[from the archives] Jon Stewart asks Hillary how to fix america. Her answer might surprise you.

Originally posted 7/30/2014

The show is linked here. You can watch and read the “play-by-play” below.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Recently Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to sell her new book. Watching politicians hock their products on TV is not my idea of a good time, but this particular appearance was so revealing on so many levels, I think it’s worthy of some review and explication.

From here on in, Hillary shall be referred to as “The HRC,” because she has made herself into oh so much more than a demure upper-class first name. She is an administrator of empire, one of The Power Elite, and she deserves a moniker befitting that role.

The first segment of the show was essentially a cringe-worthy comedy bit, a send up of the will-she-or-won’t-she-run game the corporate media constantly play Ad infinitum, Ad absurdum, Ad nauseam, but it really just served to continue the whole time-wasting, mind-numbing enterprise. Stewart could have had a number of justifications for using the majority of the first segment for this joke. For example: he was buttering her up, making her comfortable before lowering the boom, or, he’s just a comedian doing his job on a comedy show and he’s actually parodying the press spending so much time on the question by spending too much time on the question, etc… the list could run on for a long time. Suffice it to say, Stewart has been consistently politically ignorant, naïve, and has lobbed innumerable softballs at politicians for years, so this wasn’t shocking behavior. But to give credit where credit is due, he eventually managed to ask some substantive questions (though most of them were not aired. They only appeared on the the web extras).

After the first “bit,” he called out The HRC right away for “pivoting” to an income inequality talking point while she was supposed to be answering a question about her recent “dead broke” comment. First she tried to diminish the lie, and then tried to change the subject, essentially saying she cares about kids not believing in the american dream anymore. You know, the dream she has significantly helped to crush through the neoliberalism she and bill embraced and implemented. Admittedly, Jon scores a point here by using the will-she-or-won’t-she-run shtick to point out her slick attempt to not answer his question was truly presidential. She doubles down to make sure she doesn’t have to be confronted with her lie about formerly being dead broke by continuing with the inequality discussion, to which Stewart asked this reasonable question: “So, in your mind then, are you suggesting that that [a chance to succeed] no longer exists for people, or that there is something abjectly wrong with government – or the system – that we need to reform?”

She answers, “Both…and that we have to change our political and economic system to make that a reality again.” It’s significant that she admits it outright and admits our so-called representatives essentially only represent “special interests” and the people they deem to be their constituents, even if those constituents are not their actual voters… This is of course taking a page from Elizabeth Warren, and even the tea party, hell, let’s throw in John Edwards for that matter. I’ll leave it to you to decide who sees inequality as a great talking point and who would (and could) do anything about the actual problem. Do I think any of the aforementioned people would actually do anything? Hell no. You have to go back quite a ways to find people who actually did something. You can go back to the progressives who fought the robber barons if you want (but The HRC sure isn’t).

If we take The HRC at face value here, her words sounds good, right? Facing the problem, saying we need change – oh wait a minute, actually, that’s beginning to sound familiar…I seem to remember someone saying something about change…and hope…but it’s still significant that an administrator of empire is admitting the level we have reached, especially in the context of running for president of the u.s. of a. It is establishing an official baseline of sorts that only someone with her power has the ability to do, and that baseline is: we are a nation corrupt to its core. The rich and powerful have purchased most of our politicians, and politicians like her have gotten rich unleashing class war against us and the rest of the world.

The HRC goes on to give a few details of our increasing inequality and Stewart asks a heartfelt but misguided question that is based on right-wing “small government” talking points that have been around for decades: “Has the bureaucracy of government become unmanageable to the point where it’s no longer able to effectively raise the opportunities for the people that it is trying to do so?”

