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Current location: Orlando
Member since: Wed Nov 10, 2004, 08:49 AM
Number of posts: 19,472
Current location: Orlando
Member since: Wed Nov 10, 2004, 08:49 AM
Number of posts: 19,472
Lots of talk lately about what constitutes activism. And with that, there's the urge to draw the line neatly around one thing, and not "the other."
I've been kicking around activist circles since the 1980s and a LOT has changed since then. Back when I started it was easier to define activism. Things we would have listed as activism included:
-- turning out people to public meetings
-- hosting events for large-scale involvement
-- writing letters to the editor
-- participating in activist planning/strategy/forums (which, were mostly in-person at the time).
Since the 80s we've seen the rise of this thing called Social Media and most organizations either have a social media job with their communications department, OR they rely on organizers to use social media to take their message out.
Pay attention to that last line..."to take their message out." This is what we used to do primarily with Letters to the Editor. LTEs are still very important, especially when trying to move electeds to a better policy position. It's VERY important b/c electeds use SEO and web searches for their name to report back to the lawmaker on how their messaging is doing out in the world, and...in the best case scenario...to reality check if their constituents are still with them. DU is recognized as having excellent SEO. Often when researching a new issue my searches put DU on the first page, even when I'm using a work computer that isn't full of DU cookies.
This forum can be seen as a daily paper for *engaged Democrats." An engaged Dem is someone who is a likely voter and someone who can be mobilized to participate in other actions such as social media engagement LTEs, phone-banking and doorknocking. We are also likely to turn-out to assemblies, town halls, and protests.
When you're posting your thoughts to DU you're talking directly to Democratic party people with the intent of *moving people* in the direction of your point of view. The audience is different from an LTE; much larger and clearly more Dem.
If there wasn't the potential to move decision-makers with our actions here, there wouldn't be such turf fights over policy issues. It's activism in the clearest sense, using social media to bridge the divide between rank-and-file Dems and their national leadership.
Posting on DU isn't only activism, it's effective activism. But I would agree with others that it's not complete. Also go out and work on the issues that you're passionate about. Election reform, job quality, school reform, environmental and of course, peace and justice organizations all NEED your help.
Use DU to help you think and to better communicate your POV. Save your posts here for LTEs in your local newspapers. If you have a really good one, pitch it as an op-ed, post it on Facebook, or add it to another blog. Use DU's Twitter and Facebook buttons to extend your social reach.
But don't let anyone tell you that what you're doing isn't activism. It is. As a DU poster, you're valuable and needed part of the activist eco-system.
Posted by nashville_brook | Mon Sep 23, 2013, 09:37 AM (129 replies)
Some here have been making a case for attacking Syria based on the notion that progressive leaders such as Alan Grayson are supporting it...based on nothing more than their silence in the media.
That's no longer a legitimate argument as heard in this interview with Sirius' The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Havt.
Important points in this interview:
-- chemical weapons allegations are unproven and "genuinely ambiguous"
-- there's no benefit to the Syrian government for killing these 200 citizens
-- conventional munitions also have the effect of suffocating victims
-- if CW were used, the victims would be dangerous to the rescuers; no report of rescuers effected by CWs
-- if they were going to use CWs they would be using them everyday and gloating about it
-- "dead people are dead people" - that chemical warfare presents an arbitrary "redline"
-- the US has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world -- dubious moral high ground
-- evidence must be UNEQUIVOCAL that the Syrian military used CWs and that there's a vital US interest
-- let's finish the wars we're already in
-- puzzling and disturbing the Obama administration is only putting out unsupported information RE the use of CWs
-- no desire in his district to be world's policeman (subject of my recent post here)
-- fwiw the manufacturer of the missiles we'd use against Syria, Raytheon, has seen a dramatic bump in stock value over last few days
-- nobody wants this except for the military industrial complex - the president should recognize and rise above the interests of the military industrial complex in this matter.
