America Held Hostage

America Held Hostage to Two-Party Failure: Government of, by and for the Corporations
Thursday 28 July 2011
by: Michele Swenson, Truthout | Op-Ed

Washington rhetoric waxes Orwellian in proportion to inside-the-Beltway disconnect around cause and effect of the US economic crisis. Ranging from the Ryan Budget – “kill Medicare to save it” – and some Democrats – “cut Medicare and Social Security to save them” – to claims that deficit reduction (not jobs) is “what the people want,” to the “greed is good” creed that assigns entitlements in the form of taxpayer bailouts to wealthy financial institutions that take for granted the ability to shift risk for their liar’s loans and speculative transactions. “Austerity” and “shared sacrifice” are Washington code for preserving tax advantages and privilege for the wealthiest, while transferring private debt and risk to the public, onto the backs of the working/middle class.

Phil Angelides, chair of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, notes that 24 million Americans lack work and nearly $9 trillion in household wealth has vanished since the 2008 economic crisis. The commission’s January report detailed “the recklessness of the financial industry and the abject failures of policymakers and regulators that brought our economy to its knees in late 2008.”

Writes Angelides, there is “no correlation between who drove the crisis and who is paying the price.” The disparity of wealth is stark, as “compensation at publicly traded Wall St. firms hit a record $135 billion in 2010.” He notes that, in the face of overwhelming evidence of the causes of economic catastrophe, Wall Street and its allies are revising history, e.g., Republicans like Paul Ryan ignore the fact that “our federal budget deficit has ballooned more than $1 trillion annually since the financial collapse.” Instead of confronting the real causes of the deficit, budget shortfalls are conflated with “the long-term challenges of Medicare” as an excuse to shred the social safety net. Rather than rein in widespread lending abuses, Republicans seek to weaken the authority of the new consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Economist Joseph Stiglitz calls out the titans of finance, who continue to make mega bonuses for their companies’ mega losses, even after they set the global economy in a tailspin and shifted all risks for their unregulated credit default swaps onto taxpayers. He describes a nation of, by and for the 1 percent that enjoys 25 percent of economic benefits, largely purchased by Washington lobbyists. The Republican (Ryan) budget plan would cut $5.8 trillion from government spending over the next decade and reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, while increasing next year’s Pentagon budget by $17 billion. The highly touted Bowles-Simpson proposal for deficit reduction is a recipe for a weaker economy, warns Stiglitz, as it will decrease jobs, and in turn, decrease revenues. A primary means to decrease the deficit is to increase jobs, a goal that ultraconservatives wrongly equate with large tax breaks for the wealthy – so-called “job creators” – never mind that the Bush tax cuts failed to provide jobs over a decade.

It is easier to destroy than to build democracy. Concerted assaults on democracy over four decades serve the ends of those who deem it their right to rule and reign: Republican religious ideologues and acolytes of Milton Friedman economics. Disaster capitalists precipitate crises by running up huge deficits (during the Reagan and Bush one and two regimes), followed by demands for balanced budgets and deficit reduction, as a means of drastically cutting domestic spending and gutting public education, government jobs and public pensions and shifting all wealth upward.

The political right has laid waste to democratic principles by sabotaging elections and the economy and auctioning government to the highest bidder. Some rightists deem it a “citizen’s duty” to challenge the legitimacy of the “ruling regime” by refusing to obey the law – i.e., “destroy the nation to save it.” Certain issues should be advanced “for the purpose of prompting a constitutional crisis,” pronounced law professor Russell Hittinger. The 2000 Supreme Court majority selection of George W. Bush reset the bar for challenges to the constitution, as did Citizens United vs. FEC in 2010.

The 1994 Gingrich revolution ushered in the large-scale sell-off of government to corporate interest groups. Corporate lobbyists were invited to write legislation to eradicate regulations for worker safety, labor rights and environmental protections – the so-called “Project Relief” part of the Republican agenda. Simultaneously, Republican House Whip Tom DeLay (“The Hammer”) pressured corporate political action committees (PACs) to contribute solely to the GOP, reasoning, “People that are pro-free enterprise should support people who are pro-free enterprise.”

