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May 09, 2005


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I am eager to be part of the this self-organizing web that will tear down the old to make way for the, uh, new. As a long time fan of this back passage reporting he envisions, I can't help but applaud. The fact that the Pew campaign was indeed moderate -- i.e. directly to the benefit of the Pioneers, but not enough to suit wingnuts -- is largely irrelevant. In the same spirit of compromise and moderation, I once set out to rob an entire payroll, but settled for half.

But really, when there's controversy over something like this, isn't true that one opinion carries much the same weight as another? That determining intent by outcome and past history effectively locks the mind into ideological rigidity? Can't we all just get along? Perhaps the foundations he mentions could be a bit more moderate and back off their radical left wing agenda.

Remember Timothy Burke? The big news in all this is how the referees are being drawn into the fray. The cool, upper class, style of Rebecca Rimel must infuriate the rowdies like Schambra. They want her to acknowledge that she is just a political operative as they are - that all are rolling in the same mud, so she shouldn't act, or be treated, as if she were a cut above, objective, public-spirited, disinterested. As was Burke, Rimel will find it hard to acknowledge the partisan side of what Pew does. Yet, why not? She is a partisan of democracy, and the public interest, a steward. She would do well, I think, to defend that role. To be against Plutocracy is not a crime - yet.

President George W. Bush "all but ensured that he would double his purse this next round when he signed the 2002 "McCain-Feingold" campaign finance reform. While McCain-Feingold curbs certain abuses, it also doubled the value of Bush's Pioneer fundraising operation overnight by increasing federal contribution limits. A Bush Pioneer who raised $100,000 in 2000--by bundling $1,000 checks from 100 people--now can obtain $2,000 from those donors and enter Bush's new elite club of $200,000 "Ranger" fundraisers."

Partisan for democracy indeed. The bundling potential was well known before the act was signed. Schambra is ticked off that she wasn't more subservient. That's all.

Hope you leave some room for lesser evils. I think through Horowitz, Schambra, and others we are hearing the mighty Wurlitzer tuning up to draw leftward or even moderate foundations into disrepute if they do what the right has done for years, funnel money into astroturf orgs or fund policy work. Now, Schambra is gleeful at the possibility that blogs an become part of that same message machine. Yet, all in all, it works to the advantage of WB. At last I will have an audience inside the Beltway. I can get between the left and right, if not to referee, then at least to goad them both to greater efforts.

The ugliness of it, the mean-spiritedness, the santimony and hypocrisy will be fun to impersonate. Avatars to Battle Stations!

Tutor, the lesser evil wants reasonable regulations governing workplace ergonomic computer keyboards -- for the jobs left after everything that can be done over broadband moves to Bangalore.

Schambra is well behind the curve or being disingenuous. The wingnut blog network is nothing new and their use of the internet for working the media dates back ten years.

I feel close to this particular niche. Schambra is a friend of Lenore Ealy's and she has talked about having a group blog with Schambra on it, and maybe me too. Also other members of her list, such as Martin Wooster who has attacked Rimmel in the WSJ. So while the right has blogged, they have not yet blogged philanthropy. You can't blame me for being excited that they may hove into view within range of WB. I can blog the heck out of this stuff, and then we shall see if they will respond in kind linking to WB Tarbaby. Wouldn't that be fun? Or showing up there with our Gravatar's ennabled against thier mock-gravitas?

Carnival comes but once a year.

I don't really get it. It's the same old astro-turf garbage. There is no grass-roots blogger inspired anything going on here any more than with swift boat veterans or any of the other scams they have been pulling. As if they weren't already spending many times as much. You'd think that Ms. Rimel and her friends would have a better strategy for exposing and dealing with these opponents. Perhaps you are right that they think of themselves as better, and above the fray. It's long past that point now.

It is long past. But in the closed world of elite liberal philanthropy good manners are expected. People don't go into that kind of service to mankind to roll in the mud with David Horowitz or have their motives questions by a Bill Schambra, who was at one time a speech writer I believe for Ed Meese. Someone like Rimel, I image, thinks of her work as being of objective merit, disinterested, for the public good, not just for partisan purposes. In our current climate, in Horwotiz's mind, that makes her a Terrorist, or whatever. "You are with us or against us," as the right says. My sense, or guess, is that the right has gone way wrong in trying to win by bullying and intimidation. De Lay and Co are lacking in class and beneath contempt in many ways. But there comes a point when even highly educated people, with good manners and good taste, who really do consider the public interest, and live lives of service, get fed up with being pushed around by people they quite understandably consider their social infereriors. I would guess the funding on from the middle to left is just now ginning up. The real question for me is whether they fund something more worthwhile than left wing finger puppets to offset the finger puppets on the right. We do not need a liberal Schambra clone. We need independent thinkers in peer to peer conversation with citizenns, a two way conversation, where ideas circulate, change, and come together in new ways. We need the left wing or moderate funders to get democracy going again in open fora, in new publications, in events like the ones Karoff is doing, in open space meetings. We need ferment not more mind closing soundbites and polemics, teachers and poets, not speechwriters and hitmen.

