Monday, October 31, 2011


It's "Get It Movin' Monday" - Good Morning. How's this for an inspiring kick to get you movin'?

The Panel for Education Policy (or PEP), enacts policy for the New York City Dept. of Education.

The PEP replaced the Board of Education when Mayor Bloomberg took control of the schools in 2002.

It is intended to be a democratic forum where people voice concerns, prior to the panel's vote on educational policy.

Today the panel is convening to discuss new standards being implemented in schools.

200 parents, teachers staff and students are in attendance.

Video by

For more about General Assemblies, see our other video:
"Consensus (Direct Democracy at OWS):

More about Occupy the DOE:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Photographers harassed
ACLU sues L.A. Sheriff's Department

from the Los Angeles Times

The ACLU of Southern California sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and several of its deputies Thursday alleging they harassed, detained and improperly searched photographers taking pictures legally in public places.

The federal lawsuit alleges the Sheriff's Department and deputies "have repeatedly" subjected photographers "to detention, search and interrogation simply because they took pictures" from public streets of places such as Metro turnstiles, oil refineries or near a Long Beach courthouse.

"Photography is not a crime. It's protected 1st Amendment expression," said Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. "It violates the Constitution's core protections for sheriff’s deputies to detain and search people who are doing nothing wrong. To single them out for such treatment while they’re pursuing a constitutionally protected activity is doubly wrong."

Bibring said the policy and practices of the Sheriff's Department reflect a widespread misuse of "suspicious activity reporting" under the auspices of Homeland Security and counterterrorism. Similar suits have been filed in several other states.

Los Angeles County sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said it is a deputy's duty to ask questions.

"Should we really ignore suspicious activity?" Parker asked. "We have an obligation to the public to answer questions and we are going to ask people why are you taking that picture. It is our duty to protect the public."

Parker said the department has not had a chance to review the lawsuit and could not answer specific questions about the incidents.

Thursday's suit was filed on behalf of three photographers, who among them have been detained or ordered not to take pictures on at least six occasions.

Professional photographer Shawn Nee was detained and searched Oct. 31, 2009, for shooting images at the turnstiles of the Los Angeles subway system. Nee was shooting newly installed turnstiles at the Metro Red Line's Hollywood and Western station when a deputy asked why he was taking pictures. Nee told the deputy he was not doing anything, the deputy warned him that photography was prohibited at the station because it is a terrorist target.

"Al Qaeda would love to buy your pictures, so I want to know if you are in cahoots with Al Qaeda to sell these pictures to them for terrorist purposes," Deputy Richard Gylfie then reportedly told him.
The deputy grabbed Nee, pushed him against a wall, searched him and lectured him about terrorism, the lawsuit alleges. He also threatened to forward Nee's name to counterterrorism so it could be added to an FBI "hit list"

The incident was captured on video. According to the suit, the deputy was not disciplined despite a complaint.

Earlier this year, deputies ordered Nee not to photograph on the sidewalk outside the W Hotel at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Greggory Moore, a reporter who works for the Long Beach Post, was on a public sidewalk taking pictures of passing drivers for a story on Distracted Driving Awareness month in June when several sheriff's deputies surrounded, frisked and interrogated him. They said that because he was taking pictures across the street from the Long Beach Superior Court building, his behavior was suspicious.

"I was surrounded by deputies and frisked just blocks from my house, just for taking photographs in the middle of the day on a public sidewalk," Moore said. According to the suit, Moore was forced to show deputies his photos to support his story. Later, a sheriff’s sergeant told Moore the investigation was related to terrorism. In response to a letter from the National Press Photographers Assn., Sheriff Lee Baca defended the deputies' actions.

In another incident, deputies detained and searched Shane Quentin, a photographer with a master's in fine arts from UC Irvine while he was taking pictures of brilliantly lighted refineries in South Los Angeles on Jan. 21. Deputies frisked Quentin and placed him in the back of a police cruiser for about 45 minutes before releasing him. Two years before, Quentin had been ordered twice by deputies to stop taking photos of the refineries, according to the suit.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Central District and asks that the court order the Sheriff’s Department to stop detaining people solely on the fact that they are taking pictures. It also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Over the last several years, many police departments have instituted "suspicious activity reporting" programs designed to train officers to report certain activities in an effort to detect early surveillance by terrorist groups of potential targets.

In addition to the named plaintiffs, the suit alleges that several other photographers were detained for taking pictures of public buildings. Freelance photographer Ted Soqui was detained on the sidewalk outside the downtown jail while taking pictures for an L.A. Weekly story on jail abuse. Similarly, Catherine Dent was taking exterior photos of Men’s Central Jail for a school project and was detained and questioned.

“Photographers in Los Angeles and nationwide are increasingly subject to harassment by police officers,” said Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Assn. “Safety and security concerns should not be used as a pretext to chill free speech and expression.”
Thanks, Linde Law

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How OWS confuses and ignores Fox News and the pundit class.

from Slate
By Dahlia Lithwick

One of the best things about Occupy Wall Street is the way it confuses and ignores the shrill pundit class.

I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff” meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.

What the movement clearly doesn’t want is to have to explain itself through corporate television. To which I answer, Hallelujah. You can’t talk down to a movement that won’t talk back to you.
I don’t purport to speak for anyone but myself here, although I spent time this weekend at Occupy Wall Street and my husband spent much of last week adding his voice to the protesters there. I saw an incredible array of people that defy any simple demographic characterization and a broad range of signs that made—imagine!—more than a single point. But if I may hazard an opinion, it would be this: One of the most fatuous themes of mainstream OWS coverage is the endless loop of media bafflement at this movement that doesn’t have a message. Here’s CNN’s Erin Burnett in a classic put-down of the OWS’ refusal to tailor its message to her. It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.

Occupy Wall Street is not a movement without a message. It’s a movement that has wisely shunned the one-note, pre-chewed, simple-minded messaging required for cable television as it now exists. It’s a movement that feels no need to explain anything to the powers that be, although it is deftly changing the way we explain ourselves to one another.
Think, for just a moment, about the irony. We are the most media-saturated 24-hour-cable-soaked culture in the world, and yet around the country, on Facebook and at protests, people are holding up cardboard signs, the way protesters in ancient Sumeria might have done when demonstrating against a rise in the price of figs. And why is that? Because they very wisely don’t trust television cameras and microphones to get it right anymore. Because a media constructed around the illusion of false equivalencies, screaming pundits, and manufactured crises fails to capture who we are and what we value.

For the past several years, while the mainstream media was dutifully reporting on all things Kardashian or (more recently) a wholly manufactured debt-ceiling crisis, ordinary people were losing their health care, their homes, their jobs, and their savings. Those people have taken that narrative to Facebook and Twitter—just as citizens took to those alternative forms of media throughout the Middle East as part of the Arab Spring. And just to be clear: They aren’t holding up signs that say “I want Bill O’Reilly’s stuff.” They aren’t holding up signs that say “I am animated by toxic levels of envy and entitlement.” They are holding up signs that are perfectly and intrinsically clear: They want accountability for the banks that took their money, they want to end corporate control of government. They want their jobs back. They would like to feed their children. They want—wait, no, we want—to be heard by a media that has devoted four mind-numbing years to channeling and interpreting every word uttered by a member of the Palin family while ignoring the voices of everyone else.
And there’s this. The mainstream media thrives on simple solutions. It has no idea whatsoever of how to report on a story that isn’t about easy fixes so much as it is about anguished human frustration and fear. The media prides itself on its ability to tell you how to clear your clutter, regrout your shower, or purge your closet of anything that makes you look fat—in 24 minutes or less. It is bound to be flummoxed by a protest that offers up no happy endings. Luckily for us, #OWS doesn’t seem to care.

