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Thursday, October 29, 2009

BEWARE THE BAD BOGEYMEN!


Happy Halloween, boys and girls, moms and dads! Because it's that spooky time of year, and there are lots of witches, goblins, and bogeymen out there, I thought I had better warn you about some of the worst ones. After all, I want you to enjoy only treats this Halloween, and not have to experience any bad tricks. So here are some of the biggest, baddest, bogeymen I know...


This first bogeyman is a mean one. He, John Boehner, never has a kind word to say about the President, and he loves big corporations and campaign donors far more than regular people. He wants to hold you and the rest of the country tight to keep anyone from moving forward even an inch. He is evidently scared petrified of the real world, judging from the amount of time he spends in the tanning booth. He doesn't care how many people go bankrupt paying medical bills, so long as the health insurance companies, pharmaceutical giants, and he are all making lots of money. This is a ghoul to avoid following at all costs.



Next is CNN's Lou Dobbs. This guy is a real sneaky bogeyman who can fool you with his many masks. One is his populist mask, which he wears when he wants to make you think he really cares about workers and poor people. While wearing it he claims to be pro-labor, but he constantly criticizes liberals, progressives, and other strong pro-labor groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which he absolutely hates. His "independent" mask belies the fact that he is a closet Republican who features a heavy dose of conservative Republican and right of center Democrats on his show, proving his conservative bias. Look out for this spooky bogeyman: you'll never know which mask he'll be wearing.



Stephen Helmsley is this nasty bogeyman's name, and his title is CEO of United Health Group, one of the country's largest health insurance companies. He is so rich he makes more than DOUBLE IN ONE HOUR what the average American worker makes in an entire YEAR. How did he get so rich? By taking your money in as premium payments and then either not paying your claims, or by booting you off your policies once your medical treatment becomes too expensive. Republicans like this bogeyman and want to protect him from government regulation. Republicans are bogeymen too.



Here is Karen Ignagni, the wicked witch of the east. She doesn't care if you are sick and can't afford health care because she's too busy making sure the health insurance companies stay healthy making lots of money, and even lies to Congress with made-up horror stories about single-payer health care so that Congress will vote against health care reform. She faithfully does the bidding of evil men like the one above.


Now here is an especially nasty bogeyman to look out for: Bill O'Reilly. This is a very angry man who likes to shout people down. He makes up a lot of what he shouts about. If he doesn't like you, he'll send out other bogeymen and goblins called Fox producers, cameramen, and soundmen to stalk and try to embarrass or intimidate you. (He sends those others out because he's too cowardly to follow you around himself).



Now this is a REALLY mean and scary bogeyman! His name is DICK Cheney, and he doesn't listen to ANYBODY because he thinks he's always right. He likes to start wars because he's afraid of the rest of the world and because giving non-bid military contracts to his rich business friends makes them even richer. He lies like a rug, and many believe him to be Satan's best friend. VERY scary!


This is Rush Limbaugh, and he just might be the meanest and nastiest bogeyman on this whole page! You can hear him yelling from the radio all the time, but you won't want to, because all he ever says are bad things about blacks, football players, liberals, and the President. You can recognize him by the slurps and gasps and growls he makes, and by the stinky smell coming out of your radio. He is a bogeyman to avoid at all costs!



This bad and scary bogeyman believes things that aren't at all true and then tries to scare you with them and make you believe in them too. He tells mean lies about the President. His name is Glenn Beck and he will scream at you and rant and rave and sometimes even cry from the TV set. But his crying is fake, so don't believe it for a minute. He is crazy, so look out for him, and stay away from him for sure, just like a lot (62) of his former advertisers now do!


This might be the scariest one of all, especially for you kids. She's Michelle Malkin of Fox "News". If she thinks you ever got government assistance because you were sick, or if she doesn't like you, she'll publish your name and address so other bad bogeymen can find you and bother you and scare you, too. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!



These are by no means all the witches and bogeymen to watch out for; just some of the worst. There are many, many more, so be careful...