In 1995, then-GOP Conference Chair John Boehner handed out tobacco PAC money checks to Republicans on the floor of the House, even as Newt Gingrich warned lobbyists, “For anyone who’s not on board now it’s going to be the two coldest years in Washington.” Republican leaders in a private 1997 meeting with 200 top corporate executives of the Business Roundtable demanded that all contributions to Democrats cease, or corporations would forfeit access to the Republican Congressional majority. Grover Norquist, riding herd over the “K Street Project,” demanded that big business hire GOP-credentialed lobbyists and fire those with Democratic connections. By the 108th Congress, it fell to Sen. Rick Santorum to reward party loyalty by vetting the hiring decisions of major lobbyists. “If you want to play in our revolution, you have to live by our rules,” pronounced  DeLay.

The “defund-the-left” campaign was abetted by Virginia Lamp Thomas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, and a key staff member for then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who compiled a hit list of liberal groups and nonprofit groups. More recently, Virginia Thomas reportedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from groups that had expressed direct interest in the outcome of cases that came before her husband, including Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which struck down any limitations on corporate contributions to elections, sealing the Republican deal to crush democracy.

In the ’90s, Democratic leadership, reinforced by such corporate-backed groups as the Democratic Leadership Council, turned increasingly to corporate money, away from working people. With both major parties in thrall to corporate money and influence, “we the people” has effectively become “the silenced majority,” discounted voices sought out only for votes during election years, an increasingly futile exercise as big money buys candidates and outcomes.

The majority (53 percent) of Americans who opposed the 2010 extension of the Bush tax cuts watched in dismay as President Obama started with compromise and met his Republican hostage-takers more than half way. Neither did majority popular support result in passage of strong financial regulation, importation of lower-cost drugs or government-payer universal health care.

The fatal flaw of Barack Obama’s presidency seems to be the compulsion to compromise with the likes of Norquist, bent on destroying democracy by “drowning government in a bathtub.” The deficit in public investment imperils us more than the budget deficit, observes former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, citing tax revenues that are less than 15 percent of the total economy, the lowest in 60 years. Large reductions in federal taxes affect state and local revenues, placing more locales on the brink of bankruptcy – thus fulfilling Norquist’s fondest wish for state bankruptcies and “bitter nastiness and partisanship” in state capitals.

The president’s failure to lead by using the bully pulpit to educate about the true nature of economic crisis and recovery has resulted in Democrats’ surrender to Republicans of the economic narrative around deficits, spending, taxes, health care etc. More than the Tea Party corporate shills, disingenuous rhetoric around the economy and the lack of any counter-narrative by the president discouraged voters from going to the polls in 2010 and will likely discourage them again in 2012.

In 1995, a highly secretive umbrella group of America’s right-wing leaders, the little known
Council for National Policy Action, circulated a confidential memo urging members to push for a governmental shutdown in order to force President Clinton to cave to their budget demands. Rep. Mark Souder (R-Indiana) was quoted: “This is our maximum point of leverage to insist that parts of the revolution are executed.” The brief government shutdown that followed failed to achieve their goals. Republicans have willingly upped the ante, holding the country hostage to the threat of economic catastrophe in order to achieve their long-time goal of gutting all New Deal and Great Society programs, while codifying tax cuts for the wealthy. Americans are again being held for ransom in a naked high-stakes grab for total wealth and power.

The majority of people are hungry for a truth teller/leader, like Sen. Bernie Sanders. Instead, corporate media reloops the one-note deficit propaganda of the right-wing sound machine, not seeing fit to even mention The People’s Budget, written by the Progressive Caucus. The People’s Budget would eliminate the deficit sooner than either the proposed Obama or Ryan Budgets and raise a $31 billion surplus in ten years. It would end the main budget deficit drivers – the Bush tax cuts and Middle East wars; restore progressive income and estate taxes; add negotiation of bulk drug rates to Medicare and preserve Medicare, Medicaid Social Security; eliminate tax subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies; close loopholes for multinational corporations; and tax speculative financial transactions. All are goals supported by the majority of people.

Likewise, Medicare-for-All would contribute substantially to economic recovery. Reich writes that expanding the Medicare risk pool to include all healthy young and sick elderly would save $58 billion to $400 billion annually and sharply reduce the budget crisis, while also permitting negotiation of lower rates with hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Payment reform to reward quality not quantity care would provide additional savings.

Circular talk around the deficit short circuits meaningful action around the creation of jobs and financial and election reforms. Sorely needed to counter the corruption of money in elections are the Fair Campaigns Now Act, free media time for all serious candidates and other remedies such as instant runoff voting and reversing the notion of corporate “personhood.” Humboldt County, California, passed a county ordinance in 2006 to prohibit nonlocal corporate contributions to elections and also asserting that corporations cannot claim the First Amendment right to free speech. Counties nationwide should follow the lead of a number of counties that have drafted ordinances to deny corporate personhood.

The two main political parties are failing to serve the people, both locked in a dance of dysfunctional political posturing in service of power. In a candid moment this spring, speaking to Charlie Rose, some New York Times correspondents acknowledged the sorry state of our politics: Tom Friedman remarked that we are trapped in a “corrupt duopoly.” Crony capitalism is the norm in Washington, lamented David Brooks. Both expressed the wish for a reputable third party to break the Washington gridlock.

Now is the moment for voices that have been willfully ignored in recent years to come together to form a true grassroots movement to advocate for progressive change. Sponsored by over 100 groups led by MoveOn.org, “Rebuild the American Dream” house meetings across the country convened starting July 16 and 17, providing the opportunity for participants to begin writing a “Contract for the American Dream” to serve the people.

The time is a now or never to restore the promise of democracy stolen by the oligarchs.

http://www.truth-out.org/america-held-hostage-two-party-failure-government-and-corporations/1311345019


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 Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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REAL ID…Almost Here

The deadline for state compliance with the REAL ID Act will pass this May 11th, 2008 without a single state meeting its requirements. Last I heard 17 states have passed legislation rejecting or refusing to enact this National ID law.

A rebellion is underway about this matter and I am hoping the American people win this one.

Do we really want to hand this kind of power to the Feds? Yea sure, it sounds kinda benign now…but, if it passes…somewhere down the road this ID scheme has potential to destroy the last vestiges of freedom this country enjoys.

I have heard that those over 50 will not have to have this REAL ID, and I think I know why. We’ll make the biggest stink about it, because we remember a free America…Before all this orchestrated Bull Sh–.

I’ve already emailed my senators and congressman my feelings. I urge you to think this through, and consider telling your Fed Reps how you feel about having to carry ‘papers’ wherever you go.

There is still time if we make enough noise.

For latest post go: Here

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Sunday Sermon for Non-Believers

Sunday sermon

Man was essentially spread over the whole earth by 10,000BC. The evidence is totally overwhelming and incontrovertible. The only way fundamentalists, evangelicals, creationists, and intelligent design proponents get around this fact is by denial. The “proofs” they forward to support their beliefs are not real, and they fall apart when people who are schooled in the subject review the “proofs” If they were to accept real science the made-up world view they have collapses and they know it.

All the mumbo-jumbo that the world theologists try to smother us in, is just that, mumbo-jumbo. It’s witchcraft, or Voodoo of the highest order; it’s looking at entrails to divine the future…and the past.

The world history that is real is laid out by science…and involves time spans that are hard to grasp, and a beginning of life that involves no gods. We and our world are the stuff of stars. Look out at the universe sometime, use a telescope; you’ll see nothing but stars and gas. The chemistry of life is the stuff all around us, and we keep trying to find the recipe.

There is no serious scientist on earth who believes the earth and humanity, and by extension the whole Universe, has only been around only some 6,000 years. Our world is Ooold. In the real world this is known with a certainty that gets stronger every year. The evidence does not go up and down, it goes up only. It is known with a certainty that transcends any religious thought or exegesis.

The well-known religious thinkers and writers down through time were furthering the cause for their own careers. They were writing and espousing feelings and superstitions that were simply nonexistent. There never was any tangible “gods” All they had was writing, not evidence that could be examined. All they were doing was duping the population for their own furtherance…that’s all most ministers, priests, and rabbis are doing now…they are supporting superstition or magic and involving you.

It has been true down through time that religion has to fight harder and harder to get educated people to believe. Not just the Christian God, but all others. Christianity keeps reinvented itself, trying to keep it’s relevance in a world that surpassed it several centuries ago. Religion tries it’s best to keep woman/man in their clutches. Read your history, religion kills to keep you on the straight and narrow path…not now…but not long ago. (actually after some thought I have to say it is still killing today…think Muslim. They worship the same god…they say.)

Religion would have you believe that a theocratic form of government is needed to save our society, our country. It’s been tried before and didn’t work very well. Just think about the consequences of such a thing. Would you want the religious police stalking around looking into your life? How many out there are truly righteous and “sin” free at all points in their life? If you think praying to Jesus after every sin works, then you are truly helpless. Do you want to look over your shoulder to see if anyone is watching before you stare at that beautiful young woman passing by you? Do you want someone else deciding what you can read, or filtering what news you can see? Do you really want Pontiffs or deacons deciding what your child learns in school?

If I try to envision a country world ruled by religion, I think about Muslims, third world deterioration, a world that is gray and truly with out soul. Where men kill women over “honor”. Where children are taught not to use their inventiveness and imagination. Where you are careful about what you say, you cannot express a curiosity about the world because it is already explained in terms that you are not allowed to question. I think I would commit suicide.

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Big Brother really is Watching

 

Some good sites to witness what is being wrote about our societies changes in the last few years

The beginning of Big Brothers invasion of our right to privacy by president and VP, Bill Clinton and Al Gore. They failed, but George Bush didn’t.
http://www.aclu.org/privacy/spying/15440pub19980301.html

How would you like to have to get permission to travel domestic routes on airlines? Well read this, you will get a chill.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6892

Kiss your privacy and freedom to travel goodbye
http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1229-35.htm

By far, our own government is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al-Qaida.–T.J. Rogers, CEO, Cypress Semiconductor, San Jose, CA.

Another example of the secret world of president Bush
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030317/cole

Big Brother IS watching and listening and probably will be tracking you soon.
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200604/nsa-surveillance

Watching you in public. You’re a star, smile
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=31511

In America you are no longer innocent till proven guilty. You are guilty until proven innocent. No more ‘due process’
http://www.policestate21.com/fascist_agenda.html

“The president’s latest action shows that he is willing to be personally involved in the cover-up of suspected illegal activity,‘ “—Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat

White House cover-ups…they just keep coming and coming
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2006/07/19/BL2006071900935.html

Sucking up that info 24/7
http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_4648.shtml

“Virtually every financial transaction of every American is now recorded and monitored by the federal government. Any bank transaction, all credit card charges plus phone records, credit reports, travel and even health records are captured in real time by the DARPA compute.” DOUG THOMPSON and TERESA HAMPTON, Capitol Hill Blue

Big Brother: DARPA’s Control Freak Technology
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7603
Man, I’m really depressed now; I think I’ll go to bed.

Peace and sanity to all.

Illegal “Wiretaps”

Did you know that the Feds, NSA primarily, is tracking all internet traffic & email? Not just overseas and not just Muslims, but all of America.

Did you know that the Government, NSA primarily, is tracking all of America’s telephone traffic. Not just overseas and not just Muslims, but everyone.

If your emails or telephone conversations contain certain “trigger words” a live analyst will look over these emails or recorded conversations.

If you look at certain websites too many times, someone, some government bureaucrat is going to look at you, and not in a nice way.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This amendment to our constitution is no longer is valid in our country, America.

May God help us all.