Tracking the Growth of American Authoritarianism

“Can There Really Be Fascist People In A Democracy?”
Libertarians are stealthily taking over America.

Since the 1971 Powell Memo, America has moved closer and closer to Fascism.

 

Neocons Left Over from Reagan and Bush II Using ISIS Crisis to Expand Right-wing Authoritarian Regime Change Policy

Back at the start of the seventh year of the Bush II administration, January of 2007, I wrote a post about all the leading neoconservatives, and their think tanks, that were supporting or were a part of that administration and its war promoting efforts.

This posting is about the neocons that President Bush has in his inner circle of friends and staff. It also exposes the spread of neocons within the current administration through quotes from Bush II and his former Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld (Now an “non-paid consultant” for the department.)

Here, from that post, are what Bush II and Rumsfeld said about their integration of neocons and their ideology in to our government:

(AEI) met last December with Bush II to present their solution to the conflict in Iraq. Their plan is very similar to The Deciders plan. At an AEI dinner in 2003, Bush II had this to say about Irving Kristol, “You do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds.” (And I’m only mentioning a few of those 20.) Also, President Ronald Reagan’s administration attracted so many AEI associates, that the AEI offices were relatively empty.

The Center for Security Policy was founded in 1988 by Frank Gaffney. Their slogan is, “to promote world peace through American strength.” Their “Keeper of the Flame Award” recipients include Newt Gingrich and Don Rumsfeld. In November 2001, Don Rumsfeld said to Frank Gaffney, “If there was any doubt about the power of your ideas, one only has to look at the number of Center associates who people this administration—and particularly the Department of Defense—to dispel them.” Rumsfeld has been a CSP financial backer and Cheney was formerly a board member of CSP.

What I didn’t state in that article was that those neocons appointed by Bush and Rumsfeld hired many more into the State Department and Pentagon who are still there. Here’s an example from a Consortium News article:

What followed in Ukraine had all the earmarks of a U.S. destabilization campaign against Putin’s ally, the elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Behind the scenes was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a neocon holdover who had been an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and who is married to prominent neocon Robert Kagan. Nuland was caught in an intercepted phone conversation with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt handpicking the leaders of the new regime, which took power after Yanukovych was overthrown in a Feb. 22 coup.

For another example of neocon influence on the Obama Administration, read the short biography of one of the administrations advisors, John Nagl. Here is a quote from that article, which references Robert Kagan, the husband of former Dick Cheney advisor, Victoria Nuland, mentioned above.

Although he [John Nagl] eschews grand ideology in favor of technocratic approaches to conflicts, Nagl’s promotion of counterintelligence doctrine in current U.S. military interventions made him a favorite of neoconservatives, who featured him at the kick-off of the think tank, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).”[12] FPI is an advocacy group founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan that is viewed by some observers as a successor to the Project for the New American Century [Formerly chaired by William Kristol], a now-defunct group that played a key role in shopping neoconservatives foreign policies during the Bush administration.

———————————————————-
Here is a quote about neocons from Dr. Shadia Drury on their preference for military action:

With the neoconservatives in power in the US, it will be difficult to conceal the real nature of neoconservative policies. The “stealth campaigns” are not likely to be as effective. The policies are by now very clear: no gay rights, no liberated women, no uppity blacks, lots of prayer in the schools, a strong commitment to the death penalty, and the re-criminalisation of abortion. The latter is particularly important. Of course it will keep the women at home and out of the way so that the world can be ruled by men in the proper manly fashion; but that’s not all. More importantly, it will keep women busy having babies – lots of babies. In this way, women will become useful once again; they will return to their vocation as factories for soldiers – and we need lots of soldiers, for we will have plenty of wars to fight, if the neoconservatives have their way. And it seems they have.

And here is the end of the Consortium News article by investigative reporter Robert Parry, which I referenced earlier, that includes numerous references to neocons and their preference to war over negotiations in Ukraine:

That intervention, however, infuriated Syrian rebels who had planned to time a military offensive with the U.S. bombing campaign, hoping to topple Assad’s government and take power in Damascus. America’s influential neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies – along with Israeli officials – were also livid, all eager for another U.S.-backed “regime change” in the Middle East.

Putin thus made himself an inviting neocon target. By the end of last September, American neocons were taking aim at Ukraine as a key vulnerability for Putin. A leading neocon, Carl Gershman, president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed pages of the neocon Washington Post to identify Ukraine as “the biggest prize” and explain how its targeting could undermine Putin’s political standing inside Russia.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” At the time, Gershman’s NED was funding scores of political and media projects inside Ukraine.

What followed in Ukraine had all the earmarks of a U.S. destabilization campaign against Putin’s ally, the elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Behind the scenes was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a neocon holdover who had been an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and who is married to prominent neocon Robert Kagan. Nuland was caught in an intercepted phone conversation with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt handpicking the leaders of the new regime, which took power after Yanukovych was overthrown in a Feb. 22 coup.

Then, with U.S. officialdom and the mainstream U.S. press engaging in an orgy of Cold War-style propaganda, Putin was demonized as a new Hitler expanding territory by force. Anyone who knew the facts recognized that Putin had actually been trying to maintain the status quo, i.e., sustain the Yanukovych government until the next election, and it was the West that had thrown the first punch. But Washington’s new “group think” was that Putin instigated the Ukraine crisis so he could reclaim lost territory of the Russian empire.

President Obama seemed caught off-guard by the Ukraine crisis, but was soon swept up in the West’s Putin/Russia bashing. He joined in the hysteria despite the damage that the Ukraine confrontation was inflicting on Obama’s own hopes of working with Putin to resolve other Middle East problems.

Thus, the initial victory went to the neocons who had astutely recognized that the emerging Putin-Obama collaboration represented a serious threat to their continued plans for “regime change” across the Middle East. Not only had Putin helped Obama head off the military strike on Syria, but Putin assisted in getting Iran to agree to limits on its nuclear program.

That meant the neocon desire for more “shock and awe” bombing in Syria and Iran had to be further postponed. The Putin-Obama cooperation might have presented an even greater threat to neocon plans if the two leaders could have teamed up to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to finally reach a reasonable agreement with the Palestinians.

At the center of the neocons’ strategy at least since the mid-1990s has been the idea that “regime change” in Middle East governments hostile to Israel would eventually starve Israel’s close-in enemies, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, of support and free Israel’s hand to do what it wanted with the Palestinians. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

The Putin-Obama collaboration – if allowed to mature – could have derailed that core neocon strategy and denied Israel the unilateral power to decide the Palestinians’ fate. But the Ukraine crisis – and now the plan to pour a half-billion dollars into the Syrian rebels fighting Assad – have put the neocon strategy back on track.

The next question is whether Obama and whatever “realists” remain in Official Washington have the will and the determination to reclaim control of the Middle East policy train and take it in a different direction.

———————————————————-

Whether it’s the Middle East or Eastern Europe, the United States foreign policy is back under control of neoconservatives with the goal of regime change for our enemies or the enemies of Israel.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Avid Militarism   |   Comments Off on Neocons Left Over from Reagan and Bush II Using ISIS Crisis to Expand Right-wing Authoritarian Regime Change Policy   |   Email This Post Email This Post

War with ISIS?, Kock Brothers Teaching our Kids, MSM is a Failure, NeoCons Growing al-Qaeda, 1800 Revolution Repeating Now

Suggested Reading for Week Ending 9/21

  • The Questions Congress Should Ask About Obama’s War on ISIS
    “The public is told there’s no imminent threat to the US, so why are we rushing to war? Could weapons given to Syrian rebels eventually be used against the US?” reads an ad placed by MoveOn and Win Without War in Politico. “How could military force undermine nonmilitary strategies? How will we know when our objectives have been met? What is our clearly defined exit strategy? Under what legal authority are we intervening in Iraq and Syria?”
  • The Koch Brothers’ 3-Step Plan to Conquer the Next Generation
    It’s been well-documented by now how the Koch Brothers are sponsoring economic programs at colleges and universities around the country. By itself, this could be interpreted as philanthropy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a billionaire donating some of his wealth to education. But the greater strategy in the Kochs’ chess game isn’t just to make themselves wealthier, but a far more sinister one. That strategy can be broken down into three steps:
  • How The Main Stream Media Lost All Credibility & Why It’s Too Late To Save It
    In the end, what matters is that mainstream media, despite everything it’s done, the corporate sponsors, the spin zones, the outright awkward political commentaries. From everything to pundits and attractive looking people on the news media, the breaking news graphics to the outright lies told and the misdirection thrown left and right.
  • Blocking a ‘Realist’ Strategy on the Mideast
    In other words, the just-approved congressional action opening the floodgates to hundreds of millions of dollars more in military aid to Syrian “moderates” could actually contribute to al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate gaining control of Syria, which could create a far greater threat to U.S. national security than the consolidation of the Islamic State inside territory of Syria and Iraq.
  • Does Someone Really Have to Do Something to Stop Islamic State?
    Which bothers you more? General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly warning that Obama might have to send in ground troops to defeat Islamic State? Or former president Jimmy Carter supporting Obama’s new war?
  • The American Revolution of 1800
    Remarkably relevant today: Sisson shows why Jefferson’s ideas about ensuring the primacy of the people’s interest over factional politics are as needed today as they were in 1800.
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    No new war on Iraq
    Give peace a chance.

     


    Despotism, Authoritarianism, Single Party State, Don’t Question Authority,
    Excessive Wealth and Income Inequality, Censorship

    Posted in Authoritarianism, Avid Militarism   |   Comments Off on War with ISIS?, Kock Brothers Teaching our Kids, MSM is a Failure, NeoCons Growing al-Qaeda, 1800 Revolution Repeating Now   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Lawrence Lessig’s “The USA is Lesterland” – But It Take More Than Spreading the Funding Influence

    Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim

    Please watch the video first.

     

    Lessig ends by saying, “We have lost that Republic. All of us have to act to get it back.”

    I agree with that statement, but I think more is necessary than spreading the funding influence and that we must first remove certain obstacles.

    The Lester Election is always a midterm election and it’s controlled by those who always vote, and currently that’s the right-wing authoritarians. In 2010 in Texas, only 3% of the African-Americans and Hispanics in the 11 largest Texas metropolitan areas voted. That compares to only 34% in 2008. We have Rick Perry, who caters to the “funders,” or insiders, because Texas ranks 51st in voter participation, not because insiders paid for his campaign.

    Texas is not a red state, it's a non-voting state

    If the 99% vote, the “corruption” is irrelevant. If 99% vote, a win by a poorly funded third-party is possible. As Lessig said in the TED talk, “It’s solvable by being citizens.” However, decades of free market fundamentalism, neoliberalism, have replaced critical thinking citizens with lovers of shopping and reality TV and put our “love of this republic” on a shelf in the closet.

    If the 99% votes ...

    Another issue with Mr. Lessig’s proposal is with spreading the “funder influence” across more citizens – “citizen-funded campaigns.” Today’s citizens are just now beginning to seriously strike for a living wage. They can barely pay for their necessities much less contribute to a national campaign fund.

    Vote to refute the ONE%

    Controlling the money flowing into our politics is necessary, but more important is citizens showing up in significant numbers to elect the best candidate in every election. To enable this, we need a living wage, easier access to the polls, and removal of all recently implemented voter restrictions authored by ALEC.

    Posted in Corporate Intrusion, Politics   |   Comments Off on Lawrence Lessig’s “The USA is Lesterland” – But It Take More Than Spreading the Funding Influence   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Resisting Urban Shield, Billionnaire God-like Desires, Public Gas Station, Violating Law Ok If It Saves Money?,

    Suggested Reading for Week Ending 9/14

  • Militarization, Surveillance, and Profit: How Grassroots Groups are Fighting Urban Shield
    “The line between police and military is blurring as parallel military tactics are being deployed globally to repress dissent and increase state control over people who are calling for freedom and justice.”
  • How the Koch Brothers and Other Family Capitalists Are Ruining America
    Our imperial tycoons are a mixed lot. They range from hip technologists like Zuckerberg to heroic nerds like Bill Gates, and include yesteryear traditionalists like Sam Walton and the Koch brothers. What they share with each other and their robber baron ancestors is a god-like desire to create the world in their image.
  • Koch Foundation Proposal to College: Teach Our Inequality Curriculum, Get Millions
    The Koch’s philanthropic operation is preaching to academics a free market gospel. But with it comes loads of cash. is this just another billionaire takeover?
  • Kentucky Town Beats High Gas Prices – By Opening a Public Gas Station
    A municipally owned and operated fuel center has opened up in a town in Kentucky in an effort to drive down gas prices for local residents. Is this new model a positive step in the right direct for climate change?
  • There is No Future in War: Youth Rise Up, a Manifesto
    How many times do we have to be lied to, how many times do we have to be tricked, how many times do we have to be exploited until we say enough is enough? We are tired of war! War accomplishes nothing. War only fattens the wallets of economic and political elites, leaving millions dead in its wake. War only leads to more war, destroying the planet and emptying the national treasury in the process.
  • Vermont City Acts Unlawfully & Unconstitutionally, Judge Finds
    At its nasty little heart, this is a story that reflects the power of big banks to get their way, starting with their well paid legislative lobbyist, John Hollar, who also happens to be mayor of Montpelier, where there’s no hue and cry about such blatant conflict of interest. The vested interests in the city have not objected even when the bank-drenched mayor set about in early 2013 to pressure the city manager to muzzle his planning director when she failed to follow his personal party line. Her “insubordination” amounted to exercising her free speech right to support public banking.
  •  


    Vote to refute the ONE%

    STOP the ONE% from buying our government – VOTE

     


    Koch Industries, the company owned by Charles and David Koch,
    is the major stumbling block to a coherent U.S. energy policy

    Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Intrusion   |   Comments Off on Resisting Urban Shield, Billionnaire God-like Desires, Public Gas Station, Violating Law Ok If It Saves Money?,   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Functioning Democracies Require Citizen Participation and That …

    • Government is crucial for building a public infrastructure that equally protects and empowers every citizen
    • Citizenship dues are necessary to fund this public infrastructure and that these dues are in proportion to the use of said infrastructure so as to maintain it for future generations.
    • Voting is a right and requirement of all citizens regardless of wealth, family, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc.
    • Quality public education for all citizens is necessary for maximizing the opportunities for success and for becoming a responsible and participating citizen in the political process that assures the government operates as desired by the people
    • Freedom from abuse by those with EXCESSIVE power requires limitations on those powers enforced by a properly funded government
    • Citizen freedoms, even those listed in the constitution, require limits to avoid harm by those who might abuse them
    • Equality of opportunity for all citizens and progressive citizenship dues on ALL income are absolutely necessary to prevent both EXCESSIVE inequality of wealth and income and a government that no longer represents its citizens.
    • Acceptance of citizen diversity is necessary for long-term surival
    • Growth has limitations and unlimited growth, like cancer or nuclear bombs, will lead to chaos and death
    • Cooperation maximizes the possibility of success for more citizens than I-win-you-lose competition
    • We all do better when we care about our own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of others
    Posted in Protect & Empower   |   Comments Off on Functioning Democracies Require Citizen Participation and That …   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    TTIP-Concerns About Food Safety, Suppressing Civil Disobedience, Tax Reform, KochKash, Lies & Why’s of Ukraine, Stopping Privateering

    Suggested Reading for Week Ending 9/7

  • EU-US Trade Deal Lets Corporate Interests Steamroll Food Safety, Groups Warn
    We are writing to respond to claims by the European Commission (EC) that there is “no contradiction” in the US – EU trade talks with the “enforcement of high safety standards” in food. We disagree. Fair, sustainable and safe food could permanently be damaged by the transatlantic trade deal on the table.
  • Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown
    … in their unswerving mission to defend an increasingly unpopular global system serving the interests of a tiny minority, security agencies have no qualms about painting the rest of us as potential terrorists.
  • Bill Moyers Encore with Joseph Stiglitz: How Tax Reform Can Save the Middle Class
    In America right now inequality is too great, unemployment too high, public investments too meager, corporations too greedy and the tax code too biased toward the very rich.
  • Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity
    This white paper outlines concrete policy measures that can restore equitable and sustainable economic growth in the United States, in the context of the country’s recurring budgetary crises. Effective policies are within our grasp, because these budgetary crises are the result of political and not economic failings.
  • Politicians Line Up at Big Money Trough
    Money remains the nourishing milk of politics and both parties are lining up to get their fill by hobnobbing with the plutocrats who have the most to share. Whether the Koch Brothers or Vernon Jordan, the process of political corruption shows no sign of ending, Bill Moyers and Michael Winship lament.
  • Who’s Telling the ‘Big Lie’ on Ukraine?
    Official Washington draws the Ukraine crisis in black-and-white colors with Russian President Putin the bad guy and the U.S.-backed leaders in Kiev the good guys. But the reality is much more nuanced, with the American people consistently misled on key facts, writes Robert Parry.
  • The Whys Behind the Ukraine Crisis
    Given the very high stakes of a nuclear confrontation with Russia, some analysts wonder what’s the real motive for taking this extraordinary risk over Ukraine. Is it about natural gas, protection of the U.S. dollar’s dominance, or an outgrowth of neocon extremism, asks Robert Parry.
  • Reclaim The Commons, Stop Privatization
    This week started with Labor Day and witnessed the biggest act of worker civil disobedience seen in a very long time. Yesterday, nearly 500 fast food workers were arrested and many more joined in civil disobedience, marches and rallies in 100 cities across the country to demand higher wages. In addition, the Fight for 15 movement has been joined by new sectors of workers.
  •  


    Owners need to be licensed and carry accident insurance

    Imagine – Autos w/out licensed users or manditory accident insurance …
    … accidental killing 4 all drivers ????

