Tag Archives: Democracy

Government, Economics Not Flawed: We Are

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If you have read any of my stuff you may be convinced that I am a Communist or a Socialist because I always seem to be “bad mouthing” Capitalism. But I actually have nothing against any of these business models. I do have a problem, however, when a way to conduct economic activity gets mixed up with a way to govern.

If a nation’s government is not the same as a nation’s economy then Communism and Socialism seem to be in trouble because both combine the two spheres. Capitalism also becomes problematic in this regard as we have seen, because it allows individuals to amass wealth which in turn seems to confer power on them which they can then abuse to interfere in government.

There is nothing inherently wrong in any of these economic models of course. The flaws, as usual, are in us. We are basically animals, competitive and “red in tooth and claw”. We are still wired to be hunters and gatherers and perhaps that conquer-all nature is the only way we survive.

But we are also no longer primitives. We are civilized (although sometimes it doesn’t seem so). We live in societies which originally were formed also for survival and still function that way. We have learned, but don’t all admit, that societies call for some communism, some socialism, and some free enterprise or capitalism. Societies function best when all members are educated, all share certain basic amenities, and when they incorporate some tolerance for individual differences. We also see societies that have survived for centuries that do not require that all individuals are educated and share the basic amenities. These societies often do not tolerate much or any deviant behavior. But if I had to choose between the two I know which one I would choose.

It is impossible, I think we must all agree, to have a perfect government, a perfect economy, a perfect society because these are all human innovations, human constructs run by humans who we all seem to understand are imperfect. Every religion or culture I know of encompasses an acknowledgement of our flawed nature. The seven deadly sins as currently enumerated are: pride, greed, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth and are alive and well the world over.

Our intimate familiarity with our failings is perhaps one reason humans have come to realize that totalitarian governments are problematic for everyone but the leader. There is no way to place any check on whatever flaws the leader may possess. We know that no matter how infallible the head of state claims to be infallibility is not a trait humans possess.

Communism, rule by the people, arrived at in bottom-up fashion, was not structured to succeed, and perhaps never could be. Leadership is spread among too many without sufficient scaffolding to keep people from constant power struggles and, in addition, offers no useful structures to untangle those struggles fairly. The Communist governments we have seen seemed to produce a suppression of rights for most members of the society that turned life into a gray, grim existence without producing the promised worker’s paradise of equality for all.

Capitalism (not a system of government contrary to the current popular beliefs of some) is not able to produce a perfect society where all prosper either. Capitalism depends on the business relationships of us – people – imperfect people. America has almost slipped over the edge into total Oligarchy and therefore can teach us (before it is too late) what Capitalism in the hands of humans can do to a society when it becomes too entwined with government.

Our wealthy citizens are destroying our Democracy, bending it to their will. What they don’t seem to see is that they are just headed in a direction that will take us back to somewhere human societies have already been, the old aristocracy and serf model, with perhaps a small merchant class able to survive. And while the wealthy may want to go there – after all things seemed pretty hunky dory for those at the top (although they had to pay for all the wars), things in this antique model should not look too appealing to the rest of us. These Capitalists have brought the American people low by showing us that their patronage is portable. They can simply remove their largesse and apply it elsewhere.

Now we have to prove that we are not mere factory fodder. We must not let wealthy people take away our rights and our privileges and our civil progress. Living materialistically simpler lives would help the planet but how we do this should be a choice Americans make together, not a series of decisions of a wealthy few at the top who would amend our government so that it maintains their economic advantage even if it must be at the expense of the rest of us.

The Americans who want to keep the economic scales tipped their way, who are turning our Democracy into a Corporatocracy (owned by corporations we no longer work for) are not the only citizens trying to adjust the design of our government. We also have the Evangelicals who are trying to convince us that America is immoral and that only a Theocracy that keeps our laws acceptable to their God can keep America from the fate of Greece and Rome – “decline and fall”.