COMING SOON: "A PROGRESSIVE MANIFESTO"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

WHY BILLIONAIRES SHOULD PAY FOR THE JOBLESS RECOVERY

"TAX THE VERY WEALTHY TO MAKE EVERYONE HEALTHY!"
- Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -






My sincere thanks to TomCat over at Politics Plus (http://politicsplus.blogspot.com/) for running this brilliasnt piece which appeared in today's early edition of that outstanding progressive blog. This could have been written by my clone, in that it so identically mirrors my own beliefs on the subject of the increasing gap between the ultra-rich and everybody else in this country today. I will have additional commentary below the conclusion of this fabulous piece.
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Here’s a fascinating article by Les Leopold:

We are entering the billionaire bailout society.

For the past thirty years we have minted billionaires, and we have created the most unequal distribution of wealth since 1928-29. This didn't happen by accident. We deliberately deregulated the financial sector and we deliberately eliminated the steep progressive taxes on the super-rich that had kept in check our income distribution.

By unleashing capital and finance we were supposed to get an enormous investment boom in real goods and services. Instead we got a fantasy finance boom as Wall Street marketed derivatives to those with excess capital. We also got the biggest crash since the Great Depression.

Perhaps the most dramatic measure of our emerging billionaire bailout society is seen by comparing compensation for the top 100 CEOs and to that of average workers (the 100 million or so non-supervisory production workers). In 1970 the ratio was 45 to 1. By 2006 it was 1,723 to one.

Another critical feature of the billionaire bailout society is the creation of institutions that are too big to fail. Historically, our anti-trust division was supposed to prevent that. But it became another casualty of our grand deregulatory experiment. So financial institutions grew to the point where their failure would bring down our system. We tested that idea last fall when we let Lehman Brothers go under: It crashed global financial markets and moved us to the brink of a depression.

So in our billionaire bailout society we bail them out instead of breaking them up. We bail out all of them - not just the basket cases like A.I.G, Citigroup, GM etc. The popular media line is that once a financial institution repays TARP, it no longer is on government welfare. No so.

TARP is only one of the many government bailout programs that pours billions into the coffers of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and, Morgan Stanley. Their bottom-lines and bonuses, for example, were fattened when we allowed A.I.G. to pay off its bets (with our money) at par value to these large financial institutions. Had A.I.G. gone under they all would have been on the edge of collapse.

As Joe Nocera put it in the New York Times :

So let's add it up: the $12.9 billion in A.I.G. help, the $10 billion in TARP, the F.D.I.C. guarantee program, the easy money trading distressed securities into the TALF program. I can't say for sure how much of the $16 billion the firm has set aside for bonuses can be attributed to government assistance of one form or another. But it's got to be a fairly substantial amount -- at least $2 billion or $3 billion.

And that's a very conservative estimate. It might be the case that the entire bonus pool is equal to the subsidies pulled in from taxpayer support. But this is to be expected in our billionaire bailout society.

Perhaps the most damaging feature of our billionaire bailout society is the "jobless recovery." This oxymoron refers to an economy that is growing, but that can't produce nearly enough jobs to reach full employment (an unemployment rate below 5 percent). Our current jobless recovery will be the worst ever. Right now the BLS (U6) jobless rate stands at 17.0 percent -- and climbing. (This counts those without work plus those who have part-time jobs because they can't find full-time work.) If the billionaire bailout society becomes permanent, we may never see full employment again.

Why is that? Because you don't need a full employment society to mint billionaires. Reflect for a moment on Goldman Sachs. They do not have individual depositors. They are not public brokers. They do not make loans to small business. They are in the business of making money by playing the financial markets, from mergers and acquisitions, from trading, and from creating and selling fantasy finance instruments.

In our billionaire bailout society these are unquestioned positive activities. But what value do they produce in the real economy? What is their contribution to market efficiency? How do they lower the cost of capital? How do these activities create jobs in the real economy? Good luck answering those questions because they don't do any of that. They just make money for themselves while producing little or no value to our society.

It's obvious we need to break up these large institutions so that we won't have to bail them out the next time around -- which may come sooner than expected given the lack of jobs and the fact that the financial casino is open again.

