Archive for the ‘Progressive’ Category

The Revolution Will Not Be Deactualized


Tired of the astroturf, corporatocracy apologists? Do you believe in peace, economic justice, human rights and a healthy environment?  Then clear your calendar for the 6th, the 7th, the 8th…however long it takes for the Obama Administration to yield to key progressive demands, including immediate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and the other wars. Participants are being asked to sign a pledge to attend at http://october2011.org.

Join together in Washington, D.C., beginning on Oct. 6, 2011.

October 2011 is the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the 2012 federal austerity budget. It is time to light the spark that sets off a true democratic, nonviolent transition to a world in which people are freed to create just and sustainable solutions.

See also:
SYNDICATED COLUMN: The Revolution Will Not Be Deactualized

Holy Astroturf, Batman!

This photo has been reblogged from Liberals Are Cool and Look At This Fucking Teabagger

If we listen to the USMSM (which includes US Public broadcasting), the “Tea Party movement” is truly a viable, grassroots movement rather than astroturfed horseshit.

2,000 people were expected at a Tea Party rally in South Carolina, just 30 showed up after Donald Trump cancelled his appearance with Gov. Nikki Haley (R), according to the Columbia State. The picture above from the rally is truly priceless for showing how much the “Tea Party” is a creation of US MSM.

The problem is that US MSM refuses to acknowledge the progressive viewpoint. How many people have heard of “the People’s Budget” proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus for Fiscal Year 2012? Instead of heading on a crash course for a US Default, the “the People’s Budget” eliminates the deficit in 10 years, puts Americans back to work and restores our economic competitiveness while protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and responsibly eliminates the deficit by targeting its main drivers: the Bush Tax Cuts, the wars overseas, and the causes and effects of the recent recession.

Why do we hear about the Tea Party initiatives, but not the “the People’s Budget”? Might it have something to do with US MSM being controlled by a few large corporations?  They even control “Public Broadcasting (USPM=US Public Media)” through underwriting so that even that avenue may provide more in-depth coverage than Fox News,  USPM is nearly as biased as Fox when it comes down to coverage.

See also:
6 Tips For Spotting Astroturf
The Corporate Accountability Project
Look At This Fucking Teabagger

Persuasion

I was at a family do this past weekend when the topic of climate change deniers came up with a relative who works in the field of climate change and food security. My question was “so, are you going to beat up on the likes of “Lord” Monckton and Sammy Wilson?” Her response surprised me, but made loads of sense.

“Why? the people who know that climate change is real are the people I am going to be dealing with. It would be a waste of time to try to persuade that type of person when I can be putting my efforts into getting something done.”

Point taken. No matter how much you try to logically disucss a topic with someone who is totally illogical, they will refuse to see reason. Your argument can be in big, bold letters, yet they will disagree for whatever reason they choose–no matter how silly that reason may be to the educated observer. These people will believe discredited studies and sources.

But those aren’t the people I want to spend my time on. I want to get the people who can use my information for good purposes. I want to link up with others who can work with me to achieve my goals. I know those people are out there, but I need to connect to them.

The other people will continue in their echo chamber, but I prefer to connect with people who are willing to go forward to change the world for the better. I don’t have the time to deal with the astroturfers.

Remember when?

OK, this message is making it’s way around the internet and I’m happy to share it:

Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, AmeriCorps, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither. Please share this message.

Stop Blacking Out Progressive Protests

Ever notice how progressive events and speakers don’t get too much air time on US media? Here’s an example<

A sparsely attended Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C., on March 31 in support of federal spending cuts received generous media attention. One report (Slate, 3/31/11) suggested there was “at least one reporter for every three or four activists,” and a Republican politician joked that there might be more journalists than activists at the event.

An antiwar rally in New York City on April 9 was in some respects very similar. Protesters were speaking out on an equally timely issue (wars in Afghanistan and Libya), and connecting them to the budget and near-government shutdown in Washington.

The difference? The ratio of activists to journalists. The antiwar protest had thousands of attendees–and received almost zero corporate media coverage

This is despite the progressive events putting out extensive media outreach. What gives here?

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR.ORG) has noted this phenomenon before. It’s time for to media explain why it seems that any Tea Party event, no matter how small, is considered far more newsworthy than progressive citizen activism. Now, it has a petition drive to get more attention to this lack of media attention:

Thousands marched against war in New York City on April 9. Two thousand protested the Koch brothers in Washington, D.C. Neither event was covered by major media. A sparsely attended Tea Party rally just a few days earlier, though, was big news. We call on news media to explain the journalistic principle that makes thousands of progressive activists far less newsworthy than dozens of Tea Party protesters.

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/592/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6545

Liberalism and populism in the US.

I have to admit that I find the blog American Creation to be really interesting and informative. Which leads to their credit for having a post about William Hogeland (Hysteriography), which is a name I’ve encountered before since we share interests: in particular, early American insurrections and populism. Although, I have to admit his pieces in the Boston Review, Real Americans, and at New Deal 2.0, Liberals and Populism: An Uneasy History, really struck a chord with me.