Well, he appears to have had a little trouble formulating the question, but we know what he means. The thing is, it’s still a right-wing talking point that contains the old magic technique of misdirection: blame government bureaucracy. The inefficient bureaucracy is responsible for all of your problems. Don’t worry so much about corporations and big money, the free market will sort all of that out. Pay no attention to the fact that the takeover of much of the government by corporations has been undermining government programs, institutions, and regulatory agencies for decades. The irony (or one of many ironies) is that the entire political spectrum has shifted so much to the right – a shift that The HRC and slick willie played a huge role in – that a “moderate” talk show host can ask a right-wing talking point question to a far right-wing Democrat. And this is what most people call “The left.” Time to laugh, but only to keep from crying…

In a less confused, more honest world, Stewart’s question would have been, do you think the corporate neoliberal takeover of our country and government can be challenged and reversed? How? And why should we let you, a totally complicit paid-off lackey of those very corporations and full-fledged executive administrator of empire, say one word to us about it? Oh, and by the way, why did you vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq?

Click here to see The HRC vote to invade Iraq.

That is what toeing the party line looks like – and it wasn’t even her party. (Originally that is, because almost everyone in both parties voted to invade.)

Yes, I know, wishful thinking. You will never hear those questions asked to The HRC. You might hear something about the Iraq vote and invasion, but that is way down the u.s. memory hole and most people don’t even know what neoliberal means. Tellingly, it is a term rarely heard in mainstream media and I would be surprised if Stewart has ever uttered it. And, yes, his audience would be shocked, because up until very recently, neither Stewart nor the news clowns (thank Philip K. Dick for coining that phrase – in 1966!) ever confronted The HRC directly with the fact that she has been running from mega corp. to mega corp., collecting money like the most expensive, busiest call girl of all time. Just one example amongst many: $400,000 in one week at goldman sachs for two separate speaking gigs – to say nothing of the university money she’s been getting, which is fraught with problems all its own:

Click here for story about The HRC and her speaking fees

He could have pursued any of these major “conflicts of interest,” otherwise known as pay-offs, but no, he went the other way and offered the supposition that all of these attacks would fade away if she weren’t running for president. Unfortunately, his supposition is probably true, but here it just serves as a neat way to ignore her numerous crimes against humanity and let her move on without being confronted. So, that was just a freebie I guess.

On with the show!

More talk from The HRC. A bit of truth mixed with obfuscation, with a soupcon of weirdness. And here we see an interesting shift (not much of a shift needed of course) from HRC the politician to HRC the corporate CEO in a frankly weird context. She starts talking about how the Executive branch “…has not kept up with the times. We don’t have the kind of agility, flexibility, and technology…”

Wha? There is clearly agenda and ideology here without any explanation (and smart phones helping to spread “democracy and american values” ain’t it), but we will have to leave that aside for brevity’s sake.

Then, a quick statement, “So, we have a crisis in our democracy.” If anyone has been paying attention, this is not exactly a small statement. Take a moment. Think about it. Consider… Welcome to the new normal…

And then this gem: “…I learned how important it is that we function in the united states because people look to us.”

Really?!? Is that what you learned? We should function? I mean, what can you say to that? Well, the least you can say is that it shows where her priorities are – and you ain’t even on the list buddy, unless you happen to be a dictator to support, or a fracking oil executive, or a for-profit prison, bank, or hedge fund owner, etc…

Stewart then begins to talk about technology democratizing power and The HRC agrees.

Really? You mean in the same time that corporate power raped the american people (and the world for that matter), was rewarded for it, got richer and consolidated that wealth while people got poorer and lost opportunities – and the cost of living was increased? No, apparently that’s not what he was talking about. The more he goes on, the more he seems to be just talking about terrorists using technology. So he muddled his point and it wasn’t a good one to begin with.

Ok. It doesn’t look good for Stewart, he fumbled the ball again, but then, a recovery – from way out of left field:

“We are a large imperial power…what is our foreign policy anymore?”

Watch The HRC nod and nod and nod as he vaguely talks about terrorists somewhere out there, until he says, “Imperial power.” That stops the head nod right away.

Classic TV folks.

The HRC leaps over the imperial power topic like a world-class athlete and picks up Stewart’s nonsense and comes up with another doozy: “we can’t practice diplomacy and define our foreign policy as leaders talking to leaders anymore because that’s not the way the world works.” Wha-wa? (That’s a double-take.) Again, for brevity’s sake, unfortunately we will have to leave that alone as well.

