October 25, 2009

The Maverick Now Wears Lots of Brands

I know I've been extremely quiet for a long time, and it's not for wont of things to say but due to not enough time. When I would find time, I would have said things so out of date to that it seemed pointless. Thanks to John McCain, that isn't the case today.

McCain has introduced a bill that would prevent the federal government from ensuring "net neutrality." For those who don't know, net neutrality is the idea that "all bits are created equal." (My thanks to Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing for such a great line.) The telecoms want to be able to limit your access to commercially disadvantageous content. They want to decide for you what content you should be interested in and what should matter. They want to take away your ability to publish your own content. Net neutrality means they can't do that. They provide service packages and then the speed you purchased applies to any site or point of interest you decide upon, not them.

Some of you may recall the days of AOL, CompuServe, and other content providers that provided the content and you didn't really get to decide what was available. This was back in the mid-1990s, so it wasn't all that long ago. Service was terrible and customers didn't have a choice in content or expression. This is what we'd get if the telecoms get their way, this is what we'd return to.

Think about it in terms of radio or television. With very few exceptions, where is the viewer / listener created content? It isn't there. The networks decide what is available and you just get to tune in. This is what would happen if the telecoms get their way, and that is what McCain is working to do.

I urge you to read Ms. Jardin's article at Boing Boing. She has a great summation of the issue there.

What I find so interesting is that back in 2008, when Sen. McCain was Presidential Candidate McCain, he admitted that he was completely computer illiterate. He admits to knowing nothing about computers. And now? Now he's completely bought and paid for by the telecoms. The Sunlight Foundation has identified McCain as the largest recipient of telecom lobbying money for the last two years. So, the man who knows nothing about computers and who has received an obscene amount of money from the telecoms, is now opposing net neutrality. He's selling us out on this as he has sold us out on so many other issues, including health insurance reform and Medicare for Everyone. After all, what is information and easy access to it, if not a threat to the elitist establishment? All in the name of profit, right?

September 11, 2009

Snowe Job

Olympia Snowe believes that a public option for health care is divisive. You know what, she's right. It is divisive. It divides those who want to make things better for everyone from those who want to make a buck on your back at any cost. It divides the wealthy corporate elite from the common people they abuse. It divides those with a couple of brain cells to rub together from screaming idiots who act like feces flinging monkeys at the zoo. It divides the people from their enemies, and this is a good thing.

While it has been incredibly frustrating and even infuriating watching Town Hall thugs and Tea-bagger idiots scream nonsense at elected officials, it has also proven that elitists really do want to keep us in servitude. It has shown us that they lack any other method than to scream at the top of their lungs for as long as they can. They have no substance, and now we know it from empirical evidence.

So, why does it bother Olympia Snowe that 60% of the people of Maine want a public option and serious reform? Why does it drive Joe Wilson to expulsions of idiocy during a Presidential Address? Why does it compel John Shimkus walk out of the President's speech due to frustration? Why was John Boehner so dour while Eric Cantor played away on his BlackBerry?

The answer is really as simple as it seems. They have nothing left. They've spent it all and they've been humiliated by the President for doing it. They have lied through their teeth and the people know it. Karl Rove tried like hell to revise the history of "Death Panels" because people are seeing through it. Sean Hannity immediately goes into "Lie Like a Cheap Rug" mode at the conclusion of the speech, claiming that President Obama called insurance execs "bad people," even though we just watched him do exactly the opposite.

They have been driven mad because they have lost everything. The ultra right-wing neo-fascist Christian theocratic government that they have been working for was soundly repudiated in the last election. They no longer have control of Congress or the White House. They have no active roll in legislation and they don't understand why. Fanatics never understand why people don't agree with them.

Make no mistake, they are fanatics just like Al Qaeda, Hamas, or the Taliban. They represent a great threat to American democracy. They are the domestic enemy that we refuse to see. Freedom is not something they want us to share in. They want a religious state run by corporate masters that keep us shackled their their machines of industry. They want our blood, sweat, and tears to grease their cogs. They fight us on employee fair treatment, environmental responsibility, and health care in order to grind us down. To "break" Obama is their stated goal. To return to power and continue what they started under Reagan and W. is their ultimate desire. We are expendable to them and our lives are the currency of choice.

So, why does Olympia Snowe believe it is divisive? Because it would force those who want to keep us enslaved to do something they can't abide, lessen profits in order to provide more for the people. This is the woman that has been so openly courted by the Dems that some now refer to her as Queen Olympia. It's just sad that the Democrats don't see the problem in trying to recruit this so-called moderate Republican. The problem is she has bought into her own Snowe Job.

