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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 76,312

Journal Archives

Chris Hedges: The Coming Climate Revolt

Chris Hedges made these remarks Saturday at a panel discussion in New York City titled “The Climate Crisis: Which Way Out?” The other panelists were Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Kshama Sawant and Sen. Bernie Sanders. The event, moderated by Brian Lehrer, occurred on the eve of the People’s Climate March in New York City.

We have undergone a transformation during the last few decades—what John Ralston Saul calls a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. We are no longer a capitalist democracy endowed with a functioning liberal class that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. Liberals in the old Democratic Party such as the senators Gaylord Nelson, Birch Bayh and George McGovern—who worked with Ralph Nader to make the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the OSHA law, who made common cause with labor unions to protect workers, who stood up to the arms industry and a bloated military—no longer exist within the Democratic Party, as Nader has been lamenting for several years. They were pushed out as corporate donors began to transform the political landscape with the election of Ronald Reagan. And this is why the Democrats have not, as Bill Curry points out, enacted any major social or economic reforms since the historic environmental laws of the early ’70s.

We are governed, rather, by a species of corporate totalitarianism, or what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as “inverted totalitarianism.” By this Wolin means a system where corporate power, while it purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the three branches of government and a free press, along with the iconography and language of American patriotism, has in fact seized all the important levers of power to render the citizen impotent.

The old liberal class, the safety valve that addressed grievances and injustices in times of economic or political distress, has been neutered. There are self-identified liberals, including Barack Obama, who continue to speak in the old language of liberalism but serve corporate power. This has been true since the Clinton administration. Bill Clinton found that by doing corporate bidding he could get corporate money—thus NAFTA, the destruction of our welfare system, the explosion of mass incarceration under the [1994] omnibus bill, the deregulation of the FCC, turning the airwaves over to a half dozen corporations, and the revoking of FDR’s 1933 Glass-Steagall reform that had protected our banking system from speculators. Clinton, in exchange for corporate money, transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party. This was diabolically brilliant. It forced the Republican Party to shift so far to the right it became insane.


If Wolin is right, and I believe he is, then when we begin to build mass movements that carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience, as I think everyone on this panel believes we must do, the corporate state, including the Democratic Party, will react the way all calcified states react. It will use the security and surveillance apparatus, militarized police forces—and, under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, the military itself—to shut down all dissent with force. The legal and organizational mechanisms are now in place to, with the flip of a switch, put the nation effectively under martial law. When acts of mass civil disobedience begin on Monday morning with Flood Wall Street and later with Occupy the U.N., the face of the corporate state will, as it did during the Occupy movement, reveal itself. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_coming_climate_revolt_20140921

The narrator in Terry Lynn Land's latest commercial pronounces Michigan .....

..... "Michi-can". One of my pet peeves. Drives me nuts.

She can't do anything right.

100 Best Singles of 1984: Pop's Greatest Year

from Rolling Stone:

100 Best Singles of 1984: Pop's Greatest Year
Let's go crazy: The standout songs from radio's 'Thriller' season

From Prince to Madonna to Michael Jackson to Bruce Springsteen to Cyndi Lauper, 1984 was the year that pop stood tallest. New Wave, R&B, hip-hop, mascara'd hard rock and "Weird Al" Yankovic all crossed paths on the charts while a post-"Billie Jean" MTV brought them into your living room. In the spirit of this landmark year, here are the 100 best singles from the year pop popped. To be considered, the song had to be released in 1984 or have significant chart impact in 1984, and charted somewhere on the Billboard Hot 100. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-best-singles-of-1984-pops-greatest-year-20140917#ixzz3DywF0hqI

Watching coverage of the climate march on Democracy Now! and thinking ..............

......... that we are really fortunate to have an independent left news source such as Democracy Now! ..... Amy Goodman interviewed people such as Kshama Sawant, and from groups such as domestic workers fighting exposure to chemicals in the workplace -- interviews that you'll never see on corporate media.
So Thank You Amy, thank you Juan Gonzales ...... and Bill Moyers and Thom Hartmann and your ilk. You're indispensable.

And I've seen CSPAN cover Tea Party rallies. But 200,000 people marching about the most important issue facing all of us? Not so much.

Scotland: Why One Londoner Is Relieved

from In These Times:

Scotland: Why One Londoner Is Relieved
It’s lucky for U.K. progressives that the Scots didn’t secede.


Scotland will not become an independent country, and I am relieved. It felt like an imminent amputation, though it was always easy enough to see why so many Scots would want to be shot of us English. With a recent history of grievances going back to the Thatcher years, when Scotland was used as a laboratory to test the hated Poll Tax and the selling off of council homes, the “Yes to Independence” campaign clearly made a lot of sense to many people. And as P.G. Wodehouse wonderfully put it, “It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.”

