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Oh, How Helpful!

In his 1973 book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney demolished the idea that outsiders can come to Third World countries and bring them out into the developed world.  Our "help," as that help is almost always offered, is almost always counterproductive, leading to a culture of dependency, not enabling independence and growth, as the helpers might believe.  I discovered the truth of that during my own time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the late 1980s, and wrote about it with another former Peace Corps Volunteer, Bronwyn Hughes, a few years later.  

We described how it was best that outsiders from the developed world seek initiative locally and support it rather than bringing in their own ideas about what would work for a community not their own.  Our piece first appeared in an online journal that no longer exists.  Later, in 2007, it was republished in the ePluribus Media Journal.  Called "Nothing New: A Small Enterprise Development Project in West Africa," it can be found here.

The New-Economy Movement

Long-time activist Gar Alperovitz has an interesting article in The Nation about the emerging structure of "The New-Economy Movement.," a mostly uncoordinated group of non-profits companies and foundations, and citizen co-operatives, that have explicitly rejected the central tenet of modern Anglo-American capitalism that the profit motive reigns supreme. These are new, and some old, "institutions whose priorities are broader than those that typically flow from the corporate emphasis on the bottom line."

Among groups mentioned are the The American Sustainable Business Council, an alliance of 150,000 business professionals and thirty business organizations, whose "members are “triple bottom line” companies and social enterprises committed to the environment and social outcomes as well as profits"; the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE); and Mondragon, one of the largest and most successful cooperative enterprises in the world, based in the Basque region of Spain, with almost 100,000 workers.

Alperovitz notes that these types of organizations are signs of a growing realization that our current economic system is not sustainable. The financial and economic crisis of the past three years has forced more and more people to question the basic principles of Anglo-American capitalism and its over-weening emphasis on profit.

 

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A Silly Season Upon Us?

The supposed "scandal" related to Representative Anthony Weiner's Twitter account is allowing this rather outspoken congressperson's many enemies to try to give legs to something that fell apart almost as soon as it was attempted.  This is where our politics has returned, to its low point in the early days of the Republic when the purpose was to trash, not to convince.

No one was fooled by this silly attempt to tar Weiner, not even his political enemies.  Yet they are still trying to use it to tarnish his reputation.

Michael Collins: Things are Different (and sometimes much better) in the East

Michael Collins

The nation formerly known as the Ottoman Empire is building a strong foundation for a bright future. That nation is also addressing its scandalous recent past as it reaches out to old enemies. The dynamics producing real change in Turkey are well worth understanding. Turkey is on a path to rapid economic growth, cultural liberalization, and will emerge as a key player in world affairs.

The Turkish people elected a new government in 2002. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became Prime Minister after his AK Party gained an absolute majority in the nation's unicameral legislature. The United States corporate media tagged the AK party as a threat to Turkey's secular democracy. This is, as usual, a perversion of the political and social realities.

Here are the key elements contributing to Turkey's success.

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Memorial Day

The small town I grew up in was founded in the early 1700's. Pre-Revolutionary War - better known amongst my friends as the Shot-Heard-Round-the-World-War. A name that evoked a war worthy of Orson Wells. And predecessor in our minds to World War 1 and 2. (Rock solid logic of a 6-year old.)

Each Memorial Day, small American flags were placed on the graves of the veterans from wars past. Far too many wars, some of them now long forgotten. There were cast iron rods with stars set into the ground to hold the flags. I hope they haven't all been stolen by now. There was a problem with looting gravestones back in the 1980's. Antique dealers have no honor when it comes to the dead.

I can remember skipping through the wet grass of the cemetery to look at the flags and read the names on the gravestones. It took effort to watch out for dips and hollows where unsteady ground was evidence of a collapsed casket buried deep under ground.

The gravestones had lovely penmanship chiseled into the slate with winged smiling skulls of the late 1700's hovering over the deceased. The veterans names on the old stones sounded so exotic to me as a child, like Ebeneezer and Elijah. Far more interesting than their modern equivalents of Bob and Ben.

