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Last night I sashayed into our local watering hole and found the bar crowded not with the usual suspects.  "Who are all these folks?" I asked Tiffany the bartendress.  "Miners," she said, "the mine's shut down".  Ah, usually as I finish my day shift and walk into The Grand Bar and Restaurant, the big Greyhound buses taking the night shift to the mine up the Old Boulder Road passes me by. I always make a mental note about day and night shifts and office working and mine working.

The Stillwater Mine, the only palladium and platinum mine in the Western hemisphere, "idled" its East Boulder mine that is in Sweet Grass County, Montana.  It's where they shot "The River Runs Thru It" and "The Horse Whisperer" so you get the visuals.

So along with trout, the river runs through a place that holds the minerals used in catalytic converters.  So in this small county the size of the state of Rhode Island with only 3500 people in it, the financial meltdown and crisis of the Big 3 all started to make the people at the bar connect the dots.  Known as the local liberal, I had a new audience for wonky talk about the Glass Steagall and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Acts and how those chickens are all roosting right here in Big Sky Country.

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Part One: What's In It For Me?
Mark Thompson on "Make It Plain" Sirius Left Radio Show asked his listeners the following question:  "If Dr. King had been allowed to live would he accept the possibility of electing an African American as President as the realization of his dream?"   The "yes" votes led the "no, there is more to do" votes by 52% to 38%, the last time I looked.   Wow, that made me go back and reread the speech of Dr. King called "Where Do We Go From Here?" And to check Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States" chapter "Or Does It Explode?"

Barack Obama as President living in the big white house would be realizing one part of Martin Luther King’s dream. It would be a symbol of the pride and worth that Dr. King felt was essential for African Americans to have.  "As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free."   "I am somebody".   "But where do we go from here?", asks Dr. King.  The next "challenge" was "to discover how to organize our strength into economic and political power."  And that would mean that the "forces of power demanding change" would have to "confront"... "the powerful forces of the status quo".  

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Martin Luther King, Jr delivered this speech in Atlanta, Georgia at the Southern Christian Leadership Council.  I heard an excerpt of it yesterday on the new Sirius Left radio show of Dave Marsh called "The Land of Hope and Dreams".  I then went on line and got a copy of it.

It's another reminder of the paucity of ideas and the lack of eloquence in our politics today. It also is a reminder of our lack of actions speaking as loud as words with his description of Operation Breadbasket. It's also a reminder of our lack of righteous anger and our lack of honest and direct talk from almost all of our politicians and so-called leaders. He discusses the nature of power and how power without love "is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. It's too rich a speech for one diary, so I'd like to concentrate on his thrust to the belly of the beast.

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Part One: The Game is On
It seems fitting to be talking about playing the race card, the gender card, and the more insidious age card and elite card as we head into the Nevada presidential caucus.  What puzzles me is that, after all this time, and after a year of campaigning, most of the discussion seems stuck in a tribal mentality.   Why are we so stuck in tribalism?

David Korten’s latest book (He wrote the best seller "When Corporations Rule the World") is called "The Great Turning; From Empire to Earth Community."  He says we are at a Great Turning and we can choose to be connected to each other or at war with each other; to be dominated or to partner up.  It’s a book about how we all together can swing things around from gated communities to integrated communities.  

"Job insecurity, severe weather events, and terrorist threats favored Empire because fear causes a regression to a more primitive  consciousness and increases susceptibility to manipulation by advertisers and demagogues who seem instinctively to speak to our fears and insecurities." "Buy my product and it will bring you beauty and love". "Elect me and I will make you prosperous and protect you from evil enemies."

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What do they all have in common? Well it’s not a fairy tale or a fantasy or a hope or a dream.  It’s not about sitting around a cozy fire at the city club and sparring over the economic theories of Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes.  It’s not about dissing opponents at a dinner party in Georgetown.   What all these folks have in common is that the whole Americas has been screwed over since the Europeans first arrived and then again when Milton Friedman arrived in the 1950's  with his flim flam feudalism.  That bunch of baloney passed off as theory continued through every presidency and is rock and rolling today.

Naomi Klein maps the way Friedman, his Chicago School economists, and the C.I.A. brought free market fundamentalist capitalism to the Americas in the 1970’s thru shock and awe and are still trying to wield their wickedness there today. (Although they did manage to detour through Poland, South Africa, Russia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Baghdad and New Orleans).

So it is no surprise that this story hit this weekend.

Mexican Authorities Move to Crush Copper Strike by David Bacon Mexican Authorities Move to Crush Copper Strike

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In June of 1937 the historic production of Marc Blitzstein’s  trade unionist  musical "The Cradle Will Rock" was performed by Federal Theatre Project actors and produced by Orson Welles and John Houseman.     In 1999 Tim Robbins directed a film version.   Why did Robbins feel compelled to tell this story and why is he stumping again for John Edwards?  Today Robbins and his wife Susan Sarandon will join John and Elizabeth.  Why?

Blitzstein had written a song  "A Nickel Under My Foot" about a prostitute and enlarged that into a musical about all kinds of prostitution – the press, the arts, the courts- our whole corrupt system. From Wikipedia:  

The musical is a Brechtian allegory of corruption and corporate greed. Set in "Steeltown, USA", it follows the efforts of Larry Foreman to unionize and otherwise combat wicked businessman Mr. Mister.