Now, get ready. For no immediately discernible reason, The HRC starts walking us right toward the curtain: (I just realized she makes reference to “pulling the curtain back” in the beginning of the interview, but this was obviously not the curtain she meant to pull back.)

She says, people all over the world – especially young people – don’t know the history of ‘murca’s greatness, or our sacrifices, or our values. She gives examples: we won WWII, liberated Europe and Asia, fought nazis and won the cold war. Well, yes and no. Some of these facts are a little more complicated when the full history is examined (hint: they wouldn’t have been possible without the soviet union and they might have been nipped in the bud much earlier if we weren’t bent on world domination), but we keep moving, further, toward the curtain…

The HRC is quickly morphing into something resembling a PR executive pitching a campaign to revive a former industrial mega corporation who shit on its employees, poisoned the environment, and then shifted most of its work off-shore, leaving horror and desperation in its wake:

“We have not been telling our story very well. We do have a great story. We are not perfect, by any means, but we have a great story, about human freedom, human rights, human opportunity and let’s get back to telling it – to ourselves first and foremost – and believing it about ourselves, and then taking that around the world. That’s what we should be standing for.”

APPLAUSE BREAK

So, the sum of her acknowledgment that we have been a vicious force for death and destruction from the moment the first white man stepped onto these shores? “Look, we are not perfect, by any means.” You say that’s an unfair characterization? Ok, let’s move on and see exactly what she was referring to.

Jon then actually hits her with good stuff, outlining america’s hypocrisy and using “our” treatment of democratically elected hamas as an example. This question is actually worthy of a good journalist. Of course, she gives a standard answer filled with foreign policy phrases about “american interests” and “security.” If you are unclear about what american interests are, I highly recommend doing a bit of research. (Hint: american interests don’t usually have much to do with most actual americans.) Not only that, but she mentions we deal with “unsavory characters” and maybe occasionally support “autocratic” leaders too long. Hey, nobody’s perfect, right? You gotta admit, it’s a great story…
She really likes our story. Don’t worry, we’re getting closer to the big reveal.

The HRC then tries to use Egypt as an example. She’s off to a good start with the story about the election of the MB, saying we supported the process even though we weren’t thrilled with the MB. Then, it’s, “We were blamed by everybody,” you can’t please everyone, etc…and of course, she avoids acknowledging the u.s. supported the military coup by not intervening and continuing military aid. So before she even utters the word military, she says, then they [the MB] get “overturned,” (because she can’t officially acknowledge it was a “coup”) but, they wanted to help us broker a cease-fire, so that helps us with other interests (hmmm…what “interests” could those be…) so essentially, overall, in the big picture, we stand for the right things, our values are strong, but oftentimes we have to add-in and balance our security and keep in mind what we really stand for, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah…In other words, pure bullshit all around.

Jon lets all of that go without acknowledging that she just used okaying a military coup and supporting another dictatorship as an example of how we stay true to our “values.” What a great way to show what we really stand for…

Instead he comes up with another decent, humane, more general question: “Can we expect other countries to view us with such nuance, when we so clearly don’t view them with nuance and that kind of understanding?”

The HRC perks up and says what a great question it was. She doesn’t answer it, but it clearly makes her think of something, something that she has obviously put a lot of thought into, something that she actually sees as an answer to all of the problems we face as a nation. I think this is where the broadcast portion of the show ends because he makes a joke and says something like, that’s all the time we have, but will you stick around and tell us how you would fix all this? This is probably where the web only version starts, i.e., most people didn’t see this next part.

And now, we get down to the real nitty gritty. Though she alluded to it before, now she walks us straight up to the curtain and rips the whole thing down. When faced with the question of how to “fix all of this,” her mind goes straight to (you didn’t guess it) cold war propaganda:

The HRC: “We did a much better job telling people who we were back in the cold war. You know, it was a simpler job, to be fair. You know, we had the Soviet Union, we had the United States, we had a big information effort. We sent talent, we sent all kinds of poets and novelists and rock stars…american culture, american ideas, permeated the world. Well, fast forward. That ended and we kind of thought ok, fine, ‘end of history,’ ‘democracy won,’ you know that story, and in fact we withdrew from the information arena. And look at what happened initially with Ukraine: Russian media was much more effective in sort of telling a story – that wasn’t true – but they kept repeating it over and over again. So I think we have to get back to, you know, a consensus in our own country, about who we are, what we stand for – hopefully a bi-partisan consensus, like it used to be in foreign policy – and then get out there and you know, tell that story…”