September 9, 2009

Obama Meets With Congress

In less than two hours, President Obama will convene a joint session of Congress to address health care reform. I don't believe this will be good for the American people. I want to hold out hope that Obama isn't an 8 month lame duck. I want to hold out that the public option will become a reality. This is the minimum level of reform I can tolerate. I want to believe that the Progressive Caucus has made its point that a public option is a mandatory thing. I want to believe that Candidate Obama, who attended the AFL-CIO event will show up tonight and actually lead. I want to believe that Republicans will be made to sit down and shut up. I want to believe that real reform is coming.

I don't believe it will happen. I believe that tonight will be a dog and pony show where rhetoric will be spouted and warm fuzzies for Progressives will be sold. Then, a few weeks from now, the public option will fall by the wayside. Obama will become a failed president to be opposed by his own party.

This is what I expect. Obama was caught with his pants down by the Republicans in August. Obama was all over the map on the public option. He sold out single payer reform from the very beginning. Progressives have threatened serious rebellion. Blue Dogs have proven to be DINOs. Max Baucus has proven to be in the pocket of the For Profit Health Insurance Industry and not a friend of the American people.

Mr. President, please surprise me. Please, do the right thing and tell the Republicans to go to Hell. Do the moral thing and make real reform a reality.

September 3, 2009

An interesting editorial

I was emailed this editorial piece from the Commonweal Institute's Progressive Op-Ed Program

Maybe We Really Do Want Government to Make the Decisions
By: Dave Johnson, Fellow
Aug. 31, 2009

Do we really want government making decisions? I hear the same question repeated a number of different ways: “Do we really want government making decisions about our health care?” “Do we really want government deciding how banks should be run?” “Do we want government making decisions on whether drug companies can release new products?” “Do we want government telling businesses what they can and can’t do?”

The immediate, emotional reaction is, “Of course not!” But what happens when these questions are examined more closely?


Mr. Johnson has written an eloquent article on why we need national health care and I strongly urge you to read it and give his argument some very serious thought.

"A Lost Decade"

The AFL-CIO has released the results of a new survey that shows that one third of workers under 35 live with their parents and are less likely to have health insurance provided by their employers. They are also less like to have more job insecurity than they were ten years ago. One quarter of these workers don't earn enough money to even pay their bills.

Richard Trumka said in a press conference:

"We're calling the report "A Lost Decade" because we're seeing 10 years of opportunity lost as young workers across the board are struggling to keep their heads above water and often not succeeding. They've put off adulthood - - put off having kids, put off education - and a full 34 percent of workers under 35 live with their parents for financial reasons. Thirty-five percent are significantly less likely to have health care than older workers, only 31 percent make enough money to pay their bills while putting anything aside in savings, and almost half are more worried than hopeful about their economic future."

Conservatives Abuse the Sick

Why doesn't it surprise me that Michael Steele insults a young woman who lost her mother to cancer?

Why doesn't it surprise me that Conservatives at a Town Hall meeting berate and insult a handicapped woman?

What has gone so very wrong with Conservatives? What happened to the "Compassionate Conservative?" The reality of it is that these people have sided with their oppressors in a way that can only be explained as Stockholm Syndrome.

It seems to me that the truly lasting effect of the Bush Administration is the death of civil discourse in America. The Conservatives have managed to follow the best advice of Sun Tzu, divide and conquer.

August 12, 2009

The New American Dream?

Are you working harder for less? According to the Department of Labor, the answer is probably yes. For details on this, please read this article from MSNBC.

So, the corporate fat cats that run this country are doing their damnedest to take everything they can from us. They want us to work longer hours, do more in those hours, and receive less for our time and effort. Is this the new American Dream?

More nonsense from those trying to keep you sick

Recently an editorial in Investor's Business Daily claimed that health care reform would lead to a rationing of care that would have deemed the life of Dr. Stephen Hawking not worth saving. They claim care like the British National Health Service would determine that his body was too sickly to spend money on treating him.

"People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."
Now, Dr. Hawking has entered the discussion. The Huffington Post has a great article on this.

Dr. Hawking told The Guardian "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."

You see, Dr. Hawking is British. He lives there now and he grew up there. He suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. It would seem Dr. Hawking would know a lot better than those idiots of IBD about the quality of care and access to care in the UK. It is worth noting that the UK has a single payer system. Had Dr. Hawking been under the "care" of the For Profit Health Care bastards, I have no doubt that he'd be dead now.

Since Dr. Hawking disproved those morons idiocy they have since "corrected" (you should read that as edited) their insipid editorial to sanitize it. They still refuse to acknowledge that the NHS is responsible for the care that kept Dr. Hawking alive.

Gov. Palin's Death Panels

From the Anchorage Daily News: Troubled Alaska Health Programs Face Federal Restriction

Honestly, can you even say you're surprised? Under Palin's administration, the Alaskan program set up to help the elderly and ill with every-day things like making dinner, getting dressed, or going to the bathroom is so poorly run that people are actually dying from the pathetic "care" they are supposed to be receiving. The Federal government has had to force the state to stop signing up new patients for care until they can fix the situation. The program is funded by Medicaid. I wonder how much the For Profit Health Pirates would charge you for this and how much more quickly they would kill the old and sick.