All governments are flawed because they are made by flawed beings. All economies are equally prone to excess for the same reason. Our government was created with built-in checks and balances to overcome these excesses our natures are prone to. What we are experiencing right now is that familiarity with how government actually works has allowed these checks and balances to be short-circuited or muffled. This is what Republicans have been doing. They have been playing with fine-tuning aspects of governance, doing things like drawing skewed voting districts, suppressing non-Republican votes, buying state governments, using the Hastert rule and the filibuster to block legislation, stuffing the courts with Conservatives and then not allowing new positions to be filled with Liberals, and holding the Presidency hostage until they gain control of the entire system of checks and balances, which finally will happen if they are able to get us to elect a Republican President.

It makes me very unhappy to see these folks disrespect our Democracy like this and it does great harm. It teaches the rest of the world that Democracy can be vulnerable to the same human flaws as any other form of government. That does not just affect my mood and make me blue, it scares me, because if Democracy cannot help us hold a middle line, cannot help us guarantee rights and benefits to all, cannot enforce a degree of tolerance for a range of “normal” behavior, then no government can. I had hoped that Democracy would serve as a model for governance on our entire planet, but if bad human behavior is allowed to twist Democracy away from its ideals then we are left with no governmental model with which to face the future.

I ask the Republicans, the capitalists, the wealthy, and the religious to stop messing with our Democracy. You have made your point. You can possible take over the whole nation and have your way but only if you change our government so much that it is no longer a Democracy at all. You get your way in the now, but you turn the future into chaos. Please take the long view and stop all your machinations.

By Nancy Brisson

 

“Cowboy Capitalists” and the American Dream

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Our forefathers, educated in the classics and the writings of their contemporaries in the fields of economics, philosophy, science, farming, and trade, created a government for our nascent America that surprised the world. It wasn’t that it was unprecedented. It borrowed from ideologies as antique as those of Greece and Rome. But just consider how amazing our Democracy is since it was created in an age of monarchs, of nobles, of serfs.

Do you think those kings and queens, who claimed “divine right” to rule, wanted anyone to spread the credo that “all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights” – the very rights we hold dear – life – liberty – the pursuit of happiness.

Our forefathers started a trend. Their modern anachronism went, as we would say these days, “viral”. Western Europe became mad for Democracy. They went to war for it, they demoted their kings and queens for it.

This trend, as we know, did not catch on so much on other key continents. And so we inherited today’s situation where countries with differing ideas about governance have to coexist. We haven’t had to respect theocracies for some time. They existed but they kept the rest of the world away.

As with every culture we have come to value our form of government so highly that we often have been guilty of acting almost like missionaries, wanting to spread our Democracy (and, still, for some, our Christianity) everywhere. Even now I hold the belief that someday people everywhere on our planet will enjoy Democracy in one form or another. Except, not everyone is so gung ho to have their traditions replaced. And we have come to understand that respect for others means letting them chose their own government (but not letting them choose ours). As for religion, I believe that our forefathers, many fleeing religious persecution, were quite adamant in their belief that people should be free to worship as they please and that the only way to insure this was to keep religion separate from government.

Today many argue that our forefathers were only thinking about freedom to pursue different forms of Christianity and they might have hedged their bets if they knew we might have citizens who worship in so many different ways or do not worship at all. This is the cusp of our current dilemma. Do we reinterpret the things our forefathers said? Do we simply revise our documents to fit some people’s ideas of what they think our forefather’s meant?

Are we perhaps in shock that our Democracy does not seem to be trending the way it once did? Historically, change takes time. If we can wait we might find the ideas of liberty and equality gaining popularity once again. They are looking a bit tarnished as our economics has sort of usurped our governance. Capitalism can be a bit aggressive and overbearing. We have just been letting it get out of hand a bit. If we can tamp down those rampaging Capitalists who have been so busy buying up everything in sight (including our government) and cornering all the world’s wealth then our freedom might shine forth once again.

