Tag: Amy Goodman
Democracy Now recently hosted a discussion concerning the accomplishments and aims of the Occupy movement. Here are a few excerpts:
[The movement has] already had some important victories. It has alleviated despair in this country. It has—it has killed apathy. It has changed the conversation in a profound way. Seven, eight weeks ago, all we were listening to was about the debt ceiling and the deficit crisis, and [inaudible] nobody’s talking about that distraction any longer. They’re talking about the real issues now that are facing the majority of Americans: jobs, the fact that millions of homes are underwater, that 50 million people don’t have health insurance, we have 49 million living in poverty now, we have 40 million adults who cannot read and write above a fourth grade level, that are functional illiterates. That’s the nation that corporate America and the banks and Wall Street have created. And when somebody asked me the other day, “Well, who organized this? Who organized this movement?” I said, “Well, actually, Goldman Sachs organized it. Citibank organized it. BP organized it. They did—they did the organization.”
And I think that, you know, it’s—if you want to trace the current roots to this, somebody—I was being interviewed the other day. “Well, you know, at the end of your last movie, you were wrapping the crime scene tape around the Stock Exchange, and you called for this uprising.” I said, “No. Yes, I did, but, you know, it’s not that. It’s not a magazine from Vancouver. It’s not—if you want to—if you really want to pin it down to somebody, I would thank Bradley Manning.” And here’s why. A young man with a fruit stand in Tunis became very upset because he couldn’t figure out why he was just getting screwed and why he couldn’t make it. And he read a story, put out by WikiLeaks, that exposed how corrupt his government was. And he just couldn’t take it anymore, and he set himself on fire. That event, by giving his life to this, created the Arab Spring movement that went across the Middle East and then boomeranged back here to what has been going on in the fall here in North America. But if one courageous soldier hadn’t—allegedly—done what he had done, if he hadn’t done this, it—who knows? But it was already boiling just beneath the surface, and it just needed somebody to get it going.
And thank God for you and your friends, who went down there on that first day, who endured the ridicule first, then the attacks, and then the attempts to co-opt. But they have held strong. And it’s not now—it’s not just the people who can camp out overnight. It’s 72 percent of the American public who say they want taxes raised on the rich. That’s never happened before in this country. It’s people taking their money out of Chase and Citibank and Wells Fargo and putting it in their credit unions. And it’s taken so many forms that—and it can’t be stopped. And it’s so great to watch Fox News and the others try to wrap their heads around it, because they can’t get their brain quite—like it can’t grab onto it, which is great. That’s what’s great. So, I’m a big supporter of it staying leaderless, with a lack of a certain amount of organization, that it remain in its free and open state. And thank God for all the young people who are willing to not take it anymore. And I’ve just been inspired by it, and I’m glad that I got to live to see what I believe, or hope, will be the beginning of the end of a very evil system that is unfair, and it’s unjust, and it’s not democratic. So, thank you.
Patrick Bruner (Occupy Protester)
And, you know, we—obviously this has to do with a break in the way that we view the world. Eighty-five percent of the class of 2011 move back in with their parents. That’s something that, you know, has never happened before. We have youth who are aware that their future has been stolen, because that’s true. That’s true. And we have everyone else who’s watching that and who sees that the youth’s future has been stolen and believes that their future has been stolen, as well. You know, the Tea Party comes from the same mindset as we do, you know, although we have many differences. You know, those are people who had legitimate grievances against this system that they had tried to work for their entire lives, and then it ended up screwing them. And, you know, that’s what’s going on with my generation. We have kids who have massive amounts of student debt, and they’re, you know, going to carry that for the rest of their lives, possibly. . . it’s a way to at least start a discussion, a real discussion, about all of the things that ail us on a daily basis, the things that are never really discussed. Like you said, before this, you know, the biggest discussion in American politics was whether or not to raise the debt ceiling for the 103rd time. You know, now we don’t talk about things like that. Now we’re starting to talk about wealth inequality. We’re starting to talk about greed.
The kinds of action that we want from the state can systematically devolve power to the community level and decentralize it. I mean, that’s what’s exciting about these—all of these examples, whether it’s economic localization, community-based renewable energy, co-operatives, what they share in common is that they decentralize and devolve power, and, I mean, by their very nature. I mean, renewable energy, if you compare it with fossil fuels, you know, it’s everywhere. That’s the point. That’s why it is less profitable, because anybody can put a solar panel on their roof and have energy. And that’s why there’s such momentum against it from corporate America, because they want huge, centralized solutions, because they’re way more profitable, which isn’t to say that you can’t make a profit. You just can’t make a stupid profit. You just can’t—and so, I think, you know, if we look at what there’s so much outrage over, it is that concentration of power, that vertical power. And so, yeah, I do think the solutions have to disperse power, but that we won’t get there without very strong intervention, national, international, local.