The Common, where a small group of veterans would form a line, salute and raise a flag, still held an old cannon. Yet another childhood plaything - sometimes a horse, sometimes a rocket. On occasion, someone would dig up an old cannonball somewhere - though a relic of what war was a mystery. The Revolution never did make it to our little corner of the world.

Those days, the flags would stay in the graveyard through July 4th. Somebody - I don't know who - collected the little flags shortly after Independence Day. Some things, even a kid could figure out, no one ever stole a flag.

 

When George done good: Celebrating Rosa Parks, and her work toward a more perfect union

I'm not a fan of George W. Bush or his two terms as President. He wasn't the primary culprit for those dark times, but he was - and remains - the figurehead.

But he, himself, was not the utter failure that his party and cronies were; he did some good. One example: his commemoration of Rosa Parks. To the Wiki:

On October 30, 2005, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation ordering that all flags on U.S. public areas both within the country and abroad be flown at half-staff on the day of Parks' funeral.

Metro Transit in King County, Washington placed posters and stickers dedicating the first forward-facing seat of all its buses in Parks' memory shortly after her death,[53] and the American Public Transportation Association declared December 1, 2005, the 50th anniversary of her arrest, to be a "National Transit Tribute to Rosa Parks Day".[54] On that anniversary, President George W. Bush signed Pub.L. 109-116 , directing that a statue of Parks be placed in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. In signing the resolution directing the Joint Commission on the Library to do so, the President stated:

By placing her statue in the heart of the nation's Capitol, we commemorate her work for a more perfect union, and we commit ourselves to continue to struggle for justice for every American.[55]

Rosa Parks died of natural causes at the age of 92 on October 24, 2005, about 7:00 pm EDT; she lived in Detroit.

 

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The Truth About the Confederacy

Originally posted April 10, 2011 on CorrenteWire and DailyKos. Posted to ePluribus Media 2011-05-29 11:33:17 -0400 - bumped and promoted. -- GH

The 150th anniversary of the Fort Sumter bombardment that formally began the Civil War is tomorrow, and wrong-wingers throughout the South and the rest of America are fixing a big celebration. There’s going to be a seemingly infinite issuance of blogs, articles, radio interviews, and television appearances that will proffer a prettified picture of a brave and stolid South, courageously defending the “true conservative Constitutional” principles of states rights, individual responsibility, and limited government.

If you’re one of the many Americans who don’t really know that much about the Civil War, you have probably been perplexed by the number of wrong-wing Republican politicians who have made open statements of admiration the past year or two for the Confederate ideas of states rights and secession. This very lengthy diary is designed to fully inform you what the Confederacy was really like – a society suffering acutely from class differences; a society ruled by a slave holding oligarchy that was sickeningly arrogant and grasping, as well as racist. A number of myths about have been developed about the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy for over a century, and those myths and lies are probably going to be repeated so often the coming days and weeks that you’re going to want to puke. My intent for this diary is to help shatter those myths and lies.

 

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Bare knuckle economics

Cross posted from Real Economics.

I have generally been highly critical of the Obama administration and its economic policies. However, below I link to an unique and very informative DailyKos diary that examines the little-heralded efforts of the administration to improve the economic lot of average Americans by trying to support the manufacturing sector of the economy. Now, while I could easily argue that these efforts are "too little, too late," they do constitute evidence that there are some in the Obama administration who have not entirely fallen victim to the Leisure Class (Predatory Class) mentality described by Thorstein Veblen and our own Jon Larson. In this case, the writer identifies the individual: Ron Bloom, former official of the United Steel Workers Union, and currently special advisor to Tim Geithner and White House director of manufacturing policy.

Bare knuckle economics

Previously published on The People's View.

If you read the Wall Street Journal or right wing blogs, you know who Ron Bloom is. He is special advisor to Tim Geithner and White House director of manufacturing policy. He's a former official at the United Steel Workers Union who helped manage the auto rescue.

