Judging from the widely accepted view that the US has ample influence to reverse the coup d'etat in Hounduras if it wanted to, it appears the US government is a "golpista" too. But the US has chosen not to use that influence.

Why doesn't this come as a surprise? Because the US and Honduran establishments are golpistas and they run their respective governments. This is described by ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya:

The coup in Honduras was made by a group of ambitious businessmen that want to maintain their privileges associated to multinational companies with political puppets and corrupt military. Trying to give it an ideological tint—left, right, Chavism, US right—is an intent to change the face of the coup and to distract attention to other ideological problems, when the problem are the economic privileges of the sectors that want to maintain it.

In other words, the golpistas are, in large part, individuals and institutions of the establishment. They want to maintain their power and wealth.

There are probably other words for the uninformed middle and lower class people who are duped or coerced into supporting the coup d'etat, but I don't know those words. In this country we call them Sarah Palin followers.


Photo Credit, and teacher of the word "Golpista": Sandra Cuffe. More Photos by S. Cuffe

Saturday, August 1, 2009

On American Exceptionalism

Why does the issue of American Exceptionalism matter?

First, it's worth clarifying that American Exceptionalism isn't simply "patriotism." It is perfectly healthy to root for the home team, but that's different than having delusions of god-given, or founding-father given greatness. Taking pride in our country, and trying to make it good, doesn't necessitate mythologies that promote a false sense of unique, superior position among other nations. Exceptionalism is a belief in the later, which is different than healthy pride in one's nation.

I'll be exploring "exceptionalism" in Episode 17 of GDAE Podcast. It is relevant to challenging the establishment, because the myths of American Exceptionalism are used by members and institutions of the establishment to maintain their exceptional positions.... at the expense of the masses.

I'll be including audio clips from Media Matters that delve into they way ingrained beliefs in American Exceptionalism colors news reporting and other aspects of media. This exceptionalsm has many negative side effects. For example, the United States justifies hundreds of military basese across the world, the use of military force and horrific "collateral damage" on the basis of exceptionalism.

As another example, Americans have been led to believe that "we are great by definition," which creates the social attitude of a nation resting on its laurels. This malaize is expressed in the US falling behind other nations in education, health care, infrastructure and the knowledge to maintain its more complex elements, national debt and many other things.

We can care for our community, whether it be local or national, without having false notions of grandure. Because false myths of American exceptionalism are used to rally a national "manifest destiny" militancy, and quell dissent of people challenging our government and major US corporations, we must challenge the myths themselves.