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Hometown: Green Mountains
Home country: US
Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM
Number of posts: 11,426

Journal Archives

"We Are Bellingcat" - excellent book for those who care about how to search for truth

I won't take a position on whether or not they (bellingcat) have hidden agendas. The only one that I can perceive is one that encourages transparency and citizen participation in investigative journalism.

Based on a search on the tubes, bellingcat has struck a nerve with its investigations. The russian/ussr outlets (sputniknews.cccp, rt.cccp) as well as proxies (mintpressnews) are flooding the media with negative press which never answers the accusations, just tries to deflect, divert, deny.

They uncovered the facts behind the downing of MH17 over the Ukraine, the attempted assassins of the Skripals in England, the chemical warfare in Syria - all of these terrorist actions with the backing of the KGB officer in charge of the Russian plutocracy.

Of course these techniques should be used against any government (national or local) that tries to hide its actions from scrutiny. I expect more will be exposed around the world including those supposed bastions of democracy such as the US, UK, FR, etc.

Feel like fixing the climate crisis is your responsibility? ExxonMobil has been telling you that


Feel like fixing the climate crisis is your personal responsibility? ExxonMobil has been telling you that for 20 years, a study found.

When Naomi Oreskes lectures about climate change, she gets the same question over and over again.

"A member of the audience will say: 'Well, what can I personally do? What can I do as an individual to fix this problem?'" Oreskes, a science historian at Harvard University, told Insider. "Much less frequently do they say: 'What can we do about the way the fossil fuel industry is blocking policy action?'"

It's a common idea: That the best way to fight climate change is by making changes in your own life — using less energy, eating less meat, driving less, flying less. But according to Oreskes and her colleague, Geoffrey Supran, a key source of this sentiment is a set of communications campaigns from ExxonMobil.

The researchers' latest analysis indicates that the oil giant started blaming the climate crisis on consumers two decades ago. In a study published last week, Supran and Oreskes analyzed 180 ExxonMobil documents discussing climate change from 1977 to 2014. The set includes internal communications, peer-reviewed publications, and "advertorials" — advertisements fashioned to look like editorials and published in The New York Times op-ed section.

Around the year 2000, the researchers found, a new trend emerged in the company's public-facing communications. The advertisements began to focus on how consumers use energy.

"Be smart about electricity use," one 2007 advertorial suggested, continuing: "Heat and cool your home efficiently." "Improve your gas mileage." "Check your home's greenhouse gas emissions."

Focusing on how consumers power their homes and cars, Oreskes and Supran argue, helps ExxonMobil "downplay" its role in extracting and burning the fossil fuels that are filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and raising global temperatures. It places both the blame and the responsibility for solving the problem onto individuals.

It's all about messaging. Deflecting. Propaganda.

No One Wants to Work [For You] Anymore: The End of Oligopsony


This post highlights a very important discussion that may change the way that workers are treated in this capitalist economy. At least I hope it does.

There are few ways faster to piss me off than to say, “Slackers don’t want to work” in response to the lack of candidates for low-wage jobs.

Inside a one-mile stretch of the main thoroughfare where I live in Midwestern Suburbia, I can find 8-12 signs advertising job openings right now. I’ve lived here since the late 1970s and I’ve never seen this many postings for jobs.

Every single one of these jobs pays between $3.67 (Michigan’s minimum tipped hourly wage) and $15.00 an hour. None of them are full time, most have variable schedules, and only one place assures workers one weekend day off every week. None of them offer health care or childcare assistance of any kind. None of them offer enough hours regularly with enough compensation to pay for a one-bedroom apartment within walking distance, and likely not within a 10-mile radius.

Until the pandemic, these employers were able to tell workers what they’d pay, take it or leave it. They could act in concert without having to coordinate to set market pricing because it was simply understood by workers that hourly workers’ pay fell in this range and it was an employers’ market.

Employers have acted like a cartel, with collusion on price fixing for labor enabled by other monopolistic entities like Facebook and Google.

Excellent post and comments from Heather Cox Richardson today


But the real blockbuster political story of the day came in the form of a video obtained by Mother Jones and written about in a detailed article there by Ari Berman and Nick Surgey. The leaked video shows Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America—the political arm of the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank—explaining to big-money donors that Heritage Action has worked closely with Republican state legislators to enact voter suppression laws. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”

The story is not entirely new. Heritage (as it is known) published a report last February outlining “best practices” for voting, many of which are in the new bills coming out of Republican-dominated state legislatures. And in a March article for the New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein outlined the role of Heritage Action in Georgia’s and Arizona’s voting restrictions, noting that at least 23 of the proposed state bills that dealt with voting had language that looked like that of Heritage. They also wrote that Heritage plans to spend $24 million to change voting laws in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin before the 2022 election, and that the person behind the Heritage voting policies is Hans von Spakovsky, who mainstreamed the idea of voter fraud in the Republican Party, although experts agree it is vanishingly rare.

