Category "Politics In America"

The Meaning of a Do-Nothing Election: How Not To Change The World

November 17th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America

Tom Englehardt nails it once again…

When a new Chinese dynasty came to power, it was said that it had received “the mandate of heaven.” We’ve just passed through an election campaign that, while the noisiest in memory, was enveloped in the deepest of silences on issues that truly matter for the American future.


Let’s start with one basic reality: we’ve just experienced a do-nothing election that represents a mandate from a special American kind of hell. (Admittedly, Mitt Romney’s election, which would have put the House of Representatives and Big Energy in the Oval Office, undoubtedly represented a more venal circle of that fiery establishment.)

That, in turn, ensures two different but related outcomes, both little discussed during the campaign: continuing gridlock on almost any issue that truly matters at home and a continuing damn-the-Hellfire-missiles, full-speed-ahead permanent state of war abroad (along with yet more militarization of the “homeland”). The only winners — and don’t believe the outcries you’re hearing about sequestration “doom” for the military — are likely to be the national security complex, the Pentagon, and in a country where income inequality has long been on the rise, the wealthy. Yes, in the particular circle of hell to which we’re consigned, it’s likely to remain springtime for billionaires and giant weapons manufacturers from 2012 to 2016.


Here are things not to expect: a major move to rebuild the country’s tattered infrastructure; the genuine downsizing of the American global military mission; any significant attempt to come to grips with a changing planet and global warming; and the mobilization of a younger generation that, as Hurricane Sandy showed, is ready to give much and do much to help others in need, but in the next four years will never be called to the colors.

In other words, this country is stuck in a hell of its own making that passes for everyday life at a moment when the world, for better and/or worse, is coming unstuck in all sorts of ways.


Take climate change, which like the Arab Spring blasted its way into our unprepared midst in 2011-2012. There was the wildfire season of all seasons in a parching Southwest and West, a devastating drought that still hasn’t fully lifted in the Midwestern breadbasket (or corncob) of the country, and a seemingly endless summer that may make this the hottest year on record for the continental United States. It was staggering and, if opinion polls are to be believed, noted by increasing numbers of concerned Americans who could literally feel the world changing around them.

And yet none of this made global warming an election issue. Month after month, it was The Great Unmentionable. The silence of emboldened Republicans plugging their drill-baby-drill and lay-those-pipelines policies and of cowed Democrats who convinced themselves that the issue was a no-win zone for the president proved deafening — until the campaign’s last days….

Still, in just about every sense that matters in Washington, real planning for climate change is likely to remain off that table on which all “options” always sit…

Among the truly bizarre aspects of this situation, one stands out: thanks in part to a long-term climate-change denial campaign, well-funded by the giant energy companies, the subject has become “political.” The idea that it is a liberal or left-wing “issue,” rather than a global reality that must be dealt with, is now deeply embedded. And yet there may never have been a more basic conservative issue (at least in the older sense of the term): the preserving, above all else, of what is already most valuable in our lives. And what qualifies more for that than the health of the planet on which humanity “grew up”?


But stop waiting for change, “big” or otherwise, to come from Washington. It won’t. Don’t misunderstand me: as the residents of the Midwestern drought zone and the Jersey shore now know all too well, change is coming, like it or not. If, however, you want this country to be something other than its instigator and its victim, if you want the U.S. to engage a world of danger (and also of opportunity), you’d better call yourself and your friends and neighbors to the colors. Don’t wait for a Washington focused on its own well-being in 2014 or 2016. Mobilize yourself. It’s time to occupy this country before it’s blown away in a storm.

Read The Full Post

Confessions of a Former Republican

September 26th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America

A truly must-read piece, particularly for my dear brethren who may identify themselves as Republicans, or have a deeper affinity for the ideals upon which that party ostensibly represents.

