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Gender: Male
Current location: northern California
Member since: Fri Jan 26, 2007, 08:20 PM
Number of posts: 4,775

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I agree

If you are new here, welcome to DU.

I hadn't really considered the angle you brought up where the socialist threat helped win concessions in the U.S. from the wealthy. Makes sense.

Organization has always been a talent the right has over the left. They're better at linear thinking, top-down structures that successfully target narrow objectives and then they have the funding to build the infrastructure to deliver the desired change.

The left has always been more about herding cats from one interest group to another, trying to keep people focused on the issue at hand rather than splintering into a thousand loose affinity groups. And most of it is done by underpaid, overworked volunteers who have precious little spare time for activism, struggling just to keep their day jobs and make a living. Paid staff is either non-existent or just enough to coordinate events and fundraising efforts.

I had always hoped the internet would be the great equalizer, that the tech-savvy left would find ways to use it to coordinate actions and screen out corporate candidates who will only sell us out. So far I have seen sites like DU and Kos that are good for discussion and promotion of party ideology but not good at mobilizing action nor at promoting candidates that will serve the non-elites. In fact they may serve the opposite, they take a lot of time from members who read, comment and argue but don't organize for substantive change.

NGOs use the internet to good effect, using online petitions and action alerts, though for the most part they use the web for their own fundraising. Also most of them have too little funding to effectively mobilize against powerful monied interests, though what little good that does happens often happens from their efforts.

I think there is room for a new web site, or several, that work specifically to crowd-source actions and to promote (and fund) candidates who will support the issues of aggregated small donors in the same way our current reps support the issues of the large donors.

Obama in 2008 received roughly half of his campaign money from small donors, yet when he took office it was the large corporate donors and their interests who got their policies pushed by his administration. That's not particular to Obama, it's actually typical, a large corporate donor gets legislation while the small donors get attention in proportion to their individual donation rather than in proportion to the aggregate of the small donors who chipped in. Perhaps this could be improved on by using an aggregator that would manage the donations and use their influence en masse to leverage policy from our representatives in government.

I know there are many groups working along these lines, but I also know that we're losing this battle in a big way, so we need to keep re-inventing how small fish can pool their resources to get what they want from government.

Posted by dreamnightwind | Wed Apr 23, 2014, 05:03 AM (0 replies)

Good post

Small quibble, it's just a point I'd like to make, don't see it represented here much:

"The truth is that the blame belongs to conservatives. It's been long known that people will vote for a real Republican than a Democrat trying to sound like one."

So I think this is a myth. It's long been apparent that people will actually support and vote for a Dem who positions themselves just to the left of the Republican they are running against. It's the slightly better lessor of two evils thing. If people always chose the real Republican rather than a Dem who supports their policies, the whole third way would have collapsed from unelectability.

Sadly, enabled by the "crazy" right-wing, the third way strategy of getting a lot of corporate money, using it to setup a a formidable campaign machine, claim the "center" while punching the left to establish your cred, is often a successful electoral strategy. Fake Republicans running as Dems can and do get elected. Many people think they're doing something a little better by voting for the Dem corporatist rather than for the Republican corporatist, and there's some truth in that.

The problem isn't that it's a failed electoral strategy, the problem is that when these candidates win, they don't represent us, they represent their large campaign donors, the corporations. Ultimately it does our party, and our citizens, great harm. The policies these corporatist Dems get behind taints our party in the eyes of the electorate, they think Dems are the same kind of crooks as Republicans, and perhaps our reps are a little better but the people for the most part have it right, most of our elected Dems are selling us out in the same way the Republicans are, as directed by the oligarchs that support the whole rotten machine.

What we really need to be looking at is how to win elections without corporate money. Running on policies that actually help the average person, speaking truth to power, doing it like Bernie does, that can make up for some of the advantage the better funded corporatists have. We should be exploring mechanisms to help candidates overcome the huge obstacles they face in elections. Money is a powerful thing, but there are other sources of power, such as truth and sincerity. With the internet, there should be ways to amplify and raise awareness about good candidates who are going up against the beast.

