P is for popular . . . S is for stupid!

I don’t really know if I’m popular.  I’d like to think so.

But now I feel obligated to let everyone who reads my stuff know how stupid I am!

For over four years running, my article The ‘P’ Word has been drawing in readers from across the globe.

Sometimes when I publish a truly dazzling bit of satire like Putin’s War on America’s Christmas, the hyperbolic U.S. Blames Northern Lights on Russia, Imposes Sanctions, the ridiculous Exploding Hockey Pucks Intercepted at Canadian Border, the surreal Deep-State Doppelgängers, the jeering Trump Makes Russian the Official Language of the U.S. or even the weird, controversial Dachau World — a real solid performer in its own right — The ‘P’ Word gets bumped from the top spot.  But in terms of rock-steady service over the long haul, there’s no contest.  This bit of writing delivers a steady stream of adoring fans.

Or so I thought.

Just looking superficially at the numbers would suggest that.

I have an analytic tool installed here on my website.  It tells me a lot of things:  How many visitors I get, how many are returning, how many are new, what part of the world they hail from, and so on.  Here is a typical daily readout on the most popular of my articles.

Being the ego-inflated person I am, I just assumed that it was the sheer brilliance of my writing, especially apparent in The ‘P’ Word — written back in 2013 when my brain was still functioning optimally — which accounted for the popularity of the article and the resulting spectacular increase in my fan base across all continents.

Then one day recently I made a shocking discovery.  Hope you’re sitting down for this.

I found out that the phrase ‘the P word’ is a euphemism for ‘pussy’.  In other words, the strict rules of contemporary journalism — which as we all know as a profession holds itself to the highest standards of respect for readers, accuracy in reporting, integrity in offering the best the human mind is capable of — based on some arcane but nevertheless ironclad internal protocols, require this substitution.

Yes, the officially sanctioned way to refer to ‘pussy’ is to substitute the phrase ‘the P word’.

I was devastated!

And do I feel stupid!

All this time, I thought it was the poetic wisdom, the graceful prose, the wit, the profundity and humor, the finely-crafted language, which drew so many flocking to my site to read The ‘P’ Word.

But no!  These people are just cat lovers!

Posted in Creativity, Human Sexuality, Nihilism, Satire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

John Rachel poet? Is this a joke?

I’ve made no secret of my lack of understanding of poetry, nor my thus to be expected zero talent for writing poetry. 

I’m not sure why I write poems.  I guess a poem has some vague resemblance to a song at a very superficial level — meaning the way it looks on a page — and I haven’t been writing songs lately.  Let’s call it reverse sublimation, a clumsy surrogation.  My writing poems is like a ping pong player playing tennis blindfolded on a quicksand court.

I even did a tongue-in-cheek piece about the process of creating a poem, one which I’ve tastelessly shared with some serious poets, and made even more enemies than I thought one human could make, with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Now, really strange things are happening.  I just got four poems published!

Apparently I’ve submitted some poems lately.  I say “apparently” because I frankly don’t remember submitting two of them.  But one called Messenger Deranged just appeared in a poetry magazine called Lone Stars, based in San Antonio, Texas.  They even requested more and I submitted two more, One Life and Light and Dark, which my lovely wife then translated into Japanese.  Lone Star will publish both English and Japanese versions in their December issue, the English under my name, the Japanese as poetic works by Masumi Nishida.

Then just today, I got a congratulatory letter from VerbalArt, A Global Journal Devoted to Poets and Poetry.  They are including my poem Tapioca Cyber Trails in their upcoming issue, appropriately splattered across all seven continents like a Cardassian tanker of jellied starch blasted out of the sky by a orbiting rail gun.

Mind you, I barely remember writing this poem, so it was quite a surprise when I read it. They sent me a proof of the coming issue for my approval.  There it was, right on page 17. 

What a pleasant surprise!  It’s actually pretty darn good, i.e. not terribly terrible.  Not to inflate expectations, I actually think this almost qualifies as a credible work.

I’ll let you be the judge.


A sweet jest broke water
Birthing artificial intelligence
As if the clusters of CPUs
Marked the non-event event
We reeled and rollicked
In childish mirth-driven panic
Salivating porn-addicted cherubs
Lost in the heavy-breathing fog
Flying the vaporous trails
Of evaporating illusion
We wept but didn’t

You are no more
I’ve remade you
In my image
In your image
I fear meeting you again
I fear disappointment
Shattered expectations
Revulsion and despair
A binary epitaph
Suicide is in our DNA
Zero one zero one

[ DO NOT ask me what it means . . . I haven’t got a clue. ]

They always say when warning against getting too excited or overly optimistic:

“Don’t quit your day job.”

Since I don’t have a day job, night job, weekend job, or any job, I think this is advice I can follow without any risk of failure.

Moreover, I certainly don’t want to let any opportunities for fabulous riches and universal renown slip through my gnarly, hangnail afflicted fingers.  And the poetry track has proven to be a straight shot to the top.  Maybe I should finally call that number on the ad I posted in that article on writing poetry I mentioned.

If all works out as I expect, instead of signing all my letters . . .

John Rachel, Bipolar Humanist

. . . very soon I can proudly — and profitably — stake my claim to untold wealth, fame and adulation as . . .

John Rachel, Poet


Posted in Creativity, Nihilism, Satire | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

John Rachel Is A Tedious Bore!

I just looked at my last five posts and they are all about the same topic.

Listen, folks.  I truly get it.  A lot of people think I’m becoming a tedious bore.

But they’re wrong!  I’ve always been a tedious bore.  Sometimes I’m able to disguise it better than others, dress up my dull, monotonous discursives a bit with some clever photo — like the pandering one to the right.

But I can hear the recent cries of anguish from my readers.

“Jesus H. Christ!  Yet another article on candidate contracts?  Is this guy a one-trick pony?”

Actually, the last time I checked I had thousands of tricks.  The thing is, two in particular stand out spectacularly from the rest.  So maybe I’m a two-trick pony?

These particular two stand out, because as far as I can see, both of them offer necessary tactics and solutions to the existential threat ripping our nation apart.  It’s one huge, ugly monster with two heads:  Autocratic rule by a rich and powerful elite and psychotic levels of militarism and imperial aggression.

It’s been a real interesting ride these last five years trying to promote candidate contracts and the Peace Dividend refund concept, both targeting the oligarchy’s sinister, iron-fisted authoritarian grip on our politics — and just about everything else — and the creation of a military/security state to further tighten and reinforce that grip on the American citizenry and any other country which holds valuable resources ripe for plunder.

I’ve made my case in three books, and literally hundreds of articles.  With this much time invested, and a firm belief that despite a lack of much encouragement I’m onto something of value and positive potential, I’m not giving up.  Sometimes you go with your gut.

Both the candidate contract strategy and Peace Dividend concept have had more than their share of detractors.  Yet I forge on like a punch-drunk old boxer because no one — NO ONE — has come up with anything resembling a coherent, decisive reason why either of these detailed battle plans is not viable, why they’re dead ends, why they’re lost causes, why I should pack it in and live in a Yurt with some nomadic tribe in Mongolia.

I’m serious!  Any criticism dances around them like they’re made of depleted uranium.

I get self-assured quips like:  “It’ll never happen.”  Wow!  That crushed five years of hard work in a single blow.

Or:  “I don’t like contracts.”  Which is a semi-literate version of, “Your idea sucks, dude!”

One very famous activist — I won’t name him because everyone who would bother to read this knows this guy — ripped my book, Candidate Contracts: Taking Back Our Democracy to shreds.  I’ll give him credit for putting a lot of time into his demolition project.  He sent me a long email listing in great detail seven flaws in my approach.  The only problem was, not one of the seven things he targeted were even in my book!  I am dead serious.  Not a single one of the seven gaping holes in my plan were in my plan.  As I suspect happens a lot, he saw ‘candidate contracts’, then proceeded to dissect what he thought a candidate contract strategy would be about.  Talk about arrogant posturing.  And this guy is very famous!  Progressives from all over flock to his side for his sage advice.  God help us!