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Amy Goodman recently interviewed Tariq Ali, who has a new book out called The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad. At the top of her interview, Goodman commented, “Some might say that’s a little harsh.” The following are Tariq Ali’s opening responses:
I know some of his supporters might feel it’s a little harsh, but I think that we’ve had two years of him now, Amy, and the contours of this administration are now visible. And essentially, it is a conservative administration which has changed the mood music. So the talk is better. The images of the administration are better, the reasonable looks. But in terms of what they do—in foreign policy, we’ve seen a continuation of the Bush-Cheney policies, and worse, in AfPak, as they call it, and at home, we’ve seen a total capitulation to the lobbyists, to the corporations. The fact that the healthcare bill was actually drafted by someone who used to be an insurance lobbyist says it all.
So, it’s essentially now a PR operation to get him reelected. But I don’t think people are that dumb. I’ve been speaking to some of his, you know, partisan supporters, and they’re disappointed. So the big problem for Obama is that if you do nothing and promise that you would bring about some changes, you will not have people coming out to vote for you again. And building up the tea party into this great bogey isn’t going to work. It’s your own supporters you have to convince to come out and vote for you, as they did before. I can’t see that happening. . . .
it’s interesting that they are incapable of dealing with the right. With the right, it’s conciliation. That’s what they feel they have to appeal to. With critics from the left, they tend to be very harsh, as if they are saying to us, “You don’t know how lucky you are.” But why are we lucky? I mean, you know, we judge people not by how they look or what they say, but by what they do. And what Obama has been doing is, you know, to put it mildly, extremely disappointing at home, and abroad it’s murderous. On Palestine, on Iran, no changes at all. So, one has to spell this out, because if they don’t realize that they’re doing this, they’re going to get more shocks. And Rahm Emanuel refers to people on the liberal left who are critical of Obama, and he uses a bad swear word and then says, “effing retards”—well, we’ll see who the retards are after the midterms, Amy. That’s all I can say.
If you’d like to hear some upbeat ideas and inspiration for weaning ourselves off of oil, watch this video of Amy Goodman’s round table featuring Sierra Club Exec Director Michael Brune and Rocky Mountain Institute Scientist Amory Lovins.
Whereas many people have harshly criticized Obama’s recent speech regarding the Gulf tragedy, Lovins sees a significant policy shift. He notes that President Obama is now seeking to end our addition to all fossil fuels, not just oil. Second, he heard a new approach to consensus building:
[H]e pointed out that this has cost—our dependence on fossil fuel has cost not only to our economy but also to our national security and our environment. And I think that starts a new conversation of a new kind in energy policy, because we’ve always supposed people had to want the same things we wanted in energy for the same reasons. So if you had different priorities than somebody else, you couldn’t agree on the outcome. What the President started to do here is to say, let’s focus on outcomes, not motives, and then we can build a strong consensus. Whether you care most about national security or environment or economy, we ought to do the same things about energy. And if we do the things we agree about, then the things we don’t agree about become superfluous.
Lovins mentioned several effective techniques for reducing our use of fossil fuels. For example, we can use “freebates,” whereby those who insist on purchasing less efficient products are hit with surcharges that directly flow to reducing the prices of more efficient products. France used this approach regarding automobiles two years ago and cut the sales of inefficient cars by 40%. Doing things like this will “align the incentives, which will change behavior.”
Lovins also stresses that more states need to use the energy utility model employed by California and Oregon, whereby the utilities are rewarded by cutting our use of fuel rather than by selling us more fuel. He further indicates that most of the electricity we use is completely wasted. He is a big fan of “net metering,” whereby those who produce more electricity than they use (e.g., by use of solar panels) can make money by running their meters backwards and selling that energy to their electric utility. A dramatic illustration of what we could look forward to comes at the 38 minute mark, where Lovins describes his own 4,000 square foot incredibly energy efficient home near Aspen.
Of course, many Americans will hate these ideas. They will see nothing by deprivation, and they’ll fail to see the immense benefits for making big changes in how we make and use energy. Bob Cesca senses this too, and suggests that this is why President Obama ended his speech by asking Americans to pray, rather than telling us to get ready to make changes in our lives.