Your final statement, about the left's impotence despite being correct on policy, is dead on, and has been for a long time. We only matter when someone wants to blame us. The corporations have created an entire culture of superficial values, consumerism, conformity, glamor, violence, selfishness, and greed. Their media outlets are incredibly powerful in doing so. The left has nothing comparable, left out.

What we do have is a lot of people in pain worried about their future, and we have the truth that our policies are what is needed to address our problems. There's intrinsic power in that. But we have to learn to win elections without corporate money in order to reclaim our party and restore its good name.

Roughly half of Obama's 2008 campaign funds came from small donors. So, when he got into office, did he dance with us, or the corporations? Obviously the corporations. The half of the money coming from small donors was for the most part not aggregated, so as far as leveraging policies from the president, it carried little more weight than the average size of those donations, which was quite small. Besides, as the third way types will tell you in a candid moment, "where are they (the left) going to go?" We'll see the same thing if Hillary is elected. With no credible threat on the left flank, the people are ignored, mostly without consequence for the corporate politician. That's why something like Occupy was so important, and why it was so brutally crushed.

The corporations who wrote huge multi-million dollar checks were the ones Obama listened to (although I think their world-view for the most part aligns with his own). These people have specific legislative agendas their money supports, and they have a direct line to the elected politicians they "bought". One wrong move, and their support vanishes, they'll take their money to the other party, or they'll destroy the politician some other, more immediate way. Small Mom and Pop donors or their proxies in various NGO's aren't even allowed in the room. We get lip service, they (the corporate donors) get legislation.

Is aggregation of small donations the answer? It could help, so long as the aggregator is 100% representing the people rather than some interest of its own. A credible threat of upheaval or revolution would also get their attention. A serious and determined third party on the left would also help. Personally I favor working within the party, possibly using a far-left socialist wing under the Democratic Party tent, whose candidates would be forbidden from taking corporate money. Whatever the answer is, it doesn't involve electing candidates who share and validate the world-view of the corporatists and the Republicans.
Posted by dreamnightwind | Mon Feb 10, 2014, 12:23 AM (1 replies)

The myth of the Christian conservative

A nice piece of writing from Mark Morford. I sometimes find his columns interesting. This one felt spot-on.

The final two paragraphs are quoted below, but the article itself is pretty short and worth reading. Talks a lot about Amway's DeVos family too, as an example of the contradiction between Jesus and the people using his name to push for policies he would certainly have opposed.

So now it begins to make more sense. While conservative Christians of the DeVos variety aggressively despise everything the real Jesus stood for – nonviolence, aiding the poor, ministering to the sick, equal rights, spiritual autonomy, the anointing of lots of trippy holy oil to commune with sacred realms – they very much value what came next: the institutionalized church and all its megalomaniacal, sociopolitical success, perhaps the greatest, most oppressive corporation/political operation of all time. The GOP can only dream.

It’s true, no? More than 2,000 years later, despite endless scandals, oppression and political obfuscation, the church’s brand is still going strong (well, sort of). It is empire incarnate, the greatest marketing success in history, squashing opposition, steamrolling spiritual autonomy and most of all, encoding into millions of followers the most tragic lie of all time: that you are separate from the divine. That you cannot ever truly know God. That you are meek and broken, full of shame and sin. But if you’re really lucky, if you work hard, soak yourself in guilt and support the correct (white, rich, male) leaders, you can maybe, just maybe, avoid Hell. Familiar message, right? Just like Jesus absolutely never intended?

Posted by dreamnightwind | Wed Jan 29, 2014, 08:29 AM (1 replies)

How Science Is Telling Us All To Revolt...

Your post reminded me of CNN's "is it a good thing, or a bad thing?" I know we're all busy and have limited time to give to any single post, but I'd like to present my take on what is actually happening.

I won't go into everything that would be a factor in the reasons for NSA spying, nor am I informed enough to do so (none of us are, and that's no accident, we're talking about the NSA here).

A few things that occur to me:

Sure, part of this is about terrorism. Part of it. And their definition of terrorism would not be mine, they would include non-violent populist uprisings in their terrorist web, though they would identify and exploit any actual violence that either comes from such uprisings or that are staged and blamed on them.

I would rather include the corporate polluters who spend money to lobby governments for unimpeded extraction and combustion of the greenhouse-gas producing fossil fuels they are profiting from.

