Decentralization in the Digital Age | The Real Ratigan

You have to understand were in the middle of one of the most fundamental transitions in the history of the world. Its at least as fundamental as the transition from the agrarian economy of the late 1800s to the industrial economy of the early 1900s. People moving from the farm to the city. The…

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Veni, Vidi, “V.I.C.I.” Code

The green curtain of money has a stranglehold on Washington, D.C. We are witnessing the fall of an electoral system that promised its power to the people, for the people, and is reneging on that promise with each passing day. They are not living by a code of honor and trust, or as we call it: the “V.I.C.I.” code.

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Paradise Lost: The Garden of Democracy

Author Nick Hanauer doesn’t believe that capitalism is inherently bad, but rather that it is an essential part of a larger ecosystem that we haven’t yet figured out. “Job creators” is constantly used when talking about the economy, but what does that really matter? And are they really solely responsible for spurring our economy on?

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Day 5 of Allied Air Strikes Over Libya

Reva Bhalla of Stratfor and Libyan-American activist Del Elmagbari discuss the growing crisis in the Middle East

>>> starts right now.

>>> good afternoon, a keg lit, in the fight for libya. this asp f-15s taking out gadhafi-controlled missile sites around the capital of tripoli, as nato warships continue to enforce an arms embargo against the regime. meanwhile, residence of benghazi in the ease rallies in the streets in support of “operation odyssey dawn” reports now indicating that the international campaign is instead weakening gadhafi’s forces. still, this new amateur video purportedly shows gadhafi forces launching rocket attacks on rebels, an indication the fight at this point far from over. mean time, the dramatic scenes of protests continue to stream in from around the region. unrest today in yemen, just to the south. bahrain to the east of saudi arabia, and syria, yes, adjacent to israel, and even in israel, the relative quiet in jerusalem shattered by a deadly bombing, the blast near a crowded bus — excuse me — killing one woman and wounding more than 20 others, this the first major attack in jerusalem in several years. joining us this afternoon a couple folks i’m excited to have here, two very interested parties, rava balla, with an organ called straffor, a consulting group to large investors, governments and organization. with us as well. dell al makbari, he’s been very vocal about the ultimate intent and desire of the libyan rebels and activists there. del, what is your perspective on the state of play in your home country?

>> at this point we’re very excited that the international community, are protecting the civilians right now. this is very important. it was needed. people don’t — i mean, the — people criticizing these air strikes need to remember that benghazi was on the verge of a genocide, so these air strikes are extremely important. i think these definitely going to be a — it’s going to change the game at this point for us.

>> how?

>> bell, gadhafi is putting a lot of pressure, just since yesterday, misrata was being bombarded, and gadhafi forces were killing the people in misrata. just recently, for ten hours of air strikes in misrata, helping out the opposition fighters, so there’s still a lot of pressure from gadhafi, and we need the support, we still need the support from the united states and the international community, the coalition.

>> rava, do we have a good answer to the question, who is we are protecting or defending from gadhafi?

>> i think that’s unclear to the coalition partners. we still seeing that glaring contradiction between the strategy and the mission here. if the mission is to oust gadhafi, which is something that cameron, obama and sarkozy all agree on, how exactly do you operationalize that? it really is unclear whether any coalition can affect regime change from 15,000 feet in the air. they’re going to need significant ground support to these rebels, and it’s not clear that any of the coalition partners are able or willing to provide that support.

>> understood. i want to turn our attention to a couple key balances of power in that region, reva, first the arab/israeli balance. how do you determine what happened with the bombing in jerusalem? and what is the state of that, considering the key ally that egypt has been in maintaining that stability?

>> the arab/israeli balance of power is significant, and the attack came on the heels of a barrage of attacks, we saw particularly gruesome attack in the west bank two week ago, so there happens to be an intent to provoke israel into a military confrontation. that applying enormous pressure on egypt right now. egypt already in a fragile political position, trying to manage the political transition at home while also dealing with this warrick next door in libya. the last thing it needs is a situation in the gaza strip that could aply a lot of appreciate by not only hamas, but the main opposition group, the muslim brotherhood.

>> del, how concerned are you about overall imbalances in the saudi/iranian balance of power?