The left is often left wondering why its message is lost on the people. For example, I read a blog which made some wild claims about progressives being against “freedom”. Of course, the blogger in question probably has a different concept of the word freedom than I do if he dislikes the changes that progressivism has brought about: such as the pure food and drug act, the clean air and water acts, child labour laws, laws about safety in the workplace, and so on. Or is it a person’s right and freedom to want to be a slave?

The problem is that there is a strong anti-intellectual streak in the American population. As Hogeland points out “the main populist assault (During William Jennings Bryan’s time), just as today, was on common liberal modes of discussion, debate, and expertise.” There was the disgust with the East Coast, Elites, which today would be termed the “Within the Beltway mindset”. Hogeland takes his premise even further back at Liberals and Populism: An Uneasy History going to the War for American Independence.

Liberals and Populism: An Uneasy History gets me thinking my usual question about how many of the founding fathers would have chosen to incite the masses had they known how hard the mob would be to control? As I said at American Creation, Especially since Samuel Adams wasn’t a populist! That is truly an interesting point. I know that he had made a comment about Shays’ Rebellion which would point to his being a strong denouncer of insurrectionism (“Rebellion against a king may be pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death.”). Given that Sam Adams was prone to stirring up mobs as happened in the Boston Massacre and Philadelphia, this is truly a revelation!

Of course, this post may tend toward the elitism for which overeducated people such as myself, but one has to wonder how much the people who wanted independence at any cost would view the effect on US Politics (as opposed to the Tories who wanted any change to be done through legal means)? The problem is that the mob is not a body which can be controlled or is reasonable. One needs leadership. Or to quote James Madison:

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions. Federalist #10

Reason, Change, and the progressive mind

In my post: Why People Don’t Believe Scientists Even When There Is ‘Consensus’ (via A Thinking Person) I mentioned that he explained:

the phenomenon of where people accept studies that are poorly supported over those with oodles of support, peer review, etcetera. That is people are more inclined to believe things that fit their worldview. Change requires effort and is uncomfortable, thus people prefer inactivity and status quo.

In the ideal world, people would be logical rather than susceptible to their emotions. Unfortunately, people are more inclined to let their emotions sway them, no matter how irrational that may be.

I am not alone in wondering this as other progressives, such as George Monbiot recently wrote an article in the Guardian, which was posted to his blog about this phenomenon.

We see someone who is Jewish allying herself with neo-nazis or a person who feels free because he can work 62 hours and not have any vacation which are totally irrational positions. George Monbiot points out that:

[we are] forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting.

The acceptance of a course of action which run contrary to perceived interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st Century. But most Progressives use the enlightenment model of thinking which holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. Psychological experiments are showing that it doesn’t work the way we would expect. Instead of performing a rational analysis, people accept information which confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with those values. We mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge. Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden resistance to the conflicting idea.

The US Tea Party crowd angrily demands that they be left without healthcare, while insisting that millionaires should pay less tax. People in the US insanely demand their “gun rights” and are easily manipulated with wedge issues. Not that they are the only victims of this irrationality as other countries seem set to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives with barely a mutter of protest.

Our social identity is shaped by values which psychologists classify as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic values concern status and self-advancement. People with a strong set of extrinsic values fixate on how others see them. They cherish financial success, image and fame. Intrinsic values concern relationships with friends, family and community, and self-acceptance. Those who have a strong set of intrinsic values are not dependent on praise or rewards from other people. They have beliefs which transcend their self-interest.

We are not born with our values. They are shaped by the social environment. By changing our perception of what is normal and acceptable, politics alters our minds as much as our circumstances. In addition, advertising and the media are used to persuade people by obsessive promotion of celebrity, fashion, fast cars, expensive holidays: all of which inculcate extrinsic values. They also suppress intrinsic goals by generating feelings of insecurity and inadequacy – which means reducing self-acceptance.

George Monbiot
suggests that:

People with strong intrinsic values must cease to be embarrassed by them (those who encourage selfishness). We should argue for the policies we want not on the grounds of expediency but on the grounds that they are empathetic and kind; and against others on the grounds that they are selfish and cruel. In asserting our values we become the change we want to see.

I have to admit a dilema in dealing with the severely brainwashed since I am not sure than anything short of a religious experience would convert them from their positions. It will take quite a bit to change our society so that it values community and family, not just work. We must stand up for those who believe there is more to life than the bottom line.

Perhaps the most important point that George makes is that we shouldn’t rely upon politicians to bring about this change as “their ambition must supplant peace of mind, family life, friendship – even brotherly love.” We must assert the values that we believe in and become the change that we seek.

See this report for more on the concept of reenforcing beliefs:
http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/common_cause_report.pdf

Feeling “left” out?