It is an exciting time. Amazing how close we Dumpster Dwellers are to the action. "Faint signals of the future...." getting not so faint. Stirrings of hope. Mr. Minim is making phone calls even as we speak.

The time may come some day, Tutor. Please ask Senator Minim to call his think tank.

I like that Schambra guy. Talks tough, writes well, diverts attention from guys like me. Well worth whatever we pay him. What is that he and his pals call it, the graft, bribes, political favors - "free speech." You gotta love the Civil Society experts. Trust me it ain't speech and it ain't free. It is grease.

We are here to serve, Harry. We are here to ask the clients of WB, "What is your vision of The World We Want?" They tell us and we help them to get it. And you know what? So far not one has asked me - or any other other servants of wealth that I know of - for a Proletarian Revolution. Seems not to be much demand for it, really. Try Cuba.

Interesting. In the end we need stronger voices from across the political spectrum, and I think sound bite politics may finally be on the wane, at least so I hope. Hope you are right about new energy coming into the process, or a shift of strategies.

Strategic market positioning requires that you get out in front of the pack and stake it out before anyone knows who the players are. I sold IBM short in the '80s (figuratively by staying away from their technology) and didn't get on the MS bandwagon in the '90s either. Partisan entaglements only make it hard to maneuver when the action starts.

WB is way out in front. Candidia thinks she is leading the charge, but she is just caught in the wirlwind of change. Just wait 'til we set her up in that Disney, WB and MS merger and she ends up with nothing but junk bonds and a worthless brand while the talent walks with the social capital and builds a virtual enterprise from the ashes of her empire.

Proletarian Revolution, I think that was always a category error of sorts. There is a story in Irish oral history of a time when the peasants revolted and ruled one of the kingdoms and it didn't do to well. The public needs to be elevated to the role of Citizen, to shed its shackles of conventional thinking and release our creative gifts. What we need is a revolution, no a celebration of deep and creative thinking.

The proletariate must be understood as a construction of capital, of the firm, and it is trained behaviorist style with carrot and stick to be what it is. It can never be revolutionary, that is not in its nature.

Gerry, you're right about people trained to obedience being unlikely revolutionaries. My links to the blank Google searches were a species of humor. Schambra would have his audience believe the rather stodgy, conservative foundations he's railing against are bastions of Marxist incitement. Liberalism is itself a reform movement in the right wing tradition. That is, the elite in it are sane, evil rich people capable of thinking of their long term self-interest. Schambra's paymasters are insane evil rich people to whom Natural Law and Revealed Truth explain everything. Their tautologies give me a headache.

People who are not well-behaved, not respectful of office or station, more inclined to tell their abusers where to stick it -- and be able to live through the consequences -- are a revolutionary group. Wingnut social engineering and punitive liberalism are designed to make the culture of cranky individuality less viable.

Punitive or nanny state liberalism. An easy target for the right. What we need is not more prissy speech codes and petty rules, from right or left as to how to live our personal lives, but a celebration of humanity, in all our stupidity, knavery, and vanity. Politics is not my area of expertise, but Carnival, the Beggars Opera, a Festival in which we can love a guy like Tom De Lay as we would a scamp, rogue or music man in a Broadway show, that is a tonality to which we could rise with practice. John Gay hits it perfectly, may I master myself to achieve it here and there. I would like a guy like Schambra to return my emails, I would be happy to serve as his blog mentor, and would enjoy debating philanthropy and civil society in WB, or in whatever venue he prefers - as long as we both come in appropriate attire - smoking a big cigar or wearing a white rayon leisure suit.

It's hypocritical of them to target it. Their state-funded, crackpot, sex miseducation and paranoid police state measures to combat the threat of marijuana are far nastier than speech codes and cigarette smoking bans.

Sure, let alone freedom pens, textbook censorship, and "disciplined liberty." Still, if you look for a good mood that might encompass us all, soured as we are by the culture wars, with our minds well closed by the frame-builders, full of fear and hate, what might that mood be? Jigoism? Milleniallism? Embittered satire? Vengeance? How about Carnival? Rather than fighting among ourselves why not enact our differences with good humor from behind comic, or grotesque masks? Lenore in a grass skirt doing the hula? As Moll Flanders? In a Margaret Thatcher mask? As an Austrian Economist in Birkenstocks? Her call. She picks her costume, not me. Just want her to feel at ease, no matter how much Thunderbird we have to pass around.

