Saturday, December 10, 2011

Us vs the Plutocracy

In case you missed it, here is where to sign Bernie Sanders' petition to support a stronger Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision giving personhood to corporations. The Sanders measure is identical to the proposal filed by Rep.Ted Deutsch (D-FL) last month.

A different proposal introduced by Democratic Senators Tom Udall and Michael Bennett gives the federal government explicit power to regulate election-related spending by candidates, unaffiliated individuals and corporations. According to In These Times, the Sanders-Deutsch measure goes much further, declaring that the Constitution only protects the rights of “natural persons,” and not “private entities established for business purposes"--
That kind of language is likely to be supported by many liberals and the Occupy movement, whose general assemblies often feature signs calling for an end to “corporate personhood.” Yet because Sanders’ proposal could be interpreted to deny all organizations—including not-for-profit advocacy groups, religious establishments and unions—any protection under the First Amendment, or the rest of the Constitution, even in nonelectoral circumstances, it will also probably raise vigorous objections from civil libertarians on the right and the left. The ACLU, for example, officially supported the Citizens United decision because it opposed the original (and much less restrictive) limits on speech in the McCain-Feingold (campaign financing) law.
Here's Bernie on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night. He admits a constitutional amendment will be a long hard slog, but we have to start someplace.

Also, be sure to read the Gail Collins column in today's Times for a sobering account of just how seditious some of our bought-and-paid-for lawmakers are.  And then read "Pauline NYC's" comment in response. (first in reader recommendations)  With chilling brevity, she warns of the fascist internal coup taking place right before the complicit eyes of the mass media and Democrats.  Her final paragraph: 
"It is time to start calling this out for what it is and to wrench back control of the narrative from the Koch brothers and Faux News. Do the neo-conservative Democrats, led by their placater-in-chief, have the insight to see what is occurring, or the backbone any longer to face it down, or the courage for such a stand?"


Suzan said...

Nicely done, Karen.

Happy Holidays?

I'm off to read your picks.


WestVillageGal said...

thank you, Karen, for linking the Gail Collins piece . . .
and for your own comment to same, which follows.
with best wishes,

"Jim DeMint is also on record stating he does not believe unmarried women who sleep with their boyfriends should be allowed to set foot in a classroom to teach. Since questioning a potential hire on sexual or reproductive status is against the law, I would be interested in knowing just how he figures on putting his wish into action.

Misogynistic cred must be part of the Republican male litmus test, along with their No Tax Pledge. Their prurient concern with the sex lives of women is just another sleazy facet of their group pathology, along with hatred of the poor, the old, the sick and the unemployed, as well as of clean air and water, education and just about anything that makes the lives of people even a millimeter better."

Denis Neville said...

Do the neo-conservative Democrats, led by their placater-in-chief, have the insight to see what is occurring, or the backbone any longer to face it down, or the courage for such a stand?


Sheldon Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism is a devastating critique of our government. Wolin’s thesis was that it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a supposedly strong democracy instead of a failed one. “Inverted totalitarianism has emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation's political traditions.”

“The genius of our inverted totalitarian system lies in wielding total power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements so long as they remain ineffectual. A demotion in the status and stature of the 'sovereign people' to patient subjects is symptomatic of systemic change, from democracy as a method of 'popularizing' power to democracy as a brand name for a product marketable at home and marketable abroad. The new system, inverted totalitarianism, is one that professes the opposite of what, in fact, it is. The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed.”

The hour is very late. The American people have not been paying attention to what has been happening. The chances that they will take the necessary and difficult actions to avoid catastrophe are quite remote. And so shall we pass into history along with the other classic totalitarian regimes – Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Bolshevik Russia.

This is what Chris Hedges means when he writes, “We stand on the verge of one of the bleakest periods in human history, when the bright lights of civilization will blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity.”

Will said...

Given that BookTV is polluting our airwaves this weekend with insufferable clowns like Bill Clinton, David Brooks, Condi Rice and Jan Brewer, I thought y'all would thoroughly enjoy this in-depth interview with Glenn Greenwald.

The entire conversation is fascinating; as most of us already know, Glenn never disappoints. (How his mouth manages to keep up with his lightning-quick brain is truly a wonder to behold!) Nevertheless, one particular portion really resonated with me--especially in light of recent tensions between two distinct ideological camps here in the Sardonicky comment section. (See his remarks from 39:00 to 44:45.)

Denis Neville said...