I beg people to give me constructive criticism, any kind of criticism, a bombshell that takes my ideas out like they’d just been hit by a MOABHey, put me out of my misery!  I’ve got four novels I’d much rather be working on.  PLEASE!  Give me your best shot.  Deliver me from all this yelling in an anechoic chamber at ghosts who are hologram doppelgangers for activists in a coma.

I’m still waiting.  How many articles have I written here, at OpEdNews, The Greanville Post?  Hundreds!  Now go through the comments.  A lot of the real critical stuff is self-aggrandizing bloviating, the rest irrefutable evidence that either they didn’t read the article, or they must have put their brains in a fruit blender before they tried to read it, because obviously they didn’t understand anything of what I was saying.

Often I’ve thought:  Maybe it’s you, John.  Maybe you’re not expressing yourself very clearly and that’s why people don’t get it.  (I spend a lot of time alone, so it’s not that unusual for me to talk to myself, though usually it’s a little more upbeat than this.)

The result has been the vast output of a variety of articles, each coming from a slightly different place, offering a different pitch, trying to find that magic winning formula for getting the ideas across.  I’ve even resorted to doing videos, despite the fact that if I had the money, the first thing I’d do is hire an actor with a great voice and reality show-host good looks to deliver a more seductive version of the message.

Mind you, I have a phenomenal life here in Japan.  Except for the gnawing aggravation and frustration associated with my long-distance dedication to activism, I live a fairy tale life in a beautiful, traditional, rural community situated between Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto — each one of those comes with its own distinct personality and host of urban attractions.  My beautiful, talented Japanese wife and I travel extensively, with her showing me the splendors of this fascinating country which I now embrace as my home.

But when I look back at the “homeland”, I want to scream!  What has happened to the U.S. is a nightmare of a nightmare of a nervous breakdown.  In my worst moments, I see the whole world — including my charming town — being plunged into a nuclear holocaust, a war driven by pride, hubris, arrogance, ignorance, insensitivity, delusion, demagoguery, pathological levels of disregard for decency and human life.  In my better moments — fewer and farther between these days — I just see America being consigned to the septic tank of history, plunged into the dank, degrading stink hole of a Dark Ages Redux.

But there’s three compelling reason why I’ll continue pushing — at least for a while — my two apparently incomprehensible strategies.

  1. There’s a pivotal election coming up.  Forget about 2020.  We might not even make it to 2020.  A lot depends on whether the accelerating implosion of our country and the decline of the fortunes of everyday people continues, or it finally meets its Waterloo.  It’s up to each of us to try to fix the mess and that’s why I keep fighting.
  2. Very recently I’ve had some encouraging breakthroughs.  One gentleman in Lancaster, Pennsylvania bought 20 print copies of my Peace Dividend book, handed them out to all of his friends and fell0w-activists.  Now they regularly discuss the strategy in their peace planning sessions.
  3. I am now on the board of a activist organization called Citizens Against Plutocracy.  This small group of dedicated progressives and its sister organization, Revolt Against Plutocracy, are actively promoting my candidate contract strategy, under the rubric CFAR, which stands for Contract For American Renewal.

[Author stops, spots a frog stuck to the window next to his chair, prompting him to reflect:  Is this as tedious as I think it is?  Maybe I should wrap this up.  Ah!  I’ll throw in the old non-sequitur.  That always gets them where the rubber meets the cerebellum!]

1st Rule of Fight Club:  Don’t talk about fight club.

1st Rule of Propaganda:  Repeat lies so often people eventually believe them.

1st Rule of Activism:  Repeat truth so often people start paying attention.

Alright, enough.  My mind spilleth over . . . and it’s a mess.

Having said all of the foregoing — are you still with me? . . . doubtful but as a tedious bore, I’m used to rejection — I’m going to take a short break.  The next two or three articles will not be hard-core political ravings . . . but instead, family-friendly fluff.

Just because I can.

Or is it by popular demand?

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Peace Dividend, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Revolution, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

CFAR Candidates: The Real Deal

I’ve had several people ask me why I do these videos promoting the candidate contract electoral strategy.  I think it’s self-evident:  I like standing outside and talking to a bunch of trees.  Here’s my latest effort.  The text of the presentation follows.

Pathetic!  Yes . . . PATHETIC!

The state of our democracy.  The state of our politics.

There’s no other word for it.

Our politicians?  I’m not an expert on American history but at first glance I think it’s safe to say our current batch of ruling class toadies are among the most mediocre, uncreative, lackluster, uninspiring, duplicitous, hypocritical, ignorant, unprincipled, too often shamelessly malevolent bottom dwellers, ever to appear on our political stage.

The entire Republican Party is evidence enough on that side of the aisle.  Comparing any of them with the real public servants in their rich tradition makes guys like Pence, Ryan, and Trump look like a sick joke.  Ever heard of Abraham Lincoln?

Now look at the latest public relations fiasco by the Democratic Party, a desperate attempt to reverse their flagging fortunes; their catastrophic loss of voter confidence; their loss of the House and Senate, their loss of the majority of state legislatures, and their loss of the majority of governor seats; and to repair their self-inflicted but warranted reputation as the left wing of the Republican Party.

Plagiarizing the Democratic Party of old, thus making a mockery of FDR’s historical and widely admired New Deal, they’ve just assembled a new platter of mildewy cliches, moldy slogans, stale platitudes and empty promises, a decomposing menu of already past-their-expiration-date overtures to their former base — once-loyal working and middle class voters — under the banner of A Better Deal.

Better than what?  The Art of the Deal of Trump?  Or the Raw Deal of the Republicans.

They’re really setting their sights high, eh?  “We’re the better bottom dwellers!”

That anyone pays attention to these master prevaricators is a miracle in its own right.  We must all be masochists or pathologically gullible.

But don’t fret.

There’s hope in the midst of this mass of toxic sludge clogging our electoral machinery!

Along comes the grass-roots voter-based initiative called CFAR.

CFAR stands for Contract For American Renewal.  But it’s more than a contract, much much more than a legal device.  It’s a paradigm-shifting, game-changing way to introduce honesty, integrity, transparency, and accountability, into our electoral process, putting people — the vast majority of U.S. citizens — back in the driver’s seat.  It’s government by the people.  It’s real representative democracy.

The CFAR is the new standard by which we judge whether a candidate is worthy for office.

The CFAR includes only initiatives that are supported by a minimum of 62% of citizens. Most are in the 75-80% range.  The CFAR is a citizens-based, populist strategy.

The CFAR requires in writing from any candidate who signs it that they will faithfully serve those who vote them into office.  No questions asked.  They either do the job or they find themselves back on the street.  Just read the contract.  It’s clear and unambiguous.

The CFAR takes the guesswork out of voting.  Every initiative in the CFAR is supported by huge majorities.  If a candidate signs it, they are clearly on the side of the people.  They are guaranteeing in writing that they will be doing the bidding of their constituents from the day they arrive in Washington DC.  Thus they deserve our support and our votes.

The CFAR as a populist electoral strategy targets neoliberal, establishment candidates for defeat.  And more importantly, it decisively positions “people’s candidates” — progressive-populists — to win, arming them with an ironclad strategic weapon to take on and crush their corrupt, pay-for-play opponents.

The CFAR exposes the phonies and frauds.  Voters are tired of shallow campaign rhetoric, vaporous sound bites, empty campaign promises.  If a candidate refuses to sign the CFAR, it means two things:  1) He or she is not on the side of the people.  2) This candidate does not deserve to get elected.  Voters will run from non-CFAR candidates like they’re infected with the plague.