Even for the cynical among us, doesn’t that set off a few alarm bells? Let’s break this down a bit:

She actually waxes rhapsodic about the simpler times when propagandizing the world was easier and recommends we get back to platitudes about human rights and freedom. Big sellers dontcha know… How? Well, we have to “start believing it” and then we have to take that story around the world. You know, like the old days. Just click our heels together three times. What’s a good example of what we have to do? You know, like Russia lying to its people and the world. They have been effective promulgators of lies. Just flog a pack of lies and stick to it, and repeat, repeat, repeat. We just have to keep repeating it, over and over, to ourselves and others – and we have to “start believing it.” Just like old times. Don’t you get nostalgic over the Red Scare, nuclear brinkmanship, and McCarthyism too? C’mon people, where’s your can-do attitude? Where’s your patriotism?

The HRC’s short survey of american history continues: After the spread of feel good (Lou Reed?!?) ‘murcan culture all over the globe (which the CIA played a large role in and that just happened to coincide with the u.s. becoming the biggest imperial power in world history) and the glory days of the easily propagandized cold war, we “fast forward to” what was widely touted as the triumph of American Capitalism. Essentially, she is saying when the Soviet Union collapsed and the wall fell, we took our eye off the ball and stopped our massive propaganda machine – or as she puts it, “withdrew from the information arena.” That is euphemism, and that means it’s obscuring the truth. On purpose. Of course. This should be as obvious as being punched in the face multiple times, but the audience is eating it up. Or they’re eating up the idea of The HRC talking and saying american things that sound like something positive. Whatever is going on in their liberal brains, they’re eating it up. After this smorgasbord of lies and delusion and cynicism and sheer banality of evil, our delicate sensibilities should not be offended by yet another euphemism.

The irony is that “we” actually did no such thing. “Our” propaganda machine was retooled by Edward Bernays after the end of WWII and has been running 24/7 ever since. After the war, he thought propaganda might have a slightly negative connotation and renamed it Public Relations. He called his science of manipulating people, the “engineering of consent.”

Remarkable, non? The HRC ripped the curtain right down and behind it is just a corporate PR executive selling finely-honed and well-established bullshit manipulation techniques that “engineer consent” to the highest bidder. PR and old fashioned propaganda is now incorporated into the body of capitalism, and therefore, our life. PR is replacing policy or covering up laws made for the rich by the rich. It is the veil over this circus of entrenched venality and inequality we call a country. And if somehow a crime is found out and/or offense is committed, don’t worry, there is a PR agency out there that has a very expensive apology for that.

Of course, the cynics (or realists, depending on your perspective) amongst you say, what else is new? Well, aside from the increasing degree of corruption, wealth consolidation, and the inequality and increased oppression they breed, the new twist is that PR has gone beyond “spin,” it is part of the way “government” “works.” To people who know what’s going on, this is not news, but the remarkable thing in this instance is who just did the show and tell, and how – and to whom. Maybe she’s so used to giving speeches to goldman sachs, she just used the same one on the The Daily Show.

See how far this is from a New Deal? The new deal is this: corporations run the government and every aspect of our lives, bending the world back to feudalism, while politicians are now part of the PR machine to spread the lies that keep it all going – and then they swing through the revolving door to get rich – or richer – then back again, Ad nauseam, Ad absurdum – hopefully not Ad infinitum, but, at this point, it sure feels like it.

Finally, Jon revisits the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” The HRC mischaracterizes and lies about the entire situation. She gives context that actually gives no context at all and puts the onus completely and totally on hamas. Ridiculous. Laughable, if it weren’t so deadly serious. In that exchange, Jon comes out looking decent, for what it’s worth.