>> right now our concern is libya, and as far as who’s going to take over, you know, after gadhafi. right now the uprising is being led by educated people, they’re being led by doctors, lawyers, engineers, so we need to concern ourselves as a libyan-american, how we make libya, you know — how we can how it become another country that’s part of the western morals and civilization. this is what we want. as far as that, when that happens, then we can talk about other countries, but for now we need to focus on what’s happening in libya. i can’t speak about what’s happening in saudi arabia, what’s happening in gaza and israel. right now a genocide was occurring and we need to do can do to help out the opposition.

>> del, i really thank you for become such a potent voice in bringing both the murder and the threat of the genocide in libya to our attention, and to so many other folks. i’m going to let you go for the afternoon. thank you so much. reva, if i can, i want to keep you for a minute to talk about the reasonen in aggregate. specifically i want to talk about the balance of power between the two factions that exist inside of the muslim religion. forget the countries, the so-called sunnis and the shia. i’m trying to think of the best way to explain to an american audience. what occurred was that of red state/ blue state. forgive me for the crude analogy. i have the shia region head quartered out of iran and the sunni base headquartered out of saudi arabia, and we have this map, if we can leave it up, can you see this, reva?

>> yes, i can see it.

>> the grin big shia, the yellow being sunni, and the fire represents threats of disruption disruption.

>> well, it’s not that black and white, but here we see a balance of power in flux, between the predominant sunni and shia forces. this is a critical moment for that balance of power, especially as the united states faces an overbhauming strategic need to militarily strict itself from iraq. that deadline is approaching fast. the iranians have been lying in wait to fill the power vacuum in baghdad. in addition to that, they are looking at an opportunity here. they were using the north african unrest as a cover for a covert destabilization campaign in the eastern arabian regions, so countries like bahrain remain a key flash point in trying to produce this cascade effect of shia unrest that could potentially spread in significant ways to where a lot of the oil is concentrated, where you have significant communities, and that’s exactly why the gcc states are so concerned with what happens in bahrain and why they have made an overt and bold move to deploy forces to that island in an effort to counterbalance iran.

>> ultimately if saudi arabia– from looking at the map, it looks almost like a noose. they have the shia force from iran that is intact, the potential amplification in iraq and to the west and to the north and with bahrain to saudi arabia’s east and yemen just south of saudi arabia. am i wrong in looking at that as if again the pot for a major move forward with the accumulation of shia power and greater threat that’s possible looking at this map?

>> right. the saudis have a lot to be concerned about, over the past several days we’ve seen a lot of moves out of the saudi kingdom, trying to introduce new reforms call for municipal elections, things like that to try to contain the unrest, but as you mentioned there’s a two-front war approaches. you have a situation already in bahrain and the eastern arabian region, then southern saudi arabia under threat from the instable that’s taking place right now in yemen. yemen has always been seen as sort of a subordinate power to the saudis, very different to manage. you have a slew of crises in that country from al qaeda to separatists to southern separatists. that is something that the saudis have had to put on the back burner while dealing with these issues, but as that situation escalates, they now have to turn their attention to what does a post-region look like.

>> very quickly what happened to the u.s./ saudi arabian relationship in the context of the decision not to back mubarak and in a decision to back the rebels in libya, to what that implies for you. the u.s. relationship with the rebels that may emerge in saudi arabia?

>> well, i think the u.s./saudi relationship right now is centered on what’s happening in the persian gulf s. not so much about the north africa unrest, so in that situation here, we’re looking at an iran that has a lot of levers at its disposal, a lot of covert efforts. again the u.s. strategic need to remove its forces from iraq. so you would suspect that there will be some quiet negotiations, or at least attempts at negotiations taking place right now. that is 9 saudi fear, that the u.s. will reach an accommodations with the iranians that would leave the saudis and the sunni arabs vulnerable. i think that may be what is producing some tension between the americans and the saudis right now, but overall this is a tense time. everyone is trying to manage things and contain iran, but iran definitely has a lot of assets at its disposals.

>> reva, thank you so much for your time and your haz. reva disbhalla, check it out at

Egypt, Libya – who’s next?

Robert Powell of the Economist Intelligence Unit talks about the state of unrest in the Middle East and what that means for the rest of the world and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, talks about the political debate over President Barack Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya.