In addition to extraction and delivery of these resources, they also spend a lot of money to misinform the public about the coming consequences of their pollution, funding industry-friendly scientists, owning our major media outlets, funding "think-tanks", and working against, not for, zero or low-emission fuel alternatives, all in the name of profit. Those are the real terrorists, and the planet we live on is not a collection of natural resources for extraction, it is an intricate and dynamic system being pushed beyond its limits by fossil fuel profiteers.

Things like the Arab Spring, 9/11, other terrorist attacks, and Occupy have the attention of governments around the world. They can respond in a number of ways to these events. It appears their responses are oriented more towards control of the populace rather than on listening to and responding to citizens' legitimate concerns and demands.

In addition to those kind of events, they are looking ahead to future economic collapse and catastrophic environmental degradation which will result in massive evacuations and migrations.

We need a mobilization against climate change, a massive economic and lifestyle reconfiguration, and we need it yesterday. Instead, we're seeing an intense ramp-up of security and control systems. They seek not to avoid catastrophic climate change, but to create a total-awareness information network that can be used by both states and corporations against those seeking the drastic change needed to avert the unthinkable, and against the radicalized victims of the disasters we are and will increasingly be facing. They seek continuity of governments and corporate structures, and firewalling of the oligarchs from catastrophe and catastrophe's blowback when the populace realizes what they're in store for.

It is clear to me that the emphasis is on control by the elites of the masses, crushing dissent, and managing crises as much as possible rather than on dealing with the actual problems we face. I realize it's not entirely either-or, the newly arising total information awareness systems would not necessarily preclude prevention efforts, but it would take a lot of denial, IMO, to not see where the priorities are, which is on building populace control systems rather than on building an economic system that is compatible with sustaining human life on this planet for anything more than elites living in artificially controlled environments.

I would like to refer readers to this post
How Science Is Telling Us All To Revolt by Naomi Klein
Posted by dreamnightwind | Wed Oct 30, 2013, 03:24 PM (0 replies)

I didn't rec this post

though I agree that the need to strike Syria is just the latest B.S. from the MIC.

I don't believe Kerry or Obama are warmongers.

The more I learn, the more it looks like Zappa's statement quoted in that warmonger video () was right on target. I forget his exact words, basically the political establishment is the entertainment arm of the MIC.

For the most part, power does not change hands in the U.S. with elections. It lurks in the background, making policy decisions, then coming up with evidence to put in front of whoever the current administration is. They have their contingencies drawn prior to the requests for them from the POTUS. They know what the POTUS will ask for because they know the intelligence they have presented to him.

Seymour Hersch used to dive down this rabbit-hole pretty deeply, though his reporting lacked the unified theory to tie it all together (not a reporter's job, really). He goes into some of it in this article
which also includes a link to the full half-hour talk he gave. It feels circuitous and unfocused to me, but he's one of the more credible journalists we've had and he was trying to get us to pay attention. His particular focus at that point in time was on W/Cheney and the secret activities of the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command). More on that here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh?printable=true

I think even Hersch would now have to alter his view, he focused too much on what he considered unusually evil men (his words) in W and Cheney. He was no doubt correct about them, but W was little more than a stooge, the jester in Zappa's view. Now we see the same patterns with a new administration, we see the NSA scandals, we know a lot more now.

Power in this country is no longer accountable to the electorate. If that doesn't change, it's game over for any real democracy we hope to have.

Kerry is one of our guys I have always admired, so it saddens me to see him playing this role. I think he mostly believes the story that is presented to him by the people that matter. I'd say the same for Obama, though less so, hard to explain away all of the drones and the right-wing appointments he makes. But this game is much larger than either of them, and we're all in deep trouble without a truly representative government.
Posted by dreamnightwind | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 05:08 AM (0 replies)

You might find a better ideological fit

in one of those other parties, but I've come to believe that you'll just be abandoning any real chance at bringing that ideology to power. Seems to me that the system is rigged to support 2 parties. Maybe we can change that after getting the corrupting influence of private money out of elections, though I doubt it. So if your conscience needs it, go for it. I don't think it helps. Why not be less principled and more practical by giving the Dem your vote when it appears that it will keep a Republican out of office, but also putting all of your efforts and donations into CCFR (comprehensive campaign finance reform), or kick-starting campaigns for non-corporate Dems?

