Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pennsylvania Voters Awake!

Keystone XL Influence Peddling Web Extends into PA Governor's Race Via Katie McGinty (via Desmogblog)
Pennsylvania Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate and former head of the PA Department of Environmental Protection, Kathleen "Katie" McGinty, has hired powerful PR firm SKDKnickerbocker for her campaign's communications efforts. SKDKnickerbocker…
The one cardinal rule of voting is NEVER, EVER vote for a candidate that has a lot of money in their campaign chest. That candidate will NOT represent you, he or she will be the paid servant of those that fund the campaign.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Big 3

There are 3 major issues that face America.  All the other issues are distractions by comparison. The 3 are inextricably linked and we cannot solve one unless we solve the others.

1. The Economy is in crisis.  Unemployment is probably at least 20% , demand is at a standstill, yet corporate profits and the stock market are at all-time highs.  We have the greatest income and wealth inequality of any of the major industrialized (1st world) nations.  In fact, our statistics look more like a banana republic than a land of opportunity.

2.  Our Human Rights are ebbing away.  We have witnessed a steady erosion of our basic human rights since the end of World War II, and although we made progress for minorities and women in the 1960's, virtually all our rights are being abridged in some form by the federal government.  We are free to speak but every word we say, ever word we type on the internet is recorded by the government and mined for "threats".  We have a right to free assembly but it is restricted to "free-speech zones" far away from those who can redress our grievances.  Habeas corpus, a speedy trial and other rights can be whisked away the moment someone in authority uses the word "terrorism".

3. We have become an Imperial Power.  Our armed forces are stationed in 800 or more bases in over 140 countries around the world to protect "American interests".  An estimated $1.4 trillion per year goes into this effort, not counting the hidden billions that support the CIA, NSA and other elements of the national security state.  Why is this a problem?  It is the underlying reason we have the first 2 problems.  It saps our economy into non-productive efforts rather than using our wealth to build for the future.  It also has put us into a perpetual war footing that gives the government an excuse to curtail civil liberties in the name of security.

The military-industrial-espionage complex and Wall Street interests own our government and our electoral process.  No candidate who challenges either can hope to be elected to any significant position.  They and their friends in the media determine our public debate and filter out any voices that challenge their interests.  Our political parties are in lockstep when it comes to issues of war and military spending, and they overwhelming agree to continue eroding our rights and liberties in the name of national security.  While they talk as though they disagree on economic issues, behind closed doors they agree on more than they would like us to believe.

We cannot solve these problems by continuing to participate in an electoral game thoroughly rigged by those who profit from the status quo.  We can't expect politicians of either party to suddenly get a backbone or to come together to address these issues head-on.  We as citizens need to come together and create a movement to peacefully overthrow the status-quo government, end imperialism, restore our rights, and build an economy for the 21st century.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Where can we go from here?

The more I read, the more elections that I observe, the more dialogue I attempt to have with others, the more I realize that we are stuck as a country. We cannot agree on what the problems are, much less on what needs to be done. Ordinary people seem to be zealous followers of one camp (let's call it Democrats) or another (we can say Republicans), or they simply don't care about politics - having given up on it or maybe never been interested. Our politicians fight endlessly over some proposals but then pass others my near-unanimous votes. We are told that we are hopelessly divided, and on some issues like gun control and abortion, that is true. On more important issues, like war and peace or the economy, the two political parties that are alleged to represent all of us are in near total agreement.

Of course on the economy, each party has a segment of the population they must cater to in order to win elections so they tailor their marketing campaigns to those differing groups and have become adept at sounding much different while actual agreeing on most economic policy. The Democratic Party's base is generally poorer and more dominated by women, minorities and organized labor so they talk about leveling the playing field and creating opportunity. The Republicans have a base that is wedded to libertarian ideas about smaller government and lower taxes so they play to that audience. In the end, each "sells out" a bit to the other. (We could argue incessantly about who sells out more or what the long term trends have been, but there's nothing to be gained in having that discussion.) The mainstream media, and for that matter the alternative media on both right and left, buy into the angry marketing rhetoric and vehemently defend their side against the stupidity of those on the other. Sometimes they even criticize leaders on "their" side for selling out or being inadequately faithful to their marketing slogans when actually attempting to govern. But let the election season roll around and they abandon those quibbles and call on their followers to avoid the peril to the Union that would occur if the other side won and cast their votes for the proper side regardless of the actual record of the candidate.

So Americans both left and right, largely out of fear of the horrible policies of the other, dutifully vote for the candidate presented by their party, or to be more precise, the candidate who was most successful in obtaining campaign funds from wealthy backers. Regardless of which side wins, those wealthy backers who represent most of the same interests, are the real winners. Both sides compete to reduce regulation on business and finance and lower corporate taxes and raid the social programs to pay for the much more lucrative military spending. One side convinces its base that this is the right and good and Constitutional thing to do while the other side pretends to be against these measures but supports them behind closed doors. 

How can we move forward? Are there certain things that both sides can agree on, at least privately? Do we all want to provide a safe, healthy and secure life for ourselves and our children? If so, is it possible to get beyond the constant noise of partisan bickering brought to us by the likes of Fox News and MSNBC and find common ground? Now that all of us who are interested in politics and economics are in possession of a totally different set of "facts", how can we arrive at any common ground? If we were able to do so, how could we move our corporate-owned government to action?

I welcome thoughtful feedback.