>>> for a fourth straight day the libya is the target of u.s. and coalition forces while here at home the president remains a political target for his decision to launch the attacks. we’ll get into that and i little bit. first here’s the latest news. american and british forces today dropped another two dozen tomahawk missles in libya. the cost $690,000 a pop. that’s part of efforts to maintain the no fly zone. officials report that progress in pushing back gadhafi forces but so far no concrete details on an end game as to u.s. or foreign involvement. in fact, we heard the pentagon just this afternoon doubling down on this mission.

>> we’re going to continue to pursue all actions necessary to make him comply with the security council resolution 1973.

>> well first egypt, now libya, and it does not stop there know that. yemen, bahrain, syria. what remains a question is whether the u.s. support for the freedom fighters in one country will spread to the others? let’s start things off with robert powell, middle east analyst. what’s playing out in libya period?

>> well, it’s essentially a rag tag rebel army, tribal elements plus a regime ? that’s been in place for who 26 years and now obviously western military forces have weighed in to deal with gadhafi and his behavior.

>> is the end game a failed state, one new country out of benghazi and another new country out of tripoli?

>> it’s difficult given how the situation is to give an answer. given how weak the forces are, how ill-equipped, difficult to avoid the partition scenario.

>> where libya is two countries.

>> yes.

>> let’s run through some of these other countries. i want to come back to tissue of hypocrisy. yemen’s 23 million people, plenty upset. sound like the president there is pulling what i call a mubarak where you come out and listen just one more time. we’ll do this once more. how dangerous is yemen? how serious should we take the al qaeda rhetoric which is so heated specifically around that country.

>> the west has to watch yemen extremely closely. two attacks have been launched from yemen over u.s. soil in the past year and a half. the u.s. state department is waiting to see what happens. what follows, no one really knows.

>> if you were to look again at egypt, there seems to be reasonable chance for debate of a modern adaptive government whether immediately or over time. libya is on the road to be a failed state. if one end of the peck trump is failed state, the other is modern adaptive government where does yemen fall?

>> firmly in the failed state.

>> let’s talk a little bit about syria. this is a reuters report in syria. this is incredible piece of reporting from the folks over at reuters. hasn’t stopped at syria. for the first time placards other than those glorifying syria’s elite and their history. the new signs says a single word is etched on the new signs, freedom.

>> if you go to syria, every poster is of the president, the iranian president, the president’s father and his deceased brother. it’s a remarkable turn around. the situation has been so badly mishandled. shooting at protesters makes martyrs and bring temperatures to the boil.

>> wave of freedom is spreading?

>> yes.

>> every country.

>> long time. it’s going to cut across the whole region.

>> i want to bring in another person into this k an american legislator out of utah, republican congressman jason chafe. congressman, nice to see you. i’ve been out looking around, i think i found your soul brother. can i show him to you. i’m telling you, you’re an interesting cat. you’re a young guy. you’re a relatively new arrival in the american congress. you’re associated with not only the republican party but a lot of your political rhetoric tends toward some of the anti-crony capitalist pro innovator investor type of stuff. and i was trying to find congressman the person out there who in the congress is most like you. are you ready for me to show you who this person is?

>> sure.

>> they might have done this with orientation with you guys. ? take a look at this man. see if you recognize him and what you think about his words.

>> a decision was made to take american forces into a war. he didn’t consult with congress and that’s a matter of fact. what the consequences are politically, we’ll see.

>> american soul brother dennis kucinich and ay son chafe on the same side of the aisle. walk us around the odd political bed fellows.

>> you scare me when you say bed fellows and kucinich in the same sentence.

>> soul brother.

>> all right. look, my concern is ththat there is no clear and present danger. moammar gadhafi is one of the world’s bad guys. i just don’t think we should be ejecting ourselves into a third war when there’s no clear and present danger to the united states of america. i disagree with that.

>> i want to bring up the elephant in the room, which is universal desire for freedom from all these people and the incredible hypocrisy and nature of the relationships existing between all these different governments, our government, different governments. john kerry in some ways hit the other day. take a listen to this.

>> too often over the past decade we saw regimes in the region chiefly as tools in the fight against terrorism. while looking away from abuses that we knew were unconscionable. the result was we had relationships that focused mostly on leaders rather than people. that’s part of the price we may, folks.

>> do you agree with that?

>> yeah, i do agree with that. also, we have to recognize that we seem to get concerned when there’s oil involved. we’ve been terribly inconsistent. we’re trying to fight for would be in lots of other places. when oil is involved there seems to be a little different direction from our president, including president obama which surprises a lot of people.