The president wrapped up his address Tuesday night by asking Americans to pray for the victims — both human and environmental — of the BP oil spill. I thought it was a strange way to end his first Oval Office address during a national emergency insofar as praying makes the situation appear too big for conventional solutions. As though all that remains between us and a sea of oil is the Hail Mary. This morning it occurred to me that this was the only thing he could really ask Americans to do.Why? Simply stated, it doesn’t require any effort to silently invoke spirituality while stopped at a traffic signal . . .
What should Obama have done rather than invoking supernatural beings?
Instead of prayer, the president could have asked us all to make sacrifices towards the goal of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Maybe he should have asked for sacrifice. It probably wouldn’t have hurt. But it would have been mostly ignored. Americans simply don’t do “national sacrifice” anymore.
I’m concerned that Cesca is correct, but I still hold out hope. I suspect that the reason that so many American resist doing anything is because they don’t want to be doing something while others are doing nothing. They don’t want to be seen as suckers. Therefore, our aim should be to make it clear that we’re all going to do this together. We’re need to let everyone know that we’re all going to hold hands and jump in.
Amy Goodman dedicated an entire hour to discuss health care and the ongoing U.S. wars with Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich (video below). It was an intense and insightful discussion–truly worth watching. As you might imagine, much of the discussion focused on Kucinich’s willingness to vote for Obama’s version of health care. As Kucinich made clear, however, the fact that he is voting for this bill does not mean he supports it. The bill essentially disgusts him, but he believe that voting no would be even worse. Amy Goodman injects the topic that Kucinich is facing massive pressure by his own party to get in line. As I mentioned at the top, the discussion is intense.
At about 45 minute mark, the topic turned to foreign policy. Ralph Nader asks how we can possibly “get the American people angry” regarding the war and corruption in Afghanistan. At the 50-minute mark, Dennis Kucinich discusses the actual costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He warns that war has become ordinary and acceptable to Americans, despite the homicidal actions of private contractors, despite the unimaginable costs and despite the lack of any meaningful objectives.
Mr. Nader argued (at minute 54) that President Obama has stifled dissent at his White House, just like President George W. Bush.
President Obama is like President Bush in this regard: he doesn’t receive dissenting groups in the White House. He froze out the single-payer advocates, including his longtime friend, Dr. Quentin Young, in Chicago, Illinois. And he’s freezing out dissenters, dissenting groups from meeting with him in the White House. They can’t get a meeting with him. He’s surrounded by warmongers. He’s surrounded by the military-industrial complex. But he won’t meet, for example, Veterans for Peace. He won’t meet Iraq Veterans Against the War. He won’t meet the student groups and the religious groups and the business groups and others who opposed the Iraq war back in 2003. What is he afraid of here?
You know, we’re supposed to have a new wave with the Obama administration. Instead, we have the same old—the same old same old. And I think the whole idea—just let me make this—the whole idea that Obama is for things, but they’re not practical—he’s for single payer, he really doesn’t like war, but, but, but. But he goes along, and he goes along. We have to have the American people give the White House a measure of political courage here, because it’s not going to come from inside the White House.
Juan Gonzales asked Ralph Nader why we aren’t seeing more demonstrations against these wasteful wars by the American people:
[During] the 2004 election with Kerry and Bush, the antiwar movement, most of the groups, gave Kerry a pass and broke off their mass demonstrations. It broke the momentum. Momentum is very important in mass demonstrations. Second, there are fewer people in Congress that these—the antiwar people can cling to. That’s a demoralization effect on people. And third, it costs a lot of money to put these demonstrations on, and there aren’t many super-rich antiwar Americans, like George Soros and others, who are putting some money to get the buses and get the demonstrations all over the country. And finally, the Washington Post, New York Times, they do not give adequate coverage to antiwar demonstrations, compared to the coverage they’ve been giving to the tea parties. Just check the column inches in the Washington Post covering the tea parties, compared to blocking out pro-Gaza, pro-Palestinian demonstrations, for example, when the Israelis invaded Gaza, or the upcoming demonstrations against the war. All of this demoralizes people. And they say, “What are we doing this for?” So, unfortunately, the political leaders are not leading, and the President is not leading.
Lawyer Thomas Geoghegan, interviewed by Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow, gives an excellent review of the history of the filibuster. What’s the best way to get rid of the filibuster (which is no where to be seen in the Constitution)? According to Geoghegan, we should back to the old-fashioned filibuster (a la Jimmy Stewart) until it is mocked out of existence.
