Help nominate a woman to chair the FCC

Here is a simple action you can take to help Bring Back Progressive Radio to the NW.

I just signed the petition “The President Should Nominate a Woman to be Chair of the Federal Communications Commission” on Change.org. The petition is hosted by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, Founders, The Women’s Media Center.

It’s important. Will you sign it too? It would help our “cause” to have a woman’s perspective leading the FCC, and we need diversity in Media leadership.

Here’s the link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-president-should-nominate-a-woman-to-be-chair-of-the-federal-communications-commission-2?share_id=zJacQNgEBh&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

Thanks!

Julia Chase
Progressive Radio Seattle

INTRO:
President Obama has the chance to democratize the media with one key appointment in the next few weeks. The President is about to nominate the next Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, and he should pick a woman. Maybe there is no easy fix to getting women into the top jobs in the telecom and media industries, but the government watchdog can and should be headed by a woman.

There has never been a female chair of the Federal Communications Commission – the independent agency that oversees America’s telecommunications and media policy.

The FCC is supposed to represent the American public. Half the public are women. It’s long past the time to close the gender gap in our nation’s leadership and in the media and telecom industries’ leadership, where only 28.4% of TV news directors were women in 2011, according to the Women’s Media Center’s 2012 Status of Women in the U.S. Media Report.

And the post atop the FCC is one of the most important opportunities available to raise the bar for representational diversity and decision-making in the media and telecom sectors, which are the infrastructure of this generation and of the future.

Signed,

Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem
Founders, The Women’s Media Center

Play the Tax Evaders game

Tax Evaders

Tax Evaders

Tax Evaders is a national project involving artists, game designers, researchers, protest groups, grassroots organizations and concerned citizens.

We’d like thank our allies:

Citizen Engagement LabCitizen Engagement Lab, The Other 98%The Other 98%, US UncutUS Uncut
The Yes Lab, The Overpass Light Brigades, Americans for Tax Fairness, Public Research Interest Group, and Occupy Wall St.

Talkless in Seattle: listeners bid good night to Emerald City’s liberal voice

Seattle unplugged. Literally and liberally. The demise of Progressive Talk Radio in the Emerald City.

Greetings, Seattle radiophiles! Here we are in a vast metropolitan area teeming with liberal activists and awash in humanitarian causes, while known as merely a so-so “sports town,” except when the Hawks, Mariners or Sonics (oops, looks like we lost that one!) are at the top of the standings. But wait, what’s this? CBS has unceremoniously dumped AM 1090’s wildly popular roster of liberal talkers in favor of yet another obnoxious entry into the dreary series of all-sports stations to compete with KRKO AM 1380 and KJR AM 950.

So let’s take a look at the Emerald City scoreboard: Sports Talk Radio stations 3, Progressive Talk 0.

What’s going on here? Is this game rigged? Is the fix in?

In a city where progressive politicos and celebs draw huge crowds while the struggling Mariners have trouble filling seats even on Ichiro bobblehead night (oh wait, he’s gone too!), you’d expect there to be Progressive Talk radio stations adorning both the AM and FM sides of the dial, what with all the local and national pundits jockeying for air time.

And yet…dead air. Why is Seattle’s radio audience being deprived of their ability to learn about and discuss issues of local and national interest in an open and honest forum?

“We no longer have public airwaves, we have corporate airwaves,” explains Carolyn Tamler, who represents a newly formed group called Progressive Radio in Seattle. She goes on to suggest that the corporate conglomerates who now own much of the airwaves “have no interest in what the Left has to say.”

Could it simply be that there’s no profit in Progressive Talk? Well, yes…and no.

In an eye-opening piece on truthout.org, longtime radio icon Peter B. Collins argues that the bottom line is that, well, Progressive Talk’s bottom line isn’t well. Writes Collins, “In my experience, most station owners and managers have a strong bias to the right, and with a few exceptions, the rest just look for the easiest way to make maximum profit.”

With the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, there’s no compelling need for the current owners of the airwaves (which used to be beholden to the public good) to present balanced news or opposing points of view. The compelling need now is not to educate, but to entertain. Entertainment, that’s where the big bucks are.

And entertainment is exactly what fear-mongering right-wing shills like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage are all about. Create a space where anger and frustration reign supreme and the disenfranchised paranoids of the world will beat a path to your radio dial. With cash in hand. Drooling with mad glee as they purchase everything from the latest insane paperback diatribe to whackdoodle T-shirts to sugar-laden tea, whether they can afford it or not.

Where’s a genuine seeker of information and knowledge to turn?