Therefore, Citizens Against Plutocracy and other activist groups are organizing nationally around the CFAR strategy, targeting the coming November 2018 election.  We want this election to mean something.  We want the voice of the people, now silenced by big money and autocratic control of the media and both major parties, to be heard and be instrumental in finally electing a Congress that works for the everyday citizen, not just the ruling elite, corporate kleptocrats, Wall Street, the big banks, and transnational corporations.

Forget about the Better Deal and the Raw Deal.

You want a Congress that works for the people?  You want public servants that serve the public?  You want a Congress which is not in the pockets of fat cat campaign donors, not lapdogs of the ruling class, not doormats of the military-industrial-security complex?

Then only vote for a candidate who has signed the CFAR.

CFAR candidates are the REAL DEAL!


Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Video Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Cure For Mad Trump Disease

It used to be that things got worse by the year, the month, the week.

Now things are getting worse by the day, by the hour . . . by the minute!

This is hardly from a lack of outrage, calls to action, shrill cries of desperation.

Having said that, and more importantly, recognizing that none of what we are doing on the genuine progressive left is making one whit of difference, maybe it’s time to admit that our calls to action, our shrill cries, our outrage, are either misdirected, ill-conceived, or lacking necessary focus. 

Another way of saying this . . .

We’re losing the battle!  Time to change tactics!

We have to do something soon.  We’ve lost so much time, momentum, misplaced so much faith and hope, squandered energy and dreams on pointless protests and ill-fated schemes, invested time and trust in unworthy leaders and duplicitous saviors.  Time has run out.

It’s now or never.

And let’s not kid ourselves . . .

As long as we continue on the present course, we will continue to fail to achieve the one and only thing which can make a difference:  POWER!

Here’s a video I just did for Revolt Against Plutocracy summarizing what I believe to be the only viable plan to confront the corporate totalitarianism and tyranny by the ruling elite which is now nearly absolute and irreversible.  The text of the presentation follows.


Practically all I see on the news is Trump did this and Trump said that.  Trump tweeted this and some White House insider has the scoop on Trump’s next outrageous move.

And as probably the most unpopular president in our history, all anyone can talk about is impeaching him.

Well, let me clue you in, folks.  This obsession with the orange autocrat is one huge waste of time.  That’s right.  It’s going nowhere and will end up nowhere — at least in terms of solving our problems and getting some things done for a change.

First off, if we get rid of Trump, then we have Pence.  Next in line of succession is Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.  Good grief!  With both chambers of Congress under control of the Republicans, we can only expect to go from bad to worse.  Don’t push these lunatics or we’ll end up with President Ted Nugent.

But that’s not even the real point.  The simple, brutal fact is even if we had Bernie Sanders or Al Franken or Jesus Christ as president, still nothing would get done.  The Republicans control the show.  Period!  If that wasn’t enough cause for outrage and despair, on most of the things the majority of citizens want done, the Democrats side with the Republicans.

You think I’m making this up?  Just check the record.

So let me cut to the chase.

Forget Trump.  Forget about his Tweets, his pussy-grabbing, his bellicose remarks, his tax returns, his supposed friends in the Kremlin.

You want to get something done?  We need a people’s Congress.  We need to elect legislators who are on the side of the vast majority of U.S. citizens, ones who put people first, not the profits of Wall Street and transnational corporations.

And that means we need to get rid of the corporate lapdogs, our pay-for-play legislators on both sides of the aisle and put some good, honest, hard-working folks in office, ones who we know with certainty will go to Washington DC and represent us, the people who elect them — not their deep-pocketed corporate benefactors, not the rich and powerful, not their country club friends.

That’s exactly what we at Revolt Against Plutocracy are doing.  We’re going for broke in this coming election.  We’re shooting for where the real power is . . . the U.S. Congress.

We have a candidate contract called a CFAR which spells out in black-and-white what we expect a candidate to do.  If they sign it, great.  We’ll get behind them in the November 2018 election.

If they don’t sign it, we’ll find a candidate who will.  We’ll only vote for candidates who have signed the CFAR, even if we have to write them in.

Mind you, this has nothing to do with party or ideology.  We’re fed up with the games.  We’ve had it with party politics, identity politics, divide-and-rule politics.  The major parties along with the media play us off against one another, keep us confused and at each other’s throats.  No more.  We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!  We’re only voting for individuals who will faithfully, honestly, transparently serve us — you and I — the folks who elect them.

We’ve got a bulletproof plan:  In every race this coming November 2018, we’re looking for the right candidate to do the right job for us.  That’s it in a nutshell.  We’ll know it’s the right candidate because he or she will be signing a legally-binding contract to serve the voters of their district.

You can find out more about all of this at citizensagainstplutocracy.wordpress.com.  Look at the CFAR, the Contract For American Renewal.  See how our strategy is going to turn this whole mess on its head, shake up Congress like it’s never been shaken up before.  See how you can be part of regime change in Washington DC next November.

A people’s Congress!

A Congress that works for everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

And if you’re still worried about Trump, just remember this …

Congress can impeach the president but the president can’t impeach Congress.

“Who sent this guy? We don’t want him either.”

We get control of Congress and we can ship him off to North Korea, if that’s what we decide to do.

More important is that we can start putting the country back on track, addressing the real issues which are challenging everyday citizens and destroying any hope for a decent future for ourselves and our children.

Make no mistake about it.  We need to get control of the House of Representatives and the Senate to get started setting things straight.


With the Contract For American Renewal.  It’s somewhat similar to the Republicans wildly successful Contract With America in 1994, but with a huge difference.  CFAR is grassroots, it’s from the people, and comes with a tactic activists around the country are using to build pledges of support for CFAR candidates and only CFAR candidates.

No other organization in America has a comprehensive plan for the people of this nation to take control of Congress.

CFAR takes the guesswork out of voting and puts every candidate on notice:  We expect honest and transparent representation and we want it in writing.  No negotiation.  No excuses.  No compromise.

Yes, we’re going to get it right for a change.  Join Revolt Against Plutocracy’s efforts to make 2018 a progressive wave election.

And no, BLUE will NOT DO.

CFAR keeps them on the straight and true.

Please go to our website citizensagainstplutocracy.wordpress.com.  Join this people’s movement for a populist agenda.  We’re doing this right.  We and the CFAR candidates have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Real power for real change.

People power in November 2018!


Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Revolution, Video Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

My Elevator Pitch for the CFAR Strategy

The folks over at Revolt Against Plutocracy asked me to do a short “elevator pitch” for my CFAR candidate contract strategy, which they’re aggressively promoting.  I thought it went pretty well except for a couple frightened looking people in the elevator.  Here is the video.  The text of the entire presentation follows.

Thirty-second floor, please.

(Barely audible)  ”ヘンなアメリカ人がいてはるわ〜”  [ Translation:  There is the strange American. ]

Are you as fed up with Washington DC as I am?  Nothing gets done for you and I.  Everything gets done for the rich and powerful.

There’s only one solution.  We need a people’s Congress.  That’s where the power is . . .


Which means we need to get rid of the pay-for-play legislators on both sides of the aisle and put some good, honest, hard-working folks in office, ones who we know with certainty will go to Washington and represent us, the people who elect them — not their Wall Street donors, not their deep-pocketed corporate benefactors, not their country club friends.

That’s exactly what we at Revolt Against Plutocracy are doing.  We’re going for broke in this coming election.  We’re shooting for where the real power is . . . the U.S. Congress.

We have a candidate contract called a CFAR, which spells out in black-and-white what we expect a candidate to do.  If they sign it, great, we’ll get behind them come the November 2018 election.