But we can't solve the bailouts without addressing the billionaire part of the equation.

Two years ago the richest 400 Americans had a combined wealth of $1.57 trillion. Last year during the crash their wealth dropped to "only" $1.27 trillion. Now they are set to rise again. We need to tie their wealth of our richest to putting our people back to work.

Here's the simplest and most controversial approach: a 10 percent wealth tax on all those with more than $500 million -- until unemployment drops below 5 percent. The money collected would come to about $150 billion a year. That money should be directly invested in public works programs to put our people to work -- a Green Corps to weatherize every home and office in the country -- a Youth Corps to provide work for unemployed high school and college graduates.

(I realize that many Americans detest the idea of taxing anyone's assets, even billionaires'. But let's be realistic: That's where our society's wealth has gone and we need that wealth to put people back to work. Some billionaires do create large numbers of jobs, but not enough. They can contribute more and not feel a bit of pain or suffering.)

To break away from the billionaire bailout society we need to tie the creation of wealth to the creation of work. We no longer have a system that can produce an adequate number of jobs through the normal working of the business cycle. The invisible hand of the market just won't do it. That's why it's called a jobless recovery. We need direct intervention… [emphasis added]

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There you have it, folks: a shining example of talking no-nonsense truth to power and money. With a very small number of unproductive people just sitting on their money at will, there is absolutely no reason for the huge numbers of jobless we have now to exist. Nor is there any good reason for millions of people to have no or sorely inadequate health care coverage, or for others to be homeless. Forcing the unproductive super-wealthy to pay a wealth tax is wholly justified and can and should become a reality.

Those of you who may be conservative Republicans, or who are moderately wealthy or even upper-middle income, who are sitting in your gated or comfortable bedroom communities, it is high time for you to come to your senses and stop having the paranoid, knee-jerk reaction you have to tax hikes. Don't be idiots. The super-rich, who pay little or no taxes anyway, are throwing you around like a yo-yo. They are screwing you, just as they are the poor, lower, and middle classes. They buy out your government and make it work against you, too. And to those of you who also fear any move by government to restrict income, remember that this would be a move directed only at the ultra wealthy, NOT YOU. And come to your senses: the super-rich pose a far greater threat to you and your standard of living and quality of life than do government and liberals combined! So rather than fight government attempts to regulate these bastards, or castigate liberals for supporting such a move, you would be far better off joining the cause and seeing to it that the very upper income people finally start earning some of the money they've been stealing from us!

People: it is time to put on your thinking caps and support this measure to restore strongly progressive taxation in this country. All of us in the lower 95% of the income scale (which is where we're at) will be MUCH better off, and the ultra-wealthy won't miss a few extra billion spent on fairer taxes anyway.

Friday, October 23, 2009

WHAT THIS COUNTRY REALLY NEEDS...




Thomas R. Marshall, Vice President under President Woodrow Wilson, was a colorful and witty man, slightly irreverent at times. Once, while presiding over the Senate, a Kansas Republican Senator by the name of Joseph L. Bristow was babbling on and on (as Senators often do) about a long list of things he felt the country needed at that moment. As Bristow droned on, Vice President Marshall leaned over to some nearby law clerks and said, in a voice just loud enough to carry across the Senate floor, "what this country needs is a really good five cent cigar," which caused the chamber to erupt into laughter. I'm not sure if Marshall or Bristow ever got all they wanted back then, but I do know there are a number of things this country sorely needs today, and I have listed a good many of them below.

How about:

* MILLIONS OF GOOD-PAYING NEW JOBS HERE TO REPLACE THE MILLIONS OF GOOD-PAYING JOBS WHICH WERE SHIPPED OVERSEAS OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS? *

A really good $15 box seat at a Major League Baseball game, and a big, delicious $2 hot dog once you're there (instead of the 3-5 times that price we're paying now)?

* Sarah Palin to get a new, better-looking hairstyle and go, along with her entire family, into a deep freeze?

* ALL OUR MEN AND WOMEN TO COME HOME FROM IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN?

* Saltine crackers that can be snapped, like they used to be able to be, without crumbling into fragments the moment you pick them up?