To end, let’s just meditate on the very end of the “interview” or “conversation,” where The HRC segues from lying about Israel’s attempt to extinguish the last vestiges of Palestinians from Palestine to a quick slick last pitch for her book. Jon Stewart: “You did not just do that!” Oh, she did. Yes she did. This is a country founded on violence, extremism, hustling, and hucksterism. How is that not a perfect ending?

The thank you, the handshake, the audience cheers.

Fear vs. Fear, by Chris Hedges

Rise Up Times

The old rules of politics no longer apply. The only language understood by Donald Trump and his coterie of con artists, billionaires, generals, misfits and Christian fascists—and a Democratic Party that has sold us out—is fear.

By Chris Hedges  Truthdig  August 12, 2019

Fear vs. FearMr. Fish / Truthdig

Calling out Trump’s lies and racism does not matter. Calling out his nepotism and corruption does not matter. Calling out the criminality of his administration does not matter. Calling out its incompetence and idiocy does not matter. Calling out the abject subservience of the ruling elites to corporate power does not matter. Trump and his Democratic Party opponents are immune to moral suasion. The more we engage in this empty kabuki theater with its predictable outlandish outbursts, usually from Trump, and predictable outraged responses, usually from Democrats, the more certain are government paralysis and corporate tyranny. The drivel and invective that passes…

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The World’s Largest Oil Reserves By Country

Rise Up Times

…as our world’s appetite for fossil fuels grows, the questions of whether there are enough petroleum oil reserves to satisfy demand, and what the consequences of its extraction will be, have never been more pertinent.

World Atlas  January 2019

Proven oil reserves are those that have a reasonable certainty of being recoverable under existing economic and political conditions, with existing technology.

The volatility in oil prices over the past decade has created plenty of concern for business people, national governments, and global policymakers alike. With such uncertainty in pricing, coupled with environmental concerns as our world’s appetite for fossil fuels grows, the questions of whether there are enough petroleum oil reserves to satisfy demand, and what the consequences of its extraction will be, have never been more pertinent. In order to shed more light into a somewhat ambiguous subject…

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Big corporations pay no income tax, unlike you

Systemic Disorder

Telling you that Donald Trump lied, or that the one percent continue to succeed in their incessant class warfare, ranks in the astonishment department with being told the Sun rose in the east this morning. Do we really need more evidence?

Necessary or not, more evidence continues to be delivered. The latest delivery comes courtesy of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which has found that 60 of the largest corporations in the United States paid no income taxes for 2018 despite earning a composite $79 billion in net income. Worse, these companies actually received $4.3 billion in tax rebates.

Had these companies paid taxes at the newly reduced corporate tax rate of 21 percent, these companies would have paid $16.4 billion in taxes. So we have a difference of more than $20 billion — quite a nice return on their lobbying expenses and donations to the Trump campaign.

Heading…

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Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and The Deepwater Horizon

Desultory Heroics

By Greg Palast

Source: GregPalast.com

Five years ago this month, on the 20th of April, 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew itself to kingdom come.

Soon thereafter, a message came in to our office’s chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, from a person

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Fresh audio product

LBO News from Doug Henwood

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 14, 2019Cinzia Arruzza and Tithi Bhattacharya, authors (along with Nancy Fraser) of Feminism for the 99%, on a truly transformative feminism • Sam Stein, author of Capital City, on bourgeois urban planning, with an emphasis on NYC

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In the tweets…

I usually try not to, but I tweeted.

This: “If you’re a liberal or a self-described centrist, you do not understand our current situation, or you callously think you’ll continue to be fine as the world crumbles around you. You are the problem. You are blocking any possibility of the fundamental change we need.”

Most responses have been people hitting the like button, but most, I speculate, were too afraid to retweet.

I also got this response: “So war is the answer?? Or a collapse into servitude of a different kind than what we experience now? Actin [sic] needs to be taken, but what??”

I started writing a reply – and it quickly became longer than any thread should be, so I’m putting the reply here and will give the guy a link. If it helps some people or angers some liberals, then I’ve done my job. Without further introduction:

Well, here’s the short answer (because twitter): We’re already at war. In addition to the actual wars they are conducting and profit from, the right/corporations/rich launched (the current iteration of) class war against most of the world around 1980 (some say earlier) by exacerbating capitalism with a project (and so-called ideology) referred to as neoliberalism. They decimated the left (unfortunately, sometimes along w/the help of the left [internecine fights, defections to liberalism, anomie, etc…]) and attacked working people, and of course poor people.