This story resonates rather deeply with me, as I came from a similar enough background as the writer, and was imbued with the same ideological sympathies and beliefs. As I grew older, I was fortunate enought to be blessed with enough capacity for a certain amount of openess and interest to the world, and the opportunity to explore and engage with it more fully. This helped prevent those initial ideas and inclinations (and indoctrinations) from congealing into a type of ideological rigidity, one which would have inevitably (and to a certain extent did) restrict my own awarenessess of how and why the world works the way it does. I am today much, much more interested and concerned about the effects that actions and beliefs have on real people in the real world. This is regardless of how disdainfully dismissive people like Karl Rove and his GOP followers are of trying to understand and operate in that “reality-based community”.

I used to be a serious Republican, moderate and business-oriented, who planned for a public-service career in Republican politics. But I am a Republican no longer.


Was it to protect our Republican version of “individual responsibility”? That notion is fundamental to the liberal Republican worldview. “Bootstrapping” and “equality of opportunity, not outcomes” make perfect sense if you assume, as I did, that people who hadn’t risen into my world simply hadn’t worked hard enough, or wanted it badly enough, or had simply failed. But I had assumed that bootstrapping required about as much as it took to get yourself promoted from junior varsity to varsity. It turns out that it’s more like pulling yourself up from tee-ball to the World Series. Sure, some people do it, but they’re the exceptions, the outliers, the Olympians.

The enormity of the advantages I had always enjoyed started to truly sink in. Everyone begins life thinking that his or her normal is the normal. For the first time, I found myself paying attention to broken eggs rather than making omelets. Up until then, I hadn’t really seen most Americans as living, breathing, thinking, feeling, hoping, loving, dreaming, hurting people. My values shifted — from an individualistic celebration of success (that involved dividing the world into the morally deserving and the undeserving) to an interest in people as people.

In order to learn more — and to secure my membership in what Karl Rove sneeringly called the “reality-based community” — I joined a social science research institute. There I was slowly disabused of layer after layer of myth and received wisdom, and it hurt. Perhaps nothing hurt more than to see just how far my patriotic, Republican conception of U.S. martial power — what it’s for, how it’s used — diverged from the reality of our wars.


An old saw has it that no one profits from talking about politics or religion. I think I finally understand what it means. We see different realities, different worlds. If you and I take in different slices of reality, chances are that we aren‚t talking about the same things. I think this explains much of modern American political dialogue.

My old Republican worldview was flawed because it was based upon a small and particularly rosy sliver of reality. To preserve that worldview, I had to believe that people had morally earned their “just” desserts, and I had to ignore those whining liberals who tried to point out that the world didn‚t actually work that way. I think this shows why Republicans put so much effort into “creat[ing] our own reality,” into fostering distrust of liberals, experts, scientists, and academics, and why they won’t let a campaign “be dictated by fact-checkers” (as a Romney pollster put it). It explains why study after study shows — examples here, here, and here — that avid consumers of Republican-oriented media are more poorly informed than people who use other news sources or don‚t bother to follow the news at all.”


Waking up to a fuller spectrum of reality has proved long and painful. I had to question all my assumptions, unlearn so much of what I had learned. I came to understand why we Republicans thought people on the Left always seemed to be screeching angrily (because we refused to open our eyes to the damage we caused or blamed the victims) and why they never seemed to have any solutions to offer (because those weren’t mentioned in the media we read or watched).

Read the complete, and rather profound confessional from a recovering Republican, Jeremiah Goulka, Here.

Closer Than You Think: Top 15 Things Romney and Obama Agree On

September 10th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America

Coke or Pepsi?

…The shallow talking heads who cover the 2012 presidential campaign on corporate media have noticed out loud the remarkable absence of disagreement between Republican and Democratic candidates on many matters. They usually mention what the establishment likes to call “foreign policy.” But the list of things Republicans and Democrat presidential candidates agree on, from coddling Wall Street speculators, protecting mortgage fraudsters and corporate wrongdoers to preventing Medicare For All to so-called “foreign policy,” “free trade,” “the deficit” “clean coal and safe nuclear power” and “entitlement reform,” is clearly longer and more important than the few points of mostly race and style, upon which they disagree.