* COMPLETE HEALTH CARE COVERAGE FOR ALL CITIZENS AT A RATE THAT DOESN'T BANKRUPT THEM?

* The rich to get poorer, and the poor and middle class to get richer?


* Fox "News" to go out of business and off the air (or at least to stop distorting and exaggerating, and start telling the truth)?

* Gas at $2 per gallon where it belongs, and no higher?

* Al Qaeda, fundamentalist Muslims, and fundamentalist Christians to crawl out of the Dark Ages and into this 21st Century?

* Corporations to stop buying out individual Congresspersons?

* Republicans to grow a heart and stop thinking only of themselves and big business?

* Hour-long TV shows with only 10 minutes commercial time per hour (like it was many years ago)?

* DICK CHENEY GOING ON TRIAL FOR WAR CRIMES?

* An outstandingly tender and delicious $20 steak dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, and veggie or salad (and I'm not talking dried-out surloin, either!)?


* Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Glenn Beck all getting permanent laryngitis?

* Automobiles routinely averaging at least 50 mpg highway and 35 mpg city (and I'm not talking about little lightweight tin cans, either!)?

* An outstanding $2 bottle of beer?


I'm sure all the rest of you can mimic old Senator Bristow and come up with a number of other suggestions as to what this country needs right now. How about it, readers?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

WARNING: INDEPENDENTS MAY GO REPUBLICAN IN 2010!


I received this which I post below from Nancy Hanks, creator of THE premier progressive independent website The Hankster , which can be found at http://grassrootsindependent.blogspot.com/. For those of us who may mistakenly think President Obama won the last election simply because of strong support by Democrats, that just isn't so. He won by capturing a large bloc of independent voters.

As Nancy points out in her current blog post, there is a very real danger that the Republican right may lie their way into siphoning off a number of independent votes next year. Coupled with the namby-pampy support we've seen the President get so far from "Blue Dog" Democrats during his term, large conservative gains could prove disastrous toward passing and implementing the progressive agenda this country so desperately needs. We cannot allow Republican gains to push the moderate/conservative "Blue Dogs" further to the right. Read and learn here in Nancy's informative post. With Nancy's blessing, please feel free to share her post with all the liberals and progressives you know. We cannot allow ourselves to become complacent and thus enable the far-right Cheneyesque factions to strengthen their hand or even regain control of Congress!
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Independents are vulnerable to being peeled away by the Republican right. The Pew Research Center reports that were the 2010 midterms to be held today, independents would lean towards Republicans by a 43 to 38 percent margin. But, the evolution of a 21st century independent movement is not that simple. First, the movement is very fluid and very new. Historical movements develop through twists and turns, not in a straight line. The far right has attempted to take over the independent movement before. In 1994, Newt Gingrich crafted the “Contract with America” to woo Perotistas back into the Republican tent. And in 2000, social conservative Pat Buchanan hijacked the Reform Party presidential nomination, though he was roundly repudiated by independents in the general election. [FULL PIECE BELOW]


SERIOUS AS A HEART ATTACK: THE INDEPENDENTS’ STORY
By: Jackie Salit

When we finally get far enough down the road on health care reform, it will become clear that a driving force in the intensity of the fight was a heart attack. Not the medical kind. The political kind.

Independents swung decisively to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. And it is this shift by independents – who repositioned themselves from center-right to center-left – that gave the Republican right the political equivalent of cardiac arrest.

In 1992, 19 million independents voted for Ross Perot. In 2008, 19 million independents voted for Barack Obama. Over the span of 15 years, the largely white, center-right independent movement re-aligned itself with Black America and progressive-minded voters.

This did not happen out of the blue. It did not happen by magic. It happened because the progressive wing of the independent movement did the painstaking and often controversial work of bringing the Perot movement and the Fulani movement together at the grassroots. The Fulani movement refers to the country’s leading African American independent, Dr. Lenora Fulani, who exposed the black community to independent politics and introduced the independent movement to an alliance with Black America.