So we need more economic regulation, not less. We need more taxes on the rich, not less. And I’m thinking that if a Progressive wins and starts to rein in Capitalists-gone-wild – our new economic “cowboys” – then we the people will probably have to put up with a bit of punishment before things level out a bit.

Donald Trump, one of those “cowboy” capitalists doesn’t seem to mind putting American ideals aside to win against radical “Islamistic” terrorists. The “all men are created equal” part of Democracy never has sat well with Capitalists. They sort of adapt it to say that we may be created equal but we don’t all turn out equal. Those who turn out on top of the heap, they imply, are there because they are actually better than others (not luckier, not born with silver spoons). The fact is that these folks interpret being better as having more money even if they stole it by manipulating laws. If we let these “Capitalist Cowboys” sidestep our Declaration of Independence and our U.S. Constitution won’t that be the end of the real America Dream? That dream is really not at base a materialistic dream at all, but one of freedom of the mind and of the person (within reason) and of governance “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

We can’t exclude all Muslims without forever debasing what America has stood for around the world and what it is still struggling to stand for. Our previous lapses may have been grandfathered in, but this time we are fully aware of the harm from tarring an entire group with the same brush. We cannot even use religion as an excuse to overturn laws that respect the beliefs of any segment of our population.

If we do these things, and it is entirely possible that we might (fear being very powerful) they can we ever put the best parts of the American Dream back together again? If we want to show the world the way a Democratic society brings out a person’s best self then we must be our best selves. Or we can do what Donald J Trump (did you notice he started using his middle initial) suggests, but will we still be America afterwards?

By Nancy Brisson

State’s Rights Movement – Dooming Democracy

Whew! That was a long debate last night, but I did not learn anything new about the Republican take on the issues. Eventually I want to talk about some of what was said. First, however, I want to tackle this topic of “state’s rights”. I have read the Constitution. I know that it says that any rights not designated to the Federal government belong to the states. I know that not many rights are assigned to the Federal government. Mostly the Federal government is granted military rights and rights necessary to keeping the government funded and functioning.

But the Constitution also describes Congress in some detail and it is made clear that it is the job of Congress to pass laws on behalf of the people so our forefathers obviously expected government to lay down an extended body of law. As a result there has been an enormous collection of laws and traditions which have collected over our 230+ years that adds essential detail to a very (and deliberately) sparse constitutional document.

What the Republicans want to do is scrap the body of law and tradition which has expanded the reach of the Federal government and they want to return to a strict adherence to the original wording in the Constitution. Republicans have talked about this for years – Federalism as in the Federalist papers wherein colonists (founders) argued endlessly about how much power should devolve to the Federal government and how much to the states. This is fairly esoteric stuff and it is possible that Republicans like to pontificate about Federalism to impress us with their superior intelligence. Most Americans that I have met do not sit around talking about Federalism or state’s rights. They may, however, complain about government interference in their daily lives as in the “nanny state,” which is where the Republicans, who seem to have all majored in Constitutional Law, connect with their base.

I don’t mind a continuing dialogue about state’s rights but I think we need to evaluate why Republicans are so strident and extreme on this subject right now. Of course, with eight years of a Democratic Presidency, Republicans are bound to be experiencing the political equivalent of “road rage.” They have never liked Obama and have painted him as weak in a never-ending stream of character assassination. So there is that. There is the worry that Democrats will raise taxes on the rich. If the Federal government gets smaller they won’t have to. So some of this is about protecting wealth. They will never forgive Obama for squeezing through the Affordable Care Act. Then there are the things he tried to do with immigration and the Dream Act which he passed through executive action. There was the red line which he walked back in Syria. There was Benghazi and the IRS. The Republican have measured out the Obama administration in mostly made-up scandals. The final blow to the GOP was the legalization of same sex marriage for which they blame the Supreme Court and, of course, Obama.