Mr. Bloom attended Harvard Business School, where he gravitated to populist business cases and was keenly interested in employee buyouts. After 10 years at investment banks, among them Lazard, he became special assistant to the USW president in 1996.

Both inside and outside the USW, Mr. Bloom is known as a financially savvy negotiator — with a tendency to spout profanities WSJ

Right wing blogs are more straightforward

Is there really any doubt that Obama and his administration are a pack of radical Leftists?

Look for Bloom on Youtube and you'll see - they really really hate him. Here's what got our right wing compatriot's underwear in a twist. Speaking as a union official at " 6th Annual Distressed Investing Forum" Bloom said:

Generally speaking, we get the joke. We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system, to beat the market or at least find someone who will pay you a lot of money, 'cause they're convinced that there is a free lunch.

We know this is largely about power, that it's an adults only no limit game. We kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun. And we get it that if you want a friend you should get a dog.

Absolutely nothing that Bloom said is even controversial on Wall Street, but according to American Right Wing Propagandists, working people are supposed to naively believe in the stories told to them by the economists. Read more.

The author also performs the excellent service of criticizing Robert Reich, and liberals and progressives in general, for ignoring and even disliking the manufacturing sector. As the author notes, back in June 2009, Reich opined on the auto bailout by diving fully into the cesspool of a "post-industrial policy":

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Thirteen states have passed laws making voting more difficult

For years Republicans have been nothing short of determined to restrict voter access to the polls. The New York Times has picked up the story today, reporting new laws tightening voting rules have been passed in thirteen states where Republicans control the state legislatures. Some of the states passing new laws include Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The new laws are alleged to be necessary to prevent voter fraud, in spite of there being very few actual cases of voter fraud to justify such onerous requirements to vote. The outcome is likely to keep more citizens with the legal right to vote from participating in elections than keeping any illegal votes from being cast.

“Remarkably, most of these significant changes are going under the radar,” he added. “A lot of voters are going to be surprised and dismayed when they go to their polling place and find that the rules have changed.”

Most of the measures would require people to show a form of official, valid identification to vote. While driver’s licenses are the most common form, voters can also request free photo IDs from the Department of Motor Vehicles or use a passport or military identification, among other things.

...

A few state bills and laws also shave the number of early voting days, a move that Democrats say would impact Democratic voters once again. In the 2008 presidential election, a majority of those who cast early votes did so for President Obama. In Florida, the number of days is reduced but the number of hours remains the same.

Memorial Day Weekend

What is this holiday weekend of which you speak? Ah - Memorial Day! Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 30 in 2011). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates men and women who died while in military service to the United States.1 First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War,2 it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

Memorial Day often marks the start of the summer vacation season, and Labor Day its end.

Began as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the civil war, by the early 20th century, Memorial Day was an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as ordinary people visited the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not. It also became a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 (since 1911) and the Coca-Cola 600 (since 1960) auto races.3

Race cars and soldiers, and remembrance of those who we've lost, regardless.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, folks.

 

Memorial Day Weekend Eve Open Thread - Roundtable on Sustainable Development Edition

It's the eve of Memorial Day weekend, when the American part of the world closes out its school year for glorious days of summer. We set out with prospects of long-distance travel destinations or simply trying to remember what it was like to be bored, in a life before "To Do" lists.

In some parts of the country, a protracted Spring has upended the old saying about "April showers bringing May flowers," in a sense. It's been such a wet season that the soil has been left too sodden to plow and plant until much later than is usual. So the agricultural flowers may arrive in June and July, instead of May. In fact, it may be too late to make it economically feasible for many farmers to plant this year, for at least some full-season crops.

The radical extent of this Spring's storms and tornadoes has underscored the damage we might expect from further pursuit of an economy based on unsustainable processes. So, I wanted to plant some seeds for thought as you find an empty moment along your summer trail. The Real News with Paul Jay attended this year's INET (Institute for New Economic Thinking) Conference and recorded a roundtable discusson among 'transdisciplinary' economic specialists, from investment bankers to ecologists.

