People Power Unite; Fix Systems Not People

I was exceptionally impressed with the superb interview Bill Moyers conducted with Glenn Greenwald and eagerly looked forward to seeing it aired on PBS stations. Then, after I discovered it wasn’t airing Friday night, I learned to my chagrin that it was a Web Exclusive Conversation. Even though Glenn posted it almost immediately on his blog UT, it needs far wider dissemination. It contained the future of our nation that either we are ordained to accept or the glimmer of one we could seize if we Americans and others around the world truly believed was still possible.

The insightful discussion covered: endless American initiated wars; excessive executive power that encourages and condones criminal behavior; constitutional betrayal through “power corrupts” thinking; civil liberty violations; Beltway inhumanity through selfish, incest thinking; non-aligned countries who see the hypocrisy of Western domination policies and are standing up for themselves; and a corrupted two-party congress and a government dominated by corporate communism through out of control capitalism. Just before the discussion on Rio versus Chicago getting the 2016 Olympics and South American jubilant pride ended the discussion, Moyers asked why are American citizens mute on all of the serious system problems we have been discussing?

Glenn said there were many reasons, but the principle one is something Obama talked eloquently and insightfully about during his presidential campaign. Our system is so corrupt, so non-responsive that the American people have developed a learned helplessness. They are not apathetic. They believe in their own impotence which is sadder and more dangerous.

Bloggers have had endless discussion about this principle problem. Bloggers like Greenwald hold the key to the solution. However no amount of bloggers telling the truth is enough by itself. The challenge is to awake the impotent who act and think defeat before they even start attacking the problem. And more basic than that, it is essential they understand the problem before any attempts to solve it are made.

The power of the Internet is the key. There are now millions of Americans who do understand the problem who are working very hard through the Internet to solve it. The problem is diffusion. Every day awake Americans receive countless emails imploring us to care about or help fund a myriad of important problems both for our nation and the world. The power elite have us chasing so many rats running in every direction that no one has time to build a large enough cage to put them in. If we could build one, it still wouldn’t make the rats all run in one direction into the cage. It is the same problem the “large tent” Democratic party has, “My cause is crucial and I don’t have the time or energy to fight for the greater cause.”

My suggestion would be to create a “Fix Broken Systems” world organization that would include delegates from all these Internet efforts that are separate as much as possible from government or corporate influence. The FBS would be charged with developing systems to defeat the current corporate communism/war systems that dominate and are ruining our world and future.

If people organize effectively together, it is not an impossible challenge only enormously difficult and one that is hard to visualize succeeding. That’s exactly what those now in power want us to believe.

It’s clear that governments can’t do it. As long as diffusion reigns, no such unity of effort stands a chance. We have to believe that the nearly impossible is possible. We have to believe that those of us who truly care about our fellow world citizens can eventually bring enough of humanity together to save our future.

The first step would be to convince our blogger leaders like Glenn that it is possible, then encourage them to organize a convention to discuss the steps that would be needed. A constitutional convention for world citizen leaders. I would much rather give my money to such a cause than to political representatives most of whom will become corrupted and not represent me but those currently in power.


  1. dirigo says:

    While arguing a bit about computers and health care earlier today, I came across these two interesting pieces (see below).

    In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” Cassius warns Brutus that Caesar has the “falling sickness” (epilepsy) and therefore is fallible.

    As I look around, I think we have a lot of people, especially those who benefit from things as they are and who profit from same, who have the “walking sickness.” They have walked us all into the biggest financial dry gulch in our lifetimes. Or they have benefited heavily from this little stroll and insist nothing’s wrong, including sending thousands more of our troops to the latest wasteland of choice. They take no responsibility for anything that has happened, claiming an airy, vapid moral high ground with rhetoric that has no value to anyone who actually sacrifices either their lives or their livelihoods. And they say nothing should be changed (it might risk things like rampant utopianism). It’s a flat refusal to consider that a lot is broke and it needs fixin’.

    Who’s dealing with a full deck here?

