Flacks or Hacks, or Guardian, Heal Thyself

PRWhen The Guardian starts mining one of its competitors — for information, truth, or irony — I start clicking sources.  I let my fingers do the walking, only to discover the truth of their statement that there are over four times as many spin doctors as there are journalists in the United States.  To be precise there are 4.6 employees in PR for every single journalist.

Yet the Wall Street Journal blogged about the same Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) press release on April 1st (seriously, BLS?).  Then wait another two weeks, and today, The Guardian blogs about it. In so doing, they literally proved their point that journalists being are four-cornered by PR.

Other than restating the obvious (and the serious) — that politicians and corporations cannot be trusted to set our information agendas (just go watch the movie Drone, released tomorrow) — The Guardian was too cheeky for me, an earnest American, to have missed the obvious irony of how they underscored their own point by having journalism recycle not just a press release, but an old one.

P.S. This said, congratulations to The Guardian on the Pulitzer Public Service Award announced post, this posting!

Posted in Blog-alysis, Mainstream Media, Media Matters, Writing Politics | Comments Off

Flacks and Hacks, or Guardian, Heal Thyself

PRWhen The Guardian starts mining one of its competitors — for information, truth, or irony — I start clicking sources.  I let my fingers do the walking, only to discover the truth of their statement that there are over four times as many spin doctors as there are journalists in the United States.  To be precise there are 4.6 employees in PR for every single journalist.

Yet the Wall Street Journal blogged about the same Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) press release on April 1st (seriously, BLS?).  Then wait another two weeks, and today, The Guardian blogs about it. In so doing, they literally proved their point that journalists being are four-cornered by PR.

Other than restating the obvious (and the serious) — that politicians and corporations cannot be trusted to set our information agendas (just go watch the movie Drone, released tomorrow) — The Guardian was too cheeky for me, an earnest American, to have missed the obvious irony of how they underscored their own point by having journalism recycle not just a press release, but an old one.

Posted in Blog-alysis, Mainstream Media, Thought Leaders + Thought Leadership, Writing Politics | Comments Off

Qui Tam & Corporate Personhood — McCutcheon Shores Up Snowden

GirlQuiTamQui Tam reminds me of Tae Kwan Do. The name is Latin, not Korean, and it’s pronounced Kwee Tahm, not to be confused with quinoa (kinwah), which is from an indigenous South American language.  So practice your K’s and know your Latin, but what you really need to know is obviously what Edward R. Snowden figured out long ago — Qui Tam is like Tae Kwan Do in that an individual can use it to take a stronger individual (in this case a corporation) down.

 Now, everyone got upset about Citizens United.  I got a couple of calls after that case because my first book, Workers’ Paradox, examined the outlandish but truly American idea that corporations are persons, and of course being persons — American persons — they have all the rights of all persons — civil rights and civil liberties (e.g. freedom of speech; freedom to assemble; freedom of expression).

Nowhere are these supposed personhood rights more apparent than in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

But don’t despair; do a “Snowden.”  And by that I mean since the passage of the False Claims Act in 1986 — the depths of the Ronald Reagan administration —  Americans have had the right, the duty, and the payoff (individual incentive) to practice Qui Tam litigation to enforce American laws. 

How?  By providing information.  Information, after all, is the key that unlocks any corporation.  Information, after all, is the key that unlocks any democracy. The absence of information, after all, amounts to a blackout.  Where I come from (the West), the absence of information gets resolved — and they’re all called Sunshine Laws. 

Oh, and in case President Barack Obama forgot to tell you — he had Congress put a few whistles into his signatory laws — Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act.  So start listening and watching.

Posted in Qui Tam & Surveillance State, Qui Tam & WhistleBlowing | Comments Off

Outfoxing Bulls & Wolves Protecting Plutocrats

WolfStatuteA decision this bad is good.  Why, you ask?

First, it turns the Roberts Court into the enemy.  Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., with his 88 pages of huffing and puffing outside the Democrats’ cosmopolitan-coalition cottage, is a wolf — or, I guess, the leader of a pack of wolves (along with the four others).

A decision this bad is good because every social-justice movement needs not just a Rosa Parks (the perfect person in danger, who suffers blows for the opposition) but also a Sheriff Bull Connor with his bullhorn, who galvanized the opposition as he misjudged and sprayed children in the civil-rights movement, finding infamy in the international news.