If they don’t sign it, we will find a candidate who will.  We’ll only vote for candidates who have signed the CFAR, even if we have to write them in.

Forget about parties, ideologies, labels.  We’re just looking for the right candidate to do the right job — for us!  That’s it in a nutshell.  We’ll know it’s the right candidate because he or she will be signing a legally-binding contract to serve the voters of the district.

You can find out more about all of this at our website.  Just go to citizensagainstplutocracy.wordpress.com.  The link is also posted in the description below.  Look at the CFAR, the Contract For American Renewal.  See how our strategy is going to turn this whole mess on its head, and shake up Congress like it’s never been shook up before.  Sign up to be part of the solution.  See how easy it is for us to achieve real change in Washington DC next November.

A people’s Congress.  A Congress that works for everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

Check it out.  The future of our country depends on it.


Posted in Democracy, Political Rant, Video Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Activist Tutorial: Introducing the CFAR to a Populist-Progressive Candidate

Do you know a populist-progressive candidate who wants to run for Congress in 2018?

This could be an independent, a third-party, or a “renegade” major-party candidate who wants to primary a centrist-establishment, neoliberal member of his or her own party.

Whatever the case, this individual will be at an enormous disadvantage in every aspect of engineering a successful campaign.  There’s the lack of money, media coverage, and basic support from the corporate-owned major political parties.

This is where my candidate contract strategy comes to the rescue.  Now that the strategy has evolved to the point of generating a comprehensive contract which embraces a set of major populist-progressive initiatives backed, according to reputable, highly-reliable polls, by 62% – 90% of the voting public, I’ve offered it as a “template” for populist-progressive candidates to build their individual campaigns around.  I call it the Contract for American Renewal — or CFAR.

The CFAR and the strategy which it anchors has been adopted by two sister organizations:  Citizens Against Plutocracy and Revolt Against Plutocracy.

I originally prepared the above tutorial video for Revolt Against Plutocracy to prepare and instruct activists in their approach to populist-progressive candidates who must embrace a successful framework for their political campaigns, if they expect to be able to successfully challenge the powerful, corrupt two-major-party duopoly.

Since the whole candidate contract strategy is completely unprecedented, it requires some explanation; being able to anticipate the fear of the unknown, flawed preconceptions and prejudices; and counter some of the recurring objections which I’ve experienced over the years developing and promoting it.  I think the video does a pretty decent job exploring the potential of the approach, and deflecting most erroneous but predictable concerns which arise when something this radical and outside-the-box comes along.

If you know a populist-progressive candidate who you want to see in office but suspect is struggling with how to combat a rigged game and overcome every other obstacle that our current skewed system uses to marginalize good, decent potential public servants, please show them this video, or study it yourself, then present the CFAR concept to that person, as instructed in the tutorial.

The entire text for the video presentation at the head of this article now follows:

[ When a completely new idea comes around, predictably there is misunderstanding and apprehension.  The more unique and original the idea, the greater is the reluctance to see it for what it is and recognize its potential.  Call it the shock of the new.

A populist candidate will typically be inexperienced, tentative, suspicious, and especially frightened by the “idea of a contract”.  This is to be expected.  This requires right from the outset being positive, reassuring, confident but sensitive, sincere and open.  The strategy must be offered — not demanded — and framed in the most flattering manner exactly for what it is:  It is a unique but powerful, unprecedented but decisive, rock-solid methodology for replacing our current corrupt pay-for-play congressmen, with good decent individuals who will represent their constituents with integrity, honesty, transparency, and accountability.

Here step-by-step is how the contract should be presented to a prospective populist-progressive candidate.  Take your time to understand and embrace the message.  Then put it into your own words.  This is not a script.  It’s what should be communicated, but it should come from YOU, reflecting you as a person and your thorough understanding of and genuine commitment to the CFAR strategy.

The subject you are addressing is numbered and appears here in italics, and our suggested language as to what to say follows. ]

1 — Why are we doing this?

As you know, we’re up against a brutal, well-organized, well-funded, ruthless enemy.  The establishment — the plutocracy which now owns and controls both major parties — has all of the money, they have the media in their pockets, they marginalize dissenting opinion, they have all but crushed the minor parties, and any “renegade” candidate not towing the establishment line is ignored, often even vilified and demonized.

There’s really only one way to fight this.  We must unify across the entire populist-progressive front, in every single district and state, and nationally assemble an enormous bloc of voters to challenge the manipulative and deceptive messaging, the cynical use of money, power and political machinery which both major parties wield to isolate and destroy populist-progressive campaigns — campaigns by good decent people just like you.

2 — How can we challenge such monolithic power?

The good news is that we have huge majorities of citizens agreeing with you as a populist-progressive, on a whole host of issues.  Granted, you wouldn’t know that from watching the news.  But it’s true.  It’s an indisputable fact, we already have the voting public on our side, on key issues.  We’re talking percentages of 62% – 80% agreement.  What the establishment candidates do to keep getting elected is confuse the public with a lot of babble and empty promises.  In a nutshell, we’ve come up with a bulletproof way to “unconfuse” everyday Americans.  We’ve come up with a device which used properly will make YOU, the populist-progressive candidate look like a hero — a savior!  And it will expose your establishment opponents as the frauds, hypocrites and phonies they really are.  The voting public will run the other way.

3 — What is the CFAR?

The device I’m talking about is the CFAR.  That stands for Contract For American Renewal.  Yes, it’s a contract.  But before you panic, let’s be clear exactly what this contract is designed to do.  First, it’s not there to restrict, regulate, or police you.  It’s designed to discredit and defeat your opponents.  It’s an electoral strategy, not a legal strategy.  You have to understand and remain clear about this.  While you will be signing the contract, your opponents won’t — they literally can’t — sign it.  In the eyes of the voters, because you’re willing to give a firm commitment in writing, guaranteeing that you will serve them faithfully, honestly, transparently, and your opponents can only hem-and-haw and spew out more slogans and sound bites, YOU will not just get the attention of voters, they’ll know with absolute certainty that you are serious, that you are willing to lay it all on the line, and PROVE TO THEM beyond a shadow of doubt that you are worthy of their trust, and thus deserve their votes.

4 — What does the CFAR require?

Let’s get into the details.  The CFAR requires what you will be doing anyway if you’re running as a populist-progressive candidate.  What appears on the contract is what you already stand for, why we assume you’re running for office as an “outsider”.  It includes the kinds of things that any populist-progressive worthy of calling themselves that, wants to fight for on behalf of the majority of citizens.  Look at these poll numbers …

[ Show the candidate a printed sheet of the following poll results. By the way, this is available as a PDF file called CFAR_Initiative Polls, as well as the CFAR contract template, and the entire text of this tutorial, on the CFAR tutorial web page. All are available for you to view and download.  We’ll provide a link to that page at the end of this video.  Now here are the poll results you’ll be showing the candidate. ]

63% of Americans want a federal minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.
75% of voters want fair trade agreements protecting jobs, workers, the environment.
76% of voters want a cut back on military spending.
76% of voters want the U.S. completely out of Afghanistan.
79% of voters want no reductions in Social Security, 70% support expanding it.
79% of voters want no reductions in Medicare.
80% of voters oppose the “Citizens United” U.S. Supreme Court decision.
68% of voters think taxes on the wealthy should be increased, and corporations should be required to pay their fair share.
71% of voters support massive infrastructure renewal.
65% of voters want laws to combat climate change.
62% of voters want tuition free public colleges and universities.

Are you with the voters on these issues?  These are the major crises of our times.  This is what people care about, not Trump’s tweets or whether Melania uses henna to streak her hair.

