Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Pitchfork Moment"

The Bush Administration's proposed emergency loan package for the financial industry disenfranchises the American people, who are putting up the loan.

It's not just that Bush's Wall Street cronies Bernanke and Paulson are presenting the current crisis their policies--along with Alan Greenspan's--hatched, as a do or die moment for western civilization.

The worst feature is the "shock-doctrinesque" Treasury coup by Paulson, aided and abetted by Congress. Glen Greenwald refers to it as a "pitchfork moment--an episode that understandably would send people into the streets in mass outrage ..."


He explains,

What is more intrinsically corrupt than allowing people to engage in high-reward/no-risk capitalism -- where they reap tens of millions of dollars and more every year while their reckless gambles are paying off only to then have the Government shift their losses to the citizenry at large once their schemes collapse? We've retroactively created a win-only system where the wealthiest corporations and their shareholders are free to gamble for as long as they win and then force others who have no upside to pay for their losses. Watching Wall St. erupt with an orgy of celebration on Friday after it became clear the Government (i.e., you) would pay for their disaster was literally nauseating, as the very people who wreaked this havoc are now being rewarded.

It's elegantly simple. The three key provisions: (1) The Treasury Secretary is authorized to buy up to $700 billion of any mortgage-related assets (so he can just transfer that amount to any corporations in exchange for their worthless or severely crippled "assets") [Sec. 6]; (2) The ceiling on the national debt is raised to $11.3 trillion to accommodate this scheme [Sec. 10]; and (3) best of all: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency" [Sec. 8].

Put another way, this authorizes Hank Paulson to transfer $700 billion of taxpayer money to private industry in his sole discretion, and nobody has the right or ability to review or challenge any decision he makes.

The one problem is, you'll never hear or read anything about those points in the commercial media.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Conversion Cover Story

On Tuesday, September 9, the city of Wilmington, NC held an experimental switchover from analog to digital broadcasting. There were some minor problems, but not a lot of details about them in the press.

According to Bruce Dixon, however, Associate Editor of Black Agenda Report, the real problem with the conversion is something the commercial media, the Congress and the FCC aren't talking about.

According to Dixon, "When I put a microphone in Kevin Martin's face and asked him why none of the new channels were being made available to the public, he said, 'That's a good question. I'd like to hear more from the public about that.'"

Unfortunately, Martin is unlikely to hear much from the the public about this on his upcoming tour. Dixon calls it, the FCC's We're Not Listening Tour.

The tour is supposed to provide the public with a forum to give meaningful input to the Commissioners about the upcoming digital conversion.

Anchorage, Alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska

Baltimore, Maryland

San Francisco, California

Austin, Texas

Houston, Texas

Memphis, Tennessee

New York, New York

Boise, Idaho

Atlanta, Georgia

Missoula, Montana

Helena, Montana

Bozeman, Montana

Billings, Montana

Nashville, Tennessee

Charlotte, North Carolina

Denver, Colorado

Seattle, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Yakima, Washington

Portland, Oregon

Chicago, Illinois

Phoenix, Arizona

The complete list of 80 cities to be visited by the FCC between now and February is here.

In an interview on Media-Monitors (7:30 pm MNN ch. 56 Sept. 18, 2008), Dixon describes what citizen-activists need to do to use this opportunity to wrest some of the intiative away from the big networks and their affiliates in the upcoming digital channel giveaway.

People need to get their questions ready and show up at the FCC hearing when it comes to their town.

We will post the relevant sections of the 1996 Telecommunications Act here as soon as we can extract them from the legislation text.