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Bill Moyers: "Welcome to the Plutocracy!"

Bill Moyers speech at Boston University on October 29, 2010, as a part of the Howard Zinn Lecture Series.

Bill Moyers, t r u t h o u t

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Bill Moyers (Photo: Martin Voelker)

I was honored when you asked me to join in celebrating Howard Zinn’s life and legacy. I was also surprised. I am a journalist, not a historian. The difference between a journalist and an historian is that the historian knows the difference. George Bernard Shaw once complained that journalists are seemingly unable to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization. In fact, some epic history can start out as a minor incident. A young man named Paris ran off with a beautiful woman who was married to someone else, and the civilization of Troy began to unwind. A middle-aged black seamstress, riding in a Montgomery bus, had tired feet, and an ugly social order began to collapse. A night guard at an office complex in Washington D.C. found masking tape on a doorjamb, and the presidency of Richard Nixon began to unwind. What journalist, writing on deadline, could have imagined the walloping kick that Rosa Park’s tired feet would give to Jim Crow? What pundit could have fantasized that a third-rate burglary on a dark night could change the course of politics? The historian’s work is to help us disentangle the wreck of the Schwinn from cataclysm. Howard famously helped us see how big change can start with small acts.

We honor his memory. We honor him, for Howard championed grassroots social change and famously chronicled its story as played out over the course of our nation’s history. More, those stirring sagas have inspired and continue to inspire countless people to go out and make a difference. The last time we met, I told him that the stories in A People’s History of the United States remind me of the fellow who turned the corner just as a big fight broke out down the block. Rushing up to an onlooker he shouted, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone get in it?” For Howard, democracy was one big public fight and everyone should plunge into it. That’s the only way, he said, for everyday folks to get justice – by fighting for it.

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The 9 Biggest Conservative Lies About Taxes and Public Spending

Here are the things the corporate media won't tell you about the tax-cut rhetoric in Washington.

Joshua Holland, AlterNet

It’s difficult to know where to begin deconstructing conservative rhetoric on taxes and spending. It's such a central part of their worldview, and yet it's a view informed by a whole slew of falsehoods that have been repeated again and again during this year's debates over the Bush tax cuts, public spending and the deficit. What follows are nine of the biggest fact-free whoppers that conservatives insist are true.

1. Cutting Taxes Leads to More Money for the Government
Conservatives can't say they oppose popular programs on ideological grounds, and they can't admit they're happy to run up huge budget deficits, so they've come up with the fiction that cutting taxes actually brings in more revenues to finance the public sector.

What's especially brazen about this is that it's usually preceded by debate-stifling phrases such as “as everyone knows,” “history shows us” or “every single time taxes have been cut.”

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I Will Not Participate In the Journalism of Appeasement

Don’t you get it? This is a war! This is a mass slaughter carried out by economic policy. This is the elimination of the existence of a middle class. These are financial terrorists committing crimes against humanity. Our country is under attack!

David DeGraw, AmpedStatus

Here’s a brief summation of my recent reporting:

  • If we continue to let our politicians and wealthy members of society live in comfort, free from the consequences of their actions, we are complicit in our own demise.
  • Our country is so overrun with corruption, we cannot remain passive and expect things to get any better.
  • The economy is propped up by smoke and mirrors and will inevitably collapse. Without immediately breaking up the banks and holding the thieves accountable, we will continue on our downward spiral with increasingly severe and devastating consequences.
  • These are extremely unpleasant truths that we are now forced to confront. We have to act now. If you are not calling for revolution or organizing, you are either unaware of what’s happening around you, horribly naïve or a fascist sympathizer.

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FCC Commissioner: Net Neutrality A 'Threat To Internet Freedom'

"On this winter solstice, we will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation," FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell wrote. "The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter's night for Internet freedom."
"'Net neutrality' sounds nice, but the Web is working fine now. The new rules will inhibit investment, deter innovation and create a billable-hours bonanza for lawyers." --FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell

Bianca Bosker, Huffington Post

Robert McDowell, a Republican FCC commissioner, penned a blistering critique of the FCC's net neutrality plan in an opinion editorial published in the Wall Street Journal.

Later this week(Dec 19-25), the FCC is set to vote on net neutrality rules, which would prohibit Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon from discriminating in how they handle information traveling over their networks. Both supporters and opponents of net neutrality are unhappy with the FCC's plan, some arguing it is toothless while others asserting that the rules will stifle innovation. Al Franken called the draft regulations "worse than nothing," while McDowell accused FCC leadership of tackling an "imaginary problem."

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Special Report | VFP-led DC Peace Action

Who Will Listen to the Voices of Veterans Calling for Peace?

5 Items including:

  • 131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars"
  • Bitter Memories of War on the Way to Jail

David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

At a time when corporations are buying up elections – not to mention the 24-hour-news cycle – help ensure that a source for truly independent journalism lives on. Support Evergreene Digest  today by using the donation button in the above right-hand corner.

Mike Keefe

131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars", BorderExplorer, All Voices
Civil Resistance to war today (Thursday, Dec 16) at the White House fence leads to 131 arrests.

Bitter Memories of War on the Way to Jail, Chris Hedges, TruthDig

  • What can I tell you about war?
  • 131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars"

Who Will Listen to the Voices of Veterans Calling for Peace? Hannah Lythe, Sojourners/God's Politics
How many more voices will it take for President Obama, his administration, and military officials to understand that it is time to leave this war and appropriate non-militarized solutions?

