Russia: Scary Bear or Barely Scary?

The U.S. needs to get its story straight.

We have been fed over the past few years entirely contradictory views of Russia.

Lately, of course, we’ve seen a preponderance of “scare bear” propaganda and commentary.

Could this have something to do with it being appropriations time, the annual fight over who gets what in next years federal budget?  Considering the U.S. can’t pile up debt fast enough to suit its enlightened leaders, this also means lubricating the public mind for increasing the already humongous pile of money which goes into military spending, that being the major component of discretionary spending.

Of course, military spending, besides being intrinsically good regardless of how much it distorts our national values and bankrupts our economy, is about making American safe from the entire panoply of threats.  It seems everyone is at our throats, ready to chop off our benevolent heads.  Besides terrorists, rogue nations explicitly dedicated to destroying us like Venezuela and Cuba, and major nations like China — which lent us over a trillion dollars to buy military hardware to prevent them from attacking us — there is always the little discussed potential for an invasion from outer space.

Having said that, it’s Russia that seems to get all the headlines.  We have former VP Joe Biden concurring with current FBI Director James Comey that, without a doubt, even without any corroborating evidence, Russia is out to get us!

Yet, it wasn’t that long ago that Russia was being dismissed as a second-rate power.  Obama mockingly announced it’s economy was in tatters.  Sure, it might have some leverage regionally but certainly wasn’t a player on the big stage of world geopolitics.

So what is the truth?  Is Russia a wild and woolly beast?  Or an affable and tame dancing bear?

Maybe we need some veterinarian advice to sort all of this out.  Can bears get rabies?

Because while over the past several years Russia has consistently been getting folks from all across the globe to the peace tables, trying to resolve diplomatically the crises created by the West in Ukraine, Syria, the Middle East in general, we are now told that under the spell of their crazed leader Vladimir Putin, the country is foaming at the mouth, haunted and possessed with diabolical visions of world conquest.  Did Russia get bitten by a rabid ground squirrel?

To add to the confusion is this recently announcement, a highly thought-provoking one at that, which should — but won’t — result in some serious soul-searching in the U.S.:  Russia has just recently announced it is dramatically cutting its defense budget for 2017!  As this excellent piece of analysis points out, you are very hard pressed to find mention of it any where in the Western media.

Try to make sense of it.

Russia is 24/7 vilified as a rogue nation, an out-of-control empire-hungry aggressor, with a madman at the helm who longs for the glory days of the Soviet Union’s dominion over vast stretches of the Euro-Asian continent, but in fact only has 15 military bases in 9 foreign countries, AND is cutting its military budget by 25% next year.

The U.S. breathlessly peddles itself as the purveyor of peace, the spreader of democracy, the guardian of justice and a harmonious world, yet it has about 800 bases in at least 63 countries in the world — depending on your definition of ‘base’, some put this figure at over 160 — AND is increasing its military expenditures by almost 10% in 2018.

What are we to think?

Is Russia a scary bear . . . or barely scary?

And what about America?

Much of the world seems to think we’re the truly frightening ones!

Posted in Deconstruction, Journalism, Political Analysis, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s wrong with this picture?

As they say . . . don’t get me started.

Because I could go on and on about this.

Instead I’m going to make this mercifully short and just cite a few incontrovertible facts.

The UN has reported that we are facing a massive famine of 20,000,000 people across Africa and Yemen, and it would only take $4.4 billion to mitigate this horrible disaster.

The United Nations has also reported that all it would require is $30 billion annually, to permanently end world hunger.

Trump and our warmongering Congress is increasing the already bloated defense budget next year by $54 billion, to prosecute more wars and create more enemies for America.

Let me play Devil’s advocate now.  Let me be brutally insensitive and amoral.

Since apparently we as a people don’t truly care if others in the world suffer and starve to death, let’s say for argument’s sake we shouldn’t care.  Hey!  Life has winners and losers.  Some people have it good.  Others starve to death.  It is what it is.

Having said that, having declared our own welfare to be eminently more important than that of anyone else on the planet, let me explain why we’re incredibly stupid — make that completely insane — if we don’t take the money out of the defense budget, halt the famine, and end world hunger immediately.

Actually, let Lee Camp — a truly enlightened activist and my all-time favorite comedian — tell you why.  As Lee says it so perfectly:

“We as a country could do that easily and have more national security than ever, because no one’s attacking the country that ended world hunger. . . . They attack the country that bombs the shit out of the Middle East and bans refugees, and says stupid crap like: ‘We’re #1!’ . . . . If we ended world hunger we’d be safe again.”

Does it really take a stand-up comic to get our national priorities right?

Or maybe we’re trying a different approach to getting laughs:  A comedy of errors.

Posted in Economics, Food, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Negotiating With Terrorists

“No negotiating with terrorists!”

Now that’s something I can get behind.

A terrorist not only doesn’t share the same goals as you and I, they also don’t play by the same rules.  Terrorists are the ultimate bullies.  They will lie, cheat, steal, even murder, in order to get their way.  The ends justify the means.  They’re right, we’re wrong.  Terrorists can’t fathom compromise, so what is the point of negotiating?

We face terrorism on many fronts and at many levels because sociopathy and barbarism are not subtle or selective.  Perhaps they represent bad wiring in some small but wickedly destructive sub-class of humans, or maybe we all carry the defect, but it only rises up to preempt the better instincts among a minority of us.

In either case, if we don’t want to be “terrorized” into submission, we must decisively stand our ground and entertain no compromise.

“No negotiating with terrorists!”

The United States has become a terrorist nation.

Not you and I as such . . . because regular folks like us are generally peaceful and sane.

Unfortunately, we no longer have any say in the decisions and direction of the country.