To be continued…stay tuned!

Originally published at Examiner.com

Battle over the facts concerning Chuck Hagel

I have been engaged in an ongoing edit war concerning the Wikipedia article on Chuck Hagel, whose name is being mentioned as a possible nominee for Secretary of Defense.  Hagel is coming under criticism from Republicans and neocons who are unhappy with Hagel’s statements such as “[t]he Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated” and “[t]he Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people [on Capitol Hill].”

Though I applaud Hagel’s apparent wisdom about the Pentagon, the information I’ve read about him calls into question his character and veracity.

Chuck Hagel

On June 28, 2011, after reading Bev Harris’ book Black Box Voting, I edited the Wikipedia article on Chuck Hagel and added a section about the allegations of inadequate disclosure and conflict of interest concerning Hagel’s involvement with the voting machine company AIS.  I subsequently added information from several others sources, referenced below, resulting in the following section of the article:

Allegations of inadequate disclosure and conflict of interest

In Bev Harris’ book Black Box Voting,[15], in an article in The Hill,[16] and in a CommonDreams article by Thom Hartmann, [17] Hagel is accused of having covered up his involvement with American Information Systems, Inc., the voting machine company. Harris alleges that Hagel omitted mention of AIS from the required US Senate financial disclosure forms.[18]. Harris also says that Hagel hid his continuing investment in the McCarthy Group. Harris writes:

In October 2002, I discovered that he [Hagel] still had undisclosed ownership of ES&E through its parent company, the McCarthy Group. The McCarthy Group is run by Hagel’s campaign finance director, Michael R. McCarthy, who is also a director of ES&S. Hagel hid his ties to ES&S by calling his investment of up to $5 million in the ES&S parent company an “excepted investment fund.” This is important because senators are required to list the underlying assets for companies they invest in, unless the company is “excepted.” To be “excepted,” the McCarthy Group must be publicly traded (it is not) and very widely traded (it is not).”

Harris contacted Victor Baird, counsel for the Senate Ethics Committee, to inquire into Hagel’s disclosure statements. After some investigation, Baird agreed that Hagel apparently mischaracterized the nature of his investment in the McCarthy Group. Soon afterwards, Baird resigned — Harris suggests, without proof, that Baird was forced to resign — and Harris was told that he was unavailable to speak to the press. Harris says that Baird’s replacement supported Hagel’s characterization of the McCarthy Group as an excepted fund.

Harris and Hartmann imply that Hagel’s landslide victories in 1996 and 2002 may have been due to election fraud. Harris writes, “Hagel defeated popular Democratic Gov. Ben Nelson, who had led in the polls since the opening gun… becoming the first Republican to win a Senate seat in Nebraska in 24 years… What the media didn’t report is that Hagel’s job, until two weeks before he announced his run for the Senate, was running the voting machine company whose machines would count his votes.”[19] However, Harris and Hartmann provide no concrete evidence of fraud. All they can point to is circumstantial evidence, such as the unexpected nature of the election upset (Hartmann writes, “Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican”) and the odd fact that the voting machines used to count votes in Hagel’s Senate bid were built by the very same company that Hagel had recently chaired and that Hagel continued to invest in. Also, Harris reports[20] that Alexander Bolton, author of the Hill article about Hagel, complained that prominent Republican lawyer Jan Baren and Hagel Chief of Staff Lou Ann Linehan visited The Hill office and pressured Bolton, unsuccessfully, to kill or soften the Hagel story.

The story about Hagel’s retaining ownership in the company that counted his own votes and the matter of the surprising election upset (15 points of disparity between election results and polling results) are retold in an Nov, 2012 article in Harper’s Magazine [21].

On Sept 16, 2011, a wikipedia user named “rjensen” deleted my text, saying “BLP violation — suggestion of criminal behavior is off limits by Wiki rules.”  BLP refers to Biography of Living Persons. Here are the rules concerning BLP:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:BLP.

On Oct 15, 2011 I restored the section, writing as justification, “Suggestion of criminal activity is allowed if there are multiple sources of documentation and if the person is a public figure.”

The same day, rjensen again deleted my content, saying, “BLP violation based on allegations in a self-published blog, not a RS.”

The next day, I added it back, saying, “The story was told not in a blog, but in a book, an article by Thom Hartmann, an article in The Hill, and in an Oct 2012 article in Harper’s Magazine.”

On Dec 17, 2012 rjensen again deleted the section, saying, “BLP violations–not based on solid RS (these are self-published attacks).”

