Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dr. Michael Niman, Professor, Buffalo State College SUNY

Dr. Michael I. Niman (Ph.D in American Studies) is a professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Buffalo State College SUNY.

Dr. Niman on climate change:
2/5/2009, -6 degrees, Buffalo, NY
"What we're seeing today here in Buffalo is extreme weather. It's not that extreme for Buffalo, but we're seeing all over the world extreme weather; weird weather. So, it's climate change. We don't really understand where it's going, but it's changing."

Dr. Niman on business:
The business of business is to employ people...
So what’s the point of tolerating business if the very formula that defines business has no toleration for humanity?
We need to impose a new formula that does not reward corporations for profiting at the cost of destroying the American dream and destroying the very fabric of our society.
The primary job of business is to employ people in good jobs. A society that tolerates anything short of this from their business sector is destined to be a failed state.

Dr. Niman on Capitalists:
Let’s look at how garden variety blood-sucking parasites operate. They leach on to an unsuspecting host and begin to suck the life out of them... these simple organisms can’t quite grasp abstract concepts like sustainability or action-effect relationships. Hence, they party wild in one big orgy of bloodsucking. But eventually they suck all the life out of their host, and are left clinging onto or tunneled inside of a dead, rotting carcass. This is the evolutionary roadblock that keeps insects and viruses from acquiring gold trinkets and big cars.
I think S&P [downgrading US credit rating] is issuing a warning that the pathologically greedy—the hyper-rich who have been enjoying three decades of exponential wealth growth and radical tax cuts—have just brushed against that same evolutionary barrier. Their insatiable pilfering drain on the US economy and society is marching us to the brink of economic and social extinction. With the S&P report, we’re witnessing the emergence of a fight within the ruling class and, by extension, the Republican Party. It’s the batshit crazy rapaciously insatiable lunatics versus the just plain greedy.

Dr. Niman on Post Office downsizing:
The corporate hit job on the Postal Service continues with the end of Saturday mail...
This expectation that the Postal Service should turn a profit dates back to the Reagan era, when Congress cut all funding to the agency. This leaves the United States nearly alone in the world as one of the few countries that does not fund a national postal service. And if Republicans in Congress have their way and actually shut down the Postal Service, the United States and Somalia will stand alone as the only two nations on earth not to maintain postal service. Somalia, I must mention, embodies the ultimate libertarian ideal, essentially having no government, having outsourced governance to “warlords,” which is a regional variation on what we commonly refer here to as “gangs,” “crime syndicates,” and “terrorists.” Pay enough money and someone in Somalia will deliver your message...
If the US joins Somalia as one of two nations without a postal service, that is truly radical, and an incredible victory for corporate libertarians who want to take over all public services.
Essentially, there is a war against the US Postal Service. It’s part of the same corporate-funded war against democracy...
[Postal workers] are now in jeopardy because of a corrupt Congress beholden to corporate special interests which, in their unfettered greed, want to privatize and profitize all government services, no matter the cost to society, our democracy, or our freedoms...
Perhaps he’ll move to Somalia and feel the bliss of a postal-free society.

Dr. Niman on Occupy Wall Street:
[T]his American incarnation of the Arab Spring... many times the size of pro-corporate “Tea Party” events that typically enjoy the national media limelight...
[Being acephalous (without leaders)] is what makes this movement unstoppable. There are no leaders to co-opt, harass, arrest, or kill...
They will never raise money for a hope-killing presidential candidate...
There is no one to stop this movement once it gains momentum. Acephalous!
This is what democracy looks like: It’s acephalous. The movement belongs to those who are on the streets moving it...
[I]n the end, it’s going to be effective in moving the ball, as similar movements have been in Tunisia and Egypt. And yes, that’s another inspiration for this winter of democracy. Unlikely as it would have seemed just a decade ago, America is importing democracy from the Middle East. 
...It’s being led by a shared passion—that the United States should be a small “d” democratic nation governed by principles of social justice...
The revolution has been televised.
Their demand is simple, and it’s directed not at government, per se, but at us, calling on us to “assert [our] power” and ultimately change the system that perpetuates these injustices. Their message: “Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.”