>> again, rocket powell is hanging out like this is the dick cavett show congressman. we have a comment from the director for contemporary oriental studies saying nobody isn’t itted in showing hostility to saudi arabia. western states need their oil and huge financial resources. is there any way you can indulge the hypocrisy in being for the freedom fighters in libya, against the freedom fighters in saudi arabia and have this play out and i way that’s not a disaster?

>> the problem for the president is a wall where in libya, it’s pretty isolated and there’s not many countries with an interest in it. so even if it goes wrong it won’t spread. if you wade into bahrain or saudi arabia then you’re meeting these oil rich kingdoms.

>> congressman, understanding all the things, the complex web we’re dealing with, what — how do you advise we think about what’s going on in the middle east right now?

>> well, it’s terribly complicated but i think the president should be coming to the united states congress, should be coming to the people in order to get authorization. what drives me crazy is he goes the united nations to get authorization. he should dome the united states congress to get authorization. that’s the way you do this.

>> let’s be honest with each other, congressman. if you look at the history of military activity in this country going back to vietnam, basically ever since everybody at the u.n. war is illegal, our old thing is we go to war but never declare war so we don’t break it. ? vietnam, the gulf war, afghanistan, iraq, grenada, libya now, panama back then. you know the list as well as i do. this criticism you’re offering up and kucinich and so many others is by no means new.

>> well, it’s consistent. there are a growing number of people that are terribly frustrated by this. the president went to great lengths to get a vote in the united nations. why didn’t we get a vote in the united states congress? that’s what we should be doing. i don’t care what george bush and those others did. we got to look moving forward. it’s disappointing to say the least. i hope those on the left and right will join in this chorus and say it’s wrong the president is injecting himself. if there’s an imminent danger take care. problem. this is an internal civil war. we certainly were inconsistent when it came to iran. we had a lot of freedom people who wanted an uprising there. we were totally opposite in that.

>> now you sound as frustrated as everybody else in this country, congressman, which i suspect you probably are.

>> i am. i am. i’m fired up.

>> listen, its great to get some time with you. i’m hopeful we can bring this all to the surface after 50 years of hypocrisy in the middle east and elsewhere and be honest about the fact everybody wants freedom, we have degrees of corrupt governments to mildly corrupt and violent corrupt governments and we need to reconcile mildly corrupt governments to freedom period. congressman, thank you. robbt you made me feel like dick cavett with you hanging around. coming up,

UN Authorizes Libya ‘No-Fly’ Zone

A Dylan Ratigan Show panel discusses President Barack Obama’s attempt to galvanize American support for the prospect of military action against the Gadhafi regime.

King of Bahrain Declares State of Emergency

Philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Levi, who has been instrumental in mobilizing French support for the Libyan opposition, shares his thoughts on the unrest in the Middle East.

Obama pledges humanitarian support to Libya

Former U.S. ambassador Marc Ginsberg explains the current state of America’s foreign challenges as tempers flare in the Middle East.



>>> we start with the deepening crisis in libya. president obama take making his strongest statement yet against moammar gadhafi, not ruling out a no fly zone.

>> i want to see that the united states has full capacity to act potentially rapidly. if the situation deteriorated in such a way that you have had a humanitarian crisis on our hands. or a situation in which civilians were defenseless civilians were finding themselves trapped and in great danger. throughout all this, we will continue to send the clear message that it’s time for gadhafi to go.

>>> the key oil port, the site of the most recent battle between gadhafi and opposition forces.

>> it seems to me that we could neutralize very easily a very antiquated air defense system, with the old airplanes and obviously not very good pilots fairly easily and then that would help the people who are sacrificing their very lives as we seek.

>> joining us now is mark begins ginsburg, a very difficult situation for the white house and the president to manage, he seems to be keeping his options open, but with some pressure from leading senators on the hill. how do you see it at this hour?

>> the problem here is that secretary of defense gates felt that a in fly zone in libya with an attack on libyan military airplanes, airports, et cetera. but the fact of the matter is that the freedom fighters in libya are going to need help. but to get bogged down in a no fly zone may not help. we could oppose the — at the same time, even though we may not have the support of nato and other nations to impose a no fly zone. my biggest concern is that there’s an enormous amount of hand wringing going on here and the worst thing that could happen is a stalemate that would allow islamic extremists to enter into libya from the sahara sahara.