Since early December there have been numerous edits to the wikipedia article — no doubt reflecting the greater interest in and scrutiny of Hagel due to his possible nomination.

I am, of course, free to restore the deleted section again but would appreciate help from others more familiar with both Hagel’s history and with wikipedia’s policy on dispute resolution:

Wikipedia has many methods of settling disputes. A “BOLD, revert, discuss” cycle sometimes occurs, in which an editor changes something, another editor reverts the change, and then the two editors discuss the issue on a talk page. When editors disregard this process – when a change is repeatedly done by one editor and then undone by another – an ‘edit war may be asserted to have begun. …

In order to gain a broader community consensus, editors can raise issues at the Village Pump, or initiate a Request for Comment. An editor can report impolite, uncivil, or otherwise problematic communications with another editor via the “Wikiquette Assistance” noticeboard.

In this age of citizen journalism, it is everyone’s duty to educate themselves and others about the facts.

The case of Hagel shows that people are complex. They may be wise and compassionate about some things and reprehensible about others.

Chomsky on Anarchism

For folks with an open mind who want to know more about anarchism:

 

Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Marxism & Hope for the Future

 


Noam Chomsky is widely known for his critique of U.S foreign policy, and for his work as a linguist. Less well known is his ongoing support for libertarian socialist objectives. In a special interview done for Red and Black Revolution, Chomsky gives his views on anarchism and marxism, and the prospects for socialism now. The interview was conducted in May 1995 by Kevin Doyle.

RBR: First off, Noam, for quite a time now you’ve been an advocate for the anarchist idea. Many people are familiar with the introduction you wrote in 1970 to Daniel Guerin’s Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, but more recently, for instance in the film Manufacturing Dissent, you took the opportunity to highlight again the potential of anarchism and the anarchist idea. What is it that attracts you to anarchism?

CHOMSKY: I was attracted to anarchism as a young teenager, as soon as I began to think about the world beyond a pretty narrow range, and haven’t seen much reason to revise those early attitudes since. I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom. That includes political power, ownership and management, relations among men and women, parents and children, our control over the fate of future generations (the basic moral imperative behind the environmental movement, in my view), and much else. Naturally this means

a challenge to the huge institutions of coercion and control: the state, the unaccountable private tyrannies that control most of the domestic and international economy, and so on. But not only these. That is what I have always understood to be the essence of anarchism: the conviction that the burden of proof has to be placed on authority, and that it should be dismantled if that burden cannot be met. Sometimes the burden can be met.

If I’m taking a walk with my grandchildren and they dart out into a busy street, I will use not only authority but also physical coercion to stop them. The act should be challenged, but I think it can readily meet the challenge. And there are other cases; life is a complex affair, we understand very little about humans and society, and grand pronouncements are generally more a source of harm than of benefit. But the perspective is a valid one, I think, and can lead us quite a long way.

Beyond such generalities, we begin to look at cases, which is where the questions of human interest and concern arise.

Anarchist banner
RBR: It’s true to say that your ideas and critique are now more widely known than ever before. It should also be said that your views are widely respected. How do you think your support for anarchism is received in this context? In particular, I’m interested in the response you receive from people who are getting interested in politics for the first time and who may, perhaps, have come across your views. Are such people surprised by your support for anarchism? Are they interested?

CHOMSKY: The general intellectual culture, as you know, associates ‘anarchism’ with chaos, violence, bombs, disruption, and so on. So people are often surprised when I speak positively of anarchism and identify myself with leading traditions within it. But my impression is that among the general public, the basic ideas seem reasonable when the clouds are cleared away. Of course, when we turn to specific matters – say, the nature of families, or how an economy would work in a society that is more free and just – questions and controversy arise. But that is as it should be. Physics can’t really explain how water flows from the tap in your sink. When we turn to vastly more complex questions of human significance, understanding is very thin, and there is plenty of room for disagreement, experimentation, both intellectual and real-life exploration of possibilities, to help us learn more.

RBR: Perhaps, more than any other idea, anarchism has suffered from the problem of misrepresentation. Anarchism can mean many things to many people. Do you often find yourself having to explain what it is that you mean by anarchism? Does the misrepresentation of anarchism bother you?

CHOMSKY: All misrepresentation is a nuisance. Much of it can be traced back to structures of power that have an interest in preventing understanding, for pretty obvious reasons. It’s well to recall David Hume’s Principles of Government. He expressed surprise that people ever submitted to their rulers. He concluded that since Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. ‘Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular. Hume was very astute – and incidentally, hardly a libertarian by the standards of the day. He surely underestimates the efficacy of force, but his observation seems to me basically correct, and important, particularly in the more free societies, where the art of controlling opinion is therefore far more refined. Misrepresentation and other forms of befuddlement are a natural concomitant.

