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Starry Messenger

Profile Information

Name: Decline to State
Gender: Female
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Home country: USA
Current location: Left Coast
Member since: Sat Apr 9, 2005, 08:01 PM
Number of posts: 32,339

About Me

Artist, high school teacher and "hard-liner" (yet to be defined).

Journal Archives

Allies don't patronize and attack the people they claim to support.

Activists who wish to decrease oppression should avoid replicating the system of oppression created by the white male cis straight 1%.


Even the most hardcore social justice warrior (or paladin, cleric, rogue…) can fail to be a good ally to someone from a different group or identity at some point. What matters, what always matters, is how you deal with your fail. Did you apologize? Did you sit with yourself and examine what happened and why? Did you think about what being a good ally really means? Did you recommit yourself to being a better ally in the future?

Or did you double down with the idea that you’re an ally, not one of those bigots out there, and you marched with King, and you supported some feminists in 1973, and you’ve done all this work, and therefore you didn’t do anything wrong, you find nothing objectionable in what you did (or failed to do), and so the problem must be with the people you’re allied to, and not with yourself. In other words: did you center yourself?

The kind of people who say Stop Attacking Your Allies are the kind who tie their allyship to specific behaviors from the group they’re supposedly interested in helping. They, the ally, want to dictate the terms of the relationship and want to be the one to say “Now it’s the time to address this thing,” instead of allowing the marginalized and oppressed folks to make that determination. The ally wants to set the rules for what is appropriate discourse, to determine the parameters for politeness, and the conditions under which they will use or set aside their privilege. Do I need to explain the problems with that?[2]

Are we really “driving away” our allies, or are we making it clear that we won’t accept an ally relationship that is about the needs and comfort of the allies above everyone else? Yes, we might be making that clear with harsh language. And yes, in making that clear we might hurt some feelings. That happens when allies don’t listen to the polite, patient words that come before the yelling.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Fri Sep 11, 2015, 01:59 AM (0 replies)

Negativland - "Time Zones" (RIP Don Joyce)

Here's a toast for all of us angry young Reagan-era punks who were looking for something else. Listening to Negativland helped cut through Cold War bullshit and suburban numbness.


Negativland's Don Joyce Dead at 71

"Six months after the loss of Negativland's Ian Allen at age 56, the experimental San Francisco outfit has lost another member. Don Joyce passed away at 71, according to a post on the band's Facebook page. Joyce died of heart failure in Oakland, CA.

Describing Negativland as "culture jammers," Joyce helped create music made out of re-appropriated material years before electronic and rap producers started doing the same. Although they never came anywhere close to mainstream success, the group's sonic collage proved incalculably influential and ahead of its time.

"In Don Joyce. Negativland had found its “lead vocalist” without even realizing they were looking for one," the band wrote of his pivotal role on Facebook. "It was Don who took the idea of reshaping previously recorded words – in a pre-sampling age – and ran with it to an extent and depth never before heard, and never equalled. “Recontextualization” became his weapon, with the 1/4” tape machine and razor blade his ammunition, and the radio “cart player" – an entirely forgotten piece of broadcast history using endless-loop tape cartridges, which he used until he death – his delivery system.

"When he and Negativland discovered their mutual love for “found” sounds, an intensely collaborative creative partnership was cemented. It continued non-stop for the ensuing decades, with Don endlessly scanning the airwaves of radio and television, along with his massive LP collection, for new material, day by day, week by week."

Posted by Starry Messenger | Thu Jul 23, 2015, 05:42 PM (0 replies)

Good questions!

Actually, I am supporting Hillary at this time. I know she can be polarizing and has negatives. I was a strong Obama primary supporter in 2008, so I'm familiar with the problems she and her campaign had there. However, I think her numbers against the Republicans at this time could bring us something as rare as a unicorn--a term for a Democrat after a two term Democratic President.

Also, her numbers with important constituency groups like people of color and women (and people who are both!) can't be ignored. Bernie is a great guy, but his support is an inch wide, imo. He isn't speaking to me if he's leaving my political allies off the bus.

I am also puzzled by the DU claim that there are two groups out there just waiting for some economic messiah to come out to vote--non-voters and the white union voter. We already know who votes for Democrats. And African American women have the highest progressive voting record of the last several elections cycles. I've seen some DUers claim that there is some difference between the "progressive voter" and voting people of color, which is a) not at all true and b) racist. There is no proof at all that non-voters and conservative white union members are suddenly going to have the light-bulb switch on in large enough numbers to matter.

I have some theories--some people claiming this are white and/or were until recently, pretty well off. They weren't hit very hard by right-wing policies until they became outright semi-fascist on economics to the point where the comfortable income tier finally felt the pain the rest of us have been feeling for decades.

The other issues like racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc. don't really touch their lives, so even though they vaguely know those things are out there, but they don't know how those issues can also lead to a lack of dignity and also be really economically detrimental.