But there is a national agenda, driven on many fronts at many different levels, promoted in our names as citizens of the country, which has transformed the U.S. into the greatest scourge in the history of the planet.  We have unbridled power coupled with no coherent political philosophy, fueled by unchecked imperial ambition and delusions of world rule, unimpeded by considerations of morality or sensitivity to the value of human life.

U.S. terrorism expresses itself internationally as wars, regime changes, special operations missions, economic manipulation and interference, cyber and propaganda warfare, and is implemented with the forward-basing of troops, NGOs, embedded intelligence agents, foreign mercenaries, and often outright military occupation of over 140 countries.

All of this is conceived, planned, and coordinated from within our own borders.  Often it reflects official, if not always publicly-known, foreign policy.  Sometimes it grows out of legacy policies and practices, the product of a group-think world view which has a life of its own established over decades, one which embraces the unquestioned and until recently unchallenged role of the U.S. as the world’s policeman and sole superpower.

While we can find fault in the workings of the loose collective of institutions which make up what is now called the Deep State, much direct blame for our terrorism can be assigned to the CIA.  This 70-year-old agency has become the main engine for projecting U.S power, providing the foot soldiers, technology and weaponry, for a vast majority of catastrophes we have precipitated over the past sixty years.  The list of sovereign nations the U.S. has illegally meddled and decisively interfered with — compiled by the brilliant and highly-acclaimed historian and geopolitical analyst William Blum — is as formidable as it is disgraceful (please note: *indicates the successful overthrow of a government):

  • China 1949 to early 1960s
  • Albania 1949-53
  • East Germany 1950s
  • Iran 1953 *
  • Guatemala 1954 *
  • Costa Rica mid-1950s
  • Syria 1956-7
  • Egypt 1957
  • Indonesia 1957-8
  • British Guiana 1953-64 *
  • Iraq 1963 *
  • North Vietnam 1945-73
  • Cambodia 1955-70 *
  • Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
  • Ecuador 1960-63 *
  • Congo 1960 *
  • France 1965
  • Brazil 1962-64 *
  • Dominican Republic 1963 *
  • Cuba 1959 to present
  • Bolivia 1964 *
  • Indonesia 1965 *
  • Ghana 1966 *
  • Chile 1964-73 *
  • Greece 1967 *
  • Costa Rica 1970-71
  • Bolivia 1971 *
  • Australia 1973-75 *
  • Angola 1975, 1980s
  • Zaire 1975
  • Portugal 1974-76 *
  • Jamaica 1976-80 *
  • Seychelles 1979-81
  • Chad 1981-82 *
  • Grenada 1983 *
  • South Yemen 1982-84
  • Suriname 1982-84
  • Fiji 1987 *
  • Libya 1980s
  • Nicaragua 1981-90 *
  • Panama 1989 *
  • Bulgaria 1990 *
  • Albania 1991 *
  • Iraq 1991
  • Afghanistan 1980s *
  • Somalia 1993
  • Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
  • Ecuador 2000 *
  • Afghanistan 2001 *
  • Venezuela 2002 *
  • Iraq 2003 *
  • Haiti 2004 *
  • Somalia 2007 to present
  • Honduras 2009
  • Libya 2011 *
  • Syria 2012
  • Ukraine 2014 *

Among these, at the urging and with the active partnering of the CIA, are 35 countries ruled by horrifyingly oppressive dictators, fascist regimes, drug lords, and jihadists.

This has not just dramatically, malignantly, affected the international order.  It has also created enormous resentment, and generated enemies where there were none before.  In that sense, it is a self-perpetuating reign of mayhem and chaos, keeping the world in flux and disarray, constantly producing even more threats to our country which then, in the adversarial and combative mindset of the CIA, requires further meddling and mayhem.

We have to be honest with ourselves and judiciously apply the same standards across the board when judging such anti-democratic, autocratic abusers of power.  If we’ve been able thus far to rationalize distressing signs that the CIA was slowly becoming a rogue security agency — dismissing sordid leaks and disturbing discoveries as isolated rare instances of individual acts of overzealousness and insubordination — the recent revelations provided by Wikileaks with the publication of their Vault 7 documents provides concrete proof that the CIA has been completely out-of-control for a very long time, and what should truly disturb us is that such behavior is not the exception but the rule.

With terrorist organizations like the ISIS, al Nusra, al Qaeda, and now our own CIA, it is impossible to integrate them with more tempered and balanced institutions, especially in what is portrayed as the institutional framework of a democracy.  These elements violate national and international law and treaties, arrogantly scoff at diplomatic protocol, are adverse to power-sharing, spurn the time-honored boundaries of common sense and decency, and are ruthlessly callous and amoral.

It’s the way unchecked power evolves, how a parasite will ultimately kill its host.

We now have little choice.  The CIA and all traces of it must be eradicated, except for an archival installation in the Smithsonian Institute as a warning to future generations.

This is now a matter of survival for the U.S. and perhaps the human race.

We have inadvertently created a monster and lost control.  The CIA is incompatible with the survival of a free, open, just, democratic society.

Understandably, the CIA will plead the case for its own institutional survival.

But the case is closed.  There is nothing more to discuss.

“No negotiating with terrorists!”

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Peace Movement in America: Status Report

What’s that sound I hear?

Is it the masses of America demanding? . . .

Peace!  Peace Now!  We Want Peace!

Oops!  My mistake.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news . . .

It’s actually a death rattle.  The low guttural burbling of a movement on its death bed.

The sad truth is that the peace movement in America is in a coma, just a whimper away from an inglorious burial in an unmarked grave behind the county dump.

When is the last time more than a few hundred showed up at a massive rally for peace?