August 7, 2009

So very true.

Rush compares Democrats to Nazis.

I'm sorry, what? This can't be serious. Sadly, it is. Rush Limbaugh has decided to hit a new level of low. I know I really shouldn't be surprised by this. The man (and I use the term loosely) has a long history of unsavory behavior and offensive commentary that any thinking, rational mind would be appalled to hear. Having watched the footage of his little diatribe I can honestly say that I believe he's walked right off the diving board and sunk to the bottom of the deep end. He's a wacko to begin with, and spends a lot of time in Looney Land. But this was just amazing. Not only is he factually wrong on every single point, his frothing at the mouth like a rabid animal is just spooky.

It offended me when Liberals and Democrats called Republicans Nazis and compared Bush to Hitler. It disgusts me now when it is even less accurate. There is no legitimate reason to play the Nazi card, ever. Except, of course, when dealing with real Nazis. This kind of political rabble-rousing ends any kind of legitimate discussion and causes people to start screaming at each other.

Then again, that's the point, isn't it Rush? You don't want people to talk to each other. You don't want people taking the time to consider the issues and decide for themselves that there is good to be had with Health Care Reform. No, you and your corporate masters want us at each other's throats. You want us fighting each other so we can't fight you.

You see, that's the real goal here. Divide and conquer. In order to keep us controlled and funding their lavish lifestyles they need us disorganized and in disarray. In order for the Corporate States of America to continue unabated they need us to hate each other and to work at odds. They need to keep us from realizing what is good for us and demanding it. They need us tired, ignorant, and hungry. They want us too sick to resist but not so sick as to punch a time clock. They want us poor. They need us to be this. And they need people like Rush Limbaugh to make us hate each other.

August 5, 2009

Cash For Clunkers

Politics just amazes me. Republicans and their Fox News flapping-heads are already declaring the Cash for Clunkers program a failure. Why? Because it's overwhelming success has required more money to keep it going. What happened is that the money allocated to the recovery program was designed to last for 90 days. It ran out in a much shorter time. Here's the real question; why? The program that offered up to $4500 in government aid for a new car has been so successful that sales are through the roof. Auto sales, which has been in the toilet, is currently sky high because of this program. Interest exceeded expectation. The American People are more than happy to part with their money in times of economic distress and save the ailing auto industry, the auto dealers, and put money into active circulation. All of this results in a much needed boost to the economy.

So, should we be mad that the program that is seeing American auto sales boosted to a high not seen in ages needs more funds? After all, the Obama administration did underestimate demand. The truth is that we should be thrilled that the program needs more funding. It needs more funding because it's working. In order to save our economy we need to put money into the programs that produce results. The expectations for sales were wrong, but they were based on good estimates drawn from the data that existed. You can't always predict what will garner more interest than it ought to. Does anyone remember Beanie Babies? We should be happy the program is working and that auto sales are way, way up.

What is truly sick is all of this noise coming from the Conserva-fascists is that they are trying to use this as a stepping stone to make attacks on health care reform. It's an Apples to Oranges pseudo-equation that has no merit. They want to label the "failure" of the CARS program as evidence that health care reform will lead to disaster. Politics by any means necessary, I guess. Please, ignore the man behind the curtain. You don't need affordable health care that you are in control of. The current system of corporate greed is just fine, for them. Don't believe us, just listen to our astroturf mouthpieces who we hire to disrupt any conversation at Town Hall meetings we don't want you to have.

August 4, 2009

From the LA Times

A Canadian doctor diagnoses U.S. healthcare

Commentary on this article to follow. I wanted to link it for record keeping.

The Health Care Industry Doesn't Want You To Have Real Options

Have you heard about the disruption at Town Hall meetings where "Anti-Reform Advocates" throw temper tantrums to make a mess of things? According to reports from Countdown and The Rachel Maddow Show, many of these "protesters" are corporate shills receiving compensation from the HMOs for their activities. The truth of the matter is that they don't want you to hear about reform options because it's bad for business. Real care for Americans is being derailed by the corporations. When I say the Pledge, I don't swear loyalty to the Incorporated States of America. Republicans fear reform because it means a continued loss of power for them. The "Health Care Providers" interfere because they don't want the system to change. They want us to suffer for their benefit. What more do we need to know than this? The only real road forward for reform is a government run Single Payer system. No other option places health care in our hands. Until we are in control of our own care, the corporations will work against us in order to make a profit.

July 22, 2009

The Health Care Conflict of Interest

Over time I will have a lot more to say on Health Care and Health Care reform. Right now I want to focus on the conflict of interest that exists in the current system. The very nature of the For Profit industry conflicts with the needs of the insured. A For Profit organization has the inherent goal of bringing in money and spending as little of it as possible. In this case, the Insurers sell policies to pay for medical costs. When the customer uses the policy, the Insurer pays out, lowering the profitability of that policy. The conflict of interest has been set in motion.