Dr. Niman on fracking:
Fracking could be the beginning of the end—the triumph of pathological greed over reason.
These are wildly irresponsible, terribly dangerous processes that only an addiction-maddened mind would contemplate, and only a greed-addled sociopath would execute.
In this insanity, melting polar ice, while flooding coastal population centers, changing the salinity of the seas, and skewing climate patterns, also creates opportunities for end time oil plays... This is a move that only an addict would make—like smoking crack from a vile you find sticking out of a puddle of vomit.
We need to speak truth to this power. We need to do it with great volume, and we must be prepared never to let up, as the stakes are too high. There is hope, however. More than twice as many Americans now work green jobs in the solar and wind industries, as in the coal industry.

Dr. Niman on the London riots:
London’s been burning for two weeks, with the flames of chaos spreading across the United Kingdom.
Perhaps the silver lining on an otherwise dismal situation is the fact that this is not a race riot, with looters and arsonists representing the racial and ethnic makeup and diversity of their communities.
Despite the demographic solidarity of the rioters, however, I’d shy away from the temptation to label what we’re seeing as any sort of cohesive class war or revolutionary uprising. I’m sorry, but this is just a romantic fantasy...
Looting is complicated...

Dr. Niman on mourning Steve Jobs:
Instead of building products, Jobs concentrated on building a brand—a super brand with a cult-like following. With this brand in hand, Apple was able to contract out to faceless suppliers who squeezed their slim profit margin from an over-worked and underpaid workforce.
So yeah, I’m dumbfounded by all the mourning. Sure, Jobs was a visionary, but his vision was a dark one. To face up to that, however, means having to come to terms with the nasty realities of our own fetishistic consumerism. All of this iShit has to come from somewhere...
Dig deeper and you’ll find raw materials sourced from deadly, low-bidding mines across Africa. You’ll find mine tailings poisoning communities just as you’ll find iWorkers on assembly lines poisoned by solvents and crippled by hyper-paced repetitive movements.
So we’ll mourn Jobs and ignore the victims of the suicide clusters in the Apple supply line...
The problem was Jobs’s business model, which guaranteed that suppliers would engage in a cost-cutting race to the bottom...
The inventions he shepherded to market have certainly changed the world. But has that really been a good thing? The Apple model is the antithesis of the open-source movement celebrated by the anarcho-techie set...
From where I sit, I can only see unbridled greed.
Under Jobs’s leadership, Apple developed partnerships with other mega-brands...
What this all adds up to is one corporation with an increasing presence in every aspect of your life—and a diminishing number of options to circumvent that inevitable relationship.
This is Steve Jobs’s legacy. It is truly brilliant. And yes, your iPhone is very impressive. I still don’t get the mourning.

Dr. Niman on the death of Sen. Wellstone:
We need to confront these rumors. What I’m looking for is closure... People aren’t going to accept [the FAA] as an impartial board.
Wellstone now joins the ranks of other American politicians who died in small plane crashes.
...Missouri's former Democratic governor, Mel Carnahan, who lost his life in 2000, three weeks before Election Day, during his Senatorial race against John Ashcroft... Investigators determined that Carnahan's plane went down due to "poor visibility."
Democratic Representative Jerry Litton, whose plane crashed the night he won the Democratic nomination for senate in 1976. His Republican opponent ultimately captured the seat from his successor in November...
U.S. Senator, liberal Republican John Heinz, dying in a plane crash... who entered office as an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, later emerged as a strong proponent of health care, social services, public transportation and the environment. He also urged reconciliation with Cuba. He died when the landing gear on his small plane failed to function, and a helicopter dispatched to survey the problem crashed into his plane.
John Tower, also died in a small plane crash. Tower was best known as the chair of the Tower Commission, which investigated the Reagan/Bush era Iran/Contra scandal...
Democratic representative and House Majority Leader Hale Boggs. Boggs was best known as one of the seven members of the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy... Boggs, it turns out, had "strong doubts" that Oswald acted alone, but went along with the commission findings. Later, in 1971 and 1972, he went public with his doubts. He was presumed dead after the small plane carrying him and Democratic Representative Nicholas Begich disappeared in 1972.
Texas Democratic Representative Mickey Leland also died in a plane crash. In his case, the six-term member of Congress and outspoken advocate of sanctions against the apartheid government of South Africa, died while traveling in Ethiopia.
...but I also felt shame. Shame for not writing in my column, months ago, that I felt that Paul Wellstone's life, more so than any other politician in Washington, was in danger. I felt that such speculation was unprofessional and would ultimately undermine my credibility. In the end, my own self-interest triumphed, and I never put my concerns into print. Neither did any other mainstream journalist, though I know of many who shared my concern.
When I heard Wellstone's plane went down, I immediately thought of Panamanian General Omar Torrijos, who in 1981 thumbed his nose at the Reagan/Bush administration and threatened to destroy the Panama Canal in the event of a U.S. invasion. Torrijos died shortly thereafter when the instruments in his plane failed to function upon takeoff. Panamanians speculated that the U.S. was involved in the death of the popular dictator, who was replaced by a U.S. intelligence operative, Manuel Noreiga, who previously worked with George Bush Senior.
There is no indication today that Wellstone's death was the result of foul play. What we do know, however, is that Wellstone emerged as the most visible obstacle standing in the way of a draconian political agenda by an unelected government. And now he is conveniently gone. For our government to maintain its credibility at this time, we need an open and accountable independent investigation involving international participation into the death of Paul Wellstone.