Is there hope?

I’d like to think there is. 

But we have to be realistic.  If we’re going to have a serious national conversation about peace, ending the senseless self-sabotaging wars, and taking America off permanent war footing, we must approach everyday citizens in language they understand, in terms they can embrace, in a way that is so powerful and over-the-top they can’t possibly ignore it.

The Peace Dividend concept is just that.  It is so extreme and outside-the-box — not that that discredits or invalidates it in the least — it can only get traction from two sources.

Either a bold and charismatic politician makes it central to his public oratory and serious political agenda.  Obama, Sanders, and (I hate to admit it) Trump would all be capable of “selling” it.  Obama and Sanders both love war.  Trump is mentally challenged.  Maybe there’s another MLK out there somewhere.  We can dream!

Or we must look to the second and more likely path, which is through citizen demand.

Yet another senseless war breaks out.  Body bags are piling up.  The national debt begins skyrocketing.  People have finally had it.  They are sick of empire building, endless wars, appalling waste.  This scenario could unfold sooner than we think.  We have a tough guy president who’s just proposed a 10% increase in our already bloated military budget, we have both major parties screaming for war.  Major confrontation with Iran, China, Russia — or all three — is on the horizon.

Unfortunately, when that happens all chaos will be unleashed, the fog and frenzy of battle will roll over everyone like a toxic oil spill, the media will go into hyper-drive to “support our troops”, the imbeciles who led us into the conflagration will be grandstanding and/or pointing fingers of blame at everyone else, and clearer heads will be lopped off in displays of fanatic super-patriotism as the media fills our eyes and ears with tales of valor, sacrifice, and super-human acts of heroism.  It will be a bullshit storm of epic proportions.

So we need to act . . . and we need to act now!

We should be sounding the alarm loud and clear:  People need to know about the “rip off” of their tax dollars and the grotesque lies being told to promote slaughter across the planet purely to stuff the coffers of the military corporations and their rich beneficiaries.

We could be doing this right now.  There already exists a phenomenal network of peace activism.  But these organizations are totally ineffective now because their message, 1) is not getting heard, 2) is not engaging, 3) is stale and boring.  I have contacted hundreds of these groups and their spokespersons.  No one is interested in new ideas.  These include a lot of very famous peace activists (you would definitely recognize most of the names).

So . . .

Either I’m crazy.

Or . . .

These peace creeps can’t get their heads around the idea that for 40 years now, continuing right up to the present, they have completely failed.  The old methods and battle cries from the Vietnam War days haven’t worked since the 70s.  These folks need a new paradigm.  They need new memes.  They need both a new message and better messaging.

Just look around.  We just had a Peace Prize president who dropped 26,171 bombs last year on countries we’re not even at war with.  The U.S. has engaged in massive military aggression in eight countries since the peace dividend was originally promised in 1992.  We are now in an open-ended war on terror that is making us and the entire world less safe.  Our military is the scourge of the planet!

Is the current peace movement actually going to claim they’re making progress?  That the demonstrations, petitions, bumper stickers are working?  [Insert Einstein’s definition of insanity here.]

The Peace Dividend concept is not some impulse, some catchy phrase developed over a bowl of hashish.  It’s a fully developed strategy.  I’ve outlined what the approach entails, how it can be effected, how we can pay for it.  This last point is very important.  The Peace Dividend refund, because of its scale and the manner in which it is funded, drives a host of other progressive reforms.  It is a watershed for massive realignment of our priorities and appropriation of economic resources.  Seems like that would be worth paying attention to.

If you know anyone working in the anti-war organizations, please tell them they absolutely must take a look at my plan.  Singing Give Peace A Chance doesn’t cut it anymore.  Neither does getting a peace sign tattooed to your forehead.

The world is rushing headlong toward world war, risking nuclear annihilation and the end of the human race.  Eliminating geopolitical idiocy, imperial hubris, and monomaniacal delusions of conquest by challenging our warmongering elites with a powerful and truly effective plan of action, should be what shapes and defines the struggle of those noble organizations attempting to abolish war and promote peace throughout the world. 

A strategy like the Peace Dividend must be the centerpiece giving focus to their efforts.

Otherwise, the next time I file an update, the response will be . . .

“What peace movement?”


The Peace Dividend: The Most Controversial Proposal in the History of the World is now available both as an ebook and deluxe paperback at all of the usual outlets.

Amazon (Kindle) / US . . . amzn.to/2cpIRfQ
Amazon (Print) / US . . . amzn.to/2cEhnCb
Amazon (Kindle) / UK . . . amzn.to/2cKXFsV
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Barnes & Noble . . . bit.ly/2cWxvzd
Kobo (Indigo) . . . bit.ly/2cI8cB6
Apple iTunes . . . apple.co/2cqw7an
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Direct from printer . . . bit.ly/2c3mJsl

Posted in Deconstruction, Political Analysis, Revolution, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Asymmetry

People keep asking me why I don’t jump on the Trump impeachment bandwagon, why instead I’m so fixated on regime change in Congress 2018.

It’s very simple . . . ASYMMETRY.

What do I mean by asymmetry?  In a nutshell . . .

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

Less snappy but more incisive and revealing . . .

Congress can contravene a president’s actions but a president cannot contravene what Congress does.

Yes, a president can veto bills.  But if there are 67 senators and 290 members of the House who want to pass a law, there is nothing a president can do but honor the will of Congress.

When I talk about regime change in Congress, I’m certainly talking about such numbers.  My recent articles call for replacing all 33 senators and at least 400 of the 435 running for the House of Representatives in the 2018 election.  No . . . I’m not joking.

And you should be taking this very seriously too.