The list is long – they don’t like that Obama turned down Keystone. They don’t see how any human energy regulations on CO2 emissions can possibly help with climate change even if it is real. They don’t like Common Core and they blame its adoption on, guess who, Obama. There is nothing Republicans like about the past seven years.

It is small wonder that they are rabid to ditch the Federal government. They have been consolidating power in the states. They are going to find it difficult to elect a President because – small tent, although they probably will hold on to Congress, because – gerrymandering. If they can drown the Federal government in that proverbial bathtub they can do an end run around the Federal government and make their own state laws about things like education, energy, taxes, business regulations, marriage, and marijuana.

It is tempting to cut them loose and give them our blessings except that we are the United States of America, not the Loosely Affiliated States of America. If states have their own school rules, etc. we will soon look more like separate nations than separate states. The USA will look more like the EU. This would be a sad state of affairs and, although we might still be America, we will not be the USA.

Remember, some of these states have even encouraged militias in case they have to go to war against the Federal government. This is the point at which I see the current state’s rights movement as sedition. Didn’t we already have this war? We all recognize that the South and the North, the East and the West still have their differences, their special needs, and their unique points of view about key concerns, but we lose too much power, too much tradition and history, and too much gravitas in the world if we become divided into 50 separate states. This is not just nostalgia talking, extreme state’s rights would put an end to a Democratic experiment that our forefathers began and the entire world would be poorer for not having our governing example before them as an option. By selfishly insisting on having your way about small things, you chance removing hope that an organized, considered, and considerate society can indeed exist and survive.

By Nancy Brisson

Morality in America: Secular or Religious?

America wants to be and believes that it is a moral nation, at least as moral as flawed humans know how to make it, but we are in the midst of a tug of war to decide if our morality will be secular or religious. It is unclear why we are even having this argument. The Constitution and our forefathers clearly come down on the side of religious freedom for American citizens and they have left enough written documentation to convince most of us that the founders of our nation felt that the best way to insure religious freedom is to separate government and religion. This would seem to negate the formation of a Theocracy.

However, some in present-day politics are trying to walk back our traditional understanding of what our founders intended while claiming that they can channel the actual intentions of those who wrote our founding documents. They argue that America harbored only sects of Christianity in Colonial times and that, if our forefathers had been faced with Muslims, or Buddhists, or other global religions that have found a home in modern day America, then they might have written about religion and government in a different way, or they might have made America a Christian nation. But wishing it, or even positing it as a logical conclusion, does not make it so. I would like to think that our founders were far-sighted and wise, but think the 3/5 rule which turned some people into objects, and think about the blatant elitism of our forefathers, which suggest that they were products of their times, perhaps overseers rather than seers.

Examining the differences between secular morality and what advocates mean when they long for religious morality might help inform of us of which way we would like to go. The right wing Conservatives, with a preponderance of Evangelical Christians offer us some insight into religious morality. We get an impression of an Old Testament sensibility, a return to the rules as laid down in Leviticus. We have the Ten Commandments, of course, but when we turn them into very literal rules for our nation they would change America a great deal. I won’t go through them one by one.

The Commandment we are most caught up in right now is Thou shalt not commit murder. Here is the Pro Life argument in a nutshell. How will we ever get around the moral argument about whether or not the killing of an unborn baby, whether it is a mere blob of cells, a possibility of life, or whether it has taken fetal form and resembles a child is murder or whether that Christian concept is not the business of our government. We know women have aborted unwanted children since the beginnings of time and at great risk. Sometimes the timing of a pregnancy is so wrong or the circumstances of the pregnancy are so repugnant that a woman is almost obsessed with stopping the pregnancy. Sometimes a woman knows or senses her own life will be in danger if she gives birth to a child or even shows anyone that she is pregnant. Since pregnancy falls within the female realm, the decision about aborting a pregnancy should fall within the female realm and the process should be as safe as possible and should definitely not involve rooting the fetal cells out with a stick or a coat hanger. If the GOP truly wants to end abortion then they need to set up humane systems to help women through to term and to find parents for the children that are the result of unwanted pregnancies. Until these systems are in place I don’t see how women will agree to ending legal abortion.