>> what kind of help do you think we should be offering?

>> reconnaissance support, humanitarian support. we could be providing them arms, we could be providing them specific target data. that’s why i’m arguing here, if the president is calling for gadhafi to go and gadhafi knows that we’re no longer going to have diplomatic relations with them and many of these people are in danger, let’s get a little more imaginative about what we could do here rather than get bogged down in this argument that doesn’t seem to be leading us anywhere.

>> how would it work logistical logistically, libya is a nation of many, many tribes and presumably a lot of warring factations, even if the president was following your advice, who to do what with?

>> benghazi in the eastern part of the country is under the control of a newly configured national con sill thuncil that’s more or less running the show and there’s other factions tied to the national council. there’s 140 tribes in libya, i have visited there myself, i have no illusions, but the airport in benghazi, the young revolutionaries who started this upheaval against gadhafi are there and that city is more or less a safe haven for potentially more support. why? because it’s just across from the egyptian border. i’m not naive here, we don’t have to go in with boots on the ground we could provide support even if we don’t institute a no fly zone.

>> it may be that the white house is already taking action and secretary gates to actually make some of these things happen, we may not learn about this for weeks or months.

>> that would be fine with me, matt, if the united states is already doing that in addition to providing humanitarian support. all the power to it. the less we know the better.

>> how does this work as an international matter diplomat diplomatically, if the u.s. was contemplating the actions you’re talking about, doesn’t this need to be seen as an international action? isn’t that a u.s. objective here?

>> clearly there’s many differences within this 30-person national council, whether or not the united states should unilaterally intervene in libya, but nato is not going to be prepared to do so. but the brits, the italians and others, we have a lot of coordination with our allies, there are things that are doable that will happen outside the prying eyes of the media and the other nations. there’s a lot of things that i said as a former diplomat in the region, i know where there’s a will there’s a way.

>> what would you say to the american people who looking at the mid east now, we’re bogged down in afghanistan, we have been bogged down for years in iraq, if the white house is contemplating action in libya now, how do you marshall public support? or do you just do the right thing and worry about bringing the public along later?

>> there’s means for providing covert means to support these forces. senator mccain supporting political cover to the white house and i think the president was courageous today in his statement that it’s time for gadhafi to go. there’s senseless killing that’s taking place, he’s using his air force. if we’re going to take that side other than remain neutral, let’s not be half baked about it, let’s make sure we finish the job, if gadhafi prevails in this fight, we’ll have a terminal raid against libya, he may not have nuclear weapons, but he was certainly involve in supporting terrorism before he decided to turn good about five to seven years ago and he can turn just as bad all over again.

>> ambassador mark ginsburg, thanks for

GOOD: Al Jazeera Shows Revolution In Real Time

Al Jazeera shows revolution in real time.

A Dylan Ratigan show panel talks about the role of Al Jazeera in Middle East revolutions and whether it can be beneficial for the region and America.










>>> governments that turn their guns on their own people have no place in this chamber. nothing is off the table so long as the libyan government continues to threaten and kill libyans.

>> that of course our secretary of state hillary clinton, tough talk as the u.s. and its allies, now set to impose sanctions on libya and the american military is repositioning itself near the north african coast, closer to libya, just in case they are called upon. and hundreds, perhaps even thousands now believed to have been killed in bloody battles for the control of that country between protesters and moammar gadhafi and his armed militia. recently reports of a severe clampdown on the western capital of tripoli where protesters in the eastern half of libya are now reportedly beginning to organize their own government. all of this playing out in realtime. not just on twitter, not just on facebook, but on televisions throughout the region and streaming on laptops around the world. much has been said about the role of the internet in these uprisings, but what role has al jazeera played in the wave of revolutions that are sweeping the middle east? take a look at this example. a side by side comparison of coverage of the libyan uprising. libyan state tv in the green. al jazeera in red. on libyan state tv, peaceful pro-gadhafi rallies are being reported. on the same day at the same time, on al jazeera, chaos and violence in the streets. opponents of the regime lying injured and bloody on the ground. no wonder gadhafi has referred to this channel as a misleading dog station. al jazeera, of course, a controversial brand here in our own country, but could it actually be good for america? and for that matter, the world? by exposing people in the middle east to alternative viewpoints to the state tv that they are fed and at the same time showing america a new face for the arab world? joins us now, ben golter, ceo of good, a company dedicated to moving the world forward through its web, magazine, videos and live events. it’s nice to have you back with us. this has been an explosive period for this network.