The rabbit hole goes still deeper. We didn’t have to stop at these fifteen points of Democrat-Republican agreement, but you get the idea. Just as in Frederick Douglass’s day, the more Democrats and Republicans agree, the worse it is for the rest of us.

Isn’t freedom of choice wonderful?

Read The Full Report

And this is one of the better arguments I’ve read yet for avoiding the two-party, “lesser of two evils” trap in the election. It only touches on a couple of major issues, but there are many more which can be weighed into this context, as well.

The Lesser of Two Evils = Vote Third Party

Congressman Darrell Issa Goes After The Greatest Generation

August 30th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America

My friend, writer and scholar Harvey Kaye, author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America (one of the best books written on Paine), calls out one of America’s more reactionary political figures, congressman Darrell Issa, for his comments regarding the moocher generation that sold America down the river while in the process of coming together to win World War II .

As Issa commented…

“The Greatest Generation created many of what the private sector would call Ponzi schemes. They created Social Security, they created Medicare on their watch, [they] created Medicaid … All of that without resources or funding.” Indeed, he continued, “A generation that was doing many things right — coming out of World War II — also planted the seeds for all the problems we have today.”

Harvey had some remarks about that.

You can just imagine the reaction of his Republican colleagues. They surely can’t defend him on it. Ever since Reagan spoke at Normandy, France on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings in June 1984, they have been trying their best to take advantage of Americans’ phenomenal admiration and affection for the World War II veterans — apparently hoping to wrap themselves in the “flags of our fathers,” not to mention praying that Americans do not remember that their party opposed America’s entry into the Second World War.


In his defense, the congressman did refer to Social Security, and the generation’s later Medicare and Medicaid initiatives, as “Ponzi schemes.” Still, one can practically hear the Tea Party’s admonitions: “Darrell, what are you doing? You are putting our whole historical project at risk. Indict FDR, not our parents and grandparents! Hey, don’t forget, loose lips sink ships! Talk like that and the next thing you know Americans might start remembering what made the Greatest Generation and its greatest leader great…”

They might start remembering how a generation subjected big business to public account and regulation, empowered government to address the needs of working people, organized labor unions, fought for their rights, enlarged the ‘We’ in ‘We the People,’ established a social security system, expanded the nation’s public infrastructure, improved the environment, and imbued themselves with fresh democratic convictions, hopes, and aspirations — all of which gave them the courage, confidence, and wherewithal to fight and win a global war against fascism and imperialism…

They might start remembering how a president and people saved the nation from economic ruin and political oblivion and turned it into the strongest and most prosperous country on earth by making it freer, more equal, and more democratic than ever before in the process.

Hell, Darrell, before you know it Americans might start remembering how progressive their parents and grandparents were and want to start emulating them!

Harvey is currently working on a new book about FDR and the Four Freedoms. By the way, I had no idea that these were imprinted on the World War II Victory Medal, which was awarded to all the servicemen and women who served in the armed forces during the Second World War. They knew what they were fighting for, and it wasn’t the kind of world Darrell Issa wants us all to live in. A fact revealed by Issa’s recent comments.

Read The Complete Article by Harvey Kaye Here

A Conversation with Glenn Greenwald

February 29th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America, Video

There is no one in today’s national discourse who has more direct, to-the-point insights to offer for making sense of the current American political situation, how it got the way it did, and what, if anything, can be done about it, than Glenn Greenwald does.

Greenwald lays it out in uncompromisingly clear, concise language which can be understood by practically anyone. Of particular note is Greenwald’s take on the role of journalists and the state of journalism today. Greenwald is also a fan of Orwell’s work on propaganda and the debasement of language, and how destructive that is to critical thinking.

Why Greenwald is not on the Sunday morning talk shows becomes pretty self-evident in this interview.

Stop The Presses! Fox Host Tells The Truth

February 15th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America, Video

Wow. Judge Napolitano goes way off the corporate script here. He calls out the fraudulent character of American politics today, and even challenges the mythos of Saint Ronnie Reagan. Too bad his show was canned by the Republican spinmeisters that run the network. We need more of this in the public discourse for sure. Especially his spot on critique of the criminal farce of our so-called “war on drugs,” and the self-serving hacks that pose as political statesmen in this country, who use government simply as a tool of personal enrichment.