  2. rmp says:

    Quote from your Globe link:

    “Unfortunately, this isn’t a matter of a few bad apples or even of an entire barrel of rotten apples. The real and nearly intractable problem is that economic sociopathy isn’t an aberration on Wall Street. This behavior is the very basis of American finance.

    The sociopathy that the power elite have developed does make the chance for a solution immensely more difficult because crazy people make insane decisions as Shakespeare’s characters proved over and over.

    • dirigo says:

      I don’t intend too much in citing Shakespeare. It’s just that his work, as any educated person knows, shows human foibles and failings better than any other imaginative literature.

      To the extent people in this country can’t any longer discuss such material and reflect on how it applies to the way we’re living (including pointing directly at the culprits and making them take responsibility) only adds to the unreality of the moment.

      We have people speaking and acting politically (and people who support them) who are determined to block any discussion of reform, while refusing to admit that anything has gone wrong in the markets over the last few years (as a result of strenuous efforts going back to the late ’80s and beyond) to decouple so-called “free markets” from any regulation whatsoever.

      It hasn’t worked.

      To go ballistic over an article (linked here; see comments) by the former communist leader of the Evil Empire for example, and claim that his point of view is invalid on its face because, well, he’s still a commie and just wants to tear down America twenty years later, simply underscores a dementia of Shakespearean proportions.

      The man appears to be suggesting that the markets’ failure, plain for all to see, calls out for reform, or at least, the revival of common sense regulations which served very well for at least two generations (or more), and which could contribute to the revival of the global marketplace in the way the purists imagine when they’re cuddled in their jammies and having their porridge before bed.

      How can this be controversial, unless one is dealing with people who are just intellectually dishonest? Or demented?

  3. rmp says:

    Quote from the Guardian link:

    “Today, as we sit among the ruins of the old order, we can think of ourselves as active participants in the process of creating a new world. Many truths and postulates once considered indisputable, in both the east and the west, have ceased to be so, including the blind faith in the all-powerful market and, above all, its democratic nature. There was an ingrained belief that the western model of democracy could be spread mechanically to other societies with different historical experience and cultural traditions. In the present situation, even a concept like social progress, which seems to be shared by everyone, needs to be defined, and examined, more precisely.”

    Thanks for both of these excellent links. American arrogance that our model of democracy must be spread around the world is the number one excuse that the congressional-M$M-military-industrial complex uses to keep falsely justifying military force and new weapon systems now that no real threat against America exists. If America’s foreign policy number one goal was peace, we would as Glenn has recommended, make far better decisions about how we are perceived by the rest of the world.

    • cocktailhag says:

      The interview was great. So shocking to see serious, long form journalism in a TV format. Thanks for the post, RMP…. Looks like GG had a good trip.

    • dirigo says:

      Another reference to good writing, if not necessarily fiction or drama, points to Thomas Paine.

      There’s been a lot of contemporary American political writing by people who keep defending the comprehensive debacle of the last eight years, holding, in essence, that we don’t care what the rest of the world thinks.

      The very clear implication of this attitude has been, “We are infallible. Get used to it.”

      Some of these memes were rooted in how a new reality was to be created in the context of unfettered empire and that such things as the Geneva Conventions were to be deemed “quaint.”

      Remember that?

      In other words, in Paine’s words: “respect for the decent opinion of mankind” – a hallmark of American public thought and action for many, many years – was deliberately deemphasized within the public speech of certain American political leaders.

      The arrogance of this remains breathtaking.

      It’s been this way for a while now, and other, lesser people (like garden variety bloggers) have picked this up, writing and posturing as if this is some sort of improvement in how we all look out at the world.

      If you look in the mirror and don’t like the mask looking back at you, you might consider a change.

      I refuse to wear the mask some of these people are wearing.

