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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 10,804

Journal Archives

Well, no. "Street protests" have heralded every social advance of the past 100 years.

From women's suffrage to civil rights and segregation to the end of the Vietnam War to gay rights and on and on and on.

Around the world, "street protests" have upended regimes, expelled empires. Ended segregation and slavery and religious persecution.

NONE of that happened through the magic of an inert "representative democracy." That is a plutocrat's argument, and it is demonstrably false.

And of course the point of the OP is a narrower, even easier to prove proposition. The supposed passionate support for TPP is a sham; a lie expressly designed to mimic grassroots movements, precisely because they are so respected and so effective.

No one is in the streets for TPP because it is a money and power grab by a handful of elites. They don't like wearing out their shoes or getting their hands dirty. They excuse their anti-democratic conduct with weasel words about what a "Republic" America is supposed to be.

They are, largely and not coincidentally, mostly called "Republicans."

"Sane people" not only recognize the value of "street protests," but know enough to ape and manufacture them for unpopular causes, which is precisely why the tiny fraction of monied interests are doing exactly that with the astro-turfing of TPP.

The fact they aren't real enough to take to the streets proves the OP's point rather perfectly.

Let's stop pretending any of it is about "bad ones" and "good ones."

Problems like these are not a function of weeding out evil people from good people, or deciding whether it's fair to paint an enormous group with one brush.

Concluding that "most" of anybody is good or bad gets us nowhere. We can't get rid of "most cops."

But we can change the culture in which they work, and the incentives and ramifications for doing the job right vs. abusing it.

These issues are group power dynamics over a large scale. The same way people who work on Wall Street don't sit around cackling about screwing the middle class, but manage to do it anyway. Regulate them correctly, and suddenly you're in Canada, where bankers don't gamble taxpayer money and break the world.

Sure, individual proclivities matter, but WE ALL are doing something wrong with the way we conceptualize law and order. We wouldn't be seeing racist or corrupt policing everywhere if we didn't allow the systems that encourage those attitudes to stay in place.

- Independent review. Neither cops nor bankers are good at "policing themselves." Places with community review boards, or at the very least, outside agency review of complaints, typically do better.

- Less militarization. We need to stop sending cops tanks and APCs and fifteen different ways to hurt people that "probably" won't kill them. You prepare constantly for war; you're going to find a war.

- Transparency and accountability. Dash cams, body cams, and better review of all of those things. Policing is a public matter. It should be done where the public can see. The crooked get scared and the tempted think twice.

- Better training and culture within departments. LAPD was infamous for its racism and bunker mentality when Daryl Gates was in charge. It looks like NYPD, Baltimore, Mississippi, and many other departments have them same thing going on. Foot patrols and community policing get cops to see residents as neighbors and friends, instead of an enemy country.

There's no getting rid of the fact that people in power will misuse it if we don't actively prevent it. You take away incentives to do it, and develop better responses for when it happens. You put a better system in place, and suddenly you don't have those barrels full of rotten apples any more.

People who think socialism means Soviet communism are dumb.

The same ones think Democrats are communists.

No helping them, probably.

So no better time than now, as democratic socialism continues to work across Europe, surpassing us in areas like healthcare and renewable energy, to educate the American public on where the "social" in their Social Security comes from.

I've never seen Obama like this.

The problem he's got in arguing for what he wants is exactly the problem with the TPP. He can't / won't say what's in it. Which is why it looks so strange trying to laugh off these very logical concerns, held by plenty of serious, well-informed people, as though they were inconceivable.

If he could explain why Stiglitz and Warren and Sherrod Brown shouldn't worry about what they're worried about, we might not be having the discussion at all, either because Obama and the Republicans are right and everything is reasonably fine, or because it never would have gotten out of the gate with what's in it had people known.

But recall, Warren says she was told the very reason the TPP was classified was because it would create a public outcry if the terms were known.

I thought Sherrod Brown's comments on Chris Hayes last night were great. He didn't want to dwell on his earlier comment that he thought Obama got too personal with Warren, and then he laid out examples of all the previous trade agreements, all of which were promised to add American jobs and did not.

So it's fairly obvious that Warren and everyone else are not being ridiculous or illogical, and it was a tone-deaf way for Obama to approach it.

Dismissal is just not a credible tone to take with something like this. Had Obama acknowledged the problems with past trade deals and the concerns with the details we know about this one, he would have sounded much more convinced of his own opinion than he did saying things like "it's not logical" and "Why would I do that?"

The logic of these massive trade deals is exactly backwards.

If we were worried about "people in other countries," governments would require businesses to provide for fair wages, labor rights, and environmental controls.

Instead, it works the other way. Businesses want to tell governments they can't interfere with "expected future profits" with "non-tariff trade barriers."

In other words, low wages, child labor, no safety protocols, and no environmental regs for all.

Slavery and zero accountability for harm remains the dream of giant business interests, and anything put forward by those interests will be a movement in that direction, however it is spun or rationalized.

"Insiders" don't listen to "outsiders."

As Larry Summers explained to Elizabeth Warren:

He teed it up this way: I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.