Whether you call the resulting legislature a progressive Congress, a people’s Congress, a populist Congress — the label really isn’t important — it would decisively include elected representatives who will actually represent the voters who elected them to office.

This means we can be assured it will do many of the critical things the current batch of self-serving, elitist, corrupt, morally bankrupt, duplicitous, lying thieves won’t ever do.  Things that in poll after poll, the American people say they want done.

This current Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — simply refuses to:

  1. Protect Social Security and Medicare, making them effective and fiscally sound.
  2. Make the minimum wage commensurate with a living wage, at least $12.50 per hour.
  3. Provide affordable universal health care, probably built around a single-payer system.
  4. Make the rich pay their fair share, returning to the tax rates of the 60s and 70s.
  5. Make corporations also pay their fair share, plus eliminate corporate welfare.
  6. End the senseless, self-sabotaging wars and advance a sensible DOD budget.
  7. Actually rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, not just talk about it.
  8. End the democracy-destroying impact of the Citizens United decision, and get serious about getting money out of politics.

Asymmetry.  If a veto-proof Congress passed any of the above, it wouldn’t matter if Darth Vader was president, there’s nothing he could do.  And if he dragged his feet implementing and enforcing such laws, then if worse comes to worse, we’re back to impeachment.

At the same time, if a president like Trump tried to pull any of the stuff he’s pulling right now with a truly representative Congress in place, there would be a serious shit storm of blow back.

Build a wall?  Pass a law forbidding use of any government funds or resources for it.

Start a war with Iran?  Repeal the Defense Authorization Acts and any related laws which allow discretionary use of military power by the president, then pass legislation forbidding any hostile military, economic, or cyber acts without explicit permission of Congress.

Abolish the Department of Education or EPA?  Pass a law reinstating them and take away all discretion over the budgets for those departments from the executive branch.

You get the idea.  Let me offer my opening shot again for it to sink in.

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

Let’s backtrack here a bit, as I inject some harsh reality into this discussion. 

As long as the orange autocrat stays on his present course, this Congress isn’t going to impeach him.  Trump is an ADHD imbecile but in terms of pushing the domestic agenda of the far right — the sinister core principles of the current mutant Republican Party — he is Paul Ryan’s wet dream.  As far as foreign policy goes, maybe John McCain and Bonnie Watson Coleman need to bitch slap Trump a bit to get him on board with the annihilate Russia program, but the Trumpster has been a godsend for the war hawks. The sabers are rattling across the Middle East, intimidation of Iran and the Chinese is being cranked up to fever pitch, the administration is threatening North Korea with pre-emptive military strikes, and Trump has proposed an unprecedented 10% increase in the defense budget.

What else could the Rethugs possibly want of their ornery Tweeter of a leader?

But if they did impeach him, in Mike Pence we are looking at more of the same at double the speed with twice the intelligence.  The Republican establishment loves him.  It’ll be a group hug that’ll make Ann Coulter tear up like a Betsy Wetsy doll.

So let’s stop wasting time and energy on something that in all probability won’t happen and even if it did won’t eliminate the nightmare that Donald Trump represents.  As I indicated in my previous article, their bench is deep.  Until we remove all these  monsters from the power centers of our government — starting with Congress — they’ll continue to be a plague on our nation.

Trump will do a lot of damage but this Congress will do more.  The president is powerful but Congress can isolate and immobilize even the most belligerent president.

Asymmetry.  The president is not a king.  Asymmetry is fundamental to the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Let’s use it to our advantage.  Let’s focus on where the real power is.  Time to target the corrupt, pay-for-play puppet show at the east end of the National Mall.

Let’s put our energies into making a difference that will make a difference.

Regime change in Congress 2018!

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Economics, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Line of Succession: Just when you thought it was safe to . . .

I have been consistently and forcefully inveighing against wasting time and energy on impeaching Donald Trump.  The main thrust of my argument has been that while our Chief Executive — i.e. the President of the United States — is certainly very powerful and we can expect Trump to do a lot of damage, targeting him directly is the least effective way to halt his diabolical agenda.  Rather, a truly progressive Congress, one representative of both the needs of everyday citizens and the greater good of the country, could isolate him and counter one-by-one all of his fiercest dictatorial efforts to dismantle democracy and further the self-serving agenda of the ruling class.  As an example, if the orange autocrat signed an executive order permitting fracking on school playgrounds, Congress would pass a law prohibiting fracking on school playgrounds.  If he signed an executive order banning bicycle lanes, Congress would pass a law authorizing bike lanes.  You get the idea.

Recognize . . .

An enlightened Congress would be a bulwark against the broader agenda of the neoliberal juggernaut, the war mongering militarism of the neocons, and the rule by fiat of the rich and powerful.  An enlightened Congress could legislate what the country wants and needs, in spite of an antagonistic, uncooperative White House, and could even put an end to the anti-democratic meddling and chicanery of the Deep State.

Unfortunately, my appeal for “regime change” in Congress has fallen on deaf ears.  Maybe the piercing din of shrill cries for the Trumpster’s ouster have drown out my call for cooler heads and what is obvious to me is a more sane and effective approach.  Or maybe a lot of folks just never bothered to pay attention in high school civics class, thus don’t understand the way our government actually works.

But I haven’t given up.  The only genuine, permanent fix to our ailing system is replacing at bare minimum 450 of the corrupt pay-for-play corporate lapdogs currently seated in the House and Senate.

That is a given and nothing anyone can say or do to distract us can change that fact.

However, a very sobering thought just occurred to me.  I hope it will wake folks up.

What is the line of succession for the presidency?

That is, if Trump is impeached, who will replace him?

That would be Mike Pence, the Vice-President.  Pretty scary thought!

If Mike Pence is impeached, who replaces him?