Dr. Niman on Ron Paul supporters:
I have zero tolerance for racists
Ron Paul’s popularity, given his history of racism, is troubling. More troubling, however, is the willingness of his supporters, an odd coalition of one-percenter corporatists and anti-war pothead libertarians, to ignore or excuse these views. Politically and economically multifarious as Ron Paul’s posse may be, they almost all share a common trait—that’s their whiteness, which translates into their historical immunity from racist persecution. This is also why their willingness to accept and excuse Ron Paul’s history of racism is particularly revolting. their continued support for Paul’s hate-mired candidacy evidences, they certainly aren’t anti-racists or human rights proponents.
By now, most people are aware of the controversy surrounding the racist diatribes which he published in his newsletter, the Ron Paul Survival Report...
Ron Paul hopes not just to erase the social reforms of the 20th century but to undo the humanistic evolution of society.
What I can’t respect or tolerate, however, is their willingness to brush aside, or even excuse, his history of hate speech. This is especially repugnant from a privileged group that condones, but never suffers from, racism.
Forget this neenering moron and every one of Ron Paul’s pathetic supporters who squirms to excuse his racism.

Dr. Niman on Obama winning 2012:
Obama was re-elected by the poor and working class, who need to exercise their new clout to achieve real reform...
Angry white men never let go of the fact that he’s black, with their Fox News heroes once again pulling their tired racist tropes out of the closet...
Let’s make no pretenses about this. Poor and working class voters, the two largest growing economic groups in the United States, won this election for Obama. They came out in poll-defying numbers to wait in multi-hour lines while their employers docked their pay, but in the end they re-wrote the political rules for the nation. To wait on five-hour lines to vote is the modern civil rights movement equivalent of the Montgomery bus boycott and the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins. Republican voter repression tactics didn’t catch anyone by surprise this year, with voters ready for whatever obstructive tactics were thrown their way. So they waited, and they voted...
Seeing these lines disgusted me, but seeing the determination of the people trapped on these lines gives me hope and makes me proud. I’m both ashamed to be part of a nation that allows these voter suppression tactics and proud to be part of a nation where people stand up by the millions to resist them. In the end, it was the very people these lines were designed to disenfranchise, poor and working-class voters, who beat back a Republican trifecta...
The middle class, on the other hand, did not win this election for Obama. [They] stayed home (or at work) in large numbers, adding to their electoral irrelevance. And they’re disappearing at an alarming rate, mostly dropping into the working class or sometimes straight into poverty.
In the end we have a disunited, disinterested, disempowered, disappearing middle class demographic...
Poor and working-class voters were the big winners this year, gaining political clout and capital.


Dr. Niman being arrested on Elmwood Ave. and Summer St., Buffalo, NY.