No doubt the dramatics that the right wing brought to the Town Hall meetings this summer were intended for the television cameras. But the organizers, strategists and radio personalities who orchestrated the theatrics had a particular audience in mind: Independents. If they could tarnish Obama’s image with indies, they could damage the black and independent alliance and re-establish the Republican Party as an influential force amongst independents. Some of that could be accomplished, they felt, by claiming Obama’s health plan would drive up the national debt – a concern that animated the early Perot movement. Some Republican strategists felt that if they simply branded Obama a socialist, it would scare independents away – not from the health care plan (everyone recognizes a plan of some kind will get passed) but away from the center-left coalition that elected him.

If indies are feeling somewhat disillusioned with President Obama over the health care reform fight, it has more to do with fears that he is being overly influenced by the partisans in Congress. Since independents voted for him to be a more independent president, it’s easy to see how some felt disappointed by his handling of the Republican onslaught. Obama’s independent appeal was based on his challenge to the prevailing culture of Clintonian opportunism in the Democratic Party and partisanship inside the Beltway. Put another way, the independent vote for Obama was an effort to define a new kind of progressivism, one that was not synonymous with Democratic Party control.

After years of hard work and organizing, independents have become a sought-after partner in American politics. They elected President Obama and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, arguably the country’s two most independent and pragmatically progressive elected officials. No wonder the Republican Party right wants a clawback.

Independents are vulnerable to being peeled away by the Republican right. The Pew Research Center reports that were the 2010 midterms to be held today, independents would lean towards Republicans by a 43 to 38 percent margin. But, the evolution of a 21st century independent movement is not that simple. First, the movement is very fluid and very new. Historical movements develop through twists and turns, not in a straight line. The far right has attempted to take over the independent movement before. In 1994, Newt Gingrich crafted the “Contract with America” to woo Perotistas back into the Republican tent. And in 2000, social conservative Pat Buchanan hijacked the Reform Party presidential nomination, though he was roundly repudiated by independents in the general election.

If Republicans are increasing their influence among independents, it’s also because the Democratic Party Left has not been a friend to the independent movement. Sure, Democrats were happy that indies broke for Obama. But they were disappointed that we didn’t become Democrats. They equate progressivism with being in the Democratic Party. But they’re wrong.

Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party has been enthusiastic about the development of indies as a third force. For different reasons, surely. But they share a common goal: to maintain the primacy of two-value logic (where there is only one or the other, never neither) and make sure independents are passive companions. That’s one reason that the fight for open primaries – which allow independents to cast ballots in every round of voting – and the campaign to appoint independents to the Federal Election Commission are so important. Those fights are about our right to participate and our right to represent our interests in changing the political culture.

The independent movement went left in 2008, after many years of grassroots organizing to link it to progressive leadership. Now the right wants to peel it back. Obama, presumably, wants to hold on to the partnership, but must also privilege his own party, which turns independents off and makes them more susceptible to Republican attacks. Meanwhile, independents are working hard at the grassroots to hold our own.


Jackie Salit is the president of IndependentVoting.org and the campaign coordinator for Mike Bloomberg’s mayoral campaign on the Independence Party line.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A DIFFERENT FACE, BUT THE SAME OLD UGLY!



"You can fool some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."
- Abraham Lincoln -



I had heard the Republicans had revamped their website, so I went to http//www.gop.com to see what all the hubbub was about. I was met with contradiction and disingenuous claims, just as I expected. Across the top of the page, there was a big red banner with white gop letters. The "o" was a human face which would change every time the page would refresh or if you clicked on different subheadings. A large number of the faces shown came up as either women or African-Americans. Interesting, considering how a majority of women AREN'T Republicans, and, at the very most, only about 10% of African-Americans are...

I clicked on a section entitled "learn", then on the subheading "who we are", and up came a rose-colored-glasses view of Republicans all throughout history. The author should get this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction. "It all started with people who opposed slavery" it begins loftily. "They were common, everyday people who bristled at the notion that men had any right to opress their fellow man." The writer, of course, neglects to mention "except when it comes to business." For even a teenager or fool knows that Republicans support the rights and privileges of business and business owners far more than they do the rights of the individual worker. And if big business exporting millions of American jobs, cutting or freezing workers' wages and benefits even in the face of increased productivity, and then corporate executives rewarding themselves with huge salary increases and bonuses isn't oppression, I don't know what is! Naturally, while praising Republican accomplishments, the writer fails to mention how violently Republicans have opposed labor unions and programs for the poor...