Despite all the demonising talk of liberals, socialists, progressives, and other left wing types, there is a surprisingly little attention paid to their activities in the US Main Stream Media. In fact, the astroturf tea party movement receives an out of proportion amount of attention. Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

For example, the fact that the Tea Party Convention this February received more coverage than the U.S. Social Forum convention held last June, five days of strategizing, organizing and activism inspired by the 2001 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Social Forum, in Detroit, drew an estimated 15,000–20,000 progressive activists from around the country, while the Tea Party Convention in Nashville hosted a meager 600 attendees. Compare the two “activist” gatherings striving for political and social change, one at least 25 times larger than the other—but the smaller one received the larger share of the media coverage. Across 10 major national outlets in the two weeks surrounding each event, the Tea Party got 177 mentions to the Social Forum’s three. Per participant, the Tea Party got 1,500 times as many mentions!

The U.S. Social Forum was subject to a virtual news blackout in the USMSM! Aside from local coverage, the only corporate media mentions found in the Nexis database came from Glenn Beck (Fox News, 6/29/10, 6/30/10)—warning viewers about “socialists and communists coming out of the woodwork to co-opt the youth and spread a dangerous disease”—and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, a guest on John King’s CNN show (6/30/10).

The U.S. Social Forum’s archive of news coverage can be found here.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that the left receives virtually no coverage in the USMSM: especially in the current economy. In fact, the choices which are presented to the US public are incredibly distasteful: republican, democrat, or “tea party”. The libertarian ideology is one which receives far more press than it deserves, but no surprise since Rupert Murdoch’s newscorp is a contributor to the Cato Foundation.

On the other hand, it is encouraging that the U.S. Social Forum could raise the level of participation it did despite the MSM News Blackout. An estimated attendance of 15,000–20,000 isn’t bad given that few people heard about this. Not to mention that Detroit is a dead city. I wonder what the level of participation would have been had the U.S. Social Forum had better coverage?

It is encouraging to see movements such as the U.S. Social Forum appearing. I wish that they received far more attention and that they will receive the amount of attention they deserve. Although, as I keep mentioning, the policies needed to address inequality (even if it means more jobs) “will always be controversial since they mean neutralising the advantages of wealth. A prospect that those with money and influence will fight hard against.”

See also:
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4143

Dazed and Confused!

I have to admit that between pro-gun weirdness, climate change denial, and not putting more blame on BP (and the rest of the oil drillers) for the mess in the Gulf of Mexico.

Somewhere in all this came in the fact that the North Sea Oil rigs have worse anti-spill technology than in the Gulf.

Actually, there’s a bit of a link in here. US pro-gun weirdness and climate denial are being funded by the Cato Institute, which somehow gets left out of the equation. The “pro-gun” crowd will mention that the Joyce Foundation funds various gun control groups, but they neglect how much funding comes from the Cato Institute. On the other hand, one of Cato’s founders is a billionaire co-founder of Koch Industries (Charles Koch)–the largest privately owned company in the United States. Though diversified, the company amassed most of its fortune in oil trading and refining, which explains why it is big on funding the climate change denial industry!

In case you missed it, Cato has also been bankrolling the two Supreme Court gun cases: DC v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago.

Cato demonstrates why I have a big problem with libertarianism: it’s confused. Whose rights are more important gun owners, or property owners who don’t want people carrying guns on their property. So, while most of the Cato foundation’s financial support from entrepreneurs, securities and commodities traders, and corporations such as oil and gas companies, Federal Express, and Philip Morris that abhor government regulation; however, the foundations Cato’s corporate fund-raising may be hampered by its scholars’ tendency to take positions that are at odds with some of the interests of some large corporations: in particular the concept of “corporate welfare”. The Cato Institute has published numerous studies criticizing what it calls “corporate welfare”, the practice of funneling taxpayer money to politically well-connected corporate interests.

Something that alienates its supporter base.

Anyway, the real point here is corporate responsibility, which is something that Cato abhors. The fact that they are anti-regulation should make people question their motives. And the BP Deep water drilling disaster highlights the need for corporate responsibility. I believe that people were assured that the technology existed to handle any problem which might arise from a deep-water oil platform, or so one would hope. Unfortunately, it seems that the technology seems to be as primitive as that which existed when the Torrey Canyon struck Pollard’s Rock back in 1967 and everybody is making a gigantic mess of the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course, everyone is forgetting the slogan “drill, baby, drill”. The fact that it was chanted by Sarah Palin makes it even more ironic since Ms. Palin comes from the land of Exxon Valdez.

The Petroleum industry is an incredibly lucrative one as BPs ponying up US$ 20 Billion without blinking shows. So, it’s obvious that someone who made his money from oil trading and refining might be able to pony up large amounts of money to ensure his interests were protected. In fact, we are talking about companies which are hostile to the worker’s interest, but they have managed to dupe the working class most effectively with issues such as gun rights and abortion.

The problem is that there is no real left wing party in the US and politics seems to favour the right and corporate interests. It interesting that a campaign finance reform act would exempt the NRA from any financial disclosures!

I am truly amazed that there is no viable left wing political party in the US to press for corporate responsibility!

But we need to remember the golden rule:
The person with the gold makes the rules