Now, by referencing “servitude” I assume you think something people are calling socialism will lead to the next Soviet empire and gulags. If that bears no resemblance to what you were thinking, forgive me – but if that is kinda what you were thinking, well, there isn’t a thread long enough to address that in depth – though there are really long threads. I believe they used to be called books. Oh wait, we still have those. There are many, many, many books that attempt to think through the struggles, wins, and defeats of the left, and many more that are attempting to think about the way forward. I would start with the left wing press if you are curious about these things (@haymarketbooks and @VersoBooks would be fine places to start). The good thing about social media is that you can ask the experts directly where to start and they will give you great recommendations.

Your last question is the perennial question. A person once asked it this way, “What is to be done?” Another short answer: as moribund and fucked up as the left still is, the only chance of a way out is to revive it and make it better than it ever was in the history of the world (oh, and make it international while we’re at it). You can see slight hints of that in things like a renewed strike movement, a push for racial and economic equality, movements to address climate change, etc…Anti-war movements are another thing that has to be revived. But, in the end multiple disconnected movements, will not win. In some concrete way, the left will have to unify. A unified left can do mass organizing, build institutions (its own media for example), fight capitalists (non-violently of course), and win. Win and take power that is. Not as an organization per se, but as citizens of the world through organizations and yes, even parties. And yes, I understand how that sounds. And yes, I’m familiar with the challenges (a big one is that most of the left as it is currently constituted doesn’t believe it’s necessary to have a unified movement and doesn’t spend much time on internationalism. That needs a book all it’s own).

Unfortunately, there is no other way. I wish there was, because I have zero hope. I also have zero fear of some future in which we did everything we could to build a new and better left and it became a Soviet state with gulags, because the u.s. has the biggest gulag in the world right now – as it is conducting at least eight wars around the world, oppressing and repressing its own citizens, to say nothing of horrific, deadly sanctions internationally…and you’re afraid we would what, be wasting our time and risking a Soviet state if we tried to form a unified left that was against the capitalism, imperialism, racism, and colonialism that were the building blocks of our sick society. One that literally puts refugee children in cages and blows up little brown children all over the world? One that denies healthcare to tens of millions – well, the list is endless. Yes, I see that you’re Canadian. I won’t start listing Canadian crimes, but, I could. There are plenty to go around.

People are suffering. They don’t have any power or money, and a lot of them don’t know what to do. Liberals – and it looks like they’re now going to try to take the Progressive moniker for themselves (like the political spectrum hasn’t already been dragged so far right that centrists are on the right) – have some small semblance of political power. Especially the rich ones. They also perform a role in society (if you want a hint of what that is listen to Phil Ochs’, “Love me I’m a liberal”). I’m not saying you are one, but they are always the first people to ask me what to do, but, to a person, they have never looked around their community to see what people are doing and try to lend a hand (I mean to the left, not to some charity). But liberals have an ideology all their own. At the moment it’s one that has led them to cheer on war, coups, the FBI and the CIA, blame Russia for racism (?), and above all else, defend capitalism. And this brings us around to my original tweet.

Whelp, that about does it for my social media time. I’ve only ever responded like this to David Simon – who, it turns out, is a hypocritical douche bag. I’m sure you’re not like David Simon…and I hope you will take this in the spirit it was offered, which is actual, honest communication about real actual life. The one we’re all doing our best to live, and the one people at least say they want to continue.
All the best,
~ Your 21st Century Poet

(Please forgive all typos and awkward sentences as this was quickly typed and edited because this isn’t really how I want to spend my time.)