1033 Program distributions should also be setting off alarm bells

Why are the police using military-like law enforcement in the Occupy Wall Street crackdowns against Americans citizens peacefully protesting? Paramilitary units are growing within police departments across the nation. Why is this happening?

The Pentagon is providing free military hardware ($500 million of military gear in 2011)
to every police department under the 1033 Program.

Andrew Kolin notes that “Law enforcement is beginning to look increasingly like a civilian branch of the military, and local government officials are trampling upon the rights of citizens, and doing so in ways that are becoming more violent in order to repress dissent.”

Anne Lavoie said...


Thanks for commenting about Sheldon Wolin. I heard him give an hour long lecture on Alternative Radio just last week. Very interesting.

For anyone who would like to hear some great speakers, listen to Alternative Radio hosted by David Barsamian. The website is
Public radio and college stations carry the program. Some of the the speakers I have heard include: Wolin, Noam Choamsky, Chris Hedges, Tariq Ali, Richard Grossman, Arundhati Roy, among others.

I don't know what to think about the future of this country. It's complicated by the fact that we have the most well-armed populace on earth which can be used either in cooperation with or against the 'regime'.

And it isn't just the possibility of the people versus the corporate government, or against each other either. There are others such as foreign countries who are paying attention and have a vested interest in what happens here. What levers will they pull? It's all beyond me. Time will tell.

Thanks to everyone who provide links. I almost always check them out.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Beau Geste

If Bernie Sanders won’t run, and if Rocky Anderson (who will formally throw his hat in the ring this Tuesday) never gets a hearing beyond the borders of Utah, how about writing in a vote for Philip Glass? Un-hun, the minimalist composer. I’ll tell you why.

His opera, “Satyagraha,” was staged a few times in NYC this past week. After one performance a crowd of OWS stalwarts gathered outside Lincoln Center to entreat the departing theatergoers to join OWS. “Come down the stairs,” “Your life is about truth,” they shouted to the audience streaming into the night.

The police were advising patrons to leave by other routes. After all, no one is safe near occupiers. Very few patrons came down the steps to applaud OWS -- until the composer himself plunged into the middle of them with the last page of his libretto.

OWS surrounded him and formed a people's mic as Glass read the final passage from “Satyagraha.” OWS stalwarts echoed each line in unison for listeners on the perimeter. At that point waves of theater goers began to crowd around OWS and Glass, who were creating another OWS happening. This is what Glass read, a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita:

"When righteousness withers away
and evil rules the land,
we come into being,
age after age,
and take visible shape,
and move,
a man among men,
for the protection of good,
thrusting back evil
and setting virtue
on her seat again."

As he does with bar after bar of his music, Glass repeated the passage at least three times. And the people’s mic grew stronger with each reading.

Denis Neville said...

Spreading a Wide Net

In 2009 President Barack Obama signed a scientific integrity memo that said decisions in his administration would be based on science, not politics.

“The decision on Plan B by the secretary represents an unprecedented level of interference in the FDA process and puts the country on a slippery slope toward politicization of science. Future political leaders may choose to overrule the FDA on much more critical decisions.” - Steven Nissen, The Cleveland Clinic

“The value of science to a republican people, the security it gives to liberty by enlightening the minds of its citizens, the protection it affords against foreign power, the virtue it inculcates, the just emulation of the distinction it confers on nations foremost in it; in short, its identification with power, morals, order and happiness (which merits to it premiums of encouragement rather than repressive taxes), are considerations [that should] always [be] present and [bear] with their just weight.” - Thomas Jefferson, On the Book Duty, 1821.

Anne Lavoie said...

@Jay - Ottawa

Thanks, Jay. Occupy doesn't just rock, it resonates and harmonizes.

Occupy the Mind

Valerie said...


Just when I start to feel hopeless and that the plutocracy has already won the war, I read something like your post and my hope for my country is renewed.

How inspiring that Philip Glass had the integrity to stand with the protesters. What a statement! And shame on those in the audience who see themselves as enlightened enough to attend his opera, could listen to his music and not take in the message.

Lots of posers out there - lots of people who say they believe in one set of democratic values but vote in the same old corrupt politicians, year after year simply because they wear the cloak of the Democratic Party. It is time for all of us who say we want change to support candidates with a proven record for bucking the way Washington does business. And that means letting the DNC know we will reject corporate Democratic politicians and take our votes elsewhere if we aren’t offered ethical alternatives.

My message for the DNC is: Ignore us at your peril!

WestVillageGal said...