None other than Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Ugh!  Even scarier!  Here’s a man whose insensitivity and cruelty to the everyday citizen makes Ayn Rand look like Mother Theresa.

Then if Paul Ryan is impeached, who replaces him?

Orrin Hatch, President pro tempore of the Senate.  Wonderful!  Here’s a guy vilified as much by his own party as he is by the Democrats.  Just what we need, more gridlock and cage fighting.

And if Orrin Hatch is impeached, who replaces him?

Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.  Yep, the drill-baby-drill former CEO of Exxon-Mobil.  We probably will see fracking in school playgrounds if he becomes president.

If we are not suffering from impeachment burnout, and Rex Tillerson is then put on the chopping block, who replaces him?

Former Goldman Sachs CIO and hedge fund manager, now Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin!  Perfect.  Maybe he’ll streamline the monetary system and just have the investment banks print money for themselves instead of the U.S. Treasury.

So . . . are you getting the picture?

Granted, Trump is an easy target.  But impeaching him accomplishes nothing.  It merely sets up month-after-month, year-after-year of more impeachment hearings.  What Trump represents will not go away just because he does.  As they say in sports, their bench is very deep.

What’s the solution?  Where do we channel our rage?  What will truly turn things around and start to fix this unbelievable mess?

Regime change in Congress is the only option and the only viable place to focus our time, energy and creativity.  There are 33 Senate seats and 435 House seats up for grabs in the 2018 election.  That’s where our power resides.  That’s how we achieve genuine change.  That’s how we turn our nation around.

I see little redeeming value in returning any of the incumbents to office.  That’s just me.  Citizens need to decide for themselves.  But recognize, we need to start this right now.  Waiting until next year will be too late.

How do we decide?

I have proposed — for over four years now — a simple solution.

Candidate contracts.

Decide what we want done.  Present candidate contracts which specify what we want done.

There’s a lot of critical issues to choose from:  Social Security, Medicare; minimum wage; taxing the rich, eliminating tax loopholes and corporate welfare; reducing the military, ending pointless wasteful wars; electoral reform (e.g. Citizens United and term limits); rebuilding roads, schools, communities; guaranteeing good K-12 education.  We can even probably add student debt relief, truly universal single-payer health care, home mortgage relief, and a few others to this list.

Most importantly, there is an enormous amount of agreement among the vast majority of citizens on these key issues.  Having said that, the candidate contract is entirely flexible and can be configured to reflect the unique priorities and will of the voters in each congressional district and in each state where there is a senatorial contest.

The underlying principle, however, is the same . . .

If a candidate signs the contract, he or she deserves our vote.  Simply because at least on the issues which are covered by the contracts, WE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT WILL GET DONE.  The candidate contracts are bulletproof, ironclad guarantees of representation!

No excuses.  No compromise.  No negotiation.

On the other hand . . .

If a candidate waffles, slithers, slides, and avoids discussing and signing the contracts, we then know they are “business as usual” types — i.e. full of wonderful-sounding but empty rhetoric, peddling deceptive campaign promises, but when they arrive in Washington DC they forget us, the very people who voted them into their cushy jobs in our nation’s capitol.

If a candidate will not sign on the dotted line, he or she does not get our vote.

This concept is simple, straightforward, powerful.

No contract = no vote!

This is how we take all of the guesswork out of voting.

So . . .

Dumping Trump is a satisfying thought but it will not get the job done.  Impeachment will take enormous time and energy, monopolize all of the resources we need to achieve real reform, and just set the stage for the next autocrat to push the agenda of the ruling class.

There is only one realistic option . . .

A truly representative Congress is the key — the only sensible, effective path — to restoring some semblance of democracy in this country.


But let’s make no mistake about it.  We have an enormous struggle ahead of us.  But every journey begins with a few single steps.  Every action and all activism begins with ideas. 

Described in detail in two recent books are my ideas for how we conduct a bottoms-up, community-based, grass roots campaign for restoring democracy in America.

CC_eBook Cover_Final_200x300“Candidate Contracts: Taking Back Our Democracy” was published June of 2015 and is available worldwide from all the usual suspects:

Amazon (Kindle)  . . . amzn.to/1QJRiNZ
Amazon (Print) . . . amzn.to/1Cuq0du
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!!!FFTDWD_Cover_200x300Fighting for the Democracy We Deserve” was published September 2015 and is available both in every popular ebook format and as a deluxe paperback:

Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/1VMf2Ft
Amazon (Print) . . . amzn.to/1L9SdIC
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Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Revolution | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Warren Buffett or Jimmy Buffett?

Here’s an URGENT APPEAL I received the other day on Facebook:

This is an idea that should be passed around.  The BUFFETT Rule!  Let’s see if these idiots understand what people pressure is all about.
Congressional Reform Act of 2017
1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman / woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.
2. Congress (past, present, & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 3/1/17.
The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women. Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and go back to work.
If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people, then it will only take three days for most people in the U.S. to receive the message.
It’s time! THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS! If you agree, pass it on.

There’s a lot of confusion about this initiative.

According to several sources I looked at, Warren Buffett is not even officially behind the so-called Buffet Rule, that it was just a comment made in passing.

Moreover, he is not in any way responsible for the “Congressional Reform Act of 2017,” which is just the latest version of the dubious and rather flawed “Congressional Reform Act of 2011”.

Regardless, it absolutely astounds me that no one seems to see the ONE MAJOR DEFECT in this noble attempt to reform Congress.  This fatal error happens to apply to most of the ideas I’ve recently encountered, intended to fix America and get our country back on track.

This proposed act has to be passed by Congress.

Which begs the obvious question . . .

Why would they pass it?