Besides adopting a literal interpretation of the Ten Commandments, we have those who suggest that we need to heed things that are often incidentally described in the Bible as the Christian traditions that pertained at the times when the Bible was written, although quite a few centuries passed before we had both the new and the old testaments. So we have those who admonish women to be submissive and to allow their husbands to control the lives of the family. I’m not sure, given what we now understand about the way this can lead to domestic abuse of wives or children or both why we would ever want to take power away from women ever again, or why women would freely give up their position as equals.

Those on the religious right argue that having women once again assume a submissive role in relation to their husband would restore the nuclear family, end crime, end immorality and end sexual and gender “deviation”, in other words, would put LGBT people back into the closet or put them in danger of being punished for their “immoral” behavior. And then, they (these new patriarchs) argue we could end all this political correctness crap and, in fact, life would be good. Society’s rules would be simple and clear, and right and wrong would be spelled out according to God and Jesus [or to someone’s interpretation of acceptable Christian protocols for living a Godly life].

The Bible does not talk about evolution, so we would just bury centuries of scientific inquiry? Science, in fact, comes up with so many conclusions that appear to be at odds with the Bible that we can expect that abandoning scientific pursuits will bring us all closer to the heaven. Will we punish those who have curiosity built into their psyches? Well we will certainly have to pass laws against such investigations of our world and decide how we will punish those who persist. Can you see how this could all get out of hand very fast? Do you want an America that lives out the dream of the Puritans? Do we want to measure our government’s laws by any particular religion? Will we have a democratic government if it is “God” (as interpreted by man) calling the shots?

Clearly sticking with secular morality grants us the freedom to maintain a democracy. But what rules apply to secular morality? That is what makes it all so difficult to enjoy freedom because a citizen must frequently judge what will offer maximum freedom to the most people, while doing the least harm. This is an enormous task. We often get the balance wrong. Here we rely on the dialectic to set things right. When things go too far in one direction forces drag events back towards the center.

So take the case of campaign finance, which most of us agree is totally out of whack with the very foundation of democratic government. Once our Supremes agreed that corporations were people we gave our elections back to the very elite who argued for ascendancy at our nation’s founding. We gave our elections to the wealthy this time, not the landowners, although I’m sure they all own land (perhaps not in America, though). President Obama’s election proves that small donors have some power, but the right wing is trying hard to negate that. Republicans have more milestones on their agenda to turn our governance over to the wealthy. Now individuals can give as much as they wish. Republicans manufactured an IRS scandal and raised such a ruckus that no one can reevaluate the use of 501 C-4’s again. Even the ploy to pass a flat tax needs to be examined very carefully because it is most likely a political IED. In fact Republicans would like to simplify our government right to death.

We are trying to make sure that secular morality, that old golden rule of ‘Do Unto Others as You Would Have Others Do Unto You’ is still a guiding force in our nation. We are trying to practice a new American Exceptionalism that relies on diplomacy and a ‘live and let live’ spirit (whenever possible) rather than the old idea of exceptionalism that says we must loom over everyone and threaten to beat them into submission because fear is the only emotion people really understand.

The American experiment to respect each other and to share power is still an exceptionally idealistic one and, in that sense, our exceptionalism still lives and, if we were allowed to cooperate with other world governments to help lift people around the globe and turn the planet into a safe, stable, and healthy world the morality of that would far outshine any Puritanical rule of lockstep religious practices and prejudices that could ever come out of the atavistic longings of the right wing of the Republican Party in America.

By Nancy Brisson

Who’s Responsible, Talk Radio or Fox News?

Scott Walker

Why does Paul Ryan’s opinion about the national budget still interest anyone? By the way, how many of you realize that Paul Ryan was born into a wealthy family and has never had to struggle to build a comfortable life.