‘Hope Is Action’: Hedges and Ellsberg Arrested at White House Protest, TruthDig

  • Ellsberg said, "This war is going to end only because the American public has awakened to their responsibilities and to the realities of this war.” The “big lie” that the American government is telling its people now, Ellsberg believes, “is that these wars are protecting us at home.”
  • No Act of Rebellion Is Wasted

17 Minnesotans participated in the Vets “Stand for Peace” Coleen Rowley, Evergreene Digest

  • Steve McKeon*, Jack Neis*, Gerald Ganann*, Barry Riesch*, Coleen Rowley*, Melissa Hill*, Janice Ward*, Camille Lenling*, Molly Culligan, Bruce Berry, Bob Heberle, Bob Palmer, Charlie Bloss, Anne Bellamy, Kevin Ray Smith, Toni Radmann, Wayne Wittman
  • 8 (*) did the Rosa Parks thing of following a higher law which got them arrested

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Will we tap our best thinkers, or will fear and suspicion prevail?

If the intent of the 9/11 perpetrators was to terrorize us to act irrationally, they may have succeeded.

J. Brian Atwood, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

At a time when corporations are buying up elections – not to mention the 24-hour-news cycle – help ensure that a source for truly independent journalism lives on. Support Evergreene Digest  today by using the donation button in the above right-hand corner.

My family and I are leaving Minnesota after eight satisfying years.

These final thoughts are tinged with some melancholy, so readers beware. I am an optimist, but I have a sense of our democracy unraveling.

Our challenge is not the individual problems we face -- two wars, recession, political polarization. My worry is that we may have lost the collective will to rally the way we have in the past.

Fear and anger do not usually lead to enlightened public policy.

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131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars"

  • Civil Resistance to war today (Thursday, Dec 16) at the White House fence leads to 131 arrests.
    Bitter Memories of War on the Way to Jail

BorderExplorer, All Voices

Today (Dec 16), in what was billed "the largest U.S. veteran-led civil resistance to war," hundreds of protesters took their demands for "Peace Now" to the fence of the White House. Police reportedly arrested 131 activists during the antiwar demonstration to "Stop These Wars" which culminated the Veterans for Peace gathering.

Among those arrested was Daniel Ellsberg, renowned military analyst who leaked the Pentigon Papers to the press during the Vietnam War era. Protesters attempted to chain themselves to the White House fence, but were charged with "failure to obey lawful order," a misdemeanor.

During the action the protesters also "delivered" postcards to President Obama, whom they said did not accommodate their request to meet with him personally to hear their grievances. The activists sailed the postcards over the White House fence, through the wintry Washington afternoon air. See video of the action (above).

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A web album of photos from the event is here.

Bitter Memories of War on the Way to Jail, Chris Hedges, TruthDig

  • What can I tell you about war?
  • 131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars"
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The Sorry Surrender of “the So-Called Radical Left”

The essay below is extracted from the May 2010 postscript to my book The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010) – the perfect Christmas gift for that not-so liberal know-it-all fake-progressive partisan Democrat cousin or uncle or sister-in-law who can’t stop making excuses for the center-right Obama administration’s abject service to dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies and doctrines…

Paul Street, ZCommunications.org

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it.

The essay below is extracted from the May 2010 postscript to my book The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010) – the perfect Christmas gift for that not-so liberal know-it-all fake-progressive partisan Democrat cousin or uncle or sister-in-law who can't stop making excuses for the center-right Obama administration's abject service to dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies and doctrines.  Surely the deeply conservative Obama’s predictable (and widely predicted) “cave-in” (two days ago) to Republican demands for the continuation of George W. Bush’s arch-plutocratic tax cuts for the rich (in a “deal” that also includes reduced pay-in to the Social Security fund and a big "concession" to the Republicans on the federal estate tax) ought to be the last nail in the coffin of liberal-left faith that Obama is (in the words of Katrina Vanden Huevel, the multi-millionaire editor of The Nation, last fall), “clearly a reform president committed to improvement of peoples’ lives and the renewal and reconstruction of America” (Katrina vanden Heuvel, “Obama One Year On,” The Nation, November 4, 2010).

This was a fascinating comment more than ten months into an administration that had already set new corporate welfare records in the process of bailing out the very financial parasites who crashed the economy, an administration that had approved an auto-restructuring plan that rewarded capital flight, a “new” White House that had already made clear its determination to pass a health bill that only insurance and drug companies could love, that had already revealed its determination to undermine serious global carbon emission reduction efforts at Copenhagen, that had already showed it would not pursue major green jobs public works programs (even as unemployment reached new post-WWII record levels), that had showed its determination to escalate and expand the scope of imperial violence, and that has showed it would not pursue the labor law and global trade reforms Obama had eloquently promised to working class audiences in 2007 and 2008. Other betrayals include a key cave-in on offshore oil drilling, Obama’s recent announcement of a federal worker pay freeze (an exercise in cynical “deficit-reduction theater” [Paul Krugman]), and his recent stealth signing of what Jane Hamsher rightly calls “a new NAFTA-style ‘free trade’ deal” with Korea.  And now we have, as predicted, the continuation of the Republicans’ deficit-driving fat cat tax cuts – this in what is already by far and away the industrialized world’s most unequal and wealth-top-heavy society. “Whatever one thinks of Obama’s policy on any specific issue,” vanden Heuvel argued last year, “Progressives, should focus less on the limits of the Obama agenda and more on the possibilities that his presidency opens up.” No: the election of Obama has not sparked progressive potentialities but has instead discouraged and weakened them, with the administration playing an active role in deterring and suppressing popular resistance – with terrible results (essentially predicted at the end of the postscript pasted in below --- ee the section titled “Resentment Abhors a Vacuum”). The relatively paucity of left and progressive dissent has encouraged reactionary elements within the beyond the administration to take up and carry out an ever more extreme agenda.

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