In a section entitled "Republican heroes" you will find the expected photos of Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, and a number of blacks and women from the 1800s, curiously enough, from the earlier, far more liberal period of the Republican Party. Few of those people would be welcome in today's ultra-conservative version. And, while one doesn't see Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck pictured there, neither does one see President Theodore Roosevelt, one of the most influential Republicans of his day, and the man responsible for the creation of our national parks system, the building of the Panama Canal, the Pure Food and Drug Act (a precursor to the Food and Drug Administration), greatly strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, and other important government regulatory activities which keep businesses operating in the public good. I guess the fact that he interfered with big business over 100 years ago would exclude him from being one of today's Republican heroes...

Under the subheading of "what we believe" is the phrase "helping those around you is worthwhile", under which is written, "The Republican Party believes in the value of voluntary giving and community support over taxation and forced redistribution." Interesting. We all know they hate taxes, but they certainly don't mind forced redistribution when it involves the redistribution of wealth to corporations and upper income grabbers...

Under the section entitled "Republican Accomplishments", they take credit for making the Ku Klux Klan illegal with their passage of their Civil Rights Act of 1871. Oddly enough, they fail to mention how many of the top Ku Klux Klan members of the 1920s were card-carrying Republicans, especially in the state of Indiana, which elected a Republican Klan governor in 1924 and where more than half of its General Assembly members were Republicans and Klansmen...

I invite you to take a peek at this new website. I doubt that you'll be very surprised at what you'll see: the expected small government is best, free markets are the way to go, etc., etc. It's the same old dog, but no new tricks. It's a phony, but slightly different face, but the same old ugly.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

STADIUM OF THE ABSURD

"The Theatre of the Absurd has renounced arguing about the absurdity of the human condition; it merely presents it in being..."
- Martin Breslin -

"Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons."
- Rush Limbaugh -




This week brought us the unbelievable news that mouthy ultra-conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh had made a bid to buy the National Football League's St. Louis Rams franchise.

Considering the fact that over 2/3 of NFL players are African-Americans and that Limbaugh has made numerous offensive racial statements over the years, his move took on an almost surreal air about it. I mean, how preposterous can one get?

Negative reaction was almost immediate, with one black player even stating he would never play even one down on a Limbaugh-owned team. I can't blame the player one bit for feeling that way.

The idea of Rush Limbaugh actually becoming an NFL franchise owner is so absurd, in fact, that it brings a number of thoughts to mind:
1). Would he immediately change the name of the Rams' Edward Jones Dome to "Conservative Quarters Stadium"?
2). Would he hand out far-right propaganda to every spectator before each game?
3). Would he put only white players out on the field?
4). Would halftime consist of videos of his crazy rants and raves?
5). Would he hire Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Carrie Prejean, Gretchen Carlson, Ann Coulter, and Michelle Malkin as permanent cheerleaders? (Bring your eggs and rotten tomatoes, fans).
6). Would his players deservedly gang tackle him and break every bone in his miserably fat blubbery body before he could make his way to his private owner's booth?
7). How many eggs and rotten tomatoes could bystanders lob at his limo as he would drive to and from the stadium for games?
8). Would a portion of each ticket's proceeds go directly to the Republican Party?

Some things are just too bizarre or obscene to be allowed to come to reality, and Rush Limbaugh owning the St. Louis Rams is just one of them...