Union density hits record low

Without democratizing unions and the creation of a unified actual leftwing movement, the recent relatively tiny gains of unionized workers (the majority of whom had to drag their unions into supporting them) are way too little, way too late. For instance, L.A. teachers made it clear a major part of this strike was to save public education from the privatizers/charter school advocates. If the new contract goes through, there is nothing I’ve seen that will stop the privatizers. Also, the majority of the class size agreement offers little to no change. Unfortunately, other recent “wins” from other unions follow this line. In West Virginia, the teachers strike was largely about healthcare costs. Their costs are still going through the roof. Radical (root change) is the only way out. Fundamental change of the world’s economic system. We are nowhere near taking even the first step of that journey. This takes nothing away from the blood, sweat, and tears people are putting into working for change. We have to unify outside these institutions and take over the ones that haven’t been privatized. Teachers can start by democratizing their unions – like they don’t have enough to do already…

LBO News from Doug Henwood

Union density—the share of employed workers belonging to unions—fell to 10.5% in 2018, the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting the data in its modern form in 1964, down from 2017’s 10.7%. (See graph below.) After rising 0.1 point in 2017, private sector density fell back to match 2016’s 6.4%, the lowest since stats began in 1929. Republican governors’ war on public sector unions is having a visible effect: just 33.9% of government workers belonged to unions last year, the lowest since 1978, when membership was on an upswing—an effect that is only going to intensify as the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus case, which forbids mandatory payment of union dues, spreads.

union density over time

There’s an old lie that unions are good for white men and no one else. That’s the opposite of the case. As the graph below shows, black women, for…

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Lewis Mumford: On Automated Society

The Dark Fantastic: Literature, Philosophy, and Digital Arts

At that ‘omega- point’ nothing would be left of man’s autonomous original nature, except organized intelligence: a universal and omnipotent layer of abstract mind, loveless and lifeless. Now, we cannot understand the role that technics has played in human development without a deeper insight into the historic nature of man.

—Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine

Lewis Mumford envisioned how our planetary civilization was evolving into an all encompassing machinic system of ‘megatechnics’ of hypercapitalism in which automation would be the guiding motif, shaping our desires to those of a machinic existence in a collective world ruled and governed by algorithmic necessity. The assault on philosophical individualism and passion by various trends in the neurosciences and neo-rationalism is pushing us into a collective enterprise in which humans are being re-engineered to serve a collective intelligence, hooked both spiritually and physically to a system of normative regulatory processes of domestication…

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The Evidence Pours In: Poverty Is Getting Much Worse In America

Desultory Heroics

By Paul Buchheit

Source: Occupy.com

A White House report recently proclaimed that the “War on Poverty is largely over and a success.” United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said it was “ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America.”

Well-positioned Americans must talk like this, of course, because admitting the debilitating state of poverty in America might provoke feelings of guilt for 35 years of oppressive economic policies. Wealthier people need to take an honest look at the facts. They need to face reality as it sadly exists in America today.

1 in 7 Americans is Part of the World’s Poorest 10%

According to the Credit Suisse 2018 Global Wealth Databook, 34 million American adults are among the world’s poorest 10%. How is that possible? In a word, debt. In more excruciating words: stifling, misery-inducing, deadly amounts of debt for the poorest Americans. And it goes beyond dollars to…

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The False Choice Analogy [from the archives](I guess I will keep reposting this until it isn’t true anymore)

Children can be oppositional and defiant when they feel forced to do something or when their wants and needs are ignored. This is especially the case with young children and children with disabilities who can have a great deal of trouble expressing themselves. Lack of agency, not feeling heard, and difficulty expressing wants and needs can even result in violent outbursts and tantrums.

One tactic used to circumvent or diffuse those situations is to offer the child a choice. One of the least effective choices in the long run is some variation of, “my way or the highway.” It tends to build-up contempt over time and can result in nasty blow-ups. But there are other kinds of choices that tend to work more often and don’t have as many negative outcomes. One is to offer the child two options: the first is what the adult wants them to do and the second is something the child definitely wouldn’t choose on her own but it seems much more reasonable to her than simply, “do it or be punished.” Another common approach is to give the child two choices that appear different when they are actually just slight variations of the same thing. These last two choices are essentially false choices and usually require the child to be young or have special needs, or both. When children begin to grow up, they have a much easier time seeing when they are being manipulated.

