Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 26, 2008

The Duopoly of Deceit

by Debs is dead
lifted from a comment

Tangerine's post details the favorite foreign policy ploy of the two party state. Even if Gore didn't use 911 as an excuse to invade Iraq , if one examines the way that the Clinton administration kept the screws on Iraq whilst repeating the Iraq has weapons of mass destruction lie ad nauseam, it is plain that even if the dems worry their supporters may not approve of unjustified increases in the empire's territory, they are quite prepared hold the line until their mates in the other mob are able to do it for them.

An objective examination of the dem behavior since WW2 - Korea (dem prez), attempted invasion of Cuba (dem prez), Vietnam escalation (dem prez), Dominica (dem prez), Kosovo (dem prez) and the ones I can't remember shows that the dems political organization is geared towards the empire's expansion.

If someone could be bothered to check the history of amerika's territorial growth since independence I imagine you would find the same duopoly of deceit. One party aggressively expanding the territory while the other alleges to be a party of peace, only it never gives anything back the aggressors stole (initially from native amerikans, later from Mexico, later still anywhere in the world that amerika thought it wanted) and when something goes down which means that amerika must strike while the iron is hot to get the land and the less aggressive party is in power, that party does a policy reversal alienating it's base but nevertheless participating in the grab. I imagine that was the mechanism by which 100 plus treaties with the indigenous people were broken.

The political system is fatally flawed. I can't help but marvel at the self deception that leads peeps to think that the outrageous excesses of the bushco era are somehow different. That this hasn't happened before.

Most people know about the way that the indigenous people were tortured starved and dispossessed, do they think that is different but the constitution was upheld for everyone else since until bushco?

Cause the japanese interned in WW2 wouldn't agree neither would the Rosenbergs who were denied myriad constitutional protections when they were railroaded to execution. That's just a couple examples somehow the constitutional safeguards fall by the wayside whenever they are most needed. Not particularly an amerikan problem, this happens wherever there is an over concentration of power.

A big part of the problem is the system. The idea of having one person as the executive, all-powerful commander in chief, and head of state, rolled into one person overwhelms the ideals invested in the allegedly democratic way used to select this king type figure.

Amerikan society has been forced to accept a situation where people fight to get that position of absolute power and corrupt themselves and those around them with this process, to the point where virtually everyone in the political classes believes anything goes.

All the checks and balances are meaningless if one person, the prez, has the power to overrule those checks and balances. Legality is a side issue if the prez is powerful enough to get away with breaking the law. Right through amerika's history the prez has over ruled constitutional mechanisms and will continue to do so regardless of which portion of the political establishment the prez comes from.


b asks: Now how might such a system be changed?

Posted by b on July 26, 2008 at 10:46 UTC | Permalink


Overconcentration of power. I am sitting here pointing to my nose. The problem is always and everywhere to be found in power imbalances. A way of eroding and retarding each new imbalance ought to be built into every program and institution. A traditional way of doing this was to bring in outsiders, but maybe, having brought in the whole world, this approach has stalled (until we colonize the solar system and exterminate the indigenous Martian lichens and colossal coelenterates of the Jovian moons).

Posted by: ...---... | Jul 26 2008 12:09 utc | 1

Or we could just obey fucking international law like we agreed to. There is a lot of good shit in the International Bill of Rights (UDHR/ICCPR/ICESCR). ICCPR Article 41 provides a limited means of bringing in outsiders to address defined deficiencies. Article 20 prohibits war propaganda. The whole United States has spent the last 15 years ignoring it, uh no, suppressing any acknowledgment of this international convention that could be shoring up the worthless shitty US constitution.

Posted by: ...---... | Jul 26 2008 12:29 utc | 2

"b asks: Now how might such a system be changed?"

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains that they adore."

I'm afraid the system will never be changed from within. Anyone telling the public what is really wrong will get the Ron Paul treatment. The pubic is all to ready to believe that real change is crazy.

America's foreign policy, however, will change once it no longer can pay for empire and once regional powers (BRIC, et al) rise to defend their local interests.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 26 2008 13:18 utc | 3

b asks: Now how might such a system be changed?

Duverger's Law attempted to explain how this kind of system forms. Altering this equation would seem to be a simple matter of eliminating those electoral factors that give rise to two-party governments, and move towards a proportional representation system of electioneering which would allow multiple parties to compete more freely.

There are those who believe that reform can be accomplished even within a plurality rule system (pointing to Great Britain as an example of this), however they fail to take into account the extralegal depths to which members of an entrenched duocracy will go to protect their interests or exactly how prevalent is the "lowest common denominator" who has internalized that the plurality-rule/ two-party model is the only conceivable way of doing things. While the powerful and disempowered alike fight tooth and nail to preserve their addiction to this system, there's very little that can be done to tweak factors in the favor of more balanced governance.

Apart from this, however,what guarantees exist that a more diverse pool of political mascots would not simply mean a greater number of superficially different candidates with the same hidden agenda? I just sat through an election last year which was not in the United States and witnessed a race between nine frontrunners... all of whom were batshit crazy. From one perspective, the United States of America has done a magnificent job by streamlining their professional class of liars down to the manageable number of two every four years.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jul 26 2008 13:32 utc | 4

The elected members of both of America's political parties serve the corporatist, elitist, imperial agenda. That being the case, there is no political duopoly, no two-party system, just the appearance of it. There is a monopoly of disaster capitalists ever constricting their grip on the victims of their usury.

Victims themselves of the debt virus, the need to create ever higher mountains of debt in order to expand ceaselessly, they cannot but accept the need to take a bit more each year from the lesser rungs of society. Their pile has to grow, and for that to happen, everyone else's pile has to shrink, relentlessly.

The appearance of two opposing political parties is the least effort necessary to avoid the appearance of political monopoly by the disaster capitalists. To openly admit one party rule would galvanize the masses to focus on their masters versus their penury, and make revolution the priority.

Two political parties, both funded by and serving the exact same economic masters, causes the masses to focus on the horse race between these alleged champions of we, the people.

Shout for the red or the blue faction. Cheer the white hats versus the black hats. End up in the same place every four years, with the only real change being that everyone's pile is smaller.

Posted by: Antifa | Jul 26 2008 15:38 utc | 5

Obama is different and will facilitate real change in the American body-politic.

Duverger's Law is all very well but Bush/Cheney are in charge and have made everyone in the world witness real depravity.

First the presidency, then the rest.

The continuous negativity of this blog is the anti-thesis of everything Billmon stood for. Move on.

Kucinich for A.G.

Posted by: waldo | Jul 26 2008 16:19 utc | 6

b asks: Now how might such a system be changed?

Changing the system is easy... just wait until the middle class gets really angry as poverty looms closer and closer (getting evicted from their home, getting laid off when economy cools down, getting shafted when dollar looses value); as elections are perceived as fraudulent in wide circles; as foreign adventures only highligh the shortcomings of the system, but never reduce them or provide a relieve valve... Then bullets will fly, and houses will burn, and everything will become different.

However, if the real question was: Now how might such a system be changed for the better, and without widespread violence and destruction

Then I will have to confess: I really do not know.