In order to maximize profits, the Insurer will resist paying out benefits and leaving the customer with expenses that they expected their policy insurer to pay. We have seen more and more Insurers decrease coverage while raising rates. They then deny coverage to those most in need of medical care because it hurts their profits.

The primary way in which Americans receive health care insurance is through their employer. When people change jobs, there is often a delay in receipt of new coverage from the new employer. Many times there is no coverage for "pre-existing conditions" that were treated under the old policy but not covered by the new insurer. Many employers don't offer health care to their Part-Time employees at all. There is also a dearth of privately available policies, and these come with higher rates and are harder to get if you have any health issues.

This formula has lead us right into the current health care crisis. We have millions of Americans who can not afford health care or are not offered it through their employer. It is not in the interest of the Insurer to cover those most in need. This conflict of interest can only be stopped when primary health care is no longer under the control of a For Profit provider. These providers are not interested in what benefits the customer, but only in what benefits the company.

This is why a public option is the only real option for serious care. When medical decisions are made solely between the patient and the doctor, with no interference from a third party company who stands to lose money, then care is genuine and beneficial. When all Americans can receive care, we will have a healthier nation more able to function and increase performance in the work place. When we reduce the cost of medical care to the people there is more money for savings and, ultimately, to spend. It also allows people to have greater freedom in pursuing better employment because health care is no longer a consideration.

Whenever a company has a conflict of interest with its customers, the company benefits and the customer loses. Health care is not just a service, but a vital part of our national welfare. We can not afford any conflict of interest in keeping our people healthy and well.

Obama isn't a citizen?

I am incredulous that this belief is actually growing. What is more shocking to me is that the scope of the conspiracy believers is growing. At this point they have to actively believe that the Great State of Hawaii is in on it and that a local news paper that announced the birth of the eventual President was in on it, 50 years ago. Never let the facts get in the way of a delusion.

With Lou Dobbs of CNN giving these "Birthers" credibility by joining them, we are only going to see a rise in the number of people who have been tricked into believing this. I don't want to say that it's racial bigotry that is the source of the belief, but given that this is an extension of the non-sense we saw during the campaign about the President being "a Muslim" it is clear that it is.

While I doubt it is likely that any Birther can have this non-sense cleaned out of their heads, I think it's worth giving it a try when you find one who isn't utterly hysterical. After all, there is a bill in the House to require all future Presidential candidates to publish their birth certificates. A few tools to fight this idiocy would be very helpful.

There are two principles that are used to decide citizenship. Some nations use one, others use both. We are a nation that uses both. These are the "Rule of Soil" and the "Rule of Blood." The Rule of Soil says that anyone born on a nation's land is a citizen of that nation. The rule of blood says that the child of a citizen is a citizen, regardless of where in the world they were born.

Most of these Birthers are fixated on the Rule of Soil. They consistently tout that the President wasn't born in America and therefore can't be an American. This is utter non-sense but you can't argue with them because they believe there is a conspiracy to make it look like he was born in Hawaii. Using the Rule of Soil as the basis of an argument will never work. They willingly disbelieve the facts. So we need to move on to the second rule.

Much has been made of the President's paternal heritage, especially the fact that he wasn't an American. After all, if his daddy wasn't red, white, and blue then he must not be. Foreign imposter, they proclaim. But what about his mother? There can be no argument that she was an American woman. This is a detail that got some discussion when talking about how the President was a bridge between worlds. The Rule of Blood states that the child of an American citizen is automatically an American citizen himself. Where in the world the child was born is not a factor. It's that simple. His mother was an American, so he is an American. It's automatic.

Now, I'm a bit ashamed to have to even write about this, because it's nothing more than distraction. This is another method of turning the American People against themselves and directing their attention away in a sleight of hand effort that can only be used against us. It serves to enhance the polarization in this country that undermines the welfare and value of the People. I hope that by being able to articulate a solid argument that destroys this Birther Conspiracy non-sense that we can take a step towards turning the People away from this self-destructive behavior. We can not allow ourselves to be turned against each other by a controlling elite. To do so would mean our enslavement.

June 21, 2009

Unemployment enhances economic depression, not solves it.

Somebody needs to explain to me the wisdom of Chrysler plants being shut down. I understand the company was so utterly mismanaged that they are bankrupt. What I don't get is what happened to all the bail-out money and why those who are not responsible for the screw-ups are the ones paying the price. By cutting more jobs, Chrysler is adding to the problem of unemployed workers falling flat on their faces. What they should be considering about their own bottom line, which is all they ever care about, is that if people don't have jobs they don't have money. If they don't have money they don't buy your product.