Now, I personally don’t buy the “elect Ron Paul” line, as if its changing people and not processes that is going to be the key to solving the major problematic conditions in our country today. But I do respect Napolitano for not really trying to sell you on too many answers at all. Rather, he did the most dangerous thing of all - he posed questions. I’ve long asserted that power is more afraid not of alternative propositions to that managing that power, but simply to questions which it cannot effectively answer in order to legitimize its wielding of that power. Most Americans know the answers to these questions posed by Napolitano, which is exactly why they are not allowed to be asked, and why he’s been fired for doing it.

The illusion of choice. Style masquerading as substance. Distinctions without differences. This rant is chock full of some much needed clarity in our national political discussions.

Pass it on…

US Elections: No Matter Who You Vote For, Money Always Wins

February 9th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America

Hard to describe it much better than Gary Younge does Here

“Money in American politics was already an elephant in the room. Now the supreme court has given it a laxative, taken away the shovel, and asked us to ignore both the sight and the stench.”

The trend towards oligarchy in the polity is already clear. There are 250 millionaires in Congress. As a whole, the polity’s median net worth is $891,506, nine times the typical US household. Around 11% are in the nation’s top 1%, including 34 Republicans and 23 Democrats. And that’s before you get to Romney, whose personal wealth is double that of the last eight presidents combined. All of this would be problematic at the best of times, but in a period of rising inequality it is obscene.

The issue here is not class envy, hating rich people because they are rich, but class interests - cementing the advantages of the privileged over the rest. The problem is not personal, it’s systemic.


Downplaying money’s central role at this point merely buys into the illusion of participatory democracy, where ideas, character and strategy are paramount, while others are actually buying the candidates and access to power. The result is a charade. Fig leaf, G-string - name the scanty underwear of your choice. The emperor is butt naked. Whoever you vote for, the money gets in.

Read The Full Article

Bill Moyers on Occupy Wall Street

January 16th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America, Video

Good to see Bill Moyers back on the media scene. This is an insightful report on the wide variety of people who have involved themselves with the Occupy movement, and why they support it. I definitely recommend it for people who keep asking what this movement is supposed to be about, or for those that continue to assert that somehow people are ‘confused’ as to why they are protesting, or that they don’t have a ‘coherent point’ to make. Plus, it has the added bonus of featuring Bill Black, author of The Best Way To Rob a Bank Is To Own One . Black is one of the most articulate and knowledgeable voices out there regarding the criminality of today’s nexus between Wall Street and Washington.

In Response To Criticism of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

January 12th, 2012 by Andy in Politics In America

I was recently introduced to this rather patronizingly dismissive debunking of the Occupy Wall Street movement by media commentator/columnist Bill Whittle. He claims to have the “solution” to the OWS movement, for which all he needs is “three and a half days” of each protestor’s time.

Now, this date’s from the fall, and so much has transpired since then, one has to wonder if Mr. Whittle is still holding onto these original, rather limited perspectives. Whittle’s assumptions, which he so smugly delivers here, are misdirected to say the least, if warranted at all.

The fact that he defines this ever-growing body of protest as a bunch of “kids” who are simply part of the “self-esteem” generation, is demonstrably ill-informed (to say nothing of patronizing). Perhaps by now he has come to realize that the movement is made up of millions of people from just about every demographic of society, including war veterans, retirees, professionals, business owners, former police captains, airline pilots, etc.. on and on. The sense of entitlement Whittle begrudges in his screed, may be more accurately and effectively directed towards those who feel they can wield power with impunity, and whom the Occupation movement is challenging. People here are not protesting to get things free and easy. They are protesting the fact that the ability to achieve much of anything in the economic or civic sphere in this country is becoming increasingly impossible due to a system that is un-ignorably increasingly rigged and corrupt.