Posted by: No So Ana | Jul 26 2008 16:36 utc | 7

waldo: Debs assessment of amerika's body politic is spot on. b's question is how might such a system be changed?

you see, the criticism here is THE SYSTEM, and how it's fatally flawed, not specifically your messiah, Obomb. if you can't handle this level of criticism; if all you can do is parrot slogans here, then i would suggest immediate cessation of reading/posting.

as for the system, it needs to break, and that is what it's in the process of doing.

Posted by: | Jul 26 2008 16:49 utc | 8


Posted by: Lizard | Jul 26 2008 16:50 utc | 9

Heartily agree, the system is rotten but nevertheless it continues to exist, life seems to arise fron putrefaction, the way humus is created from rotting leaves and branches, through the growth of fungi and mosses and bacteria. Rotenness is everywhere and out of it grows the best. Without Dante being expelled from Florence, would we have had the most sublime work of art? Without the First World War, would women have achieved the right to vote,and African Americans an equal standing in the Armed Forces and eventually equal citizenship and eventually an Africanamerican candidate to the presidency? Do I want murder and mayhem? not at all, but a reality based mind understands the worth of everything, what seems good and what seems bad. The alternatives are,a religious view of the world or a perpetually unsatisfying one.

Posted by: jlcg | Jul 26 2008 16:53 utc | 10

for those of you hoping for the system to break down, all I can say is be very careful what you wish for, you might just get it. I do not long for a Mad Max world.

Waldo, for whatever reason, seems to believe that Obama will deliver us from evil. that is a very tall order and based on what I have observed so far simply can not/will not happen because it will not be allowed to happen. Anyone who truly believes the president of the US can do whatever he wants is living in la la land.

as Malooga used to say until he simply grew tired of repeating himself, change has to start at the local level. that is where the true power is. get some decent folks elected as dog catcher, sheriff, and district attorney and watch them like a hawk. there is no other way.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 26 2008 17:48 utc | 11

@waldo - The continuous negativity of this blog is the anti-thesis of everything Billmon stood for.

You seem to have forgotten those 'Looming American Fascism' posters Billmon put up ...

Posted by: b | Jul 26 2008 18:26 utc | 12

i can understand waldo's ptv. it's hard imagining we don't have a golden solution around the next bend. just this AM i was sitting around the cafe w/a random group of sat morn chatters and we were all speculating whether obama is 'playing the middle' to win just as george did w/his 'no nation building' bs back in 99. some people are convinced he will swing to the left and be the great black hope. do i still harbor this wish, sure i do. do i believe in it? gee, i wish i wasn't a sceptic but it's in my blood.

for those of you hoping for the system to break down, all I can say is be very careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

dos, 'hoping for the system to breakdown' comes from a failure of the imagination to comprehend any solution that might alleviate the seemingly inevitable any other way. show me the way baby! the 'hope' factor isn't a wish for chaos so much as a wish for equilibrium. and besides it isn't going to happen because we wish for it, it will either happen or it won't like a damn breaking. once it gets closer and closer to the breaking point it should become quite obvious to masses and masses of people what is happening and then hella yes there will be an opportunity to fix the problem, just like there is now. the difference will be the pressure to accept alternate views and start listening to people offering alternatives instead of blindly following the 'drill more' crowd.

i think the next generation is very much aware of a threat to humanity and the globe that was relegated to the 7th day adventists when i was being raised.

the 'wish' is for balance. if that entails a collapse of the system as we know it, so be it. when one has to choose between extinction and collapse, a collapse may seem like a gift. heck, under certain circumstances it would certainly be a gift.

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2008 18:57 utc | 13

some ideas: the homeless should occupy homes left vacant from the mortgage meltdown. we should stop paying our federal income taxes. we should rip up all our lawns and plant victory gardens. liquify assets, stockpile food, get ready to trade and barter, hold a little silver if you're lucky. secure, support, and defend your community from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

here's the conundrum i can't get past to try and seriously answer the question b poses up top: deregulation and privatization have reeked the havoc they were intended to, because from that havoc a small percentage of people have gotten obscenely wealthy. but the answer isn't more regulation and nationalizing industries like energy because the sycophants who call themselves public officials are too concerned with protecting their own investments to be able to faithfully serve the constituents they were elected to represent.

but the economic meltdown will only be a disaster for upper-middle class down. for the tippy-top who remain insulated by international diversification it could be a great chance to buy cheap. it doesn't matter how many people lose their homes, jobs, dignity, minds, hope (and because hope is a limitless commodity, that's what they're selling us now through illusory oppositional forces like asses and elephants) because the master class no longer cares to conceal their malevolence toward the vast under classes.

through purchased congressional seats, judicial benches, and the publicly anointed/privately selected executive, federal and state government agencies will continue to escalate domestic surveillance, para-military police units, and watch lists because mass movements like labor strikes, or citizen-imposed economic sanctions, can be effective instruments of progressive change, and when that happens the people become what the master class always knew them as: the real enemy to their unchecked dominance over their property (us).

Dan of Steel: personally i'm not wishing/nor just seems increasingly necessary.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 26 2008 19:42 utc | 14

annie: we were cross posting, and i gotta say i like the way you say it much better. :)

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 26 2008 19:47 utc | 15


i think in his own way billmon was every bit as pessimistic as the darkest of our commentators & i certainly count myself in their number

i cannot remember what lenin call parliamentary 'executives' but it was something like they were a board of management for capital & that is how i see both parties in the united states. i'm not in the least optimistic because in part i think there is a very real & active schism within the elites about how far to go the road they are not travelling. i am far from convinced the 'moderates' are winning or even that the moderates are not part of some machiavellian politic - & that for example i think there is a very real risk of an attack on iran. i still think there is a rish of impoverishing the poor & middle class in america in a way 'moderate' ideologues of capital like paul craig roberts are so evidently frightened of

jerusalem as the site of the u s embassy, undivided jerusalem, africa, latin america etc etc - on & on - these are as bad as anything in mcains monstrous mind

the supreme court & nearly all other branches of the judiciary are so corrupted - that habeus corpus - passed & went as if it never existed - the patriot acts & all the laws in relation to 'homeland security' & immigration are comparable with the degraded jurisprudence of nazi germany

there is a boook about the wild east - it is published by harvard - an academic account of how the germans judicially & militarily prepared & acted in operation barbarossa - & particularly how they dealt with partisans - who like bush the nazis preferred to call terrorists. it is chilling the steps - the legalistic stepss are exactly the same as those used by the bush cheney junta in iraq & in the united states. i mean they are exactly the same. perhaps all imperial wars create their false jurisprudence but finally it reachest into the darkest core of men - to the malignancy which has always been at the heart of 'christian civilisation' - st augustine was one of the first to understand it, luther was one of the first to instrumentalise it

i'd like to look to the eat nut the dalai lama comports himself like any other cia hood in the service of the great game - karzai making my skin crawl with the utter deceit which is whooly his own undertaking in the service of empire & hatred of his own people. the puppets inn baghdad dishonour not only their people but all humanity

you know i am a fan of the roman noirs - you might know the oeuvre of the nazi writer daniel silva - who uses as his central thesis - the superhuman honesty of the state of israel & its servants & the utter perfidity of the arabs & all their works whether at the spiritual, artistic or political level. i would be hard put to find a thinking as depraved as silva's but in fact he just articulates the dominant ideology of empire & its thug-in-waiting, israel. when this kind of shit is served up by popular cultur whether its '24' in the us or 'spooks' in england - where their overblown sense of importance & competence are sold to us when the oppossite is the truth. that they are useless, incompetent, are not 'inteligence' agencies in the normal sense of the word - but are gossips who have grown up with the guinness book of records & see numbers but never people - who understand ideas only as truncheons & not as tools to open doors

like the nazis before them they do not even speak the language of the people they are conquering, their english does not go pass - go go go - & their warrior-king petraeus - communicated just as crudely - lies so latent - you know even he doesn't believe them

so the 'pessimism' you speak of waldo - does not seem to be anything more than comprehension of the facts

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 26 2008 20:14 utc | 16

But a progressive agenda eventually does foresee a unified Earth, which would be the ultimate empire I suppose. I'd rather have a progressive version of empire than a conservative one.