At this point, either you are trying to figure out what I’m talking about or why I’m talking about it, or an analogy is becoming crystal clear in your mind. Here it is:

We, the voters, the citizens (and I use that term loosely), are perceived by the power elite as potentially violent, disabled (no voice) children. A great deal of time, effort, and money has been spent to insure that we only have two parties to choose from (de facto, if not de jure). They are both business parties essentially controlled by corporations. So, when the “democratic process” deigns it, we “make a choice” like responsible big boys and girls and feel like we have some semblance of agency in the workings of “government” (and yes, I use the term loosely). Those who still even bother to vote that is. If you look-up the statistics you will find astonishingly low voter turnout numbers in the u.s.a for almost all elections.

Of course, at this late date in our “grand experiment” we are usually holding our proverbial nose while marking a ballot or checking a box and uttering the phrase, “lesser of two evils” or something a bit harsher if we have the energy for it. Our so-called representatives don’t represent the majority of us, and those who do have no real power. In other words, if you look at the majority of people who don’t vote and the minority of people who do vote but don’t like the choices offered to them, the false choice technique is on the wane. But, surprisingly, it still seems to be serving its intended purpose. In some ways, better than ever.

When you hear genuine applause from working people for candidates who are millionaires funded by billionaires, you know the potentially violent children with disabilities are going to stay compliant because they feel they are essentially in control of their lives and their choices – the choices they are given of course…

What happens when all of us realize we have been manipulated with the ruse of the false choice? Well, our corporate rulers and their government functionaries will revert to more direct methods to force us into compliance.

Ok, the analogies are over.

Good luck to us all.

– Peace

Art From A Mirror Obscura Site Now Available In Greeting Card Form

K.A. Bryce over at A Mirror Obscura just started selling his collage art, which I have been enjoying for years now, in greeting card form. His message: “I’m now selling my collages as greeting cards on Etsy. Please stop by and let me know what you think. Smiles>KB” Definitely worth your time to check them out. Some samples above.

Pages purged by Facebook were on blacklist promoted by Washington Post

Desultory Heroics

By Andre Damon

Source: WSWS.org

Media outlets removed by Facebook on Thursday, in a massive purge of 800 accounts and pages, had previously been targeted in a blacklist of oppositional sites promoted by the Washington Post in November 2016.

The organizations censored by Facebook included The Anti-Media, with 2.1 million followers, The Free Thought Project, with 3.1 million followers, and Counter Current News, with 500,000 followers. All three of these groups had been on the blacklist.

In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy, and up to then largely unknown, organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations it claimed were part of a “sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign.”

The Post said the report “identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans.”

The publication of the blacklist drew widespread…

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Labour, Socialism, Aaron Bastani talks with Leo Panitch

Discussion: Good
Set: Getting much better
Direction and camera work: Whole nutha level
Elephant in the room: Touched its toenail
What is the elephant in the room? The people, who will have to form a highly organized, radical mass movement to “educate” the politicians and fight the right at every level. Without this, no socialist program administered through the government will work in the long run. A left that relies solely on a government party as its only voice and expression will not survive, or thrive – at least not under capitalism. Labour will have to be pushed (and supported) by an organized left. So, even with a Corbyn win and a majority of MP’s who identify as socialists, the “what is to be done” question will be more insistent than ever. And, not to sound like and old lefty, but, internationalism is a huge necessary component of all of this and it rarely gets a mention.
I know, it was a short talk and there was an attempt at a focused discussion, but this idea of educating “the people” about socialism while governing is not only not easy, but I wonder what it means in theory and in practice (and just saying praxis, is not an answer).

Chris Hedges: American Anomie

Rise Up Times

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

This facade of democratic process eviscerates one of the primary social bonds in a democratic state and abolishes the vital shared belief that citizens have the power to govern themselves, that government exists to promote and protect their rights and interests.

By Chris Hedges  Truthdig  TD ORIGINALS  September 24, 2018

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his classic book “On Suicide” examined the disintegration of social bonds that drive individuals and societies to personal and collective acts of self-destruction. He found that when social bonds are strong, individuals achieve a healthy balance between individual initiative and communal solidarity, which he called a “life-sustaining…

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