This is like me challenging Roger Federer to a tennis match for a $1,000,000 prize, and then turning to him and saying:  “I have one simple request, Roger.  Please have both of your arms chopped off at the elbow before we meet on the court.” 

What are these folks thinking?  Do they actually think that the current crop of corporate pay-for-play lapdogs who sit in their comfy jobs in Washington DC are going to do anything to jeopardize their free ride with the rich and powerful of this country?

I just love it, for example, when people propose progressive constitutional amendments.  According to the Article V:  “The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.” Apparently, these wild-eyed dreamers haven’t read the newspaper lately.  The Republicans own the White House, both chambers of Congress, most governorships, and the majority of state legislatures.  Even more shocking, we often see Democrats siding with the extreme right-wing legislative ideologues on a host of key issues — increasing defense spending, perpetuating war, advocating more tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.

Consider this . . .

It’s impossible to get GMO labeling on food product legislated, something supported by 93% of all Americans, regardless of party affiliation.  Do progressive strategists actually believe they can get anything through Congress which genuinely serves the majority of Americans, with the current cutthroat mercenary puppets installed in the seats of power?  Here we have something 93% of Americans want and it gets killed by corporate greed and legislators who couldn’t spell ‘representation’ if a gun was pointed at their heads.

I’ve said this over and over.  But it bears repeating until folks get it.

There is ONLY ONE SOLUTION!

We have to have a CLEAN SWEEP OF CONGRESS.  Regime change in Washington DC!

Let’s stop kidding ourselves.

The people now in positions of power will not do anything for everyday U.S. citizens.  NOTHING!  They will do the bidding of their deep-pocketed financiers, their mega-rich and powerful masters . . . and that’s it.  End of story.  So let’s start doing some real work!  Let’s begin the daunting but absolutely necessary task of swapping out 33 senators and at least 400 of the traitors who are currently in the House of Representatives in 2018.

I have a method for accomplishing this.  It’s summarized in two of my books — Candidate Contracts: Taking Back our Democracy and Fighting For The Democracy We Deserve — and dozens of articles published here and all over the web.

In each congressional district, good decent citizens must choose four or five issues which are critical to them, things which are totally non-negotiable, things they are absolute and unswerving about.  For example:

1. Make no changes in Social Security and Medicare.
2. Raise the federal minimum wage to $12.50 per hour.
3. Eliminate corporate welfare and increase taxes on the rich.
4. Reverse by law the Citizens United decision.
5. Cut back on military spending.

The good news is that nationally there is already enormous support for these.

75% of Americans want a federal minimum wage of $12.50 per hour.
76% of voters want a cut back on military spending.
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.


Next step is to draw up a contract or set of contracts on those issues.  Such a contract will look and read like this, one I drew up for raising the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.

Then we simply put it to the candidates.  It’s up to them.  Will they sign the contract(s) and guarantee that they will go to Washington DC and hit the ground running, doing exactly what we want them to do?  Or not?

If they sign, we vote for them.

If they don’t, we vote for someone who will.

It’s that simple!  And it’s that clear.  Either they will decisively and unequivocally, with no excuses or double-talk, do the job we vote them in office to do . . .

Or we don’t vote for them!

In the event there is no major party candidate willing to sign the contract — and recognize that is a very distinct possibility — then we turn to a minor party candidate, or put one on the ballot ourselves.

THAT’S how you take back our democracy!

THAT’S how we take the guesswork out of voting!

THAT’S how you make sure the voice of the voice of the people is heard!

THAT’S how you put “people” back in the equation . . . government of the people, by the people, for the people.

It’s either that . . . or drink a lot of tequila and watch our country steadily descend into the sewer of economic medievalism and kleptocratic tyranny.

I like a good time as much as the next guy.

But maybe we should wait until we have good reason to celebrate.

 

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A Nation of Relentless Savagery

You’ve been avoiding this for a long time.

You prefer to remember the times he took you to the park, that amazing camping vacation a few summers back, the funny things he often says at the dinner table, that beautiful dog he gave you on your 12th birthday.

But you can’t deny it any longer.  The truth is painful.  But . . .

Dad is an alcoholic and he beats mom.

Do you hate him?  Do you reject him as your father?

No . . . but things have to drastically change and very soon.

This is not actually the story I wish to tell.  I’m merely drawing a parallel.  I’m talking about dealing with denial, facing reality, accepting responsibility, taking action.

There are many situations in life for which the above scenario is a metaphor.

The parallel I’m making is the relationship between a citizen and a government gone mad.

We’ve avoided it for a long time.  We prefer to think of America as a beacon of hope in the world, the fountainhead of truth and justice, a purveyor of democratic values and human rights.

But we can’t deny it any longer.  The truth is painful.  But . . .

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his monumental, myth-shattering speech — the one that probably got him assassinated at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967:

“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: My own government, I cannot be silent.”

I won’t go into the long history of American aggression.  Whole books have been written which detail our gruesome heritage of merciless wars, the most notable being Howard Zinn’s classics, A People’s History of the United States and the more recent A People’s History of American Empire.  Nor will I indict the U.S. foreign policy apparatus for its gross deceptions and hypocrisies, elucidated with unparalleled clarity and candor in William Blum’s excellent work, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy.

I won’t talk about the millions of human carcasses piled on top of more carcasses, the result of countless war crimes and merciless military strategies which place no value on human life, whether the victims are in uniform or innocent civilians.  I’ve realized that the scale of the horror is such that its incomprehensible to most good decent citizens.  I myself when confronted by figures like 3 million Vietnamese killed, 1.5 Iraqis killed, on and on, find my eyes glazing over in the deluge of zeroes.  I literally cannot grasp these numbers and apply them meaningfully to the grief and physical suffering which they are supposed to somehow encapsulate.