How could an exceedingly average and rather wimpy guy like Scott Walker end up appealing to anyone? He did not grow up wealthy but he is willing to do the bidding of the plutocratic overlords. He’s the worst kind of enforcer. He is somewhat quiet and workmanlike as he sets about dismantling our Democracy. He can be counted on to carry out the orders of those who pay big bucks to buy elections and who allow this petite bourgeois guy to trample all over the Americans in Wisconsin. He has sedulously applied and continues to push the Republican agenda. He busted the unions. He is planning to implement strict voter ID laws hoping to limit voting to the “right” sorts of people. He is gradually forcing schools to privatize by cutting public education budgets. This is the Republican plan for all of America. It’s the test case. Pay attention. America will be unrecognizable.

It is clear that Scott Walker gets a great deal of pleasure exerting power over others and the more his policies hurt the better. Both Paul Ryan and Scott Walker seem to have a smirk lurking behind the serious and judgmental faces they present in public. Scott Walker is a calmly vicious guy (and he also has a temper).

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Leaving aside all of the other Republicans who are salivating over being the anointed one who will finally bring the Republican talking points to full and creepy Venus flytrap – like flower, why would we elect Scott Walker? Why do we want to do this to America? It’s like we’re all in that movie Fifty Shades of Grey, which I have heard turned out well for those unusual lovers, but would not, I think, impress us as much if our government decided to go the dominance/submissive route. Guess who would get to be the submissives? They say it is hard to tell if life imitates literature or literature copies life and that would certainly be the case here. However I say that the coexistence of this book and Republican extremism could not be purely coincidental.

I read an article the other day (link below) that gives Fox News all of the credit for turning ordinary Americans into champions of corporations and millionaires. This author downplayed the influence of Talk Radio. And if you take a picture of the propaganda mill at this moment, Fox News is more effective at firing up the troops. They convince your neighbors and mine that they, as white Americans, as true patriots (capital P), are being shafted by people of color and immigrants and poor people who are hogging all the taxes sent to Washington by hardworking (white) people. They are sort of promising people that they will keep these “taker” groups down and that the corporations and the wealthy will look out for white, Christian, English-speaking Americans. I have known these factory workers all of my life and the fact they give these puppets in suits the time of day proves they were demoralized by job losses and then hypnotized by the talkers on the right.

Fox News could never be as blatant in this campaign as Talk Radio once was but they don’t have to be. Talk Radio hosts provided the groundwork. Even before Obama was elected and through much of at least his first term Talk Radio was whispering hateful nonsense and ego-building crap into the minds of all those American men and women who worked so hard for a living. Sadly these folks have been thoroughly brain-washed and now appear to be ready for the likes of Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, et al.

Saints preserve us! (Isn’t that what people used to say, our Catholic neighbors at least.)  I say let’s make a plea for help to anyone who might listen to those of us who rely on others to hold the reins of power. Don’t the Saints always help the powerless?

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/27/1360483/-An-Open-Letter-To-The-Guys-Who-Run-The-World?detail=email#

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

The Glorious Past v The Uncertain Future

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There comes a time when you just have no hope of reaching your nemesis and a time when reason and belief seem inadequate and I feel like America has arrived at that time. I’m sure it is clear to Republicans that not everyone is on board with some of their recent policy suggestions and yet they obviously believe in their own skewed outlook with passion and stubborn insistence. They probably have at least one thing right and that is that we need to either trim America’s expenses by cutting our budget or raise more money in order to grow our budget.

The option to raise our taxes (and therefore our budget) has been taken off the table by that pledge enforced by Grover Norquist, which, apparently, is still in effect. The option to grow our economy, the option to update our infrastructure, in fact options that have anything to do with government joining the fray to bring Americans out of the recent recession; all these options are off the table.