[ Now have the candidate indicate which of these items are the focus of his or her campaign, what seems most important.  Next show the CFAR contract template.  As just mentioned, it is available as a download at the CFAR website page. ]

Look at this!  You can see what we’ve done here.  The contract perfectly parallels the polls.  Therefore, the contract represents what the vast majority of everyday citizens in this country want done.  The exact things which never get done with our current Congress of ruling class puppets.

5 — Is the contract written in stone or is it flexible?

So we have a great start here.  Very popular initiatives across the entire nation.  At the same time, we realize there are variations in each voting jurisdiction.  So the contract is not written in stone.  It’s flexible, designed to meet your needs.  You may decide to use the CFAR as written.  Or you may want to tweak it, drop some items that are not crucial to your future constituents, AND maybe feature a different populist-progressive initiative that’s not listed here.

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say there are a lot of underwater home mortgages in this district.  This not only affects those home owners but it’s driving the property values down across the region.  You might consider including in your CFAR a mortgage relief initiative.

Here’s another example.  A very recent poll just indicated that nationally the support for single-payer health care is around 58%.  As the controversy builds, this will probably keep going up.  But let’s say we find that this district has already had a lot of problems with insurance companies, or people are finding a poor range of choices for health coverage — and they’re really upset about it!  Then that’s an item which based on your own sensitivities to your constituent’s needs, you might want to put in your CFAR for the voters here.

Understand that in the end, the only items that you have in your CFAR are those which make sense for your campaign and which you can wholeheartedly commit to when you go to Washington DC.

Having said that, signing your personalized version of the CFAR should be a no-brainer.  The initiatives in your CFAR are the items you’ve decided are the centerpieces in your campaign, and have determined will be decisive in defeating your opponent.

6 — How does a candidate fulfill the obligations of the contract?

Okay, you’re signing this as a “legally-binding” contract.  That’s what the contract says.  That means you are signing it with every intention of honoring it to the letter.  This might sound ominous to you.  I respect your concerns.  But fulfilling your obligations under the contract couldn’t possibly be simpler.  The contract says you will introduce, sponsor or co-sponsor, and support legislation for those items in the contract.  That’s it.  Go to Congress, draft legislation and make every effort get it on the legislative agenda within 180 days of taking office.  Then if it comes up EXCLUSIVELY for a vote, you vote for it.  What does ‘exclusively’ mean?  It means if they attach an amendment to kill all the penguins in Antarctica or to require everyone to wear polka dot pants on Thursday, you don’t vote for it.  If it comes up as a standalone bill, you vote for it.  You also publicly and on the floor of Congress promote it.  That’s it.  If you can’t handle that, you probably shouldn’t be running for office.  It’s the basic job description for a legislator.

7 — How does the candidate decide what to put in the “personalized” CFAR?

So how do you decide what to include in your CFAR?  This is a critical decision and we’re here to help you.  To cover general questions, we’ll have an entire tutorial devoted to this and I’ll share that video with you.  To handle your specific questions, we’re here to walk you through, each step of the way.

But the short answer is you choose those initiatives which are decisive in making you look good and your opponents look bad.  Meaning, you want issues which are popular right here in this district with the voters, which ARE NOT supported by your opponents.  The idea is to make sure they WILL NOT be able to sign this contract.  That way the voters will see if they elect you, these great things will get done, but if they vote for your opponent, they can expect more of the same excuses, chuck and jive mumbo jumbo, and none of the things you’ve included in your CFAR will get through Congress.

Remember, there’s a reason your opponents can’t sign the CFAR.  That’s because if they sign a contract guaranteeing all of these wonderful things for the voters, they’ll lose their campaign donations from fat-cat donors, AND they’ll lose the support of whichever major party they belong to.  We only have to look at the Bernie Sanders campaign to see what the establishment Democrats thought about his progressive agenda.  Both parties support basically a conservative centrist regressive agenda.  They might talk a good story but, as you well know, neither major party walks the walk.

8 — How much time does the candidate have to decide?

Listen, we understand this is an important decision for you to make.  It’s important to us as well, because the sooner we get candidates like yourself on board, the sooner we can organize both our local and national campaigns around the CFAR, and get started putting together a solid populist-progressive Congress.

So how much time do you need?  Four days?  A week? You tell me.

[ Do not give them more than a week. ]

Please understand, I know as you’re thinking about all of this, you’ll have questions.  Just give me or anyone with my organization a call.  We’re more than happy to address any concerns, walk you through this step-by-step so you are completely satisfied.  This is a bulletproof plan for winning elections and getting good people like yourself into Congress.  The strategy has been thoroughly thought through and I’d be surprised if there were any real obstacles to you yourself playing a critical role in our attempt to save our democracy.  But we recognize.  This is coming out of nowhere, it’s completely unique, nothing like this has ever been tried, so you’re going to want to have everything on the table, out in the open, so you’re comfortable with it.  So study it, ask questions, let’s work together.

Let me make an important point:  Yes, it’s coming out of nowhere, it’s completely unique, nothing like this has ever been tried.  And THAT’S precisely why it’s going to work!  It’s going to catch the establishment completely flat-footed.  It’s doing something they forgot about and haven’t tried for decades:  Being up front and straightforward with the public and guaranteeing voters honest and genuine service.  The major parties will be scratching their heads saying:  “Now why didn’t we think of that?”

9 — What if after the agreed upon time for deciding, the candidate says he or she won’t sign the contract?  What’s the final pitch?

Recognize that the only way this strategy will work is if we implement it across the nation in all 50 states and all 435 congressional districts.  Which is exactly what we’re going to do.  We will have a candidate in all 33 senate races for November 2018, and candidates in all 435 congressional districts, every one of whom have signed a CFAR.  We have an entire network of organizations which are now being organized and networked to work tirelessly for those candidates.  We’re dead serious about this and have one simple goal:  Make sure every single populist-progressive candidate running in November 2018 wins their election.  We’re talking about a complete takeover of Congress.  Anything less than that and you can kiss American democracy good-bye forever. The rich will keep getting richer, the everyday citizen will become serfs, the wars will keep going until our once-great nation is bankrupt and has collapsed.

I have to be entirely candid with you.  As much as I admire you, as much as I see that you want to do the right thing, as much as I’d like to believe you have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning your bid, we can’t take any chances.  Republicans now control the Senate, the House, the Oval Office, the majority of state legislatures, and the majority of governors are now Republican.  To rub salt in our wounds, most of the Democrats are nearly as bad — certainly on the issues in the CFAR — as the Republicans.  You’re one person and you’re going to take on the most well-organized, well-funded army of cutthroat corporate stooges in our history.  I wish you luck.  The way we see it is we have to all stick together or none of us will survive.  We believe — no, we know! — that by UNIFYING OUR FORCES — the populist-progressive forces which have been shoved aside and beaten down now for decades — we can win this.  The CFAR puts us all on the same page, UNIFIES US AND THE VOTING PUBLIC into an unstoppable juggernaut.  The CFAR demonstrates to the public that there are good, decent candidates available who are unquestionably, unambiguously committed to honest, transparent, loyal service.  We’ll crush the establishment candidates at the polls and Americans will get a government that works for all Americans, not just the rich and powerful.

Let me be blunt . . . if you don’t sign the contract, you’ll probably lose.  Therefore, we’re forced to look for another candidate who will sign the contract, a candidate who has an infinitely better chance of winning.  We’ll put all of our time, energy and resources behind that candidate.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s the only way this thing will work.  The contract is your friend, not your enemy.  If fact, it’s the best friend and ally you could possibly have given the way the game is stacked against you.  This may be hard for you to accept.  But it’s the truth.

I know this is a lot to think about.  I want you to succeed.  So take two more days.  If I don’t hear back from you within 48 hours, I’ll assume you’re not interested and we’ll move on. Regardless of your decision, thanks for your hard work on behalf of progressive causes.