A decision this bad is good because it galvanizes and mobilizes the opposition — and by the opposition I mean the power, or unity, of the Democratic party necessary to reestablish the separation of powers as Congress and the president unite to reverse this decision.

The president and Congress now have the capacity to stand up and overturn McCutcheon v. FEC. Remember, the first piece of legislation that President Obama signed was none other than the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This came after the Roberts Court tried to pull a fast one in the transition from Bush to Barack and undermine the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Power is power, whether it’s a wolf or Bull Connor or hiding a paycheck so that discrimination cannot be discerned. And this power play has the capacity to backfire. A power play like this that is barely legitimate, being decided 5–4, will hopefully create significant separation-of-powers blowback.

Posted in Election 2016, Free Speech, Full Text Supreme Court Rulings, Obama vs. Court(s), Plutocrat Power Plays, Roberts Court | Comments Off

Barbarians at the Gate – Roberts Court Ensures Super PACs Prevail

KochBrothersMoney talks.  By a 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled — who cares about corruption.  American citizens now have to live with the third brick thrown at good governance, or the attempts to control corruption.

Supporting corporate crony capitalism, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. extended the logic underlying Citizens United.  This 2010 decision enraged citizens in the United States — who united to fight back and fought the fair fight for good governance, and just lost again.  The Roberts Court extended the idea that money is equal to free speech.  One cannot forget, however, that Citizens United was only an extension of the fundamental principles behind Buckley v. Valeo – or money talks.

Buckley v. Valeo led to an anti-corruption campaign-finance law.  The solution the legislative and executive branch proffered: Use public monies to finance campaigns for the public.  Campaigns and elections, after all, are all about the public good.  So, how can representational democracy be democratic if it disses the demos?  Then, if the candidate decides to accept public funding, s/he accepts the spending limitations.  But the Supreme Court back then, after Watergate, ruled they don’t care — money talks.

In his dissent, Stephen G. Breyer, lamented that what this new Roberts Court ruling does is open the “floodgates.”  And to be sure, this is true.

It does not just open the floodgates to  Koch-like brothers, who have been in the shadows running super PACs  and independent campaigns, but it means they’ll be running the money behind political parties and candidates too.

Posted in Election 2016, Free Speech, Full Text Supreme Court Rulings, Roberts Court | Comments Off

What a Difference a Bullet (or a Musket Ball) Makes

imagesWhen I was 16 or 17 years old, long before then-Rep. Chuck Grassley from Iowa called my mom, I got a bullet-hole tour of our nation’s Capitol.  Now, this bullet-hole tour guide was conducted by a young man my age.  And he was a guy, I happened to think, who knew a lot and was cool.  Very cool.

I listened to him explain the holes in the marble walls, as we traipsed down the spiral staircase.  He showed me each one.  Some were bigger than others, and, as he explained, musket balls made different holes than bullets.  At the bottom was where they had temporarily laid Abraham Lincoln’s coffin.

These are from 1812, he said.  But not those, he pointed.  Boy, did we look at them all.

Now, I had no idea if this was “the truth.”  I had no idea if his explanation had any veracity, let alone integrity or authenticity at all.  I assumed it did.  I don’t think I’d want to disturb my emotional teen memory with any new interpretations of truths about bullets or musket balls.

Remember, these were the dangerous days of the late 1970s.  I didn’t really know what was what.

I’d left home in a hurry, barely after relishing my interview with the former governor of California (then running against President Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination).  Forgetting all about the latter’s falls (which I remember thinking had little to do with policy or ideology), all I noticed with his opponent the former governor was the tint of his hair.  That, and the vast number of empty chairs.  But then, again, this was years before he became POTUS #40.

You see, all I remembered was that he was not “cool.”

Posted in Gun Reform Failure, Guns Control, Round II | Comments Off

The Physical Book Archive of Manhattan (PBAM)

OUPBlueBookStoreAs Julie Bosman asks, what is Bill (de Blasio) going to do about our missing bookstores with all the Manhattan closings? His predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, already got rid of so many books through NYPL closings and consolidations.  But that was no surprise, given that he was (and still is) an online-information mogul, after all.  So now what?

How about a looky-loo library for writers and tourists?  Not a bookstore.  Not a lending library.  No check-outs of any kind.  Just a looky-loo store or an archive with documents one could handle.  So we (tourist readers/Manhattan readers/writers) could visit, almost like a museum, but without putting those pesky books on a pedestal.

A physical location in which we could read that first sentence that turned a potential manuscript into a book.  A looky-loo store for our children, including the all those impressionable teens and young folks who don’t know what a physical book* looks like.