Posted by nashville_brook | Thu Aug 29, 2013, 11:25 AM (119 replies)
This is an interesting development. Not sure how smart this is on the part of the White House/NSA/Clapper because it could undermine faith in pro-NSA voices and reinforce the perception that those advocating for weakened privacy and security are not independent.
Advocate of Secret Infiltration, Cass Sunstein, on Obama’s “Committee To Make Us Trust the Dragnet”
Posted on August 22, 2013 by emptywheel
ABC reports that, along with former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell, former Homeland Security Czar Richard Clarke, and former Obama special assistant for economic policy Peter Swire, the White House (or James Clapper — who knows at this point) has picked Cass Sunstein for its Review Committee on NSA programs.
In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585
Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.” He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”
And remember, a big mandate for this committee is not to review the programs to see if we can make them more privacy-protective, but simply to increase our trust in them. Which goes to the core of what Sunstein was talking about in his paper: using covert government propaganda to, in this case, better sell covert government spying.
Well, if Obama and Clapper’s rollout hadn’t already discredited this committee, Sunstein’s selection sure does.
- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/08/22/advocate-of-secret-infiltration-cass-sunstein-on-obamas-committee-to-make-us-trust-the-dragnet/#sthash.HGsvq7ua.dpuf
Link to Greenwald's 2010 reporting on Sunstein:
Link to ABC news report on appointments:
Posted by nashville_brook | Thu Aug 22, 2013, 10:41 AM (215 replies)
(h/t DirkGently from his comment here, with my own comments)
So. Threats of truth telling should be treated like threats of violence?
This is exactly the rationale applied by every despicable authoritarian regime in history.
He's too nice to say it, but I will. "The rationale" of "every despicable authoritarian regime," referenced here calls to mind some really nasty times in history such as:
Chile under Pinochet
China under the Chinese Communist Party
Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge
Saudi Arabia under the House of Saud
And many more. Something they have in common is need to control information to protect their crimes. It's just too inconvenient to have reporters running around reminding people they're being spied on or worse.
This isn't to say that we're there, or even headed in that direction. I believe we're going in a completely different direction...but I'll save that for later.
Congratulations. This post bulls-eyes the absolute bottom of the philosophical barrel.
The argument that embarrassing the state with truthful information that is threatening only in its likelihood of raising the public consciousness of government wrongdoing is precisely the most anti-democratic, purely vile and evil sentiment possible, on not only the subject of press freedom, but as to civilization or government of any kind.
It's the absolute bottom of the philosophical barrel precisely because we're not any of these authoritarian regimes. Not even close. It's historically been a point of patriotism that we fought wars for our freedom, and ostensibly for the "freedom" of other countries (although, that's rarely true -- we fight wars in other places for resources).
Dirk hits the nail on the head when he says that the threat level of truth-telling is proportional to the wrongdoing of the governments threatened by it. This is plain as day to most people. Uncontroversial. In the civilized world we know that we fight to keep things transparent in order to keep things civilized and working for the people. Otherwise we get trampled. We see it on school boards, county commissions and in the U.S. Senate -- when we're locked out, that's when bad things happen (which, I thought was the whole point of electing Democrats...to keep things open, transparent, and working for the people).
This is how you get to dictators and genocide and everything else Americans and all decent people everywhere oppose.
Repellant. Filthy. Indefensible.
Like I said, we're not there now, but letting this djinn out of the bottle is NOT something that patriotic Americans cheer for. We're not subjects under King George. Our forefathers fought and died for these freedoms. It is filthy, repellant and indefensible to argue for their demise when they are figuratively written in blood in our Constitution.
I am deeply saddened and ashamed to see Democrats willing to dismantle that which makes us uniquely American. And for what? What is possibly so threatening about Greenwald, Gellman or the truth of the domestic spying program, that you would be willing to burn the Bill of Rights?
Shame. Seriously. We should all be ashamed of this.