Let’s instead look at a few simple very recent facts and try to put them in perspective.

Fact 1:  The U.S. is not officially at war with any other country at this time.

Fact 2:  The U.S. has not been attacked in any sense of the word in the last 16 years.

Fact 3:  Last year the U.S. military dropped 26,171 bombs on seven different countries.

Mind you, these are the official figures.  Who knows what the real totals are?

These were not water-filled balloons or July 4th fireworks.  At the end of every explosion, there were body parts strewn all over the surrounding area.  Survivors were being crushed in collapsed buildings, or crawling along the ground with limbs torn off, leaving a trail of blood squirting out of severed arteries.  Innocent people, men, women, and children just going about the everyday business of living, were mangled by a lethal mix of high-velocity shrapnel, and chunks of rubble created by ton after ton of high-yield explosives dropped anonymously from the sky.

Rigorous studies have made it very clear that well over half of the casualties of current warfare are civilians.  In what are called ‘internal conflicts’ — like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia — which now are by far the most prevalent form of military conflict, the percentages can be as high as 90% civilians.  These violent clashes are typically fought by proxies. In all of the countries just listed, the aggressors are mercenaries paid by the U.S. and its allies to enter and destroy a country in what is then deceptively characterized as a civil war or “people’s uprising”.  There is very disturbing recent evidence, for example, that the U.S. through CIA back channels has been funding ISIS, Al Nusra, as well as other extremely barbarous terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.

By the way, that money they withhold from your paycheck?  Or that quarterly tax payment you regularly make?  Think about it.  This is where a big chunk of your tax dollars is going.  You’re paying for this.

Does any of this make my point a little more comprehensible?

26,171 bombs . . . funding terrorism . . . innocent civilians murdered . . . all in a days work.

America can say with great pride that what it does, it usually does very well.

When we put our minds to something, we pull out all the stops.

Now we can put cold-blooded killing right up there in the Top 10.

We kill efficiently.  We kill without remorse.  We kill without hesitation.

NOTICE TO THE WORLD . . .

Beware!  We are a nation of relentless savagery!

Then again, a lot of countries already know that.


I’ve said this many times before and I’ll keep saying it until people get it . . .

Peace will not come from the top.  There are too many incentives and rewards in our corrupt corporate kleptocracy to keep the wars going and the wheels of the defense industry churning out more mechanisms of death and destruction.

It is only when we everyday citizens finally have had enough of the carnage, enough of the military waste, enough of the chest-beating imperialism which makes us less safe, enough of the empty rhetoric which claims to embrace the noble virtues but is just more deception in the name of war and imperial conquest, it is only then that America will turn around.

Maybe there are detailed plans out there somewhere to mobilize the good decent citizens of this country.  I haven’t personally seen any.  So here is mine.  Yes, it is outside-the-box, some would say radical, extreme.  But if we are the nation we claim to be in the world and in the eyes of God, isn’t cruelly and senselessly dropping 26,171 bombs on mostly innocent people extreme and radical?

My plan demands very little of us individually.  We don’t have to march on the capital or mount a revolutionary insurrection.  Despite that, it could make all the difference in the future we leave to our children and our children’s children.  All that is really required is that we listen to the voice of reason and stand strong.

At least take a look.  Open your mind up to the possibility of a future without the madness.  Of a future without endless war.  Of a future when our hard-earned tax dollars don’t go to fund the relentless savagery of a military gone mad.

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Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

All boats rise in a rising tide? Really?

The haves want the have-nots to believe sharing wealth is not a zero-sum game.

The mantra:  All boats rise in a rising tide.

But that’s not the way things are working out, eh?  The wealthy get wealthier and the poor get poorer.  Certainly on a planetary scale, with human population increasing globally at about 1.11% annually, there is a rapidly swelling underclass who have no concept, much less any chance of sharing in the vast quantities of goods, services, opportunities, and resources churned out by our great engines of economic and technological development.

The same is also becoming more and more true here in America, with wealth inequality increasing astronomically over the past several decades, vastly accelerating after the crash of 2008 crippled the middle class, further sunk the lower class, decimated savings and home equity, destroyed jobs and job security, and plunged already indebted average citizens into even greater debt. True, the rich did same somewhat of a hit as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, but predictably bounced back with a vengeance. 95% of the wealth generated in the slow but steady economic recovery over the past eight years went to the top 1%. In 2016 alone, the world’s rich elite increased their wealth by $237 billion.

In terms of our boat analogy . . .

I suggest we regular folks buy life jackets.

Because as the luxury liners supported by the subservient ship of state rise to even greater heights of opulence for the already wealthy and privileged, our fragile boats will be swamped in the wake of their showy extravagance and wasteful wanton affluence.

The rich and powerful have never made much of a secret of their disdain for regular folks. But as long as America citizens remain incurably detached from the reality of their lot, when the ravenous kleptocrats of the Trump administration rev up their feeding frenzy beyond anything ever before witnessed in the history of the world, everyday Americans probably won’t have to worry about being put in cages or internment camps — of course, the prisons will be kept bulging in our for-profit prison system but that’s business as usual. In their callous indifference and Machiavellian marginalization of the less fortunate, the wealthy if nothing else are coldly efficient. Extermination by war or disease or relentless grinding poverty are the time-honored and road-tested methods for effortlessly “draining the swamp” of unwanted creatures like you and I.  The wealthy don’t need to ponder and won’t even flinch at the inevitable carnage.  They won’t even notice.  Their evening wear won’t even get soiled or their reputations sullied by the noxious clouds of incinerated souls and destroyed lives, families, communities, and even whole nations, as poverty, war, chaos and human neglect on every front stampedes the unprivileged — the slobbering masses — into the abyss of sociopathic excess.