Plus, it does seem a bit strange for Whittle to proclaim that the movement is nothing but a bunch of kids who have lived soft and spoiled lives. He directly implies that they don’t know how to work for anything, that they just like cheap, modern conveniences, and are throwing a temper tantrum to have those things without having to earn them. However, how is it that these supposedly spoiled “kids” are expressing that desire for selfish comfort, thus displaying their supposedly soft, lazy, sacrifice-adverse character, by consciously living in difficult, improvised, and often physically uncomfortable conditions, eschewing most of those same spoiling comforts they are said to be whining for. This belies Whittle’s suggested solution for these “kids,” where he claims they should have to deal with the “reality” of living primeval lifestyles in order to better appreciate all the wonderful things that corporations are said to provide, while in actuality many of those manning the occupation camps are living lives much more spartan and voluntarily self-sacrificing in their creature comforts than most Americans (outside of the military). And on top of it all, many of them having the shit kicked out of them by hyper-militarized police forces, some of whom have clearly acted outside the realm of any law or code of decency. Not exactly what a self-absorbed, spoiled, rich, entitled kid normally does.

As for the argument that people are calling for an end to corporations, or implying that the message is “corporations are the evil of the world,” misinterprets and/or misunderstands the fundamental premise of the Occupy movement, and the nature and purpose of dissent amongst many Americans today. This is a point we at USTV Media have addressed before repeatedly. For those who are following the events and the discourses among people involved with this movement, this accusation is a corrosive distortion, one which is a dramatic oversimplification of the moral argument being forwarded. A distortion which I also suspect is often on purpose, at least on the part of certain factions who have a vested interest in discrediting the movement.

This brings to mind some of the critiques I’ve heard regarding those who support the occupation movement as being “hypocrites,” because many may claim an admiration for someone like Steve Jobs, yet are supposed to be “against corporations,” and “against the rich.” The OWS movement has nothing to do with people being against gaining wealth, becoming rich, doing well, being a successful entrepreneur, etc… It’s a protest against people getting rich and powerful through cheating and criminality, and succeeding through rigging the game, through corrupting the political and economic process in order to favor the few at the expense of the many. It is a political protest movement against a system becoming ever more inherently corrupted and illegitimate.

The claim being made by Occupy isn’t that “all corporations are bad,” which is a patently ridiculous cartoon characterization of not only the problem, but the fundamental point of the Occupation movement. The issue is injustice and corruption, and the inherent criminality which has now become ascendent in our system. It is the fact that our political system no longer even pretends to adhere to equal rights and equal justice under the law. Others have elaborated on this much more thoroughly and much more lucidly than I can here, particularly Glenn Greenwald, who goes into this in seering detail with his new book With Liberty and Justice for Some. Then there is Matt Taibbi’s reporting on the criminality of Wall Street, and how large financial corporations have become “too big to jail.”

The fact is that the corporate structure has metastasized into the primary medium for certain interests to wield inordinate and civically corrosive influence over government decision making today, turing the government into a tool to confer privilege on insiders. It has become the main instrument for placing the decision-making power of the nation into the hands of the few over the will of the many. And not in a “republican” way, but in a authoritarian, oligarchic way.

It is helpful to remember that the original American Revolutionaries were not against commerce, providing goods and services, etc… Hardly! What they were against was the use of the chartered corporation as a tool of the monarchy to suppress and even crush economic (and eventually political) competition against its reign of power, and against the protestations of its usurping the wealth of the inhabitants of the colonies for the benefit of the few who made up the elite class of royal privilege. The rebellion (including that of the Boston Tea Party, if one will recall), was an act of vandalism which destroyed the “private property” of a what was in some respects the Wal-Mart of their day; The East India Company, which was a corporation chartered by the crown, and used as a tool of imperial expropriation. It was because of such abuses by it and other similar chartered corporations of the Crown, that the original American government even debated whether to outright ban the existence of corporations within constitutional law. This was because of the abuse they had experienced under the monarchy, which had wielded them as an instrument of such oppression. I recommend Ted Nace’s excellent tract Gangs of America, if one is interested in the role of the corporation in American history.