Posted by: Fixer | Jul 26 2008 22:33 utc | 17

b asks: Now how might such a system be changed?

I think there is an answer: Sociocracy

I would encourage everyone reading this post who is genuinely interested in a better system to read the book "We the People" by John Buck and Sharon Villines. You can find more about it here.

I have been looking for an answer to this question for a long time and Socriocracy is the only potentially viable answer I have found.

In a way the problem is not just democracy, or the two party state, or the laws allowing our politicians to be bought. When you get right down to it, the problem is really more one in general human organisation along hierachical lines. A hierachic society works fine when you have a business up to a certain size, or a 16th century feudal stae or any situation where size is less than millions of people and it is not necessary for there to equal rights for all members of the system. We have a democracy, but its still basically a hierachic system, and the political parities themselves are hierachic organisations. Maybe not in theory, but definitely in practice.

But in a society of millions of people a system which is based on concentrating power in the hands of a few just won't work. I am no fan of free markets, but there was a valid point that communist system did not work very well because it concentrated decision making. Our society has the same problem today. There is no real way that important feedback from you, or me, or anyone outside the "elite" to make its way to the decision makers.

My hope is for society to slowly adopt socicratic processes. First at small levels, in businesses, body corporate's for a building. Then perhaps move onto neighbourhood organisations and local councils until eventually it becomes such a normal part of organistion at the local level everywhere that making an entire country sociocratic is inevitable. All this depends on whether Sociocracy works as well as is promised and to that question I really don't know the answer. But the only way anyone will know is if people start trying it.

Posted by: swio | Jul 26 2008 23:12 utc | 18

'giap, the scholar as ever

Posted by: | Jul 26 2008 23:24 utc | 19

Annie, thank you for your comment.


First "you see, the criticism here is THE SYSTEM, and how it's fatally flawed, not specifically your messiah, Obomb. If you can't handle this level of criticism; if all you can do is parrot slogans here, then i would suggest immediate cessation of reading/posting."

Bite me, whiner. Oh yeah, TEH SYSTEM is fucked. What triggered this brilliant observation? When did you first realise this astounding revelation? When Kennedys were butchered? When Ford pardoned Nixon? When Bush 1 pardoned everybody? Iran/Contra? When the republicans sent investigators to search the underwear drawers of the Democratic president's wife and broadcast his sex life incessantly on the media?

No, you waited 'til when the the first black man runs for president. When a democrat looks like he has a chance at the presidency; as soon as there's the remotest chance at change, waaah! teh systems fucked!

As if Obama doesn't have enough with which to contend; a lickspittle, whorish right-wing media which has more slags parroting bullshit than America has fat people, the documented stupidest electorate in the civilsed world and a country that's been wracked with racism since it's inception.

Billmon raged against Bush, neo-cons, the fascist direction they were leading the countery, illegal war, the corruption of the American democracy and prostitution of the American media. He didn't erect straw men with which to rag the democratic candidate who stands a good chance of winning IF he's supported by the electorate.

I don't have any Messiah but I'm able to recognise a good man, an intelligent man, a motivated man and Obama's all of that and much more. If Americans can no longer find it in themselves to trust somebody, America is lost to the lying, amoral, greedy fascists who have degraded the country and everybody in it.

Obama is the one realistic chance of real change in an otherwise extremely bleak political landscape. All the theorists here holding forth on political pipe dreams will not change a fucking thing when dealing with ruthless animals like Cheney and narcissitic sociopaths like Bush to say nothing of intransignetly ignorant american electorate -

That's why I say, first the presidency then the rest. Without the presidency, you've got nothing but an endless vista of the politics of war, division and the political power paedophiles that have lowered America's moral standing in the eyes of all the world.

Posted by: waldo | Jul 27 2008 5:52 utc | 20

@dan of steele

for those of you hoping for the system to break down, all I can say is be very careful what you wish for, you might just get it. I do not long for a Mad Max world.

Looking back at history, nearly every revolt, uprising or revolution resulted in widespread violence and destruction. I am fully aware of this.

Should this happen to the US, it is very very likely to spread abroad ... noone anywhere would be safe.

A common theme of many mass uprisings was: During a long time the elite became ever more corrupt, ever more enclosed in power games within their own circles, ever more extracting more taxes from the otherwise ignored peasants. Then something came along, somtimes small, sometimes big (like famine) which ignited the mix.

Now predictions are hard. Right now it seems that the US is far along the way towards instability. They are still patching up the worst symptoms, and keeping everything nearly level, but their efforts look ever more threadbare. This may go on for quite a long time, or it might explode soon, no way to tell now. (Although afterwards, everyone will declare: It must have happened this way...)

What happens if everything goes up in flames is even more up to guessing: Too many factions, too may forces. Maybe fascism at its worst, maybe it becomes better, take your guess.

Posted by: No So Ana | Jul 27 2008 6:09 utc | 21

waldo: your insinuation that i, or anyone, have waited until a black man has a chance to be president to decry the system is ridiculous and extremely offensive considering THE TOPIC OF THE THREAD is what "triggered this brilliant observation"

here's an interesting article about Obama written by Amiri Baraka that you might enjoy, and certainly helps make the case you are trying to make, but without the name calling.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 27 2008 6:16 utc | 22

I hope waldo is right, but I think there is very little reason to believe that Obama is the man he hopes for.

Someone who wants to scale back the occupation of Iraq in order to beef up the occupation of Afghanistan is not "change I can believe in." Someone who wants to bring back the foreign policy "realism" of the Clinton era is not someone who will change the permanent Establishment's policy of permanent war. Obama is a kindler, gentler Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair with a tan.

The Democraps, like the Rethuglicans, are both wholly owned subsidiaries of the MICFiC - the

M ilitary
I ndustrial
C ongressional
Fi nancial
C orporate Media Complex

- a conspiracy to use, abuse, and confuse the people, to "milk, shear, and slaughter the sheeple", figuratively speaking - except the slaughter is literal.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Jul 27 2008 6:25 utc | 23

obama speaks w/ sugar on his tongue. or rather, high (yellow) fructose syrup - even sweeter than the regular sugar, which really gets those opioids fired up!

Posted by: b real | Jul 27 2008 6:54 utc | 24

let me take another stab: preparing to spar with an embarrassingly weak McPain by rushing to the middle/right is obviously a political strategy. it's not surprising Obomb has doubled back on those initial pledges to avoid "politics as usual," because that's what politicians do, but it is evidence that despite all that charisma and intelligence, becoming a viable candidate in amerika requires flexible ideals, corporate obedience, and confusing amerika's security with Israel's.

that's why instead of wasting my energy blowing a little trumpet for Obomb, i try to remain critical of the whole fucked up election process. sorry if that pessimism upsets you, waldo. try and not take it so personally.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 27 2008 7:03 utc | 25

bravo giap, bravo...
Ever the truth teller... thank you comrade.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 27 2008 7:14 utc | 26

waldo, damn you're hot when you rant.