What is new and dramatic about the video is seeing Anderson make her pitch to donors for a coordinated right-wing effort to take the vote away from their opponents. She talks of working with similar groups: “We literally give marching orders for the week ahead,” Anderson said. “All so we’re singing from the same song sheet of the goals for that week and where the state bills are across the country.”

Heritage Action is fighting hard against the Democrats’ For the People Act, which would protect the right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering, and limit money in politics. Heritage summarized the bill, which it called the “Corrupt Politicians Act,” in a short sheet for lawmakers. Anderson explained: “We’ve made sure that every single member of Congress knows just how bad the bill is…. Then we’ve made sure there’s an echo chamber of support around these senators driven by your Heritage Action activists and sentinels across the country where we’ve driven hundreds of thousands of calls, emails, place[d] letters to the editor, hosted events, and run television and digital ads.”

And this exceptional comment(s):

Ellie Kona4 hr ago

In Heather’s video chat today (5/13/2021), she talked about Stephen Douglas. Stephen Douglas, of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, drafted the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 to allow the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide whether or not to allow slavery, rather than to be decided by Congress, and the Northerners in opposition to slavery and oligarchy formed the Republican Party. The Democratic Party split between north and south. As the Southern Democrats escalated to the point of seceding from the Union, Douglas took a stand that secession was in opposition to democracy and sided with Lincoln and the Union for a mainstream position. With the split in the Democrats, the Republicans prevailed. As it echoes to today, the party split looks like a good thing.

Heather’s point was that the spin-off element can become very dangerous.

As Heather describes the campaign of the Heritage Action for America, we see ever more clearly how the danger comes in the form of not “just” the Jan. 6 insurrection, but the sophisticated monied manipulation of state legislators, and even of public opinion, as through letters to the editor, to create the appearance of legitimacy and “the will of the people.”

How is Heritage connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)? Both are funded by the Koch Foundation. Note that ALEC wrote the 360 voter suppression bills pending/passed across the country.

What is the counterpart progressive PAC that is spoon-feeding legislation to elected officials and their staff?

Fellow HCR Reader Jeff Carpenter looked for a progressive PAC. The best he could find is the State Innovation Exchange (SiX):

New Republic article of 1/03/2020, “Have Democrats Found Their ALEC?”


The State Innovation Exchange (SiX) provides an online database of liberal and progressive model state-level legislation that has been passed in a state for politicians and activists to replicate and enact in state legislatures.


Jeff learned that progressive state groups are more like libraries than lobbies, and big donors prefer national legislation over state legislation. Jeff contacted a SiX spokesperson who said:

“We do not operate like ALEC (For example, we’re not a “bill mill” that churns out copycat legislation. We know that policy alone won’t fix our democracy and economy, so we take a policy plus approach--we share policy research from issue experts, as well as communications, strategy, connections with movement partners, and other types of support that legislators need.) We do provide tailored support for state legislators, and democracy is one of our primary issue areas.”

However daunting, our despair can only be a feeling that we redirect into action. Barriers to voting, voter suppression bills, are already being passed as a set up for the minority to overpower the majority in the 2022 elections and beyond. The time is now to make our voices heard as individuals by writing/texting/calling elected officials, corporations, local newspapers, and social media.

How to get started, if you haven’t already? Here are 5 of more than 40 grassroots organizations:

Vote Forward: https://votefwd.org/

Fair Fight: Home | Fair Fight

League of Women Voters (members do include men!): https://www.lwv.org/

Common Cause: commoncause.org

5 Calls: https://5calls.org/

What’s your favorite organization in support of democracy?

Gigi3 hr ago

My favorite organization in support of democracy is Joe Biden’s administration.


Question—why am I still surprised that Heritage was doing everything that Democrats were accused of? Bussing people in to act like locals was something we often heard idjt45 raging about during the New Hampshire primary. There is no bottom to their madness and it explains why many politicians never even knew what they were proposing. Hello Marjorie and her America First caucus looking like a fool talking about an outside organization and no one blasted her on it.

Great list and background info Ellie. Thank you.
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