Eighty-four percent of eligible Scots voted—the largest percentage in any election anywhere in the UK since 1951, when I voted for the first time—and among them, for the first time, were 16 and 17-year-olds: surely an important and welcome innovation. Yet until a month ago, most of England and the Westminster parliament complacently left Scotland to its own debate—in the belief, I suppose, that Alex Salmond, the former First Minister of Scotland and the long time leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party’s movement for independence were unlikely to tempt many Scots to abandon the shelter of the UK, the royal family, and our place in Europe, NATO and at the Security Council.

Suddenly and belatedly, on September 7, the Sunday Times reported the results of its opinion poll: the “Yes” campaign at 51 percent and the “No,” at 49 percent. The “No” campaign was galvanised into activity. The three main UK political parties joined forces to promise all kinds of future powers to Scotland if it turned its back on independence. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, declared that he would be “heartbroken” if Scotland seceded. Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown roared back into a form we hadn’t seen since Tony Blair beat him to the leadership of the Labour Party in 1994. It was suddenly possible to feel that Alex Salmond would have had a much harder time of it had Labour been in power in London. Of the 59 MPs Scotland sends to Westminister, 40 are Labour, 11 Liberal Democrats, 6 Scottish Nationalists, one Conservative and one Independent. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17188/scotland_why_one_londoner_is_relieved

Flood Wall Street

(HuffPost) This is a critical week for the planet. A United Nations conference on the climate will be followed on Saturday by the People's Climate March, which is expected to be the largest environmental march in history. But it would be a grave mistake, for the planet and for ourselves, to overlook another event that is to take place on Sunday. That's when the Flood Wall Street rally will target the role of global capitalism in our environmental crisis.

The profit economy is a root cause -- make that the root cause -- of climate change.

Wall Street is, in a very real sense, the epicenter of our environmental crisis. To ignore that fact is to risk dooming our other climate efforts to failure, or to use them merely as palliatives for troubled consciences. There's no other way to say this: Capitalism, as practiced on Wall Street today, is an existential threat to humanity.

To make that statement is not necessarily to issue a jeremiad against capitalism in all its forms. The danger comes not from commerce itself, but from the extraordinary concentration of wealth and power that has accrued in recent decades to corporations and their Wall Street investors. This has led in turn to an ideological shift that has entirely captured the GOP and has seized large portions of the Democratic Party as well. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/want-to-save-the-planet-f_b_5842594.html

Naomi Klein is right: Unchecked capitalism will destroy civilization

via Grist:

Naomi Klein is right: Unchecked capitalism will destroy civilization
By Joseph Romm

Cross-posted from Climate Progress
19 Sep 2014 10:44 AM

Best-selling progressive journalist Naomi Klein has an important new book out, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. The author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine now “tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth,” as the book jacket aptly puts it.

In diagnosing the unprecedented existential threat humanity faces thanks to our myopia and unbridled greed, Klein has three essential points to make:

1. Because we have ignored the increasingly urgent warnings and pleas for action from climate scientists for a quarter century (!) now, the incremental or evolutionary paths to avert catastrophic global warming that we might have been able to take in the past are closed to us.

2. Humanity faces a stark choice as a result: the end of civilization as we know it or the end of capitalism as we know it.

3. Choosing “unregulated capitalism” over human civilization would be a “morally monstrous” choice — and so the winning message for the climate movement is a moral one.

As an aside, readers may remember that I don’t always agree with Klein on either substance or messaging. And obviously I have quibbles with her book — in particular I am skeptical of some elements of her proposed “cure” (and how she frames them) as I’ll discuss in a later post. But in fairness to Klein, our 25-year dawdling has made the diagnosis (and prognosis) unimaginably graver and thus made all cures look politically implausible, as the pessimistic, do-little “eco-modernists” keep pointing out far too gleefully.

To anyone who thinks attacking unchecked capitalism is not a winning message (when done correctly), I’d urge you to read the advice of Frank Luntz, the GOP’s top messaging guru, on the subject: “don’t say capitalism” because Americans “think capitalism is immoral.”