@ Valerie -

"And shame on those in the audience who see themselves as enlightened enough to attend his opera, could listen to his music and not take in the message."

in all fairness, i think it might be both considered and appreciated that the audience members - upon exiting Lincoln Center - saw before them the straight backs of NYC "law enforcement" and clusters of barricades: not exactly an inviting panorama - - especially, knowing all too well as New Yorkers, of the pepper spraying and violence perpetrated by a faction of our "finest".

Philip Glass is 74 years old. Lou Reed is 69. both are super-experienced and at ease when it comes to large crowds, and have long histories (as do i, if not quite as lengthy as theirs) of protest. many in the audience were contemporaries of Glass. some even older. most who were occupying were young and, therefore, able-bodied and fearless. and, not least, having planned to be there, knew exactly what was playing out.

the "gestalt" of those exiting Lincoln Center was a more-than-sobering police presence.
it's very easy for us - and, i believe, not helpful to the cause of unity - to make assumptions that reinforce our views. i'm quite certain many who left the premises have long internalized Glass' message. i also believe it serves to temper our genuine - and much needed - passion with a dose of objectivity and understanding.

with best wishes -

Valerie said...

Just read a great article in TruthOut. Apparently, Obama is NOT happy with the way the European Union is not following his advice. (My husband is stunned by the hypocrisy of the U.S. advising other countries on economic policy.)

The following is a quote from the article. The commentary in capital letters is my own.

"Mr. Obama sees retaining the stability of markets and the confidence of investors as a primary goal of government (OF COURSE HE DOES!) and a prerequisite for achieving any major changes in public policy. (LET'S KEEP THE INVESTMENT BANKERS HAPPY AT ALL COSTS! THEY ARE, AFTER ALL, BANKROLLING HIS CAMPAIGN) Mrs. Merkel views the financial industry with profound skepticism (SMART WOMAN!) and argues, in almost moralistic fashion, that real change is impossible unless lenders (YEAH!) and borrowers pay a high price for their mistakes. (LET'S SHARE THE PAIN!)

Michael Hudson, who has been marginalised here in the U.S. by liberals for calling it like he sees it - and is by the way, well respected in Northern Europe - says the European leaders have HAD IT with the U.S. pandering to the international bankers and are going their own way.

Please, please, please! Let this new European policy prevail!

Valerie said...


You have a point about the police barricades being intimidating but New Yorkers have enough experience with the Occupy Movement to know what it represents. These are critical times. Our country is sinking into dictatorship and the only substantive organisation getting any traction working against it is the Occupy Movement. It is time for armchair liberals to show which side they are on. I find myself less and less patient with people who talk the talk but leave others to walk the walk.

And plenty of Grandmas are out there walking with the Protesters. All a sweet old contemporary of Glass had to do was tap a police officer on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me young man. Those young people are with me. Please allow me to pass." and wade out into the crowd. Think of the statement THAT would have made!

Time for all good liberals to get a backbone and take a stand.

Anne Lavoie said...

Re: Satyagraha performance at the Lincoln Center.

Many thanks are due Philip Glass who created this opera and brought it to the very people who need most to hear it. Otherwise it would be like preaching to the choir. The arts can often convey what rational statements or arguments cannot. Their attendance will expose them to great thoughts and values perhaps once held but long forgotten. We can only hope.

It was an individual act of beauty on Glass' part to create this work and include passages of the Bagavad-Gita, outdone by then sharing it by mic check among the Occupiers who had the wisdom to be there and give the movement a 'visible shape'. More beauty for the mind.

Not only can we hope for the attendees to realize something from Satyagraha, but also that the Occupiers also realize something important from together voicing those words: 'when...evil rules the land...we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape...' What a treat for both groups that night. They all now have something to meditate on.

Jesus said 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven'. Well, the second coming of Jesus is due soon in NYC when both Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell performances are returning. It sure seems like a message is being sent to NYC. Hope enough people hear it and change their ways soon.

WestVillageGal said...

@) Valerie -
thank you for your reply, Valerie. i am a New Yorker. i was also at Lincoln Center that night (not as an audience member, but part of the gathering). there were many from the audience who managed, in the dark (the plaza is poorly lit), to find their way around the barricades and joined-in. there were many more whom the police ushered off the grounds and away from the gathering on the stairs. tapping an NYC patrolman on the shoulder, i can promise you, is not as simple (or as advisable) as one might imagine - - especially at this time. of this, i can assure you.