What the Rams' stadium should look like at game time if Limbaugh bought the team: no players, no refs, and no fans.
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On a completely different topic, but one that is vitally important, please visit Nancy Hanks' fabulous blog, The Hankster, at http://grassrootsindependent.blogspot.com/ for informational posts on how our pathetic mainstream media is neglecting serious coverage on the important and sizable independent voters bloc as it sizes up next year's midterm elections. These elections could very well make or break our chances of enacting progressive, for-the-people-and-not-the-corporations legislation.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BALANCE OF POWER



There is an outstandingly thoughtful post called "All Aboard" penned by Mycue23 currently running (Monday, October 5, 2009) on the superb blog Random Thoughts (http://hamsandwich66.blogspot.com/). He expresses frustration with the way the Democrats have not been able to get much done even though they enjoy lopsided majorities in both houses of Congress. He illustrates how the Democrats are a bigger tent, and more fragmented party than are the Republicans, who are overwhelmingly conservative in ideology, and more disciplined and cohesive in methodology, and are therefore usually more effective in passing their agenda than are the Democrats. I would say this is entirely accurate, and I would suggest a few other reasons for the lakluster Democratic performance that weren't presented.

As Mycue23 points out, the Republicans are a near monolithic force today. The Democrats, supermajority and all, are not. Looking back in history, we will find this is not a unique occurence. There were disputes among Democrats even dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. When asked about the fragmented nature of his Democratic Party, four times elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt observed that there were many ways to move forward, but only one way to stand still. So it was then and so it is today: Democrats favoring many new initiatives and Republicans not wanting to budge at all. But there are critical differences between FDR's time and today, and even the LBJ era of the 1960s and today, both periods of strong Democratic control which resulted in huge amounts of legislation being passed which benefitted the poor, minorities, and working America.

The Democrats enjoyed even larger majorities in Congress during the 1930s and 1960s than they do today. Then, as now, they were composed of a coalition of northern liberals and southern conservatives and moderates (the Blue Dogs of their day). But in those decades, the Congressional delegation was composed of a much greater proportion of liberals and progressives, supported and funded by strong labor unions. Today, labor unions are far weaker, their rank and file membership is far smaller, and their influence is very pale compared with 35-70 years ago. Recent decades have also seen the rise in influence of political action committees and lobbyists, both of which are funded by special interests and both of which line the ever-hungry coffers of congressional reelection campaign warchests. These newly-powerful groups not only fuel congressional opinion, but now are attempting to fuel popular opinion too through the use of one-sided TV, radio, newspaper, and magazine ads. We average citizens are getting shut out in the process. Our wants and needs are being swept away in a tsunami of corporate buy-outs of, and domination over, our government.

Much of this corporate collusion has benefitted Republicans, as they have always been traditional friends of big business and big finance. But a good amount of this corporate dominance has also affected a number of Democrats as well. This explains the existence of Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, who blatantly opposes a public option for health care even though a majority of those in her state and those in the medical field in her state favor it. Senator Lincoln has been bought out by the health insurance industry, plain and simple. She represents them, not her constituents or the rest of us.

Another reason congressional Democrats have failed to get much done is their, and the President's, silly focus on "bipartisanship." George W. Bush and his then-dominant Republican Party didn't reach across the aisle to pass their insane tax cuts for the rich and deregulation schemes. Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert and crew simply rammed it through and got it done. They didn't waste time courting Democratic approval. They simply got the legislation passed in spite of the Democrats. They used their majority to pass legislation. They didn't waste time being nice. So today should it be with the Democrats.

Congressional and Presidential leadership was far stronger in past decades, and this, yoo, explains why passing the Democratic agenda has been so slow this time around. FDR enjoyed huge popular support due to the dire straits his predecessor and the GOP had left us in during the Great Depression. He had far more liberals pushing legislation then than we see today. LBJ, long a power-broker and insider, knew how to manipulate and bully to get the job done. While in Congress, LBJ had nuts - big ones - and he used them to great success. Today's counterpart, Harry Reid, has only shriveled-up raisins by comparison, and couldn't bully me aside even in a crowded elevator. As President, LBJ was a masterful dominator and manipulator, and used his insider knowledge and influence to browbeat congressional opponents into submission. Unfortunately, President Obama lacks this dominance and has adopted a nice guy approach. But unfortrunately, when it comes to getting things done in Washington, nice guys finish last.