>> it’s one of the more amazing periods we’ve seen in history and this network’s been on the ground. for many years al jazeera wasn’t getting traction. we had the economic interest but it wasn’t enough to capture our attention. add to that the human interest in what we’re seeing. i think this is the most aspirational set of values we can hope to see and something so uniquely american.

>> why?

>> just courage and liberty in the face of such danger. we see it everybody once in a while in history and we’re seeing it now. i think americans want a direct line to that. we want to see exactly what’s going on from the source that’s closest to it. and so it’s been so wonderful to see al jazeera merge as a key voice in news right now and if you look on their traffic, and you see that they’ve tripled in the last month, it’s quite incredible. no media site enjoys that sort of growth at this pace. and i think my hope and belief is that this won’t be come down, but people will start to appreciate we need a direct line into such a critical area of the world always to be right along side msnbc as a valuable news source we’re using for our day-to-day lives.

>> joining us now is professor of middle eastern politics, international relations at the london school of economics and a favorite guest of ours since this conversation began. your thoughts on al jazeera. first off, as a provocateur, instigator, perpetuator, flame thrower for the revolution, itself.

>> you know, dylan, people have been speaking about the internet and web and twitter. people don’t realize in the middle east you have a small percentage of people who have access to the internet. fewer than 20%. the reality is al jazeera is really the biggest and the most massive influence in the middle east. in tunisia, in egypt, in libya, in algeria and yemen, people have been saying, thank you, al jazeera. what al jazeera has been able to do is connect middle easterns in very small towns, villages, together. the internet fewer. few people have access to internet. al jazeera has been able to basically destroy government’s control on the flow of information because since al jazeera now, al jazeera has been able to connect people together and tell them what’s happening in their societies. the corruption, the scandals about foreign policy. al jazeera has been playing a critical role in the democratization process, unwittingly and consciously. in fact, i would argue, dylan, al jazeera is one of the most powerful nonstate actors in the world today. in fact, in tunisia, the first spark, provided the spark that ignited the fires in the middle east. people were saying, thank you, thank you, al ja deer zeerjazeera. barack obama’s ideas and symbolism play a critical part for this generation. al jazeera has been able to tell the people what’s happened in their own societies. it has connected them together, it has really unleashed this particular longing for freedom and liberty and for open societies in the middle east.

>> fawaz, reconcile for us, if you could, for the american point of view, who it is that owns this network, who is roger ailes, who is the rupert murdoch in dowa, in qatar calling the shots at this network? how do the americans reconcile this freedom fighting liberty and courage journalism being touted in al jazeera and the middle east and being viewed by the world with the optics ten years ago as al jazeera as the network of terrorists, of the al qaeda network in this country?

>> dylan, al jazeera is owned by a very small — people, many americans don’t realize qatar owns al jazeera. qatar is one f the most western, pro-american governments in the middle east and has one of the largest american bases. the reason why there’s been tensions between al jazeera and the united states, in the last 20 years or so, in particular since the american intervention in the gulf during, after saddam hussein invaded kuwait has been on foreign policy. of course, the war in afghanistan and iraq since 9/11. that is why you’ve had a great deal of tensions, because the focus has been on foreign policy. i would argue now, in particular in the last few months, the focus now is not on foreign policy. the revolutions that are sweeping the arab world and the middle east are domestic oriented. they’re about freedom, about personal liberties. they’re about bread and butter. that’s why i would argue, i would tell my american citizens, my fellow citizen, is that for the first time in the last 20 years, the agenda of the united states and al jazeera are the same. it’s about democracy. it’s about promoting a free flow of information and i’m delighted now that the focus has shifted from foreign policy to domestic politics and internal politics in the arab world.

>> understood. quickly, good for america, ben?

>> beautiful for america.

>> fawaz, good for america?

>> i think al jazeera is spearhead, is really a vanguard in the promotion of democracy and open societies. this is the highest american values. open societies, free flow of information. also introducing the middle east to the world and introducing america to the middle east. as you well know, dylan, you’ve been saying for the last few months the violent arab have been shattered. the whole images and stereotypes. al jazeera made it very easy for americans to see what’s happening in middle eastern societies.