Historian and biographer Robert Caro’s got it right.  He’s working “in a field that’s disappearing right under [his] feet” as we’re getting close to double-digit numbers of bookstores, with just 106 left thankfully standing (and affording) their ground in Manhattan.

* The first time I heard the phrase “physical book,” it was hard not to think “how awkward.”  What an odd turn of phrase being advanced by a university-press director from one of the oldest presses.
Posted in Public Education, Writing Politics | Comments Off

Obama’s Non-Solution Administration (NSA)

j8238-1Resolution?  Resolving civil-liberties issues?  How could such a tepid response to the NSA scandal not fulfill the old adage: When politicians want to deflect/detract/pretend to solve a problem, they create a non-solution.  One durable method is to appoint a commission and have it issue a report.  (See the Warren Report about JFK’s assassination, or the Kerner Commission about the rioting in Watts.)  This is American Politics 101.

But here’s something that is not American Politics 101 but rather comes from the economics department: The idea that small businesses in Europe are marketing anti-Americanism.  What an idea!  Capitalize on the American empire.  Capitalize on or monetize the hypocrisy of the U.S., all the while undermining our economic dominance. An example is Norway’s Runbox email service, which does not use U.S. servers.

Technology companies that shun the U.S. are having a heyday, to the tune of 36 to 180 billion dollars in lost revenue by American companies.  That’s right, $180 billion, though it’s hard to document opportunity losses, when American firms are not being invited to submit bids.

Clearly, Obama tapped the wrong phones.  Arguably the worst ones to tap were Angela’s and Dilma’s (that is Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was “Born in the USSR” — or its satellite, East Germany — and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff ).

The Obama administration out-Stasied the Stasi.  It’s time for Obama to Netflix The Lives of Others.

 

Posted in Executive-in-Chief, Obama and NSA and/or PRISM, Obama's 2nd Term Battles, Obama's Leadership Legacy, Surveillance State, Writing Politics | Comments Off

Surveillance State Reform? Obama Sabotaging the Saboteurs

WhistleBlowerMar-25-14SurveillanceStateIn the New York Times, Charlie Savage calls attention to the problem with Obama’s so-called reform of the surveillance state.  He captures it between a couple of innocuous dashes: “— if approved by Congress —.”  Now we need the ellipsis, since (hello) this ain’t going to happen.

So now the president is sabotaging the saboteurs in grand style – their style.  He’s pulling the turnaround.  Of course Obama’s being “reasonable.”  Of course Obama’s happy to partner legislatively with Congress for privacy reform.  Obama gets to practice being Moses (or is it Joshua?) and lead Congress across a bridge (or is it off a cliff?). Obama gets to divert attention to the real bad guys, along with the previous president, George W. Bush. This is sweet, sweet schadenfreude, part of Obama’s dinner-party modus operandi.

But wait, that’s not exactly true.  Who did Snowden go after, after all?

A whistleblower didn’t sound off in the deep, dark days of the Bush administration, during the GOP’s fruitless hunt for Osama while escalating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. No, the most effective whistleblower in generations waited until he saw the clear light of “hope.”  That ray — but it was the wrong kind of ray, embodied by PRISM.  Okay.  Edward Snowden sought hope; he just didn’t understand it was false hope.

Obama is being foolish in not offering sanctuary to all whistleblowers.  He’s the one who tucked the highly successful qui tam whistleblower provisions in his signature legislation — Obamacare and Dodd-Frank.  So why can’t Obama wake up to some of the alarms he himself devised and set?

Posted in Leaker-Whistleblower Hunts, Obama and NSA and/or PRISM, Obama as Leader?, Surveillance State | Comments Off

Key Concepts from Obama Book that Scare Right Wing Hackers

MeCUNYInterview(7:15 pm March 24 2014 version)

The new menu — Obama Blogs — explain key concepts from  Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition. 

 

It is designed as an Open Education Resource, and I’m hyperlinking URLs;

These blogs discuss the key concepts behind Obama’s contribution to the third American political tradition during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns and his first presidential term.  The blogs showcase these ideas in Obama’s second term, since my book covers only the first Obama administration.