As for DU, I'd say stay here and stay within the rules, it isn't that hard, and fight the good fight, we need you here, and there are many here who share your views.

As for a name, I actually think that's a great place to put some energy. We need a name for a subgroup of the Democratic Party that doesn't buy the 3rd Way smoke and mirrors. The Tea Party is no parallel since they're corporate puppets, but they did establish themselves as a powerful bloc within the Republican Party that has to be reckoned with. There really needs to be a subgroup of our party that the party leaders will have to fear and respect. An organization and a name would be great. The Progressive Caucus is there, but they're mostly bought, too, and powerless besides. My own rep is in that caucus and he had a lot of corporate money behind him, he isn't a reliable defender of the 99% at all, in fact he and his well-funded campaign got in the way of better candidates in the primary.

Better yet, why not a group that isn't a true party, just a group of ordinary Americans that have awakened to the fact that our reps are working for other bosses, not for us. It could leave left-right issues completely to the domain of the 2 major parties, and promote non-corporate candidates in both of them. I used to kick around a name for such a thing, probably lame, but it was the CoJones Party (yeah that'll sure fly, lol. It was for the popular all-American name Jones, also for cohones, literally a nut-sack with a left nut and a right nut,, would look great on a redneck's trailer hitch for that matter).

We're going to need the support of the most salt-of-the-earth, down-home, intellectually challenged low-information voters to get power back from the corporations, and that isn't likely to happen by pushing a progressive agenda down their throats. I'm pretty sure we can get them to understand that it's the corporations that are screwing them, many of them already know it. Enlist their help, enact the money reforms, and fight left-right battles as two sides of a loyal opposition, as good Americans who happen to differ on social policy.

My 2 cents, thanks for responding, hopefully this discussion continues here and in other threads.
Posted by dreamnightwind | Tue Jul 30, 2013, 02:55 AM (0 replies)

What part of good cop bad cop don't you understand?

I don't buy into false equivalence, there's no Republican I can imagine ever voting for, since I disagree with pretty much everything that party even pretends to stand for.

But yeah, I'm way more down on the elected Dems than you. Obama, with his record and his appointments, is nowhere close to anything I would ever support. Better than McCain? No doubt. But playing the same game, working for the same forces, a Dem like that legitimizes the goals of the uber-rich like no Republican can.

We have to fix the system so actual Democrats can be elected, rather than the oligarchy's "good cops" that call themselves Democrats.

To the extent that we can work within the party to get an actual good Democrat to run in a primary, maybe even to actually win a primary and the general election, that's great and well worth the effort. My own district is absolutely safe blue, so it makes sense to elect someone more progressive than Jared Huffman, our incumbent.

It's also worth the effort, IMO, to show up at election day and reluctantly check the box next to the corporate Dem's name if the race is close enough that it makes any difference. I still do so when I think it might matter. But that doesn't get us anywhere better. At best it just slows down the kleptocracy, though in practice it often hastens it, since a Dem doing the bidding of the powerful can get a lot more done for them using the popular veneer of the Democratic Party to get people to accept otherwise unacceptable policies. And the corporations are well aware of that fact, which is why they support Democrats as well as Republicans.

Most all of effort really needs to go into campaign finance reform, complete public financing of all federal elections, at a minimum. There is also a corporate money problem in state-wide races, not sure if that has to be fought state by state or if a constitutional amendment could also take care of that money. It's an incredibly difficult task but it absolutely has to happen. If you put 70 Dems in the Senate, a Dem House majority and a Dem president, without campaign finance reform, you still won't see government for the people, almost every single one of them is and will be totally owned by big business interests.
Posted by dreamnightwind | Tue Jul 30, 2013, 02:23 AM (1 replies)

The LBJ illegal wiretap was a piece I didn't know, it explains a lot.

Some context from this story (hopefully I'm within copyright limits for fair use, tried to clip it to a minimum, these are not complete paragraphs):

...the evidence is now clear that Nixon created the Watergate burglars out of his panic that the Democrats might possess a file on his sabotage of Vietnam peace talks in 1968.