The balance of political power in this country is teetering. I thought after Bush's disastrous presidency and the abysmal failure of the Republicans' economic policies that the GOP may disappear altogether, but now I'm not so sure. Democrats hold the numbers, now at least, and Republicans are deservedly at their weakest numbers of electoral support in 80 years. But their alliance with big money and big business, along with the pathetic corporatist media we have today, plus their proven propensity to lie, cheat, and steal to gain office, makes me think the balance of power just might be tipping a bit in their direction once more. The Democrats seem too weak and disjointed to effectively govern, and the Republicans seem too corrupt and short sighted. Barring a miracle, like Harry Reid suddenly sprouting pumpkins and President Obama becoming tougher and finally getting a few breaks, I don't see much hope for the progressive cause in the very near future. For Reid and Obama were both able to sell the country on the President last November, but both have failed miserably in selling us his very important agenda. If this situation persists, the ultra-conservative Republicans will emerge as de facto winners, and the balance of power will be on their side. The result will be endless stalemate and preservation of the status quo, and that is exactly what the country does NOT need going forward!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

IF MOSES WERE ALIVE TODAY...


"The role of the journalist in America is to harass money and power on behalf of the American taxpayer, as, historically, when money and power are able to operate without public accountability, they steal all the money. The only way you keep those with money and power from stealing everybody else's money is by harassing them to no end, every day, day after day, and ask them intelligent questions and ask them as to why they are doing what they are doing."

- Dylan Ratigan, MSNBC -


We have recently emerged from Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days for Jews; a day of atonement and recompense, and we are on the verge of yet another Jewish (Saturday) and Christian (Sunday) Sabbath, so I thought it fitting to produce this post at this time. Agnostics and atheists, please bear with me. You may even find SOMETHING you can appreciate in this post.

Christians and Jews both believe that God gave Moses a set of Ten Commandments for humankind to follow many years ago. If Moses were alive today, he would undoubtedly be more sophisticated and developed a person than those alive in his actual time period thousands of years beforehand were. So naturally, upon his descent from a modern-day mountain, his arms would be laden with a more sophisticated and developed Ten Commandmebts, which I believe would consist of something like this...

1. I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have false gods before me.
That's right: don't worship money, posessions, status, fame, sports figures, rock stars, earthly rulers, or idols. Stick with the Real Thing!

2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Don't use the Lord's name in a profane manner, and don't wrap yourself in Him for the purpose of justifying war or advancing your favorite politocal party. While you're at it, read Matthew 25: 34-46.

3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath.
Take a day off to think of and worship your Lord, and don't forget to think about how your actions have impacted those around you.

4. Honor thy father and thy mother.
Children: mind your parents. Adults: remember the lessons your parents taught you, and abide by them.

5. Thou shalt not kill.
Do not take the life of another, be it in sport, war, or for punishment. Do not have abortions as matters of convenience or economy, or solely to avoid embarrassment.


6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Do not engage in sex with another's partner, wife, or husband. This means DON'T HAVE AFFAIRS!

7. Thou shalt not steal.
Don't take that which isn't yours. Don't pad your work hours or cheat on your taxes. Don't exploit others for your own gain. Don't overcharge. Don't underpay. THIS MEANS YOU, HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES, BANKS, PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES, AND OTHER CORPORATIONS AS WELL AS ALL WORKERS!

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Don't lie, especially about or to thers. THIS MEANS YOU, RUSH LIMBAUGH, GLENN BECK, ANN COULTER, MICHELLE MALKIN, SEAN HANNITY, BILL O'REILLY, SARAH PALIN, MICHELE BACHMANN, BILL CLINTON, MICHAEL SAVAGE, JOHN BOEHNER, ERIC CANTOR, JIM DeMINT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, LOU DOBBS, KIM IL SUNG, DICK CHENEY, LIZ CHENEY, DONALD RUMSFELD, GEORGE W. BUSH, WILLIAM JEFFERSON, hyperbolic Democratic and Republican operatives, and all other dishonest pundits, politicians, criminals, and everybody else.

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
Don;t lust after or mess with another person's partner; do not break up another person's family or house.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.
Don't lust after other people's possessions; forget about keeping up with the Joneses; and don't chase status symbols or be vain or proud.