Here are the download links for the materials mentioned:

CFAR Initiative Polls  –  PDF

Activist Tutorial: Introducing the CFAR to a Populist-Progressive Candidate – PDF

CFAR House of Representatives  –  PDF

CFAR Senate  –  PDF

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Political Analysis, Video Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The CFAR National Electoral Strategy

I originally produced the above video for Citizens Against Plutocracy, explaining my candidate contract concept, and it has been adopted and integrated by that organization as a featured component of their comprehensive strategy for putting in place a “people’s Congress” via the coming election.  They call it the CFAR National Electoral Strategy.  CFAR stands for Contract For American Renewal.

This particular video reaches out to everyone who is running as a populist-progressive in the November 2018 election, an attempt to persuade them that the candidate contracts represent a powerful, decisive method for defeating centrist neoliberal establishment opponents and winning the election.

The text of the video follows.

Hi there!

Are you a people’s candidate?  A populist or progressive candidate for Congress in the coming election who is serious about winning?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

Citizens Against Plutocracy is an organization dedicated to restoring representative democracy to America and taking our country back from the ruling elite and big corporations.

We are promoting nationally a comprehensive, game-changing electoral strategy which will set a new high standard for integrity, transparency, honesty, and accountability in electoral politics!

The election cycle has become a three-ring circus.

In ring one are the two major parties, in the second ring the media, and in the center ring the politicians themselves, who now as part of standard operating procedure lie to and mislead the voting public.  They put on a spectacular show but it’s a dazzling fraud.

The American people are the victims of this hoax.

We intend to put a stop to this thoroughly destructive charade, this mockery of our citizen-based form of self-government.  We’ll do this by replacing those corrupt politicians, who have become both the perpetrators and the beneficiaries of our fake democracy.

The American people know and widely agree on what they want.  Those now in office, installed by the corrupted major parties exclusively serving the interests of a ruling class — a plutocracy of wealthy and powerful individuals and corporate entities — will never deliver what the American people desire and deserve.  This is now a matter of record, completely beyond dispute.

Our government exclusively serves a tiny clique — literally the .1% — of incomprehensibly rich and powerful aristocrats.

You candidates running for federal office in November 2018, who are on the side of the vast majority of citizens — we call you populist candidates because you reflect the popular will — who are willing to guarantee faithful service to your future constituents, represent the voting public honestly and transparently, bring to elected office unwavering integrity and commitment on key issues . . . YOU ARE THE FOLKS WE’RE HERE TO HELP.

We’ve identified 11 initiatives which are supported by 62% – 80% of Americans across the political spectrum, and if you agree with the vast consensus of the voting public on these causes, you easily meet the new high standards we’ve established with our electoral strategy.  YOU are the ‘good guys’ in this ugly contest of political will — the electoral cage fight — and YOU are the ones we intend to send to Washington DC in November 2018.

Let me now give you our list of what the vast majority of everyday citizens want done, and see if you agree on most, if not all of the following.

Reputable and highly reliable polls say . . .

63% of Americans want a federal minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.
75% of voters want fair trade agreements protecting jobs, workers, the environment.
76% of voters want a cut back on military spending.
76% of voters want the U.S. completely out of Afghanistan.
79% of voters want no reductions in Social Security, 70% support expanding it.
79% of voters want no reductions in Medicare.
80% of voters oppose the “Citizens United” U.S. Supreme Court decision.
68% of voters think taxes on the wealthy should be increased, and corporations should be required to pay their fair share.
71% of voters support massive infrastructure renewal.
65% of voters want laws to combat climate change.
62% of voters want tuition free public colleges and universities.

If these represent what you’d like to get done when you get elected, then YOU ARE BY DEFINITION a populist candidate.  YOU have the strength of the numbers behind you.  YOU have the American people behind you.

Now all you have to do is convince the voters that you’re for real, and that your opponents are not.

Sounds like it should be easy . . . but as we all know, it’s not.  If you don’t have huge piles of money in your campaign coffers and the nitro-methane burning engines of either major party propelling your campaign, it’s nearly impossible.

That’s precisely where our strategy comes in!

That’s where our strategy will make a grand entrance on the political stage, break down the media barriers, put you dead center in the voting public’s eye, and give you the spotlight and a platform to effectively reach the voters.  YOU will finally have that voice you need, and that new voice will resonate over the din of cheap campaign rhetoric coming from your opponents.  Citizens will finally get some straight talk — not the usual mumbo jumbo — and know with certainty that YOU are on their side and will work for them.

You see . . . if you agreed with most of the items I just mentioned, you’ve passed our test with flying colors.

But . . . and this is a very big decisive ’BUT’ . . .


Especially the incumbents!  Despite what they say, despite their vague but pleasant sounding rhetoric, their vaporous campaign slogans and sound bites, despite all the PR and hype they pump out using enormous sums of cash from their deep-pocketed ruling elite benefactors, we will show unambiguously and decisively that THEY ARE FULL OF HOT AIR and NOT ON THE SIDE OF THE EVERYDAY CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY!

Think about it . . .

If so many everyday citizens want these things done, why does none of it ever make it through Congress?  Why if anything does make it through the legislative labyrinth, the very opposite happens?  How do all of these very popular ideas get compromised, chipped away, whittled down, eventually replaced by legislation which shafts the 99% of our once great nation?

That’s easy!

Because the current batch of elected officials don’t work for the people.  They work for their rich and powerful patrons, the transnational corporations, Wall Street, hedge funds, investment banks, the ruling elite who are stripping our country of its resources, looting all of us of our wealth and any hope of a better life . . . and destroying the American dream.

How do they get away with this?

That’s also easy.

The American public either isn’t paying attention, or when they are, through ruthless and self-serving lies, voters are constantly misled, kept confused, overwhelmed, immersed in fear, rendered hopeless.


No more lies.  No more games.  We’re drawing a big, wide line in the sand.  Voters will see in clear, stark terms who’s on their side and who isn’t.

Which brings us now to the strategy.  The CFAR National Electoral Strategy.

We have created a powerful mechanism for demonstrating to the voting public that YOU, the populist candidate, are the real deal, and your mainstream centrist neoliberal opponents are a FRAUD.

This is a completely original, unprecedented, outside-the-box creation.  So don’t bother Googling it.  You won’t find it anywhere except at this website.  At least for now.  We don’t have any doubt that this will quickly become the new standard in this coming election cycle for replacing ‘bad guy’ neoliberal pay-for-play politicos, with ‘good guy’ populist progressives . . . like YOU!

What we’ve come up with is called the CFAR . . . Contract For American Renewal.

Yes . . . it’s a contract.

But before that C-word generates a lot of misgivings and misunderstandings, let me make two very critical points.

PLEASE pay very close attention.

1)  The contract is not really about you.

2)  The contract is about defeating your opponents and winning the election.

So . . . as I explain how it works, keep these two very simple but vitally important thoughts right there in the front of your mind.  Otherwise you may misunderstand what a powerful and decisive methodology we’re offering you.  So I’ll repeat:

1)  The contract is not really about you.

2)  The contract is about defeating your opponents and winning the election.

Yes, you’ll sign a contract.  But bear in mind, the things on the contract are the very things you already stand for.  They list the things you already plan on doing when you get elected. You saw what huge majorities of everyday citizens want.  These are the things that any true populist-progressive candidate also wants.  They reflect the popular will of the American public.

Moreover, YOU’LL CUSTOMIZE AND CREATE THE CONTRACT THAT YOU’RE COMFORTABLE WITH, listing just the items that are central to your campaign and pivotal in getting you elected.  We provide a template listing 11 items, based on the above polls.  But you decide which ones work for you in your particular campaign.  We are not dictating terms to you.  You’re in charge here.  There may even be other populist-progressive items which are specific to your district and your future constituents.  We understand that.  The contract is flexible.  We trust your judgment and know that as a populist-progressive candidate, you’ll do what’s in the best interests of your constituents.

