20 November 2011

The Founders and Police Brutality

The real tragedy of the police brutality we're seeing in the attacks on Occupy is that we have the means to stop it but we let the 1% take it away from us.

The Founders anticipated what we're seeing, citizens rising-up to protest their government's actions and they feared the government's response. They knew professional "peacekeepers" would act as we've seen our militarized police act so they gave us the Second Amendment.

The notion of a professional police force acting responsibly is foolish. Ultimately, all professionals must be loyal to their profession. That's what drove the Founders to add the Second Amendment to the Constitution. It's not about guns. It's about ensuring our police and military are civilians called to service, that is, a militia, common citizens bearing arms for the benefit of their communities not to earn an income. What's a professional going to do when his commander tells him to pepper spray protestors? Pull the trigger or refuse, knowing he'll be fired?

The Founders thought they had a better way. They thought the guy next door, called for crowd control, wouldn't unload a can of pepper spray into your daughters face. They gave the People the right to control the security forces but we've allowed the 1% to pervert the Second Amendment. We've allowed a gun industry lobby, the National Rifle Association, to use the Second Amendment to sell guns. They've manipulated public policy to create private profit.

Now we have to march in protest to get back the government the Founders gave us. It's a shame and a tragedy we have to endure the consequences of our complacency but it's the only way to fix the problem we created.

06 November 2011

Defending Occupy

Comments at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, stltoday.com, site seem overwhelmingly to be anti-Occupy, most recently on this story:St. Louis officials say time for Occupy protesters to leave plaza. Commenters seem to believe the violence and crime now being more frequently reported damns the Occupy movement.

That troubled me.

I believe the underlying reasons for Occupy to be progressive and good for the country but have to admit the crime and violence are a problem. We can't expect to gain the support of Americans if they see police in riot gear hauling-away protestors every night on TV. That creates a very bad impression and might be enough to marginalize the movement.

One way to combat that impression is to remind America that Occupy is attracting a variety of persons. As one blogger notes:

...Keep in mind that the whole Occupy Movement is one big populist shindig. It may vary from place to place,but the "Occupations" are full of people from all over the polticial spectrum. Some see this "broadness" as a really good thing. Some, like me, question it. Combine a so called leaderless movement with no common political oreintation and what do you get? Who is to say, who represents what, who is to do what, what tactic is correct, which slogan to shout, what sign to hold up? At some point the Occupy movement has to decide what it wants to be and whose interest it wants to represent...or it will implode. For how long can you have anarchists, Marxists, Ron Paul supporters, right wing libertarians, dogmatic pacifists, liberals, feel good people, angry people, people who intend to defend themselves and more, capitalists, petty bourgois, workers, unemployed. business owners, professionals, anti racists, racists, and all that and more in an "ain't we got fun" atmosphere?


If we can't defend Occupy, it is doomed.

13 September 2011

Tea Party Screams for Death

In last night's Tea Party-sponsored Republican debate, Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul if a sick person in a coma who didn't have health insurance should be allowed to die. Before he had a chance to answer, some in the audience yelled "yes."

If anyone needed any further reason to despise the Tea Party, this is it. Not only is the willingness to allow someone to die when we have the capacity to save him immoral, it's antipathetic to the intent of the Constitution. For the Tea Party to claim the mantle of patriotism is outrageous.

Conservatism is a vile political orientation but the Tea Party are the worst of the worst. Their insistence on public policies which are narrowly focused on their own self-interest are an insult to all the traditions we would like to regard as the American Way. We can be thankful their influence on our political direction is diminishing but until the stain of their existence is finally wiped-away they will remain an embarrassment to the American People.

30 August 2011

Global Obstruction Pathology (GOP)

An emotional defect which causes the afflicted not only to resist the normal human tendency to work with others toward solutions to common problems but also to interfere with their attempts. It is not limited to particular activities or interests but extends to all areas of concern. We see manifestation of this pathology in the Republican Party, a political association organized around resistance to progressive public policy and pursuit of regressive polices.