  4. nailheadtom says:

    We won’t dwell on the fact that Bill Moyers is one of the most dishonest hypocritical individuals to ever defile the American scene. Instead, let’s examine the thinking that describes America’s not always successful attempt to spread our version of democracy around the world as arrogance, which implies that this proselytism is wrong as well as ineffectual. Assuming that to be true, how do “progressive” thinkers and other statists of every political flavor justify the use of compulsion in our own society? An example might be the enthusiasm of Asian and Latin residents of the US for cock fighting. This has been a popular basis for entertainment and gambling all over the world, including the US, for many centuries. Now it’s illegal just about everywhere here and its participants are arrested and incarcerated. First of all, why would anyone care if two chickens fight to the death in front of witnesses? Aren’t virtually all chickens killed in the end? So, it can’t be bad for the chickens, it must have a bad effect on the humans involved. And if it is wrong, shouldn’t anti-chicken fight people ought to be able to convince the enthusiasts of that fact without slapping handcuffs on them? As the “pro-choice” folks say, “If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one”, couldn’t you say, “If you don’t like cock fights, don’t go to one”? If I stage a chicken confrontation on the south side of the Rio Grande, no problem. If it’s so wrong, shouldn’t the US use its power to save those Mexican cocks? And if it isn’t, then why are we arresting people for it here?

    • dirigo says:

      Hilarious, Tom. Just hilarious.

      And how tyrannical has it been for American meddlers or do-gooders to insist that Chinese restaurants in this country not serve dog meat?

      Should we abolish these rules (and waive our cultural attachment to dogs as pets) and let this category of restaurateur gather up strays and put them in trucks, or make weekly visits to local pounds to stock up for next week’s menus?

      I do see how the market would work marvelously well in this circumstance: providing new jobs, such as to midnight shift van drivers, adding several layers of efficiency in disposing of a certain kind of feral beast, while providing immediate fiscal benefits to public treasuries across the nation.

      Definitely a win-win.

    • sysprog says:

      Even a turkey about to be slaughtered in a slaughterhouse in West Virginia . . .

      . . . has some legal protection: a legal right not to be tortured to death:

      The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette:

      June 29, 2009

      Greenbrier turkey plant worker sentenced for animal cruelty

      A worker at a West Virginia turkey plant was sentenced [...]
      [...] Scott Alvin White of Second Creek
      [...] indicted on felony charges in February
      [...] pleaded guilty to two animal cruelty misdemeanors in April.
      [...] sentenced June 8 to a year in jail.

      - – The Charleston Gazette, June 29, 2009


      This extension of legal rights to condemned turkeys is just the beginning of a slippery slope.

      Soon we’ll have legal rights all over the place, gumming up everything, sticking a spanner in the works, and creating terrible mixed metaphors.

      Why, we might even end up in the crazy and dangerous situation of having social utopian judges say that accused terrorists have rights.

      • rmp says:

        Everything is perspective. When as a child in the ’40s, I visited my grandparents farm where the farm provided almost all the food, the killing of animals was normal. Of all the farm animals, I had the easiest time watching a chicken’s death especially when after my grandmother chopped of the head, the body ran around a while before dying. Yet when I was back in town in my back alley and shot to death a robin with a BB gun and watched it flopping in the dirt until I put it out of its misery, I vowed never to kill another animal and now I don’t even like killing insects.

        Tom has a valid point about culture and one culture saying another culture is wrong because it has a different perspective and history. That is what is so arrogant about Americans who never give another culture any chance to believe or act differently. Except for saying your faith in a God is the only correct religion, I can’t think of anything more arrogant and wrong.

        • sysprog says:

          Using due process to enact and enforce laws against animal cruelty isn’t cultural imperialism.

          Certainly, that West Virginian can’t plausibly claim a defense of “cultural imperialism” just because stomping turkeys is an old family tradition with his folk.

          The argument that a chicken has no rights because the chicken is going to be killed soon anyway was a specious argument.

          And it’s directly analogous to the frequently advanced, but specious, argument that if it’s not a war crime for a soldier to kill an enemy then it can’t possibly be a war crime to capture and torture an enemy.

          I’m not looking for a Geneva Convention on the eithical treatment of poultry.

          But I’m not going to accept a wrong-headed and illogical and unethical attack against individual human rights – - disguised as a criticism of “statism”.

