Archive for October 16th, 2011

Quotes about engaging in a protest

| October 16, 2011 | Reply
Quotes about engaging in a protest

About a year ago, a DI reader named Mike Baker handed me his extensive collection of quotes and invited me to publish them. Today’s quotes from Mike are on the topic right and the duty to engage in a political protest:

“A Patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
Edward R. Abbey

“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”
Samuel Adams

“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in time of great moral crisis.”
Dante Alighieri, Italian poet (1265-1321)

“Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressures from below.:
Roger Nash Baldwin

So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we’ll be called a democracy.
Roger Nash Baldwin

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
Edmund Burke

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
Clarence Darrow

“No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.”
Barbara Ehrenreich

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violen trevolution inevitable.”
John F. Kennedy

“Think for yourself, question authority.”
Timothy Leary

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.”
Edward R. Murrow

“There is one tradition in America I am proud to inherit. It is our first freedom and the truest expression of our Americanism: the ability to dissent without fear. It is our right to utter the words, “I disagree.” We must feel at liberty to speak those words to our neighbors, our clergy, our educators, our news media, our lawmakers and, above all, to the one among us we elect President.”
The Nation (15 July 1991)

“First they arrested the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did nothing.
Then they came for the social democrats, but I was not a social democrat, so I did nothing.
Then they arrested the trade unionists, and I did nothing because I was not one.
Then they came for the Jews and the Catholics, but I was neither a Jew nor a Catholic and I did nothing.
At last they came and arrested me, and there was no one left to do anything about it.”
Rev. Martin Niemoller, nazi prison survivor

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
Plato

“Do not… regard the critics as questionable patriots. What were Washington and Jefferson and Adams but profound critics of the colonial status quo?”
Adlai Stevenson

“If… the machine of government… is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.”
Oscar Wilde

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Your Gmail account could be hacked

| October 16, 2011 | 1 Reply
Your Gmail account could be hacked

At The Atlantic, James Fallows has written an excellent and harrowing account of how your email program in the cloud be hacked and what you can do about it. The story is centers on a real-life experience of Fallows’ wife, who noticed one day that she couldn’t get into her Gmail account; by the time she got control of her account again, she noticed that all of her email was missing. After much additional effort she regained access to most of her email, but it wasn’t easy and this result is not guaranteed. She made the mistake of simply assuming that her data was safe with Google and that no one would hack her account.

Many people are out there trying to take over your email account, and they are successful too often. They have broken into email accounts in all of the cloud email companies (gmail, yahoo, hotmail . . . you name it). The problem is usually password hygiene.

Fallows offers some suggestions at the end of his detailed article (I highly recommend that you read the entire article, because his suggestions go well beyond the excerpts below):

[I]f you use Gmail, please use Google’s new “two-step verification” system. In practice this means that to log into your account from any place other than your own computer, you have to enter an additional code, from Google, shown on your mobile phone. On your own computer, you enter a code only once every 30 days. This is not an airtight solution, but it can thwart nearly all of the remote attacks that affect Gmail thousands of times a day. Even though the hacker in Lagos has your password, if he doesn’t have your cell phone, he can’t get in.

In case you’ve missed the point: if you use Gmail, use this system. Also, make sure the recovery information for your account—a backup e-mail address or cell phone where you can receive password-reset information—is current. Google uses these to verify that you are the real owner.

Next we have password selection, that seemingly impossible task. The science, psychology, and sociology of creating strong passwords is a surprisingly well-chronicled and fascinating field. OnThe Atlantic’s Web site, we will describe some of the main strategies and the reasoning behind them. Even security professionals recognize the contradiction: the stronger the password, the less likely you are to remember it. Thus the Post-it notes with passwords, on monitor screens or in desk drawers.

But there is a middle ground, of passwords strong enough to create problems for hackers and still simple enough to be manageable.

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Crony Capitalism defined by a libertarian

| October 16, 2011 | 5 Replies
Crony Capitalism defined by a libertarian

At the Post-Dispatch DJmic, a libertarian, defines “crony capitalism”:

In crony capitalism, government hands out special favors and protections to politically well-connected businesses. The TARP bailouts, Solyndra, and the military-industrial complex are all facets of crony capitalism.
Libertarians love free markets and hate crony capitalism.

“Unfortunately, hypocritical Republican politicians have taught a lot of Americans to think that ‘free markets’ means freedom for government and big business to engage in crony capitalism.

“That’s not what free markets are. A free market is where the government leaves businesses alone, does not attempt to pick winners and losers, does not stifle competition, does not hand out corporate welfare, and does not absolve businesses of liability for their actions. Most of our economy today does not resemble a free market at all.

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Occupy movements illustrate the choice: Meaningful government or merely the facade of government

| October 16, 2011 | 2 Replies
Occupy movements illustrate the choice: Meaningful government or merely the facade of government

Regarding most issues, I get suspicious when I hear people say that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. This adage doesn’t apply where the proposed solution doesn’t really address the alleged problem. In the case of the Occupy Wall Street Occupations, though, I believe that this adage does apply.

The main focus of the protests is that large amounts of money have corrupted our political process. Consider whether there anything of value to democratic government where the deliberative process excludes citizen input and, instead, is driven by the highest bidder.  As long as private money flows freely in our political system, there can’t be meaningful discussion and decision-making. Where money drives the process of making political decisions–where the real decision-making occurs outside of public view along with promises of money–the citizens are left with only the cheap baubles of democracy: flag waving, saying pledges and lighting fireworks.  It is for these reasons that those who fail to support this main concern of the Occupy protests are not for government for and by the People.  If one is not for meaningful citizen input regarding the political process, one is against meaningful democracy. I haven’t yet heard even the most right wing right winger assert that he/she is against democracy.