22 August 2011

America Needs a Labor Party

I was banned from Democratic Underground because I asked why I should support gay marriage. Just that question branded me as a homophobe. That's OK. Democratic Underground doesn't set the standard for political action in the US. We need a class war and the liberals at Democratic Underground don't have what it takes.

A few months ago, Richard Trumka seemed to be moving Labor away from the Democrats and now we're seeing more signs of the division. The Democrats chose North Carolina for their convention next year and some unions don't like it. They won't abandon the Democrats over their choice of convention sites but they'll move a little farther away.

I'm encouraged.

America needs a labor party. A party with the economic interests of working Americans as its sole and undivided focus. No abortion. No gay marriage. No green anything. Just wages and working conditions. That party never will be the Republicans. They've pretty much declared themselves to be stooges for the plutocracy, order takers for the likes of the Koch brothers. The Democrats have had their chance and they squandered it. They paid too much attention to the special interests on the fringe of American society.

So where is Labor now? Maybe they're at or soon to reach a point where they realize they have only themselves to care for their interests. It's not a bad place to be. Every successful journey must begin with knowing where you are and where you want to be.

17 August 2011

One Step Toward More Jobs

America needs jobs. It would be best to have new the jobs come organically from boom times. But with private investors withholding their capital and with the government held back by the extremists of the political right, we have no prospect of the massive infusion of money we need to make the economy grow.

What can we do?

Well, one idea which wouldn't take a lot of new money would be splitting-up the jobs we have now. We could do that by eliminating income tax deductions for compensation paid for time over 32 hours a week. That would make current employees more expensive and new employees less expensive. Some employers would respond with reduction of hours allowed current employees and new hiring to make-up the time.

Of course, some current employees may be adverse to losing time but others may welcome the possibility of more free time if they don't need as much income as they have.

It's not a perfect solution but, given the difficulties we face, it's one step we can take.

09 August 2011

A Congress of Aristocrats

Like many Progressives, I'm often puzzled by the failure of Congress to do what seems clearly in the best interest of the American People. What seems to benefit the greatest number of Americans seems never to be given more than cursory attention in Congress, if any at all. How can anyone in Congress, for instance, place more importance on any other issue than the employment crisis? It's resolution is critical to every American not just those who are unemployed. Even those who have jobs know they can lose them easily in an economy teetering on the brink of collapse. Why did Congress focus its attention on debt and the deficit when so many Americans are so close to economic devastation?

Then the answer was revealed. In Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% Joseph E. Stiglitz writes:

Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office.

How can we expect our representatives in Congress to care about the interests of the American People when their good fortune and large fortunes shape their perspective? For the most part, they're so affluent they never will have to worry about making the next payment on a used car or finding the money to buy groceries or pay the doctor. That's a big problem.

05 August 2011

Socialize the Internet

According to recent reports, the United States Postal Service is on its way to losing $3 billion in the third quarter of 2011. The loss is being attributed primarily to declining First Class Mail revenue.

Observers say the internet is making First Class mail obsolete. Email and online payments have replaced letters and mailed checks and that diminishes First Class Mail revenue. That makes sense but knowing it doesn't really solve the problem. Until everyone in America has access to reliable high speed internet service, we will need the Post Office. Someone will have to deliver the letters and payments those without broadband will have to send.

It would be nice if we could find a way to make sure every American has access to broadband. Unfortunately, with right wing zealots and ideological extremists in control of so much of the political process, we're unlikely ever to have universal access to reliable high speed internet services. Right wing legislators are little more than stooges for the plutocracy. The plutocracy owns America's internet service providers and they're never going to allow the ISP's revenue to be threatened by the one thing that can solve our communication problem, publicly owned broadband.