        • Steven Rockford says:


          The image created by your last comnent is surreal.
          I remember when my father gave me his .22 caliber rifle when I was a teenager. He taught me how to use it at a range in Rockford. When a went on my first “hunt”, I killed a rabbit from quite a long distance.

          Actually, I didn’t kill it, I just sent a bullet through its rear end. When we finally ran up to “view the kill”, the rabbit was still alive in a pool of blood in the snow, looking straight up at me as if he were were saying “Why?”. My dad “finished him off”.

          That image will stay with me forever.

          • rmp says:

            Although, your thoughts on Moyers and mine are in strong disagreement, I usually agree with your comments. I assume you live in Rockford IL. If that is so, I live in Naperville and would be interested in getting together with you some time.

  5. Kitt says:

    To paraphrase or change a word or three:

    “First of all, why would anyone care if two [people] fight to the death in [a trumped up war]? Aren’t virtually all [people either]killed [or die of old age] in the end?”

    That’s the kind of logic coming from someone who said:”Bill Moyers is one of the most dishonest hypocritical individuals to ever defile the American scene.”–Nailheadtom

    • dirigo says:

      Chickens are people too.

      • sysprog says:

        This is easy to prove by unassailable logic.

        To wit:

        The word “chicken” is a noun.
        A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing.
        Obviously a chicken isn’t a place.
        Therefore it must be a person or a thing.
        A thing is an inanimate object.
        Therefore a chicken isn’t a “thing”.

        Chickens are people, Q.E.D.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Oh, I like to think of chicken as an adjective, i.e., chicken hawk, etc. I hate to see such a valuable word go to waste. Cheney’s little deferment #5 was all over the airwaves today… not so inanimate in my book.

  6. dirigo says:

    Coming back to the point of this post and the argument that we try to fix systems not people, I agree.

    Things, systems, can be fixed or replaced.

    Usually people cannot be “fixed,” especially when, given human nature, most people just cannot admit to any wrongdoing. Our legal system also encourages the negotiating of blame (at least outside of capital crimes) down to a meaningless verbal fuzz ball, or a fine.

    Morality has nothing to do with it, as our public officials keep telling us. Really, that is their attitude, isn’t it, despite their pious posturing?

    So when they are wrong, or more importantly when they commit crimes or grossly upset the social order, they should be punished. Sooner or later. Getting certain pounds of flesh is still possible.;morenews

  7. dirigo says:

    When two worlds collide …

    My dumbwaiter’s not working any more. Why can’t you get a good repairman these days?

  8. RMP,

    I wrote back to you earlier, but didn’t see my comment posted. I just wanted to mention that your earlier comments inspired me to write the following post this morning:

    Hope everything is going well for you in the great “Land of Lincoln.”

  9. Meremark says:

    Steven’s post is well-said and well read. A maiden voyage for me to his blog. Where he keeps the ‘favorites’ company I keep, in many respects.

    E.g., Naomi Klein Glenn Greenwald Cocktailhag Matthew Yglesias Firedoglake Paul Krugman Crooks and Liars Jeremy Scahill Digby, and who keep each other in a kind of quality control circle.

    It is curious to me — and I’ve emailed Glenn about this — that none of them keep Wayne Madsen. If ever one of them begins, the rest are going to catch on. Wayne is ‘out there’ but he isn’t an edgy ideologue like Rense or Alex Jones or Larouche or your garden-variety ’9/11truther’ (although Wayne fully knows Nine-Eleven Op was conducted by Cheney following orders * ). Just, he doesn’t lead with that. Well, read Madsen’s ‘favorites’ blog roll for yourself; also, another worthwhile entry point for an overview appraisal is clicking on his ‘Sitemap.’

    I wanted to add to Steve’s drone warfare item that it reminded me of this recent Wayne Madsen Report .COM (WMR) piece of original reporting from somewhere in Nevada:

    October 21, 2009 — Predator and Reaper UAV operations — from the inside

    WMR has received a number of briefings on the operations of the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). For the operators of the remotely-piloted vehicles, however, they do not consider the aircraft “unmanned” because they provide 24 hours and seven days a week coverage and there is a large support team behind every Predator and Reaper flight. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Lance “Sky” King is quick to point out that “we do not fly drones, we fly aircraft.”