There's no objection to the freedom pens from the Democrats, Tutor, and they derive from the free speech zones of punitive liberalism. Each hypocrite gives cover to the other, with only between 40 and 60 people - depending on the issue -- on the federal level willing to stand up for civil liberties. They are the only ones who take the rhetoric of progressively more enlightened democracy seriously. The consensus of the majority, almost all the Democrats and every Republican but one, is that those few dozen are extremists.

Soros is not giving up on civil liberties, and I doubt that Pew is either. Certainly not the progressive funders, many of them. Audacity served the right well, but they have not occuppied all the disputed ground, nor will they.

Soros gets his nose bloodied every time he steps in, from marijuana decriminalization, to MoveOn and Kerry, to the Open Society. If he's sincere, why not just give the ACLU, certainly respectable, a hundred million or two? It wouldn't cost much to turn this country in a more enlightened direction. The wingnuts did it on the cheap, taking full advantage of the power of positive suburban cretinism and Snopes' sense of entitlement.

Wretched thugs like DeLay melt under enough pressure and retire to the wingnut rubber chicken circuit. How about a foundation backed organization of forensic accountants?

It was done on the cheap, that case has been made, and funders are being asked to redress the balance. $100 mil so far from what I hear. The question is how will it be spent? Soundbites or stirring the pot from the bottom up?

Lakoffian perception management initiatives will make things worse. The Optor model hasn't translated well to MoveOn and the other fake grass roots organizations. Both of these things are seen as phony because they are phony.

If the donors can bring themselves to unbelt a little for NarcoNews, Consortium News and the like, they'll not have wasted their money. If they insist on funding fake populists and worried noblesse oblige, they won't get any revitalization.

What's more :-)

The left has people who can run polemical circles aound the wingnut intellectuals. So, for that matter, does the real libertarian right. They're publishing on websites because they can't break through the high school clique of the corporate media. Some of them are much funnier and more scathing than dips like Franken and mild mannered jokers like Jon Stewart.

A little money would go a long way among the orgs you mention. I suspect many would blanch at your suggestions, though. Karoff for me is the closest I come to eavesdropping on the what the funders at the highest level are thinking. You will quickly sense how polite everyone is. Dick Minim is right at home and will not be the only one in a bowtie. And he does not read NarcoNews, just 18th century sermons and the NY Times. Still, I think we are making progress. At least some funders are talking now about the state of democracy.

They needn't blanch. This is so frustrating! It's daring to meet radicals. One gets a certain frisson in their (carefully metered) company. Some of them speak the same language. They have stories to tell.

The cops are usually pretty polite to me when they find me in an alley, foraging for and retrieving common sense. I only blanch when I fear a spanking.

Not altogether fair, but I sometimes think of philanthropy as the oil in the engine of capitalism, that keeps the pistons from seizing up. Still, it would be fun and maybe productive to mix Peter's world with the world of the Dumpster in, say, a series of Open Space meetings convened around Peters book, "The World We Want." Such meetings would helpfully illunnate the "We" part. Who is the we who are included? All givers? All the gifted? I think that is what Peter would like to see himself. In other words can we work towards a "we" that encompasses as many people as possible, regardless of immediate political affiliation or net worth, who are willing to see themselves as citizens and be givers of themselves in their own right?

Philanthropic work is idealistic and good to do for its own sake. Economically, it's never going to replace the social welfare programs. Sick people, old people, retarded people, people crippled in our wars, widows, orphans and the mentally ill are not going to suddenly vanish. It costs a great deal to care for them. The wingnut dream of waving a magic wand and making everyone "take ownership" is not going to happen.

The sophism, not a dream. Tax cuts, first, last and always. The unfit are trampled underfoot, it is the way of the market and the way of Nature. If it bothers you, then do something about yourself, meanwhile the strong bear it away.

Reagan and Thatcher always wanted the poor, the infirm and the dissenters to *disappear*.

When a wave of the magic wand didn't do the job all at once, the more effective but longer-time-frame path of policies that would eventually starve or discredit social programs began to be charted and implemented.

Dissembling SS in the name of "ownership" will just about complete that work.

My dream is a world where the Commons is restored and the Gift Economy becomes a substantial alternative to the market. Most of us can't even imagine the possibility; that is how deep into our collective psyche these destructive market memes have wormed their way. There is an outside to Wealth Bondage, but first you have to be willing to cross the Abyss.

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