Amy Goodman recently interviewed climatologist James Hanson, who argued that the collapse of the climate talks in Copenhagen was good for the planet, because cap-and-trade-with-offsets are disastrous, in that they fail to reduce the use of fossil fuels. He proposes that we need to put a price on fossil fuel emissions and redistribute that to the population as a mechanism for discouraging the use of fossil fuels. Hanson characterized the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels, including the regrettable use of tar sands of Canada, as a moral issue because lives are at stake, as are entire low-lying countries:
Amy Goodman: So, how did you go from being the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies to getting arrested for these protests?
JAMES HANSEN: Well, these protests are what we call civil resistance, in the same way that Gandhi did. We’re trying to draw attention to the injustice, because this is really analogous. This is a moral issue, analogous to that faced by Lincoln with slavery or by Churchill with Nazism, because what we have here is a tremendous case of intergenerational injustice, because we are causing the problem, but our children and grandchildren are going to suffer the consequences. And our parents didn’t know that they were causing a problem for future generations, but we do. The science has become very clear. And we’re going to have to move to a clean energy future. And we could do that. And there would be many other advantages of doing it. Why don’t we do it? Because of the special interests and because of the role of money in Washington.
What is the problem with “cap and trade”?
[T]hey attempt to put a cap on different sources of carbon dioxide emissions. They say there’s a limit on how much a given industry in a country can emit. But the problem is that the emissions just go someplace else. That’s what happened after Kyoto, and that’s what would happen again, if—as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will be burned someplace.
Note: Amy Goodman and DemocracyNow have consistently delivered high quality news without corporate sponsorship. If you click on the above video interview with James Hanson, you will first see Amy Goodman’s short request for contributions to support DemocracyNow. I am urging you consider joining me in making at least a small contribution to support corporate-free news. If you haven’t before viewed the news at DemocracyNow, I invite you to try it; I know that you’ll be delighted to hear important information coming straight to you devoid of any corporate filters, meaningful and thoughtful reporting.
Eliot Spitzer discussed the economy of the United States with Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow. Has the economy recovered? No:
[W]e have a major crisis in this nation, and that crisis is jobs. That crisis is that we are seeing the elimination of the middle-class job foundation that permits most Americans to do better year after year after year. The reality is median family income has been stagnant for forty years, and the policies of what I call financialization, which is major banks trading assets back and forth, the Wall Street banks, such as Goldman, which is rightly a lightning rod right now for much of what’s going on, buying and selling, playing with tax dollars in proprietary trading—they make huge money, nothing is added to the economy, jobs are sent overseas. All of this going on simultaneously. That is what our economy has become. And Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner were the architects of this.
Spitzer also commented on AIG and credit default swaps:
AIG was, to a great extent—their financial products division—a Ponzi scheme supposedly guaranteeing hundreds of billions of dollars of CDS collateral, credit default swaps, with no collateral behind it. That is part of what brought us down. But that is the system that the Fed was overseeing. They specifically rejected the effort back in ’94, ’95 to regulate this swamp. The derivatives, that are a quintessential Wall Street creation, have some small utility at an economic level, but became an enormous revenue stream for banks, and they were unregulated. People made a fortune. We taxpayers hold the bag.
Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow interviewed human rights attorney Scott Horton regarding the Bush-era memos that purported to provide to the CIA a justification for U.S. torture of its prisoners. Horton provided substantial criticism of the memos and of one of the authors of the memos, Jay Bybee, who currently sits in a tenured position on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:
The clinical detail of the discussion of the torture techniques is just astonishing. You know, I think the bugs-in-the-box instance that you cited, which we really hadn’t heard anything, before the discussion of waterboarding. But just back up and put some perspective on this. These are techniques that federal prosecutors previously charged as crimes. Moreover, in prosecutions that occurred at the end of the World War II, American federal prosecutors sought the death penalty, sought capital punishment, for people who did these things. And now we see a man who is a federal judge sitting in San Francisco writing a memo saying “wink, nod, fine with me, just go right ahead and do it.” It’s just astonishing, and I think also astonishing that that individual in particular can sit as a federal judge today when the world knows that these memos have been crafted and, in fact, when he’s the subject of a pending criminal proceeding in Spain.
The entire interview worth your while.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), appearing on Amy Goodman’s DemocracyNow, discusses President Obama’s mistake in attempting to escalate the American military presence in Afghanistan. A leading advocate for a single-payer healthcare system and a physician, McDermott also discusses the “medical-Industrial complex,” which he considers to be bigger than the “military-industrial complex.”
Finally, McDermott discusses the danger that someday, in light of the collapses of many newspapers, there might not be meaningful investigative journalism sufficient to sustain our democracy.