>> to see secular, intelligent impassioned people who have been oppressed for decades. their fathers emasculated. their mothers depressed in the kitchen and taking advantage of shared information to do something about it.

>> and peaceful.

>> totally peaceful.

>> relatively peaceful revolutions.

>> yep. absolutely.

>> it really is.

>> brilliantly so. amazing to watch. ben, it’s always a pleasure. thank you very much. check out “good” in all of its forms, the magazine, the web properties and of course on the twitter along with everything we’re doing with dylan ratigan. everything will be up on the web in a minute.

Libya: A bottom-up revolution?

Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine, explains why the unrest in the Middle East has started at a grassroots level and shows no signs of stopping.


>>> three months ago, i told you that three dozen dictator ships across the middle east would be toppled and that the dictators would be using american made tear gas and guns to avert the people fighting for democracy, you would have thought i’d gone straight crazy. yet, here it is. these revolutions started at the grass roots level. caught a lot of folks by surprise and show no sign of stopping. michael shermer, founding publisher of skeptic magazine has some thoughts on why this caught us off guard.

>> we’re used to thinking of things from top down control. we have economists that tell us how to run economies. that’s how it’s been for hundreds of years. long-term has been more bottom up. by bottom up, i mean the people are in control or it’s a self-organized — provide for their families and out of that, they want autonomy, freedom and prosperity. i’m a historian of science, so if we think of political systems as scientific experiments and democracies as controlled expermits, we’re going to try this system, this guy in charge then throw the bums out and try something else. this is what scientists do. what we’re seeing in egypt and these other countries is that the people are tired of the experiment being run by one guy for 50 years and everybody’s in poverty while he prospers. those systems are failed. in the first half of the 20th century, the experiments failed. in the second half, we’ve seen the slow and gradual demise of the small dictatorships. of course, america can’t run around and topple these dictate dictato dictators, so we try to fund the ones who are the least destructive.

>> or the one that is agree was. mubarak was just murderous on our behalf.

>> or maybe they become more corrupt and we have to change our policy. that’s what happens and in computer systems and other technology system, we see these bottom up power systems of enabling individuals to take control through the dispersal of information of knowledge. like through the internet. so, tweet the revolution. this is the good thing and in the long run, no dictator can control all the fire walls to block all the web pages and tweets and facebook posting. they can try. the chinese dictators have tried with mild success, but in the long run, those, too, shall pass and individuals will be freed through information.

>> it’s not just governments who look to consolidate wealth and power. you have private institutions. what is the ground up implication of consolidated wealth and power in the private sector as you discuss?

>> by human nature, we gravitate toward power and don’t want to give it up. the mubarak thing was unusual. we see ka gafgadhafi’s not just going to walk away tonight. the other interesting thing is that every one of these guys has a son ready to pass the power on to. what is that? just patriarchy. that’s thousands of years old.

>> what about the private sector power? health insurance monopolies in this country that clearly, there is a more efficient, lower cost way to provide health care. there are others doing it in ways that get better outputs that cost less money. they don’t have health care tied to where your job is, don’t have insurance monopolies. it’s not just dictator ships although that’s the most extreme expressi expression — inside an employer based health insurance monopoly.

>> trans pirnsy. where everybody gets to see the prices, the results. for example, different states have different tax poliiepolicies, different health care rules. we can look at this and say, that produces this result. let’s publish it and everybody sees it. there it is, everybody can see where the money is going. transparency is the key to giving people bottom up power. yes, of course, ceos can be just as greedy as dictators, but with transparency and the market enabling others to come in and challenge these big corporations so competition is the key to that problem.

>> but you have consolidated wealth, there’s no competition. in other words, if you have a few banks that control the assets, once i eliminate competition, which is what the banks and health care companies are done, then what?

>> i think there is too much corruption between corporate america and politics. and politicians. we may need stronger rules. this is a problem where essentially, it isn’t a free market. these corporations are still practices economic travelism. kind of like the mercantile. that helps the producers, but hurts the consumers. we have to be a consumer based economy.

>> how do you affect that change?

>> we do it. say, no, you can’t do this anymore. we’re going to vote in the people.

>> i like that a lot. skeptic magazine.

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