The great value in the book lies in Klein’s understanding and elaboration of the three essential points above. Indeed I’m not certain any other book has so clearly spelled out these points. And yet these three points are, arguably, the most important ones for climate hawks, for the (misnamed) “intelligentsia,” and, indeed, for all homo sapiens to understand at a deep level, since they clarify the choices we now must make. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/climate-energy/naomi-klein-is-right-unchecked-capitalism-will-destroy-civilization/

Guardian UK: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein – review

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein – review
Klein wants this book to be read by people who don't read climate-change books – it addresses a potential catastrophe yet is calm and welcoming

Jenny Turner
The Guardian, Friday 19 September 2014 02.29 EDT

Eight years ago, Richard Branson, the tie-loathing adventurer (as his Twitter feed has it) and figurehead of Virgin Atlantic airlines, Virgin Galactic space travel and so on, pledged to invest around $3bn (Ł1.85bn) in green technologies by 2016. A $25m investment went into the Virgin Earth Challenge, a prize for inventing something to suck up all the planet-wrecking carbon emitted by gas-guzzling industries like his own. Some goes into developing low-carbon fuels. Some pays for the snazzy Carbon War Room, a sort of green-tech Dragons' Den. "Gaia capitalism", Branson has called his vision. "We have to make it a win-win for all concerned."

That 2016 deadline is fast approaching. How much, Naomi Klein asked Branson, will he have put into his pledge by then? "I suspect it will be less than $1bn right now," he confessed. He has been busy elsewhere in the meantime, launching Virgin America airlines, V Australia airlines, Virgin Atlantic Little Red airlines, and investing heavily in Virgin Galactic, perhaps because – as he has started saying – he has a plan to move to Mars. Klein doesn't necessarily follow the people who see Branson's green shenanigans as "a cynical ploy" to build his brand and confuse his critics. But you can grant him his good intentions and still think all this greenwash doesn't make a lot of sense.

There can be no doubt that climate change is happening; it has already started wreaking damage, and is set to do much more. Temperatures have risen by nearly 1C since the industrial revolution, and in 2012 the World Bank predicted a rise of 4C by 2100, bringing "extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity and life‑threatening sea-level rise". And yet coordinated international response is completely missing. The 2009 Copenhagen climate summit settled for a half-hearted 2C target, then failed to secure commitment even on that. Obama seems stuck, as the US fracks and drills its heart out and Canada tears up Alberta in the race for tar. Climate, politics and business are caught in a vicious triangle, and at the moment it's the climate that is getting squeezed.

The only way to resolve this is with tough, fair, world-level regulation. But instead we have a vacuum, into which pours all manner of noxious nonsense. Climate-change deniers, luxuriantly astroturfed. Charities cosying up to fossil-fuel interests, including one, Klein has discovered, that has put oil and gas wells on its own bird reserve. Clever chaps who should know better – Stephen Hawking, the lads from Freakonomics – with their fantasies of terraforms and geo-engineering. Eddying little markets in non-solutions: carbon offsets, emissions trading, organic nappies. What's wrong with us that we've let this happen? ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/19/this-changes-everything-capitalism-vs-climate-naomi-klein-review

Marjorie Cohn on Racial Discrimination and Perpetual War

While no elected leader will admit it publicly, hypocrisy is often a virtue in politics. Yet even in the political world where hypocrisy, prevarication, deceit, and cover-ups are often the currency of the culture, to be called out on one's hypocrisy in word and deed can carry its own unique shame. Case in point: the United States is a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – a treaty that is part of US law – yet actually favors policies that increase racial discrimination. The United Nations criticized the US government in a report detailing the ways in which racial discrimination has structurally intensified since the US signed the treaty. Truthout columnist Marjorie Cohn writes about what's in the UN report and reminds us how the government has failed in many ways to comply with what's set forth in the treaty.

Law professor Cohn's focus on complying with legal statutes takes her into the realm of war; specifically the impending war with Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq - and the president's lack of authority to wage war without congressional approval. As Cohn reminds us, President Obama is basing his war-making authority on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that Congress passed in 2001 and 2002 after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC. She highlights the limitations of those congressional authorizations and how the intent of Congress was to prevent the Bush Administration from engaging in an open-ended and perpetual war – a war Obama is ready to continue with or without congressional approval.


US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit

(Guardian UK) Barack Obama will not be pledging any cash to a near-empty fund for poor countries at a United Nations summit on climate change next week, the UN special climate change envoy said on Friday.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has challenged the 125 world leaders attending the 23 September summit to make “bold pledges” to the fund, intended to help poor countries cope with climate change.

The UN has been pressing rich countries to come up with pledges of between $10bn and $15bn.

“We are putting a lot of pressure for them to do it at the summit on the 23rd,” the UN envoy and former Irish president, Mary Robinson, told the Guardian on the sidelines of a US Agency for International Development meeting. But she added: “I know the United States is not going to commit because I’ve asked.” .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/20/us-climate-change-aid-poor-nations-un-summit

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