     


    Georgia Cop Caught On Camera Manhandling Woman for Videotaping Public Event

    Posted in Authoritarianism   |   Comments Off on TTIP-Concerns About Food Safety, Suppressing Civil Disobedience, Tax Reform, KochKash, Lies & Why’s of Ukraine, Stopping Privateering   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    World View of Ferguson, McConnell Kisses Up to ONE%, FBI & Charter Schools, ONE% Con Job, Poor 9%, Kochs In Charge

    Suggested Reading for Week Ending 8/31

  • Everyone From Tibetan Monks To Iran’s Supreme Leader Is watching Ferguson. Here’s How They’re Reacting
    Why would someone in Gaza care about protesters in Ferguson? One argument is that the resurgence of popular uprisings around the world — the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring, for example — has created a kind of global protest culture, one that unites people against oppression across nations. As Goldhammer puts it, there’s now a “certain transnational homogeneity to scenes of riot police clashing with demonstrators.”
  • Caught on Tape: What Mitch McConnell Complained About to a Roomful of Billionaires (Exclusive)
    At a secret meeting of elite donors convened by the Koch brothers, McConnell laid out his plan for shrinking the federal government and whined about having to vote on minimum wage bills.
  • FBI Tracks Charter Schools
    In 2010, Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. has been an ALEC member, declared K-12 public education “a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”
  • The 1 percent’s long con: Jim Cramer, the Tea Party’s roots, and Wall Street’s demented, decades-long scheme
    And there were incredible prizes to be won as long as the bubble continued to swell, as long as the fiction of Wall Street as an alternative to democratic government became more and more plausible. Maybe the Glass-Steagall act could finally be repealed; maybe the SEC could finally be grounded; maybe antitrust could finally be halted. And, most enticingly of all, maybe Social Security could finally be “privatized” in accordance with the right-wing fantasy of long standing.
  • The very rich are angry at the extremely rich
    The guy with the Long Island summer residence says that income inequality is hurting his quality of life. Because of the helicopter noise of the guy he probably reports to. I’m quite sure he is indifferent to his own noise produced by his late model BMW whizzing its fumes in the face his maid waiting at the bus stop. Because you know … that’s just freedom.
  • Kochs to Republicans: All your voters belong to us
    The GOP Data Trust, the company the RNC has been working with on its Beacon effort, is now going to be accessing the voter data from the Kochs’ company, but apparently all of the data will be dumped into the Kochs’ system. Which arguably means the Koch brothers essentially own the Republican party, not just its Senate candidates.
  • Charles Koch Personally Founded Group Protecting Oil Industry Hand-Outs, Documents Reveal
    Documents obtained by Republic Report reveal for the first time that the group was actually founded by none other than Charles Koch, the petrochemical, manufacturing, and oil refining tycoon worth an estimated $52 billion.
  •  

     


    The Kochs’ Anti-Civil Rights Roots:
    New Docs Expose Charles Koch’s Ties to John Birch Society
    Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Intrusion   |   Comments Off on World View of Ferguson, McConnell Kisses Up to ONE%, FBI & Charter Schools, ONE% Con Job, Poor 9%, Kochs In Charge   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    I guess the only thing left to do IS VOTE.

    – First they came for the unions, but I didn’t vote.
    – Then they diverted pay raises for my increased productivity to corp profit and my spouse went to work to help pay the mortgage, but we still didn’t vote.
    – Then our combined income couldn’t keep pace with inflation so we went into more debt with credit cards and refinancing our home equity, but I still didn’t vote.
    – Then they changed the law and made it harder to declare bankruptcy and get out from under excessive debt, but I still didn’t vote
    – Then they replaced my guaranteed-income, professionally-run pension with a hapless 401K plan with limited choices and low returns, but I still didn’t vote.
    – Then they cut my sick leave and vacation benefits and stopped the company match on my 401K, but I still didn’t vote.
    – Then they passed state laws for Voter ID, eliminating early voting, stand your ground assassinations, vaginal probes, and closing women’s health clinics, but I still didn’t vote
    – Then they reduced my work hours so they didn’t have to help pay my medical costs, but I still didn’t vote
    – Then they changed an old law and let banks gamble with what was left of my savings, but I still didn’t vote.
    – Then they sold my mortgage to Wall $treet, but I still didn’t vote.
    – Then they crashed the economy and the value of my home, and I lost my job, but I thought about voting – next time.
    – Then they bailed out the banks and one of those banks is foreclosing on my home, but I’m too depressed to vote.
    – Then they didn’t extend unemployment and Congress is on perpetual vacation to raise money from the ONE% instead of helping us recovery from the Great Recession.
    —– I guess the only thing left to do IS VOTE.


    Paul Weyrich founded ALEC and ALEC wrote draft of Voter Suppression laws for states

     

    Posted in Politics   |   Comments Off on I guess the only thing left to do IS VOTE.   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Amerian Wariors Proliferate War Mentality Across America, Atlantic Ocean Warms, Fracking Protest

    Suggested Reading for Week Ending 8/24

  • A Former Marine Explains All the Weapons of War Being Used by Police in Ferguson
    One small way to measure the police violence against black people in Ferguson is to attend to its details. It is in that spirit that I present this simple catalog.
  • New UT Chief’s Military Background is Cause for Reflection
    The University of Texas System’s incoming chancellor may seem like the perfect fit, but his involvement in a long-running criminal enterprise, is sure not acceptable.
  • Innocent Civilian Deaths Caused by Police Militarization
    By sidestepping the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the government has blurred the divisions between the military and the police. The executions of “no knock” search warrants too closely resemble the night raids conducted in Afghanistan and Iraq. When the police become the military, the enemy becomes everyone.
  • The Uncivil War Escalating Across America
    We must not minimize or dismiss what is happening; Ferguson represents an ominous sign of the great chasm that has developed between the police and the people of this country. This, unquestionably, is a war of sorts with the vast majority of firepower possessed by this new-type quasi-military police force. If something is not done to address and solve this problem, and soon, then this country is in danger of becoming a full-blown police state.
  • Ferguson And Global Struggle For Justice
    The same city where Dred Scott challenged slavery has become the place of awakening for current racial oppression. Ferguson exposed the reality of militarized and racist policing and created a teachable moment for the nation.
  • Global warming slowdown answer lies in depths of Atlantic
    This February, the national science academies of the US and UK said the global warming slowdown did not “invalidate” the long-term trend of rising temperatures caused by man-made climate change.
  • Native Americans Launch ‘Love Water Not Oil’ Ride to Protest Fracking Pipeline
    The campaign aims to show the destruction the pipeline would cause the surrounding Native communities and local landowners and stop it dead in its tracks.
  •  

    50 Years of progress - in technology
    From Birmingham to Ferguson, the only progress in 50 years is technology

     


    CLASSIC DAVE CHAPPELLE CLIP NAILS POLICE BRUTALITY PERFECTLY
    Posted in Authoritarianism, Avid Militarism, Environment   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on Amerian Wariors Proliferate War Mentality Across America, Atlantic Ocean Warms, Fracking Protest   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Warren or the Golden Calf, Information Warfare, Another Secret TA, NPR Fooled, AUMF=Endless WAR, Perry/Prison

    Suggested Reading for Week Ending 8/17

  • Elizabeth Warren’s 11 Commandments
    For progressives just recently let out of the bondage of the long Clinton-Bush interregnum, it would thus be a shame for them to put their faith in a golden calf like Hillary Clinton — no matter how electable she may seem today — when Warren and the Promised Land beckon from just around the corner.
  • Why Is the U.S. Really Helping the Kurds, Now?
    Obama’s defense of Erbil is effectively the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal—as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example—are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company, as Al Swearengen would well understand. Life, Swearengen once pointed out, is often made up of “one vile task after another.” So is American policy in Iraq.
  • The Berlin Wall and Missed Opportunities
    The U.S. State Department’s obsession with “information warfare” as a strategic weapon has made U.S. credibility one more casualty of the Ukraine crisis, along with any remaining trust in the mainstream U.S. media. It was not always thus, laments ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
  • There’s Another Mammoth Global Trade Agreement You’ve Never Heard Of
    Here’s what we know: Fifty countries, including the United States, the EU nations, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey, have been in TISA talks since 2012. The resulting agreement will set the terms for almost 70 percent of global trade in “services”: everything from banking and construction to telecom and tourism.
  • NPR Presents CIA-Backed Group as Independent Expert on Snowden’s ‘Harm’
    Yes, by blatant cherry-picking you can produce “a compelling story”–as in, good enough to fool NPR.
  • INSIDE THE GRAND JURY: WHY TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY WAS CHARGED WITH TWO ALLEGED FELONIES
    If convicted of the first felony count of abusing his office, Perry would face a penalty of between five and 99 years in prison. Perry also faces two to ten years in prison if he is convicted of the second charge of the indictment.
  • 60 Words And A War Without End: The Untold Story Of The Most Dangerous Sentence In U.S. History
    The White House said that the operations in both Libya and Somalia drew their authority from the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a 12-year-old piece of legislation that was drafted in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks. At the heart of the AUMF is a single 60-word sentence, which has formed the legal foundation for nearly every counterterrorism operation the U.S. has conducted since Sept. 11, from Guantanamo Bay and drone strikes to secret renditions and SEAL raids. Everything rests on those 60 words.
  •  

    60 Words Make War Perpetual
    AUMF

     


    Endless War Enabled by AUMF – Listen to Radio Lab’s Review of AUMF
    Posted in Authoritarianism, Avid Militarism   |   Comments Off on Warren or the Golden Calf, Information Warfare, Another Secret TA, NPR Fooled, AUMF=Endless WAR, Perry/Prison   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Hoarding Cash, InvertersRDeserters, Putin a Target?, Yahoo PGP, PO Bank, Disaster Goes Unreported

    Suggested Reading for Week Ending 8/10

  • Cash Hoarding becomes an Addiction
    Several studies have been done since the Great Recession, and we’ve learned that many of the CEOs who devastated our economy weren’t only greedy, but nearly 40% of them bombed at their jobs—and that 10% were psychopaths. Some studies have also revealed that the wealthier they were, the more likely they were to be more narcissistic and more unethical. So unless they were lucky enough to be born into wealth, many of these “job creators” were using nefarious means to accumulate their vast wealth—contrary to the popular myths that they accomplished this with just hard work and/ or a great idea.
  • Minority Astroturf Group Gets Comcast-Affiliated News Site To Remove Article About Minority Astroturfing On Net Neutrality
    Last month, we wrote about the vastly different views on net neutrality from a variety of minority and latino organizations. The key to the story, not surprisingly, was that the minority groups that are heavily funded by the giant broadband troika of Verizon, AT&T and Comcast apparently think that true net neutrality would be a disaster for the minority community — while the groups not funded by those corporate giants believe that more open and free internet devoid of fast and slow lanes is a good thing for the minority community.
  • Why National Security Has Nothing to Do With Security
    Some reflections on these grim prospects were offered by General Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which controls nuclear weapons and strategy. Twenty years ago, he wrote that we had so far survived the nuclear weapons era “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.”
  • Victory! Walgreens Backs Down After Threat Of Boycott #InvertersRDeserters
    Insiders said Walgreens’ board had decided that the intense political pressure on companies examining inversions could have a significant impact on its reputation among American consumers.
  • Was Putin Targeted for Mid-Air Assassination?
    As the pieces of this puzzle fill in, the image that emerges is of a possible Ukrainian ambush of a jetliner heading into Russian airspace that had markings very similar to President Putin’s official plane. As shocking as that picture may be, there is a grim logic to it, given the demonization of Putin who has been likened to Hitler and Stalin by pundits and politicians from Ukraine to the United States.
  • Yahoo to begin offering PGP encryption support in Yahoo Mail service
    With PGP encryption implemented in a browser plug-in, though, messages are encrypted before they’re transmitted, and the private keys cannot be disclosed by Yahoo because the company doesn’t possess them.
  • Why Banking at the Post Office Could be a Better Option than Payday Loans—and Wall Street
    Physical and operational structures already exist that could help USPS offer basic financial services: prepaid debit cards, mobile transactions, new check cashing services, savings accounts, and even simple, small-dollar loans.
  • Do You Recognize The Culture Of War?
    Each week we see reports of police violence and increasing militarization of police departments. Sometimes police violence is blatant as was this attack on young protesters in Mexico that caused death and serious injuries. And sometimes it is more subtle and dispersed, as this murder of a young Latino in Denver. Sometimes it gets national attention, as is the case of Eric Garner. And sometimes it is part of a daily phenomenon as these youth in Chicago recount.
  • TAILINGS PONDS ARE THE BIGGEST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF
    Last Monday, a dam holding waste from the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in the remote Cariboo region of British Columbia broke, spilling 2.6 billion gallons of potentially toxic liquid and 1.3 billion gallons of definitely toxic sludge out into pristine lakes and streams. That’s about 6,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water and waste containing things like arsenic, mercury, and sulphur. Those substances are now mixed into the water that 300 people rely on for tap, hundreds from First Nations tribes rely on for hunting and fishing, and many others rely on for the tourism business.
  •  


    Monday: Mount Polley Dam broke causing 5 million cubic toxic chemicals
    to flow into creeks & waterways
    Posted in Authoritarianism   |   Comments Off on Hoarding Cash, InvertersRDeserters, Putin a Target?, Yahoo PGP, PO Bank, Disaster Goes Unreported   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Ayn Rand Fever Dream, ALEC Legislator Auction, Populism for Dems, Wealth Correlates to Denialism

    Suggested Reading for Week Ending 8/3

  • The people of the United States must work to end the interventionist violence of the U.S. Empire
    The historian who chronicles US Empire,William Blum, issued his 130th Anti-Empire Report this week. In it he notes that the US, by far, is seen by the people of the world as “the greatest threat to peace in the world today” with 24% taking that view. Only 2% see Russia as such a threat, and 6% see China.
  • Texas GOP’s Platform Is an Ayn Randian Fever Dream
    Imagine the official presentation of a worldview concocted by conspiracy theorists and an assortment of cranks and grumpy people. Conjure a document written by scribes possessed of poison pens soaked in the inkpots of Ayn Rand and the Brothers Grimm, caught in the grip of a dark dystopian fantasy of dragons and specters, in which everyone’s wrong but thee and me and we’re not sure of thee.
  • ALEC Agenda in Dallas:
    Also at this year’s meeting, ALEC’s task forces will consider bills to make it virtually impossible to enroll in Medicaid, expand charter schools to further bankrupt traditional public schools, expand exports of “natural gas” from fracking, and undermine the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air and Clean Water Act regulations.
  • Protesters Lock Down Inside of Hilton in Protest of ALEC Convention
    Thursday morning, two community members from the organization Blackland Prairie Rising Tide locked themselves to stair banisters inside of the Hilton Anatole hotel at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual national convention in Dallas, Texas. Subsequently, two more protesters dropped a banner from a banister in the hotel lobby reading “We Suffer, ALEC Profits.”
  • Hillary Clinton vs. Elizabeth Warren: They Have Less in Common Than You Think
    Hillary Clinton’s political allies want Democratic primary voters to believe that the former secretary of state is just like populist Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and they’ve been claiming that there are no differences between the two possible presidential contenders. There’s just one problem: That’s not true.
  • Opportunities for Action
    What is striking are our common experiences – the neoliberal economic agenda being forced upon our communities, the lack of democracy and the need for resistance and creating alternatives.
  • Why People Are Organizing to End U.S. Empire
    Thirty-five years from now, America’s official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now. We are likely to begin to look ever more like a giant version of England at the end of its imperial run, as we come face-to-face with, if not necessarily to terms with, our aging infrastructure, declining international clout, and sagging economy.
  • Study: Rich Republicans Are the Worst Climate Deniers
    The study finds that among Republicans, as levels of income increase, so does their likelihood of dismissing the dangers associated with climate change.
  •  


    Jim Hightower Addresses Coalition of Hundreds in Dallas to Protest ALEC 41st Convention
    Posted in Authoritarianism   |   Comments Off on Ayn Rand Fever Dream, ALEC Legislator Auction, Populism for Dems, Wealth Correlates to Denialism   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    AFP Ranks Legislators, Powell Memo, ALEC Funding, Tea Party Fear/Hate, Domestic Terrorists, US Empire

    Suggested Reading for Week Ending 7/27

  • See How Americans For Prosperity Ranks YOUR Congressmen on free market fundamentalism – Neoliberalism
    Top 10 DEMs get ratings between 20% and 39%, like Jim Matheson (D) of UT at 35%, or Mike McIntyre of NC with the hightest lifetime ranking at 38%. The lowest REP ranking is 42% and there are 60 REPs with a ratings higher than 89% – leaders on the “Conservative Road to Destruction.”
  • America’s Conservative Road to Destruction – A Brief History
    We have come to the point of time in our history where facts no longer have merit, where laws are selectively broken if they in some way show support for our president or the government he represents … and those tentacles run deep INTO our federal government – both bodies of Congress and the Supreme Court. And ALEC helped get us to this point.
  • A CMD Special Report on ALEC’s Funding and Spending
    But ALEC membership does provide other rewards for legislators. It allows them to rub elbows with rich, out-of-state potential donors to their election campaigns and also to build similar relationships with ALEC’s state corporate members.
  • Tea Party’s Self-Harming Hate
    We could also repeal the ban on immigrants collecting SNAP and Medicaid benefits during their first five years in the United States. Passed as part of the 1996 welfare reform, the ban reduces immigrants’ economic options, and thus their ability to refuse the worst jobs.
  • Right-Wing Militias Are Thriving – and the Media Won’t Talk About It
    Virtually all of the far right’s conspiracist beliefs are equally transparent lies, if you can trace them back far enough. But that assumes a truth-seeking function on somebody’s part—an assumption that’s clearly unwarranted. In our age of savagely decimated newsrooms, fact-free “he said/she said” journalism appears to be the only kind that most organizations can manage—a style that naturally gives the advantage to those like Bundy who just make things up, carefully tailored to bolster their arguments.
  • The people of the United States must work to end the interventionist violence of the U.S. Empire
    … the US, by far, is seen by the people of the world as “the greatest threat to peace in the world today” with 24% taking that view. Only 2% see Russia as such a threat, and 6% see China.
  • The Empire Economy Does Not Serve the Economy or People
    Thirty-five years from now, America’s official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now. We are likely to begin to look ever more like a giant version of England at the end of its imperial run, as we come face-to-face with, if not necessarily to terms with, our aging infrastructure, declining international clout, and sagging economy.
  •  


    We are the cavalry for which we are waiting.
    Posted in Authoritarianism   |   Tagged ,   |   Comments Off on AFP Ranks Legislators, Powell Memo, ALEC Funding, Tea Party Fear/Hate, Domestic Terrorists, US Empire   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Tea Party Religion, Picthforks for the Wealthy, Women’s Economic Security, ALEC

    Suggested Reading Week Ending 7/20

    Posted in Authoritarianism   |   Comments Off on Tea Party Religion, Picthforks for the Wealthy, Women’s Economic Security, ALEC   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Excessive Corporate Intrusion Is a Major Factor in Maximizing Inequality

    When FDR and LBJ passed laws which maximized equality by providing protections such as Social Security, the right to unionize, and medicare, corporations only saw added costs for doing business. While America helped rebuild the world after WWII, these costs were ‘acceptable’ since there was little competition from other nations. This barely acceptable situation became less so in the ’60s after the creation of the EPA and the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Eventually, corporate acceptance of all this higher overhead which helped equalize, protect and empower citizens, became a concern as Europe and Japan became economically competitive.

    In response, the corporate attack on the laws of equality began. In 1971, Lewis Powell, a partner for over a quarter of a century at Hunton, Williams, Gay, Powell and Gibson, wrote a plan to start replacing representative governance with corporate governance and to increase inequality: The Powell Memo. Powell stated:

    [The] American economic system is under broad [government] attack.

    Business must learn the lesson … that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination—without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business. … Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.

    Powell wrote this memo for his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The CofC then spread the memo to corporations across the nation. President Nixon nominated Lewis Powell as an associate justice on the Supreme Court a few months after he released the memo and the Senate then confirmed him.

    The counter attack proposed in the Powell Memo not only included increasing corporations’ presence in the nation’s capital, it also included changes in their business model. Decades of implementing this attack has not only allowed the corporate takeover of our national and state governments, it has ravaged our economy and reversed most of the laws that had expanded equality.

    Implementing the Powell plan resulted in changes to the bankruptcy laws to put corporations in charge of the process. This happened under the Carter administration. The Clinton Administration and Congress cancelled the Glass-Steagall Act. The Reagan administration extended the 401K savings plan to all employees, not just executives. The actions of Reagan laid the foundation for elimination of corporate-paid pensions and put retirement in the hands of Wall $treet.

    In the workplace, corporations removed unions, reduced benefits, and replaced workers by shipping jobs overseas. They also saw the opportunity to steal wages of millions of workers for the massive benefit of a few executives. As worker productivity increased, wages stagnated but executive salaries and bonuses accelerated. Income and wealth inequality grew and is now at record levels.

    To hide this wage theft, corporations made credit more and more obtainable. Credit cards and refinancing of equity growth in home values kept the middle class content as their wealth slowly fell under increasing debt. The interest on this debt went to corporations – creating more income inequality as workers borrowed their stolen wages and enriched the ONE%.

    In addition to wage theft for productivity gains, corporations have fought to keep the minimum wage stagnant. They would prefer no minimum wage at all. This increased the income inequality gap further as inflation devalued the worker’s dollars and the ONE% invested in capital that grew faster than inflation.

    Working through ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporations have increased inequality for minorities and/or the poor. We have new voter ID requirements and fewer opportunities to vote early, especially in minority and/or poor communities. After all corporations want to make sure those who suffer from their abuses have less ability to vote their legislators out of office.

    Also through ALEC, corporations have increased inequality for women. We have far fewer clinics for women’s health issues and more laws affecting women’s health choices while there are no new laws affecting men’s health choices.

    One of the favorite tools of the corporate plan to replace representative governance with corporate governance is privatization of public institutions. Combine this with excessive corporate school tax breaks and you shift the cost of higher education to the students – another ball and chain of debt for the 99%. While students must borrow trillions for higher education and corporations avoid school taxes, public colleges and universities alter their business model to substitute personal gain for quality education. Much like the huge corporate wage gap, higher education now enriches the university presidents and board members while impoverishing the staff and faculty. So, students take on enormous debt and most higher education employees see little income growth – inequality between the 99% and the ONE% grows.

    One of the tools citizens have is the internet. But corporate intrusion/governance is trying to take that over. Instead of upgrading the nation’s internet infrastructure to world standards and provide better service for all Americans, corporations want to create a fast lane for the wealthy and only upgrade it for those who can afford excessive payments for that upgrade.

    A lot has happened since 1971 to increase inequality in America and those changes are accelerating with two recent decisions by SCOTUS: Citizens United in 2010 and McCutcheon in 2014. These decisions allow corporations and extremely wealthy individuals to flood untold amounts of “Koch Kash*” into our political process and maximize inequality in all its forms.

    Add to those US Supreme Court decisions the new Pacific and Atlantic trade agreements, written and negotiated by corporations, and national governments are further disemboweled. Finalizing these agreements will cripple governments, lessen their ability to protect and empower citizens, and promote inequalities created by corporations and billionaires.

    As corporate intrusion/governance grows, privatization is annihilating all that is Public. Protecting and empowering citizens by the government stops and inequality grows as the Private replaces the Public.

    ————————————
    The foundation of the Powell Memo and the Koch Brothers 1980 Libertarian Manifesto includes a belief in inequality. This belief in inequality includes a hierarchy for human life. It puts God at the top, as the senior authority figure, with white males next to dominate all others. At the bottom are poor, minority, women (especially black).

    The concept of the rugged self-made individual, which has been proven false, also bolsters this belief in inequality. Direct causation, where the individual has direct control of his success as long as he learned the moral purity provided by self-discipline, is the basis for the self-made man. The individual should just foresee and plan around any circumstance that could reduce his chance of success. If he lacks the moral self-discipline to achieve success, then he deserves his unequal situation. This false idea of the self-made individual ignores many factors which affect equality of opportunity and are beyond the control of the individual: time of birth, parents of birth, place of birth, relatives, friends of parents and relatives, teachers, preachers, etc.

    These external, uncontrollable, factors are referred to as systemic causation which are demonstrated by the butterfly effect, from Chaos Theory, and the scientific process of evolution. Both show that adding, subtracting, or modifying input factors produces changes in outputs. Whether it’s a collision with a giant asteroid, exposure to radioactive emissions, a divorce of parents, the birth of a sibling, moving to a new location, having parents that follow the strict-father or the nurturing family model, attending a well-funded or poor public school, exposure to toxins in the air or water, refusing vaccinations, preventing background checks for gun ownership, turning public K-12 into pipelines to prison, losing everything to an “act of God” or climate destruction, corporate and billionaire ownership of the government, pathetic regulation of dirty energy, food, and drug producers, sending our children into war for corporate benefit, etc, life changes from that point on and there is little you can do to keep it from happening.

     

    *Koch Kash pays those who steal our freedoms – It’s any corporate or billionaire monies used to buy our state and federal governments and enact freedom robbing laws.

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    Neoliberal, Free Market Fundamentalist, Ideology of The 1971 Powell Memo Reflected in Koch Brother’s 1980 Manifesto


    Poisoning the chanels of communication.

    Decades later, Lewis Powell codified Vice President Wallace’s “method” in The Powell Memo of 1971. The result was a proliferation of conservative think tanks like the Cato institute, thousands of talking heads all over commercial media, Fox News, hate radio, and a pushback on all the public programs which were part of the war on poverty or any governmental function which restricted the freedom of free market fundamentalism – neoliberalism.

    In 1980, the Koch brothers followed up with their manifesto as documented in the Libertarian party platform. The villainy of this manifesto is the destruction of all that is Public via privateering. In other words, economic neoliberals, like the Koch brothers are replacing what is morally best for a large majority of Americans with what is extremely beneficial for only them, the ONE%.

    Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform which free market fundamentalist David Koch ran on in 1980:

    • “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.” [SCOTUS is nearly done with this.]
    • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
    • “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
    • “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
    • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
    • “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. … Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
    • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
    • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
    • “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
    • “We support repeal of … minimum wage laws.”
    • “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. … Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
    • “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
    • “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
    • “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
    • “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
    • “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
    • “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
    • “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
    • “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
    • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
    • “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
    • “We oppose all [Except for the ONE%.] government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. … The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” [Except that these wealthy “individuals” want it all and don’t share even voluntarily with the poor.]
    • “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.” [Notice the distribution priority of this list.]
    • “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
    • “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
    • “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

    Add to this, both our neoliberal SCOTUS, with their Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions on more-money-equals-more-free-speech, and the worsening wealth and income gaps, and you have the ONE% takeover of America – aided and abetted by their for-profit media, ALEC, and plenty of neoliberal politicians selected by the ONE%.

    Vice President Henry Wallace warned us 70 years ago about American fascism. Is it too late to stop this right-wing authoritarian future? It will only take 3.5% of the 99% to make it happen. Are you part of that participating 3.5%?


    IncomeInequality

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    Right-wing Authoritarian Neoliberal Ideology Has Prevented Universal Health Care for Americans

    Economic neoliberalism, or free market fundamentalism, has been at work for decades in America transferring more and more wealth from the masses to the ONE%. Privatization of all that is public (SS, Medicare, pensions, etc.), or putting it on the back of individual consumers,is key to this transfer. Another avenue for this transfer has been the marketization of Health care where the public option was avoided in favor of uncontrolled private corporations.

    The quotes below are from an article that details a thorough history of the privatization of our health care since WWII and, to some extent, health care in Europe.

    Unfortunately, America is leading the way for the economic neoliberal approach. This model has, and will continue to, transfer more wealth from the many to the ONE% as we all pay more for health care, or decide to purchase something else and risk catastrophic illness. It will cost us more and more for health care as employers and the government reduce coverage and increase copays and deductibles.

    “The neoliberal turn in American health care, that is to say, is part of a much more fundamental transformation, beyond the borders of both America and of health care, and away from the promise of economic justice itself.

    “While the ACA will undoubtedly help many, there can be no mistaking the close resemblance of Obama’s plan to Nixon’s, and of its marked divergence from the universalism of Kennedy’s. The health care political center, in other words, has moved to the right very sharply indeed. Perhaps the greatest testament to this is the fact that the ACA, despite its roots in the proposals of moderate conservatives of previous eras, is now deemed rank socialism by today’s conservatives.

    “But beneath the complexity of the law, the essence of the neoliberal vision … becomes clear. The fundamental social-democratic idea of universalism — of an entire population with the equal right to equally comprehensive health care benefits — has all but disappeared from the political center.

    “The doctrine of consumer choice, whether with respect to the selection of tiered “bronze, silver, or gold” health benefits, or of choosing to divide one’s ‘own money’ between health care and other goods, has been almost quietly triumphant. Of course, this great neoliberal transformation in the political economy of American health care wasn’t the result of the vagaries of nature or the unique cultural proclivities of Americans: it was part and a parcel of a much larger corporate-driven transformation [as laid out in The Powell Plan of 1971], which, over these same years, has drastically exacerbated inequality while simultaneously fraying the substance of American civic democracy.”

    Two elements of this history that were not pointed out directly were:

    • Harry Truman became president because the Democratic party ousted FDR’s progressive vide-president Henry Wallace. The possibility of universal health care was pretty well doomed at that point.
    • In 1971, Lewis Powell wrote a memo at the request of his close friend and head of the US Chamber of Commerce. The Powell memo formalized the development of a national messaging system to promote the neoliberal policies discussed in this article. This new system, including The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, was effective as soon as the Carter Administration.

    While low overhead universal health care is held in abeyance by a minority of wealthy, economic neoliberals, where’s their “Wal Mart” of healthcare to provide capitalism’s cost effective replacement? It’s not going to happen. There’s still more wealth to transfer and expanding uncontrolled health care is accelerating the rate of transfer.

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    Edward Snowden Exposed Our Authoritarian – Dual – State

    The following are excerpts are from a recent article by Chris Hedges:

    Snowden, we are told, could have reformed from the inside. He could have gone to his superiors or Congress or the courts. But Snowden had numerous examples—including the persecution of the whistle-blower Thomas Drake, who originally tried to go through so-called proper channels—to remind him that working within the system is fatal. He had watched as senior officials including Barack Obama lied to the public about internal surveillance. He knew that the president was dishonest when he assured Americans that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret and hears only from the government, is “transparent.” He knew that the president’s statement that Congress was “overseeing the entire program” was false. He knew that everything Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the press, the Congress and the public about the surveillance of Americans was a lie. And he knew that if this information was to be made available to the public he would have to do so through a few journalists whose integrity he could trust.

    Societies that once had democratic traditions, or periods when openness was possible, are often seduced into totalitarian systems because those who rule continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old systems. This was true when the Emperor Augustus dismantled the Roman Republic. It was true when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control of the autonomous soviets and ruthlessly centralized power. It was true following the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi fascism. Thomas Paine described despotic government as a fungus growing out of a corrupt civil society. And this is what has happened to us.

    No one who lives under constant surveillance, who is subject to detention anywhere at any time, whose conversations, messages, meetings, proclivities and habits are recorded, stored and analyzed, can be described as free. The relationship between the U.S. government and the U.S. citizen is now one of master and slave. Yet the prerogative state assures us that our rights are sacred, that it abides by the will of the people and the consent of the governed.

    The defense of liberty, which Snowden exhibited when he cast his fortune, his safety and his life aside to inform the public of the forces arrayed against constitutional rights, entails grave risks in dual states. It demands personal sacrifice. Snowden has called us to this sacrifice. He has allowed us to see who we are and what we have become. He has given us a chance. He has also shown us the heavy cost of defiance. It is up to us to seize this chance and dismantle the prerogative state. This means removing from power those who stole our liberty and lied to us. It means refusing to naively trust in their promised reform—for reform will never come from those who are complicit in such crimes. It will come through Americans’ construction of mass movements and alternative centers of power that can mount sustained pressure. If we fail to sever these chains we will become, like many who did not rise up in time to save their civil societies, human chattel.

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    Success of 50 Years Of Fighting to End Poverty Minimized by 30 Years of Neoliberal Economics, But …

    … social change is happening and growing inequality is the great enabler.

    Relative to Bill Moyer’s 8 stages of successful social change and postings in Popular Resistance, we are in Stage 6, “Majority Public Support.”

    8 Stages of Successful Social Change

    According to the review of this framework in Popular Resistance, “During the current phase, the movement seeks to create broad and deep consensus over the issues that have been raised in the ‘Take-Off[ Occupy Wall Street].’ Our job is to win over the hearts and minds of the American people.”

    As Bill Moyer puts it, “The movement must consciously undergo a transformation from spontaneous protest, operating in a short-term crisis, to a long-term popular struggle to achieve positive social change. It needs to win over … an increasingly larger majority of the populace and involve many of them in the process of opposition and change … The majority stage is a long process of eroding the social, political, and economic supports that enable the powerholders to continue their policies. It is a slow process of social transformation that creates a new social and political consensus, reversing those of normal times.”

    In a follow-on Popular Resistance article, the authors expanded on the majority stage:

    Our goal is to build a mass movement, which has the support of super-majorities of Americans and has mobilized up to 3.5% of the population. Therefore, the target of our protests is not the government or a corporation, the target is the people, to educate and mobilize them. … The foundation of the current phase is massive public education and building support in all segments of the population for the values of the movement. This is done through grassroots organizing in the local community. People will gain a greater understanding of how the problems of the present system affects them; how the present system violates their values and principles; and how it is in their own self-interest to do something about it.

    The PR article continues on with examples of how this mass mobilization has recently manifested itself as citizen action.

    Another manifestation of Stage 6, or Majority Public Support, comes from a recent article by Paul Krugman, The War Over Poverty. In his article, Krugman points out the fear on the right and the new found courage on the left, “Fifty years have passed since Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. And a funny thing happened on the way to this anniversary. Suddenly, or so it seems, progressives have stopped apologizing for their efforts on behalf of the poor, and have started trumpeting them instead. And conservatives find themselves on the defensive.”

    Krugman goes on to review the old right-wing neoliberal lies for why the war on poverty has failed and then points out that right-wing authoritarian lies are changing, changing because fewer of the 99% believe the old lies as they fall closer to, or into, poverty. Krugman explains this countervailing force of increasing inequality on the success of the War on Poverty this way:

    … if progress against poverty has nonetheless been disappointingly slow — which it has — blame rests not with the poor but with a changing labor market, one that no longer offers good wages to ordinary workers. Wages used to rise along with worker productivity, but that linkage ended around 1980. The bottom third of the American work force has seen little or no rise in inflation-adjusted wages since the early 1970s; the bottom third of male workers has experienced a sharp wage decline. This wage stagnation, not social decay, is the reason poverty has proved so hard to eradicate.

    Or to put it a different way, the problem of poverty has become part of the broader problem of rising income inequality, of an economy in which all the fruits of growth seem to go to a small elite[The ONE%], leaving everyone else [The 99%] behind.

    Krugman concludes with:

    You can see the new political dynamics at work in the fight over aid to the unemployed. Republicans are still opposed to extended benefits, despite high long-term unemployment. But they have, revealingly, changed their arguments. Suddenly, it’s not about forcing those lazy bums to find jobs; it’s about fiscal responsibility. And nobody believes a word of it.

    Meanwhile, progressives are on offense. They have decided that inequality is a winning political issue. They see war-on-poverty programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and the earned-income tax credit as success stories, initiatives that have helped Americans in need — especially during the slump since 2007 — and should be expanded. And if these programs enroll a growing number of Americans, rather than being narrowly targeted on the poor, so what?

    So guess what: On its 50th birthday, the war on poverty no longer looks like a failure. It looks, instead, like a template for a rising, increasingly confident progressive movement.

    Broad and deep consensus over the issues” enables social change. This consensus is growing as inequality/poverty expands in both impact and realization. The right-wing authoritarians realize the recognition of inequality is spreading and they have resorted to a new set of lies to try to maintain inequality while the left has started pushing for improvements in the tools for fighting inequality and reducing poverty.

    As inequality grows, social change is inevitable.

    Posted in Authoritarianism, Politics   |   Comments Off on Success of 50 Years Of Fighting to End Poverty Minimized by 30 Years of Neoliberal Economics, But …   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Maximizing Profit Morfs The Fourth Estate Into Stooge for Hire.

    For some time, I have been promoting the use of profit-free media for news. There is a long list of such sources in the sidebar of this blog which I update frequently. As I experienced recently, Twitter was the major and almost exclusive source on news of the #MillionMaskMarch organized by Anonymous.

    Remember, remember, the fifth of November.

    I’m promoting these other sources because today’s major news media are only about maximizing profit. If the moral responsibility of our ‘free press’ is to check and balance our government, then the profit motive has subverted their responsibility significantly. Sometimes, this subversion turns ‘The Fourth Estate’ into a stooges for hire.

    While the free press has refused to do their job, individuals, at great personal risk, have taken action. They have taken on the presses’ moral responsibility of checking and balancing the government and exposing the actions taken by the government on behalf of their corporate/ONE% owners.

    Posted in Corporate Intrusion, Media-Info Control   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on Maximizing Profit Morfs The Fourth Estate Into Stooge for Hire.   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Contested Concepts – The “O” Word

    The following quote is from a blog posting by Marc Farinella :

    “Two final points from Lakoff; here’s the first: Don’t be fooled by contested concepts,which are abstract ideals such as fairness, justice, caring, equality, and liberty that appear to have generally agreed upon definitions but which actually mean completely different things to different people, depending upon their moral/political worldview … that is, depending upon whether they have a strict or nurturant interpretation of the concept. For example, for liberals (who value caring for fellow citizens), “fairness” may mean that the rich should be required to help provide for those less fortunate, a position that requires redistribution of wealth through government intervention. For conservatives (who value liberty to pursue self-interests), “fairness” may mean that everyone should be allowed to keep what they earn through their own efforts, a position that implies government non-interference except to protect property rights.”

    Let me add to that.

    “Obamacare” to conservatives, and their value of “liberty to pursue self-interests” and ‘pro-life’ stance, is a threat through government takeover of health care and death panels for grandma. Both are lies, but that’s what they have been told by their authority figures. For progressives, “who value caring for fellow citizens,” the ACA ( I would have named it Health Care Freedom Act.) is the first step to Medicare for all citizens.

    Posted in Nurturant State, Strict-father State   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on Contested Concepts – The “O” Word   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    We Are All Born Equal — Just Not With Equal Opportunity

    Progressives claiming that right-wing authoritarians are irrational is like right-wing authoritarians claiming minorities are mentally inferior to whites. They both ignore basic biology. The human brain works the exact same away in every human without physical brain damage. This is well established by research over recent decades. So, these dehumanizing statements are just wrong.

    Research shows that the various differences between individuals or groups of like-minded individuals are due to the ‘programming’ of the individual brains. This programming varies as each individual lives their lives and each life is greatly affected by circumstances beyond one’s control – until we leave the ‘nest’ and gain some control.

    We do not chose our birthday (day, month, year, century, millennium etc.). We do not chose where we are born (field, house, hospital, neighborhood, city, state, country, world, universe, etc.). We do not chose our parents ( nurturant or strict-father; poor, middle class, or rich; drop out, high school grad, BS, MS, or PhD). We do not chose our siblings (none, older, younger, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). We do not chose our other relatives just as our parents had no choice. We do not chose our parents friends. We do not chose our K-12 schools, teachers, or religious leaders. Yet all these external factors greatly influence what we each became and how successfull we are.

    If David Koch and I had been switched at birth, I’d at least be richer and he’d be poorer and worried about income inequality.

    Posted in Nurturant State, Strict-father State   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on We Are All Born Equal — Just Not With Equal Opportunity   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Why Do The ONE% Keep Getting Richer?

    An updated report on growing income inequality between America’s profit makers and profit takers shows the growth of income for the profit takers – the top ONE%, who are making at least $394,000/year for 2012. The table below shows how much of the nation’s income went to the top ONE% during economic recoveries.

    • 1973 Low – 7.7%
    • Clinton Expansion – 45.0%
    • Bush II Expansion – 65.0%
    • Recession Recovery – 95.0%

    Many factors contributed to this income shift and I discuss those in other postings. Here is a partial list:

    • Excessive corporate and wealthy individual tax cuts since the 1980s
    • Wage theft as savings from productivity increases by millions of profit makers were transferred to hundreds of profit takers who stashed the cash in banks instead of paying the profit makers their due
    • Increased profit maker debt by borrowing their stolen wages from the banks stuffed by the profit takers
    • Increasing the number of profit makers in the work force by adding women to help make up for the loss in stolen wages
    • Competition from overseas as countries recover from destruction of WW II
    • Removing the regulations put in place after the last profit taker excesses
    • Recessions instigated by the profit takers to increase their opportunities for corporate welfare and takeover of public functions (privatization) for profit
    • Replacing representative governance with corporate governance (The Powell Memo of 1971 and Citizens United decision of 2010)
    • Changing corporate bankruptcy and labor relations laws to let corporations steal pension funds and break private unions
    • Bankrupting public infrastructure through tax breaks for corporations to kill public unions, their pensions, and funding of public schools
    • Acceptance of the Ayn Randian world view which emphasises greed and rugged individualism over the equal protection and empowerment of all citizens
    • Tax laws that favor investment income over earned income

    One thing that will help reverse this trend is participating in the democratic process – vote the ONE% and their bedfellows out. We can also reverse all the legislation that favors the ONE%, replacing corporations run by profit takers with cooperatives run by profit makers, and overturn the Citizens United decision.

    Posted in Corporate Intrusion, Human Rights Abuse, Labor Power Loss   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on Why Do The ONE% Keep Getting Richer?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Unions Must Lead The Fight Against Climate Disruption

    Demand freedom from Climate disruption – increased weather extremes and human costs resulting from significant, unseen, and rampant releases of greenhouse gasses.

    ———————————–
    Naomi Klein spoke to the members of UNIFOR, a new mega union created by the Canadian Autoworkers and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers Union, on September 1, 2013.

    Here are excerpts from her statement:

    “It’s not even enough when you can mobilize millions of people in the streets to shout “We won’t pay for your crisis.” Because let’s face it – we’ve seen massive mobilizations against austerity in Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Britain. We’ve occupied Wall Street and Bay Street and countless other streets. And yet the attacks keep coming.

    ” … We need to figure out together how to build sturdy new collective structures in the rubble of neoliberalism. …

    “We can’t just reject the dominant story about how the world works. We need our own story about what it could be.

    “We can’t just reject their lies. We need truths so powerful that their lies dissolve on contact with them. We can’t just reject their project. We need our own project.

    “The case I want to make to you is that climate change – when its full economic and moral implications are understood — is the most powerful weapon progressives have ever had in the fight for equality and social justice.

    ” … This is a green labour revolution I’m talking about. An epic vision of healing our country from the ravages of the last 30 years of neoliberalism and healing the planet in the process.

    “Environmentalists can’t lead that kind of revolution on their own. No political party is rising to the challenge. We need you to lead.

    “The battle lines have never been clearer. Climate change is the argument that must trump all others in the battle against corporate free trade. I mean, sorry guys, but the health of our communities and our planet is just a little more important than your god-given right to obscene profits.”

    If you’re a union member, share this information with your representatives. If you are not a union member, become a climate patriot like Tim DeChristopher and fight climate disruption where you can.

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    Who’s in Control and Who Helped Put Them There?

    John Dean referred to them as Conservatives Without Conscience in his 2007 book by that title. (There was no Tea Party in 2007.) Robert Altemeyer, a key contributor to Dean’s book, refers to them as right-wing authoritarians (RWA):

    • Social/religious RWAs are mostly followers and are mostly members of, or identify with, the Tea Party
    • Neocons are extreme punishment RWA leaders who run pro-war think tanks
    • “Double high” RWAs are psychopathic super leaders – jury, judge and executioner – like Cheney and most corporate CxOs, and all are plutocrats.

    Most followers depend on Fox News and hate radio for reinforcing their right-wing world view, and few even elect a small number of RWA Democrat followers. All RWA leaders are either elected officials from the Republican Party or work for Fox News, conservative think tanks or hate radio – along with some Libertarians.

    RWAs represent only 20 to 25% of the populace, but they control most state governments and our federal government. A fearful RWA minority of followers, who always vote Republican, elected this RWA minority leadership that has brought our democracy to the brink of total destruction.

    Equally troubling is a larger group of citizens, who have been tricked into thinking shopping is more important than voting or participating in any way in our politics. This group’s lack of participation has made it easy for the politically active RWA minority to take control.

    In Comment on the Tea Party Professor Robert Altemeyer puts it this way:

    … Most Americans do not like radicals of any stripe, they want gifted people running the government, and they will turn on liars once they discover the lies. Thus Sarah Palin hurt the GOP ticket in 2008. But in the short run, meaning this year of 2010, I see a great danger. The rock-solid Republican base has been recharged and augmented. It will bust a gut to send as many radical social/economic conservatives to Congress as possible. While the Tea Party movement is opposed by a significant part of the population, the rest of the electorate is up for grabs. And not many people understand who is controlling the Tea Party movement, who is in it, and what they will do if they come to power. Significantly more Republicans than anyone else tell pollsters now that they are certain to vote in November. And although Democrats appreciably outnumber Republicans in the country, more people say they plan to vote for a Republican candidate than a Democrat. Combining the zeal of the Republican grass-roots with a slowly recovering economy, a less-than-popular president, and the sentiment that “Whoever‟s in/running Congress now should be thrown out on his ass,” I predict the Republicans will score a great victory in November[, 2010].

    Unless. Unless the least authoritarian part of the American population out-organizes, out-hustles, out-reaches, out-recruits, out-communicates, and out-delivers the votes drummed up by the most authoritarian part. They did exactly that in 2008, and achieved unimagined victories. So it can be done, by patiently and sensibly explaining to moderate, independent, “middle” voters exactly who got us into this mess, and who has done nothing to get us out of it except constantly say “no”—like someone who stands on the hose when you‟re trying to put out a fire. And if the Tea Partiers succeed in getting more and more extremists running on the Republican ticket, that should open huge differences between the Democratic candidates and them. That can produce victory after victory—thanks to the Tea Partiers.

    But alternately, the least authoritarian folks can find a dozen reasons to do little or nothing, and then the authoritarians will win.

    Unless more non-participating, non-RWAs get out and participate, the election in 2014 will at least maintain RWA control.

    Posted in Authoritarianism   |   Comments Off on Who’s in Control and Who Helped Put Them There?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    America’s Two Party System – The Good, Bad, and The Really Ugly

    First of all, a short summary of The Lucifer Effect. It explains how events like Mi Lai, Abu Ghraib, and The Stanford Prison Experiment turned good people evil.