Again, does this mean that the people involved with Occupy are against commerce, entrepreneurship, markets, etc… of course not. Does it mean that corporations should be “banned”? Are people calling for that? Whittle’s underlying assertion that modern life is somehow made possible only by the corporate state is way off the mark. He uses “cheap electricity” as an example to make a point, but forgets to mention that electricity used to be cheaper, at least for the people of California, back when the public utility ran it, and before corporations like Enron got into the game, exploiting it for the private gain of the few at the expense of the many. Again, we have the conflation of a protest against domination of government by the few for the benefit of the few, with somehow being a rant against entrepreneurial economic activity. Any actual critiques I’m familiar with from people who support the OWS movement about the role of corporations within society are no less radical than those first posited by the Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, and others of their time. Conflating the protestations against corrupt and unjust power, as somehow being a rant against invention, provisions of goods in a modern, mass technological society, provision of electricity and the like, simply misses the point entirely.

- Andy Valeri, USTV Media

Postscript: Whittle says we should be grateful and thankful for Monsanto and Shell. Really? His merging of the interests of a company like Monsanto with that of the independent, hard working, self-reliant American farmer, a vision of which he conjures up in his presentation, in order to establish some kind of emotional bond with the point he’s trying to drive home, is simply sick. Clearly, Mr. Whittle hasn’t bothered to talk with many, if any, of those American farmers he wants you to thank, has he? Monsanto’s record in destroying the livelihoods of countless independent American farmers (and millions others around the world, particularly in India), is simply criminal. Perhaps Mr. Whittle should go to Nigeria and ask some of the people there how grateful they should be for Shell, considering the devastating political and environment havoc that their presence there has caused so many in that nation. Or perhaps he can go to Alaska and find out how thankful the fisherman there are for Exxon. I really do encourage people do some research into the full scope of Monsanto’s activities. “Grateful” or “thankful” are not the first words that come to mind in regards to what a warranted response to their activities should be. A couple of good places to start might be with the documentary film The World According To Monsanto, or the excellent Vanity Fair expose’ on Monsanto, Harvest of Fear. And of course, Monsanto is the leader in the whole GMO endeavor (or ‘Frankenfoods,’ as the Europeans call it, having wisely banned them), with the corporation paying no head to the Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods. And on top of all this, there are recent reports out of WikiLeaks exposing More Evidence of Monsanto’s Bullying and Influence-Buying. This behavior is unfortunately par for the course for this corporation.

And regarding some of this nation’s original history, particularly in regards to the role of the corporation, This piece touches on the topic of the original American corporation, and how the Founders first approached the issue. Short, but good for an introductory perspective.

It’s also interesting to speculate as to what Thomas Jefferson may have thought about the impetus of the Occupy movement. A few thoughts of his may give us a clue…

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”   

“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”  

“Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

“A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the highest virtues of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.”

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

I dare say he likely would have had some words of approval for the general thrust of the OWS effort.

Is The Occupy Wall Street Movement ‘Anti-Business’?

November 25th, 2011 by Andy in Politics In America

“These men combine to bring about as much financial stress as possible, in order to discredit the policy of government and thereby secure a reversal of that policy, so they may enjoy unmolested the fruits of their own evil doings. I regard this contest as one that will determine who shall rule this free country-the people through their chosen representatives, or a few ruthless and domineering men whose wealth makes them peculiarly formidable because they hide behind the breastworks of corporate organization.”
- Teddy Roosevelt

I recently received correspondence from a reader in response to some of USTV Media’s postings regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement, accusing OWS of being anti-business, with the target of its ire being misdirected away from “the politicians” where it is claimed it belongs.

“But seriously, i’m a business owner and I can hardly stand to hear about the corporations taking everything over and being greedy. I highly recommend that you put your anger where it belongs–with the politicians. They write the rules and the laws and corps wouldn’t get away with anything without them. Corporations and banks are in business to make a profit, you can’t be pissed at them for that.”