The important thing is . . . THAT YOU USE THE CONTRACT!


Because it delivers a clear, unambiguous message to voters:  You are on their side.  Your opponents are not.  You are the ‘good guy’ working for them.  Your opponents are the ‘bad guys’ who’ll say anything to get elected and deliver nothing for the people.

THAT’S why we’re pushing this strategy.  Because for once, truth and honesty will defeat money and propaganda, and we’ll get a Congress that works for everyone, not just the rich and powerful.  It’s been a long time coming!

Why are we so confident this is going to work and reshape electoral politics?

I’ll tell you why.

In the first place, voters want certainty.  They’re sick of smoke and mirrors, they’re fed up with hollow campaign promises.

THIS CONTRACT TAKES THE GUESSWORK OUT OF VOTING.  Voters will see what you’ve put in your contract.  They’ll know with CERTAINTY, exactly what you’ll be doing for them from day one when you arrive in Washington DC.

But keep in mind, the contract — while decisive and powerful in getting you elected — only locks you in on those items in the contract.  Is this restrictive?  Is this controlling?  How can it be?  These are the things you yourself have chosen for the contract, the things you’d be doing anyway, with or without the contract.  Would you hesitate to sign a contract requiring you to breathe?  We assume unless you’re a fish, you intend to breathe anyway.

Second, we’re pushing this nationally.  You’ll be part of a populist juggernaut, organized across the entire nation to take on the assault by the rich and powerful on our democracy.  WE’RE DEAD SERIOUS ABOUT THIS!  We’re aiming to have a candidate in every single district with a contract in hand, ready to take on the establishment candidates.  All 435 districts!  It’s not going to do much good if you and only a handful of others get elected.


The thing to recognize is this:  We’ve got history on our side.  This is the second time we’ll be saving America from the tyranny of autocratic rule.  We did it once.  Time has come for a SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION, putting power into the hands of everyday citizens, the folks who built this country and kept it strong until the banksters and corporate raiders swooped in like vultures and stole our democracy.

So the question you need to ask yourself is this:  Are YOU with us?  Are YOU ready for the fight of your life?

Are YOU ready to win this coming election and do your part in saving our democracy?

We have just you need to get started.  And since we’re sure you have lots of questions, guess what?  We’ve got lots of answers and many more ideas that I couldn’t touch on in this video.


Just click on this link and get started putting together a winning campaign.

For more information on the CFAR National Electoral Strategy, please click HERE.

You can download the CFAR (Contract For American Renewal) template in the format of your choice using the following links, then get to work customizing it for your campaign, reflecting the constituent values and priorities of your particular district.  Or you may choose to adopt the entire contract as it is:

House of Representatives – Word
House of Representatives – PDF
House of Representatives – Text

Senate – Word
Senate – PDF
Senate – Text


Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Political Analysis, Video Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benten Shrine Ceremony

I mentioned in I Love Japan Redux that my local village has quite a number of events and various excuses to get us all together in one place doing something, working or playing, sometimes both.

This past weekend was our annual Benten Shrine ceremony.  In addition to every village having a community center, most also have a dedicated shrine.  Ours honors Benten, the goddess of the arts, dance, music.  That works for Masumi and I, in that she’s an accomplished pianist and opera singer, and I write pulp fiction.

Two weeks ago we cleaned up the area in preparation for today’s informal get-together — cleared a lot of undergrowth, removed weeds from the hedge rows, generally tidied up.

Then on Saturday, at 11 am sharp — Japanese are never late! — we assembled in the cluster of trees at the top of the hill where the shrine sits. 

It’s nothing very spectacular, a modest but adequate shrine — we’ve gotten no complaints from Benten or any of the other Shinto deities.

A monk had traveled all the way from either Tokyo or Osaka to say prayers and conduct a short service.  His sect is allied with water. 

I guess because the Benten shrine is next to the water, and historically our section of town is sometimes threatened by flooding, his special blessings have direct relevance. 

As he chanted incantations, waved special tree branches, and a prayer paddle, the rest of us stood, watched, listened, bowed several times. I have no idea what’s going on at these things.  I just go with the flow.  It’s all quite pleasant, solemn but not tense.  Fortunately, I got no flashbacks to my Catholic experience growing up.  Otherwise, a strait jacket would have been required.

Each family contributes snacks to the ceremony.  The offerings sit on special wood stands every household owns, called a さんぼう — pronounced sanbou — and these stands are placed around the Buddha figure at the head of the shrine.  Since the snacks are left in their bags, though さんぼう are small, each one holds a decent amount of cookies, candy, pastries, even cups of instant noodles and soups. 

After the brief ceremony, we experienced the high point — especially for the kids — of the whole event.  Once the ceremony conducted by the monk was complete, the さんぼう were removed from the altar and all of the contributions of edible treats were piled on a table.  The kids lined up in front, adults behind them.  Most had a plastic bag in hand and ready. 

The treats were then thrown wildly to the attendees and everyone scrambled to catch and grab what they can.  It’s sort of a Shinto Halloween without costumes.

Once all the treats had been given away, the adults were treated to shots of sake and strips of dried squid. 

I know I know.  You Westerners are thinking ‘Dried squid?  Yuk!’  All I can say is it took me a while.  At first some of the snacking here seems downright weird — as if jaw breakers, licorice, beef jerky, Pop Rocks and other crazy stuff we 外人 (gaijin) eat aren’t weird, right? — but I’ve developed a solid taste for most everything Japanese, after coming and going for ten years.  The truth is that dried squid is actually rather delicious!  It’s like salty rope.  Salty rope?  Doesn’t that put your salivary glands in overdrive just thinking about it?

The whole celebration took about an hour.  Lots of smiles, good will, warm feelings.

I think it got Benten’s seal of approval.

Do I hear music?

Posted in Japan, Social Commentary, Spiritual, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Candidate Contracts: Why Populist Candidates Will Want to Sign the Contract

When a completely new idea comes around, predictably there is misunderstanding and apprehension.  The more unique and original the idea, the greater is the reluctance to see it for what it is and recognize it’s potential.  Call it the shock of the new.

Baffling as I find it — since I’m intimately familiar with the candidate contracts, including their legal implications and their implementation in an electoral setting — it’s come to my attention that some of those who would most benefit from and are least threatened by my game-changing proposal, have been beset with a bad case of the jitters, mostly knee-jerk fear-and-trembling associated with anything “legal” or related to “signing a contract”.

Of course and unfortunately, I refer to the populist/progressive candidates for whom the strategy was specifically designed — the good folks for whom it is the sole purpose of the strategy to faithfully serve, serve by getting them elected to office, empowered to act on and implement the enlightened progressive agenda now totally ignored by our current legislators, and be widely acclaimed as the saviors of our democracy.

This particular article is meant to clear any misconceptions and dispel related fears about the candidate contract strategy.  I will be addressing the populist-progressive candidates themselves — the only ones worthy of the strategy, the only ones worthy in my opinion of holding public office.

So . . .

What kind of candidate would sign the candidate contract?

A candidate who wants to win the election in November 2018!

The solutions for every single one of the issues offered on the contract templates are supported by no less than 62% of American citizens.  Most are in the high 70% range, some up in the 80% range.  These are the things people want done.  They’re sick of the excuses and delays.  If they’re convinced a candidate can deliver on any of those items, they most certainly will vote for that candidate.

What kind of candidate would not sign this contract?

Establishment candidates — I call them centrist/neoliberal candidates — can’t and won’t sign the contract.  While they don’t embrace the populist agenda of the contract, that’s not the main reason.  They’d sign away their own grandmothers if they thought it would help their political careers.  The main reason is that if they sign the contract, they will alienate their campaign donors — corporations, banks, Wall Street, the ruling elite — and lose the support of their major parties.  Those two things have assured victory in the past.  Why mess with a good thing?  They’ll play it safe . . . and hopefully be sorry.