    Part of this explanation involves “bad barrels.” A bad barrel is an environment in which a person lives or works which negatively alters how that person completes assigned tasks. Anyone living in a bad barrel is highly susceptible to performing evil acts that they would otherwise never consider. Individuals who are known as ‘good’ outside the bad barrel learn to commit acts that they would never consider outside of the bad barrel.

    The prison at Abu Ghraib was one such bad barrel. Professor Zimbardo, author of The Lucifer Effect, inadvertently created a bad barrel, a mock prison, in a basement at Stanford University. The war environment, or maybe even a war mentality, can create a bad barrel. I have posted that listening to Fox Noise and hate radio in isolation also creates a bad barrel.

    Building bad barrels of significance takes a lot of resources, and “Koch Kash” from multinational corporations and individual billionaires are key resources, especially since the publication of The Powell Memo and the Supreme Court’s activist Citizens United decision.

    Our national politics now include at least two major bad barrels. One of those barrels is encircled by The Beltway around Washington, D.C. which contains over 20 corporate lobbyists for every Congressional representative. The other is The White House. Civil servants, spanning decades of influence, have also helped bring us to where we are today. The predominant political influence inside those barrels is right-wing authoritarianism.

    These right-wing authoritarian bad barrels, with all the lobbyists, civil servants, and Koch Kash, will corrupt almost every politician sent to Washington, D.C., regardless of party affiliation.

    Those two bad barrels have taken decades to create and that transition is how we’ve gone from good, to bad, to ugly. And getting back to ‘good’ may require getting from ‘ugly’ back to ‘bad’ first.

    Here are the definitions of the good, bad and ugly in terms for our two-party system and authoritarianism:

    Good – From the passage of Social Security in 1935 to passage of The Clean Air and Clean Water acts of the early 1970s, we maximized the protection and empowerment of citizens. This period included more liberal to moderate perspectives in both parties and a populous that had suffered a depression and multiple wars together giving them a sense of community and caring for others.

    Bad – The Powell Memo of 1971, which kicked off this era, was the formal declaration of corporate war on American democracy. It was the beginning of the end of our citizen-driven government. This period began the purge of liberals from both parties and the takeover of the Republican party by the authoritarian religious right.

    Ugly – This era signifies almost absolute control by a right-wing authoritarian minority, funded heavily by right-wing corporate America and right-wing billionaires. Almost all Republicans and a few Democrats represent this minority. In the Senate, they represent a minority of small populated states with right-wing voters. In the House, the Tea Party represents the major portion of this minority. Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, and Senator Bill Frist gave rise to this era in the mid 90s.

    We made a lot of progress after the Great Depression, but during the ugly years we lost so much and we suffered the Great Recession. To get back to the good years, we must both redefine American capitalism to promote sustainability and democracy, and educate and involve more citizens, especially minorities, in the political process to destroy the bad barrels in D.C. and rid us of the, white, right-wing authoritarian, minority. This minority is currently tearing down our system of representative governance and replacing it with one of corporate governance run by the ONE% with Koch Kash, all to prove they are right and punish the rest of us.

    The July 25, 2013, email newsletter from Popular Resistance put it this way:

    A simplified explanation of the strategy to transform our society from a greedy plutocracy to a cooperative democracy, from our destructive path to a sustainable future, is that there are two simultaneous tracks – protest [including voting] what we do not like and build what we want. We call this “Stop the Machine-Create a New World.”

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    Corporate ‘Takers’ of America

    As states give to and take from national citizenship dues coffers, some get back more than they give, and Red states are the biggest net takers. That leads me to another comparison, but one looking at large multinational corporations, and a question for which I don’t really know the answer. What is the net income/loss for the nation, or states for that matter, as corporations give and take, especially, if you go beyond what they might pay in citizenship dues and include transfer costs related to pollution, its impact on our health, and poorly paid employees with no benefits. How many large multinational corporations would be defined as ‘net takers?’ Just the dirty energy industries like Koch Industries? Just fast food? Just Wall Mart? Just high-tech? Just international banks? Just hedge fund managers? Just brokerages? Or all of these and many more?

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    ALEC Was Inspired by The Powell Memo of 1971 – Corporations Taking Control of Our Government

    Depending on your media sources, you may have seen the news about the 40 year anniversary of ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council. Well, ALEC and other conservative, pro-corporate governance of America, organizations were inspired by a document published 42 years ago. On August 23, 1971, attorney, and future Supreme Court Justice, Lewis F. Powell Jr, drafted a confidential memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that is now know as The Powell Memo. It “describes a strategy for the corporate takeover of the dominant public institutions of American society.”

    Two years ago, on the 40th anniversary of The Powell Memo, Greenpeace posted a story about it:

    “Historian Kim Phillips-Fein describes how “many who read the memo cited it afterward as inspiration for their political choices.” In fact, Powell’s Memo is widely credited for having helped catalyze a newbusiness activist movement, with numerous conservative family and corporate foundations (e.g. Coors, Olin, Bradley, Scaife, Koch and others) thereafter creating and sustaining powerful new voices to help push the corporate agenda, including the Business Roundtable (1972), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC – 1973), Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1977), the Manhattan Institute (1978), Citizens for a Sound Economy (1984 – now Americans for Prosperity), Accuracy in Academe (1985), and others.”

    What are we willing to pay for unlimited free enterprise – the loss of our representative government?

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    Corporate Servitude IS Replacing Equal Protection and Empowerment by the Government

    Listening to a right-wing caller on the Thom Hartmann show recently, reminded me of a key element from the right-wing authoritarian message machine. They make false claims about government, but the real problem is: massive corporate servitude. From any contract we sign that forces us into arbitration if we are harmed – arbitration that favors the corporation, to medical care costs set by the corporate “chargemaster,” to corporate commercials selling us things we don’t need, to corporate sponsored ALEC writing our state laws, to thousands of corporate lobbyists in our capital, to exorbitant corporate campaign donations, multinational corporations govern our lives. And they have the resources to sue anyone if anything impacts their profits.

    “Excessive [corporate] intrusion” into all areas of our democracy is the major problem we are facing today. Corporate governance, which is only accountable to a few major stockholders, has replaced our representative governance, which is now only loosely accountable to its citizens. Remember the polls showing 90 percent of the public wanting limitations on guns sales and the 45 Senators that voted against that law? But no one’s talking about this problem because the right-wing authoritarians are pushing a false problem which they have manufactured and which supports their only reason for existence – to prove they are right.

    Remember, you won’t find ‘protecting and empowering citizens’ in any corporate charter or by-laws. Protection and empowerment is the moral responsibility of nurturant parents and representative government.

    Corporate governance diminishes our liberties and freedoms. Women are losing their liberty to choose – unless they can afford ‘safer’ for-profit facilities. Citizens are losing their right to vote unless they can pay a for-profit government contractor for a voter ID. Some of us still don’t have the freedom to walk our streets – just for the sake of maintaining gun manufacturer profits.

    Corporate servitude IS replacing equal protection and empowerment of citizens by its representative government – except for the ONE%, who can afford their own protection and empowerment. One day, corporations will be selling our children to the wealthiest bidder.

    Posted in Corporate Intrusion   |   Comments Off on Corporate Servitude IS Replacing Equal Protection and Empowerment by the Government   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    What’s Really Best for an ‘Unwanted’?

    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” — Thomas Jefferson

    Just as it is the moral responsibility of nurturant parents to protect and empower each child equally, it is also the moral responsibility of a people’s government (of, for and by) to equally protect and empower each citizen. The children, as they mature, and later, as they become citizens, should benefit significantly from a balanced implementation of this moral responsibility. I say “should” because multiple variables affect the actualization of this responsibility and the well-being of children and citizens.

    One key variable is caring. The benefits of actualizing this moral responsibility are maximized when parents and/or governments care deeply for all those for whom they are responsible. Funding/income/revenue is another variable, but caring is more significant than funding, and most other factors. Caring has life long psychological impacts. Funding is fleeting and just one of many helpful tools in life’s tool box.

    So, to maximize the benefits of the moral responsibility to equally protect and empower our children and citizens, maximize caring and make sure the funding is available as needed to compliment that caring. Or to minimize the benefits, eliminate the caring and withdraw the funding.

    But isn’t the latter just what many state Legislatures and Governors are doing to millions of American women? But what should one expect from right-wing authoritarians who only care about themselves and are making sure they keep what is ‘theirs.’ They cut school funding and enabled transfer of some of the available funding to for-profit corporations. They rejected Medicaid funding, among other hateful acts, and now they want to force women to give birth to children in states where caring is a no longer a government goal.

    And just how will forcing the delivery of an ‘unwanted’ alter the strong and natural tendency of women to care for a child – especially one from a pregnancy complicated by horrendous situations like rape or incest? Won’t resentment override caring? Won’t the lack of caring harm an unwanted for life and create a burden on society that could be prevented?

    Is it morally right to bring an ‘unwanted,’ especially one created from abuse and later subject to other abuse, into such an uncaring world?

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a God because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” — Thomas Jefferson

    Posted in Human Rights Abuse, Protect & Empower   |   3 Comments   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Shelby County v Holder Ruling – Keeping Texas Red

    Here’s another message I’ve sent to the Supreme Court:

    On behalf of the Texas Republican Party, thank you.

    With our contested voter ID law and formerly illegal district maps being implemented, the Battleground Texas effort will have an even more challenging time of turning Texas blue.

    Thanks for delaying the inevitable and keeping Republicans in control of Texas for some unknown number of additional years. Thanks for assuring that future presidents of the United States are less likely to be Democrats and, in turn, for making sure you are joined by future justices of like partisanship.

    Shame on the Robert’s right-wing, authoritarian, activist members – “The Hateful Four.” You’ve overthrown decades of still valid court precedence based on gut feel instead of discriminatory laws passed by Texas and other ALEC controlled state legislatures.

    Things have changed “dramatically” since the Civil Rights Act. We have ALEC. We have billionaires like the Koch Brothers buying our government. We have a Supreme Court that has voted in favor of the US Chamber of Congress more often than not. We have hate radio. We have partisan entertainment referred to as news. We have banks to big to prosecute. We have more and more wealth concentrated with those of excessive wealth. We have a Congress that is controlled by a minority, extreme right-wing caucus. We have fewer union members. We have negative wage growth for average Americans. We have millions more without health insurance. We’ve had a Great Recession and we have a Supreme Court that is aiding this destruction of our democracy .

    If you agree, make a donation to Battleground Texas.

    Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Intrusion   |   2 Comments   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Supporters of DOMA, Prop 8, and Texas Special Session SB 5 – How Their Authoritarian World View Can Predict Their Actions

    While driving home from lunch today and listening to the discussion on NPR’s ‘Talk of the Nation’, the strong unreasonable comments of a caller disturbed me.

    This caller was stating that overruling California’s Proposition 8 was not right. Prop 8 was the will of the voters of California and as such was the law of California voters. The courts had no authority to overrule people’s desires. What the people wanted was what was right.

    There was no reasoning with this caller about the legal process of determining if a law was constitutional or not. For him it was all about the will of the people, as if they were always right.

    In the battles against DOMA, Prop 8, Texas 2013 Special Session SB 5 and others to come, we need to understand why this caller, and millions of others like him, including Perry, Dewhurst, Taylor, and Dan Patrick, don’t see these issues the way progressives do.

    Throughout my blog, I refer to these individuals as right-wing authoritarians (RWA) or conservatives without conscience as John Dean calls them. The key word is authoritarian. These authoritarians come from what Professor George Lakoff calls the strict-father family model. There is a dominant male figure who rules this family and who uses severe punishment to teach respect for authority and to teach what is right. This family model includes a subordinate female who does as directed by the authoritarian male.

    The male authoritarian places high value on his sense of what is right. His gut tells him he is right. His authority cannot be questioned and if it is, he will mete out the appropriate level of physical punishment to correct the situation.

    In the case of the RWA who called supporting Prop 8, his gut told him he was right about that support and it’s authority/constitutionality could not be questioned. How dare the US Supreme Court, or any other court, question what he ‘knows’ is right. These courts are wrong and deserve some level of punishment. How he and others like him will vent their anger, who knows? They will certainly use their anger to GOTV.

    Now apply this to what happened in Austin with SB 5 on June 25th. There are a lot of upset Texans, grown as RWAs who strongly desire to teach the orange shirted mob what is right by applying an appropriate punishment.

    With that it mind, I predict our state leaders will come back in the second special session with a more evil SB 5 to punish women even more deeply, and they will line the walls of the visitors’ gallery and halls of the capital with as many state troopers and other law enforcement as they can muster to keep the “unruly” orange shirts under control.

    Posted in Authoritarianism, Human Rights Abuse, Obsession with Punishment, Rampant Sexism   |   Comments Off on Supporters of DOMA, Prop 8, and Texas Special Session SB 5 – How Their Authoritarian World View Can Predict Their Actions   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Is a Sense of Security for a Minor Threat Worth the Loss of Liberty – a Real Threat?

    The government not only has PRISM, but there is also NUCLEON, MAINWAY and MARINA. The first two collect content from the internet and phone calls. The other two collect metadata from phone calls and the internet. This data collecting is generally referred to as Hoovering, after J. Edgar. This Hoovering includes phone and internet usage by all Americans. However, they store our data separately, in perpetuity, and require additional steps to investigate.

    Details available from AP and Wash Post. Here is a summary:

     

    How long will our communications be kept and who define and redefine the parameters that define a security risk?

    Ben Franklin said:

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. (Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759)

    After WWII, Martin Niemöller said:

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

    We are sliding down the slippery slope. How long before only those in power are ‘free?’ How long before our corporate owned government legislates that personhood applies only to corporations and we all “owe our soul to the company store?”

    Posted in Obsession with National Security   |   Comments Off on Is a Sense of Security for a Minor Threat Worth the Loss of Liberty – a Real Threat?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

    Media Gives Free Reign to Gut Feel While The Nation’s Needs Are Ignored

    Right-wing authoritarians (RWA) – those blocking progress in both houses of our Congress and conniving with ALEC to write oppressive state laws – are not only all about ‘me-my-mine,’ they are also ‘rugged individualists’ with no need for others who believe they have total control of their success. This exaggerated sense of self-confidence naturally leads to an exaggerated dependence on, and belief in, the value of their gut feel. Not only are these RWA driven to delusion by their gut feel, but the for-profit media are equally enamored with spreading these delusional beliefs as news.

    To paraphrase George Lakoff, ‘gut feel trumps facts’ – even if for-profit media deigns to present any facts.

    Gut feel, and lack of a skeptical free press, is why the RWA are still winning the message wars against Obama, Islam, inequality, peace, empathy, representative governance, unions, tolerance of others not like them, jobs for the unemployed, separation of church and state, peaceful civil disobedience, working together, properly funding public education, lower student loan rates, back ground checks for all gun sales, the government, the IRS, the EPA, the FDA, Executive appointments, consumer protection, minority voter rights, single-payer healthcare, rebuilding our national infrastructure, Medicaid for poor working Americans, preventing more human-made climate disruption, and, most critically, against paying citizenship dues (income taxes) based on use/abuse of public resources, which enables the defeat of most everything else in this list.

    RWA gut feel is distracting us from participating in and maintaining our democracy.

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    Avoiding The Right-wing Authoritarian Future – The Moral Values Way

    (Unless otherwise noted, this posting includes extensive excerpts from Appendix VII, The New Patriotism, of the The 15% Solution, by ‘Jonathan Westminster,’ which is a penname for Steven Jonas. The second edition of this book that was just published, does not include this appendix.)

    The right-wing authoritarians of both political parties have no use for the government except to both punish those not like them and provide welfare for the extremely wealthy. This also means eliminating any government programs that help those not like them. This is a key moral value for the extreme right and it is learned from a strict-father upbringing where severe punishment is applied from an early age to teach their view of right and wrong: You will be punished until you convert or you are disposable.

    This is in absolute contradiction to the progressive moral values stated in the preambles of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution:

    • Our national purpose is made clear by the Declaration: to demonstrate unequivocably that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Crealor with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness … “
    • The purpose of our national government is also made clear in the Declaration, that is: “to secure these rights. Governments are instituted among men.”
    • The functions of our government in achieving this purpose are spelled out in the preamble to the Constitution: to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity[.]”

    In an August, 2012 article, George Lakoff discusses this progressive morality and contrasts it with what the right-wing authoritarians want to support their moral values.