There are no pangs of conscience for those who don’t have one.

Wealth is a zero-sum game.  That’s true regardless of how much wealth exists in the world. If someone has something, then everyone else does not have it.  We can make more of that something but capitalism — especially its grotesquely virulent current iteration, neoliberal capitalism — is built on want and shortage, thus quite by design there will never be enough of that something for everyone to benefit equitably.  Recent history is all the evidence we need for this: while it’s true that since the dawn of the industrial revolution the engines of progress have mounted bigger piles of everything, it is also apparent that those piles have ended up in fewer hands.

In what may be the most astonishing, outrageous and incomprehensible economic statistic I’ve experienced in my lifetime, Oxfam just released a study of global wealth distribution which offered this gem:  Eight individuals now own as much wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people on the planet.  Or presented another way:  The top .000000107% of the world population have as much wealth as the bottom 50%.

Under these conditions, as the tide rises a handful of luxurious and unsinkable yachts inch closer to God and millions of sunken hulls rot at even greater depths in the dark void at the bottom.

Does any sane person really think it can continue to go on like this?

Are there enough sane people around to make a difference?

Posted in Banking, Corporatism, Deconstruction, Economics, Political Analysis, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Megaphonics

A lot of people want me to shut up.

They find me annoying, grating, shrill.

Some have even claimed I hate America.

I really have to wonder where these people are coming from.

I’m not claiming any heroics here, certainly not comparing myself to those courageous individuals who spoke out against Nazism or the persecutions in the Soviet Union under Stalin, in Cuba under Batista, in Iran under the Shah, on and on — sadly too many to enumerate here.

But I am saying I share with them a duty, as we all do.  I share with them as do all citizens of any country, to speak out against injustice, to criticize the country to which they belong.  We must all speak out and geography is not pertinent.  Whether one lives inside a country or has by circumstance or choice lives outside, oppression is still oppression.  Tyranny is still tyranny.  Villainy and genocide are still villainy and genocide.

Speaking out to praise or to criticize one’s own country is not just an option, it is a duty.  And the volume of that voice is not to be arbitrarily turned down or turned off.

Each of us is identified with a nation.  We both have the rights and privileges that are conferred by citizenship, and likewise have a stake in what that nation does in our name, hence a responsibility not just to be aware of those activities but to be discerning, and laudatory or critical when necessary.

So I won’t shut up.

On the other hand, there is a difference between caustic damnation and constructive criticism.

I see a lot of the former, little of the latter.

Frankly, it’s getting tedious.

There are a lot of people — apparently some 64% according to the polls — who object to Trump as president and what he represents.

This makes entire sense.  He is objectionable at best, foul and pestilent at worst.

But we have to recognize, it’s not just the man we are at loggerheads with here.  “What he represents” has been in the making for a long time.  Over forty years at least, many would argue much longer.  Maybe it was set in motion from the very beginning of our country, as America was founded by slave-holding elitists who were to one degree or another fearful of mob rule.  ‘Mob rule’ is of course just an ugly euphemism for government by the people — all of the people.

A nation run by an elite few is not a democracy by any stretch.  It is the exact opposite of a democracy.  That those elite few then guilefully brainwash the “mob” into thinking they actually have some say in the decisions which determine the direction of the nation and the future is an insult — a vile and patronizing form of manipulation.

Trump and his crew will attempt to rule by fiat.  As corporate businessmen this is all they know.  They will play the “enlightened patriarch” card the whole way.  Some will go along.  Most — at least 64% — will not and have every right to raise hell.

Recognize that raising hell is but one approach.

How about this?  What if we try raising heaven?

Ha ha ha!  Funny play on words, eh?

Not really. Here’s what it boils down to . . .

2017 and 2018 will present historical opportunities.  We will be presented dramatically and starkly contrasting visions for the future.  People who have never been interested in “politics” will start seriously paying attention, because everything that America allegedly stands for, its most noble and worthy values and dreams for all its citizens, will be under assault.

And it will then come down to this . . .

Certainly we know WHAT WE’RE AGAINST as enlightened progressives.

But more crucially we have to know WHAT WE’RE FOR as enlightened progressives.

It’s time to be decisive, clear, engaging, positive, thorough, meticulous, captivating.

And truly visionary!

Because within the next two years, American citizens will be hungry as never before for a truly genuine, positive and sweeping renewal.

With no irony here’s my take:  There is enormous opportunity which will spring out of the dark days ahead.  I hope we’re ready.  Alert, informed progressives know what’s going on.  The vast majority of the American public does not. They are distracted and misinformed, numb and preoccupied with daily life.  They are not to be vilified for this.  They are victims of a highly organized, well-orchestrated assault on the public consciousness, maybe more accurately, an inducement of a hypnotic public unconsciousness.  Trump is just the most effective recent embodiment of that assault.

Certainly there are some big bumps in the road coming soon.  The crash of the economy is inevitable, accelerated by Trump’s extremely inept and uninformed administration.  The neocons will get their war because some diseases are beyond any medical intervention.

When war and bankruptcy destroys any hope for improvement of living and working conditions under the orange autocrat, there will be at least 160 million new very angry Americans — many who voted for Trump — asking the questions we progressives have been asking ad nauseam for many years.

It will all come to a crescendo.  Progressives MUST BE READY with an agenda presented in the language of everyday Americans — not politico-jargon-speak — but BIG, CLEAR messaging which presents a POSITIVE PROGRESSIVE VISION for America. 

We can do it.  But we have to start now!

When it all starts to crumble, it’ll be too late to be brainstorming and formulating plans.

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments