Reasons For Hope: Bernie's Town Hall, Jill Stein's Upcoming Live Discussion with Glenn Greenwald and Abby Martin, and Matt Taibbi's Surgical Takedowns of Propaganda, Lies and Distraction
As the snow now steadily falls in NYC for perhaps the last winter storm of the season (always fine by me, the storms that is), I find myself ruminating a little on the flickers of hope within the darkness of despair of this bizarre time of media and government propaganda.
I haven't much time these days and again I apologize in advance that I probably won't be around much. Just thought I'd throw these three things out there for folks to see if they haven't, and perhaps use this thread to dwell on how we can coalesce like-minded revolutionaries to break through the din of bullshit and fear-mongering accosting us in the MSM.
The first two of these are great examples of ways to circumvent the propaganda bullhorn of the MSM. Again Bernie was able to put up impressive numbers for an online event, increasing the viewership from his first one. Most impressively was the content of town hall, which was called "Inequality in America: The Rise of Oligarchy and Collapse of the Middle Class” (review by In These Times).
It would be hard to find a more succinct and more-removed from the bullshit promulgated by the MSM, the kind that purposefully throws up distraction and manufactured controversy to keep this kind of conversation from airing on the major networks, than what Bernie pulled together here (remember when Chris Hayes unwittingly brought Bernie to West Virginia for a similar town hall, MSNBC viewers got to see in full-color that he's by far the most popular politician in the country, and that so-called "Red State voters" would have voted for him in droves and love his policy platforms of free college and healthcare for all?). From the linked piece above, “It is fair to say that in the last hour and a half,” (Sanders) said in concluding the event, “that we have discussed more issues that are of vital importance to the American people than have ever been seen on a television screen in the history of this country.” Think about that. He's probably right.
Bernie masterfully pulled together such diverse voices not known to the public. Which was how FDR picked his cabinet: find the best people away from the limelight of the hermetically-sealed world of DC to do do the work of the people. Some of his guests included Catherine Coleman Flowers, a founder of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise Community Development Corp., an anti-poverty group; Gordon Lafer, a labor policy expert at the University of Oregon; and Cindy Estrada, a vice president of the United Auto Workers labor union. They each told powerful stories from their backgrounds within the context of economic inequality and connecting all the dots. It was pretty damn impressive.
This was the kind of conversation people are practically starved from hearing on a big stage. In the reactions of the crowd that was evident. Lots of firsthand testimony too, from everyday people ground down in the merciless grinder of capitalism. Folks need the release of hearing the truth unvarnished.
He started this way:
Tonight we are going to ask some questions and have a discussion with some of the most knowledgeable people in this country on issues that are very very rarely if ever discussed in the corporate media.
Tonight we're going to take a hard look at why over the last 40 years the middle class of this country has declined while oligarchy is on the rise. And why during those 40 years over 13 trillion dollars in wealth has been transferred from the bottom 99% to the top 1%.
Tonight we're going to talk about income and wealth inequality and what it means morally and economically when three people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of America when the top 1% when the top one-tenth of 1% now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom
90%. We're going to talk about our national priorities when in recent years we have seen an incredible growth in the number of billionaires, while 40 million Americans in our country continue to live in poverty. Why we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.
Tonight we're going to talk about what it means for the working class of this country when over 50,000 factories have been shut down since 2001 and millions of workers have lost decent
paying jobs. We'll discuss what it means when trade union representation in the private sector has declined from about 30 percent in the late 1950s to less than 7 percent today.
In case you missed it here it is:
I found myself feeling like, while Bernie was talking, that I was back again at an Occupy activist friend's living room boiling down the issues to discuss matters at their most important levels.
I have to admit Michael Moore seems to be struggling to find himself. Just when he's reminding you that he's this great muckraking documentarian he ultimately comes right to throw out a stinker that shows he's still all about the Impeach Trump/Russian Red Herring mania on the Dem side. Disappointing. Because I think he really gets it most of the time. But he always seems to falls back in line as the Good Dem too much for my taste, rather than take a really radical stance implied by lots of his work.
Then, opening my email this morning was this announcement from Jill Stein:
The world is at a crossroads. Floods, fires and droughts fueled by climate change are ravaging vast regions of the planet. Expanding wars are creating mass refugee migrations and failed states. Global unrest is rising against massive inequality, while the neoliberal order melts down and US empire teeters at the brink.