Talk about being detrimental to the party: how fast will people run from the Democratic brand when they see party members proudly shouting to lock up journalists?
The good news is that we're talking about a tiny but noisy minority of voices carrying this repellant message. Together we're shining a light and turning down the heat on this nonsense. This shit isn't going to stick -- not if we have anything to say about it.
Posted by nashville_brook | Tue Aug 20, 2013, 10:28 PM (54 replies)
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Greenwald's partner's detention is not convenient, hype or self-promotion.
And no one needs to wait a 'couple of days' or even minutes to figure that out.
David Miranda's detention is an act of intimidation that will likely become a rallying point. The fact that some suggest it's a publicity stunt only proves how ludicrous the pro-NSA arguments have become. You see, it's just too "convenient." It's a set-up. You'll see..it's a devilish ploy.
There's a pattern here. When the NSA dragnet story broke is was derided by some as a "fake scandal." It was imagined to be a broadside aimed at the president, regardless of the fact that no rational commenter suggested that. It was imagined to be an attack on POTUS regardless of the fact that republican leaders took time out from bashing POTUS and the ACA to vigorously defend the NSA and their defense industry patrons.
When the story became larger to include layers of programs, contractors and countries, some said that it was all made up...it was all self-promotion...all to "sell" clicks for a media organization...and that it would "all blow over" when Greenwald and Snowden are proven to be liars, libertarians or leprechauns.
So when a member of Greenwald's family is detained under suspicion of "terror," this pretty much refutes the idea that this journo is not to be taken seriously -- because someone, somewhere is taking him very seriously.
What we're seeing emerge here is the criminalizing of investigative journalism. Miranda was held under Schedule 7 which is intended to ferret out suspected "terrorists." Here we see it used instead to intimidate someone suspected of making the intelligence establishment look bad.
This is a very big deal. It's bigger than partisan politics. It's bigger than the POTUS. It's time to get serious and stop with the comforting bedtime stories of hype and publicity stunts.
It's time to put away these childish things.
As an FYI here's some background on Schedule 7 which is the law that UK police detained Miranda under. From the ACLU press release:
Schedule 7 is the law that allows the police to detain anyone at the UK borders without any requirement to show probable cause and hold them for up to nine hours, without seeking further justification. The detainee must respond to any questions, regardless of whether a lawyer is present. No lawyer is provided automatically.
It is a criminal offence for the detainee to refuse to answer questions -- regardless of the grounds for that refusal or otherwise fully cooperate with the police.
According to the advice published by the Association of Chief Police Officers’, Schedule 7 should only be used to counter terrorism and may not be used for any other purpose.
A similarly over-broad and vague section of the Act which allowed stop and frisk without any grounds was held to be unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010. Section 44 - as it was known - violated Article 8 of the European Charter of Human Rights which protects privacy.
Posted by nashville_brook | Sun Aug 18, 2013, 08:13 PM (203 replies)
The Snowden Effect, Special Sunday Edition
By Charles P. Pierce
Sooner or later, we're all going to start paying more attention to the folks at McClatchy than we do to the kidz at Tiger Beat On The Potomac. It was some of them who kept warning us that the Bush administration case for going to war in Iraq was shot through with moonshine and bullshit, but the courtier press got itself dazzled by mushroom clouds, aluminum tubes, African uranium, and Colin Powell, aka The Most Overrated Man In The World, and off to war we went. Now, they've come out with a gigantic story revealing, in detail, that the Obama administration is the most fertile environment for paranoids since the Nixon people first cut a check to Egil Krogh.
President Barack Obama's unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of "insider threat" give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct. Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for "high-risk persons or behaviors" among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.
You want "Nixonian"? This, right here, this is Nixonian, if Nixon had grown up in East Germany. You've got the entire federal bureaucracy looking for signs of "high-risk persons or behaviors" the way Nixon sent Fred Malek out to count the Jews. You've got created within the entire federal bureaucracy a culture of spies and informers, which will inevitably breed fear and deceit and countless acts of interoffice treachery. (Don't like your boss at the Bureau Of Land Management? Hmm, he looks like a high-risk person. Tell someone.) And this is the clincher.
Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States," says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy.
I don't want to hear about "safeguards" because I don't believe in them any more. I don't want to hear about "transparency" any more because the president lost his privileges on that word when he cited the secret rubber-stamp FISA court as the vehicle for transparency last week. I don't want to hear about "oversight" because, really, stop kidding us all. And I especially don't want to hear about how all the administration's really done is "formalize" programs that were already in place, as though giving the creation of a culture of informers the imprimatur of the presidency makes it better. This, after all, is what you're "formalizing," as dramatized on June 13, 1971 by the Oval Office Players, Richard M. Nixon, artistic director:
President Nixon: Doesn't it involve secure information, a lot of other things? What kind of-what kind of people would do such things?
Kissinger: It has the most-it has the highest classification, Mr. President.
President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.
Kissinger: It's treasonable. There's no question it's actionable. I'm absolutely certain that this violates all sorts of security laws.
President Nixon: What-what do we do about it? Don't we ask for an-
Kissinger: I think I-I should talk to Mitchell.
President Nixon: Yeah.
No, Mr. Current President, this is not business as usual. This is not even the NSA sifting through e-mails and phone calls. This is giving Big Brother a desk in every federal agency and telling him to go to work.
Posted by nashville_brook | Sun Jun 23, 2013, 01:14 PM (138 replies)
This is for those of us who are horrified at the "so what" response to the PRISM/Boundless Informant revelations.
We know that when people say "I assume my email is read," or that "my every move is logged," they're admitting tolerance and complicity to a form of totalitarianism that has a long and predictable history.
We also know it's not going to be different because of who holds office at this point in time. Indeed, these intelligence programs might even be beyond the control of an executive who is beholden to the most rarified ranks of the elite. Obama admitted as much when he passed the buck back to Congress during his remarkable comments on the subject Friday.
As this article points out, there's a LOGIC to state spying, and it's not what they're telling you. It's not about terror. Not exclusively. It's about keeping all of us pliant.
The very existence of such state spying apparatus is enough for MOST people to forgo any serious involvement in organizing against it. People fear losing their jobs, of having their secrets revealed, and of having their lives upended. People in this state of insecurity are not going to mount a serious campaign for Congress or the president to do anything...let alone give up the crown jewel of power: total surveillance.
Posted by nashville_brook | Sun Jun 9, 2013, 10:21 AM (162 replies)
It's best to learn this early in political life. It's the core of power-building, so accept it, or find another hobby or vocation. No permanent friends, and no permanent enemies. Not everyone is going to come along on every campaign, but we still need each other in the long run. Also, you remember when people come to your side when it wasn't easy for them.
"No permanent friends, no permanent enemies," is one of those beautiful imperatives that enables society to function -- like the separation of church and state.
If your issues are workers rights, healthcare, Social Security, you're going to find those who are champions for your cause, who might be on the opposite side of the next issue, policy idea, or economic proposal. You work with those who bring themselves to the table with enthusiasm. If you're playing by gentleman's rules, you step around those who insist on being obstacles. But, "no permanent friends, no permanent enemies" means you'll always have the room to critique policy ideas and economic proposals that injure our interests.
Many Dems held their tongues on the president while working to GOTV, and voting for him (I'm sure that's the case with every president ever -- it's not new to Obama). Everyone knew Obama was going to have an extraordinarily short honeymoon this year, because everyone knew the lame duck session was going to be a huge fight for those opposing cuts in Social Security (such as unions and c-3's who just worked their asses off helping Obama get elected).
As the lame duck session reaches it's crescendo and I start to see the old "you're not a loyal dem, you emo-firebagger," non-sense, I have no sympathy. "No permanent friends, no permanent enemies," means that among equals, you never bully people or show contempt because next week, next month or next year you're going to need them in your coalition.