I reference this note because I think it highlights what comprises a fair amount of the criticism surrounding the OWS movement. It also brings to light the nature of the disinformation about the movement which is currently infiltrating the national discourse. This kind of criticism makes some bold assumptions about what those supporting OWS understand or don’t understand about the true nature of the conditions which are currently ailing our country, politically and economically. I find that a number of people who make these assertions have rarely ever talked with people who are actually participating or supporting the movement. Nor have they taken much time to read from the multitude of statements from the people involved, or read any one of hundreds upon hundreds of articles, interviews, analysis, etc… of what this movement is about and what is animating the purpose of its efforts?

The statement that protesters don’t seem to know “why” they are protesting is a favorite talking point from the establishment media mouthpieces, particularly those who work for corporate television. The protestors know why they are there (the fact that “Wall Street” is in their name should serve as a helpful hint). However, those who retain ownership over most of the media in this country have no interest in seeing the mass majority of citizens hear those critiques too clearly, as those audiences might start agreeing with those critiques, and thus join the chorus in demanding a little more (a lot more, actually) accountability in the workings of our system of governance towards the well-being of the great majority of “we the people,” for whose interests it is ostensibly dedicated to serving.

As for the letter writer’s points which they highlighted in their discourse to me about “businesses already paying taxes,” well, most do, yes. Unless that is, you are business big enough and/or influential enough to purchase the lawmaking (or law enforcing) apparatus enabling your enterprise to avoid that act of citizenship responsibility (or yet still, to receive generous subsidies from the public till).

The USTV Media website has literally thousands of articles and postings from over the years on topics which touch on this and related issues, which we welcome people to peruse through for further insight and background on why we have the perspectives that we do on this issue. This excellent piece by Matt Taibbi, does a really good job in elaborating on the whole meme of OWS being “anti-business”, and the accusations that the movement is inherently anti-success, anti-wealth, which is slathered like bad propaganda throughout the corporate media.

Focusing in on this point, Taibbi states:

And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that’s just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning, they’re cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

In this country, we cheer for people who hit their own home runs, not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.

That’s why it’s so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn’t disappointment at having lost. It’s anger because those other guys didn’t really win. And people now want the score overturned.

All weekend I was thinking about this “jealousy” question, and I just kept coming back to all the different ways the game is rigged. People aren’t jealous and they don?t want privileges. They just want a level playing field, and they want Wall Street to give up its cheat codes, things like: (Go Here for more).

As Taibbi would state, there is a clear distinction between supporting business and condoning criminal fraud. (Al Capone was a “businessman”, too, by the way). There is also simply no comparison whatsoever between relating what the average, American businessman and investor is familiar with in regards to what their daily experience of what business is, to what these behemoth corporations which are larger than a majority of nation states are engaged in. Half of the 100 largest economies in the world are nation states, but corporations, and some of them are larger than all but the top 10 biggest countries on earth.

The evidence as to to the extent of our political and economic corruption by certain cliques of business interests is simply incontrovertible and overwhelming. Critics, such as the letter writer, can choose to dismiss such critiques as “crap,” but I would assert that doing so is much more an act of ideology than empirically-reasoned analysis.

The letter writers says that we should address our anger towards “where it belongs–with the politicians.” But what about those whom these politicians are meaningfully responsive to, the one’s whose interests they are preeminently representing? Hint: it’s not you or I. There is a reason why the prevailing lingo on Wall Street refers to Goldman Sachs as “Government Sachs”; it is because of the literally hundreds of that firm’s employees and managers who have served in government, and then moving back and forth between those government positions and the private firm that they were supposedly regulating while in government. All the while maneuvering the law and the full weight of the coercive power of the state to serve their individual business interests. This is what a large percentage of these major corporations have been doing with dramatically increasing success over the past decades.

The OWS protests understand this growing plutocratic manipulation of the political process by these narrow interests. The basic thrust of their arguments are very much in accordance with the foundational principle which animated the original American Revolution. That revolution was, if about anything, was a rebellion against the idea that government was a tool to confer privilege on insiders.