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And not in the drink. So don't jump, George Bailey! John Edwards is rounding the bend and picking up steam.  So much so, that folks like the radical fundamentalist economist, Alan"Grinch"Greenspan, and right wing pundit William"Scrooge" Buckley (he who praised Spanish fascist dictator Generalissimo Francesco Franko) , have bellowed out in public there disdain for Edwards and his policies.  Like the bellows of the dinosaurs as they slipped into the primordial ooze of the tar pits, the bellows are sounding more like bleats. But they are still very very dangerous; maybe even more dangerous in their death throes.

They will roar and try to intimidate the smaller voices. The Des Moines Register's editorial staff  added some bleats of their own when they endorsed Hillary Clinton instead of John Edwards because they thought "His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change."  They say this while commenting at the same time:

"We still believe he’s right about two Americas, the one for people who have everything they need and the one for people who struggle to get by.

But Edwards isn't anti-business; he's anti BAD business.


What Christmas Movie Speaks To Us the Most Right Now?

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That’s what is behind Krugman and his  recent columns.  Democracy has been shoved aside, but he sees our chance out of this radical inequality we find ourselves in.  But is must be done NOW.   It is urgent that we elect the person most capable of taking on FDR’s mantle and fighting like heck for universal heath care.   It’s not as radical as some lefties would like.  It still is working within the capitalist system.  But it will lead us from the brink.  His book "The Conscience of a Liberal" is an ode to the New Deal and he makes a strong case for a New New Deal.

"Your Future Still Lies Ahead of You" declared Thomas Dewey in his campaign against Harry Truman.  And so it goes in every election.  Barfy populist statements. Meaningless platitudes escape from the lips of grown men and the occasional woman.  They mostly used to come from the Republican side to mask the real agenda. I call it Smiley Face Fascism delivered by affable politicians.

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"I'll take the Liberty; but Hold the Fraternity and Equality" says Mr. Big Con.

We must reclaim the word "freedom".  Bill Moyers preaches this again and again.  At the Media Reform Conference last January he reiterated it again.  He recommended that we read John Schwartz’ book "Freedom Reclaimed".   He spoke of the camaraderie of the media reform movement that put aside the self-righteousness of their individual sects  and came together to work towards a common goal. He was talking about fraternity (and sorority). Fraternity is the opposite of"Personal responsibility" which is code for "I got mine. Good luck getting yours".  Fraternity makes clear that with freedom comes "shared responsibility".

In Naomi Klein’s "The Shock Doctrine", she paints by numbers a picture of the theft of the word "freedom" by followers of the Chicago economist, Milton Friedman from its original meaning that our Foundsers had in mind.    Originally, it was the "freedom" that Tom Paine preached to the French and in their revolution they came up with the cry, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".  In other words, without the equality and fraternity part, you’ve  got the same old feudalism flim flam from which our founders and the French were revolting.

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In last month's "American Prospect", Paul Starr writes about his part in the Clinton healthcare plan and why he felt it failed.

In last Monday's "Counterpunch" on line , Vincente Navarro who also was on the team presents a different view.  Navarro is Professor of Health and Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins University, U.S.A., and of Political Sciences in the Pompeu Fabra University, Spain. His tale is very interesting. The whole essay is a great read and I urge you to read it.

He was put on the Clinton health care task force when Jesse Jackson, Dennis Rivera (then president of Local 1199, the foremost health care workers union),and himself pressured Hillary Clinton to include a "single -payer" advocate.  She asked Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition to come up with somebody and  they picked Navarro.  But he found himself not terribly welcome.


What Title Would Have Got This on the Rec List?

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An armed conflict between nations horrifies us.  But the economic war is no better than an armed conflict. An economic war is prolonged torture.  And its ravages are no less terrible than those depicted in the literature on war properly so called.  ...The movement against war is sound.  I pray for its success.  But I cannot help the gnawing fear that the movement will fail if it does not touch the root of all evil⎯human greed."  M.K. Gandhi, "Non-Violence⎯The Greatest Force." 1926. (Quoted on page 129 of Naomi Klein’s "The Shock Doctrine".

Frank Rich entitled his Sunday piece "A Coup at Home". On September 16th, John McLaughlin on "The McLaughlin Report asked his panel if a "soft coup d'etat had happened while discussing the Petraeus testimony.  As I read the chapters on Bolivia, South Africa, Poland, China, and Russia in Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine", I got that "gnawing fear" that Gandhi talks about.   Could what happened in those places be happening here? Could the gospel of greed aka Sacred Friedmanomics be at the center of a soft coup here?'

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Uncle Miltie Friedman wrote in 1982

Only a crisis⎯actual or perceived⎯produces real change.  When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.  That, I believe, is our basic function:  to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.

This is the statement that lies at the heart of what Naomi Klein calls "The Shock Doctrine" in her new, brilliant, courageous and genuinely frightening book on Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys’ repackaging of feudalism.  Shape shifters, she calls them.  (I've been a fan of Klein's gift for wording things since I discovered her in 2004.)  From the atrocities in Chile that began on September 11, 1973 to Iraq to the Tsunami to Katrina, Friedmanomics has shape shifted, Klein says, into "disaster capitalism".  But whatever shape it takes it remains committed to the unholy "policy trinity" of "the elimination of the public sphere, total liberation for corporations and skeletal social spending."

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