August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013

  Councilman Bill Henry (left) presides over the panel moments after Carl Stokes abandoned his chairman’s seat when Ed Reisinger (right) called for approval of the tax financing subsidy. Warren Branch (center) voted with Reisinger.  Photo by: Mark Reutter. Source: Baltimore Brew.

If Baltimoreans don’t rise up to challenge the plutocratic cabal—and its sycophantic Non-Profit Industrial Complex—that runs our government and influences the allocation of resources, if we don’t out-organize and out-vote the political surrogates that are pimping city residents, then we will continue to receive the same results that we have always received: naked handouts for greedy corporate capitalist and cutbacks for hard-working everyday people.

Saturday, July 20 rally to “end the senseless violence, to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, to focus on healing, to honor the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King and to seek a brighter tomorrow.” Photo by Bill Hughes.

I would think that white people would not want to bring up the subject of violence to African Americans whose ancestors were slaves. Black on black crime? Really? That subject is the popular go-to issue that stalks the Trayvon Martin tragedy like a cowardly, failed martial arts student stalks his victim – with a gun. Since the George Zimmerman controversial verdict that has galvanized civil rights activists and even moved the most dedicated couch potatoes out of their barcoloungers, that’s been the buzz. Many people, including the president, are calling for an honest, serious conversation on race. Is that what the race conversation consists of, putting the worst of the “least of these” under indictment? Do we really want to put a bull’s eye on the poorest, most underserved segments of the population and take aim?

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Our national deficit debates are increasingly turning to healthcare costs and the need to evolve our current dysfunctional healthcare system. A recent addition to this debate is a new book by a founder of Tai Sophia in Laurel, Maryland. In his book, Breaking the Iron Triangle: Reducing Healthcare Costs in Corporate America, Robert Duggan notes that our current debate frames healthcare as an “iron triangle”. The iron triangle refers to healthcare cost, quality, and access. According to Duggan, “common sense tells us that is impossible to maximize quality and access while minimizing cost.” He argues the iron triangle can be broken only by abandoning cherished, destructive assumptions and complementing our existing “disease system” with a strengthened “wellness system”. The book includes several examples of institutions – including many local to Maryland – that are currently taking up this challenge.

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

As America celebrates "Victory Day," on August 15, when one looks at a photo of 1945 Hiroshima or modern day Detroit, the similarities are striking.

As Hiroshima lied smoldering, Detroit was the envy of modern civilization; the model city known as the Arsenal of Democracy. Detroit was the innovator of mass production, creator of the middle class, and the pioneer of racial equality. Today, Detroit is emblematic of the failures of the social policies starting in the sixties, and synonymous with deterioration and blight.

An anonymized speaker in Dirty Wars, the new documentary from investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill and filmmaker Rick Rowley, describes the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) – an elite unit spanning all four branches of the US military -- as something of an extraordinarily effective hammer, for which he foresees a process of continually seeking out “nails”. Afghanistan. Yemen. Pakistan. Somalia. Indonesia. Thailand. And so on.

Youth from Taiwan announcing their open space session, at the 2013 International Democratic Education Conference. (Source:

In the past week, I’ve been at two amazing conferences, both dealing with democratizing education. The first was IDEC, the International Democratic Education Conference, held this year in Boulder, Colorado.