Gerald Celente sums all of this up very well in this short interview. He nails it, simply and straightforwardly. He is especially pointed in his criticism of the crushing regulations against average businesses, which are often actions designed to favor the major corporations that use government as their tool for those special privileges for themselves.

In the end, these current protestations spreading the land are about injustice and inequality of access to the law. As Alan Grayson

“Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago, and nobody’s been held responsible for that. Not a single person has been indicted or convicted, for destroying twenty percent of our national net worth, accumulated over two centuries. They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country, and that one party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street, and the other party caters to them as well. That’s the truth of the matter.”

And if anyone thinks any of this is no longer happening, or that these banks are not simply huge corporate welfare queens whose idea of garnering profit isn’t simply to loot the American treasury to cover their actions, and failed schemes, they need to read this, again from Matt Taibbi, who reports that…

Bank of America is shifting a huge collection of Merrill Lynch derivatives contracts onto its own federally-insured balance sheet. This move of risky instruments off the uninsured Merrill balance sheet onto the commercial bank’s balance sheet was done to prevent Bank of America’s creditors from attacking the firm with collateral calls and other sorties. Essentially, an irresponsible debtor, B of A, is keeping a loan shark from breaking his legs by getting his rich parents to co-sign his loan. The parents in this metaphor would be the FDIC.

The FDIC naturally is not pleased with this development, but the Fed, the supreme banking regulator, is apparently encouraging this move. Here’s how Bloomberg characterized this move:

In short, the Fed’s priorities seem to lie with protecting the bank-holding company from losses at Merrill, even if that means greater risks for the FDIC’s insurance fund.

Again and again, the Fed proves it has no appetite for allowing Wall Street to eat its own pain, and continually encourages banks to stick the government with its losses and bad assets. This move will allow Bank of America to keep a Band-Aid over its disastrous financial situation far longer than it would be able to in a genuinely free market. People should be outraged at this development.

Yes, you can blame the politicians for this, but as Celente points out, who are these politicians, and where do they come from? Who are they actually serving? Half of Congress are millionaires, and their “service” within that body almost invariably nets them even more lucrative opportunities with powerful financial players after their stints in legislation-making, often with the same firms they were ostensibly overseeing in a regulatory role.

The excellent Acadamy Award-winning film Inside Job details much of this in much more insightful, often enraging detail. It highlights why there is so much legitimate anger at banking institutions for their special type of “profit making” which they so cavalierly engage in with impunity.

Perhaps the best single piece yet written on this whole issue comes from Glenn Greenwald, with his “Immunity and Impunity in Elite America”.

Thom Hartmann provides some good overview on this, as well, particularly in regards to the history behind it, with this excerpt from his book Unequal Wealth.

“In the absence of the controls recommended by the Founders and early state regulation, corporations have continued to grow in size and power without limit. But they haven’t done it just by creating new wealth in the economy. 

Much of it, instead, has been accomplished by increasingly consolidating existing wealth, moving it out of the hands of the middle class and into the hands of the top few percent of Americans economically. Of course, some new wealth has been generated, but nowhere near enough to explain the observable facts.”

Of course, there is, unfortunately, a seemingly limitless supply of similar reports, history, studies, evidence, etc… detailing the ongoing trends of how more and more continues to find itself into the hands of fewer and fewer. And how this trend is not the natural result of success in “the market,” but rather the result of concerted and designed policy.

If people choose to consider these efforts to counter this looting of America as misguided, then so be it. But to challenge them as illegitimate is another matter entirely, and one that should be challenged by open, empirically-informed debate as much as can be managed in what is left of an arena of democratic discourse in this country.

“When wealth and splendor, instead of fascinating the multitude, excite emotions of disgust; when, instead of drawing forth admiration, it is beheld as an insult upon wretchedness; when the ostentatious appearance it makes serves to call the right of it in question, the case of property becomes critical, and it is only in a system of justice that the possessor can contemplate security.”
- Thomas Paine; The Rights of Man

- Andy Valeri, USTV Media

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