I had been warned.


Too many Republicans in the fundraising circles?

It looks like the "common wisdom" in some Democratic Party circles here in Florida continues to be that you need a near-Republican (or, ideally, a recent Republican convert) to run as a Dem.

And so then we run an Alex Sink or a Kendrick Meeks or a Charlie Crist, and lose, because people who want to vote for a Republican don't have any problem finding one of those, and the excuse afterward is to blame the voters for poor turnout. And possibly also progressives for being hurtfully hung up on annoying principles and things.

As though the voters have a duty to vote for whatever super corporate, recently Republican candidate they are offered, with no corresponding duty to listen to actual Democrats, or even to allow Dems outside of the cozy Tallahassee money bubble to compete.

This business of leaking nastiness about Grayson's girlfriend or whatever, apparently to signal an all-out attack should he choose to run, is way beyond the pale. It's not the business of a handful of higher ups to anoint a candidate before anyone else can announce, and then try to quash any competition.

Primaries are good things. They let the voters speak, they provide a range of views for comparison and contrast, and they draw out Republican attacks before they can be decisive.

Purchasing a convenient money-magnet candidate early may be nice for getting all the usual operatives paid, but it doesn't win elections, and it's not the voters who need to come around.

+++ Fascism creeps in on little loafered Banker feet

We shy away from brash ideologically loaded terms like "fascism," because collectively we agree so seldom on when a political system has gone too far that we end up comparing everything to Nazis, and nothing really compares that well to the Nazis. They really went the extra mile in terms of horrifying the world. We may not see their specific brand of terribleness again.

But private money trying to undermine democracy? That's not any kind of special evil unicorn. That's common as dirt. It happens every day. We would be buried by private money tomorrow if we stopped pushing actively against it for a second. It's not unique. It's not even particularly evil, really, although its effects if unchecked certainly are. It's just a thing that money and power do to any kind of civilization.

Like Pinky and the Brain, the privately wealthy and privately powerful wake up every morning, drink some fine, strong Columbian coffee, and decide HOW TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

One thing we do have in common with Germans and Italians and everyone else who has seen their country go through horrifically destructive political paradigm shifts, is that we *assume things will never get that bad.*

We really do give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We don't see jackboots in the street or hear bombs exploding above, and we assume things will remain within at least some modicum of sanity.

But that's not true at all. Radical things can happen in an instant, and THE MOST COMMON way is not through crazed painters shooting guns in beerhalls. It's with the stroke of a businessman's pen.

Of COURSE business interests want to force through a sweeping realignment of power, elevating "investors" to the level of nation states and erecting an extra-judicial system run by corporate lawyers to punish countries that interfere with "expected future profits."

It's what they've always wanted. And it's not like we don't see them trying to get there, every single day. It's what lobbyists are for, and lobbyists have all the business they can handle.

We need not to shy away from strong talk. We need to understand that secret international trade agreements are EXACTLY how things can go horribly wrong. Not a shot fired, not a jackboot in sight. But they can still take it all, and they will, and we need to call these massive power grabs out for what they are, and not be bored to sleep by the details, or cowed into not using harsh terminology.

“give them their way and they will take the course of every aristocracy of the past – power for themselves, enslavement for the public.”

FDR was no conspiracy theorist. He was reporting what he saw, and he'd report the same today if he was here to see this.

Great post.

FDR WAS a bit of a socialist.

Somehow, we have gotten to a place where people pretend unregulated capitalism is a core American value. Or maybe our religion or something. Like the Founding Fathers stood on Plymouth rock and shouted,

"Small government, low wages and no environmental regulations, for ALLLL!"

Didn't happen that way. No one anointed pure capitalism our National Way of Doing Business, and in fact, we have made our greatest strides NOT doing things that way. Busting trusts, banning monopolies. Breaking up businesses before they become "too big to fail."

Socialism isn't a dirty word, or un-American, and it's far past time we stopped letting people pretend otherwise.

"Democratic Socialism" needs to be discussed more often and more openly.

Our conversation in the U.S. is so dumbed down, we don't often get past people just shouting "socialism" as an epithet, with no articulation or discussion. We are simply supposed to think about Soviet tanks in the streets or little pink horned devils or something and dismiss it.

We're like kindergarteners here.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world's civilized Western democracies discuss and pursue democratic socialism along with other approaches, and talk about whether and how to solve social and political problems through a variety of normal, grownup means.

Generally, socialism and democracy appear to work well together, and do not involve standing in line for toilet paper or breaking rocks in a gulag. But we are so busy explaining to people that you need to pay "taxes," because you need "government," because that's how "large groups of people live together cooperatively" that we don't get to the finer points.

We're the rubes of the world, and for some reason, we're proud of it. We're like connoisseurs of ignorance. We consider it optional to even "believe" in things like the scientifically established age of the world or whether pollution is a good idea or a bad one.

This is why we need Bernie out there talking, eventual Democratic nominee or not. He can elevate the conversation, and he does not have the weight of the monied American establishment leaning over his shoulder shushing him, lest the dumb Americans figure out what's really going on.
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