Obama is the one realistic chance of real change in an otherwise extremely bleak political landscape(ed note: true). All the theorists here holding forth on political pipe dreams will not change a fucking thing when dealing with ruthless animals like Cheney and narcissitic sociopaths like Bush to say nothing of intransignetly ignorant american electorate(ed note: true) -

That's why I say, first the presidency then the rest. (ed note: let us pray, not prey)Without the presidency, you've got nothing but an endless vista of the politics of war, division and the political power paedophiles that have lowered America's moral standing in the eyes of all the world.

sorry, i just had to repeat that.

my fear is that even w/an obama presidency we still could have an endless vista of the politics of war, division and the political power pedophiles that lowered America's moral standing in the eyes of all the world.

cleansing that could be more than a full time job and could lead to assassination.

No, you waited 'til when the the first black man runs for president. When a democrat looks like he has a chance at the presidency; as soon as there's the remotest chance at change, waaah! teh systems fucked!

welll, i think you are wrong in this regard. debs for sure and the rest of us to boot have been railing the system from the day we met, it is glue that has held us together. if there is any forum anywhere that's changed it's tune since obama came w/in our radar, it isn't us mooners. so please don't take it personal as we are a sceptic bunch. i bet you there isn't one poster who doesn't hope he aspires to the ideals he professes(sans the latest one jeruselum/fisa/afghanistan escalation etc). realistically tho, the deck is stacked against a clean slate, but i will root for you/us, and obama and america (of course). but rooting is not the same as blind faith, it is only hope.

let us pray, not prey.

i hope you're right waldo, and i hope obama fulfills our wishes. but i aint banking on it.

Posted by: annie | Jul 27 2008 7:19 utc | 27

i mentioned in another thread how loaded with propaganda the latest installment of Batman is, but this Dissident Voice "review" does a much better job of describing how this film reinforces certain values the system requires of its plebes to ensure control when uncontrollable agents of chaos threaten its stability.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 27 2008 7:22 utc | 28

Obama is in certain ways more like Vladimir Putin than Bill Clinton.

To set up some context, no other country in history has been run like a corporation to anywhere near the extent that the USA has. The obsession with quarterly profits, institutionalization of CYA and the circle-of-branding that now totally engulfs the branders as much as it does the branded. Overall not an institutionalization model that suggests immaculate competence or we'd really be screwed.

And theres lots more context thats going to get in the way of the "message" from any president interested in "change". What Obama is probably going to try to do is cultivate key people who are not too pre-disposed to shying away from and articulating counter-contexts. And if he wins the election, he has a pretty good chance of achieving a decent amount of his agenda.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 27 2008 10:41 utc | 29

That's why I say, first the presidency then the rest. Without the presidency, you've got nothing but an endless vista of the politics of war, division and the political power paedophiles that have lowered America's moral standing in the eyes of all the world."

Keep believing that and they'll keep lying to you while they take your votes and money. Douglas Adams knew what The President is for. He's there to give you hope. Hope that someone will come along and save America, and you, so you won't have to do it yourself. So you can just turn up and cheer for him the same way you watch a football match. He'll smile right down the camera and make you believe he really cares about you and your problems. Just like the talking heads on the TV morning shows make you believe they're talking to you so you don't feel boring and alone while you eat breakfast.

Haven't you worked it out yet? The president is just a game. Its just a distraction. Its just a toy you can pull a lever on every four years so you don't start paying attention to who is really running the country and how they're doing it.

And the best part of it is when you "take the presidency" all that happens is you find out "your candidate" is just another part of the system. Then you become discouraged and give up. And another generation learns that the sytem doesn't work.

Posted by: swio | Jul 27 2008 11:36 utc | 30

"b asks: Now how might such a system be changed?"

Less is more.

The original government was run by the Articles of Confederation and that lasted 9 years before the tragic error of the American Constitution. The original idea was that each State was a sovereign nation that came into voluntary union with the others.

The central government was deemed "too weak" and the change to a powerful central government was made. Ever since then we have seen the central government become ever more powerful until there is no place on the planet Earth that does not have to consider "Washington" in making decisions and plans.

The answer is that the central government of the USA must fall, and be replaced by regional confederacies. This can easily happen if Europe and China would just stop propping up a bankrupt empire. Let is fall, so that the earth might have a chance at peace.

Posted by: Buckaroo | Jul 27 2008 13:11 utc | 31

Some MoA posters want to see the 'good side' of what Waldo says, well I cannot do that, in fact I say more fool them because it is exactly this same bullshit that we saw on this site in 04 that perpetuated the anyone but Bush campaign which ended so disastrously for the people of the world especially those outside amerika who always bear the brunt of the likes Waldo's ignorance mixed with 'hope'.
That is an easy amalgam for a dab hand at speechifying such as Obama to summon but it has yet to feed one person on the planet or protect one child from the amerikan jackboot which has crushed so many children's bodies during my lifetime.

Fuck you and your piss weak attempt at accusing us of racism Waldo. Of all the gutless attacks on MoA by dem party hacks yours is the most facile. I hope you're not being paid for this arrant stupidity cause if you are the Obama machine is in even worse shape than I thought.

You know nothing and I was prepared to let your stupidity ride. After all a dem hack always turns up here every election year with their message of 'trust' for the professional pol and their coterie of paid liars. But when the sleek and slimy dem machine hacks come in here and accuse us of racism while their party sides with money against african amerikans right across amerika, that is simply too much. It is beyond ironical and is simply crass.

If you want to talk about racism take a look at your asshole of a candidate as he traipses around the world boasting of his plans to crush Palestinian dreams by siding with the most racist administration on the planet, that bunch of corrupt fat white men who run Israel.
If Obama cares for africans why does he continue the oppression of self determination in africa by supporting those dictatorships (eg Nigeria and Kenya)which give their nations resources to amerika in return for power, leaving their people to literally live off the smell of an oily rag while they build up their foreign bank balances.

Obama is happy to support the continued starving of the people of Zimbabwe by sanction because that country's leadership won't give away the nation's resources to the 'developed' world.

I don't play the % of blood game but I do know that issues called race are normally more dependant on culture than any amount of racial inheritance and Obama's formative years were spent in a white amerikan culture and everything the man has said and done especially his despicable use of Jeremiah Wright (now there is a man who would make a great prez) reveals Obama to be what what my aboriginal friends call a coconut - brown on the outside and white in the middle.
Even so - when he was running for the dem selection most of us here in MoA, myself amongst them, favoured his win over that of the dreadful clinton hack machine - some on the grounds you see in the thread above - maybe he will keep his promises. Some went for Obama because we knew how bad clinton was but Obama was unknown and some because we didn't want clinton's gross racism to be successful. In fact I wouldn't be surprised to find Waldo started out on the clinton 'team'. But any port in a storm eh Waldo - back the winner that's the way to the top in a hack machine.