The blogs explain Obama’s worldview:

– Hell on Earth belief — Obama accepts and understands evil, but embraces the perfectibility of humankind

– Obama’s Spinozan ethics — his reliance on Baruch Spinoza, including the Euclidean logic of necessary & sufficient

The blogs illustrate Obama’s ideology, which is universally anti-universal and embraces earned egalitarianism and equality on the basis of difference, not sameness, and my interpretation of his rainbow cosmopolitanism.  Obama also rejects the classical liberal split between the private and the public spheres, opting for an all-encompassing social sphere.

The blogs cover specific issues that underscore Obama’s perspective about identity politics or civil rights, including the GOP’s 2012 War on Women; neotribalism; what role religion plays, given Obama’s worldview about Hell on Earth; and his battle against the Roberts Court, particularly regarding race, gender, and religion.

The blogs explain how Obama has manifested the third American political tradition in his governance style in both domestic and foreign policy.  This includes Obama’s modus operandi and his penchant for executive action, given party polarization and congressional obstruction and delay.  In particular, the blogs about the implementation of Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act also highlight how Obama used what Out of Many, One calls “federalism for public purpose.”  This structure created a type of diagonal and horizontal federalist scaffold or structure that still could instill citizen action in what I refer to as domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Finally, the blogs illustrates how Obama governed, cementing a rainbow cosmopolitan cultural coalition despite the best efforts of Obama haters (including birthers and Tea Partiers), and the role that racial scripting played in Obama’s leadership.  (Racial scripting is a sophisticated 21st-century form of racism and racial consciousness, often stripped of overt or malicious racial intent.)

Posted in Cosmpolitanism, Obama's Election, 2012, Obama's Impact in Political Thought, Women Who Are Vocal (Refuse Silence), Writing Politics | Comments Off

Right Wing Cowards Hacking Again…. (workarounds)

girl powerThe Right Wing is snipping all the menus for my web site again.  Last time Rush labeled me “Professorette” in an attempt to humiliate me after the Weasel snippers (Right Wingers hackers who in 2013 admitted it, at least).  Obviously I know how to get to them.

What Cowards!  Instead of countering, they just try to silence.

The main book they are the most bothered by is :

2013 Out of Many, One: Obama and the 3rd American Political Tradition (University of Chicago Press)

Here is a sheet of key concepts with blog URLs that illustrates this book after publication.  This is why Rush Limbaugh so rudely calls me a “professorette.”  Clearly the right can’t stand up to a woman in academia (aren’t we supposed to be in Ivy towers?)

Blogs explaining key concepts from Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition

These blogs discuss the key concepts behind Obama’s contribution to the third American political tradition during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns and his first presidential term.  The blogs showcase these ideas in Obama’s second term, since my book covers only the first Obama administration.

The blogs explain Obama’s worldview:

– Hell on Earth belief — Obama accepts and understands evil, but embraces the perfectibility of humankind

– Obama’s Spinozan ethics — his reliance on Baruch Spinoza, including the Euclidean logic of necessary & sufficient

The blogs illustrate Obama’s ideology, which is universally anti-universal and embraces earned egalitarianism and equality on the basis of difference, not sameness, and my interpretation of his rainbow cosmopolitanism.  Obama also rejects the classical liberal split between the private and the public spheres, opting for an all-encompassing social sphere.

The blogs cover specific issues that underscore Obama’s perspective about identity politics or civil rights, including the GOP’s 2012 War on Women; neotribalism; what role religion plays, given Obama’s worldview about Hell on Earth; and his battle against the Roberts Court, particularly regarding race, gender, and religion.

The blogs explain how Obama has manifested the third American political tradition in his governance style in both domestic and foreign policy.  This includes Obama’s modus operandi and his penchant for executive action, given party polarization and congressional obstruction and delay.  In particular, the blogs about the implementation of Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act also highlight how Obama used what Out of Many, One calls “federalism for public purpose.”  This structure created a type of diagonal and horizontal federalist scaffold or structure that still could instill citizen action in what I refer to as domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Finally, the blogs illustrates how Obama governed, cementing a rainbow cosmopolitan cultural coalition despite the best efforts of Obama haters (including birthers and Tea Partiers), and the role that racial scripting played in Obama’s leadership.  (Racial scripting is a sophisticated 21st-century form of racism and racial consciousness, often stripped of overt or malicious racial intent.)