The problem with money in politics is mentioned so often that it sounds like a cliche, but money destroys government’s ability to respond to the needs of its non-monied constituents.  They are excluded from political deliberations.

But you keep hearing from politicians that money won’t corrupt them. It’s time for all of us to join with the Occupy protesters and respond to that claim by collectively shouting “Bullshit!” If I’m hungry and I’m considering eating either vegetables or a double cheeseburger and fries, the decision is hard enough without any money entering the process. I know, however, that if someone offered me $100 every time I ate the burger/fries, I’d start eating more burgers and fries. It would warp my judgment such that my decision would not be in tune with what I know to be the best decision. And when accused of letting money sway me, I would claim that the $100 had nothing to do with my decision-making.

That’s what’s going on in our Congress: money is driving decision-making and we are seeing our politicians making extraordinary numbers of terrible decisions, the crowning jewels of which are two extraordinarily unnecessary wars. Or is it the bailout of banks with no reform of the banking system? There are actually many other candidates. The power of money is so destructive to the deliberative process that even a highly idealistic candidate like Barack Obama has betrayed numerous promises he made during the campaign for no good reason.  The list of Obama’s failures is staggering: Ramping up Afghanistan, abandoning net neutrality, Wall Street non-reform, a health care plan that amounted to a bailout for the private insurers, continuation of the domestic spying programs of the Bush Administration, ramping up the “War on Drugs,” and reckless compromise with Republicans regarding the Bush era tax cuts, domestic spending cuts. Thoughtful people don’t simply give up well-considered positions on such important issues; rather, they sell out.  That is how I interpret Obama’s failures; he has become intoxicated by money.

It is my hope that the Occupy Protests keep their focus on getting money out of the political process. This should be a bi-partisan issue, as indicated by Dylan Ratigan:

The Occupy Wall Street movement as well as the Tea Party Movement should agree: our Federal government is bought and sold and rarely represents the people. In our quest to get money out of politics, we are not beginning at square one. There has been an anti-corruption movement against the modern financing system since the 1970s, and we have many allies in this struggle. It is Citizens United and the bailouts, twin representatives that make corruption so explicit, that have shown us we must act. And it is the foreclosure crisis that suggests that if we do not act, we will be acted upon. Such is how Constitutional moments happen. Now it is up to us, the people, to make this our moment, as our forebears have in their moments of crisis.

But, again, we need to keep the focus on the free flow of money in the political process. It is the reason that honest deliberation of major issues are now impossible in Congress. John Nichols of The Nation explains in an article titled “The 99 Percent Rise Up“:

The target is right. This has been a year of agitation, from Wisconsin to Ohio to Washington. It has seen some of the largest demonstrations in recent American history in defense of labor rights, public education, public services. But all those uprisings attacked symptoms of the disease. Occupy Wall Street named it. By aiming activism not at the government but at the warren of bankers, CEOs and hedge-fund managers to whom the government is beholden, Occupy Wall Street went to the heart of the matter. And that captured the imagination of Americans who knew Michael Moore was right when he finished his 2009 documentary Capitalism: A Love Story with an attempted citizen’s arrest of the bankers who not only avoided accountability after crashing the economy but profited from a taxpayer-funded bailout. Like the populists, the socialists and the best of the progressive reformers of a century ago, Occupy Wall Street has not gotten distracted by electoral politics; it has gone after the manipulator of both major parties—what the radicals of old referred to as “the money power.”

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Our Impossible Republic

| October 16, 2011 | 2 Replies
Our Impossible Republic

I’m Tim Hogan. I am a husband, a father of two, a small businessman and I am one of the 99%.

The day will come when our Republic will become an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few. When that day comes, we must rely upon the wisdom of the best elements in the country to readjust the laws of the nation.
– James Madison

Our Republic is at such an impossible time because the fewest have the wealth of our nation. The gap between the richest and poorest in America is at its greatest ever. The income of the top 1% of Americans has increased by nearly 300% since 1979 while wages and salaries of average Americans have barely, if at all, kept up with inflation over the same period. Americans suffer poverty at the highest rate ever. 46.3 million Americans have household incomes below the federal poverty line, with one in six children in America living in poverty, right now.

The percentage of wages as a percentage of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is at its lowest since 1947 when the government began keeping such statistics while corporate profits are at an all time high. Corporations have more than $2 trillion in cash reserves while unemployment is endemic and worker productivity is at all time highs.

The financial crisis of 2008 spawned efforts to stop the excesses of the banking and investment communities but, those valiant efforts have been to no avail as the laws and regulations which would prevent a re-occurrence of the financial crisis have been stymied and blocked by the financial industry’s stranglehold on the US House and Senate and threats of lawsuits.

Meanwhile the four largest financial institutions which took over $100 billion in bailout money from US tax payers have doubled and redoubled down on the risky derivatives which caused the financial collapse. Bank of America, Citicorp, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs as insured commercial banks now hold some 95% of risky derivatives as investments after they collectively received over $135 billion in federal bailout monies. Yes, the bailout monies were repaid with interest but, right now banks continue the very same risky activities which caused the 2008 financial meltdown in the first place.  And see here and here.

[More . . . ]

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