Having written off the establishment types who are in the pockets of the ruling elite, the rest of this goes out to you non-establishment, non-centrist, non-neoliberal candidates — you folks on the fringes, you guys who aren’t getting invited to the party, because you want to run a good, solid, transparent campaign, then go to Washington DC to represent the needs and desires of everyday Americans, not be lapdogs for the rich and powerful.

There are two extremely important things, right at the outset, to keep in mind here in appreciating why you as a candidate should sign this contract.

First, your strict legal obligations ONLY embrace what’s in the contract. Yes, the contract delineates your activities in relation to those issues listed.  But in the entire range of other activities and legislation that you will deal with in office, you as a legislator will exercise your own discretion and judgment.

We of course assume that true to the intent and spirit of the contract, you will always defer to the majority wishes of your constituents, always doing your best to determine what your constituents want you to do, as their elected representative.

Second, you will determine what goes into the contract.  We’re offering a valuable and powerful template, listing those causes which have the overwhelming popular approval of voters across the nation. But circumstances and conditions vary from district to district. If a particular issue is not relevant to your district, leave it off.  An effective campaign is built around three to eight decisive wedge issues.  You really only need one, but having a few more clearly adds punching power to your campaign.  You will tailor this contract to the specific conditions and requirements of your campaign and your local district.  Focus on those issues which are popular with your constituents but opposed in fact or by the voting record of your opponent.  You want your contract to be about the stands on issues that set you apart, make you look good vis-a-vis your sellout opponent, that will get you elected — not make you or your campaign staff feel good, or your family and friends proud of you.  Stay focused.  Make this contract work for you.  Having said that, we assume that you are a true progressive — not a faux progressive or a lip-service liberal — and therefore your final candidate contract will be consistent with the agenda reflected across the entire host of issued in the template offered here.

Now . . . here’s specifically why you as a populist/progressive candidate should sign the candidate contract.

  1. It’s the right thing to do Think about it.  This is grass-roots democracy at its best.  If you get elected, this represents a mandate from your voters.  As a matter of fact, on the issues listed in the contract you signed, they are literally giving you your marching orders.  Voters have decided what they want done, you are responding directly to their wishes.  This is representative democracy in its purest form.  You should be PROUD!
  2. It offers clarity, certainty, credibility to voters Campaigns are now fraught with garbage talk.  Fluff.  Nonsense.  Major campaigns actually hire psychologists to put together strings of words which sound good and make people feel great.  Campaign rhetoric has become a cheap form of manipulation.  Campaign promises now mean nothing.  Look at what you are offering.  A legally-binding contract.  No guesswork.   No hot air.  No feel good blather.  The real thing.  You really should be PROUD.
  3. It gives you the ammunition you need to defeat your centrist/neoliberal opponents When voters see what you’re offering, your opponents are frankly going to look very bad.  While they’re hemming and hawing, you’ll be offering a real commitment on the issues that make a real difference.  You have to keep pushing this out there.  You’re on the side of the people, they’re on the side of . . . well, who knows?  But it sure ain’t the side of the everyday citizen.  If they were, they’d sign the contract.  You should be very PROUD to display your signed candidate contract wherever you go!
  4. It offers you protection from lobbyists, special interest groups, other wheel-and-deal legislators.  Every freshman congressman says the same thing.  They’re under constant assault.  Everyone wants something, has something to trade, wants to make a deal.  It’s a nightmare trying to keep focused on why you’re there, and keep reminding yourself of the people back home who are counting on you.  Well, the contract is your Kevlar vest!  It’s your bulletproof alibi.  On the issues in that contract, there’s no room for wheeling or space for dealing.  You’ve got the perfect excuse for blowing off all of the hired guns and Washington DC insiders who will try to seduce and manipulate you.  Tell them:  “I’ve got a contract with my voters!  I have no choice.”
  5. You have everything to gain, nothing to lose.  Against the overwhelming piles of money and power of the establishment major party machinery, you will most likely lose this election unless you do something amazing.  The contract is that something amazing.  Will it put you at risk?  Will you get sued?  If you really really screw up and anger the majority of your constituents, they could organize a special referendum calling for a class action lawsuit.  But in reality, will this happen?  You tell me.  How easy is it to get a majority of the voting public to do anything?  Like vote for you?  Be realistic.  Yes, the possibility of a lawsuit adds enormous force to the contract.  That’s why it’s there.  To make people take you and the contract seriously.  But if you’re a serious candidate, there’s no room here for diffidence. You should be secure in your commitment, confident of your mission, PROUD of yourself and what you stand for.  What do you stand for?  Just read the contract.  It’s right there in black-and-white.  Just do your job.  Stay focused.  Submit the legislation and do your best to support it.  That’s all it takes.  It’s what you’d be doing anyway, with or without the contract.  The only risk you face is losing the election because you didn’t fight hard enough for what you believe in.  

To make sure we get to the bottom of any unwarranted and unnecessary apprehensions about this powerful and decisive electoral strategy, let me just add a tad more really blunt straight-talk about this last item.  A populist candidate has so much to gain with this, yet I’m sure it’s the fear of a lawsuit which is the source of almost all of the anxiety with this game-changing approach.

Do you realize how easy it is to fulfill the obligations of the contract?  All you have to do is draft legislation, submit it to Congress through whatever procedure or established channel there is, then talk it up and vote for it if it comes up for vote.  That’s it!  Maybe it won’t get passed.  Others might sabotage it.  Congress might burn to the ground.  The Earth might get hit by a meteor.  But you’ve fulfilled the terms of the contract!

Let’s say you give it your best shot.  But the bill you drafted gets hung up in committee.  You’re still doing your job.  You’re still fulfilling your obligations under the contract, as long as you keep trying to submit it for consideration and spread the good word about it.  You will not get sued!  If anything, you’ll might eventually be acclaimed as one of the few people in Congress with integrity and determination, and most of all, genuine loyalty to the voters who elected you to office.  You might get on the cover of Time Magazine, but YOU WILL NOT GET SUED!

Now please pay attention.  Because I’m talking to YOU!  You dedicated progressives who want to do the right thing, who want to serve your country and work hard on behalf of the millions of good, decent, everyday Americans who right now are getting the shaft from a rigged system — our sold-to-the-highest-bidder democracy.

I’m talking to YOU!  You populist candidates who are willing to buck the system, you who refuse to play by the anti-democratic rules dictated by our lapdog major political parties,  parties which kowtow to the ruthless, self-serving ruling elite.

I’m talking to YOU!  You candidates who truly want to make a difference . . .

Be bold!  Be strong!  Get a leg up on your opponent.  Demand honesty and integrity. Demand transparency and accountability.  Run a truly exemplary campaign in the best traditions of democracy.  Be the solution to the mess our electoral system is in, not just a perpetuation of the problem.  Help raise the bar and get rid of the crooks and liars.  Stand up to the tyranny of the anti-democratic kleptocrats — the rich and powerful — who are destroying our system of self-government and looting our country of its future.

Sign the contract.

Win the election.

Then start thinking about what you want to say in your victory speech late in the evening on November 6, 2018.

Make us PROUD!

You can download the CFAR (Contract For American Renewal) template in the format of your choice using the following links, then get to work customizing it for your campaign, reflecting the constituent values and priorities of your particular district.  Or you may choose to adopt the entire contract as it is:

House of Representatives – Word
House of Representatives – PDF
House of Representatives – Text

Senate – Word
Senate – PDF
Senate – Text

Posted in Democracy, Political Analysis, Revolution, Video Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment