Dancin’ with the Devil

Here in Texas, the legislature just introduced a law retaining tax breaks for those put-upon souls buying yachts. We couldn’t have them going to Florida to purchase their gaudy baubles. Meanwhile, the state is slashing the number of teachers — those blood-sucking leeches draining our economy — regardless of the fact that we rank near the bottom in education. All because of tax cuts earlier in the Rick Perry administration that were supposed to be covered by a business tax. How did that work out for us? Not so well. Our fine bidness economy Governor Good Hair likes to crow about is billions in the hole as a result.

Nationally, the Obama administration has come out in favor of doing away with federal subsidies for the oil industry, which just posted record profits — again yet again, ad infinitum — while people’s budgets strain under soaring gasoline prices. The republican response? It would be a mistake to be “raising taxes.” Hunh? That same, tired bromide to gloss over the ugly truth. At one time that cynical sophistry would slide right down the throats of a gullible electorate, but the veneer of sensible conservatism is wearing thin as a war on the middle class and a hard-right agenda bear fruit.

It’s just the latest discordant note in the dysfunctional funk that has sunk us into a miasma of confusion and despair. A major disconnect between ringing phrases of our fearless leaders and the reality on the ground. An all-too-true unreality TV.

It would be naive to think that the majority of democrats are no less beholden to the moneyed elite in this country. In truth, we have the best government money can buy. And it is bought and paid for, plain and simple. But at least some of the firebrands of the party pay lip service to fighting the battle — albeit, however, a rear-guard action — against the crush of American royalty, the oligarchs. There is little hope, when push comes to shove, that anything the people may want, as shown in poll after poll — be it single-payer health care, an end to the senseless wars in the Middle East propping up corrupt charlatans, or a revocation of tax cuts for the wealthy — will gain any traction anytime soon among these corporate toadies.

And the lame-stream press — how dare they be called the “liberal media”! — only parrot the script prepared by the puppet masters, as corporate “largesse” and control has turned the media into toothless old watchdogs. They make good company for the regulatory agencies once charged with protecting the public from the excesses of corporate greed. They’re good dogs now, too.

What kind of affected christianity can countenance the mean-spirited, vitriolic attacks against the most powerless and helpless in our society? We are in a battle for the very soul of our country, with the most disgusting human beings, the glory hounds of politics, pimping for the plutocrats. This hard-right conservative vision born in the days of the Moral Majority was in fact a perverse gameplan that has pretty much gained ascendancy in the political sphere and dominated what passes (rather poorly) for rational thought these days. It’s a well-orchestrated attack proclaiming “rampant spending” the cause of our economic distress — a sanctimonious psychobabble designed to lend an ersatz legitimacy to the savaging of budgets for domestic programs.

Little is heard in the “liberal press” challenging these assertions, even as fine-tuned oratory gives way to bald-face lie. Aside from the isolated progressive or populist outlets, media mouthpieces bear mute witness to this predatory politics — if not giving wholehearted support.

Yet every day, on Facebook and YouTube and in discussion groups, newsletters, and the alternative press, outraged people seethe at the injustice, post on the hypocrisies and blatant callowness of political discourse. Post after post — “intended to be factual statement” — gives lie to the manufactured morality of the stump, citing real statistics and refuting outrageous distortions. Pity is, succeeding posts relegate previous notes to the history bin of back pages. Sadly, truth is lost in the process, lacking the organization and exposure of the coordinated spew that confronts us daily bolstering the status quo.

One hopes that, as in the Middle East, collective outrage finds an outlet beyond the thin prospects of impending elections, a rallying point in the social network of the internet. The web has shown to be a source for campaign funds; perhaps it too can provide a framework for the consolidation of protest into a unified force now.

* * *

The preceding screed has been brought to you in the interest of sanity: ours.

In the grand scheme of things, the corporate creep in radio — be it commercial, “public,” or religious programming — is just part and parcel, unfortunately, of a much bigger picture. When we first began looking into the cold-blooded maneuvers of bean counters in our local “public” radio station, as chronicled on the saveKUTaustin website, it quickly became apparent that what was happening locally was being repeated nationwide.

And as republican zealots in state after state — Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Texas — launched concerted attacks on worker rights, reproductive rights, health care, and more, it became increasingly apparent that the issue of consolidation in radio was itself just a small part of an even bigger picture. And it’s become increasingly difficult to stay out of it . . . We’ve now reached a turning point. So much of import comes to light each day out in the blogosphere, only to vanish into oblivion with the next flurry of posts. We hope to both disseminate information as well as provide a repository for democratic thought. In sharing, we can spread the word to others of a like mind, and in numbers comes strength.

* * *

A graduate summa cum laude of the UT journalism school, writer/editor Craig Hattersley has done work for publications such as 3rd Coast magazine, Austin Weekly, the Village Voice, the Texas Observer, the Austin Chronicle, and Texas Monthly Press. A misspent youth saw him in the music business playing and working at the Fillmore East and Armadillo World Headquarters, as well as in a VW dealership working for seven years as a mechanic during his “blue period” — his blue-collar experience in redneck Texas that shaped many of his political beliefs. He also spent seven years with Frank Morrow and Doug Kellner on the public-access TV show “Alternative Views,” which dealt with news ignored by the mainstream media. And the older he gets, the more everybody else can kiss his ass.

16 responses to “About

  1. Dear Molly Ivans must be rolling in her grave! I MISS Molly soooooo much!

  2. The Future Of Equality

    The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is just at the point where it is going to meet powerful opposition. The OWS is centered on urban areas because it needs size to be impressive, and it can only get large numbers of participants to events by holding the events in cities or transporting people to the cities. The opponents are the people with money, so the OWS participants have to walk or take public transportation.

    The opponents, who are the monied elite and the allies they have purchased, have not taken the OWS movement seriously until recently. Those opponents are beginning to realize that the OWS movement is a potential danger to their ability to maintain the status quo and are organizing to prevent the OWS movement from finding its strength.

    The Mayors of the cities are the opponents who can mobilize riot police, armed with the latest nominally non-lethal weapons, against OWS participants. So the first evidence that OWS is being taken seriously by the establishment will be a conspiracy by the big city Mayors, in collaboration with the anti-terrorist agencies of the Federal Government, to use illegal violence against nonviolent participants in OWS events. Naomi Wolf described that in The Guardian. Chris Hayes revealed an $850,000 proposal by lobbyists for concerted action against OWS.

    As Naomi Wolf said:

    “In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.”

    Why would the combined money and government establishment, without regard for party differences, conspire to act against a movement that has popular support? Why would a federal agency act against voters? Precisely because the strength of OWS is in numbers. Numbers of voters.
    . . .

    That strength of OWS is in numbers.

    Not necessarily in the numbers of actual participants in its events, though those are required for the media to take the OWS movement seriously, but in the numbers of ordinary people who sympathize with the movement. Not the people who are brave enough to face police billy clubs and pepper spray, but the television viewers and internet watchers who see what kind of violence the mayors of their cities are willing to expose their voters to when they think they can pass the responsibility up to the president. By including the DHS in their conspiracy they assume they are protected from the federal court system.

    But we still have some remnants of democracy in the United States.

    As long as we still elect the managers of our government, the President and his appointees, and we elect the representatives who make our laws, a political organization who can call out numbers of citizens to vote can pretty much have its way. There are reactionary limits, as in the appointment of Supreme Court Justices, which may lag behind public feeling for a few years. But in general the Administration and the House of Representatives follows any really popular movement, and the Senate is not too many years behind.

    The difficulty is that while money can’t necessarily buy votes that are in opposition to strong public demand, it can certainly make legislators extremely careful not to commit themselves.

    This means, for instance, that if the leftward-leaning faction of the Democratic Party decides to pay lip-service to the
    OWS movement, those nominal liberals may not take actions that show any enthusiasm for that position. They may display the same lack of enthusiasm that they took in the first half of Obama’s term.

    That would mean that the OWS, if they acted in such a way as to end up with Obama reelected, would have to be careful during the second Obama term to sort out the Democrats who are with the “99%”. Some will remain bought by the “1%” and will need to be culled out in primaries. If that is not practical the OWS, or perhaps a “99%-party” will have to run its own candidates.