These global crises require global solutions. As the political establishment fails utterly to lead the way forward, it’s so exciting to share solutions for people, planet and peace over profit with trail blazers around the world.
That’s why I’m honored to announce that I’ll be joining Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept and Abby Martin, host of The Empire Files, for a live discussion on Freedom and Democracy hosted by AcTVism in Munich, Germany on May 6th.
I’m thrilled to be joining two of the leading journalists of our time to discuss pressing issues like climate change, militarism and the nuclear threat, relations between Russia and the West, civil rights and mass surveillance, independent media, the shifting landscape of US politics and how we can seize the moment for transformative change.
Previous AcTVism events have featured luminaries including Noam Chomsky, Edward Snowden, Medea Benjamin and many more, and have made a huge impact in the world of independent media.
Like it or not, believe in them or not, these former presidential candidates are using their platforms to refocus the issues away from the sensationalism and distractions to the issues the vast majority of folks are concerned about but not seeing reflected in their "news" coverage.
And finally, Taibbi's been on fire lately. Hadn't seen if it was posted here so I'm attaching that as well. "It's Too Late to Worry About 'Normalizing' Trump. Decades of Policy Did That for Him."
Max Boot, the noted Washington Post columnist, and "Jeane Kilpatrick senior fellow for National Security Studies" at the Council for Foreign Relations, thinks Donald Trump is betraying American values by meeting with Kim Jong-Un.
Such a meeting, Boot says, would mean "giving the worst human-rights abuser on the planet what he most wants: international legitimacy."
Let's unpack that one for a minute. We're worried now about giving human rights abusers legitimacy?
The idea that we don't legitimize human-rights abusers is a laugh-out-loud joke everywhere outside America. You could fill a book chapter with the history of the friendly relations between American presidents and just the foreign dictators who are credibly reported to have eaten other human beings.
Here's a cheery letter from Gerald Ford inviting Central African Republic dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa (the remains of 30 people were found in his crocodile pond upon ouster) to Washington.
We helped install Idi Amin, too. He later denied rumors of cannibalism, saying human flesh was "too salty," but he had other equally upsetting hobbies. We've supported a couple of generations of Nguemas in Equatorial Guinea, both of whom – uncle Macias and nephew Teodoro Obiang – reportedly ate their political enemies.
This is in addition to the countless Batistas and Suhartos and Diems and Marcoses and Pinochets who were just murdering thieving monsters we legitimized not by sitting down with them at the negotiating table, but by making them allies we showered with things like arms and money.
The problem with Trump is that he's too stupid to be embarrassed by such relationships. He constantly makes all of Washington look bad by jumping too enthusiastically in bed with the blood-soaked juntas and anti-democratic governments we more quietly embraced in the past.
These high-profile voices deserve our enthusiastic and undying support. Jimmy Dore, Lee Camp's Redacted Tonight, Chris Hedges "On Contact, Tim Black, The Rational National, Caitlin Johnstone - these are all folks not buying the bullshit who instead are taking on the calcifying and deadly MSM propaganda.
The best way to do that is not just by watching, reading and sharing their work with others not privy to the fundamental democratic importance of dissenting voices. But for us to individually challenge ourselves to have such meaningful conversation, and then engage in forms of subversion and disruption to the status quo death machine in whatever ways we can.
Come spring, sit in your local public park or set up chairs on a street corner with a sign saying something about how you're sick and tired of unresponsive government run by the rich and for the rich; that you don't want to talk about Trump or Clinton or Dems/Reps, Red/Blue, Conserv/Lib - just the issues of why rent, taxes and cost of living keeps going up, our taxes pay for more wars an military bases but not healthcare and college education, the need for publicly-owned utilities and internet, etc. Start the revolution on your block, town square, one person at time - by avoiding divide and conquer political partisanship.
Most importantly is the takeaway here: to get people to turn away from the allure and dazzle of highly-paid MSM punditry surrounded by glitzy stage sets and quick cutaways, etc. It's all designed to keep us dumb and distracted, using fear to separate the 99% through dividing and conquering of phony partisanship - when anyone who's awake knows there's only one team in DC, the one that makes money for themselves at the expense of the citizenry.