Republicans see our government as separate from the people. They talk about the government doing things for the people, making people dependent on government. But in America the government is the people. We all pay into the federal “pot”. The problem we are seeing right now is that we do not pay equally. The wealthy feel that they are carrying the burden of the poor (and more recently those slipping out of the middle class) that they are giving more that the rest of us. They conveniently forget that it was their greed, the greed of wealthy people that caused the recession in the first place).

They have come to believe that, since they are contributing more money to American governance, they should have the largest say in how that money is spent. They are unfazed by the laws that will have to be overturned, by the promises that will have to be broken, and by the fundamental changes that having wealthy people make the laws for America will make to our democracy. They have become our overlords, we their serfs, at least in their conversations and their political agenda. The poor exist to serve the wealthy until they rise out of poverty and join that wealthy class. Where have we heard this before? Everywhere. It used to be the model for nation’s everywhere, before the American Revolution and the US Constitution and Parliament in the UK and the French Revolution in Europe and so on, changed the feudal formula and deposited us in a world where even the poorest person could work to rise, a world with few kings and few overlords.

Recently we have seen the people of nations around the world, perhaps inspired by what they see on the internet, trying to form the same more democratic societies that we seem to see our Conservatives trying to tear away from us. Once the laws were made that allowed profit to be constantly funneled to the wealthy, shoveled to the wealthy, thrown at the wealthy, these same privileged citizens told us that we should send more money up that chain and that, when they had enough, it would trickle back down to us.

With the departure of our factories that trickle has dried up, while we still power that conveyer belt of money headed for the rich. They say they work and we don’t so they deserve all that money. The American people never said they wanted to stop working. They did not want to stop working. The jobs were yanked out from under them. Now the wealthy say “show some gumption, lift yourselves up in the time-honored American way, join us up here, if you can. Will mere gumption still do it in America? Gumption takes time, so you have to start when you are young and have good energy. You have to patiently grow those pennies to dollars and then those dollars to hundreds and so on. I am sure it can still be done. I’m not sure it can be done on a scale that would end poverty. And I’m pretty sure it can’t be done on any grand scale when no one with money is willing to invest in people who have good business plans and little else.

We have never lived on a planet that was sheltering 7 billion people before. We cannot use a model from the 1890’s to survive on this little planet in the 21st century. Nostalgia is killing us here. We cannot afford to ignore climate change. We cannot afford to avoid thinking about how we will feed 7 billion people with climates that have turned wild and unpredictable. We cannot afford this petty argument about allowing you to hold on to your oil empire or your coal empire while the planet is telling us in no uncertain terms that we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels. Invest your money in something else; new energies, space travel, food production; something that will be useful now.

Yes, America gives freedom to each individual, but you are trying to base the amount of freedom each American has on how many dollars that citizen has. You want us to be grateful for what your dollars do for America, but because you will not accept the lessons we need to learn to survive in the future, you are actually holding America back. Maybe what we see for a while will have to look a bit more “collective”, more like the landscape in World War II when Americans pulled together with spirit to achieve a common goal.

We can’t let you ruin our Democracy because of your fears of a communism that none of us want. We can’t let you ruin our Democracy because you are worried that your fortune will prove to be a drop in the bucket in the face of the needs of the world’s poor. We can’t let you ruin our Democracy to hold back time or to insist that fossil fuel energies are not bad for the planet. We can’t let you rob people of the right to vote. We can’t let you insist that women go back to their kitchens. We can’t let you sell the argument that colleges are factories to produce liberals and that we therefore need to make a college education more difficult to obtain. We can’t let you stuff state governments full of your own constituents and then write the laws that these concocted governments will pass into law. We can’t give in to your mean-spirited philosophies or accept your racial superiorities.

We don’t plan to stage any revolutions. The only tools we want to use right now are the tools provided to us in the US Constitution which you have been ignoring or retrofitting, or whatever that is you are doing. We are saying that it looks like we will need to elect Democrats in 2014 and in 2016 because they seem to still be operating under the assumption that the rules of Democracy still apply in America, and they seem like the lesser of two evils. Of the two major American political parties they seem to be focused on what will be instead of what was.