    America’s soul resides in our relation to one another, the way citizens have from the beginning joined together to form a government whose mission is to protect and empower everyone equally, and to use that government for the sake of The Public, the system that provides the basic means for our freedom to live decent lives and pursue happiness of all kinds, whether it comes from wealth or making music, or becoming a doctor, a scientist, a businessman, an athlete, a teacher, or whatever you find fulfilling. The Public is what unites us in a common enterprise, and the destruction of The Public is a destruction of the bonds that hold us together.

    The Congressional Budget office estimates that Ryan’s “long-term budget, if you project forward defense spending, would cut 91 percent from these and all other non-defense programs. Ninety-one percent.” That’s 91 percent of The Public gone: Medical and scientific research. Pell grants. The EPA. The NIH. NPR. The small business administration. Unemployment insurance. Regulation of corporations. Money to help state and local governments. Highway repair. Air traffic controllers. And all government employees doing everything The Public does.

    The destruction of The Public is not reversible. It would be the death of the very idea of America. Here’s what it would mean.

    Even more, a lot more, of the nation’s wealth than the current 40 percent going to the top 1 percent. Poverty up. Opportunity gone. No way for the poor and middle class to get a college education, and maybe not even a decent K – 12 education, and certainly not public pre-schools. As unemployment rises, competition for jobs gets greater, and so wages get even lower and pensions and health benefits disappear. As the public control of the airwaves disappears with the FCC, the corporate control of news rises, and objectivity of reporting gets much lower. Freedom of the press becomes meaningless. When the military controls almost all of the budget, it gets immensely strong in society, threatening civilian control of the military. When the EPA and FDA disappear, say goodbye to clean air, clean water, and safe food. Wilderness in the National Parks will not exist: it will be destroyed in the race to get at our natural resources — wood, minerals, oil and gas.

    The biggest lie is that there is, or should be, no Public. The [right-wing] biggest lie is that Democracy is about personal freedom alone, about the “liberty” to seek your own interests with no responsibility for the interests or well-being of your fellow citizens. The biggest [right-wing] lie is a moral lie. If believed and carried to the conclusion defined by a Devil’s Budget, it means Evil with a capital E and the loss of the American soul.

    The idea of American Individualism is a [right-wing] moral lie. There can be no Individualism without The Public. Individualism can only begin where The Public leaves off. Individualism begins after the roads are built, after individualists have had an education, after medical research has cured their diseases, after the individualists have received from The Public land grants, grazing, water, and mineral leases, oil and agriculture subsidies, after they have received crucial patents.

    Lakoff concludes with the historical morality that gave America its soul:

    In what was perhaps the first statement of the morality that lit the Soul of America, John Winthrop told his fellow passengers on the New World-bound Arbella in 1630:

    …that every man might have need of others, and from hence they might be all knit more nearly together in the bonds of brotherly affection. From hence it appears plainly that no man is made more honorable than another or more wealthy etc., out of any particular and singular respect to himself…

    This is the morality that informs the Declaration and the Constitution. It is the morality that led to emancipation, to universal suffrage, to the New Deal and the Great Society, and Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear — with the recognition that we are all in this democratic experiment together. It is what, from the beginning, has informed the formation of The Public. It is that sense of morality that we must maintain.

    Based on this, here is a definition for a progressive government:

    A Government of, by, and for the people requires:
    – A government with the moral purpose to equally protect and empower all the people such that their individual freedoms are maximized and such that economic, social, racial, and environmental injustices are minimized, and
    – The active participation of a majority of the people to maintain such a government.

    What must be done to avoid a right-wing authoritarian future and re-establish the progressive future as defined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution? For the answer, there is the The New Patriotism, a “larger project for a new economy and society” that is detailed below:

    The New Patriotism is based on a true “strict constructionist” interpretation of the plain language of the Declaration and the Constitution including the Bill of Rights. Faithfully following the Doctrine of Original Intent, The New Patriotism takes the language of our two founding documents at face value. If the Declaration says “all men are created equal,” The New Patriotism takes it to mean that. It does not assume that some people are by their very nature more worthy, more privileged, or more capable than others, while others are intellectually inferior or economically “less eligible.”

    If the Constitution says that a function of the Federal government is to “promote the general Welfare [emphasis added],” The New Patriotism takes it to mean that. It does not assume that the Federal government is to treat the well-being of certain segments of the population with “benign neglect” while it provides economic benefits for others.

    The program of The New Patriotism is based upon and grows out of the five functions of the American Federal government as spelled out in the Preamble to the Constitution’:

    • Establish justice.
    • Insure domestic tranquility.
    • Provide for the common defense.
    • Promote the general welfare.
    • Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

    The program of The New Patriotism is designed to fulfill these functions.

    To establish Justice

    Under the provisions of the Declaration of Independence and the preamble to the Constitution the primary purpose of the Federal government is to secure the rights and liberties of its citizens. These rights are identified generically in the Declaration. They are spelled out in more detail in the Bill of Rights. Among these rights are:

    • Freedom of religion, speech, the press , and assembly (First Amendment).
    • The right of each State to form a “well-regulated militia” (Second Amendment).
    • Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the guarantee that arrest warrants will be detailed and issued by a responsible party only upon probable cause (Fourth Amendment).
    • Freedom from double jeopardy and any requirement of self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment).
    • The guarantee of due process of law in any matter involving potential deprivation of life, liberty, or property (Fifth Amendment, later applied to the states by the 14th Amendment).
    • The guarantee of a jury trial and defense counsel in criminal cases (Sixth Amendment).
    • The guarantee of a jury trial in most civil cases (Seventh Amendment).
    • Protection against excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment (Eighth Amendment).
    • The protection of rights “retained by the people” which are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution (Ninth Amendment).

    The most important obligation of the Federal government in establishing justice, then, is to protect and defend the rights of its citizens. These rights include not only those specifically referred to in the Bill of Rights. They also include those unenumerated natural rights, such as the right to privacy, covered by the Ninth Amendment. There are few nations which have Bills of Rights, and fewer still with a legal and legislative history in which the provisions of the Bill of Rights have been so vigorously defended. The Bill of Rights is indeed one of the features of our Constitution which gives us claim to special status among nations. The Bill of Rights is the hallmark of American freedom, the measure of American liberty.

    In vigorously defending the rights of our people, carrying out its obligation under the “To establish Justice” provision of the preamble to the Constitution, under The New Patriotism the Federal government would:

  • Protect freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy, and ensure equal access to the full range of pregnancy-related medical services for all women.
  • Ensure freedom of purely private, individual, unscheduled, voluntary prayer in our schools by any child wishing to pray, as long as such prayer did not interfere with the rights of others or cause any unreasonable disruption of school activities. At the same time, it would vigorously oppose attempts to schedule prayer time in school, whether on a compulsory or “voluntary” basis.
  • Secure equal opportunity in education and employment for all of our citizens, through the use of affirmative action where necessary.
  • Affirm that the Constitutional rights of women are fully secure, through adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Assure protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • Ensure the broad dissemination of the knowledge of Constitutional rights among the population, and protect the application of those rights In both the civil and criminal law.
  • Affirm and reinforce the rights of freedom of speech, assembly, religion and the press, as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
  •  

    To insure domestic Tranquility

    Tranquility means peace and serenity. In the context of the Declaration and the Constitution, “domestic tranquility” goes beyond physical protection and the control of physical violence. It extends to the positive affirmation of a tranquil society, promoting efforts to diminish social conflict and personal misery, improving the quality of life for all those residing within the domestic confines of the United States, insuring national peace by helping to assure personal peace. Therefore, if domestic tranquility is to be insured, the Federal government has the obligation to:

    • Combat racism:
      – As a phenomenon that hurts everyone – those who practice it, as well as those who are its victims, whether physically, psychologically, socially, or economically.
      – As a phenomenon that is completely inconsistent with true American values.
      – As a phenomenon that costs the society dearly, saps productivity, and creates a real possibility for the physical disturbance of domestic tranquility in the future.
    • Expand educational opportunity significantly from pre-school through graduate school by investing appropriate new monies in the educational process.
    • Deal with the shortage of reasonably affordable housing for many as well as with the proliferation of homelessness in many parts of the country.
    • Address national problems in nutrition which range from chronic hunger in some populations to over nutrition in many others (obesity being the single most common health problem in the United States).
    • Provide for job training and employment opportunities for all who want to work.
    • Institute a comprehensive national health program that will provide health care cost coverage for all Americans and establish the promotion of health and the prevention of disease its first priority.

    To provide for the common Defence

    This Constitutional language makes it clear that the primary responsibility of the Federal government in military matters is defense of the homeland. Certainly in modern times this phrase has a meaning different from that of the 18th century. Just as the concept of what it means to “insure domestic tranquility” has expanded in the modern era, so has the concept of “defence.” In this nuclear/space/high-speed/electronic age, our military capability must extend beyond our physical borders. But if we are to be true to the Constitution, the primary focus of any foreign military endeavour must be related to the defense of our own territory.

    We need not and should not be the world’s policeman (contrary to the views of some [Summers]). We certainly don’t have to extend our military might around the globe to protect our trade and secure access to foreign natural resources. Japan and all of the European trading nations have proved this to be unnecessary. If we must venture beyond our borders, it should only be within strict legality and as part of an international security effort.

    This doctrine means that we should not plan for waging massive war, nuclear or otherwise. We should not plot the forceful over-throw of existing governments which we do not happen to like, unless they explicitly threaten to attack us. We should leave the responsibility for defending the borders of other countries primarily to those countries, except in very unusual circumstances.

    In the Third World, as part of an international effort we should strive to eliminate the causes of potential internal violence which threaten the peace and security of certain regions. They are: overpopulation, poverty, hunger, disease, un- and underemployment, lack of education. In many countries, especially in Latin America, we have allied ourselves with wealthy ruling elites simply because they professed “anti-communism.” These elites have arrogated to themselves major shares of their countries’ wealth leaving much of the population impoverished. They use their U.S. supplied, trained, and maintained armed forces not to defend against foreign attack but to oppress their own people and deny their human rights. By supporting such elites we make a mockery of our professions in support of human rights.

    We should aggressively promote democracy and human rights abroad. At the same time, we should recognize that democracy is more than simply holding elections. In the Third World especially, and in Eastern Europe as well, elections alone often do not solve people’s’ real problems. Therefore we should promote real democracy and human rights not only in countries that we have viewed as adversaries or “captive nations,” but also in those non-democratic countries which are aligned with us, such as South Africa,’ El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Guatemala.

    To “provide for the common Defence” then, the Federal government will:

    • Achieve major reductions in military spending, focusing first on the reduction of overseas military commitments and the termination of the development of most major new weapons systems. We will nevertheless remain the world’s premier military power.
    • Recognize that if we are to win the ideological struggle in the Third World, we must project true American values, there as well as at home. Therefore, we will have to adopt policies to reduce the potential for violent left-wing revolution in developing countries. Along these lines, we will remove our support for armies that exist primarily to control their own people, encourage land reform, and work to ameliorate the conditions that cause social revolution.
    • Abandon our support for right-wing revolts around the world which justify themselves by claiming to be “anti-communist.” This will enable us to reduce our capability to participate in “low-level” conflicts, which are always fraught with danger.
    • Work to expand peaceful trade and cultural exchanges, while adopting economic policies that improve American competitiveness by improving American skills and productivity.

    To promote the general Welfare

    This provision deals with economic matters and well-being. Following it, under The New Patriotism the focus of Federal economic policy will be on real problems and on solving them, to create the conditions that will foster well-being for all. As pointed out previously, Republicans like to focus on process phrases like “cut taxes,” or “free market, or “deregulate.” (Historically, regulation has ordinarily been a reactive, not a proactive function of government, made necessary by the unfettered actions of certain businesspeople and others. The primary purpose of regulation is to protect the interests of the ordinary person or the Commonwealth.’)

    The New Patriotism looks at the substantive “for what?” of these approaches. What will happen if this or that tax is cut by this or that much? What will happen if this activity is regulated/deregulated? Who will benefit? Who will be harmed? What concrete problems that affect people’s lives will be solved or made worse? How will the national interest be affected?

    The Reaganite/Bushists did not “tax and spend.” That would have been the fiscally conservative, responsible way to do things. Rather, they cut taxes for their primary benefactors and beneficiaries, the wealthy and the corporations (McIntyre). Then they spent anyway, and borrowed, and borrowed, and borrowed (Morland). Under The New Patriotism, if the government is going to spend, it tells the people what it is spending on, justifies it, and raises the money before spending, by taxing, not afterwards, by borrowing.

    Under The New Patriotism, “to provide for the general Welfare” the Federal
    government will:

    • Enact programs designed to significantly reduce the prevalence of poverty, as the only effective long-term solution to the problems of the welfare system.
    • Reform taxation policy to tax the rich fairly, reduce the growing financial gap between rich and everyone else, and save the middle classes from pauperization.
    • Reduce the Federal deficit by increasing taxes on those who can afford to pay, the wealthy and the large corporations, by reducing military spending, and by improving tax collection.
    • Adopt tax, fiscal, and planning policies that encourage investment in modernization and new productive capacity at home, while providing no subsidies for non-productive corporate takeovers. The export of capital will be discouraged and, if necessary, regulated.
    • Institute anti-trust policies that support and encourage free-market competition, especially in price, quality, and quantity of consumer goods and services, while discouraging the concentration of ownership (which tends to diminish competition and void the benefits of the free market).
    • Establish economic regulatory policies designed to produce a level economic playing field.
    • Develop a national housing program using private and public resources that sets a goal to provide affordable housing for all Americans.
    • Devote new Federal expenditures to the solution of more clearly defined problems through carefully designed programs, planned and carried out in cooperation with state and local government.

    To secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

    This phrase in the Preamble to the Constitution confers upon the Federal government the responsibility to look ahead and plan for the future. And what are the “blessings of liberty” as defined for us? Are they not, at the least, “life, liberty [itself], and the pursuit of happiness?” The preservation of liberty itself is to be carried out by the Federal government under the provisions of the “establish Justice” phrase. That leaves life and the pursuit of happiness as the other blessings of liberty that must be secured for our descendants as well as ourselves.

    Following what might be called the “foresight provision” of the Preamble to the Constitution, then, under The New Patriotism the Federal government will:

    • In cooperation with the States, develop and implement a comprehensive long-range plan for the repair, upgrading, replacement, and enhancement of the nation’s infrastructure, and provide significant funding for that effort.
    • In cooperation with the States, develop and implement a comprehensive long-range plan for the protection, up-grading, and restoration of the environment. It will deal with such matters as: sustainable use of animal, plant, and inanimate natural resources, solid waste disposal, toxic dump decontamination, nuclear waste disposal, air quality, water quality, preservation of wilderness areas and undeveloped land, soil conservation, and conservation of timber resources.
    • Develop and implement a comprehensive energy policy to emphasize fuels alternative to oil, the development of safe nuclear power and nuclear waste disposal [maybe not], and the vast expansion of solar [and wind] energy exploitation.
    • Develop a comprehensive policy to deal with the known dangers of global warming.

    The bottom line is that “moral values trump policy” and without including progressive moral values in every discussion of policy, progressive polices won’t stop the right-wing authoritarian future. Reagan, and many others since, have succeeded because they used right-wing authoritarian moral values to successfully promote their me-mine-my policies.

    I recall a conversation I had with Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan’s chief strategist. In Wirthlin’s first poll for Reagan, he found that most voters disliked Reagan’s policies, but wanted to vote for him. There was, he discovered, a set of related reasons: Reagan spoke about values and used issues only to illuminate values. Values trump policies.

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    Teapublicans Are Punishing America for Electing a Black Man President

    As we all know, our right-wing minority controlled Congress and many right-wing state leaders have opposed every effort of President Obama. The election of a gaggle of Tea Party members to Congress in 2010 reinforced this opposition and Mitch McConnell had even stated they had a plan to limit President Obama to one term.

    Where does this anger/hatred and lack of action come from?

    As the research by Professor George Lakoff and others has shown, those on the far right have a worldview that includes a hierarchy of humankind that promotes inequality and a belief in extreme physical punishment starting at a very young age to teach their ideas of what is right.

    Their hierarchy has God at the top followed by white, male, authoritarian Christians and then everyone else not like them. The bottom of this hierarchy is includes the poor, especially poor minority women.

    This hierarchy means they just cannot support anything President Obama wants and their belief in strong physical punishment leads to their punishment of America for electing President Obama.

    For more on this right-wing worldview, see The Strict Father Model section of chapter 4 of Thinking Points.

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    Corporate Governance Is Stifling Dodd-Frank – No Surprise

    Professor Richard D. Wolff, author and self trained Marxist economist, and journalist Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole the American Dream, have both detailed how we have gone from the Greatest Generation of WWII to the first generation that will be worse off than their parents.

    Both discuss the demise of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Both recommend long term fixes and both agree that re-regulation is either difficult, next to impossible, or that it will be reversed by the same corporate forces quicker than Glass-Steagall. So far, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act is only 38 percent imposed and fighting huge corporate resistance.

    Dodd-Frank may have been too smart for its own good.”

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    Labor Is Dealt Two New Blows – Both Limit NLRB

    The following is from Thom Hartmann:

    You need to know this. For decades, unions have been fighting to preserve workers’ rights, but that fight just got a lot more difficult. [Thursday], two separate events illustrated just how extreme the war on labor has become. First, Republican judges on Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck down President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. On the same day, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a contentious confirmation hearing on current NLRB board appointments. The hearing served as a blatant reminder that nearly every judge and nominee appointed by President Obama has been blocked by Republicans. So, on a single day, right-wing judges rendered the NLRB impotent, and Senate Republicans may obstruct NLRB confirmations, leaving it powerless to protect workers. Without these confirmations, the NLRB will be powerless to enforce workers’ rights to form a union, stand up to abusive working conditions, and force employers to actually negotiate with unions. The Obama Administration has appealed a similar ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the High Court has shown in multiple cases that it favors businesses over workers. The only way to fight this is to demand that the Senate confirms these NLRB appointments, so that the agency can again enforce these vital labor laws. We must demand it. Call your Senators today and tell them to confirm all of Obama’s NLRB appointments.

    As power for workers is limited, the power of corporations over workers, suppliers, and customers grows.

    Many complain about the excess of government, but all are blind to the control of corporations over our lives. Corporate governance is stealthily replacing representative governance through privatization and the purchasing our elected officials.

    What are we willing to pay for unlimited free enterprise – the loss of our representative government?

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    Move the “Center” Back to the Left – Where America Is

    The following is a slightly longer version of my letter to The White House.

    Mr. President,

    I’ll be 65 in a few days. I’ve seen and experienced parts of America’s history which you may have only read about. Also since October of 2005, I’ve been reading and writing about the changes in America’s politics during my life time.

    I started out as a Texas Young Republican working on the Nixon campaign when Democrats ruled the state. In those times, the Republicans had both liberal and conservative members. My wife and I, we were dating at the time, almost broke up over Nixon vs Nelson Rockefeller for president. There were no right-wing extremists to be seen.

    Since then Lewis Powell wrote The Powell Memo for the US Chamber of Commerce and advanced the corporate effort to undo all aspects of the common good for the sake of corporate profit. Also, the Republican Party has become more extreme, more expert at messaging, more homogenous, and more authoritarian while the Democrat Party has lost its way and only denies the right-wing messaging instead of talking progressive moral values.

    So, even though citizens as a whole have stayed just slightly left of center over this time, both major political parties have moved to the right, have supported unfunded wars, have put corporations above citizens, and have let our national moral standards become as low as our enemies.

    We are now controlled by an extreme right-wing minority nationally and in most states. If Congress weren’t so right-wing, we could have had medicare for all. If the electoral college were based on red/blue counties, you would not have been reelected.

    My point is that politicians, as a whole, no longer represent the needs of American citizens and that if you are trying to play middle of the road, you are still too far to the right of the average American. I don’t think you have the perspective from inside the beltway to recognize that your right-leaning actions, as represented by some of your appointments, speak louder than your left-leaning words.

    Please, stop adding, and reduce the number of, pro-corporate representatives in your Administration. Please, replace the unitary executive with the rule of law – not legal interpretations to suit a particular end. Please, don’t allow the Keystone XL pipeline – let the dirty energy industry move the Canadian sludge by other means. Please, nationalize the banks that are too big to prosecute and replace the pro-corporate members of the Federal Reserve with those less concerned about what’s best for these banks and more concerned about those who lost big in the Great Recession. Please protect and improve our safety net and emphasize that revenue has become the problem over the last three decades thanks to excessive take cuts for the rich.

    The nation is further to the left than the supposed center inside the beltway. Please support the left of center as represented by those who elected you to office.

    Thank you for your service and consideration.


    Conclusion from January 2013 study by New America Foundation
    :

    The American social safety net is more porous than that afforded to citizens in many other high-income economies and the social contract is weaker. And in the effort to curtail the U.S. government debt, the support provided to average Americans who are unemployed, poor, or in need of health insurance and pensions may be further reduced. Americans oppose such cuts in social services. But they also oppose most other efforts to reduce the debt, while supporting debt reduction in principle. And they remain uncertain about the role government should play in the provision of health care, old age insurance and the like.

    Public ambivalence about the social safety net suggests the United States will never provide its citizens with support comparable to that provided to citizens of Germany or Scandinavia. At the same time, Americans value the social safety net that exists and do not want it changed.

    Americans do have a social contract with each other and with their government. But this bond is currently under great strain. Americans’ conflicting values and goals and deep partisan divisions over the specifics of the social safety net, along with worries about how to pay for it, suggest that the tensions surrounding the social contract will continue for some time.

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    Minimum Wage, Wage Theft and The Free Market at Work – Is it Fixable?

    The post 80’s ideas of keeping the minimum wage suppressed and not rewarding workers, profit creators, for their productivity increases of the last three decades must stop. The decisions of the supply side free market and most of its leaders, profit takers, is destroying the middle class and growing the ranks of the working poor. Reversing this trend and the decisions of the profit takers is doable.

    For example in 1914, Henry Ford made the right free market decision. Ford needed a steady workforce for monotonous work and knew that his workers needed adequate pay to buy his product, so he doubled their pay boosting it to $5/day, more than any minimum wage of the time. According to Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole the American Dream, Ford wrote that this decision was not only a matter of social justice, it was smart business.

    Almost 100 years later, that level of pay is worth around $114.80/day, or $14.35/hour, when adjusted for inflation. This adjusted wage, at $29,850/year, is about $6,800 above the 2012 poverty level for a family of four. The current national minimum wage is $7.25 for hourly workers and $2.13 for tipped workers.

    As the charts below demonstrate, real wage growth for the profit creators has NOT kept up with their increased productivity. Instead, a portion of the salary increases for hundreds of millions of profit creators were kept by their employers, funneled up, and either turned into huge CEO salaries and bonuses, or invested with big banks. The banks then turned their share of those stolen wages into home equity loans and credit card give-a-aways – lots of loans back to the workers to distract them from their stagnant wages. (Other factors also affect income and wealth inequality and are posted about elsewhere.)

     

     

    Income growth for the bottom 90 has been stagnant since 2970

     

     

    The past actions of America’s free market, i.e. corporate governance, have, among other things, kept worker wages low. This escalated in the 80’s when profit makers were no longer rewarded for their productivity increases. To replace those stolen wages, women joined the workforce, and banks made credit very easy to get so they could earn interest on those stolen wages.

    Maybe after almost 100 years, we can return to the “one rule” of Henry Ford:

    “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” Henry Ford

    It’s time to reinstitute Ford’s socially responsible corporate governance. We need to double the minimum wage, as Henry Ford did, and properly reward profit creators – employees – for their productivity gains. We can do this by asking our government to encourage socially responsible corporate governance and by increasing democracy in the workplace.

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    Moral Values of the Left and Right – History Shows Which Works for All Americans

    Throughout this blog, postings have provided details about the strict father and nurturant parent worldviews. Charts in some of those postings show how the dominance of one or the other of these two worldviews affects our economy.

     

    From 1945 to the late 70s, the “We” generation
    – Paid their citizenship dues in proportion to their use of national resources that enabled their success,
    – Used government to protect and empower citizens and consumers,
    – Supported investment in national infrastructure to promote freedom and liberty for all citizens
    – Supported investment in non-profit research for going to the moon, creating the internet,
    – Supported paying our national bills, including wars

    From early 80s to the late 00s, the “Me” generation
    – Stopped paying citizenship dues in proportion to their use of national resources that enabled their success,
    – Used government to protect and empower corporations,
    – Stopped investment in national infrastructure to promote freedom and liberty for all citizens
    – Stopped investment in non-profit research,
    – Resisted paying our national bills, including wars so they could continue shopping

    Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Me and We moral values. Holding either set of values, or a mixture thereof, determines where one stands on topics like the sequester, extending the debt limit, health care, separation of church and state, civil rights, liberty, freedom, race, voter IDs, what to do about unintended pregnancies, public education, public libraries, public roads, public research, public display of religious icons, school prayers, critical thinking, global warming, privatization, public investment, corporate governance, representative governance, success requirements, systemic causation, American exceptionalism, race exceptionalism, gun safety, child safety, prayer in public schools, torture, honor, common good, common wealth, free enterprise, government, non-profit investing, spending, citizenship dues, taxes, etc.

    Strict Father “Me” Worldview Nurturant Parent “We” Worldview
    Freedom and liberty should only be limited by self-restriction. Freedom and liberty need limits based on laws that make sure those limitations are consistent and understood.
    Individuals are responsible only for their own well-being. Individuals are responsible for both their own well-being and the well-being of others.
    Noble Lies about threats to freedom and liberty are part of the arsenal for convincing the masses of what is morally right. Compassion, empathy, and responsibility for all Americans provide for understanding of what is morally right
    A strict father enforces a hierarchy of superiority with God at the top, humans over nature, and white men over women, children, minorities, and especially poor women, children, and minorities who are poor because they lack self-discipline. There is no hierarchy of superiority – each individual is equally protected from harm and equally empowered for success by both parents.
    The strict father will use severe punishment to teach right from wrong. The nurturant parents will teach right from wrong by caring and showing responsibility for themselves and others.
    The social responsibility to provide for the common good is an immoral imposition on individual liberty. Those who make more from the common good should pay more to maintain it.
    The country is better off if everyone depends totally on personal responsibility. The country is better off when everyone depends on both personal and social responsibility.
    Success is due only to self-discipline and if you lack self-discipline you are immoral and deserve your circumstances – you’re on your own. Success is due to self-discipline, innate talent, when you were born, where you were born, what family you were born into, your parent’s choice of friends and religion, your relatives, your teachers, the other kids of your age, your mother’s health care while you were in utero, and other factors and circumstances including the indirect support of others through their government – we’re all in this together.
    Government is bad because it has no self-discipline and free enterprise is a perfect example of self-discipline to enable the success of the individual. Government and free enterprise are as perfect as the citizens or employees who run them and we need both in balance to enable the success of the nation.
    Government is necessary for protection only from internal and external threats to freedom and liberty of authority figures (white men). Government must protect and empower its citizens equally to maximize the freedoms and liberties of all citizens including protection from the excesses of free enterprise.
    Privatize all non-defense government functions. Liberty is maximal personal responsibility, which requires maximal privatization – and profitization – of all that we do for each other together, jointly as a unified nation – The Public. Any government function which protects and empowers citizens should never be privatized. Privatization creates corporate governance, that is accountable to a small set of key shareholders, and replaces representative governance, that is accountable to voters.

    Each worldview makes choices based on their values. Here are some examples of those choices. Which would you chose?

    Me: Living life without any restraint, or
    We: LIving life with consistent and minimal limitations to protect others from abuse from those who have no self-restraint

    Me: Caring only about yourself and those like you, or
    We: Caring about all fellow citizens, understanding that life is not fair, and that we can help others

    Me: Believing individual success comes only from strong self-discipline, or
    We: Believing individual success comes from both innate talent and many factors beyond individual control

    Me: Lying to promote Noble goals is morally justified, or
    We: Working together for the benefit of all is morally right

    Me: Promoting equality based on an arbitrary hierarchy of human attributes, or
    We: Promoting equality based on equal protection and empowerment of all citizens regardless of personal differences

    Me: Teaching right from wrong through excessive physical punishment starting in infancy, or
    We: Teaching right from wrong by nurturing a responsibility and respect for oneself and others

    Me: Succeeding comes only from self-discipline and individual effort, or
    We: Succeeding comes from individual effort that is either enhanced or reduced by many factors beyond the control of the individual

    Me: Living under corporate governance which is accountable only to the CEO and a few major stockholders, or
    We: Living under representative government that is accountable to voters

    Me: Maximizing corporate freedom by eliminating governmental checks and balances, or
    We: Maximizing citizen freedom by having government check and balance abusers of power

    Me: Having corporate governance concerned only about profit at the expense of other stakeholders including customers, or
    We: Having representative government concerned exclusively about protecting and empowering all citizens equally

    Me: Having corporate governance that has bought our representative government, or
    We: Having representative governance that is independent of international corporations which are financially as large as small countries

    Me: Limiting representative government and privatizing all that is public, or
    We: Limiting corporate governance and thus protecting citizen’s well-being, prosperity and safety

    Me: The individual freedom to sell or own weapons for mass killing, or
    We: The social responsibility to prevent violence against all of our children?

    Here is how George Lakoff summarized these two moral sets of beliefs:

    Progressives tend to believe that democracy is based on citizens caring for their fellow citizens through what the government provides for all citizens – public infrastructure, public safety, public education, public health, publicly-sponsored research, public forms of recreation and culture, publicly-guaranteed safety nets for those who need them, and so on. In short, progressives believe that the private depends on the public, that without those public provisions Americans cannot be free to live reasonable lives and to thrive in private business. They believe that those who make more from public provisions should pay more to maintain them.

    Ultra-conservatives don’t believe this. They believe that Democracy gives them the liberty to seek their own self-interests by exercising personal responsibility, without having responsibility for anyone else or anyone else having responsibility for them. They take this as a matter of morality. They see the social responsibility to provide for the common good as an immoral imposition on their liberty.

    Their moral sense requires that they do all they can to make the government fail in providing for the common good. Their idea of liberty is maximal personal responsibility, which they see as maximal privatization – and profitization – of all that we do for each other together, jointly as a unified nation.

    They also believe that if people are hurt by government failure, it is their own fault for being “on the take” instead of providing for themselves. People who depend on public provisions should suffer. They should have [to] rely on themselves alone – learn personal responsibility, just as Romney said in his 47 percent speech. In the long run, they believe, the country will be better off if everyone has to depend on personal responsibility alone.

    Moreover, ultra-conservatives do not see all the ways in which they, and other ultra-conservatives, rely all day every day on what other Americans have supplied for them. They actually believe that they built it all by themselves.

    On page 14 of The Little Blue Book, George Lakoff said, “The repeated use of conservative or liberal moral language is often the decisive factor in whether an independent uses a liberal or conservative moral system for a given election.”

    The “we” moral view held sway after WWII and we built the interstate highway system, sent men to the moon, and paid down the national debt. The “me” moral view has held sway since the 80’s and we suffered the Great Recession, have banks too big to fail or prosecute, and legalized a massive transfer of income and wealth to the ONE% from the middle class.

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    Corporate Governance Will Transfer More Wealth If Social Security Is Privatized

    (This blog posting comes from portions of Who Stole the American Dream by Hedrick Smith.)

    The history of the transition from company funded pensions to employee self-directed 401Ks and the limited success of 401Ks shows vividly that the destruction of Social Security through privatization will only benefit corporations.

    In a subsection of chapter 5, The Pivotal Congress – Jimmy Carter and 1977-78 Democrats, Mr. Smith describes how the 401K was “tucked into the omnibus tax bill [as] a small-print provision.” New York representative, Barber Conable, the ranking Republican leader of the House Ways and Means committee, introduced the change. This provision allowed the corporate executives of Kodak and Xerox to hide their profit-sharing bonuses in a tax deferred account. Later in 1981, the Reagan Treasury Department, after “some ingenious prodding from corporate tax consultants,” extended 401K accounts to all workers. This extension, plus changes to the corporate bankruptcy laws that put corporations in charge of their bankruptcies, was the beginning of the end of company funded pensions. (This was also the beginning of the shift away from representative governance to corporate governance as laid out in The Powell Memo.)

    In a subsection of chapter 7, The Great Burden Shift – Funding Your Own Safety Net: Crippled by Debt, Mr. Smith adds details concerning the shift from corporate funded pensions to employee funded 401Ks. In 1980, before the extension of 401Ks to all workers by Reagan’s Treasury Dept., corporate pension plans covered 84 percent of employees who would receive retirement benefits for life. By 2006, only 33 percent of employees had a company pension plan. In 2012, that is down to nine percent. Put another way, employees were paying about “11 percent of their retirement costs” in 1950. “By the mid-2000s, they were paying 51 percent.”

    Corporations have gained from this transition while employee retirement has dwindled from a near certainty to a small possibility. For those companies that dropped their pension plan totally, they added 6 to 7 percent to their profits. For those who replaced pensions with 401Ks, their profits went up about 4 percent if they matched employee contributions.

    Since we have been living with this pro-corporate transition since 1981, what else can we learn about how average workers have suffered and what does this tell us about the losses we should expect from the privatization of Social Security?

    To start, 401K participants and assets have mushroomed from 7 million and $92 billion in 1984 to 44 million and $2.2 trillion in 2004. Now there are over 65 million citizens participating with over three trillion dollars in assets, However, this averages out to about $50,000 per participant.

     

    For some understanding of what’s been happening with all the 401K self-directed retirement plans, Hedrick Smith interviewed Brooks Hamilton, a Dallas pension consultant. Mr. Hamilton had reviewed the 401K plans for 15 corporations and their thousands of participating employees. What he found was a part of the growing wealth gap between the really wealthy and everyone else – “a systemic flaw.” Mr. Smith summarized what he learned this way:

    The best educated, best paid employees and executives were getting investment returns that were six or seven times greater than the returns of average workers. The gap was compounded year after year. The top brackets were not only able to put away much more money each year, but they got far better returns than rank and file workers …. They didn’t borrow from their 401(k)’s or make [the] mistake of pulling out their retirement fund in one lump sum, triggering a tax penalty. They left the money in and let it grow. They knew how to get the best results and how to avoid costly mistakes.”

    Here is a portion of Mr. Smith’s interview with Mr. Hamilton:

    HAMILTON: I label this [the] yield disparity. I thought, “We have a yield disparity that is a financial cancer in this, in our great beautiful 401(k) movement.” And I had never seen it before, but it was every where I looked.

    SMITH: What do you mean a financial cancer?

    HAMILTON: It would destroy the opportunity for ordinary workers to retire in dignity. They can’t get there from here.

    Mr. Smith continues, “The 401(k) track record is not good.” As of January 1, 2011, after the Great Recession, “the typical account balance is just $17,686.” For those workers in their sixties, the typical account is worth $84,469. This is just not enough for retirement.

    If your annual living expenses were $50,000 and you did not have any Social Security income, then you would need a retirement fund worth $1,250,000 to pay these annual expenses during retirement. That’s almost fifteen times higher than the typical account for someone in their sixties. With Social Security income, the retirement fund could be cut in half. The $84,469 mentioned by Smith would only be enough to cover $3,380, or about seven percent, of those annual expenses in retirement. (This is all based on being able to withdraw only 4 percent of your 401K fund for expenses during each year of retirement.)

    Mr. Smith also talked to Jack VanDerhei of the Employee Benefits Research Institute and quoted him as saying, “I would say unless you’re fortunate to be in the upper-income quartiles that you’re probably going to be in for a very rough ride.”

    In another interview on the health of the 401Ks Mr. Smith talked with Alicia Munnell of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Ms. Munnell told him:

    They [retirees] are not going to be penniless because they have Social Security [for now]. But it’s a very serious situation. Middle-class people are going to be very hard-pressed. People will feel destitute, absolutely forced to cut expenditures, maybe forced to sell their homes, forced to dramatically change their lifestyle. Making ends meet is going to be a consuming task. It will be the focus of their lives. And that is not what it [retirement] was supposed to be. After a lifetime of work, that is a terrible state for older Americans to end up in.

    Mr Smith goes on to write:

    The hard truth, according to several experts, is that building the nest egg you need takes much more ambitious savings than virtually any 401(k) plan envisions for employees below executive level. …

    So, here we are. Company paid pension plans, which were managed by professional investors, are basically gone for almost all average workers. For those with 401Ks, only the wealthier are getting good returns. The rest are either left with too little in their 401Ks to cover retirement expenses even with Social Security, don’t even have access to a 401K, or can’t afford to contribute to one. Retirement is no longer realistic for more and more Americans as corporate governance negatively affects our future.

    The only reliable constant now left for retirement is Social Security (SS). But there are the right-wing, self-disciplined, rugged-individualist, authoritarians who want to change that. They believe, even though they have ruined our public education system, that everyone is smart enough to manage their retirement and that privatization of SS is a good idea.

    However, as shown above only corporations and the wealthy will gain. Everyone else will lose, again, with the privatization of SS – more trickle-up economics and corporate servitude.

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    Corporate Governance Erodes Democracy As Education is Privatized

    Corporate governance destroys democracy by replacing accountability to citizens with accountability to a few major stockholders and boards of directors who want reduced costs and increased profits. This change in accountability means moral values, such as protecting and empowering/educating citizens, are missing from corporate mission statements.

    Corporate governance, a factor in Fascism, is the erosion of representative governance through the massive funding from the ONE% (Citizens United) to elect their preferred representatives, vast numbers of corporate lobbyists to deliver daily corporate demands to their representatives, and predatory privatization of, among other public resources, our public education system.

    George Lakoff writes about the importance of our public education system for maintaining our democracy in chapter 15 of The Little Blue Book:

    The Founding Fathers were right: public education is necessary for democracy as well as a vibrant economy. Freedom requires education. You are not free if you don’t know what’s possible for you, what affects you, and how to do things you care about. Education is centrally about self-realization, about what you are free to become.

    You are not free if you are not an educated citizen who can play his or her part in a democracy. Educated citizens have to know about the full range of issues that concern their society, and they have to be able to understand the background of these issues.

    No society can maintain liberty without freethinking people and access to knowledge. Imagine if access to information of any kind cost what a first-class education can cost, upward of forty thousand dollars in a year. Only the wealthy could afford it, and since knowledge is power, money would run society without challenge.

    We are now moving in that direction.

    A democratic society requires education that is both widespread and deep. It is a social matter. Every day we depend on others being educated, both for practical things in life and for our political freedom.

    Lakoff also warns that predatory privatization of our public educational system is immoral when it prevents the empowerment of citizens through “education that is both widespread and deep:”

    Privatization can be predatory and downright immoral when, for the sake of profit, it removes or prevents the protection and empowerment of the public, whether by handing our kid’s education over to corporations or by putting our water supply in corporate hands.

    Corporate governance, through predatory privatization of our education system, results in a skills-based education which replaces critical pedagogy by teachers with standardized teaching scripts that any adult could follow, and replaces critical thinking by students with students who will do as directed and bow to their corporate governors by being faithful consumers – not educated citizens who can help maintain democracy. Henry Giroux, a professor of education, was recently interviewed about the adverse effects of corporate governance on America’s public education system. He discusses the stifling of critical pedagogy and the elimination of the teaching critical thinking. Here are some excerpts:

    JMBT: … Who, actually, has control over the production of knowledge?

    HG: … At the current moment, it is fair to say that the dominant mode of power shaping what counts as knowledge takes its cue from what can be called neoliberalism or what can be called unfettered free-market capitalism. Market fundamentalism that not only trivializes democratic values and public concerns, but also enshrines a rabid individualism, an all-embracing quest for profits, and a social Darwinism in which misfortune is seen as a weakness and a Hobbesian “war of all against all” replaces any vestige of shared responsibilities or compassion for others.

    Free market fundamentalists now wage a full-fledged attack on the social contract, the welfare state, any notion of the common good, and those public spheres not yet defined by commercial interests. Within neoliberal ideology, the market becomes the template for organizing the rest of society. Everyone is now a customer or client, and every relationship is ultimately judged in bottom-line, cost-effective terms.

    Freedom is no longer about equality, social justice, or the public welfare, but about the trade in goods [like guns], financial capital, and commodities.

    The production of knowledge at the heart of this market driven regime is a form of instrumental rationality that quantifies all forms of meaning, privatizes social relations, dehistoricizes memory, and substitutes training for education while reducing the obligations of citizenship to the act of consuming. The production of knowledge in schools today is instrumental, wedded to objective outcomes, privatized, and is largely geared to produce consuming subjects.

    The organizational structures that make such knowledge possible enact serious costs on any viable notion of critical education and critical pedagogy. Teachers are deskilled, largely reduced to teaching for the test, business culture organizes the governance structures of schooling, knowledge is viewed as a commodity, and students are treated reductively as both consumers and workers. Knowledge is the new privileged form of capital and at least in the schools is increasingly coming under the control of policies set by the ultra-rich, religious fundamentalists, and major corporate elites [corporate governance].

    JMBT: … Are school texts edited by corporate enterprise promoting the dissociation between teachers and the reality of society?

    HG: In authoritarian societies, control over the production, distribution, and circulation is generally in the hands of the government, or what might be termed traditional modes of political sovereignty. But in neoliberal societies, sovereignty is often in the hands of major corporations that now have power over not only the production of knowledge but also over the implementation of policies that bear down on matters of life and death, living and surviving.

    In the U.S., major corporations have a huge impact on what gets published, how it is distributed, and exercises an enormous influence over what type of knowledge is legitimated. Conservatives, especially religious fundamentalists [Texas State Board of Education] also exercise an enormous influence over what text will be distributed in schools and have a significant impact on corporate controlled book publishing because if such texts are adopted for classroom use, there are enormous profits to be made.

    The end result of this controlling regime of finance capital and religious and conservative fundamentalism is an all-out cleansing of critical thinking from most educational books now being used in the schools, especially the public schools. Add to this the push for standardized testing, standardized knowledge, and standardized texts and teacher proof text books and it becomes clear that such books are also an attack on the autonomy and creativity of teachers. In authoritarian societies the logic of routine, conformity, and standardization eliminates the need for critical thinking, historical analyses, and critical memory work. Dialogue disappears from such texts and teachers are reduced to mere clerks teaching what is misrepresented as objective facts.

    One possible antidote for the corporate destruction of our democracy is bringing democracy into the workplace, as suggested by Richard D. Wolff. This could eventually eliminate the elitist boards and tame any greedy key shareholders, and eliminate their collective need to buy Congress, hire lobbyists, and privatize the Public.

    If citizens, as workers, could own and manage most businesses, then we could not only restore but improve our democracy – government by the people, for the people, and of the people – by brining democracy to our workplaces.

    (If the workplace became democratic, what does that say about the Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn that decision?)

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    Citizenship Dues and Non-profit Investing – Creating and Maintaining the Middle Class

    Our recent history shows us how we created and maintained a prosperous middle class and still had a Forbes 400 to write about. The Greatest Generation can add this to their list of accomplishments.

     

    At the end of WWII, our national debt was almost 120 percent of our GDP, higher than today, and we had millions of GIs coming home looking for productive jobs. What was the nation to do? What did our Congress and Presidents do? What did the Greatest Generation do? They got together and worked for the benefit of the common good.

    First, there was significant non-profit investing and job creation by the federal government:

     

    Second, citizens, and corporations, paid their share of citizenship dues to cover the costs of all this investing while at the same time raising their standard of living:

    • Individual citizenship dues, as a percentage of income, ranged from 23 to 94% over 24 brackets in 1945 to 0 to 70% over 16 brackets in 1979,
    • Corporate citizenship dues, as a percentage of profit, ranged from 25 to 53% over 3 brackets in 1945 to 17 to 46% over 5 brackets in 1979,
    • Unemployment averaged around 5.2%
    • Households managed with one wage earner
    • Corporations competed for employees by offering pensions and health care
    • Worker’s wages matched their productivity increases and we had equal distribution of income growth,

     

     

    If non-profit investing plus sufficient citizenship dues helped free the Greatest Generation to become great, maybe we should try that again? That is before the wealthiest of the boomer (my) generation becomes known as the generation that destroyed America by hoarding their dues and preventing non-profit investing.

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    The Danger of American Fascism – Then and Now

    Henryn A. Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States (1941–1945), the Secretary of Agriculture (1933–1940), and the Secretary of Commerce (1945–1946). In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party.

    Here is an excerpt from his book Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944) where the Vice President provides his view of fascism as WWII was barely into its third year. His description is not as complete as the summary by Lawrence Britt but shows the concerns of the time.

    I have highlighted text that is relevent to categories on this site and [added text] that is more timely to authoritarianism in America today.

    On returning from my trip to the West in February, I received a request from The New York Times to write a piece answering the following questions:

    • What is a fascist?
    • How many fascists have we?
    • How dangerous are they?

    A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group [corporations]; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.

    The perfect type of fascist throughout recent centuries has been the Prussian Junker, who developed such hatred for other races and such allegiance to a military clique as to make him willing at all times to engage in any degree of deceit and violence necessary to place his culture and race astride the world. In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. Every Jew-baiter, every Catholic hater, is a fascist at heart. The hoodlums who have been desecrating churches, cathedrals and synagogues in some of our larger cities are ripe material for fascist leadership.

    The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

    If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.

    American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.

    The European brand of fascism will probably present its most serious postwar threat to us via Latin America. The effect of the war has been to raise the cost of living in most Latin American countries much faster than the wages of labor. The fascists in most Latin American countries tell the people that the reason their wages will not buy as much in the way of goods is because of Yankee imperialism. The fascists in Latin America learn to speak and act like natives. Our chemical and other manufacturing concerns are all too often ready to let the Germans have Latin American markets, provided the American companies can work out an arrangement which will enable them to charge high prices to the consumer inside the United States. Following this war, technology will have reached such a point that it will be possible for Germans, using South America as a base, to cause us much more difficulty in World War III than they did in World War II. The military and landowning cliques in many South American countries will find it attractive financially to work with German fascist concerns as well as expedient from the standpoint of temporary power politics.

    Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.

    Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after “the present unpleasantness” ceases:

    The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination [or work with ALEC to re-write state laws to achieve the same end] against other religious, racial or economic groups. Likewise, many people whose patriotism is their proudest boast play Hitler’s game by retailing distrust of our Allies and by giving currency to snide suspicions without foundation in fact [birthers].

    The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain [Europe] and Russia [China]. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

    Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels [corporations] played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.

    It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist [capitalist] efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini’s vaunted claim that he “made the trains run on time.” In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler’s claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany. Neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.

    Democracy to crush fascism internally must demonstrate its capacity to “make the trains run on time.” It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels. As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.

    The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan. Democracy can win the peace only if it does two things:

    • Speeds up the rate of political and economic inventions so that both production and, especially, distribution can match in their power and practical effect on the daily life of the common man the immense and growing volume of scientific research, mechanical invention and management technique.
    • Vivifies with the greatest intensity the spiritual processes which are both the foundation and the very essence of democracy.

    The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.

    Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia [Iran]. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.

    It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and “with malice toward none and charity for all” go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail.

    More recently, Thom Hartman wrote an article on fascism. Here are some relevent quotes:

    The 1983 American Heritage Dictionary defined fascism as: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

    Fascism originated in Italy, and Mussolini claims to have invented the word itself. It was actually his ghostwriter, Giovanni Gentile, who invented it and defined it in the Encyclopedia Italiana in this way: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

    In other words, fascism is corporate government – a Libertarian’s wet dream. It’s a government in which the Atlas’s of industry are given free rein to control the economy, just how they’re regulated, how much they pay in taxes, how much they pay their workers. …

    In 1938, Mussolini finally got his chance to bring fascism to fruition. He dissolved Parliament and replaced it with the “Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni” – the Chamber of the Fascist Corporations. Members of the Chamber were not selected to represent particular regional constituencies, but instead to represent various aspects of Italian industry and trade. They were the corporate leaders of Italy.

    Imagine if the House of Representatives was dissolved and replaced by a Council of America’s most powerful CEOs – the Kochs, the Waltons, the Blankfeins, the Dimons, the Mackeys, you get the picture.

    Back in August 2006, I wrote a post called, “Can There Really Be Fascist People In A Democracy?”. I think we are much closer to knowing our answer now.

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