Supporting Obama was purely a best of a shockingly bad bunch stand, at the time I was aware just as most others were that anyone who could win the dem nomination was by definition unsuited for the job of prez. Nothing that has happened since has done anything to alter that. In fact Obama's immediate rush to kiss the feet of AIPAC as soon as the negotiations with the clintons was sealed (god knows how many lives were traded at that ugly scene the clintons would be looking for maximum return on their expenditure that's for sure) has meant that any hope felt by MoA-ites was immediately dashed.

Since then Obama has gone missing over Bilderberg weekend (one for the conspiracy buffs), threatened Iran, a nation which has been quietly going about it's business but is in the unfortunate position of owning resources Obama's backers want to steal, most tellingly Obama has refused to include the huge 'enduring' bases in Iraq as part of the Iraqi withdrawal he talks of. Everything he has done has been typical of an amerikan prez who plans to fuck over humanity to satisfy the needs of his backers and I have no hope that he will do an 'about turn' on victory.

You see I've seen it all before. As soon as Obama wins his first term, he and his backers and hackers will start thinking about winning the second term. And if he wins a second term (that is something I doubt he will for reasons too complex to go into here) then he won't do anything because we will be told he no longer has the support of the Congress, that they are more focussed on who is gonna be the next prez.

Obama will be a 'lame duck prez' by the time he gets around to doing anything he had planned on doing. If he even planned on anything. This is a man with few overt bedrock beliefs. I believe the disgusting way he threw Jeremiah Wright under the nearest bus tells us more about Barak Obama than any number of Nuremberg style speeches could.

We know where this goes we have seen it so many times before. The 12 steppers have that saying about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome being insanity, and I'm afraid that is the state of the demopublican party. Anyone who votes demopublican and expects anything else than than the disappointment which has always accompanied a dem victory, is crazy.

Put your energy into an alternative. It is this continuous whine from dem hacks who have committed themselves to corruption, sold their soul, and want everyone else to do the same, which is the biggest hurdle for amerikans to overcome if they want to create real change, an enduring change for the better.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 27 2008 21:34 utc | 32

well waldo, are you a dem hack man ? I do'nt think so but if you are, you have a tough assignment here.

anyways, its a tough but excellent debate. And no ones leaving till we're done. Then we all shake hands. I just ordered a jug of Guinness.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 28 2008 0:17 utc | 33

Annie, thanks. Jony, I'm an Australian who served during the Vietnam war and studied American politics ever since; hence my motivation.

"Fuck you and your piss weak attempt at accusing us of racism Waldo"

Google -Advanced Search Preferences
Search: the web pages from Australia
Web Results 1 - 10 of about 704,000 for obama white vote.

I have to be honest here, the thought that deep down there was unconscious racism involved did occur to me. To those whom I've slighted in doing that, my apologies.
That said, the problem does exist (#32...reveals Obama to be what what my aboriginal friends call a coconut - brown on the outside and white in the middle.)

Obama is fighting not only the long odds that any Democrat faces but also the racism that DOES exist in America, and so the question has to be asked - why does 'teh fucked system' problem have to be resolved now?

The answer is, it can't be, it won't be and all the theorising in the world doesn't rate an iota of importance compared to getting a Democrat in the White House. Raising it as an issue is not only redundant but counter-productive in the extreme.
As for all the smartest guys in the room who insist that that it won't make a difference, look back at all the social benefits for ordinary people that came from Democratic administrations and the direct opposite that is the hallmark of republican ones.

I know I'm like WALL-E here, shovelling little bits of crap in a toxic environment but I'm deeply suspicious about the motivation of people who are criticising the Democratic candidate or making him responsible for the abysmal state of America's poltical environment at this juncture of this crucial election.

If all the examples of rearing fascism that has been so well documented in blogs like this over the last eight years don't convince you to concentrate on the goal of a Democratic presidency, wallow in your cynicism, join PUMA, don't vote (or throw it away on a fringe candidate)and watch your prophecies of doom eventuate.

Posted by: waldo | Jul 28 2008 3:04 utc | 34

If there is no difference between them, then all the efforts of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Diebold (self-proclaimed deliverers of Ohio) the Heritage foundation, and AEI to support Republicans are pretty foolish. Yes they support democrats too sometimes, but only ones that embarrass the mainstream dems. Maybe they are fools too but they are at least good at gaining power.

It is called moving the center, the alternative is the immiseration model, and its historical track record leans authoritarian. The beauty of being authoritarian is that you can pursue both models at the same time, as long as you have scapegoats. They have.

Posted by: boxcar mike | Jul 28 2008 4:52 utc | 35

waldo: you can't hear it, but i am applauding you vigorously right now. i'm impressed, really impressed. you apologize for calling us racists then reiterate your accusation by citing the term coconut Debs aboriginal friends use, like amerikan natives calling their brand of pandering sellout apples.

maybe using father's day to call out irresponsible black fathers (with the desired effect of appealing to whites by obliquely stating "hey, i'm not that kind of nigger, and to prove it i'll shit talk them on father's day") wasn't such a good idea. i would assume that is the kind of behavior that has jesse wanting to rip gobombya's balls off.

also, you apparently don't seem to understand stumping for an amerikan candidate here at MoA is pointless, considering the audience you are addressing is predominately not amerikan.

conserve your energy, waldo. you're going to need it to maintain those illusions you can't seem to shake off.

p.s. there are LOTS of other things going on in the world besides amerika's election.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 28 2008 5:06 utc | 36

that was garbled, let me clarify.

waldo asked: "why does 'teh fucked system' problem have to be resolved now?"

i would ask: why does amerika's rampant racism have to be resolved before a candidate for the president of amerika can be criticized for the policies he's supporting?

race is being used in this election as a mystifier to cloud the issues of class. the insinuation you weakly apologized for plays directly into distracting voters from the fiscal house of cards falling apart all around us because the system is broken and you're hoping the new, shiny, intelligent, articulate brand name product will ascend to the throne and wield the power to save us.

don't get me wrong, i'm not trying to minimize the importance of racial injustice here. amerika is a deeply racist country, and because those tensions most certainly exist, it will be those fears and prejudices that will be plucked by the virtuosos of political theatre to benefit Coke. or Pepsi.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 28 2008 5:33 utc | 37

Can this political system be saved? would be my own personal paraphrase of b's poignant question

Someone who sees an opening while working within the current political system is David Sirota. Here are some blurbs for his book "The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington." The book is a NY Times bestseller, and a firsthand narrative account inside America's new populist movement.
The book's official website:

Publishers Weekly
"Sirota chronicles how ordinary citizens on the right and the left are marshaling their frustrations with the government into uprisings across the country and analyzes the effectiveness and longevity of their efforts. Citing developments as disparate as progressive political victories in the Montana state senate and the rise of the California Minutemen militia, the author weaves entertaining case studies, keeping his tone conversational, the narrative fast-paced and the content accessible. Sirota hits numerous high notes, including a fine elucidation of continuing Democratic support for the Iraq War, a breakdown of the 'echo chamber' qualities of beltway television shows like Hardball and salient observations of how and why the Democratic Party severed ties with the liberal uprising of the '60s era...It remains to be seen whether this rage will snowball into something large enough to upset entrenched political systems, but for the time being, this book presents a rousing account of the local uprisings already in effect." - April, 2008

Tom Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas?
"After so many decades of fake populism - of revolts by the wealthy, red-state fantasies, and stock-picking grandmas - could we finally be looking at the real thing? In this compelling book, rooted in history but as contemporary as this morning's newspaper, David Sirota gives us reason to hope."

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo
"David Sirota is a clear-headed and principled hell-raiser for economic justice. More like him and we'll have a real uprising on our hands."

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone correspondent
"David Sirota is honest, uncompromising, passionate, and a brilliant communicator. He is the most important progressive voice we have in this country. The Uprising should be read by anyone who wants to understand exactly how the ordinary person has been sold out by the political system."

Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy
"This book engages in the nearly lost art of reporting to tell us what's going on in the many places that the elite media can't be bothered to look. It chronicles just how fed up Americans have become, and nominates a few heroes for them to turn to: that great senator Bernie Sanders, or the activist nun Pat Daly, for instance. It cheered me a good deal to read how many Americans are finally starting to fight back against the rule of greed that has been our lot for too many years."

Tom Hayden, author of The Tom Hayden Reader
"With a historian's and a journalist's storytelling gifts, David Sirota describes the populist tide that so many elites fear and ignore at all our peril: multinational corporations that rip off local communities as if they were resource colonies, a national security state that manipulates our young to bleed for that same empire, and a political elite more concerned with preserving its power than empowering citizens to become self-governing. Since leaving the Beltway behind, David Sirota has become a must-read chronicler in the populist tradition."

Joe Trippi, strategist for Howard Dean and John Edwards
"David Sirota details with clarity the sharp knife of corporate greed pointed at the throat of our democracy - and the populist uprising that may thwart the threat if enough Americans heed his call. If you love your country, buy The Uprising, read it, and act."

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Jul 28 2008 14:24 utc | 38

Kosovo (dem prez)

Did the intervention in Kosovo really have anything to do with the Empire's expansion?

Hey, while we're at it, who was in charge when you joined in WWII?

Posted by: vimothy | Jul 28 2008 15:19 utc | 39

A large part of the difficulty is that the ‘System’ has served Americans well. The core beliefs of individuality, freedom, particularly economic freedom and freedom of speech, the myth of ‘small government’, coupled with moral pride at being ‘right’ (anti-racist, pro-abortion, whatever) which it fosters; the reality of a ‘rich land’ and a powerful army; the adherence to a supposedly superior economic system, have all blinded Americans to the true role of Gvmt. and politics and left them open to being scammed, hoodwinked, cheated, and to cheat themselves.

Economically, US foreign policy has not negatively impacted Americans in an obvious way; the recent (80’s on or so) sharp downturn in social mobility, the lack or dire expense of decent medical care, poor educational opportunities, etc. affect part of the population but not those who write op-eds or burble on the TV.

The US has turned into the most class driven country in the devp. world, but this is not seen, or not acknowledged, it is a taboo topic - the strength of America cannot be crippled by an ideological revolution - it would collapse. Lizard wrote: race is being used in this election as a mystifier to cloud the issues of class ..

Americans have the internets and washing machines and are not crazy murderers like duh, those sick guys in Haiti, yuck.

Objections, opposition, movements for change, even the sufferers are so scattered, divided, disorganized, ineffective as one-issue types that nothing is to be hoped from them. Their agitation simply reifies free speech, makes for feel-good, and at the same time mirrors, replicates, the struggles that go on in the corridors of power: money paid, influence bartered, acceptance struggled for, TV time obtained or paid for, powerful contacts made, etc. etc. Their very popularity (not Unions but 9/11 truth for ex.) speaks for keeping up the present system - anyone can affect events, much as better soap makers will sell more soap...leaving the basic landscape unchanged.

Empires don’t give up when they have arms. Their ppl don’t give up when they think they will be OK only others will be affected.. Grassroots movements .. hmm, but that would mean the break up of the US.

mistah C. wrote : "Tony Blair with a tan", wonderful, I’m going to steal it.

Posted by: Tangerine | Jul 28 2008 16:08 utc | 40

Hey, just this morning I heard it again from an "insider." McSame will be the next prez. A "serious incident" will occur to make it so. Perhaps not rigged tallies of the usual sort, but something.

I am just reporting here; not convinced either way. Behavior of current regime indicates it expects to keep power.

Other items in above prediction: oil back to $50/bbl after topping out at $150; Saudi and other Arab producers go bankrupt, dump dollars; economic crash here and elsewhere; North American Union becomes a reality, with Amero as new currency. None of those are unreasonable expectations given the instability we see now.

Best not to be so confident that Obama will be next prez.

Posted by: rapt | Jul 28 2008 16:23 utc | 42

I shouldda known -- them Damn Dems and their Big Oil buddies!

What about WWII?

Posted by: vimothy | Jul 28 2008 16:24 utc | 43

why yes vimothy, both great wars had US democratic presidents at the helm.

Posted by: | Jul 28 2008 16:50 utc | 44

Ever since I first came across it I've suspected the North-American Union / Amero meme is pure Agency disinformation, because it makes no sense. The elite would gain little (they already have NAFTA); and they would lose their biggest population of supporters, that is, the flag-waving set who depend on believing that national borders (ours, of course, not Somalia's) mean something to the elite.

Posted by: Cloud | Jul 29 2008 1:15 utc | 45

The Panama Canal Zone was given back, complete with its prize asset, by a democrat, over the fierce opposition of republicans. Not that it makes up for the invasion, but still, it contradicts the main post.

Carter also pulled the rug out from under the Shah.

Dem congress cut off aid to South Vietnam. That was military-industrial profits cut off.

Dem congress got the FBI out of domestic political surveillance, at least of Hooverian proportions, got FISA passed.

Tangerine, you cite the sudden reduction in social mobility starting around the 80s. I don't think that Carter would have dismantled progressive taxation as Reagan did.

Social Security has been in the crosshairs since Reagan.

Think about the supreme court.

what have they done for us lately? squat. that is true.

The right does not have a monopoly on simplistic us vs. them worldviews.

Posted by: boxcar mike | Jul 29 2008 2:23 utc | 46

boxcar mike: the new deal had to die and the ideologues who used the free market as a cover for anything goes have had their reign and here we are with weekly bank runs and stagflation seeping into the cracks of consumer confidence.

Americans have the internets and washing machines and are not crazy murderers like duh, those sick guys in Haiti, yuck...objections, opposition, movements for change, even the sufferers are so scattered, divided, disorganized, ineffective as one-issue types that nothing is to be hoped from them

i shudder at the accuracy of that statement, tangerine. and it hurts extra bad because if we realized the struggle is a class issue we'd have more brothers and sisters than is currently conceivable.

but amerikans care nothing for haitians or any other poverty-stricken "otherworld" that may impede our ability to satisfy ourselves with retail purchases.

it doesn't matter that our insanity is not sustainable.

though the ignorant are proud...

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 29 2008 7:10 utc | 47

nothing points out the accuracy of tangerine's observation better than the recent shooting in a Tennesee church by late middle aged unemployed man who was angry at losing his government handout and hated liberals.

it is quite a feat to get your head around the hypocrisy and disconnects of this little episode of life in the US.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 29 2008 9:38 utc | 48

Debs wrote ”they are quite prepared to hold the line until their mates in the other mob are able to do it for them.”. How true is that! The classic good cop bad cop scenario, superimposed on a national level, with the pseudo-left, be that the Democrats in the US, the Social Democrats in Germany or Labour in Britain, more than willing to play the good cop role, as long as the outcome is as desired, the pleb gets done.

These view words from one of Obama’s”>speeches give me the creeps:

“…I will finish the fight against Al Qaeda…”

How do you finish the fight against AQ, which these days is not so much an identifiable organisation as an idea at home in every country on planet earth? To me that sounds more like a continuation of what’s been going on for the last couple of centuries, a militaristic approach to anything that can’t be bought. From his comments on how he would without hesitation authorise incursions into and attacks on Pakistani targets, I am left with little doubt that Obama is in no way inclined to stop or even reverse the long held US policy of making the globe one big operations theatre for its armed forces, in their quest to fulfil their master’s dream, absolute world domination.

Neither Obama nor McCain are masters though, they are puppets, getting their marching orders from higher up in the chain in hushed up meetings such as this years Bilderberg conference in Va. The top of the pyramid, where everything joins, where the capital river reaches the ocean, there are no such petty distinctions such as Democrats or Republicans, left or right. I can imagine that in the echelons of real power, people very rarely talk money, they talk long term strategies on how to carve up the world and enslave mankind along the way, in those strategies money is one of many means, but not the end. When it comes down to it, its worthless, coloured paper, not even useful as toilet tissue.

Fighting terrorism, something which essentially is a police matter, will be both candidate’s excuse for continued military operations across the planet. It seems they and their league of drones don’t have the horizon to comprehend the irony tho, and by continuing the US military assault on innocent civilians in far away countries, keep playing into extremists hands. Just as planned. More extremists means more need for police and population control, the grand scheme unfolding just beautifully. What a bunch of mugs.

…And I will lead the world to combat the common threats of the 21st century: nuclear weapons and terrorism; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease….

LEAD the WORLD!!!. It doesn’t matter whose ramblings on foreign policy one reads, Hillary’s, Obama’s or McCain’s, the common theme is “Running planet Earth”, almost Hitleresque, excuse the term. His language doesn’t even hide the fact that he sees himself as a warrior of sort. ”Combat threats..” Sure Obama, you do that. Have all US nuclear war heads dismantled and any further US military nuclear programs stopped. Introduce laws which will reduce the US green house gas output by significant margins in the near term. Redirect large chunks of the ‘defense budget’ to introduce free medical care for all US citizens, such as the universal health care system in Japan. Create a fund to help the 2 million refugees in Iraq back on their feet. Sign with immediate effect the Cluster Munitions and Landmines Treaties. Then come back and give the speech again. I will applaud, he made a start. Until then, Obama is a string of words.

Watching a state of the union address by US presidents is too funny. Like a mob of trained seals they clap in unison after every second sentence, one should throw them a few fishes, they are doing really well. All finished off with the habitual “God bless America”, which luckily enough includes Venezuela. However, unless Obama starts saying ‘God bless the world’, he and his ideas of being the planet’s chief honcho is as hollow as the coconut Debs was referring to earlier. Where there are no followers, there can be no leader.

…And I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, "You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.”

Any head of state giving a speech so full of delusions of grandeur is laughed at by the wider world community, Obama being no exception. I so do hope that my future has very little to do with the US’s future, and when he talks about how we non-Americans do matter to him, then I’m feeling rather relieved to live in a country with very little oil.

Waldo #6: Obama is different and will facilitate real change in the American body-politic.

Mate, Obama is an airbag of enormous size, squeeze him and what you get is warm fluffy air, or as Paul Keating would say, all tip, no iceberg.

Just look at the fact that a Republican made it on the short list of Obama’s preferred VP’s. Or how he surrounds himself, not unlike GWB, with in my eyes criminal hacks from previous administrations, such as Madeline Albright, a viper if ever I’ve seen one. Where is there change?

Obama’s suck up to the Israel lobby is all I needed to see to know that there won’t be any meaningful change in policies surrounding this dreadful and seemingly never ending example of state terrorism. To at least maintain the status quo will be the motto. The more I see and hear of him, the more I get the impression he is a walking toothpaste ad, always smiles, big sermons, a repackaged sales rep for us.dominance.con

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jul 29 2008 10:15 utc | 49

Re B’s question, how might such a system be changed, the question would have to be first, what should a changed system look like, as this kind of determines the methods. Who decides on what the world should change to, which system is to be used? Revolutions tend to eat their children, so an armed uprising is futile. Change has to come from within. Comments above by dan of steele and swio come to mind, start small, local, and grow the movement.

The system as we know it has many weaknesses, all of which can be used to change it. Its Achilles' heel is that it is centred around greed, money talks. And as they say, you gotta beat them with their own weapons.

I remember driving home from a weekend of protest in Kakadu National Park, where Big Biz and the government had planned a uranium mine, a huge open cut uranium mine smack in the middle of a National Park. The traditional owners of the land were most upset, and so was a large cross section of the Australian society. I got to think of the approx 1500 young to middle aged people I met, who like myself with the best intent flocked to the mine site to protest. The mine workers drove past us every morning, giving us the finger, hardly any media coverage of the event. The protests had very little to no impact, but each and every on of us would have spend at least $300 backs to get there, only to end up with mozzi bites all over. What if instead of driving there to protest, 1500 people would have stuck $300 each into a bank account, and with the half a million dollars would have paid for a high flying lawyer to file one injunction after another and run a national TV campaign?

What if every 4th person in the US, whats that, about 70 million people, donates $100, creating a fund of 7 billion dollars. How much can you do with 7 Billion, how many law suits can be filed and paid for, how many law schools can be build with no other aim than to churn out lawyers that take on the system? How many ads can be bought with which to expose the frauds and lousy characters that make up the house and senate?

Lets see who’s got the most money. Its not the corporations, it’s the people, the consumers, the ones without whom the big end of town would crumble, and with it the system they’ve built. But first, a few general observations:

• The intend to improve the lives of our fellow beings is widespread
• Many people are simply too complacent to do something, hoping other people might
• Many people can’t afford to donate to organisations working on a good cause

There are plenty of not for profit organisations representing the goodwill of the wider community. From the labor unions, to human rights organisations, to civil rights groups, to animal rights campaigners, to anti-war protesters, to Safe the Local Rainforest activists, the list is almost endless. Hundreds and thousands of organisations formed to ease the pains created by mankind. But all of them are out on their own, living of donations trickling in by people who have some cash to spare.

Although they are all fighting the same system, the opposition is fragmented, easily dealt with, one by one, each at a time. All groups are competing for the same small pool of donations, predestined to nibble on the fringes. All with a great purpose and aim, but no membership base and cash flow to really have a say.

So, how to engage the wider population in the struggle, uniting the collective goodwill in the country, creating huge amounts of cash for worth while causes without having to ask for more donations - and at the same time allowing for the community’s couch mentality? In short, how can we get more people involved in a peaceful and organically grown system change, in a landscape where people feel more and more isolated and strapped for cash? Here is my idea. Let me know what you think, couldn’t imagine a better sounding board. Picture this (and sorry it gets a bit mathematical):

Two acquaintances meet on the bus, and the following conversation ensues:

M: “I donated $50 bucks to the Kids with Cancer Foundation”
T: “But how did you find the $50, I thought you were strapped for cash”
M: “Easy, I just went shopping as normal and 5% of what I’ve spend goes to a good cause I can choose from. And the best is, in return I got invited to come along for free to an event of my choice, which this months is either meet Stephen King and hear him read from his latest book or go to a Super Bowl party with big screen and free [insert what you want, I’d say beer ].”
T: “Get out, can I come along?”
M: “Nah man, you need to be a member.”
T: “How much does it cost to join”
M: “Nothin bro, that’s the best thing, nothing. Just go shopping, and you know how to do that!”

What if there was a club, which if you joined, would enable you to have 10% off any purchase made from associated businesses. Akin to current customer loyalty reward schemes like Flybuys etc. The 10% are split the following way:

5% for a good cause of the month
4% for the Members Event Fund
1% Increasing the club membership

So say, we have a small to medium sized city of about 100’000 people, and in this city 10% of the population joins the club, that being 10’000 people. The club also finds businesses who are interested in joining, and the 10’000 members spend say on average $1’000 at those associated business, creating a turnover of $10 million. 10% of that, 1 million dollars, goes to the club.

That 1 million is now divided up.
• Half a million dollars goes to any charity or organisations the club members collectively decide upon, be that the local Homeless shelter or the Iraqi Red Cross, their choice, every time.
• 400K goes to fund entertainment and other events which help the members to connect and socialise. Imagine the parties you can throw with that money. Or invite Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich to hold seminars, or organise seniors trips into the country…
• 100K goes to run the club and further increase its membership

For the consumer a win win situation. Join the club and buy from associated businesses and by doing so help one’s latent desire to finally do something about the inequalities and injustices in this world, do something for one’s conscience, with the added bonus that one is on the door list in the biggest event in town. Donating by shopping.

I deliberately kept the numbers small and even, but calculate that through on different figures and variables and the donations grow exponentially, so does the size and range of member events. Get a scheme like this working on a national level, with 30 million members, and you have a mechanism which draws out and involves the wider population, and in the process creating in excess of 1 billion dollars in donations to various organisations and aims. Not to mention the amount of $$$ to sponsor events which help reconnect society and create a platform to discuss needed change. Not just once, but every months, every quarter, every year if need be, are the funds generated to dwarf the corporate war chests.

The group which initially appears to be the loser in this scenario are the businesses, which essentially fund this club and its donations program by forfeiting 10% of their revenue. But I know personally quite a few small business operators who would be prepared to associate with such a club, if not because the proprietor has left leaning ideals, then because they can see the benefit of a reduced advertising budget. If I have 10% of the population guaranteed as my clientele, I can cut down on other expenses.

Once the club membership has reached a critical mass, businesses potentially could not afford not to join, what if the club joins up with the competition? Hey, business understands the need for concessions, all you have to have is buying power. And that’s what the club represents, in ever growing numbers. And which business wouldn’t want to be associated with the white knight on the front page every month handing over a cheque in the hundreds of thousands to local and global charities and aid organisations.

The problem I see with that idea tho is that you need incorruptible people to run such a powerful club. Where there is power, there is abuse. The club would need an organisational structure that inhibits cronyism and personal gains, with a permanent random selection of members to fill the seats on the board.

Can it be done? I reckon it can. Where there is a will, there is a way. Unite the many disillusioned and willing to help but have little money and time with the ones who don’t care but wanna have a party, and you got millions of consumers who might just be the generator of the funds needed to change the system, propping up existing charities and non for profit organisations, utilising their coverage and expertise.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jul 29 2008 12:42 utc | 50

how might such a system be changed

A better institutional framework, surely.

Posted by: vimothy | Jul 29 2008 14:40 utc | 51

@Juan - thanks - food for thought

@vimothy - A better institutional framework, surely.

A marvelous empty word solution. xplain how you will get it.

Sterling Newberry thinks the crisis in government and world economy is systemic and will need revolution or war to solve.

A large part of the problem is that the center-left is dominated by people who have accepted the Friedman-Hayek doctrine that governments cannot invest better that private elites.
This circle must be broken by ending the cycle of using consumption demand, which includes wars, since wars consume countries, and investment demand, as the solution to present liquidity squeezes. The solution is as brute force as breaking a neck to open it: the global wealthy will have to suffer a massive equity crash, and then there will be a depression which follows which will create the circumstances - lowered prices, resource demands, sunk capital, investment demand, and labor costs - which allow for restructuring. The bargain for this would be a return to that most fundamental of political rights: sovereignty. In the last 30 years nations have sold off sovereignty in order to get money. This infects every facet of how things were done. The WTO and NAFTA did necessary things, the European Constitution is a necessary thing. However, without sovereignty for the people who must live with the decisions, the means by which they were implemented have become odious to the public. And Machiavelli made this point almost 500 years ago: do not become odious to the public.

The solution is sovereignty, and with it ending the vast array of government subsidies for military consumption, luxury consumption, and no risk investment demand, which has turned the capital markets into markets for risk, which is to say, rent.

Posted by: b | Jul 29 2008 15:12 utc | 52

A marvelous empty word solution. xplain how you will get it.

Who says I will get anything? Perhaps countless interests will coincide and an institutional framework I favour will be adopted by the US government (fluke), for instance, a directly contested presidential system or a hard currency. Not particularly likely, though. Who's is the theory of path dependency and the idea that change from one political/institutional equilibrium to another only occurs during periods of crisis?

Douglass North, perhaps. Anyway, seems pretty solid. In any case, I don't want to encourage foreign intervention!

Posted by: vimothy | Jul 29 2008 15:28 utc | 53

in the Senate, Obama is known to have a close mentor-type relationship with Joe Lieberman. But what we did not find out till much later is the depth of deference he has for Edward Kennedy.

he's a very smart individual with a very keen sense of how to get things done in the system, and of how is perceived.

And also, all politicians lie or are deceptive sometimes in order to win elections or to carry out their agenda. Sometimes its for a perceived greater-good, or its self-interest or its a mix. But they mostly all do it.

I would also guess that there are a few people out there, maybe some even on this board who can de-construct Obama in a far more favorable light but it might not be prudent to do so at this point.

still, no one can broadly predict with a lot of certainty what any president will do once he/she gets into office.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 29 2008 15:34 utc | 54

empty word solution

Not really a solution. More of a tautology...

Sterling Newberry sounds also sounds like Mellon. (With added revolutionary zeal)? Keynes had this to say:

It seems an extraordinary imbecility that this wonderful outburst of productive energy [over 1924-1929] should be the prelude to impoverishment and depression. Some austere and puritanical souls regard it both as an inevitable and a desirable nemesis on so much overexpansion, as they call it; a nemesis on man's speculative spirit. It would, they feel, be a victory for the mammon of unrighteousness if so much prosperity was not subsequently balanced by universal bankruptcy. We need, they say, what they politely call a 'prolonged liquidation' to put us right. The liquidation, they tell us, is not yet complete. But in time it will be. And when sufficient time has elapsed for the completion of the liquidation, all will be well with us again.

I do not take this view. I find the explanation of the current business losses, of the reduction in output, and of the unemployment which necessarily ensues on this not in the high level of investment which was proceeding up to the spring of 1929, but in the subsequent cessation of this investment. I see no hope of a recovery except in a revival of the high level of investment. And I do not understand how universal bankruptcy can do any good or bring us nearer to prosperity...

Posted by: vimothy | Jul 29 2008 15:36 utc | 55

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