So What Are You Going to DO About It?

Anybody who has found this weblog is probably in agreement with what I'm writing about, and is probably spending time reading other online political sites, like BuzzFlash, and other weblogs. So we feel the same way, we're tuned in, we're getting info that is very different from the stuff that is in most of the papers and on almost all of TV (except maybe the new CrossFire.)

Do I have to write about how "we" feel? Corporations replacing one-person-one-vote with one-dollar-one-vote and all the consequences that flow from that - pollution, cronyism, corruption, Federalist Society judges, corporate crimes of all kinds, and the stuff coming from the White House.

What are you going to DO about it? That's the question. What are you going to actually DO about it?

Here's my suggestion. Do something. There's an election coming up.

I have started spending a little bit of my Saturdays or Sundays with a little voter registration table at a shopping center or the local Farmer's Market. There's a big "Democrats Register Here" sign taped to the table (but I sign up anyone who wants to register.) I have only done this a few times now, but I'm calling up people from a local Democratic Club's member list, asking if they would like to volunteer to put in an hour or two, so we can turn this into a full-time operation.

This got started after I decided to get involved and contacted my local Democratic Club. (To contact your local Democrats go here and choose your state where it says Get Local, over on the left of the page. From there you should be able to find your way to your local Demcoratic Party organization.) Yes, I'm suggesting the boring Democrats. I used to think it was a good idea to help the Greens start a new party, but now I think that just breaks up the coalition that can get the Republicans out.

Being out there getting people registered is a rewarding experience. It's also a lot more than just registering them - it's "showing the flag" - to people who think like "us" and feel isolated. I find that they really appreciate seeing people like me out there. I tell them they can be a person "like me" and help out, too. It is surprising how many are signing up to help out. It's encouraging.

Talking to people at this table has been a great experience. I'm in a Democratic area (it used to be Republican but the Democrats got organized and changed that) so most people are positive. But I find that almost NO ONE is tuned in to the kind of news we get online. So I point people to BuzzFlash as a starting point. I need one place to tell them to go to, and that's a great place to get started.

Here's some things YOU can do:
- Join your local Democratic Club. It's more fun than most of the computer user groups I used to speak at.
- Start registering voters. It's about more than just signing up new voters, it's about being out there talking to people. It was HARD for me the first time I set up that table. There's something about putting yourself out there like that that is hard. Maybe I was buying into all the years of scorn from right-wingers laughing at mushy liberals. Anyway as soon as I sat down at the table with the sign I felt GOOD about what I was doing.
- Donate money. It's important. It sounds stupid but it's what makes politics run - until we can pass public financing and we aren't going to do that without getting "our people" elected.
- Donate time. It takes work to win an election but working on a campaign is FUN and rewarding.
- Get other people connected to what's going on online.
- Send e-mails to people you know, letting them know about places to visit online, encouraging them to get involved or at least vote.
- If you are a blogger you can encourage your readers to get actively involved before this election.

You know the formula, if each of us can get just two people activated...
The Daily Enron has an opinion piece by Stephen Pizzo that is worth reading. It's another "Are the Democrats ready to step up to the plate?" piece. From the piece:

"Down in Louisiana, scandal-hardened voters have a saying when they change control of the state legislature from one party to the other: "It was just time to let the fat hogs out and the lean hogs in."

American voters are tired of feeding hogs of any political persuasion. It's just gotten too expensive. So, if Democrats are going to sweep the November races they are going to start now by not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

Walking the walk will mean pursuing true progressive reforms for both government and corporations, even if doing so offends some contributors who may deserve a good offending anyway. Voters are looking for anything but politics as usual. Democrats will have to prove themselves capable of delivering on that desire or risk turning off voters who will respond by simply staying at home next November rather wasting another vote on the lesser of two evils. "

Also, as you can see, I realized I should use blockquote when I'm quoting, so my posts will look better from now on. Blog evolves.


Today's Google Experiment
Salon debunks the story about Gore trying to get free Springsteen tickets. Just another lie. This is a tree.

Here's the forest: Does anyone remember the May, 1993 Clinton $200 Haircut story? The story was that President Clinton held up all traffic at LAX for 45 minutes while his plane sat on the runway and he got a haircut that cost $200. This story helped shape public attitudes about his new administration, coming 4 months after he took office.

Except that it never happened. (Scan this story for the word "haircut.") SOMEone sent FAXes with this story to newspapers and radio stations across the country. Further faxes claimed to be from passengers who missed flights. Some even claimed to be from people who missed funerals, etc. This was a very well-coordinated and very effective smear job - a sign of things to come.

Google Experiment: Click here to go to Google and search on the keywords "clinton haircut runway" and see how many press articles, etc. you can find that refer to this smear as fact. Remember, it not only never happened, but very quickly was shown to be phony. This one is cute.

You'll see a lot more stories like the Springsteen Ticket story as the Presidential campaign gets going. The stories are trees. See the forest. See the bigger picture. Learn how it's done so you don't fall for it yourself.
Go Watch This!
WOW! Take a look at this great Flash piece!

To see others, go to this site, click on the links on the upper left.
Democrats Not Invited
The Bush Administration motto may as well be, "Democrats Not Invited."
More on that Pension Problem
I have been writing about the corporate pension problem - the "other" corporate accounting problem that could be as serious as the falsely reported earnings scandal. This is an important problem worth paying attention to. In a nutshell, when stocks were climbing corporations didn't have to contribute to their pension funds, and could report higher profits. Now stocks are lower, the pension funds are underfunded, and the companies have to come up with cash and put it into the funds.

Today's New York Times has a story about this. "The fine print in G.M.'s 2001 annual report shows that its retiree benefit plans, including pensions and health care, have unfinanced liabilities of a staggering $61 billion. That is up from $34 billion in 1999 and reflects how the market has affected companies that made big promises to their workers. Some of that shows up in liabilities on the balance sheet, but about $11.5 billion does not."
"In the first half of this year, G.M.'s pension funds lost about 3 percent of their value. If the accounting rules required G.M. to report based on actual performance, rather than the 10 percent annual gains it optimistically assumes, I estimate that it would have posted a net loss of $2.3 billion rather than a $1.5 billion profit. Similarly, reported profits from 2000 and 2001 would have vanished."

In other words, a $11.5 billion problem not showing up on the books, GM reports a profits of $1.5 billion, when actually it is a loss of $2.3 billion, and their profits from 2000 and 2001 were not really profits.


Funding Progressives and Moderates
I've been thinking about that American Prospect article that I referred to a few days ago. Tomasky writes, "The fact that this imbalance exists, however, is partly the Democrats' fault. Democrats don't have the money Republicans have, and they never will. They can never match Republicans dollar-for-dollar on message creation and dissemination. That said, it's also true that they have not set up the structures to do that. Republican backers slowly and methodically set out to build those structures in the 1970s, knowing full well that they wouldn't bear fruit for a generation or two. Democratic money people, and party leaders, have not been as engaged in such long-term thinking. As one leading Democrat told me not long ago, they'd rather spend their money on a full-page ad in the Times than seed and water a long-range, partisan strategy group or think tank. Accordingly, Democrats have developed no organic relationship with the intellectuals and activists on their side, while Republicans have."

I agree with Tomasky that moderate and progressive money would do better if it were applied with a long-range view.

I've recently been talking to the people at The Commonweal Institute (CI). CI is just starting up now, and hopes to get full funding to develop a multi-issue policy "think tank" that will be able to support moderate and progressive groups by building up mainstream support for moderate and progressive philosophy in general and for the moderate and progressive perspective on a broad range of particular issues that are so important to all of us.

Let me explain their view of this. There are moderate and progressive foundations with money for progressive projects, and there are lots of well-to-do moderates and progressives with a philanthropic attitude. But moderate and progressive philanthropy has been directed differently from how the right-wingers are doing it. Clearly the right-wingers have been much more successful. Right-wing-oriented foundations are funding organizations like The Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute and The Cato Institute. (Note, these links point to a list of their funding sources so you can see how this works.)

By funding multi-issue organizations like these, right-wingers have used foundation money to build a general policy "infrastructure" that supports the web of right-wing organizations while appealing to a broader mainstream audience. I think that moderate and progressive foundations have focused their grants and donations toward more narrow-target projects, like environmental groups or community housing projects as just a couple of examples. These groups are great and support great causes, but they reach narrower, usually sympathetic audiences and focus only on their particular issues.

But here's what happens. Because the right-wingers have a well-coordinated (and very, very well-funded) web of organizations that provide underlying SUPPORT for the efforts of their own narrow-project groups by pumping out right-wing propaganda to the masses, their investment in those narrow projects is able to achieve maximum bang-for-buck. Moderate and progressive investment in individual projects, on the other hand, shows a lower ROI (return on investment) because the effectiveness of that right-wing web has put enough right-wingers in powerful positions that the achievements of moderate and progressive organizations are wiped out with one Presidential Directive, or one ruling by a well-placed Federalist Society judge! In other words, the well-funded right-wing multi-issue, broad-based, mainstream audience work gets people like Bush and his Federalist judges in position to support their causes and destroy moderate and progressive achievements.

If the moderate and progressive foundations were willing to support more general, multi-issue, "infrastructure" organizations, like Commonweal Institute, which could help progressive politicians and activists and organizations make their case to the public on a broad range of issues, and moderate and progressive philosophy in general, then perhaps the achievements of environmental and other organizations wouldn't be in peril and they wouldn't always be trying to hold on to what they have achieved, constantly fighting to keep from being pushed backwards instead of building on their achievements. It's great to fund narrow-focus environmental and other groups, but that funding is always in danger of being wasted, doing no one any good at all, if the success of the right's web of organizations allows them to wipe out so much of the progress that moderates and progressives are trying to make.

The moderate and progressive foundations need to fund organizations like the Commonweal Institute - "Heritage Foundations of the left" - because their work will PROTECT the work of environmental and other moderate and progressive organizations.


The Party of the Confederacy
The Party of Lincoln has become the Party of the Confederacy. The Republicans have been working hard to become a regional party, and we should do everything we can to reinforce this trend. The entire Republican leadership is from the South. Their policies are "states rights" and anti-"big-city". They are shifting the government's spending to the South. They talk about "the heartland" and they mean southern former-Confederate states. I can go on but I'll pause here so you can envision more examples.

There is a political opportunity here for Northern Democrats. Republican candidates should be asked why they are running for office in the North under the banner of the Party of the Confederacy. They should be asked if they're trying to bring the South to Vermont or Wisconsin or New York.
Go take a look at Bush Impeachment Countdown and today's quiz!
Bush Gave Corporate Lawbreakers Green Light

Bush is on TV giving a speech saying corporate lawbreakers will be punished. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with this two-faced lying crap, acting like the big hero, after what he did when he took office. I wrote about this a few days back. When Bush got into office he repealed Clinton administration rules that blocked companies that repeatedly broke the law from getting government contracts.

He gave companies the green light to feel free to break the law! Now he is saying those same lawbreaking companies should be punished.


Saying it a Different Way

An article in The American Prospect has better words for what I said below, "Never in modern American history has a party so failed its core constituents as the Democratic Party has during this period."
People vs Powerful
The press is playing up a Gore vs Lieberman debate over whether the Democratic Party should stand for "The People vs the Powerful," as Gore worded it, or follow Lieberman's position: "The people versus the powerful unfortunately left that track and gave a different message, which may have been caused by the pressure that the Nader campaign was giving us," Mr. Lieberman said, referring to Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate. "But I think it was not the New Democratic approach."

I think Lieberman hit the nail on the head, but completely missed the point. There IS pressure from the Greens and it is there for a reason - too many people feel that the Democratic Party has stopped supporting their interests. If the Democratic Party isn't going to stand up for the people vs. the powerful, then the Green Party is going to get the votes. It's called "losing your base". Look what happened in 2000 - enough of the left of the Democratic Party voted Green instead of Democrat.

If you want to be Republicans, than just BE a Republican, but don't try to tell Democrats they shouldn't stand up for "The People vs The Powerful."


Seeing the Forest III

Yesterday I wrote about Time Magazine's big story describing how the Clinton Adminisration handed Bush a plan to get rid of al-Queda, the Bush people sat on it, and then after 9/11 attempted to blame Clinton for the attack while taking credit for the Clinton plan as their own. These are trees. See the forest.

Take a look at this story from February, "PR CAMPAIGN BLAMES CLINTON FOR SEPT. 11 ATTACKS." Now, take a look at who is behind the group launching that PR campaign and the increadible amounts of money put into just this one right-wing attack group (there are so many). It's funded by the Scaife Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, etc. - the usual suspects you see funding all of these Republican attack groups.

Here's the forest: THIS IS WHAT THEY DO! If you try to argue the individual points that Republicans put out, you will go crazy. Those are the trees. You can argue about whether Clinton is to blame. You can argue about whether tax cuts cause tax revenue to increase. You can argue about whether Bush and Cheney knew their companies were about to tank when they make fortunes selling their stock to unsuspecting buyers. These are just trees. See the forest.

See the bigger picture. Look at what they do and who is doing it, not at what they say. When you see the signs of a coordinated PR campaign coming from the right, IT MEANS THEY ARE UP TO SOMETHING! Don't look at what they are saying, look at the pattern, look at what they are doing. I'll go so far as to say this, When you see them spreading a story about Democratic or "liberal" wrongdoing it often means it's really about something THEY have been doing and they are "innoculating" themselves by accusing the other side before the real story can start coming out.

When you see the signs of a coordinated right-wing propaganda attack, get on Google, look up the names of the spokespersons or organizations spreading the story, see what else they have been doing and saying, see if you can track down who funds them. Guess what you're going to find? In every single instance you are going to find one of these right-wing attack groups, and they are going to be funded by the Bradley Foundation or Scaife or one of the others, and the spokesperson is going to have published pro-tobacco and/or anti-environmentalist articles. And one other thing - you're going to hear the smear story on Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and O'Reilly or Hannity, and you'll se it in the Washington Times, etc., etc. and pretty soon it will seem like you are hearing everyone in the media saying exactly the same things!

In this instance the Republicans got caught with their pants down, letting the country get attacked on 9/11. So they immediately started the usual response. A coordinated campaign to smear the opposition - in this case blaming Clinton for letting it happen (as well as other efforts, like blaming multiculturism, etc.) - combined with a coordinated campaign to make Bush look like the hero, saving us from the mess Clinton got us into. Ignore what they say and look at what they do. See the forest. It works every time.

Update - the PR CAMPAIGN article mentioned above can still be found here.


WTF - I already link to WTF Is It Now?? in my links section, but I'm mentioning it again because just love reading it.
Funny cartoons here.
Whoosh, Bye! Please!
Looking at the bad news and opposing forces moving in -- the economy might be tanking, stock market diving, Time Magazine's major piece on Bush screw-ups leading to 9/11, Gore's great, great piece in today's NY Times, the polls starting to show that the Democrats could do very well in the upcoming election -- it strikes me that this is the point in corporate life where the top executives sell all their stock to the unsuspecting public and bail just before things fall apart, flying away to the Cayman Islands in their private jets. Whoosh, bye!

Maybe Bush, Cheney and the rest of that crowd will stick to their previous instincts and do what they did at Harken and Halibutron and Enron and the rest of the companies these guys and their cronies looted, and skip town one of these nights. Wish they would.
Now We Know
Now we know why the Bush administration has been fighting tooth and nail to prevent an independent look at intelligence failures leading up to 9/11. Time Magazine has a story about an extensive Clinton plan to attack al-Queda, developed after the Cole bombing. Leaving office, they handed the plan to the incoming Bush administration, who did nothing with it because they didn't see al-Queda as an important enough problem.

The plan is an outline of the very same extensive anti-terrorist activities that the Bush administration is getting so much credit for.

After blaming the Clinton administration for 9/11, claiming Clinton did nothing and taking full political credit for "their" plan to attack al-Queda, we now see why they fought so hard to keep the truth from coming out.