To them, the alternative isn't really unthinkable, because it won't make a difference to their wallet at this point. There are even people who think that if the Republicans win again, people will suddenly revolt and we will have some kind of spontaneous revolution because the pain will be so great. Well fuck that, buddy! If Republicans get control of the USSC, you can kiss several progressive reforms *goodbye*. This week should have proved to anyone how seriously important the Supremes are at this point. If there are people who don't give a shit about that, then what is left that they find important?

And you are right, it isn't worth it in terms of the numbers, let alone morally. I hate capitalism too, but it isn't going away just because this group of self-appointed cool kids just discovered that it isn't working for them anymore. Take a number! BainsBane has been writing about this, and her posts have been on point. If your message doesn't appeal to the wide mass of people who have been on the shit end of that stick for generations, then what are you fighting for?
Posted by Starry Messenger | Sun Jun 28, 2015, 08:33 AM (2 replies)

Bringing back voting rights expansion would help immeasurably.

Black women are the most progressive voters, and limiting their rights to vote hurts everyone. The Supreme Court has been stripping voting reforms, which hurts this voting bloc.

The Civil Rights Act had the effect of bringing expanded protections to women, especially white women. Protecting those rights via the Supreme Courts is vital.

Government work has had the benefit of helping Blacks and women into the middle class. The reactionary Supreme Court and republicans have stripped unions and public workers to the point where Blacks and woman have been harmed by the reduction of the public worker sector. I've never seen a single born-again "populist" on this board support protections for unions and laws for this sector. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/business/public-sector-jobs-vanish-and-blacks-take-blow.html?_r=0

I'm sure since you're such a "big supporter" of socialism and minority groups, you can probably list some of your own.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Wed May 27, 2015, 12:57 AM (2 replies)

Building Hope$: Big charter, big money, big prizes, big hou$e$

You can tell charter $chools are for the children, look at the beautiful facilities!


Oh wait, that's the charter operator's house.

Who owns this lovely abode, you ask?

"Joe Bruno, a man who has become increasingly influential in the charter school industry. Originally an executive in the accounting and health care sectors, Bruno started his current organization, Building Hope, in 2004. Here's how the non-profit describes its mission:

Building Hope supports high quality public charter schools in Washington D.C., Florida and other U.S. cities and states by providing technical and financial assistance for educational facilities. A non-profit organization, Building Hope supports the expansion of academically successful schools with the capacity to grow their enrollments in order to catalyze change across their local public education systems. Building Hope promotes school-centered community revitalization, and believes that excellent charter school programs and facilities will help transform economically depressed neighborhoods into places where children will thrive. [emphasis mine]

All that may be true, but it's not the complete story. Because Building Hope is also using government grants and tax-exempt foundation funds to provide capital to the for-profit charter sector, allowing charter management organizations and charter school landowners, like the Zuluetas, to maximize their profits.

Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent."


Must be nice. You can tell from how hard this civil rights hero works:

"We’ve had some great parties in this house while our daughters were growing up and with our friends from the charter school world and from the Italian American groups we belong to,” says Joe Bruno, a Ferrari-driving entrepreneur who since 2004 has served as president of Building Hope, a nonprofit that provides business, technical and financial assistance to public charter schools. “There’s a story behind every painting, every collection and every piece of furniture.”

It's a story that says: tax-payer funded luxury is awesome.

"“The murals of carnival scenes in Venice on the walls of the powder room were painted for Beverly Hills clients of mine who decided they didn’t want them, and when I realized the Brunos’ home was the perfect place for them we had them peeled off and shipped to Potomac,” says Herchik.

Along the hallway are portraits of some of Joe Bruno’s heroes, including Dante, Leonardo, Verdi and Garibaldi. Nearby are a bust of Dante and maps of Italy from the 1700s.

“One of my favorite places to sit is in the library, especially in the winter when I can have a fire going,” Joe Bruno says. “I’m surrounded by paintings of Italy.”

The library walls, originally plain white, have been faux-painted to resemble wood paneling. Often, when Joe Bruno relaxes in his library, his thoughts are focused on resolving problems faced by charter schools in the city and elsewhere with their finances or finding a school facility, but sometimes he’s thinking about enjoying a brisk game of basketball or driving one of his two Ferraris."

Well, to be fair, that's pretty much how my day goes too. Except without the Ferraris, the house, or relaxing in the library.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Mon May 4, 2015, 10:14 PM (2 replies)

Lots of concern around about Greece possibly abandoning austerity

The victory of Syriza seems to have caused latter-day austerions to emerge from the woodwork again.

I am by no means an economist, but someone who reads. Last year there were a series of strong articles on the falsity of austerity as a way to recover a nation's economic health. I'll post some links here for anyone who needs them handy.



Herndon, who did his undergraduate study at Evergreen State College, first started looking into Reinhart and Rogoff's work as part of an assignment for an econometrics course that involved replicating the data work behind a well-known study. Herndon chose Reinhart and Rogoff's 2010 paper, "Growth in a Time of Debt," in part, because it has been one of the most politically influential economic papers of the last decade. It claims, among other things, that countries whose debt exceeds 90 percent of their annual GDP experience slower growth than countries with lower debt loads — a figure that has been cited by people like Paul Ryan and Tim Geithner to justify slashing government spending and implementing other austerity measures on struggling economies.


Herndon pulled up an Excel spreadsheet containing Reinhart's data and quickly spotted something that looked odd.

"I clicked on cell L51, and saw that they had only averaged rows 30 through 44, instead of rows 30 through 49."

What Herndon had discovered was that by making a sloppy computing error, Reinhart and Rogoff had forgotten to include a critical piece of data about countries with high debt-to-GDP ratios that would have affected their overall calculations. They had also excluded data from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia — all countries that experienced solid growth during periods of high debt and would thus undercut their thesis that high debt forestalls growth.


After consulting his professors, Herndon signed two of them — Pollin and department chair Michael Ash — on as co-authors, and the three of them quickly put together a paper outlining their findings. The paper cut to the core of a debate that has been dividing economists and politicians for decades. Fans of austerity believe that governments should cut spending in order to grow their economies, while anti-austerians believe that government spending in times of economic duress can create growth and reduce unemployment, even if it increases debt in the short term. What Herndon et al. were claiming, in essence, was that the pro-austerity movement was relying on bogus information.




Additionally, Herndon also uncovered a transcription error with Spain’s average GDP growth. In one of Reinhart and Rogoff’s tables, Spain’s average GDP growth was entered at 2.8% instead of 2.2%. Two other samples showed five countries–Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, and Canada–were removed, adding to the amount of computational errors in the Harvard report.

Herndon concluded, “Contrary to RR, average GDP growth at public debt/GDP ratios over 90 percent is not dramatically different than when debt/GDP ratios are lower.”

An addendum to Herndon’s paper also defines a stronger causal relationship between economic and public debt. A contribution by his professor Arin Dube provides evidence that the causality runs the other way around – from slow growth to high debt.


Herndon, along with the economics department at UMass-Amherst, have undercut the austerity argument that there is no definitive threshold for the debt/GDP ratio relationship and that public debt holds a pivotal role in overcoming a financial recession–a topic that has been on the mind of every American.



In a post at Quartz, University of Michigan economics professor Miles Kimball and University of Michigan undergraduate student Yichuan Wang write that they have crunched Reinhart and Rogoff's data and found "not even a shred of evidence" that high debt levels lead to slower economic growth.

And a new paper by University of Massachusetts professor Arindrajit Dube finds evidence that Reinhart and Rogoff had the relationship between growth and debt backwards: Slow growth appears to cause higher debt, if anything.

As you can see from the chart from Dube's paper below, growth tends to be slower in the five years before countries have high debt levels. In the five years after they have high debt levels, there is no noticeable difference in growth at all, certainly not at the 90 percent debt-to-GDP level that Reinhart and Rogoff's 2010 paper made infamous. Kimball and Wang present similar findings in their Quartz piece. (Story continues below chart.)


This contradicts the conclusion of Reinhart and Rogoff's 2010 paper, "Growth in a Time of Debt," which has been used to justify austerity programs around the world. In that paper, and in many other papers, op-ed pieces and congressional testimony over the years, Reinhart And Rogoff have warned that high debt slows down growth, making it a huge problem to be dealt with immediately. The human costs of this error have been enormous.




(Reinhart and Rogoff noted in their Tuesday statement that they have been careful not to claim that high debt causes slow growth, but rather that it has an "association" with slow growth.)

Beyond that, Baker notes, there were lots of other reasons to question Reinhart and Rogoff, including the fact that their gloomy conclusions about debt relied heavily on slow U.S. economic growth immediately after World War II. At the time, the U.S. was deep in war debt and dismantling its war machine. That relatively brief state of affairs was quickly followed by arguably the greatest economic boom in history.

Despite these questions, Reinhart and Rogoff's 90-percent threshold has been discussed ad nauseum in the press and used frequently to justify austerity measures in the U.S. and Europe, as detailed by Quartz's Tim Fernholz. The 2012 version of the pro-austerity budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) cites Reinhart and Rogoff by name, and specifically refers to the 90-percent threshold.

Washington's constant state of panic over government debt and budget deficits has contributed to severe cutbacks in government spending that have slowed economic growth and helped keep unemployment high. The situation has been even worse in Europe, particularly in troubled nations like Greece, where austerity has been enforced as a bailout condition, only to result in slower growth and higher debt burdens.


Posted by Starry Messenger | Tue Jan 27, 2015, 06:05 PM (11 replies)
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