It must be painful for the pundits at Fox News. The more they demand that OWS explain itself in simple, Fox-like terms, the more cheerfully they are ignored by the occupiers around the country. As efforts to ridicule the protesters fail, attempts to repurpose the good old days of enemies lists falter; and efforts to demonize the occupiers backfire, polls continue to show that Americans support the protesters and share their goals. The rest of us quickly cottoned on to the fact that the only people who are scared of the “violent mobs” at Occupy Wall Street are the people being paid to call them violent mobs.

Mark your calendars: The corporate media died when it announced it was too sophisticated to understand simple declarative sentences. While the mainstream media expresses puzzlement and fear at these incomprehensible “protesters” with their oddly well-worded “signs,” the rest of us see our own concerns reflected back at us and understand perfectly. Turning off mindless programming might be the best thing that ever happens to this polity. Hey, occupiers: You’re the new news. And even better, by refusing to explain yourselves, you’re actually changing what’s reported as news. Because it takes a tremendous mental effort to refuse to see that the rich are getting richer in America while the rest of us are struggling. Maybe the days of explaining the patently obvious to the transparently compromised are finally behind us.

By refusing to take a ragtag, complicated, and leaderless movement seriously, the mainstream media has succeeded only in ensuring its own irrelevance. The rest of America has little trouble understanding that these are ragtag, complicated, and leaderless times. This may not make for great television, but any movement that acknowledges that fact deserves enormous credit.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax"
Coming to the Big Screen

This is one of the most classic greatest stories ever told that teaches children about the environment and corporate greed.

The trailer has a beautiful look to it, and they have certainly taken some liberties in expanding the story to make a full movie, i just hope it has the heart and bite of the book. My son at 4 years old chants "Hey Hey Ho Ho, Corporate Greed Has Got To Go!" - when we visit #OWS or just riding his scooter down the street to school sometimes, the thing that makes me so proud about that is not only does he say it by himself, but thanks to Dr. Seuss's The Lorax He actually understands what he's saying...

The Movie is released on March 2nd 2012 (day before my big day)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Slimy Grinning Scum Piece of Shit, Guilty As Fuck, Conservative "film maker" Passes Out Bongs To Occupy Wall Street Protesters to Discredit Movement

from MEDIAite
Conservative filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney was spotted at Occupy Wall Street allegedly passing out bongs and Che Guevara rolling papers to demonstrators.

Video blogger Joey Boots caught Maloney purportedly distributing the drug paraphernalia at the demonstration and interrogated him about what he was doing with the items. “Do you have bongs and marijuana leaf pictures and stickers and Che Guevara?” Boots grilled Maloney. “Are you giving it out? Do you have it in that backpack?”

“Over there they gave out bongs,” exclaimed an Occupy Wall Street protester. “He’s like, ‘You answer, here’s a bong.’ Trying to get that one shot. All they had was bongs, peace signs with marijuana and Che Guevara rolling papers. Three things when Fox News gets it, they’ll just clip that then it’s just like protesters accept it.”

“Are we going to expect to see those pictures on Fox News?” Boots yelled out.

“I don’t know if they’ll pick it up, maybe you’ll see it on CNN,” responded the rabble-rousing conservative filmmaker. “I’m giving them away because I’m a nice guy and I like giving stuff away.”

Maloney is most notable for producing the James O’Keefe-esque documentary Indoctrinate U about political correctness at American universities.

Watch Maloney get caught on tape apparently trying to punk protesters below, via

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More thoughts from Independent filmmakers down at OWS

Polls That Show
Occupy Wall Street is Just Getting Started

from AlterNet
Is the increasingly popular movement poised to turn the tide of American history?

After over a month of demonstrations, numerous dismissals, and thousands of arrests, Occupy Wall Street is gaining momentum. Over the last two weeks, polls have poured in revealing that Americans familiar with the protests largely support them. And since that familiarity will continue to increase, we can only conclude that the country's support for the movement will keep on growing. When you've got NYT pundit Charles Blow unfurling his hipster flag comparing OWS to legendary 90s band Nirvana, you know a tipping point has been reached!

Recent polls prove that when Americans hear this band, they dig it. Here’s a round-up:

Oct. 9-10 Time Magazine/Abt SRBI: This poll showed a 54 percent favorable rating of OWS, compared to a mere 27 percent thumbs up for the Tea Party. The same poll revealed a strong support for grievances associated with the movement. 86 percent of Americans polled thought that "Wall Street and lobbyists have too much influence in Washington"; 79 percent said that "the gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S. is too large"; 71 percent wanted prosecutions for "executives of financial institutions responsible for the financial meltdown in 2008"; and 68 percent believed that "the rich should pay more in taxes." Echoing the sense of alienation expressed by OWS protesters, 60 percent of respondents said that "the political debate in Washington and the media" does not represent their concerns.

Oct. 13-16 United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll: Here, a majority of those polled – fully 59 percent – said that they backed the goals of the protests from what they "know about the demonstrations." And 68 percent supported the Democratic surtax on millionaires to pay for the cost of their jobs plan, a policy cited by OWS protesters in a recent Millionaire's March in New York City.

Oct. 17 Quinnipiac poll: This survey of New York City voters revealed that the Big Apple is on board with OWS. 67 percent agreed with the views of the Wall Street protesters and a whopping 87 percent believed it's okay that they are protesting. On the political front, the poll showed that 81 percent of Democrats supported the protests v. 35 percent of Republicans. Interestingly, 21 percent of voters blamed the banks for the country's economic woes, while 37 percent blamed former President George W. Bush's policies. (Um, is there a difference?) But a hefty 73 percent said they would support tougher government regulation of the banking industry.

Oct. 15 -16 USA Today/Gallup poll: This poll, which received the most misleading spin, found that nearly two-thirds of people who were asked didn't know enough about the goals of the Occupy Wall Street protests to say if they approved of them or not. Some have been duped by this result into thinking that the movement has a "branding problem."

Piffle, says Thomas Ferguson, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. "This thing is still growing," Ferguson told AlterNet. "If you know it, you generally like it. You have to remember that the major media haven't been very good on covering the protests. Only recently did the New York Times start publishing substantive articles. Lots of people are just hearing about it, and as more hear about it there will be growing support."

Things get a little complicated when respondents are asked who they blame for the country's economic woes. The Gallup poll showed that a greater number of blamed the government compared to those who blamed Wall Street. The question is, which government policies are we talking about? The Quinnipac poll showed that respondents placed a great deal of blame on George W. Bush's deregulatory policies if you offered them more specific questions.

"I liken this Government v. Wall Street blame game to a Kentucky Derby head-to-head match," said Ferguson. "Even after all the propaganda that has been circulated blaming the government, half the population doesn't buy it. That's pretty amazing."

In an era of government capture by the financial sector, it's understandably hard to disentangle Wall Street from Washington. The anti-regulatory fever sparked by Ronald Reagan was certainly caught by Bill Clinton, and continued to rage through Bush II to fuel a full-on Wall Street conflagration. Obama's ties to the financial sector, evidenced in his still-strong campaign support from Wall Street, will only serve to further alienate populist-minded Americans. But when it comes to OWS, Democrats are much more likely to be supporters, the Gallup poll showed. 42 percent of Dems backed the protesters v. only 9 percent of Republicans.

Bottom line: If this thing continues to grow – and there is every indication that it will – the Occupy Wall Street could become the definitive movement for an entire generation. On Sunday, Noam Chomsky addressed Occupy Boston and called the movement "unprecedented." "There's never been anything like it," said Chomsky. "If the bonds and associations that are being established at these remarkable events can be sustained through a long, hard period ahead – because victories don’t come quickly – it could turn out to be a real historic, a very significant moment in American history."

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet contributing editor. Follow her on Twitter at @LynnParramore.

© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cool Landscapes

Dustin Farrell made this motion controlled time lapse video of landscapes in Arizona and Utah.

thanks, Presurfer

Sunday, October 23, 2011

current favorite OCCUPY WALL STREET video

Sunday Church Choir Bonus:

These are the words of The Declaration of the Occupation

Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir
Song - We are the 99% (as we gather together)
by Nehemiah Luckett & Laura Newman (lead vocal)
Free Download (

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Incredible Spiral Illustrations by Chan Hwee Chong

To demonstrate their Artist Pens, Faber Castell had Singapore-based art director and designer Chan Hwee Chong create meticulous spiral drawings of three masterpieces using their pens. In case the drawings themselves aren’t proof enough of Chong’s skill, a video was shot by Eric Yeo as he draws Girl With A Pearl Earring. This is advertising at its best. See more on Behance.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Twins

This is awesome, but be warned to turn OFF the music volume before you press play.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

#OWS - Times Square, October 15, 2011

Two incredibly inspiring people.

This guy Chris Hedges actually knows what's going on and has seen it around the world before, an amazing voice and moment in time.

I'm beginning to believe we're putting a lot of eggs in this basket, I hope all he's saying comes true, with all my heart.
On October 15th Occupy TVNY met with Pullitzer prize-winning author and journalist Chris Hedges in Times Square, New York City where tens of thousands of people assembled on a global day of action. Chris shares his feelings on where the Occupy movement has come from and where it is heading.

Bonus: More, In DC at Freedom Plaza recently

This Marine doing what any and every one should be doing, but he can do it easier since he has his uniform and size. Either way another incredible display of humanity and freedom and speaking truth to power.

short version
US Military veteran (Sgt Shamar Thomas, USMC) rants at NYPD over their brutality and reprehensible tactics, including kettling & mounted units (animals on horses), during the Times Square protest organized by Occupy Wall Street.

Long version from a different angle
United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas from Roosevelt, NY went toe to toe with the New York Police Department. An activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, Thomas voiced his opinions of the NYPD police brutality that had and has been plaguing the #OWS movement.

Thomas is a 24-year-old Marine Veteran (2 tours in Iraq), he currently plays amateur football and is in college.

Thomas comes from a long line of people who sacrifice for their country: Mother, Army Veteran (Iraq), Step father, Army, active duty (Afghanistan), Grand father, Air Force veteran (Vietnam), Great Grand Father Navy veteran (World War II).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dark energy: No, seriously, what the heck is it?

from BoingBoing

The fun thing about the Nobel Prize in Physics is watching pundits try to explain to the public the research that won. It doesn't always go well. Physics is not, shall we say, the public's best subject. (And I include myself in that "public".) Beyond that, words that describe legitimate concepts in physics have taken on new, more fantastical meanings in science fiction, which only serves to confuse people further.

That's why I like this video produced by KQED Science. It features Lawrence Berkeley Lab astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter, one of the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics, and does a nice job of explaining what "dark energy" really is, why work with dark energy is worthy of a Nobel, and what Perlmutter and his colleagues have contributed to the expansion of human knowledge.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

America's growing anti-intellectualism

By Paul Rosenberg from
The first high-profile article to offer a sensible explanation of Occupy Wall Street came from anthropologist David Graeber, author of the recently-published book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. In his op-ed, "Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination", he wrote:
"We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt... Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down.

"But the ultimate failure here is of imagination. What we are witnessing can also be seen as a demand to finally have a conversation we were all supposed to have back in 2008.

"There was a moment, after the near-collapse of the world's financial architecture, when anything seemed possible. Everything we'd been told for the last decade turned out to be a lie...

"It seemed the time had come to rethink everything: the very nature of markets, money, debt; to ask what an 'economy' is actually for. This lasted perhaps two weeks. Then, in one of the most colossal failures of nerve in history, we all collectively clapped our hands over our ears and tried to put things back as close as possible to the way they'd been before."

Actually, Graeber is understating the case, in at least two ways. First, the lies have been with us far longer than just a single decade. They go back at least 30 years, to the elections of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the later of whom became known as "Tina" for her favorite catch-phrase attack on the imagination: "There Is No Alternative". Second, it was not just a failure of nerve, and a failure of imagination. It was a failure of reason and of democracy as well. It was, in a sense, an inevitable failure, since those three decades have seen us create enormous deficits of reason, imagination and democracy which made it impossible for us to mobilise the necessary resources at the moment they were needed most.

I agree with Graeber that now we've been granted a second chance. But to make the most of it, we need to understand the hole we've dug ourselves into. That's what this series, America's 13 Deficits is all about: understanding the hole. And the last three deficits - reason, imagination and democracy - are, in a sense, the most important of all, for they are the most basic resources for finding our way out.

Part One examined fiscal deficits - short-term, mid-term and long-term federal deficits, along with state and local deficits. Part Two considered physical deficits in infrastructure and ecosystem services. Part Three dealt with three structural/functional deficits: the sustainability deficit, the time/jobs deficit and the equality deficit. These final three deficits are cognitive and political, and the key to overcoming all three of them is simply the will to do so.

The Reason/Critical Thinking Deficit

America has always had a critical thinking deficit, in that it has a long tradition of anti-intellectualism. This is particularly perverse, maddening and contradictory, since America's Founders were the most intellectual group that ever founded any nation we know of, and the desire to foster free and critical thinking, both in government and in the society at large, was one of their notable goals, as a direct consequence of the Enlightenment heritage on which America's Founders depended.

This philosophy prized individual critical inquiry, as well as institutions-formal and informal-which enabled individual efforts to be joined together into a far more powerful whole. This outlook was crucially important to the creation of a new nation on a new hemisphere, confident enough to establish itself on a new political foundation with some ancient roots, but fashioned with its own original design. Mere imitation of the past was rejected as a guiding principal. So, too, was blind reliance on the fantasy of individual political genius. Instead, the spirit and process of critical inquiry was crucial to how the new nation was conceived.

The basic architecture of "separation of powers", for example, was intended to prevent the accumulation of all power into the hands of any unaccountable group or faction - and thus to put a premium on the process of advancing ideas that could pass the muster of critical examination by the widest possible range of parties involved. Similarly, steps were taken to insulating of government from dogmatic religious influence. Religious tests for public office were banned in the Constitution itself, and separation of church and state was formalised in the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom, which similarly guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press - all intimately connected to the individual and collective exercise of critical reason.

And yet, despite all this, there was always an anti-Enlightenment, anti-intellectual side of America as well. And that side has always created needless deficits in critical thinking, hampering America's ability to fully realize its promise.

In 1994, the anti-intellectual forces won a substantial victory when Republicans won control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. One of the earliest and most profound changes introduced under Speaker Newt Gingrich was the elimination of the Office of Technology Assessment. The OTA, first established in 1972, provided Congress with objective and authoritative analysis of the complex scientific and technical issues of the late 20th century, and was widely imitated in the establishment of similar legislative offices around the world.

It was both a product and a promoter of a mature analytical approach to governmental problem-solving, which strengthened respect for a dispassionate truth-seeking approach. Its purpose was not to coldly dictate policy outcomes, but rather to provide reliable, common factual and analytical foundations on which people with different interests, opinions and values could depend in an effort to work out commonly-agreeable policies. It was, in short, a concrete expression of the Enlightenment rationality that informed the shared worldview of America's Founding Fathers.

Thus, Gingrich's elimination of the OTA represented a crucial turning away from the idea of valuing, promoting and relying on the power of critical thought as a key ingredient in the process of self-governing. Of course this is not to pretend that America was ever perfect-or even near-perfect-in pursuing enlightened policy primarily based on critical reason. Basic flaws in our ability to even recognise the full humanity of women and ethnic, racial and religious minorities are but the most vivid and embarrassing proofs of how far from perfect we have been. And yet, the OTA was established in 1972, immediately after what was arguably the most significant decade in American history for systematically correcting those grievous shortcomings. Abolishing the OTA epitomised a shift in political values away from critical thinking and toward raw political power which has coincided with a prolonged period of political dysfunction, during which all the other deficits described in this series have become far more serious burdens on the general welfare of the nation.

In depth

Although Republicans clearly took the lead in turning away from reason, the list of major blunders since then implicates both parties, with major foreseeable blunders including the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law preventing commercial banks from involvement in risky speculation, the failure to prevent 9/11 despite substantial forewarning, and the followup response of going to war against people not responsible for the attacks, the passage of the Bush tax cuts, failure to prevent the housing bubble and collapse, and prolonged inaction to the threat of global warming. As noted in Part One, the entire mid-term deficit is due to such blunders.

While measuring the presence or absence of critical thinking is a challenging goal, it should not be considered impossible, particularly in light of an explosion of research in cognitive science over the past 20 to 30 years. Indeed, the state of California once developed educational standards for the teaching of critical thinking-standards that conservative Republicans organised to get rid of. Hence, the primary challenge is not the difficulty of defining and discovering how to measure our critical thinking deficit - rather, it is how to muster the political will and power to once again dedicate ourselves to increasing our resources of critical thought, rather than destroying them.

The Imagination Deficit

Our imagination deficit is closely tied to our critical thinking deficit. Minds that are perpetually muddled in uncritically accepted ideas and psuedo-facts, incapable of grasping clear-cut truths are hardly prepared to grasp projected possibilities and judge them soundly. This was strikingly obvious in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, for example. Calls for critically examining the reasons behind the attacks were quickly demonised, with a leading role played by a centre-right organisation - the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) - that pretended to stand for academic excellence.

Calls for imagining a pro-active, rather than a reactive responsive were quickly dismissed as well. A Gallup Poll conducted immediately after the attacks found only a bare majority favoring a military response, rather than a criminal justice response - in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the world. There was clearly an opening for imagining a different world, a different way of dealing with destructive violence. But that opening was quickly closed. There was no significant process of critical inquiry and discussion between 9/11 and the initiation of war against Afghanistan, nor was there any serious concern to imagine other possible courses of action. Things were arguably even worse before going to war with Iraq less than a year and a half after that. The careless disregard for facts, much less for reasoned argument, precluded any possibility of trying to imagine alternative approaches - even though there was no need to imagine such alternatives on our own. All we had to do was be willing to entertain alternatives that others had not just dreamed up, but actually implemented.

Failure of imagination is equally evident in our prolonged refusal to act on global warming. Collectively, we have proven incapable of imagining either the future we are headed for, or the alternative pathways that could save us, even though scientists and economists, using critical reason, have developed very good pictures of what lies ahead. Thus, the problem is not a lack of information, but a lack of capacity to grasp that information as a coherent whole, which is the very foundation of our capacity for imagination.

Finally, as Graeber's powerful op-ed reminds us, we've suffered a grievous lack of imagination in coping with the global financial crises, which has only somewhat abated for a while. This failure is most astonishing, considering that we already know what is needed from the experience of multiple nations during the Great Recession - yet we simply cannot imagine doing something similar today. The necessary and humane has become utterly unimaginable to us. Our imagination deficit precludes us from even considering the real solutions to the other deficits that confront us.

Political Deficits - The Democracy Deficit

Democracy is not just a good idea in and of itself, it is also generally conducive to positive policy options. Anti-democratic forces tend to advance the narrow self-interests of those they represent. If the un-represented suffer as a result, there is nothing surprising about it. Of course, democracy per se is no guarantee of good outcomes, but it does significantly improve the odds of such outcomes, particularly when it is paired with protections of individuals and minority groups by a framework of rights, in the form known as liberal democracy. The more that a wide range of people's views and interests are openly considered, the more likely their best interests will be served. Thus, any deficit or deficiency in realising broadly democratic self-government is likely to cause harm, or at least fall short of the optimal good that might otherwise be achieved. Deficits in democracy produce needless deficits in all other realms as well, as surely as night follows day.

America's democracy deficit can be seen in a number of ways. One is simply to compare its relatively abysmal level of voting participation to other nations. From 1960 to 1995, more than 20 countries had turnouts higher than 80 per cent for lower house elections, while the US averaged just 48 per cent - a gap of over 30 per cent. The US average was even lower for off-year elections without a presidential race.

A second view of America's democracy deficit comes from looking at class bias in voting. One cross-national study of late 1990s elections found almost no class bias in high turnout countries, while declines in turnout overall correlated with increased gaps between voters in the highest and lowest income quintiles. Still, there was only one country with a lower overall turnout than the US - Switzerland - and its income gap was 20 per cent, compared to a much higher 35 per cent in the US.

A third view of America's democracy deficit comes from looking at electoral systems. With only a few scattered exceptions, US elections are and always have been winner-take-all, compared to proportional representation systems that predominate in almost all other advanced democracies. In a winner-take-all system, whoever wins the most votes wins all the representation, while proportional representation gives roughly equal representation to winners and losers alike. The winner-take-all system tends to discourage voters and even political organisers in areas where they are unlikely to win a majority - thus creating long-term disincentives to democratic participation.

In depth

A fourth view of America's democracy deficit comes from looking at its institutions. The most blatant, high-profile example is the US Senate, which is comprised of two senators from each state. Thus California, with a 2010 population of over 37 million, is represented by two senators, while the 21 least populated states have a combined population of just over 35 million - two million less than California, but are represented by 42 senators. Making matters even worse, the senate has a plethora of anti-democratic rules, the most well-known of which is the filibuster, which allows a minority of 40 senators to block any action, except on narrowly-tailored budget-related bills. Thus, a population less than that of California can block almost all legislation in the US senate, and there's nothing that representatives of the other 274 million Americans can do about it. In fact, there are many senate actions - such as voting on judicial nominees - that can be blocked by just a single senator ... anonymously!

Yet, astonishingly, all of these democracy deficits are dwarfed by the deficit due to economic special interests. In Part One, I described how our long-term, multi-decade federal deficit is due entirely to oligopolies, powerful economic special interests that thrive at the expense of the general welfare. I cited the analysis presented in 2010 paper, "A World Upside Down? Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession”, by political scientist Thomas Ferguson and economist Robert Johnson, which identifies three oligopolies in particular - the military-industrial complex, the medical-industrial complex, and the financial sector. However, at a deeper level of analysis, Ferguson had earlier explained how organised economic special interests largely control American democracy, creating a constant condition of democracy deficit, regardless of outward appearances, and our constant pretension to be the foremost democracy in the world.

Ferguson presented extensive historical evidence in his 1995 book, Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems, but the basic pattern is readily grasped, and witnessed in politics virtually every day: Small groups of wealthy donors with narrow policy goals are far more able to realise those goals than large groups with broad goals, up to and including the entire public at large. This control traces back to the costs of political involvement. Voters can only choose between alternatives presented to them, while major donors can predetermine who and what those alternatives will be.

In a vivid imaginary illustration, Ferguson describes an electorate composed of 3 per cent who are are vehemently anti-union textile manufacturers, controlling all the wealth, while the the other 97 per cent are pro-union. In a two-party election with a law permitting unionisation as the only issue, Ferguson argues, neither party would advocate for the law advocate with 97 per cent support, since they literally couldn't afford to do so.

The parallel to our actual politics today are striking. "Every poll I know of has big chunks of the public, sometimes even Tea Party members, opposed to cuts in Social Security," Ferguson told me last spring. "Medicare appears to show the same pattern, too. And, the percentage of the public that wants to concentrate on the deficit is very small versus truly large numbers of Americans putting 'jobs' at the top of their priority lists." Yet, under the threat of default this summer, the priorities of the American people were not just ignored, but openly mocked for months on end.

This is what a democracy deficit looks like. And it is, quite literally, a road to ruin. Eventually, even the special interests will be destroyed by their own short-sighted folly.

The Occupy Wall Street movement stands in dramatic contrast to all that, in at least two fundamental ways. First, one of their primary themes is "We Are The 99 per cent" - the vast majority whose welfare is systematically ignored, just as Ferguson explains. Second, their method of organising is radically democratic, based on a model of participatory democracy that goes all the way back to ancient Greece, but whose spirit is much closer to that of Quaker communities, whose long influence on racial and gender justice movements in America played a particularly important, if unheralded, role in the civil rights, feminist and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

While direct democracy practises have played a significant role in social change movements since then, they've also become a significant, though largely unrecognised part of the American political process. New England town meetings have always been one example of direct democracy that is recognised, and the town meetings of Vermont have proven particularly important in raising to prominence otherwise neglected issues. But similar sorts of community meetings have become commonplace adjuncts of the public policy process in many other parts of the nation. They are almost exclusively advisory in nature, but their influence is undeniable. For example, in Los Angeles, a decade ago, the city charter was amended to create a system of "neighbourhood councils". While their power is advisory only, and they have their own elected boards, they hold regular public meetings where the spirit of direct democracy has tentatively emerged in one of the most unlikely of places.

If America is to find its way once again, its people cannot rely on simply delegating this task to others - to think, to dream or to act in their behalf. "Occupy Wall Street" or be occupied by it. That is the simple choice we face. The one per cent will never have the best interests of the 99 per cent in mind. This isn't just true in America - it's just as true of the Arab world as well, where the leadership of the Arab Spring helped re-awaken the American people. Which is why addressing our democracy deficit stands at the centre-point of dealing with all the rest of our deficits as well - not just for America, but for all the world.

Paul Rosenberg is the senior editor of Randon Length News, a bi-weekly alterntive community newsletter.

Monday, October 17, 2011



Demonstrations for Global Change are taking place today, October 15.

The demonstrations are against financial mismanagement and government cut-backs, and it is expected that 951 demonstrations will take place in 82 countries world-wide.

A statement on the reads:
“From America to Asia, from Africa to Europe, people are rising up to claim their rights and demand a true democracy. Now it is time for all of us to join in a global non violent protest.

“The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end.”
At the biggest rally In Rome, tens of thousands marched on the street and were involved in skirmishes with the police.

In Belgium, 7,000 marchers brought Brussels to a standstill. Smaller protests took place in Paris.

5,000 demonstrators also gathered outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

In Berlin, 4,000 marched demanding the end of capitalism.

In Madrid, Spain, thousands of all ages have gathered for an evening rally in the Puerta del Sol Square, the site of May’s “Indignant” demonstration.

400 people marched through the streets of Dublin, towards a hotel where delegations from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are currently resident.

A thousand demonstrators occupied London’s financial district and Wiki-Leaks founder, Julian Assange addressed a rally of around 500 outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

500 people gathered at a rally in Stockholm, holding up banners that read “We are the 99 percent”.

In Sarajevo, Bosnia, hundreds marched behind a flag that read, “Death to capitalism, freedom to the people.”

Poland’s former President, Lech Walesa announced he supported Occupy Wall Street

Hundreds of people have marched in New Zealand, and over 2,000 demonstrators, including union leaders and Aboriginal groups, occupied outside of the Reserve Bank in Sydney, Australia, waving signs that read “You Can’t Eat Money”.

Demonstrations also took place in Melbourne and Brisbane.

“Occupy” protests were also held in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Thanks, DangerousMinds

Sunday, October 16, 2011


from DangerousMinds
This is a guest editorial from Dangerous Minds reader Em, expanding on some pointed commentary he’s made elsewhere on this blog. Em—who’ll keep his last name to himself, thank you very much—works in the financial industry:

During the 2008 economic crash I was employed by a large British multinational bank and, as a result, watched from abroad as the economy of my home country collapsed. Now that I’m employed by a big US multinational here in the Citi of New York, my opinion about what happened hasn’t really changed. Unfortunately, until the recent Occupy Wall Street protests, it looked as if the right was going to successfully rewrite the story of what caused the US financial collapse by knitting together their usual mishmash of half-baked economic nonsense while the so-called ‘left’ (ie, anyone who didn’t buy into the rapidly solidifying narrative) sat on the sidelines, apparently unable to counter these idiotic and demonstrably false notions. You know the theories: Rich people create jobs, Unions kill competitiveness, and the financial collapse was caused not by too little government intervention, but too much, through the quasi-private Fed. In other words, all the things that seemed directly opposite to what the real causes were (and continue to be) of the US’s fiscal woes.

The reality, of course, is just the opposite of what’s often said, and all you really need to do is take a quick look at the facts.

Put simply, the problem with our current economic situation in the US is that the middle class was effectively de-capitalized starting in the late 1970s and in particular starting with the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

This matters because it’s not the wealthy that create jobs, it’s the middle class. A fact: 65% of all job creation in the US occurs in companies with 50 employees or less. This is clearly not the realm of the ultra-rich, who have no real desire to create another large company. In fact, the idea that cutting the personal taxes of, for instance, the CEO of my company would create more jobs is laughable. Would he use his own money to hire additional employees? The idea just doesn’t make any sense. No, jobs are created by the middle class as they try to become wealthy, but only if the middle class is sufficiently equipped with capital, education, free time and other basics.

One accidental byproduct of the labor movement of the early 20th century was a strong middle class that had access to education and other basic services. More importantly, with Union wages, they now had some excess capital which they bet on countless small opportunities they saw in every sector of the economy. As those businesses developed, they gave rise to the unprecedented economic growth and prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s and, of course, plenty of jobs. A particularly timely example in fact can be seen in the story of Steve Jobs, who came from working class parents and started Apple computers in a garage. All of the jobs created by Jobs at Apple computer were therefore a result of second-generation working class prosperity and capital, combined with a solid education system. That’s the American story, not “give billionaires more money and they’ll make more jobs”.

So what happened to our economy? What caused the fiscal collapse? Simply put, the financial collapse of 2008 was the result of a long-term assault on the working class, particularly in the form of Union Wages. Starting with Ronald Reagan and his sacking of the striking Air Traffic controllers, the US began a long, steady assault on Union power and wages in the US. For instance, in 1983 US Union membership was at around 20%, whereas today it is merely half that. Globalization hasn’t helped, as workers were repeatedly told that their high union wages were causing their jobs to be sent overseas. As a result, through the 90s and into the first decade of the 20th century, the working class had been in effect de-capitalized and prevented from investing in all of those opportunities that working people have always seen out of the corner of their eye, as they shoveled coal, or wired up office buildings, or sold home heating. And because all of those businesses were never started, they therefore never grew into larger businesses thus generating all of those jobs that the businesses of previous generations had created.

Of course, there have been ‘drugs’ administered that allowed us to ignore what was really happening and the vast gaping wound that was developing: One of these drugs was ultra-cheap capital, and as the wealthy (who were already wealthy and didn’t need to create new businesses) looked for places to put their money, Wall Street obligingly created special derivative securities that allowed, theoretically, the true risk to be tamed and (they claimed) packaged, so that the wealthy could invest in the housing market, this latter of course spurred on by the cheap money the Fed was throwing out limousine windows on The Street.

Were it not for the housing bubble, we might have noticed that the economy had been hollowed out and shipped largely overseas. We therefore convinced ourselves that everything was going fine, and that ‘laissez faire’ capitalism was continuing to deliver the goods. This was, of course a lie: This was by no means laissez faire and those most particularly hoodwinked by the shell-game economy thought that the Fed was to blame.

Of course, the Fed was sort of to blame, but the fact was that the Fed was really just overextended, using its special powers to cover the deepening hole in the economy.

You could, of course, argue that all of this was inevitable: With China and the BRIC countries coming on line and driving the cost of manufacturing down to practically nothing, the Unions had to give up their gains or else jobs would have departed the US even more quickly.

That, of course, is also bullshit. An interesting fact: The two European countries with plenty of extra cash, Germany and Sweden, are also the two most unionized countries in the western world. What? Yes: Germany in particular is practically pwnd by its auto worker unions, and the result is a stable and prosperous economy, with plenty of cash left over even after absorbing the economic basket case of East Germany (remember them?). Meanwhile, Mercedez and BMW continue to clobber Detroit, so the problem clearly isn’t too much union power in the US: It’s too little.

Come to think of it, why is it that unionized workers in the US have had to compete with third-world wage slaves working in dangerous factories that belch hideous levels of pollution into the rapidly heating skies? Of course, a truly protectionist trade policy would make US goods uncompetitive and keep us beholden to US factory bosses. But a carefully deployed trade policy that protects US union gains by making the playing field level, that’s what is necessary. In other words, there should be significant tariffs on goods coming into the US that are made in countries that do not have real pollution controls in place, or that subject their workers to inhumane or dangerous working conditions.

So that’s it: The US sold out the middle class in order to benefit a group of extremely wealthy individuals who aren’t equipped to efficiently utilize such high concentrations of capital. The right argues that this is good for business and results in jobs, but the reason this clearly does not work is because the right’s economic theories are based on a revisionist history in which the US unions never existed. The unions did exist in the US, and for a time they were reasonably (though not overly) powerful, and to that same extent we enjoyed a few generations of prosperity that will never return unless we examine the facts carefully and divest ourselves of all of the pseudo-economic theories of the right.

About the author: Em was a founding member (with John Cale and others) of the New York punk band Doppler Effect in the early 1980s. After living in China in the late 80s, Em worked in the physics and electrical engineering space until 2002, at which time he moved into the financial world. In July of 2010, Em returned to the US after living in London for several years. He is a member of the UMOUR art/event collective. He blogs at The Magic Lantern, his"litterbox of the soul.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I sent this video to Richard Metzger over at DangerousMinds yesterday and he made a nice post about, as usual I'd have to say i agree with his opinion and comment. - Also proud to say that he posted THREE of my leads in a row yesterday! (if you notcice how often i use his blogs' stuff, I was happy to see I was able to pull off a "hat trick" over at Dangerous Minds as partial payback... I sent this to Barack Obama's twitter account as well. Everyone needs to see this clip.
There have been a number of great short films and moving moments of video vérité being created by supporters of Occupy Wall Street and uploaded to YouTube, but this might be the best one so far.

It’s a very eloquent warning to the powers that be to get on the correct side of history.

This needs to be spread far and wide. I think it probably will be! Put together by Corey Ogilvie.

11+ minutes shot by my good friend Chris Habib of a few speeches early yesterday morning...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Some Great #OWS Clips...
Wake up motherfuckers!

from GetGrounded.TV

first up is Jesse LaGreca, who everyone now knows as the guy who took the Fox reporter to task and didn't get aired because he was just soo on point and correct. (btw. I met Jesse down there a few nights ago, nice humble guy just as he appears in the clip)

and the always insightful Naomi Klein dropping science

And Henry James Ferry of Grounded News, comparing the growing protest movement and accompanying police response to previous Tea Party events. Concise and to the point, Ferry debunks the corporate media bulshit and points out the obvious differences between the actions of the far right and the popular revolt which is spreading across America.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What The Founding Fathers Thought About Corporations

from Addicting Info By Stephen D. Foster Jr.
Citizens United. This is the 2010 Supreme Court case that shocked America, influenced an election, and reversed over 100 years of campaign finance laws. In this case, corporations were declared as people and as such declared to have the same rights as people do. It also opened the doors for corporations to pour unprecedented amounts of campaign donations into elections, and what’s more, these donations can be totally secret. Corporations can now literally and legally buy elections and shape the government like never before in our nation’s history.

The economic world we live in today is dominated by corporations. Huge corporations that boast massive profits and span continents. But corporations also wield political power and are lobbying heavily to be free from any and all government regulations that would make them responsible and liable. Republicans have been defending corporations since the late 1800′s and have literally gone on a history revising crusade to show that even the founding fathers supported corporations. But is this the case? What did the founders really think about corporations?

The origin of modern corporations can be traced all the way back to 17th century England when Queen Elizabeth I created the East India Trading Company. At first, corporations were small, quasi government institutions that were chartered by the crown for a specific purpose. If corporations stepped out of line, the crown did not hesitate to revoke their charters. Corporations generated so much revenue that they even began taking on increased political power. Corporations were also organized to finance large projects such as exploration, which leads us to the American colonies.

To say that the founding fathers supported corporations is very absurd. Its quite the opposite in fact. Corporations like the East India Trading Company were despised by the founders and they were just one reason why they chose to revolt against England. Corporations represented the moneyed interests much like they do today and they often wielded political power, sometimes to the point of governing a colony all by themselves like the Massachusetts Bay Company did.

But there is more evidence that the Revolutionary generation despised corporations. The East India Company was the largest corporation of its day and its dominance of trade angered the colonists so much, that they dumped the tea products it had on a ship into Boston Harbor which today is universally known as the Boston Tea Party. At the time, in Britain, large corporations funded elections generously and its stock was owned by nearly everyone in parliament. The founding fathers did not think much of these corporations that had great wealth and great influence in government. And that is precisely why they put restrictions upon them after the government was organized under the Constitution.

After the nation’s founding, corporations were granted charters by the state as they are today. Unlike today, however, corporations were only permitted to exist 20 or 30 years and could only deal in one commodity, could not hold stock in other companies, and their property holdings were limited to what they needed to accomplish their business goals. And perhaps the most important facet of all this is that most states in the early days of the nation had laws on the books that made any political contribution by corporations a criminal offense. When you think about it, the regulations imposed on corporations in the early days of America were far harsher than they are now. That is hardly proof that the founders supported corporations. In fact its quite the opposite. The corporate entity was so restrictive that many of America’s corporate giants set up their entities to avoid the corporate restrictions. For example, Andrew Carnegie set up his steel company as a limited partnership and John D. Rockefeller set up his Standard Oil company as a trust which would later be rightfully busted up into smaller companies by Theodore Roosevelt.

For those who need more evidence, how about statements from the founders themselves. As we all know, big banks are also considered corporations and here is what Thomas Jefferson thought about them. In an 1802 letter to Secretary of State Albert Gallatin, Jefferson said,

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Thomas Jefferson also said this in 1816,

“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Jefferson wasn’t the only founding father to make statements about corporations. John Adams also had an opinion.

“Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.”

These statements make it pretty clear that corporations were not trusted by the founders. The founders knew that huge corporations only preyed upon the people. But as the founding generation began to fade away, corporations began using their power to gain political favor and eventually that political favor would turn into political power. And corporations would take advantage of a war to do it. As the Civil War raged across the land, corporations made an effort to take advantage of the situation, selling products at high prices, especially to the government. Corporations even sold to both sides throughout the war. Basically, corporations proved even then that they had no allegiance to any country when great profits were at stake. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican to be President also had plenty to say about corporations…

“The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.”

And in a November 21, 1864 letter to Col. William F. Elkins, Lincoln wrote,

“We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood … It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.”

Unfortunately, Lincoln’s suspicions were anything but groundless. They were in fact, prophetic. After the Civil War, corporations began aligning themselves with Republican politicians, who proved themselves to be up to the task of helping corporations gain more power. Corporations had free reign and total power over its workforce and could sell virtually anything they wanted even if the product was a bad one. Corporations treated workers like slaves. Wages were extremely low. Workers received no benefits, no vacation days, no health insurance, no workers compensation. President Grover Cleveland witnessed how corporations treated its labor force and had this to say in 1888,

“As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear, or is trampled beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”

To put it bluntly, corporations didn’t care about its workers or the people who bought their products. The only rule of the game was to make as much profit as possible, no matter what. As the 19th century ended and the 20th century began, corporations were getting bigger and bigger. Many began buying up smaller companies, becoming monopolies that controlled whole industries. This practice eliminated competition and as a result, prices had skyrocketed and no one could challenge them. That was, until Theodore Roosevelt became the President. Theodore Roosevelt did not hate corporations. He simply wanted them to treat workers how they deserved to be treated and to serve the public faithfully and honestly. He believed in honest competition and fair prices. Roosevelt believed that government had not only a duty, but a right to regulate corporations just as the founding generation had done, stating that,

“The great corporations which we have grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts are the creatures of the State, and the State not only has the right to control them, but it is duty bound to control them wherever the need of such control is shown.”

And in his State of The Union Address in 1902, Roosevelt stated his intentions toward corporations.

“Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile unless accomplished in ways that would work the utmost mischief to the entire body politic. We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to serve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.”

To that end he fought for corporate regulation, he fought for fair wages for workers, he fought for safe and healthy work environments, and he fought to protect consumers. And the people loved him for it. Roosevelt’s policies toward corporations were immensely popular. He busted up so many giant corporations that he became known as a “trust buster”. The busting up of these corporations created a lot more competition for customers and for employees, resulting in higher wages and lower prices and more jobs. And you know what? Corporate profits did just fine.

Teddy never stopped fighting for workers and consumers even after his presidency when he said this as the Progressive Party candidate for President in 1912,

“We wish to control big business so as to secure among other things good wages for the wage-workers and reasonable prices for the consumers. Wherever in any business the prosperity of the businessman is obtained by lowering the wages of his workmen and charging an excessive price to the consumers we wish to interfere and stop such practices. We will not submit to that kind of prosperity any more than we will submit to prosperity obtained by swindling investors or getting unfair advantages over business rivals.”

Roosevelt didn’t win the presidency in 1912, although he most certainly would have if the Republican ticket hadn’t been split. But Woodrow Wilson would continue the fight for workers and consumers. As America entered the 1920′s, corporations began to gain political favors once again as business minded Republicans controlled the White House and Congress. Regulations were being stripped away and banks as large entities were on the rise. These banks and corporations abused the stock market which would lead to the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Corporate profits had surged throughout the decade and unfair speculation had caused economic bubbles that had to burst.
Corporate bosses also flexed their muscles over America’s legal system, spending great deals of money to get away with nearly anything. In a statement of sarcasm that speaks to this despicable practice, Senator George Norris, after an industrialist was acquitted of charges of corruption, said that “We ought to pass a law that no man worth $100,000,000 should be tried for a crime.”

The Franklin Roosevelt era would bring new calls for corporate regulation and corporate tax hikes. These new regulations once again kept corporations honest and protected consumers. Workers also benefited from these new regulations, getting fair wages, pensions, and safe working conditions. Corporations were taxed at a rate of 91% and even with all of that, corporations still made huge profits. Life changed dramatically for the middle class. People had jobs with livable wages and promise for the future. Corporations once again served a purpose as consumers were treated fairly and the economy soared. Unemployment was also very low. But these trends did not last long as corporate greed would once again fuel another grab for political power. Corporations began aligning themselves more and more with the Republican Party, and as this relationship grew, corporations found a way to make record profits. Throughout the 1980′s up to today, corporations have outsourced millions of American jobs to cheap labor overseas. As a result of this, corporate profits have broke record after record, while the unemployment rate has jumped higher and higher. Corporate tax rates began getting lower and lower, while more tax loopholes were created to help corporations evade most of them altogether. When the Republican Party took control of government in 2001, they went on a crusade on behalf of corporations (how could they refuse, they were on the payroll), to blame workers for economic downturns and outsourcing. Corporations also decided to take advantage of a national tragedy. After 9/11, there was an understandable push to go to war against terrorists hiding in Afghanistan. But corporations, as in other times of war and tragedy, began pushing for a war against Iraq. And they got their wish. Corporations have since made billions in war profits off of the War in Iraq and have proven once again that profit is far more important than the lives of soldiers. Lincoln was right. This is yet another reason why corporations need to be put in their place. As Henry Ford once said, “Do you want to know the cause of war? It is capitalism, greed, the dirty hunger for dollars. Take away the capitalist and you will sweep war from the earth.”

Republicans are now on the verge of stripping away all corporate regulations and worker’s rights. But it was the 2010 Citizens United decision that really made corporations into political powers. Not only were corporations declared to be people but corporations also now have the power to buy elections at will. The problem with this Supreme Court decision is that it goes against everything the founding fathers believed in. In the Constitution, it says “We the people…”, not “We the corporations…”. The founding fathers never addressed corporations in the Constitution because it never occurred to them that corporations would be perceived as people. And why would they have? Corporations don’t eat, they don’t breathe, they don’t vote, they don’t fight battles in wars. Remember all the limitations the founders placed on corporations mentioned earlier? In the Constitution, the founders speak only of the people. The founders did not limit lifetimes of people, nor did they outlaw a persons right to donate to political campaigns. They also did not limit people to specific life goals like they did with corporations. This should make it absolutely clear that the founders never intended for corporations to be people. The decision by the clearly activist, conservative majority of the court is an abomination that can never be Constitutionally justified. Now it is our duty to call on Congress to bring forward a Constitutional Amendment that bans corporate personhood and bans corporations from interfering with government and legal elections that only real people have the right to donate to and vote in. Because whatever these greedy, arrogant CEO’s and Republicans think, its the opinion of the founding generation that matters most. Corporations are not people. People are people.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This Kid Is On It.

thanks, DangerousMinds

Saturday, October 8, 2011

With Age Comes Wisdom...

jpeg that came in the mail today..

Thanks Ryan!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jon Stewart on the media coverage of the Tea party vs Occupy Wall Street

from Richard Metzger at DangerousMinds


Brilliant analysis, as usual from Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. When you’re watching this, contemplate how the Fox News clips featured in this segment will look when viewed again a few years from now. The Fox News and CNBC talking heads all look, to me, like people who are on the wrong side of history.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

John K get's a cameo shot on the Simpsons

I've been a fan of the work of John Kricfalusi even before Ren & Stimpy - since i noticed his fine work on a promo Rolling Stones 12" I picked up at Columbia Records one day i was up there doing some kind of business, I took the record not because it was the Stones, but just because i thought the cover was so cool. Needless to say when Ren & Stimpy hit the Airwaves I was a HUGE fan of John K's creation and for the first two seasons where John K got to do as he liked. After he was canned (for the usual artistic integrity issues one would expect from such a sick genius) it went down hill fast in so many ways... but his episodes were incredible.

Anyway, so after many years not hearing of John, I see on line he's done a pice for the latest episode of the Simpsons!

check the blurb from Dangerous Minds and the clip below.
Ok, so it’s just the sofa section of the show’s opening, but as a huge fan of both The Simpsons and Ren & Stimpy I just had to share this. Those two shows were the high watermarks of the 90s golden age of mainstream animation, and very influential on an entire generation of young, impressionable minds. So in a way this is the cartoon equivalent of the Beatles jamming with the Stones - but much weirder. A lot of people won’t like this (and some would say it’s a good fifteen years or more since both were at their peak), but it’s still great to see John K’s dark and twisted take on America’s first family. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I detect a subtle swipe at the character’s roles here, and Is that a hint of bitterness I can taste in the his rendering of their front room in such gloomy colors?

here's one of my favorite more rare episodes (that actually barely even features the show's stars)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


"Primative London": A Look At The City's Beatniks, Mods, and Rockers from the 1960's

from DangerousMinds:

A brief vignette from the “exploitation” documentary feature Primitive London from 1965, featuring London’s beatniks hanging out in their local bar, answering questions on dress, work, idling and marriage. The bar is where Rod Stewart (aka Rod the Mod) hung out, and the featured musicians are Ray Sone, harp (later of The Downliner’s Sect) and Emmett Hennessy, vocals, guitar.

Though some have been dismissive of Primitive London, it’s now a film of cultural importance, which, at first glimpse, reveals a world long gone, but when closely examined, the groupings, motivations and patterns of behavior are still the same today.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Activist Slams Fox News Producer In Un-Aired Interview

My favorite clip of the day.

here's the whole "Exclusive" story from The New York Observer:
Even if Geraldo Rivera was at the Zuccotti Park yesterday, Fox News has generally been a tad dismissive of the Occupy Wall Street movement. (as of this writing) has no coverage of this national event on their front page stories. (Hard to imagine for a network that was so gung-ho about the Tea Party!) Red Eye‘s Bill Schulz went out to try to “prank” the protesters. Bill O’Reilly sent a producer minion out with the same mission: to belittle OWS’s cause by cutting up interviews to make people sound stupid.

Well, here is an interview that Fox News filmed, but doesn’t want you to see. The segment was shot on Wednesday for Greta van Susteren‘s show, (though it looks like the same producer from this O’Reilly segment questioning Michael Moore‘s anti-capitalist agenda) though the decision was made to leave it on the cutting room floor. The reason should be obvious pretty quickly.

The speaker giving Fox News the buisness is Jesse LaGreca, a vocal member of the Occupy Wall Street protests. This video comes courtesy of Kyle Christopher from‘s media team.

Now, no news organization is under obligation to air every interview they’ve filmed, especially when it makes them look bad. But you’d think that a “Fair and Balanced” network (that tells an interviewee that they are here to give them fair coverage to get any message they’d like to get out) would try to include at least a couple of opposing viewpoints to Mr. Shulz’s smarmy jokes or O’Reilly’s “infiltration” of the camp.

The ball is in your court, Fox.

Updated 10/3 11:00a.m.: Now with transcript of the video

Fox: Jesse, so Ray, your partner here, your ..

Ray: comrade.

Fox: Your colleague, she’d seen the protests in Greece and Europe and elsewhere. Did you guys take your cue from that? Are you hoping to cite certainly what was a lot of the tension, if not police activity. I know over the weekend there were over 100 arrests and you guys got things fired up. Are you taking your cues from the international movement and how do you want to see this? If you could have it in a perfect way, how would it be?

Jesse: Well I don’t know, its really difficult to answer questions leading to those conclusions. I’d say that we didn’t take our cue leading off of anybody really. It became a more spontaneous movement. As far as seeing this end, I wouldn’t like to see this end. I would like to see the conversation continue. This is what we should have been talking about in 2008 when the economy collapsed. We basically patched a hole on the tire and said let the car keep rolling. Unfortunately it’s fun to talk to the propaganda machine and the media especially conservative media networks such as yourself, because we find that we cant get conversations for the department of Justice’s ongoing investigation of News Corporation, for which you are an employee. But we can certainly ask questions like you know, why are the poor engaging in class warfare? After 30 years of having our living standards decrease while the wealthiest 1% have had it better than ever, I think it’s time for some maybe, I don’t know, participation in our democracy that isn’t funded by news cameras and gentlemen such as yourself.

Fox: But, uh, yeah well, let me give you this challenge Jesse.

Jesse: Sure.

Fox: We’re here giving you an opportunity on the record […] to put any
message you want out there, to give you fair coverage and I’m not
going to in any way

Jesse: That’s awesome!

Fox:…give you advice about it. So, there is an exception in the case, because you wouldn’t be able to get your message out there without us.

Jesse: No, surely, I mean, take for instance when Glenn Beck was doing his protest and he called the President, uh, a person who hates white people and white culture. That was a low moment in Americans’ history and you guys kinda had a big part in it. So, I’m glad to see you coming around and kind of paying attention to what the other 99 percent of Americans are paying attention to, as opposed to the far-right fringe, who who would just love to destroy the middle class entirely.

Fox: Alright, fair enough. You have a voice, an important reason to criticize myself, my company and anyone else. But, let me ask you that, in fairness, does this administration, President Obama, have any criticism as to the the financial situation the country’s in…?

Jesse: I think, myself, uh, as well as many other people, would like to see a little but more economic justice or social justice—Jesus stuff—as far as feeding the poor, healthcare for the sick. You know, I find it really entertaining that people like to hold the Bill of Rights up while they’re screaming at gay soldiers, but they just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that a for-profit healthcare system doesn’t work. So, let’s just look at it like this, if we want the President to do more, let’s talk to him on a level that actually reaches people, instead of asking for his birth certificate and wasting time with total nonsense like Solyndra.

BY THE WAY for anyone who tells you the goals have not been made clear, you decide: Declaration of the Occupation of New York City