    That would make 2012 similar to 1948, when there was a Progressive Party (far left Democrats), Democratic Party (running the incumbent, Harry Truman), and a Dixiecrat Party (segregationist democrats); in addition to the Republican Party (who thought they had won). The Progressives in New York continued to run candidates for some years.

    The “Occupy Wall Street” movement should be prepared to elect a new set of Representatives and Senators in 2016; a Congress who looks more favorably on the needs (and votes) of the “99%” than they do on the cash of the “1%”. Whether they do this while calling themselves Democrats or “99%-ers” or Progressives matters little.

    What does matter is that they believe in equality, and do not believe that they are an aristocracy that deserves to rule over the rest of us.
    . . .

    What we need to understand is why we have not believed in equality for the last 10,000 years.

    Around 8,000 bce (in the mideast), in order to exploit the recently invented technology of agriculture, the human species went from an infrastructure that was equal-on-the-average to one that was follow-the-leader.

    The equal-on-the-average infrastructure that we were using has a shaman who deals with chronic problems as required and a hunting-chief who leads the hunting-band as required. The shaman and the hunting-chief satisfy certain requirements that make them equal-on-the-average. This kind of infrastructure is only stable with a dozen or less adults.

    The follow-the-leader infrastructure has a permanent chief who, with assistants, forms an aristocracy. Because the leader is not required to be equal-on-the-average, the follow-the-leader infrastructure is not as stable in the long term as the equal-on-the-average infrastructure. However, when it fails it is generally replaced by another of the same kind.

    Around 1500ce, in Europe, the technology of the ocean-going ship was developed sufficiently that shipmasters and traders could travel and exchange cheap trinkets for tchotchkes, which were exotic goods that were rare enough to be used as status symbols. These could be brought back to Europe and sold to local leaders. The shipmasters and traders (and bankers, who were traders in money) became rich, but did not have the status of the leader class (called aristocrats).

    Calvin invented a new class, the “elect”, who had the characteristic that they were blessed by God because they were virtuous. The way you could identify these prople was that they prospered, i.e., they were rich. In other words, capitalism is a device that was invented by Calvin in order to give the mercantile interests that supported Calvinism the same kind of social status that the earlier military (and, later, landed) aristocracy had.

    Calvin’s elect constituted a quasi-aristocracy that were considered better than ordinary people, because they were rich, but not as much better as traditional aristocrats. They constituted a “middle class”.

    The religious aspect of the Calvinist elect was soon lost as investment became just another technology. Capitalism became the notion that a person who acquires money that is surplus to survival needs has status equivalent to a person who has social rank (e.g., an aristocrat or senior bureaucrat).

    A surplus of money usually conveys more status if it is held for longer or inherited than if is recently stolen but that is less important than it was in the past. The method of the initial acquisition of the surplus money is unimportant. Capitalism developed from 1500ce to the present by the upward mobility of a minority into an elite position, often by the exploitation of some novel technology.

    Capitalism currently provides status for senior members of the government bureaucracy (democrats) and senior members of the corporate bureaucracy (republicans).

    The net effect of capitalism is that from 1500 to 1950 it provided the social function of reversing the earlier change from equality-on-the-average (which functioned from 100,000bce to 8,000bce) to follow-the-leader (which functioned from 8,000bce to 1500 ce). From 1500 ce to 1950 ce upward mobility created new elites. They were certified by the display of status symbols or tchotchkes. The hangers-on of the new elites displayed imitation or cheap versions of the fashionable tchotches.

    However, it was recognized by economists in the 1950s that continuation of this practice would create shortages of resources for making imitation tchotchkes; so the policy of the elite from 1950 was to reverse evolution and make the middle and lower classes downwardly mobile.

    Since capitalism no longer provides the useful evolutionary function of gradually making everybody equal, capitalism will no longer have any useful social or evolutionary function and it can be allowed to cease to exist. Since we have already decided that it is not useful to determine status by a particular skin color, childhood language, birth location, political or religious opinion, or gender, it makes common sense to decide that the accumulation of tchotchkes does not determine status either.

    Money’s one remaining function in human society, to act as a universal medium of exchange, no longer works that well either; so it can be replaced by entries in computer accounts. The elimination of money as a medium of exchange will serve to eliminate money as a measure of status.

    That will leave only position in the bureaucracy as a potential measure of status and that will be eliminated by technology. The bureaucrats who serve as a human-computer interface can be replaced by Turing-robot voices like the “Siri” in the iPhone 4S. Other bureaucrats may still be necessary if their function requires more creativity than robots are capable of. They can have input and output through Turing-robot voices like “Siri”
    so that they do not require contact with other human beings.
    That will eliminate bureaucratic position as a basis for status.

    After a while, when people get used to not having a hierarchy based on skin color, gender, bureaucratic position, number in a money-account, childhood language, and the like; these can be relaxed to guidelines rather than hard and fast rules.

    Relatively few people will need to “work” and they will constitute the “Working Class”.

    They will see that automatic machines operate to:

    (1) Provide whatever food, clothing, shelter and other health services are necessary for everyone’s survival and to distribute these goods and services equitably; and

    (2) Make those provisions on the most efficient possible basis with the minimum damage to the environment. Note that most of the direct interaction with humans can be done by robots (most being in non-human form) because that will generally be the most consistent. Note also that by maximizing efficiency rather than minimizing cost the criterion provides for maximum utility.

    (3) Provide equal access to available surplus resources that are not needed for survival of the global population to allow for individuals to express creativity not otherwise provided for in (1) and (2), and

    (4) to provide a social mechanism for coping with unanticipated conditions or needs.

    The current activity of “Occupy Wall Street” serves to call attention to the lack of a useful function for capitalism, and thus facilitate its extinction and replacement by a system for protecting public health (including nutrition and climate protection) that does not cater to private sociopathy by social inefficiencies.
    . . .

    A discussion of evolutionary progress from 100,000 bce to 2011ce is provided in:
    [ http://rEvolution.karleklund.net%5D.

    A projection of evolutionary progress into the future is provided in:
    [ http://utopia.karleklund.net%5D

    . . .

  3. Gentlemen: how can I contact one of you, or your organization.? Any e-mail? Don’t wish my letter to be mixed among a million others. ? Regards: Erwin

  4. Jacqueline Herst

    How do I find your e- mailing list so i can be more informed????

    • The Facebook page for SDS has the most daily information — too much for some people. It’s a distillation of hundreds of links on FB and elsewhere… The link is in the left column of the home page.

  5. Where are you located? Are there groups in Los Angeles? I don’t want another place to leave online messages.

  6. Well, being a 74-year-old Military Veteran of The Vietnam Era, I guess I qualify as a Senior Citizen now and I have discovered your blog and I love it and will use it for ideas for articles on my own blog, “Blue Heart Chronicles” at http://blueheartchronicles.blogspot.com/ where I also support the cause of Seniors from a Liberal Democrat Progressive viewpoint. P.S. I have added “Seniors For A Democratic Society” to my “Favorite Sites” list on the right sidebar of my blog – – – where I will always have it to refer back to. Great work, guys! Thanks for representing our interests!

  7. I really wish you had a more readable font…… the “Seniors” who run this site must have much better eyesight than I do.

  8. I just today learned of your site from a friend. He and I have been collecting information about the Barons von ALEC for a couple of years now. I have been using the Barons von ALEC when commenting on any article that can be traced back to their organization. The word is out and the evidence is mounting and undeniable. Lights are turning on within the ranks of those that vote straight party tickets. If the tea addled in Congress don’t light up really quick I see the numbers of OWS growing into a General Strike. Then perhaps US can restore the regulations that Buschco eviscerated at the behest of . . The Barons von ALEC.

    Thanks for your site.

  9. Could you please add “Angry Progressives Network” , https://www.facebook.com/groups/204865756236169/ to the list of Facebook sites.

  10. dissentingdemocrat

    Just discovered your website, Love It! I’ve posted a recommendation for it on our Blog “Dissenting Democrat” (105,000 hits to-date) dissentingdemocrat.wordpress.com

  11. Congratulations!

    I have nominated your blog for the Real Neat Blog Award.

    More about this nomination is at


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