The disruption of Johnson’s peace talks then enabled Nixon to hang on for a narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey. ... the new President ... sensed the threat from the wiretap file and ordered two of his top aides, chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, to locate it. But they couldn’t find the file.

We now know that was because President Johnson, who privately had called Nixon’s Vietnam actions “treason,” had ordered the file removed from the White House by his national security aide Walt Rostow.

Rostow labeled the file “The ‘X’ Envelope” and kept it in his possession ...

Ironically, too, Johnson and Rostow had no intention of exposing Nixon’s dirty secret regarding LBJ’s Vietnam peace talks, presumably for the same reasons that they kept their mouths shut back in 1968, out of a benighted belief that revealing Nixon’s actions might somehow not be “good for the country.”

(after getting re-elected) Nixon then reached out to Johnson seeking his help in squelching Democratic-led investigations of the Watergate affair and slyly noting that Johnson had ordered wiretaps of Nixon’s campaign in 1968.

Johnson reacted angrily to the overture, refusing to cooperate. On Jan. 20, 1973, Nixon was sworn in for his second term. On Jan. 22, 1973, Johnson died of a heart attack.

So, Parry says LBJ wouldn't release the 'X' Envelope "out of a benighted belief that revealing Nixon's actions might somehow not be "good for thee country". That seemed odd to me, didn't pass the smell test. But if this info had its roots in an illegal wiretap of Nixon's campaign by LBJ, it makes a lot more sense.

Major kudos to Parry for this article. The whole thing should be read by anyone wanting to understand our actual history. Both the Nixon and Reagan-Bush administrations came to power by defeating peace efforts / hostage releases at the end of the prior Democratic administration.

History seriously needs to be rewritten, so we can go forward without the blinders and be willing to critically examine all possible explanations of major political events. We pay for this naivety with our freedom, living under illegitimate power. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see this kind of thing go down near the end of Obama's term to bring Jeb into power.
Posted by dreamnightwind | Tue Mar 12, 2013, 03:32 AM (1 replies)

We need to shrink the military till

it's small enough to drown it in a bathtub.

There, I bet that got some people's attention. Apologies for the Grover reference. Even worse, in this context, I actually believe it.

Honestly, U.S. taxpayers, for some reason, are footing the enormous bill (in both blood and treasure) of securing an international resource extraction economy, making sure these resources are sold on the global market rather than used for and controlled by the local residents. We have our meddling little (not so little) fingers in every corner of the planet, influencing other governments' behavior, or even outright installing other countries' governments and training proxy militaries that take over when our troops move on to the next "situation".

Since all of this is done in our names, ultimately as U.S. citizens it puts a price on all of our heads. What goes around comes around.

I see very little defense in our Dept. of Defense. It's pretty much all offense. The bad guys we supposedly need to kill are for the most part just sick of our troops and diplomats treating their countries as our own, which we do to an insane degree.

Respect for the military? Well, for the most part, I don't respect the jobs the military is tasked with. There are exceptions, but they are exceptions, not the main function of our military.

It's very difficult to speak honestly about feelings towards the military. In my case, it's sure to offend many, though it's not my intention. Glorifying military service by extension serves to glorify military activity, and is very actively used for that purpose by a massive corporate media empire that is itself at the heart of the military industrial complex.

Seems to me we need the freedom and the courage to talk about this, as our society has become overtaken by the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about.

We need a real jobs program at home, we need the money we spend on the military to retool our economy to avoid catastrophic climate change (also the U.S. military is apparently the single greatest polluter on this planet) and to lift so many of our citizens out of poverty, we need to respect other cultures and other forms of governing and managing resources.

None of this is relevant to the story cited in the OP, which seemed distasteful to me just on a human level. But the OP went on in this direction, asking broader questions about our military mindset, and I think it's a brave and necessary question. K & R.
Posted by dreamnightwind | Tue Dec 4, 2012, 08:36 AM (1 replies)


Yeah lots of reasons people put up with it, no doubt that's one of them. Also, unfortunately, the real push for change won't come until a large portion of our population is in dire straits. Of course by then it will be too late for some things and for some people. No time to lose...
Posted by dreamnightwind | Sun Sep 9, 2012, 02:22 AM (0 replies)
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