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Example for us all

76 year old author and poet Wendell Berry has been fighting against mountaintop removal coal mining in his beloved Eastern Kentucky for over 40 years.  He has lobbied, campaigned, protested, written and testified but the destruction of the land continues unabated.  Now he is fed up.  Today Wendell Berry and a few other Kentucky citizens are camped in the outer office of Governor Steve Beshear where they intend to remain until the government acts on behalf of the people of Kentucky.  Listen as Berry says
"If current governmental practice affords no apparent recourse but to become as corrupt as your opponents, you've got to become more radical.  If your government will not rise to the level of common decency,  if it will not deal fairly, if it will not protect the land and the people, if it will not fully and openly debate the issues, then you've got to get in the government's way.  You have to forbid it to ignore you.  You have to provide it will 2 new choices:
 Either it must grant you the consideration it rightly owes you, or
 It must expose itself openly as a government not representative of the people, but owned by the privileged few."
Thanks to Chris Hedges for bringing this effort to our attention.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is a New Party Possible?

Now that most (but not all) progressives/liberals have finally discovered that the Democratic Party is not their friend, the next question is what to do about it? We have two political parties controlled by the same interests marching in lockstep on economic and military/foreign affairs questions who only appear to differ on matters the government has no business meddling in: reproductive health decisions, homosexual rights, etc.

Some people are calling for a primary challenge to Obama from the Left and I have heard all sorts of names mentioned as possible candidates ranging from Howard Dean and Russ Feingold to Al Franken and Susan Sarandon. There are two problems with this approach, at least.

1. We cannot continue to look for a progressive knight on a white horse, a liberal Saviour who will fix everything for us if we only elect him or her. It won't be that easy. One person, even if elected President cannot single-handedly turn around 3 decades of right-wing drift and 60 years of increasing corporate control of our political system.

2. The Democratic Party is never going to permit a real progressive to capture the nomination, and when the primary challenger goes down to defeat as he will, the party bigwigs will move even further to the right to disassociate themselves from that person and that defeat.

One of the best comments on our current political climate was given by University of Texas economist James Galbraith in a recent speech to the ADA.
"The Democratic Party has become too associated with Wall Street. This is a fact. It is a structural problem. It seems to me that we as progressives need — this is my personal position — we need to draw a line and decide that we would be better off with an under-funded, fighting progressive minority party than a party marked by obvious duplicity and constant losses on every policy front as a result of the reversals in our own leadership."

I agree wholeheartedly with Professor Galbraith. A "fighting progressive minority party" is the only way we can retain any integrity in fighting for left of center policy changes. Associating ourselves with the party of Obama, Reid and the Blue Dogs is itself a compromise of our principles and we simply must stop.

The question is how to get from where we are to that progressive party structure. The remnants of previous 3rd parties are still out there but offer nothing of practical value. Starting a party from scratch would be a herculean effort and herding the issue-oriented liberal cats is an impossibility. So here's my suggestion and my call to bravery to those who are willing to sacrifice for their principles.

The members of the Progressive Caucus in the House along with the 2 or 3 remaining progressives in the Senate should withdraw from the Democratic Party and form a new party. Even if only 30 or so had the courage to do this, it would provide a nucleus of seasoned politicians with a public platform and access to the media. The media love to reduce every question to bickering between two parties, and they might just love the idea of an expansion team joining in the fray. With any luck, this could encourage the libertarian wing of the Republican Party to do the same.

By doing this now, the new party will be immediately viable and will be able to attract a Presidential candidate from their own ranks or from outside the Beltway and make sure that their party is on the ballot in every state. I believe a lot of progressives out there would jump in a work hard and donate to a new party that was sitting in Congress and acting on their behalf every day.

While the House members who join this new party will be cut off from the Democratic fundraising machine, most get little support there anyway. They won't need to even show up for the primaries, they can just swoop in at the general election and run against the corporate funded, Wall Street loving, duplicitous nincompoops from both parties as the true candidate of the people.

It's an idea. I'm going to tell my Congressman about it. If you are lucky enough to have a progressive representing you in Congress, write to them and push the idea.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Powerful Wimp

Some days, particularly days when you have enough time on your hands to keep up with what's going on in the country, you are amazed at what you read.

We have a President who apparently could not successfully negotiate the trade of a chocolate bar for a carrot stick from a fat 3rd grader. Of course, we know Obama has a wonderful ability to convince people of shit that's not true - his entire campaign for President is a perfect example. But today we got a two-fer.

First up, remember the "principle" that Obama campaigned on to make Americans who make over a quarter-million a year pay higher taxes? Kiss that one goodbye! He has now "compromised" with the Republicans to extend the "temporary" Bush tax cuts so that he can convince them to extend unemployment and restore a minimal estate tax. Wanna bet that they have their fingers crossed and will vote against both when the time comes? We can still hope that Pelosi and Reid will let the whole Bush tax cut package expire instead of capitulating, but their track record doesn't suggest much reason for hope.

Next, remember how Obama and Hillary were negotiating a big deal with Israel where they were going to sell (give really) them billions in advanced weaponry in order to get a 90-day (!) settlement freeze so there could be another round of worthless "peace talks" with the Palestinians? Well, Netanyahu knew his adversary was a pussy so he refused and sure enough, Obama backed down. Maybe he realized that a 90-day extension of a settlement freeze that was never really enforced was worthless but if that's the case, why try it in the first place?

But never fear that the U.S. President is a powerless wimp. Someone still believes he is powerful - the federal judiciary. US District Judge John Bates says that the federal judiciary doesn't have the authority to even hear a lawsuit challenging the President's right to order the assassination of an American citizen. So this guy who obviously has no principles he's willing to defend and who continually engages in pointless exercises that display his stupidity, can order the military-intelligence complex to kill you whenever he feels like it and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it.

I can only repeat from that sage of the people, Joe Bageant,
Let us now pause to clutch our hair in our fists and scream AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!)