Michael Moore has posited quite rightly that these plants should not be allowed to be shut down and the jobs destroyed. Instead, the costly but long term more beneficial choice is to retool the plants for manufacturing new good. Don't make cars, but make something else. It would be unreasonable and untenable to rework them into factories for warfare, but all of that hardware and the skilled labor force could be used to make other goods that Americans do need. In a single stroke you make the company viable through the manufacturing of goods that we need, you keep people from drawing on Unemployment, and you keep money circulating through the economy at a time when it is needed most.

What bothers me about the way the Obama administration has been handling the auto and banking bail-outs is that they clearly favor those who have done wrong by us, the people. I'd like to know where the change is. What I see is business as usual. The fat-cat robber-barons live high on the hog while we drown in a mire of filth that is their making. In a time of radical change we need genuine leadership. We need a new way of thinking and doing. What we have is a president who has done so little for the people that it becomes hard to trust him that "change is coming."

What we need to see is the creation of good wage paying jobs with benefits that would actually make some sense. The American Worker is neither lazy nor stupid, but the American Worker can not afford to be taken for granted either. With the export of so many of our jobs to foriegn lands, it is critical that we revive the manufacturing of goods and provide reasons for business to keep jobs in America. Without good pay, fair hours, decent benefits, and job security along with an ethically run and responsible employer we can fight back the economic decline that serves to do nothing more but eradicate the middle class and elevate the elitists to a position of divinely inspired authority under a fuedal system.

May 25, 2009

You call that stimulus?

So, after Texas governor Rick Perry, who has repeatedly threatened secession from the United States and rejected out-right the stimulus money, he has decided to accept at least a portion of it after all. About $11 million of it. What does he plan to spend the money on? Rebuilding the governor's mansion. Seriously?

I can not think of a more insulting gesture to the people of Texas. Perry wants to deny them the money that would be used to benefit the entire state, but he wants some of it to rebuild an ultimately unnecessary structure. The governor can perform the functions of office from the capitol building.

This is such a glaring example of the abuses of the elite. Such actions do not benefit the people of Texas in any way. Such actions place a burden upon the entire nation and benefit us not one bit. I am genuinely befuddled by the workings of this man's mind.

Memorial Day Matters Now More Than Ever

Our country is in trouble. After 8 years of right-wing foolishness, we now face the very serious matter of fixing what the Bush administration broke; the Constitution. Today we get to take a day off work in remembrance of the brave men and women who gave their lives for this country. Most of us will celebrate with cook-outs and swim parties, but we must not forget why we are enjoying ourselves today.

The lives spent for our freedoms were not spent cheaply, and this is something we must endure to remember. These lives were given for a great cause, freedom and the rule of law. The Bush administration violated those freedoms with the Patriot Acts and the torture of illegally held prisoners of war. The rights of Americans and non-Americans alike were violated and war crimes were committed in our names.

The single most important principle of our legal system is that all men are equal before the law. This includes the President and the Vice-President. When crimes are committed by these austere offices and they go unpunished, no clearer evidence do we have that the People are held in contempt by the wealthy and powerful elites.

Let us not quibble about what "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" means. It is fascist double-speak for torture. In addition to waterboarding, other acts of torture were committed, including "stress positions." For the entire history of civilization, these methods have been used to torture prisoners. They are illegal under American and international law. We convict civilians and law enforcement officers who use these methods.

Contrary to what former Vice-President Cheney wants us to believe, torture does not work. It does not provide valuable or reliable information. Torture does not protect American lives. In truth, it endangers us because the information is unreliable. The victim can and will say anything, anything at all, to make the torture stop. These are facts. There can be no debate about these facts by clear-thinking minds.

The men and women we honor today died so that these methods would not be used against people. The men and women we honor today died so that the rule of law would reign supreme over all Americans and all actions by American officials. Their sacrifice has been cheapened by the Bush administration's actions and the self-serving and lie-filled speeches of the former Vice-President. Their sacrifice continues to be dishonored by President Obama's refusal to hold accountable the perpetrators of these war crimes and his intention of indefinite detainment of terrorists from Gitmo without trial.

I understand that President Obama has been handed a raw deal. He did not create this situation and he is tasked with cleaning it up. We can only urge him to abide by the laws of this nation when fulfilling the task we have assigned him. But we must stress that the law is superior in all things. While the evidence against these monsters may be tainted by the crimes of the Bush administration, there can be little doubt that there is ample evidence of merit that exists without taint. We simple need to work harder to clean it up.

Please remember these things today while you are enjoying the freedoms we still have. We honor the lives of those whho died establishing and protecting these freedoms not by having a cook-out and swim party. We honor their lives by upholding the values and principles for which they gave their lives.

April 24, 2009

Accountability and torture

I can't believe there is even debate on this. Water-boarding is torture. Torture is illegal under US law. Criminals belong in prison. It's that simple. Unfortunately, the fascist elite of the Bush administration want us to believe otherwise. They would like us to believe that there was nothing wrong with torturing our prisoners. They want us to believe that no one should be punished. They want us to believe that their lackies and sycophants are above the law. The Obama administration doesn't seem to be much better on this, but at least it seems he is coming around.