My First Day at LEAH

Crossposted from A Stick in The Mud. - GH

It’s 6:30 in the morning. I’m at the house of a stranger. The lights are off and I am trying to break in. Ten minutes go by, fifteen. I’m pounding on the door, circling the house, cussing at the door, peaking through the window, pleading with door, but it does not open.

I met Ellen the day before. I also work at Staples and I was helping her lift a box of paper into the trunk of her car. We got into a conversation about the non-profit she is running, The LEAH Advocacy Group (Staples calls this customer communication technique the Selling FunnelTM). Before long, she had hired me on to help support a bill set to hit the floor of the New Hampshire House the very next day.
For those of you who don’t know Ellen, she is a bit disorganized and, that morning, she was still asleep. It took some time, pleading with the door of my employer-to-be, but she finally came downstairs to open the door.
“Would you mind taking off your shoes?” And just as I was about to, she added, as if needing explanation, “I just don’t want you to track in any pesticides into my house.”
Boy, I thought, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

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Wednesday Evening Open Thread - Tuscon Twofer Edition

I've heard of "Home on the Range" but this has gotta be a major factor for calling Tuscon "Home of the Crazy." First up: the competency hearing of Jared Lee Loughner. Spoiler alert! - he's incompetent to stand trial:

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Loughner found incompetent to stand trial

Jared Lee Loughner’s "major mental illness" leaves him so delusional and psychotic that he is incompetent to stand trial, a federal judge ruled today.

U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns viewed hours of videotape of Loughner, he said, and agreed with the conclusion of the psychiatrist and psychologist who evaluated him: Loughner can't understand the court proceedings or help his lawyers.

"The defendant was generally unable to provide rational and coherent thoughts," Burns said.

...[...snip...]...

Burns ordered that new evaluations of Loughner be prepared by Aug. 31. He tentatively set a hearing for Sept. 21 but said it may not go forward if the evaluators find he continues to be incompetent.

A defendant can continue to undergo treatment and evaluation for months and even years as officials try to bring him to a level of competency that would allow him to stand trial.

Contact reporter Tim Steller at tsteller@azstarnet.com or at 807-8427.

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Hat-tip to amytrine of Pulling to the Left, a Delphi Forum

Who's surprised by the finding?

And the number two crazy Tuscon tidbit?

There are those who are proposing that the entire shooting was a hoax:

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Tucson Shooting Conspiracy Theories Upset Victims

On fringe sites around the web, a new conspiracy theory is being cultivated: the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson, Arizona that took the lives of six and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), never actually took place.

According to the New York Times, believers of the theory, peddled primarily by conspiracy enthusiast Ed Chiarini, claim that the solemn day's events were all part of an elaborate government hoax carried out by Tucson-area actors.

[...More at HuffPo...]

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Hat-tip to lordrag of Pulling to the Left, a Delphi Forum

If you happen to be travelling to or through Tuscon any time in the near future, it may be a good idea to not drink the water. And remember: that same water's used to make their deliriously unique brand of tea.

If you've got anything to add, do it below the fold. This is an Open Thread.

 

 

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Via weatherdude: "High Risk" Major Tornado Outbreak Expected -- PDS Tornado Watch for Dallas/OKC

Now in liveblog mode over on Daily Kos, folks in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas are being warned of the potential for a major tornado outbreak:

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a rare high risk area across Oklahoma and Kansas for a major tornado outbreak this afternoon. The outbreak is expected to be centered across Oklahoma, extreme northern Texas, and southern Kansas, with a lower (but still elevated) risk of a major tornado outbreak across northwestern Arkansas, northern Texas (including Dallas/Ft. Worth), most of the rest of Kansas, and western Missouri this afternoon.

A PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) tornado watch has been issued for parts of Texas and Oklahoma for the threat of very large, long track, destructive tornadoes, hail larger than baseballs, and destructive wind gusts over 70 MPH.

For liveblog updates, keep checking back over on the Daily Kos diary by weatherdude, here.

If you're located in the affected area, please be safe.

 

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