Thursday, August 25, 2016

Twisting in the Wind

I went to one of a couple thousand meetings around the country last night to watch Bernie Sanders speak at the kick-off of the My Revolution project.  He mostly gave his standard stump speech, highlighting his main platform issues and the fact that many formerly fringe positions had now become part of the mainstream political conversation.  He is right in that regard, and I hold him in high esteem for that reason.  The rest of the program left me conflicted.

On the eve of the My Revolution initiation, most of the staff resigned in protest over the appointment of Bernie's former campaign manager to head the effort and the policies he advocates.  At issue is the fact that the My Revolution project has been incorporated as a non-profit 501c(4), meaning that the organization can and likely will accept donations from big-money donors.  My initial reaction to the resignations was negative; it seemed like self-indulgence at a critical moment in the political process.  The statements by the leadership after Bernie's speech, however, made me think again about the situation.

Perhaps predictably, there was no mention of the resignation controversy in the statements by the current leaders.  They talked about the need to support progressive candidates nation-wide and said they would be putting together a list of those deserving financial support.  They said they would encourage suggestions as to whom is worthy of such support.  What was not mentioned was any reference to the possibility of building State and local organizations aiming at a bottom-up direction of the My Revolution effort.

It is possible that some of the confusion and controversy will be sorted out in the Bernie-inspired campaign between now and election day.  There seems to be very wide agreement and support of the progressive agenda.  However, as was evident in the meeting I attended, there is also great divergence of opinion on strategy and tactics.  Right now, to me, My Revolution does not look very revolutionary.  It looks a lot more like a Super-PAC.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fixing New Mexico

New Mexico's economy is broken and doesn't look like it will be repaired any time soon.  The State ranks way down on the list of indicators like child health and highschool graduation rates which are linked to endemic poverty.  Neither of the major parties have made any headway toward reversing the State's reliance on (tanking) oil revenues and Federal supports.  The response of the governor, Susana Martinez, has been to seek big corporate tax cuts while slashing essential services.  The mayor of Albuquerque, the State's biggest city, has a couple big pork barrel projects in the works which are at best bandaids with no real chance of slowing the general decline.

One possibility with potentially broad support which has received little attention here is the establishment of tax, banking and regulatory incentives to support the development of worker-owned, democratically-controlled businesses.  Such enterprises have been shown to offer big gains in economic development and productivity, as well as helping to put the brakes on trends toward ever greater income and wealth inequality.  An excellent primer on the whole subject is available at the web site of The Century Foundation, "... a progressive, nonpartisan think tank that seeks to foster opportunity, reduce inequality, and promote security at home and abroad."

The article, authored by Janice Nittoli, is "Reducing Economic Inequality through Democratic Worker-Ownership".  Nittoli gives a clear and detailed explanation of all the major factors in implementing a worker-owned business strategy, along with many examples of success, as well as explanations of some well-known and unfortunate exceptions.  Sanders and Clinton both included references to the potential of worker-owned enterprises in their platforms.  Nittoli's article shows what those proposals really offer and how they might be practically attained here as they have been elsewhere.

See also:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Olympic Swimmer -- Photograph: Shopland/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock (The Guardian)

Jornada style petroglyph -- Pony Hills, New Mexico

Friday, August 5, 2016

How To Watch TV

An easy step-by-step guide.


Cut the cable.

If you take only this first step you will greatly improve your life quality as well as saving a lot of time and money every month thereafter.  Or, you may proceed to:


Acquire a broadcast tv antenna.  If you are ambitious you could install a yagi-type antenna on your roof.

It is also possible to just use an inexpensive indoor antenna.  You can probably dispense with rabbit ears on the older models as there are few analogue signals available these days.  Most of the broadcast programs are digital now and they are picked up by a uhf loop, or one of the more modern flat-panel models.

Connect your antenna cable to the back of the tv and proceed to:


Press the "menu" button on your remote and locate the channel scan tool which will find all of the locally available broadcast tv stations.  Even in a modestly-sized metropolitan area you are likely to find upwards of thirty broadcast channels including the major network affiliates.  Some stations will provide a stronger signal than others, and you may need to experiment with repositioning your antenna for best reception.  Now, go to your computer and proceed to:


Open your computer browser and find the TITANTV site at  Click the "+" symbol to create a new channel lineup using your local zip code.  After creating your custom channel lineup, make a link to the site. That will provide you with a tv schedule for all programs on all broadcast channels in your area.

Some of the listed channels may not be found by your scan.  Sometimes, it is possible to adjust you antenna position and do a rescan to pick up additional channels.  That's pretty much all there is to getting free tv.  You can add another tv or two at no cost beyond the additional receiver, or you can also get tv reception on your computer using a tuner like the little WinTV unit which plugs into a usb port on your computer.

All the major network programs are likely available via broadcast including CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and PBS.  If you so choose you can still waste a lot of time watching the generally awful network programming.  However, your channel lineup also likely includes stations which broadcast a lot of the classic series in a continuous loop from years past which are vastly superior to nearly all the current offerings.  For instance, look for "Mash", "Numb3rs". "NYPD Blue", "Night Court", and "Grace Under Fire", as well as many other programs unburdened by the improbable plots and characters of modern programming.