We sure could use your intelligence, skill, and, yes, your dollars, to address the needs of the 21st century but you have retreated into a shell of denial and, although we knock on the shell and say “who’s in there, hello, hello, is anybody there” all we get when you peek out is the same old you, throwing your power around in a panic to recreate some glorious past that is unachievable.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

The End of Democracy – The Koch Brothers

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Did you watch Rachel Maddow last night? She followed the bucks and the negative Health Care ads, appearing both nationally and in some states, to two groups, the Foundation for Government Accountability (sounds quite official and serious doesn’t it) and the State Policy Network (which also sounds like it is part of actual government). Apparently neither of these groups has any connection whatsoever to either our federal government or the governments of our state. In spite of their ad hoc roots these two groups are traveling around America serving as witnesses against the ACA in states where there might be a bit of wiggle room, where a state may be considering signing on to the expanded Medicaid that is part of the ACA (the part that gives insurance to the uninsured). They post internet ads that suggest that signing on to Obama’s health care act will get you in tax trouble. They have another site which attempts to get the residents in the states where they operate to sign a Grover- Norquist-style pledge that says they will never sign up for health care.

Once the money trail was unraveled it led to those billionaire Koch (pronounced coke) brothers who have more money than the rest of Americans-who-are-not in-the-top-1% combined. These brothers who inherited their money from the oil and chemical industry established by their Daddy are solid backers and play-callers in the right wing of the Republican Party. They have their fingers in just about every one of those “we-are-the-true-Patriots pies”.

We have long suspected that our country is not controlled by the American people. We have suspected that monied people (who now include corporations, since corporations are people) call the tunes that our elected “representatives” march to. From time to time proof of meddling has been offered up to us by one party or another and we are temporarily shocked. Then we shake it off and move on. But the machinations of these two brothers seem to be similar to the tentacles of a jelly fish which has twined its way throughout all aspects of our government. The right wing Conservatives don’t just have lots of organizations working to make sure their policies become part of American governance, but these organizations talk to each other. They are not isolated entities. In fact most of them have, at the top, a few names of very rich sponsors, and almost all of them have been traced to the Koch brothers.

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How can the average American fight a steamrolling, bankrolling political machine like this? How can we counteract the influence of wealthy power-brokers on our states and on our federal government?  If you add up all the issues that we the people favor by over 50% (issues like immigration laws, gun control laws, laws to raise the minimum wage and more), issues we favor actually by over 60%, and then see how many of these issues are being taken care of by our Congress, you can see how much power “we the people” actually wield. If anyone needs to “take back our government” it is “we, the people”, but I guess you can see why we feel terribly out-gunned (double meaning intended) and out-maneuvered and out-classed (meaning out-spent, since class equals money in America). How on earth can we root out this pernicious patch of weeds that has spread out like a giant taproot under America? It all feels pretty hopeless. Obamacare is the only thing we have apparently gotten past these people and they are mad (and yes, mad is the correct word here); they want vengeance; they will do anything to stop this law from becoming a successful part of the social safety net in America. Obama did an end run around these secret manipulators, he mowed the grass, and that is not allowed. One thing we can do, therefore, against these rich polluters is support the Affordable Care Ace; be patient about its rollout; sign up for it as soon as we get a chance. We could also repeat over and over again how we want Congress to approve Obama’s court nominees. We can insist that the minimum wage should be raised. I don’t know if we can have much effect on immigration or gun control right now because these bills have very entrenched enemies, but there are probably some other areas where we can be a big old nasty squeaky wheel. Can we win out over all this money? The outlook is not good, but if we just lie down and play dead that may be the end of Democracy.

 

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/watch/new-anti-obamacare-ads-are-classic-koch-65029699643

The last graphic was compiled by Muckety and reprinted by the Daily Kos

This is the view from the cheat seats.

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