According to reports from the Thursday, April 23rd and Friday, April 24th broadcast of Countdown with Keith Olberman, there is evidence that instruction on how to torture and orders to engage in torture reach the upper echelons of the Bush administration; all the way up to former Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld and former Vice President Cheney. I don't relish the idea of prosecuting these officials for their crimes. It is an utterly tragic situation that could result governmental officials of such high office being tried for war crimes. The resulting trials would tear at the very fabric of our nation. But as a nation of laws I can see no other course of action that would truly satisfy justice. To prosecute only low level people but to leave the people who made the decisions alone would be one the worst blows to the American soul. It would be an expression of the worst form of elitism. We are all equal before the law, even these men.

Tea-bagging is Populism? Not hardly!

I realize I'm a little bit behind on commenting on this but real life has been a bit hectic. I lost count of the number of times Fox News attempted to portray the "Tea Parties" as a populist movement. Let me be very clear on this. Tea-bagging is not now, nor will it ever be, populist. If you have bothered to look at the definition of Populism then you know it's about believing in the value and virtue of the common people. With Tea-bagging what you have is a top-down fabrication by the fascists at News Corp that they are trying to convince you is a grass-roots protest.

The "Tea Parties" are distractions created by an elitist establishment to turn the people against itself. There was nothing at them that indicated this was about the value and virtue of the common people. In truth, these people showed up with total contempt for taxation and the false belief that President Obama has raised their taxes. This simply isn't true. Obama's tax policy realizes a Populist desire because it decreases the burden foisted upon us by the elite who work to dodge paying their fair share. I'm not talking about making the rich pay more. I'm talking about not bleeding the people to death while benefitting an elite ruling class.

For the "Tea Parties" to have had any connection to Populism they would have had to been genuine expressions of fact that the value of the people is being impugned. What they really were was an elitist ploy to rile the masses and aggitate the populace. Tea-bagging isn't populism, it's just inane.

April 17, 2009

What is Populism?

What is Populism, anyway? Ultimately, there is a very simple definition but a very complex answer. Populism is the belief in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people. The definition doesn't completely answer the question, however. To truly understand Populism we need to put it into context.

Populism is the opposite of elitism, or
leadership or rule by an elite segment of society. When the American colonies declared independence from Britain we declared our independence from elitism. Elitism means that only those who are possesed of superior position in society have the right to make the rules that govern everyone. Those rules do not benefit the populace, only the ruling elite. When we declaired that all men are created equal we said that all members of society have a place within government. We went one step further and said that government was granted its authority by the people it governed.

In a Populist society it is the common man that makes the rules. In a fair society those rules seek to benefit the whole of society while impinging upon others at a very minimum. In truth, fairness is intrinsic to a Populist society because of the belief that we are all equal before the law.

A common lie about Populism is that it seeks to take from the wealthy or elite and give to the commoner or poor man. Populism is not about redistribution of wealth. Populism isn't an economic policy. Populism isn't a governmental philosophy. Populism is the belief that the common man is of worth and value to society. Populism is a social principle of equality, and ultimately, fairness. Instead of a ruling elite answerable only to itself, government and society is controlled by the very people it governs. This is what Populism is.

For the people!

April 15, 2009

Why Populism?

The more I see the way the world operates, the more I realize that people need to be reminded of their power and importance. The populace, the people, are the life blood of a civilization and it is through them that true power of law is derived. This is a founding principle upon which our nation is built and it is the people who have been shut out from the systems of governance. We have been stripped of our importance by an over-class that neither regards our needs nor concerns. Liberty is the right to self-governance and that governance must be an expression of the will of the people with regard for the rights and equalities of the minority. Self-governance has been taken from us and replaced with a shallow veneer of involvement. We have been shut out of the Halls of Power because we are not born people of privilege, status, or wealth. We are not power-brokers with billions of dollars to spend. We are the life blood of our nation, and we have been constrained until we are barely flowing through the veins of the Motherland. Our nation withers and dies because its blood does not flow.

It is our blood most of all that was spilled in our formation as an independent nation. We, the people, bled for our birth. We, the people, bled for our own internal disputes. We, the people, bleed now under a yoke of control. That yoke is ignorance. We have been restricted to meaningless trivialities and been told that it is education. We have been brow-beaten into submission to a master who preys upon our labors but cares nothing for our toils. It is this yoke of bondage that we must cast off and rise above to take back our nation and our pride. We must remove the chains that shackle us and take back our rightful place in society.

We have been caged, our minds left to rot as wheat in the field. Thought is our revolution. Thought is what frees us from slavery and enables us to wield the power that is innately ours. No more an exalted state can man exist in than that of self-mastery. This principle is the founding principle of our republic and it is this principle that heralds the greatest truth we have ever uttered; all men are created equal. This is what is denied to us, and it is this that we must strive for. This is the Revolution of Thought that must take hold, and with it we can aspire to the greatness that was set before us.