So does misrepresentation bother me? Sure, but so does rotten weather. It will exist as long as concentrations of power engender a kind of commissar class to defend them. Since they are usually not very bright, or are bright enough to know that they’d better avoid the arena of fact and argument, they’ll turn to misrepresentation, vilification, and other devices that are available to those who know that they’ll be protected by the various means available to the powerful. We should understand why all this occurs, and unravel it as best we can. That’s part of the project of liberation – of ourselves and others, or more reasonably, of people working together to achieve these aims.

Sounds simple-minded, and it is. But I have yet to find much commentary on human life and society that is not simple-minded, when absurdity and self-serving posturing are cleared away.

RBR: How about in more established left-wing circles, where one might expect to find greater familiarity with what anarchism actually stands for? Do you encounter any surprise here at your views and support for anarchism?

read the whole piece? Please do so. Time with Chomsky is almost always time well spent.

All tactics diminish in effectivness with continued use

I got to thinking about an old piece of Saul Alinsky advice after reading the article cited below. Alinsky said that if you were sitting in at corporate offices and started running into comfortable chairs and snacks set out for the protesters, it was time to switch to a new tactic.

Lots of other examples. The Battle in Seattle in 1999 was very effective in calling attention to corporate trade agreements. What happened at subsequent meetings? The 1% caught on and started holding their meetings in comparatively inaccessible places.

When OWS started claiming public space by extended camping, the public conversation changed from the deficit to income inequality. However, it just isn’t possible to camp out forever.

Our side has most of the imagination–we just have to start using it more.

From How not to protest the RNC:

Cultural activists, like the Yes Men, keep challenging us to think more creatively. At a training I led for their Yes Labs program, Yes Men co-founder Andy Bichlbaum told me, “If an action doesn’t make you laugh or gasp, we have to throw it out.”

The RNC protesters took a shot at it by melting huge chunks of ice written as “the middle-class.” But it doesn’t make me laugh or gasp. If inspiring is a goal, ho-hum actions should be stricken from our toolbox.

Too often, however, activists are stuck repeating the tactics they know. They then begrudge the media, or their comrades, or potential allies, for not getting it. At a direct action workshop I co-led with George Lakey in South Korea, we heard young movement activists lamenting that the press stopped covering their movement’s tactic: public suicides in the middle of a protest. How could the media and their allies be so callous?

When it comes down to it, effective direct action doesn’t lie in tactics that are merely about expressing our minds and making a public spectacle; it is in our ability to organize people to break social scripts.

Austin's Picks: Autonomy Alliance

“It’s a scary time to be involved with radical class struggle. But was it ever any other way?”

Austin Kelly suggests you scan this one from LibCom.org:

 

 

Autonomy Alliance: The interview

 

 

An interview conducted with two members of St Louis libertarian group, Autonomy Alliance.

While in St. Louis, I was lucky enough to stay with two members of the Autonomy Alliance. In that time, I’ve been impressed with the level activity I’ve seen from the group—regular publications, public events (not the least of which included a screening of the 1971 film Sacco and Vanzetti), and running a once-yearly weekend school.

Unlike many of the city-based libertarian groups in the US, I hadn’t heard of them before. So I thought it’d be worth learning a bit more about them. The following interview took place with those same two members, although it’s in personal capacity, so should not be taken as the official AA positions.

Tell me a bit about the group. When were you founded? How many people are currently active? Are members active in any other organizations? What are the particular politics of your group and what level of political agreement do you strive for? What are the activities and projects you’re involved in?

Autonomy Alliance has been active for about 5 years, although it’s current core group has only been active since late 2008. There are about 10 members who attend regular meetings, vote on event proposals, and facilitate annual events. Our members are all involved with other local and national anti-capitalist organizations. AA is made up of PARECONists, social anarchists, radical feminists, and Wobblies. The goal has always been to bring together folks of different radical left-wing backgrounds into a cohesive organization to work on local projects, distribute literature, discuss readings and put out a quarterly newsletter.

One aspect of AA that differs from many radical groups is that we have defined membership, a democratic voting procedure, and agreed upon organizational by-laws which we collectively edit every year or so. While AA is still small in numbers, I think we’re able to focus our time and energy into local projects in a way that’s relatively efficient. I think we all want to avoid the pitfalls that come along with doing things in a disjointed and loosely organized way. We co-sponsor an annual event called Left Wing School, a day long series of workshops and panel discussions on a wide ranging number of subjects, from labor, environmentalism, feminism, Palestine solidarity, etc. The LWS has occurred every December for the past several years. In the past, we’ve also co-sponsored several commemorations of the 1877 General Strike. In 2010, we brought in famous labor historian, Jeremy Brecher, along with popular singer-songwriter David Rovics to participate in this event. It was attended by about 100 people.

Read the whole thing? or turn on Good Morning, America? You make the call.

Politics and Entertainment!

M & I are working on two campaigns for the regular election. The first is Thomas Bjorgen’s run for the Court of Appeals. Tom would simply make a superb judge and I think it’s going to happen. I am certainly going to work to make it happen.

The second campaign we are pounding on is the Thurston Public Power Initiative. This initiative will allow the existing Public Utility District to expand from water services to water and electricity. Thurston is the only county in SW Washington that does not have a public power option. We are going to fix that. This is a pretty simple matter of keeping electric rates low by allowing for competition. A private banking company from Australia purchased Puget Sound Energy a few years ago. PSE is not a local company and the Macquarie Group that owns PSE took 17 million dollars out of Thurston County last year in profits. These profits were offset by the power outages that occurred in Thurston County last winter with the ice storm. I am on PUD power in Lewis County, my power never blinked. Some PSE customers in Thurston County were without power for a week or more. Some advocates for the PSE power monopoly think the solution is that homeowners buy generator sets for back up power. Lots of us think the solution is local jobs trimming the trees and maintaining the lines, local power generation through a PUD that is rooted in the local community and has a commitment to local, sustainable power generation, and local accountability. The PUD commissioners get to face the voters on a regular basis. When do we get to vote on the management of the Macquarie Group or Goldman Sachs or other private financial institutions?

Public power or private profits? That is the choice.

Here is Jon Eppo Epstein sharing his thoughts on the matter:

Political Fables for a Political Year

The WA Post has back to back stories in my digest this morning that I found interesting.

In the first story, the Government Accountability Office found that the Republican’s budget showdown over the debt limit coast the county 1.3 billion dollars last year. That is money that we could have used somewhere else in my opinion. But it shows the hypocrisy and stupidity of the current republican congressional legislators. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the democrats are just chomping at the bit to pass the kind of legislation that the country needs, look at their record in 2009-10 when they controlled Senate, House and White House and we could get banker bailouts, but not the public option for health care. Single payer was not even on the table. The dems are clearly beholden to their corporate funding sources, but they don’t engage in wasteful theatrics like the debt ceiling fight or endless votes to repeal legislation that clearly go nowhere. There are significant differences between the parties, but both parties understand that they cannot legislate against the interest of the wealthy interests that now decide our elections (thanks to Citizens United and Scotus Inc.)

GAO: Debt fight cost at least $1.3 billion

Last summer’s fierce political debate over raising the federal debt limit cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in extra borrowing costs, including hundreds of hours in overtime for federal employees responsible for avoiding default, according to a new government report.

Delays in raising the debt limit forced the Treasury Department to pay an extra $1.3 billion in borrowing costs — and the final sum is expected to climb higher as multi-year obligations and other outstanding costs are added later, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Monday.


In the second story, the League of Conservation Voters is reported to planning to launch a global warming campaign to unseat 5 flat-earth Republicans who have been a little too vocal about their ignorance.

I think it has become more and more difficult for the red-staters to deny global warming. What’s wrong with Kansas is starting to shift from the question about how they can vote against their own best interest over and over to just how bad is the drought going to be? As folks see the crops dry up and experience the consequences of supporting electoral candidates and parties who guarantee that we do nothing about global warming, they may have an epiphany. A lot of folks are going to become believers in global warming through the rough lessons of direct experience.

Torrential rains, floods, derecho windstorms, super tornados, droughts, may provide a wake-up call to folks in the heartland that was never going to be delivered by the threat to polar bears and penguins or rising sea levels that are threatening the coastal states that can’t afford to harbor politically-rooted doubts about climate change.

Here is a bit of the second story and link to the whole thing:

Environmentalists target 5 Republicans who question humans’ impact on climate

The League of Conservation Voters will launch a $1.5 million campaign Tuesday targeting five House Republicans who question the connection between human activity and climate change, in an effort to test whether the issue can sway voters.

Prominent conservative Republicans have challenged the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and other sources are transforming the Earth’s climate. But it has not emerged as a central issue in a national political campaign, and President Obama, who pushed unsuccessfully for national limits on greenhouse gas emissions at the start of his term, has played down the issue over the past two years.