But I can imagine they are also unnerved by –

Bodies in Revolt: Gender, Disability, and a Workplace Ethic of Care (New York: Routledge Press)

Crippled Justice: The History of Modern Disability Policy in the Workplace   (University of Chicago Press) + Gustavus Myers Center Outstanding Book Award Honorable Mention

Workers’ Paradox: The Republican Origins of the New Deal Labor Policy, 1886-1935 (University of North Carolina Press)

(edited) Telling Stories Out of Court: Narratives about Women and Workplace Discrimination (ILR Division, Cornell University Press)

(edited & ½ book’s essays) Voices from the Edge: Narratives about the Americans with Disabilities Act (Oxford University Press, USA)  + Gustavus Myers Center Outstanding Book Award Honorable Mention

(revised 7:13 Mar 23, 2014)

Posted in Firebaggers vs. Teabaggers, Obama Haters, Ruth O'Brien's Greatest Hits, Uppity People, Women Who Are Vocal (Refuse Silence) | Comments Off

Teabaggers vs. Firebaggers

ObamaRur-urbanDivideI don’t get it.* Why would an urban African-American president who as an adult has identified with urban issues support unions or organized labor, given its history of sexism, racism, and nativism in addition to being pro-seniority and anti-anti-poverty, a category or classification that correlates with age (children) and gender? Of course, Obama has “angry supporters” on the Left public opinion or Firebaggers (juxtaposed to Teabaggers or Tea Partiers) and in Congress.

Who did not anticipate this after the knock-down, drag-out Democratic primary between Obama and Hillary Clinton? Remember how Obama was belittled in April of 2008, when it went viral that behind closed doors with donors in San Francisco, the Democratic contender characterized Americans who live in rural areas as “bitter” and said that they “cling to guns and religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them”?

I grew up in a gun-clinging demographic (the gun-toting church population is quite high, I know), and my experience shows that Obama was right.  Nonetheless, my budgetary point today is, who revived the term “entitlement” and juxtaposed it to liberals and progressives anyway? Wasn’t it the Clinton camp? All those “friends” (FOBs and FOHs) adopted the clever strategy, no doubt, when “liberal” became a dirty word. And what worked for Obama will work for Hillary Clinton or any woman in 2016, I hope.

But rather than this being a left/right or conservative/progressive or entitlement/no-handout issue, the question is: Who benefits from Social Security and Medicare the most, anyway? Social Security and Medicare benefit the white middle and upper classes, particularly women. There is, in other words, a spatial superiority correlated with but not caused by suburbanism. Put differently, there is a strong correlation between space and death (life expectancy for a black man in Detroit is 62 years, versus 74 for a white man in Bakersfield, California, and 83 for a white woman in San Francisco).

It’s the spatial middle class (suburban) versus the spatial rich/poor divide (urban). If we start visualizing our socioeconomic classes in geometric terms, stacking, at least for me, is simplified. Put differently, income inequality and social justice revolves around issues being raced, gendered, sexed, and classed.

And to put this in perspective, a little history of progressivism and paternalism or maternalism is always helpful, now that we’re around the centennial of the progressive movement. In the early 1920s, supposedly, a female reformer described the new urban areas by saying, “in the jungles of civilization the evolution is always downward — from man to beast, to reptile, and to that most noisome of living creatures, the human worm.”

So, as we’re reaching the end of the end — the liberal/conservative divide — of course the Democrats have more to lose than the conservatives in a debate about budgets and our so-called American “entitlements.”

Conservatives may lack a constituency, but the so-called “progress”-ive Democrats stand to lose entitlements that benefit those who live the longest. Correlation may not be causation, but if I’m going to bet on my lifespan, why do I really care?

As a Caribbean friend who lives in a tiny city in a demographically different suburb in New Jersey said, every year she lives beyond 50 is a gift. She doesn’t worry about the future, but then, looking at the demographics of Plainfield versus Metuchen, why should she? Why should she have retirement or worry about benefits when white men and women live up to 10 years longer? She is happy she’s alive post-50, after experiencing so much death from diabetes, asthma, and other ailments of those enclosed in poor areas — most of her friends, especially men, did not survive.

Raising a family and being trapped in the suburbs, I look at it differently. I tell my sons that as part of the peak of the pyramid of privilege, they should expect to have their privileges stripped, or at least their children’s privileges stripped, and when that happens, I hope they will be gracious about it.

*re-posted due to vandalism and categorized as Ruth O’Brien’s greatest blog hits since I warranted presumably right wing hacking.

Posted in Firebaggers vs. Teabaggers, Obama & Inclusivity, Obama Haters, Ruth O'Brien's Greatest Hits, SLAMs & SCAMs, Uppity People, Women Who Are Vocal (Refuse Silence) | Comments Off