Note: This was written a little while back and is meant to be more of a fire-brand than literal expression of populism. As a nation, we need to revitalize the lives and well-being of the common man. We are shackled by our ignorance of the back-room deals in the halls of power. We are worn down by our labors to survive. This is what we must master in order to assert our rightful role in government.

For the people!

What is Democracy Anyway?

We talk about democracy in blithe terms and I think we often fail to understand what democracy really is. It's easy to say that democracy is the right to vote but this misses the essence of democracy. Merriam-Webster's defines democracy as a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

Direct exercise of power is the oldest form of democratic principle. The ancient Greek city-state of Athens was governed under this manner in which all eligible men would gather and vote with the majority holding the day. There were no elected officials, just majority rule. Now you have to remember that who was eligible to vote was extremely limited and the common man had pretty much no say at all in how laws were decided so this ancient form doesn't come close to a populist ideal of democracy. The limiting factor is the over-all lack of sovereign franchise, the right to vote.

We live in a nation built on indirect exercise of democracy. We are a representative Democratic Republic. We have progressed to grant franchise to a wide and large body of people. This is meant to allow all voices and opinions to be expressed, but ultimately the majority still rules. In our republic the elected officials are supposed to be beholden to the will of the people. They are sent to represent us and are answerable to us. In truth, we do a pretty decent job on this. We are not so completely cut out of the system yet that we don't elect our law-makers. The past couple of elections has seen that to be true. Dissatisfaction cost many people their jobs.

I want to make it clear that we do have a great deal of impact on government and that we are not living in a complete tyranny. We have an amazing application of populist will in our system. But we are being cut out of it, and that is why I seek to wake us to this before we lose control. The United States of America isn't a sinking ship, it just has some holes in the hull that need patching before we take on any more water and sink.

None the less, the will of the people is being silenced and we can not allow this. For American democracy to work the voice of the people must be heard by law-makers at every level of government. A populist democracy demands that we take action and raise our voices to be heard. We must not be dictated to but must instead tell our leaders in no uncertain terms that our will is more powerful than those that seek to buy their vote for their own purposes. That is how American democracy should and must work.

For the people.

April 14, 2009

In Defense of Populism

Adam McCall, a student at Emory University in Atlanta, has written an excellent article on Populism. I encourage you all to read it.

In Defense of Populism
By Adam McCall

I have a couple of conservative friends who are attending a mock “Tea Party” at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta tomorrow. Being born and bred in and around Boston, I know a thing or two about such events. And, while I don’t necessarily agree that the situation the United States face now is similar to the state of affairs they faced then, I do believe that the media has underplayed the legitimacy of the populist backlash against the Obama-Bush economic policies of the last year.

Regardless of election-time appeals, Wall Street economists dominate the ranks of both parties. Functionally, there has been little change in the macroeconomic policies pursued by both former President George W. Bush and President Obama. Former Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson, current Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers, as well as their advisers, all spent time working in and around Wall Street. Unsurprisingly, all of their proposed solutions rely on bailing out investment and commercial banks and insurance companies.

Still, I have many friends who trust the elites more. It’s foolish, they say, to get upset about bonuses paid to incompetent managers, the death of the auto industry and the anarchic mess on Wall Street.

This is regrettable; truth is, it has become all too easy for these elite policy-makers to pick and choose which sectors live and die. Trapped inside their own bubbles, government bureaucrats keep Wall Street and the artificial economy afloat. They subsidize the creation of abstract value rather than the people who make America work, the people who make things.

Though there’s been a large outcry about the potential tax hikes on the upper class under the new administration, there has been little recognition of the fact that the bank bailouts represent a large re-distribution of wealth — upwards, to American elites. The idea that strengthening the banks alone will resolve the crisis of confidence in our economy reflects trickle-down economics at its worst.

Whatever happened to Obama’s campaign promises to help the working class and ignore the advice of the Washington wise men?

As these risks become more apparent to many Americans, conventional wisdom has focused on delegitimizing populism as a bastardization of American thought. Even among the intellectual class, there’s a reticence to acknowledge America’s long and proud tradition of populism, reflected in leaders such as former Sec. of State William Jennings Bryan and former Presidents Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt.

Jackson’s example remains instructive for us today. His distrust of banks and concentrated power in the hands of special interests that he put into practical policy as president seem to be the agenda that Obama has failed thus far to pursue. Like Jackson, Obama was elected after promising to fix similar problems after succeeding the unelected heir of a political dynasty. For his presidency to succeed, Obama must recognize the need to re-affirm the populism he preached on the campaign trail, which harkened back to Old Hickory’s.