    The Air Force has proudly claimed that it has not had one Predator shot down. Unofficially, however, there are reports of Predators being shot down in Iraq. There are plans afoot to place more than two A6M-114P laser-guided Hellfire supersonic missiles on the Predator, replace the Predator with a new and more foolproof radar-avoiding stealthy version. The present fleet of Predators and Reapers already possess stealth capabilities due to their carbon-fiber skin and very little metal components. An advanced version of the Reaper foresees the capability for in-flight re-fueling. Currently, the larger Reaper, which can carry four Hellfire missiles, can operate with 18 hours of sustained flight. There are plans to increase to eight the number of Hellfires carried by a Reaper.

    One drawback of the Predators and Reapers are that they are not all weather. Because of the satellite links to operators at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, cloud cover poses problems for the satellite links, requiring operations to be conducted from line-of-sight forward ground control centers.

    When UAVs were first used by the Air Force in 1995, they only had line-of-sight capabilities, which meant they could operate 100 miles from the ground control station. Beyond line-of-sight capabilities, using satellite links via the Predator Primary Satellite Link (PPSL) for Predator in-flight operations, began in 2001. Hellfires were also first fitted on the Predators in 2001.

    There have also been reported icing problems with the Predator and Reaper, which has resulted in them being grounded. The reconnaissance capabilities of the forward camera on the Predator and Reaper, known as the “MTS Ball” or MQ-16 electro-optical/intra-red camera, can read a driver’s license from 20,000 plus feet. Infra-red sensors are so sensitive, often the operators have honed on lit cigarettes at night to target people. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) permits day and night operations in most weather conditions. The infra-red surveillance systems have one drawback at night that does not exist for daytime operations. At night, the color of a vehicle, for example, cannot be determined.

    Currently, the Air Force can fly 50 UAVs 24 hours a day. Two-thirds of the remotely-piloted vehicle training squadrons are at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, while the others are at Creech Air Force Base, north of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. For every four UAVs, there are two ground control stations. Reservist training on the UAVs takes place at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

    Each Predator and Reaper has a “cockpit” comprised of a pilot on the left, usually a qualified Air Force pilot, and and a sensor operator on the right, usually a senior enlisted person. The pilot controls a throttle stick and a rudder control. The sensor operator controls the camera at the bottom of the aircraft. There is also a moving map display with a Global Positioning System (GPS) overlay.

    The pilot’s screen permits the pilot to look out from the nose and the bottom of the aircraft. The screen feature is of primary importance during takeoffs and landings. For deployment operations, there is a two second delay in sending instructions to the aircraft from either Nellis or Creech.

    The pilot and sensor operator also have access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network or “SIPRNET” screen, which allows them to read email and scan Internet websites. A third member of the UAV team is the mission intelligence contol (MIC) operator. The MIC monitors additional screens to gather real-time and other intelligence.

    Presently, Predators and Reapers, which are exchanged between the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, are a high priority for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Central Command (CENTCOM), and European Command (EUCOM). However, at the present time, 90 percent of all UAVs are dedicated to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Although the Hellfire missiles are billed by the Air Force as causing “minimal collateral damage,” some Air Force personnel pointed out that they do not exclusively use the weaponry or the Predators. It is known that the CIA maintains its own fleet of Predators and that some of the operations were contracted out to the former Blackwater USA, now Xe Security Services. Predators firing Hellfires have been reported to have killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and possibly, Somalia.

    In 2007, there were 112 Hellfire attacks from UAVs, in 2008, the number climbed to 132, and in 2009, so far, there have been 87 missile attacks. The UAVs are a personal favorite of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

    * orders of the N.E.O. Mastermind, planning it since about 1982, positioning his minions over 20 years’ time, obsessing to get vindictive retaliation for being ‘victimized’ by Pearl Harbor which had disrupted the life on Easy Street he was anticipating during his senior year in high school, I mean, boarding school: Poppy the Butcher.