The lame duck fight happening right now…the one to protect Social Security/Medicaid/Medicare…is not being fought "among equals." You've got Pete Peterson's coalition of CEOs, "Fix The Debt," and you've got "rank and file" dems (little old ladies, workers and college students) coming up against party leaders who can't/won't have our back against this odious proposal. Subbing for Rachel Maddow the other night, Ezra Klein pointed out that everyone on the beltway food chain fears losing access and influence, and so they are counting on us, the rank and file with no access or influence to risk, to get loud and be heard.
Let's get real. Obama governs as a right-of-center Dem who too-often has sided with interests that seriously hurt the economic security of the rank and file. It's our right and responsibility to stand up for our interests. This is about survival, not whether we get a big enough bonus this year.
So here it is, Mr. President: This Social Security cut terrifies people. I've seen old ladies break down in tears describing how they already can't afford rent and medicine. The fear and shame is shockingly palpable. Seniors simply can't cut anything else from their budgets, and it's unconscionable that we'd ask them to. Future generations like myself will have even fewer resources available beside Social Security. I'm 46 and I know no one with a pension. I know no one with more than $20,000 in their retirement account.
No one is speaking for those of us who are terrified: not any beltway journalist or elected political figure who peddles influence. The people who do speak up are…well, they are heroes.
And clearly, not everyone is hero material.
Posted by nashville_brook | Sat Dec 29, 2012, 08:42 PM (79 replies)
I know how I'd feel. Betrayed. I'm 45. I've paid into these programs for 27 years. There's a very good chance I'll become too sick to work years before 65. I already have days where I can't move. I have a pretty good idea of what 20 more years is going to do to my body and my ability to work.
To me there's certain things that are sacred, and our American social contract is at the top of that list. Wall Street has been ass-raping the middle class in slow motion since the housing bubble began. They want to dismantle every inch of our social contract: privatizing schools, roads, the military...plundering our pensions, our houses, our communities. When is anyone going to stand up to them?
Betrayed wouldn't quite cover it for me, actually. It would be a tragic loss for civilized society. It would be as heartbreaking, in a complete and total way, as knowing that someone destroyed the Mona Lisa, blew up the Statue of Liberty, or cut down the last redwood.
The social contract is something precious that we'll never get back. If they're allowed to "chip away" at it, you can kiss it goodbye. If it is saved, through the recognition of its importance to our identity, I bet you, it will never be touched again.
It's really THAT important. We either fight and win this one -- or lose, and kiss it all goodbye.
Posted by nashville_brook | Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:30 PM (258 replies)
Group financed by incoming Speaker Will Weatherford (R) tries to link Castor Dentel (D) with convicted molestor Jerry Sandusky
A group supporting Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon’s re-election bid is sending last-minute advertisements that attempt to link Plakon’s opponent, Democrat Karen Castor Dentel, to convicted child sex predator Jerry Sandusky.
Mailers began arriving Friday at homes in House District 30 in Orange and Seminole counties that on one side depict a grainy image of Castor Dentel, an elementary-school teacher in Maitland. And on the other: the image of a jumpsuit- and handcuff-clad Sandusky, the former Penn State University assistant football coach who in June was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, convicted of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period.
The claim appears to be based on Castor Dentel’s opposition to a measure passed in 2011 by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature that eliminated tenure for public-school teachers. The measure was fiercely opposed by the Florida Education Association, of which Castor Dentel is a member.
The mailer was paid for by a committee known only as the “Committee to Protect Florida.” But records show the group is being financed in large part by Republican leaders in the Florida House – chiefly by incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel...Weatherford has raised his money from an array of business interests. One of his largest contributors is health-insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield.
more at link:
Posted by nashville_brook | Sun Nov 4, 2012, 09:22 AM (22 replies)