So what can Obama do to avert further outrage? Expand on current plans to protect homeowners from foreclosure, for starters. Protect the rights of workers to unionize by passing the Employee Free Choice Act, which allows for unions to be formed after workers sign a petition. Put more money into “shovel-ready” infrastructure jobs and less in tax cuts. Support American manufacturing jobs and prevent jobs from being shipped overseas by bailing out the auto industry and supporting efforts to buy American.

These populist steps are necessary. As countries around the world stand idle, ignoring calls from Obama to stimulate their own economies, Obama must radically take steps to spur our own into a brighter day. While some of these policies may be discouraged as protectionist, the reality is that other countries already have “national champions” of industry and trade barriers of their own. It does the United States no good to allow high paying unionized manufacturing jobs to go elsewhere. Low prices at Wal-Mart mean less and less as employment fails to rebound and wages stagnate.

If Obama continues on his present path, wingnut tea parties will be the least of his concerns. The 2010 mid-term elections approach with Obama Democrats, such as Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, under fire from all quarters for their role in allowing the abuses of the bank bailouts. Will it take defeat at the hands of a dissatisfied public to turn Obama back toward populism? One hopes it doesn’t come to that, but it might if Obama doesn’t provide the answer to his own calls for change.

A Quick Discussion on Lobbyists.

Lobbyist. It's a political dirty word. President Obama said he would not include any lobbyists in his administration. This comment was later amended to mean that there would be no professional or corporate lobbyists in positions of authority in government where they would oversee areas on which they were paid lobbyists. Confused? I am. Before we get started I want to point out that I voted for Obama. I want to see him succeed. But that doesn't mean I won't be critical where I see reason to be critical. This is one of those areas and it is one where I admit that I need to do more research. But it is this very thing about "lobbyists" that I want to discuss.

I believe there are two types of lobbyists. There are those that are professional lobbyists who represent large organizations or corporations. Think of Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, or even the NRA or ACLU. Not all of them are explicitly bad. Special Interest Organizations like the NRA or ACLU are supposedly derived of the every people I am trying to reach, us. I may or may not agree with them but that isn't a requirement. The former examples, however, disgust me. These industry Goliaths use their money to out and out buy influence in government to promote their own business. They throw around obscene amounts of cash (I call it bribe money) to influence Senators and Congressmen and "persuade" them to support legislation that makes it easier for those companies to make huge profits.

Where is our voice in this? It isn't there and that is what I object to. When those with wealth can buy influence with the lawmakers then the democratic process by which our voice is heard is undone. Corporate lobbyists by-pass the democratic system and rig it so that their masters can make more money faster and easier. To call this dubious at best would be an understatement. I prefer to think of it as Un-American.

The second kind of lobbyist is the "Part-time Lobbyist." These are the men and women who genuinely care about an issue and take the time to personally go see elected officials to plead their case for their cause. These are not people backed by wealthy organizations. Some of them may draw small salaries or compensation for their time by organizations with some funds, but they are the voice of organizations that we are the life blood of. Again, I don't have to agree with them and often don't, but this is our voice in action. Political Action Commities are born of our need to be heard. When many people speak with a single voice it is easier to be heard than if you are a lone voice.

The truth of the matter is, however, that we are out-gunned in the lobbyist game. Large, wealthy organizations have resources beyond our reach. They have money and time we don't have and this is what we are competing against. It is Un-American that representitives of the people can not be heard over the din of noise generated by those that serve only themselves and not the people.

I have been lead to believe that some of the Obama Administration come from this second group. I don't know if any come from the first, although I suspect they do. With your help I want to compile a list of known lobbyists in the Obama Administraion. I want to identify their positions in government, who they represented, and when they represented them. I want to give credit to those that are the voice of the people and I want to cast shame on those who are not.

For the people!

Getting started.

It is my goal to get people to realize that we, the American People, are not powerless to influence our government. We all know that we can vote and have some say in things when the Big Day arrives. I'm not here to appeal to you to get out and vote. I don't have to, you already know. What I want to talk about here is us and our relationship to government.

The Founding Fathers set forth the idea that our government, our nation, was to derive legitimacy and authority from the people and not from an elite few of wealthy and powerful men that sit in judgment of us from lofty positions of power and authority. We, the populace, are the legitimizing force of government on all levels.

That's the theory, any way. I put forth to you that this is no longer the case. Truthfully, I can not say that it ever really was the case. The ideal is something we have sought but often failed to reach. Slavery, Jim Crow, Woman's Suffrage, Civil Rights. These are all examples of how we failed to be what we ought to be but sought to become that.

What I see today is the explicit removal of the role of the people in government. It's so very easy to identify certain targets like corporate and professional lobbyists. Other ways of taking our true franchise from us are not so obvious, like budget cuts in the educational systems. With your help I want to delve deeper into the ways in which the American People are being deprived of their legitimizing authority and how it is being handed over to an American Aristocracy.

For the People.