Every year we read of a law being rammed through a state legislature somewhere to prohibit a town or county from starting its own broadband service. Most recently it happened in North Carolina. As soon as the ISPs claimed their revenue would be threatened by public internet, the stooges in the NC legislature leapt to the feet, saluted and said they would pass a law to prohibit the protection of the public interest in favor of protecting the profits of the plutocracy. And they did. House Bill 129 prohibits public internet in favor of private profiteering.

So what's the solution? One good way to fill the public's broadband need and to solve the Post Office's revenue problem would be to socialize internet service under the control of the Post Office. No private firm would be allowed to offer broadband. It would become a public utility. That would replace declining First Class Mail revenue with nomial broadband access fees. An added benefit would be ensuring fair prices for every American rather than letting the cyber-pirate ISPs rob them. It would be a win-win.

29 July 2011

Tea for Terrorists

Someday the American People will look back on these past few weeks of debt ceiling turmoil as the time when the inadequacy of the American way of government was exposed. The T(errorist) Party faction of the Republican Party has illustrated the fundamental fallacy of our process; not everyone can be trusted to act with the best interests of the American People at heart.

The T Party are legislative terrorists. Like suicide bombers, they are willing to destroy innocent victims to reach their political goals. This is not what our Founders intended. They believed our elected representatives should be honorable persons concerned with the welfare of the whole country, not just the satisifaction of idelological extremists and political zealots. The T Party can never meet their expectations and their mere existance is stark evidence of the failure of American politics to serve the American People.

11 July 2011

The Reagan Cult

The campaign for the Republican nomination for President is heating up. Hardly a day goes by without some bizarre statement by one of the dozen or so contenders and each of them is more bizarre than the last. While each has his or her own special obsession, one thing seems to unite them all, they all venerate Ronald Reagan. Put any two of them on the same stage and before a minute goes by, each will claim to be more worthy of the Reagan mantel than the other.

It's a curious thing, this sanctification of Reagan. Somehow a second-rate actor and TV pitchman parlayed his screen presence into the greatest role in the world. For eight years he played President of the United States. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the movies. It was in the real world where fantasy has real consequences.

To non-believers, this Reaganmania is incomprehensible. His record as President wasn't much better than his record as an actor; average, at best. Other than a few one-liners, he left America little of value. Take a look at how it really was in this Aljazeera piece: Reagan mythology is leading US off a cliff and then try to reconcile the real Reagan with the totem carried by Regan cultists. Where's the reason for the reverence?

08 July 2011

All Obama Ever Wanted?

Glen Greenwald's column at Salon this morning, Obama pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare sums up what a lot of us feared about President Obama.

As Greenwald noted, many of Obama's strongest supporters always have said Obama's frequent capitulation to Republican demands were due to his personal failings. Obama is "weak and inept," they said. Sadly, that's the best thing we can say about Obama.

Greenwald explored a number of recent offerings by Paul Krugman and Frank Rich and came to the conclusion Obama isn't "weak and inept,"or, at least that he's not just weak and inept, but that he actually believes the things he's doing are the right things to do. For some reason, despite the overwhelming weight of evidence and expert advice, Obama has drunk the snake-oil and has come to accept Republican policy ideas such as spending cuts and tax forbearance as solutions to the problems of the American economy.


No one knows for sure but it's easy to speculate. Maybe Obama is focused on his reelection and believes the money-lenders and independents are the only ones who matter. Giving-up Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in return for trivial tax revenue allows him to say he opposed his own party and moved toward the Republicans. That would make those who matter happy and they, along with those of Obama's shrinking progressive base who haven't given-up on him, might be enough

Or maybe it's something a little more sinister. Obama is the first black to be elected President. He got his name into the record books and as long as he doesn't do anything embarrassingly outrageous, he'll be able to reap the benefits of being a former President for the next 30 or so years. That's not bad for a guy who certainly must have experienced American racism, a guy born into a world which promised much and delivered little. He played a rigged game and came-out the big winner.

Maybe that's all he ever wanted.

05 July 2011

Paul Krugman Should Be Economic Czar of the USA

Paul Krugman should be the Economic Czar of the USA. His unparalleled understanding of the economy and his ability to explain it are critical to laymen when the information cloud includes so much distortion and misrepresentation shrouding the facts and good faith analysis.

In his latest offering as a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, Corporate Cash Con, he lays out the cause of our continuing economic difficulties the way a wise and celebrated doctor might prescribe treatment for a minor ailment. The symptoms lead him to an easy diagnosis and then to a clear course of treatment.

Our economic troubles, he tells us, are related to our bad habit of believing in trickle-down economics, the idea that money put into the economy at the top will "trickle-down" to those at the bottom. Its been tried before and it failed. It failed so badly, in fact, a better name for it might be drivel-down economics. It's the kind of sophistry medicine show charlatans like Eric Cantor offer to the suckers who need something to cure what they don't understand.

In this latest round, we're being told by drivel-downers that tax free repatriation of foreign profits earned by US corporations will be the basis of a recovery. The huge hoard of cash being held overseas would be brought home and used by American capitalists to invest in the American economy.

Krugman joins others in the exposure of the scheme by reminding us it already has failed us. In 2004, we allowed US corporations to repatriate profits but they didn't use them for job creation. They "used that money to pay dividends, pay down debt, buy up other companies, buy back their own stock -- pretty much everything except increasing investment and creating jobs." We have no reason to believe corporations wouldn't do pretty much the same thing in 2011 as they did in 2004.

The Krugmans goes on to point-out a fundamental truth of economics, economic actors do more of what best serves their interests. A second tax giveaway will give these "companies an incentive to move even more jobs overseas, since they now know that there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to bring overseas profits home nearly tax-free under future amnesties."

The question then arises, does anyone really believe corporations need more money? Krugman reminds us corporations already are swimming in cash. They're hoarding $1.9T because they have no reason to invest it. The lack of consumer demand would make any investment a waste. Consumer don't have the money to buy anything but they would if government created jobs and gave stressed home-owners mortgage relief.

Government created jobs and mortgage relief only part of what we need but they're good enough ideas to make Paul Krugman a candidate for Economic Czar of the USA.

24 June 2011

Bring Back the United States Post Office

On Thursday, Darrell Issa (R-CA,) chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, introduced the POSTAL REFORM ACT which would "implement sweeping, structural reforms of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The legislation represents the most fundamental reform of the postal service that has been proposed since USPS was first created from the old Post Office Department."

Of course, anything Issa does is suspect. Like all Republicans, he’s a sociopath and must be presumed to be acting for the plutocracy and against the interests of the American People. However, this actually could be a good opportunity to serve the country.

Here's how:

First, socialize USPS. Communication is extremely important to a democracy. That’s why the Founders declared an "enumerated power" of Congress to establish post offices and post roads and protected the right of speech and the press with the First Amendment. Clearly, communication is too important to trust to private firms. It's long past time to reestablish the United States Post Office the Founders intended.

Second, outlaw package delivery services like UPS, FedEx and DHL and let USPS handle the traffic. The USPS already serves every address they serve so this is a huge opportunity for savings which can be used to support USPS.

Third, reconceptualize USPS as the federal department of communication. It would not only continue in its traditional role but also would assume a new role as the national internet service provider. This would involve outlawing all private ISPs and providing service under the control of the new Post Office.

09 June 2011

President Obama's Undoing

President Obama's poll numbers are sagging under the weight of our continuing economic difficulties and Obama is being blamed for thirty years of Conservative economic policy bungling. Too bad for Obama but he brought it on himself. If he had a backbone it wouldn’t have happened. From the day he took office, the damage Conservatives have done to the American economy should have been his administration’s overriding message and should have been a part of every comment on any subject. Instead he’s collaborated and colluded with them until he finally capitulates to their demands and then tries to spin his embarrassing behavior as somehow a reasonable thing to do.

President Obama, cooperating with Conservatives never is a reasonable thing to do. They never will act in anyone’s interest except their own. They are sociopaths. They don’t care who get hurts by what they do as long as they get what they want.

You’ve got to learn that lesson and you don’t have much time to do it. Unless you make the American People understand that Conservatives caused our problems and that the only way to save America is by undoing what they’ve done, you’re not going to be reelected and then America’s going to be in real trouble.

06 June 2011

Demagoguery and the National Debt

The American national debt and what to do about it is an issue at the center of public discussion. In a commentary recently published on The Hill, former senator, Judd Gregg, notes:

...Some have tried to step into the waters of responsible action only to be confronted with the demagoguery of those who make a profession of poisoning wells.

How do we separate demagoguery on the debt issue from the demagoguery of the debt issue?

America has had a national debt since forever and we've learned to live with it. In fact, we've learned to love it. US Treasury securities are a good basis for a savings program. Now come the Conservatives hoping to use the national debt to advance their flagging political fortunes.

Conservative bungling of public policy created the dire economic straits of America today and they're hoping to divert attention from the consequences, a lack of jobs, to something else. The national debt fills the bill. Never mind that they created a good portion of the national debt, especially that portion accruing in recent years, with their tax cuts for the rich and foreign wars. They're acting as if they were the fiscal saviors of America and they're doing it with simplistic policy proposals and utter nonsense.

Spending and tax cuts sound good to the guy who doesn't understand much about macro economics. He knows he can't spend money he doesn't have and can't borrow. That guy can be scared into believing Conservative schemes to serve the plutocracy serve his interests, too, and that's how demagoguery works. Find something which evokes a deeply emotional response and use the response to serve your interest. Conservatives are good at it. They do it with race, immigration, sexual orientation and a host of other things.

Don't believe it.

The debt is manageable and not with the draconian budget and tax slashing the Conservatives are demanding. Instead of listening to the likes of Judd Gregg, stick to the fundamentals. Let Congress "provide for the general welfare" with good faith debating of the issues which really affect the American People and funding action on them with the best means available, taxing or borrowing, just as the Founders intended. We don't need to focus on the funding method just because the Conservatives think it will get them a few votes.

04 June 2011

Class Warrior Under Attack

Former candidate for the Presidency John Edwards has been charged with using campaign funds to shield his mistress from public few. The charges seem bogus to me. As Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has written,

The government’s entire case rests on finding that the payments made by Bunny Mellon and Fred Baron to Andrew Young to support Rielle Hunter were in fact campaign contributions. But no court has ever interpreted the definition of campaign contribution this broadly.

That makes wonder why Edwards is being prosecuted.

I don't know if John Edwards would have wanted to be called a "class warrior" when he was running for president. The American media don't use that term as a compliment and it might not have been well-received by a political campaign which, as we're finding-out, must be concerned with the candidate's image. Nevertheless, even though he, himself, is wealthy, I think of John Edwards as a class warrior for the rest of us.

During his campaign, Edwards talked about two Americas and he was right. America is divided by wealth into two Americas, the wealthy and everyone else. Republicans know it and have been waging a class war for years to make sure the wealthy stay in control. Edwards knew it and was ready to fight the battle for the rest of us. Maybe that's what this prosecution is all about. Edwards had the temerity to go to war for the common man.

Whatever his indiscretions, John Edwards was America's best chance to restore American prosperity and the dignity of the American middle-class. It's a shame we lost him to this peripheral and irrelevant issue and the American passion for elevating trivialities to what they think are substantive issues.

28 May 2011

Giant Inflatable Rats

Perhaps I've led a sheltered life but I've never heard of this practice just recently approved by the National Labor Relations Board.

The labor movement's giant inflatable rat is legal, even at demonstrations in front of secondary employers, ruled the National Labor Relations Board May 26.

In a case involving Sheet Metal Workers Local 15 and Brandon Regional Medical Center - which hired below-wage non-union temps to build its addition years ago - the board voted 3-1 that using the rat on a flatbed truck parked in public more than 100 feet from the hospital entrances, is kosher, along with the leafleting of passing patients.

Labor's use of giant rat deemed legal

This victory for Labor, small though it is, can be of great benefit to Americans. I can think of no better way to describe non-union contractors; they are a danger to public welfare. Let the public be warned, when rats are in the area, they have reason to be concerned.

26 May 2011

It's the spin not the substance.

Republican reaction to the upset in the New York 26 special election for Congress is starting to come-in. Democrat Kathy Hochul's victory over Republican Jane Corwin has been attributed to the Paul Ryan plan to convert Medicare to a voucher program. According to Democrats, seniors see it as a threat to their health care and are scared. Democrats think that reaction is good for their election chances in 2012. Republicans, at least publicly, say that's not so. They say all they have to do is explain themselves:
"If we’ll just stay with our argument and do a better job developing it, we’ll be fine," said Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.)
In other words, don't be concerned with the substance, just the spin.

Those words should sober-up the Democrats. Republicans are very good at demagoguery and distortion. They very well may be able make their plan to gut Medicare look like a plan to make health care for seniors more affordable. Democrats should pay attention and be forewarned. They are going to face a storm of Republican lies and distortions which will make the usual Republican lies and distortions look like a gentle breeze of logic and truth.

16 May 2011

Deficit Advice to President Obama

As we get closer and closer to next general election, President Obama is going to be getting more and more advice about how to win the election if the face of the budget deficit. Brit Hume offered him some on “Fox News Sunday” online “Panel Plus” segment on Sunday. Hume said "Obama (should) get on board with at least one of the current proposals put forth to address the federal debt. But he also noted the opposition he would face from his own party if he did so.

You're darn right, Brit.

Democrats didn't cause the deficit problem. Republicans did. Whatever Obama does about the deficit has to be at their expense. The Bush tax cuts, the Bush wars and the Bush Recession caused it. Obama has to keep the voters focused on that.

14 May 2011

Class Solidarity

Form what we've seen of the Republicans' legislative agenda so far this year, their intent should be clear. The Republicans are attempting to use envy to turn workers against each. The assault on public employee unions and the push for "right to work" laws shows us that. Each is an attempt to turn those not protected by unions against those who are. Unless American workers develop a sense of class solidarity, they will fall victim to the scheme. Every worker benefits when one worker improves himself. When he wins the battle, the next battle becomes easier and victory more likely.

25 March 2011

Will the Democrats win the 2012 general elections in a landslide?

When the results of the 2010 elections came-in, pundits might easily have predicted the end of the Democratic Party. Republicans were elected from coast to coast to a variety of offices both minor and major. The Republican Party was on top of American politics and looked like they were there to stay.

Then they actually had to govern.

Now things look different. Republicans have begun implementation of
their ideas and America is recoiling in horror. Ending collective
bargaining, repealing child labor laws, gutting Social Security and
replacing Medicare with inadequate vouchers aren't playing well with
American public. Even on overly cautious observer might be beginning to
get the idea the Republicans are in for a beating in 2012 which will make
2010 look like a clever Democratic scheme to let the Republicans hang

It couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

29 January 2011

"Cut and Grow" Already a Failure

Eric Cantor hardly had had time to move into his new office as majority leader before he declared his majority to be a "cut and grow" majority. He laid-out his plan to "grow" the economy by cutting everything - jobs, spending, benefits. Everything.

He should have waited.

A few months ago, the Conservative majority in Britain tried the same thing. They promised to cut this and cut that and promised growth but guess what happened. As Labor predicted, the economy shrank.

Let that be a lesson to you, Mr. Cantor. Keep your mouth shut. Better yet, resign. You'll be doing everyone a favor.