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* Cross-posted from Humanitarian Left.
I've heard people criticize Lawrence Lessig, accusing him of being a scammer or somehow not on the up and up and Hedges has been under attack recently, accused of plagiarism. I'm skeptical about these criticisms and accusations based on my sense of who these fellows are. I don't see willful dishonesty in these guys, but I can sure see why certain special interests (read status quo ante, or rule of the 1%) would want to attack them.

The crowd that dominates us all are afraid of populists like these. They both hail from the elite ranks, it's true, but they seem honest about that. In my view, one's socio/economic background (high, low or in-between) should not disqualify anyone from anything as long as they don't misrepresent it, it doesn't distort their frame of reference and they are genuine advocates for progress.

Hedges defends himself:

Statement from Chris Hedges

Statements made in Christopher Ketcham’s article in The New Republic are false and attempt to damage me personally and professionally. The failure by The New Republic to verify the charges by assigning an editor or fact checker to vet the story and contact me or the publications involved, violates the most basic tenets of journalistic ethics. Ketcham has been attempting to publish these allegations for more than a year. His queries engendered lengthy investigations into his charges by The Nation Institute, Nation Books and Truthdig, all of which found no basis for his charges, as they state in the article. 

Read more at The New Republic

That such an accomplished and brilliant writer who has devoted his career to telling the truth would purposely stoop to plagiarism defies credulity. I don't believe it for a minute. I also don't doubt that he will continue to be attacked. After all, he's on our side. The slime machine is on the attack.

Any writer is potentially vulnerable to plagiarism charges in that writers constantly read (taking words into their brain) and write (turning words from their brain into writing). Unconscious and unintentional 'copying' can conceivably happen to anyone, particularly writers who read and write a lot. Again, the thought that Hedges is not smart enough to know that getting away with actual plagiarism in the age of Google is virtually impossible, is preposterous.

These two speak to me, particularly Hedges. Lessig has more faith than I do in the existing system, but I like his thinking about it and I think he's earnest and has a clear understanding of the problem. I agree with him that if there is hope for reforming our system it starts with campaign finance reform and getting the influence of big money out of the system.

I think the conversation in these three videos is an important one. It's a worthy investment of your time, imho. I'd be very interested in your thoughts on these matters.




Lessig has been successful with his MAYDAY PAC, raising $5 million in his latest round of fund raising, which I and many of you supported. Below is his latest email wherein he asks for input about political targets. Many of you are much smarter about the present electoral environment than I (at least partly because I tend to view it with suspicion) and could provide valuable feedback to Lessig which would also be helpful to me. Please read his email and share your thoughts:


Yesterday, MAYDAY directors and advisers met to discuss district targets for our 2014 campaigns. Our goal is simple: to send a message that we intend to fundamentally change politics for good. But before we make our final decisions, we want to hear from you.

Tell us who we should target in 2014.

Many of you have asked "what makes a MAYDAY race?" There are several core criteria for the kinds of races we want to target:

1.We want a plausible path to victory where MAYDAY can make the difference.
2.We want to target bad actors and support good ones.
3.We want to use our resources where they will be cost-effective.
4.We want our work to have a “ripple-effect,” proving that MAYDAY is a powerful threat to incumbency.

If you think you know a race that fits these criteria, let us know where MAYDAY should go:

We know you're eager to hear more about what comes next. We're eager to get there, too. But our strength is this community, so before we make this critical decision, we want to make sure we've heard from you.

Thank you for all you've done, and all you do still.
- Lessig

I'm hoping that Lessig is onto something here and that this is the beginning of the fight to get our government back in the corner of we the people. I'm very interested in hearing what you have to say about it.

Thanks very much for your kind attention and careful consideration.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Nobody is too great to have feet of clay (9+ / 0-)

    My favorite story in the gospels is when Jesus cursed a fig tree for having unripe figs - even though figs weren't in season. It shows that the son of God was also completely human.

    Dickens had a huge heart, was a great humanitarian (he certainly humanized our view of the working classes as real individuals, suffering unfairly). But he didn't understand his own romantic/erotic side, and was horrible to his wife.

    I read the New Republic's The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges, and it made a persuasive case against Hedges. I'm not certain, but I suspect Hedges of taking some ignoble shortcuts. I also think Chris Hedges has done a lot of great reporting and writing in his time.

    Even if I'm 100% right in my partly-informed view of Hedges, I'm certain he's smart enough not to make that mistake again (if he did plagiarize). And if he continues to write great articles, I'll gladly read them.

    I'd apply the same standard to Greenwald, Snowden, Obama: I think they're all good men, doing the best they know how in a troubled world, and they each have glaring human faults. But they've each achieved some really worthwhile work.

    Obama's too centrist and conciliatory towards Wall St. and the oligarchy for my taste - but I have deep sympathy for all the ridiculous hate and obstruction he's had to wade through. He's a far larger man than most of his detractors.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 12:52:09 PM PDT

  •  Netroots Nation panel live streaming now (10+ / 0-)
    Money in Politics: Candidate Forum
    Starts: Friday, Jul. 18 3:00 PM EST
    Ends: Friday, Jul. 18 4:15 PM EST
    Room: 141
    Join us for a frank discussion on money in politics in the context of the 2014 election, as both a movement building exercise and opportunity to raise awareness of the candidates running on the issue. Candidates on the panel will discuss fundraising challenges that come up while running on the premise getting money out of politics, as well as the pros and cons in fixing this critical issue. Audience members will have a chance to hear what they will do if elected to advance this issue.

    Marge Baker

    Shenna Bellows
    Derek Cressman
    Zephyr Teachout
    Rick Weiland
    Kelly Westlund

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 01:00:26 PM PDT

  •  Had in mind to listen to the three videos (5+ / 0-)

    you embedded, but haven't yet. Didn't like the emails I got from Lessig much.

    It doesn't sound convincing to me if he asked for input of which races to support. I had hoped for much clearer actions than that, but may be I misunderstand the whole shebang.

    Have to listen to the videos, but that will be much later.

    We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

    by mimi on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 01:20:21 PM PDT

  •  Dead on. (3+ / 0-)

    Both men are in the 1% of those serving the 99%.

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 01:33:35 PM PDT

  •  Pledging to Use Professional Campaign Experts (4+ / 0-)

    to decide how to spend our anti PAC PAC money.

    I may get around to investigating this, in any case it's not a cause that needs anything from me.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 01:41:22 PM PDT

  •  Of course the Mayday PAC (6+ / 0-)

    (AKA May One PAC) is a worthy, laudable exercise, and Lessig is a great man for spear-heading it, as he is for his 187? mile March Against Corruption last winter in VT. As with the March for Democracy in CA which you and I and Shockwave blogged, I contributed $ to and Shockwave worked hands- and boots on the ground, Lessig's efforts are aimed at getting $ out of campaigns.

    It sounds hypocritical to use money and a PAC to fight money and PACs but there it is: efforts within the system, by the rules of electoral politics today, cannot all ignore money.

    I applaud it. I also accept the approach of soliciting input AND using professionals to target the five best opportunities.

    The plan is to get five better politicians in place now and then more in 2016 so that hopefully we are then in a position to "overturn" Citizens United and McCutcheon, etc.

    Thanks for bringing it up.

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 01:52:38 PM PDT

  •  I too received the Mayday email. A head-scratcher. (0+ / 0-)

    I found it peculiar.

    There are several core criteria for the kinds of races we want to target:

    1.We want a plausible path to victory where MAYDAY can make the difference.
    2.We want to target bad actors and support good ones.
    3.We want to use our resources where they will be cost-effective.
    4.We want our work to have a “ripple-effect,” proving that MAYDAY is a powerful threat to incumbency.

    Did I miss the part about 'campaign finance reform'? It struck me as most odd to find that the foundational goal of Mayday was MIA from its core criteria.

    And what's that part about wanting to be "a powerful threat to incumbency?" That's a whole new aspect of Mayday's mission statement.

    Overall, I thought "what part of this Four Point Plan couldn't have been written by Jim DeMint?

    Beneath the beam that blocked the sky, none had stood so alone as I - and the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there, cried "Stay" for me in the empty square. (The Hangman, Maurice Ogden)

    by DocDawg on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 03:40:20 PM PDT

    •  that's the four points which I found (0+ / 0-)

      weak as a first response after having reached his goals in the fundraiser. I expected something more precise.

      1. Are there pathes to victory that are not plausible? I don't understand that sentence very well.

      2. sounds like "electing better democrats"... and it's so basic that I don't think that's something new. Would you ever want to target good actors and support bad ones?

      3. I find that so basic, that I wouldn't have expected that to be a major point.  Who would want to see the money used in a non-cost effective way? Why mention that?

      4. That's ok and a good goal.

      May be I react that way because I am not a native speaker.

      We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

      by mimi on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 07:31:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I got to watch Rev. William Barber's speech (5+ / 0-)

    through the live streaming thing. I hope they archive it and allow it to be embedded in stories here. Now THERE is what I think is actions that have the possibility of making a difference. Educate, Activate and Agitate are the key action words.

    ALL of our institutions have been hollowed out by the greed ethos. There are none left with heart intact or souls for that matter. So the zombie is all around us - me

    by glitterscale on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 04:50:37 PM PDT

  •  The plagarism piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Was by someone with no ideological axe to grind with Hedges, and the unwillingness of other publications to print the article, based largely on Hedges' uncooperation, was part of the story. The comparison between the passages from hedges' work and prior publications spoke for itself, and if Hedges wanted to defend himself, he had the chance and can do so in more than one sentence.  It doesn't have anything to do with what he's saying here, but he was accused of plagarism because he committed it, simple as that.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 06:37:42 PM PDT

  •  Lessig a scammer? That's some grade A ignorance... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    One Pissed Off Liberal, 6ZONite, eyo

    Lessig a scammer?

    That's some grade A ignorance (or deliberate smear campaign) there.

  •  Tell us who we should target in 2014 (3+ / 0-)

    How is anything negative taken from that? If the Mayday PAC knocks it out of the park with their candidate selections in 2014, it will signal exciting times ahead. On the other hand, the downside is quite limited. If the sky does happen to fall, it won't be because of the Mayday PAC. That is the least of my concerns.

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