@ Ann Lavoie -
Ann, i'm not quite sure how revivals of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Godspell" are indicative of anything other than an impoverished (economically and artistically) Broadway: for several years, revivals have been predominating our stages due to the economy and the fact that tickets sales do best with out-of-towners who are far less likely to see "straight drama" (something other than a musical) and/or a production they've never heard of before.

as for your conviction that 'a message is being sent to NYC" and that you hope 'enough people hear it and change (our) ways soon' . . . sounds rather like metropolitan bias. as well as overlooking the fact that so many denizens here continue to contribute in many, many ways besides physically gathering on NYC sidewalks, streets and other public areas: they're simply not being videotaped or praised (or vilified) in the media.

again, as in my original post, passion tempered with a more inclusive view serves. both aspects of your post that i've referenced sound frighteningly similar to expressions from the "religious" "right". i do hope that i have misinterpreted your words.

with my best wishes -

Valerie said...


Well done on the part of those audience members who joined the gathering. And good on you, as the Australians say (It is a sincere comment of praise.), for being out there with the protesters. It takes effort to drag oneself out at night and stand in the cold to make a statement. Lots of good, liberal New Yorkers in those gatherings. I wish I could have been there myself.

Aren't you a Buddhist? I think I recall you writing that once.

How are your weekly Occupy Protests going? Do you still have the Grandma Brigade (as I fondly think of them) with you out there in the freezing weather? THAT is commitment!

Anne Lavoie said...


Well, what a bummer. You're a good alchemist - you really know how to change good vibes into bad in an instant.

I don't know how else to say this, but you sound like you have a chip on your shoulder in your defensive, quibbling replies to both myself and Valerie. It's not all about you or your fellow metro residents, it's about the 1% who have ruined the country with their greed and power hungry machinations.

But wait, didn't you tell us earlier you are in the top 1% but sympathize with the 99%? Because if you are, that might explain your defensiveness. I can understand your feeling that way.

Some people have come to this site recently and offensively turned the focus off the discussion and onto themselves by getting unjustifiably defensive. I am now getting that deja vu feeling, or maybe just feeling the hangover from the bad vibes that was left behind from that.

That said, here is my clarification of my comments.

I was referencing the 1%, otherwise known as the Cream of the Crop, Masters of the Universe, or Wall Street, as in Occupy WALL STREET. I assumed some of them were among the audience at the Lincoln Center.

You also mentioned unity. I am active in the Occupy movement, but I am not a member of the corporate Democratic party, so if you're expecting me to say something conducive towards unity in that party, forget it!

And as far as my sounding right wing because I joked about a converging of two JC musicals, Occupy, and Satyagraha into a message to the rich to change their ways, whatever. Everyone on this site already knows I am a 'So-Far-Left-She's-Right-Communist-Socialist-Radical-Revolutionary-Independent', and proud of it!


WestVillageGal said...

@ Valerie -
of course there are many good New Yorkers, Valerie . . . as there are so many other good denizens throughout these United States, and far beyond.
"i wish i could have been there myself."
you would have been most welcome and, had you needed, would likely have been able to spend the night on a thickly blanketed floor, comfy sofa or empty-nested bedroom.
@ Ann Lavoie -
that you find a chip on my shoulder and my feedback "defensive" and "quibbling" truly astonishes. it was your own comments that first referenced (my) 'fellow metro residents'. and, as one of them, i felt it legitimate to respond since, living here, i have an up-close perspective. to wit . . .
that you would suggest Philip Glass' work was 'brought . . . to the very people who need most to hear it. Otherwise it would be like preaching to the choir' is - were it not such a distorted generalization - laughable: Philip Glass has many friends and associates - - some of whom are of the 1 percent and, in fact, have made it possible for him to carry out his work. how do you think he has been funded over the decades? does it make his contributions to the world any less so because support came - in large part - from members of the income-ed class?
i'm am amused that you would have positioned me with the 1 percent when - if memory serves - i've only identified myself as someone involved in the arts - - not exactly a lifestyle that catapults one (not this one, anyhow - if only! LOL) into the upper echelons. but Ann, even someone were in the 1 percent, what difference should that make if their heart and actions are honorable?
i have no desire to convert good vibes into bad, whether by "alchemy" or any other means. it's not what i'm about, even if deficient writing on my part may have convinced you of that. but i am about offering clarification/facts when it seems needed, as i welcome clarification/facts from others when i've overlooked, generalized or misunderstood. i had thought one function of this blog was to exchange - and not only mirror - points of view. the Occupy Movement is - among other things - very much about inclusiveness, and - along with the passionate fight - illuminating truth. (“Satyagraha”, the Sanskrit title of Glass' opera, means "truth force".)
with best wishes to all -