Why are people at loggerheads at present? Because we know one of the two major candidates is going to win the election and neither is a good choice. Also, the recent DNC corruption is not being dealt with. It’s being ignored because the Hillary supporters are worried about a Trump presidency. And a Trump presidency would be outrageous, but it also wrong to keep propagating a neoliberal, warmongering agenda which is the end result if either of these candidates is elected. There are 3rd party choices still but their support is not going to be able to win enough votes, especially when one of the candidates is not even able to get on the ballot in all states. Basically, corporate America and the billionaires are going to continue running the government and the judiciary unless something very startling happens. People are starting to get more and more frustrated here …
After scanning facebook posts yesterday on what I considered trusted pages, I was concerned by the level of propaganda and spin that is being cast around this election (and it seems to be getting worse). The way I would sum it up is that there is in many instances a failure to ask the right questions. When we start asking the right questions then perhaps we can move forward instead of trying to indoctrinate potentially vulnerable readers. I’m thinking here the spin of the likes of Daily Kos, Politico, Thom Hartmann, Ring of Fire, and Robert Reich (in some instances).
In this election cycle there have been a number of different ideas floating around about how to vote and why we should vote a certain way. Almost to the point of becoming “principles” that will lead to the “right” outcome.
It goes something like this: Donald Trump has to be defeated and Hilary Clinton is the way to do that. It doesn’t matter that this means keeping the same neoliberal arrangement that has been the mainstay for this and other countries for the past 30 plus years. It doesn’t matter that big money has infiltrated the system and is going to continue to run the show in alarming proportions if the performance at the DNC is any indication and the number of billionaires pledging a vote for Clinton.
I was also struck by the “logic” of another argument that Clinton needs to win because she will nominate progressive judges to the Supreme Court. By all indications with her extensive corporate pandering of late (to Democrat and Republican billionaires) she will be more than likely nominating justices who support corporate interests.
There is another “principle’ floating around that the presidency can be overlooked because it is the down ticket vote that will count. But this is even questionable as the “solution” with the new knowledge that the Koch Brothers are focusing their efforts on the Congress, not the Presidency.
So if the money interests are tying up all sectors of the government – executive, legislative, and judiciary, this leaves us with quite a dilemma.
So what do we do? We could ask the very important question of how did we get to this point and this a valid question to ask. By understanding how we got here we can hopefullly avoid reproducing this in the future. But this won’t help us change where we are at present. So the more important question in my mind is where do we want to go?
I was reading the introduction to Gar Alperovitz 2004 book “America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy” (and I’ll be honest I still haven’t read the rest of the book). But I was struck by what he said about change. He spoke about change in the light of needing to know what you want change to look like if you are going to even begin the journey of bringing about that change.
So I compiled a list of the things that I would like to “be the change”. These are just presented as basic wants. I don’t know the details and I”m not an expert in framing the issues and I haven’t spent time on looking into the details at this point. I’ve also avoided any negative “reasons” why any of these are not possible. Other authorities more knowledgeable than me have suggested that many of these things which we don’t think are possible are in fact very doable.
Here is my skeletal list:
1. a constitutional amendment to overcome Citizens United
2. bringing back trade unions and collective bargaining
3. breaking up the big banks.
4. bringing back Glass-Steagall
5. holding publicly funded elections
6. a heath care system that allows those who can’t afford to pay to be treated – expanding medicaid or single-payer system
7. social welfare where unemployment is provided to those without work with meaningful proof that they are searching for work
8. social welfare system that provides everyone with a minimum income to eliminate poverty
9. a minimum wage
10. a climate change plan that is meaningful and measurable
11. transitioning to renewable energy where the fossil fuel industry is transitioned adequately
12. stringent regulation of Big Agriculture if not elimination, and a move back to small family farms
13. an end to further trade agreements and reeling in the ones we currently have, as well as removal of the ISDS dispute process
14. a return to a domestic manufacturing focus
15. corporations paying their fair share of taxes and taxes if located overseas
16. corporations losing their identification as persons
17. decreased military spending and policies on how to deal with conflicts in other countries that incorporate humanitarian principles.
18. put an end to arming other countries with weapons
19. increased regulation of industry at the interchange where it harms communities – environmental justice focus
20. voting system reform to minimize fraud and ensure all citizens are able to vote
21. immigration reform (whatever that entails)
22. fix the failing infrastructure
23. race relations – deal with systemic racism in the area of enforcement
24. regulation of animals to minimize or eliminate practices that amount to cruelty
25. a public education system that is funded adequately
26. a higher education system where students are not steeped in debt for the rest of their lives with jobs that barely pay the bills
27. cut monopolies down to size; Big Pharma, Telecommunications like Comcast, Monsanto, Broadcasting, Big Tech, Property (Patents, Copyright)
28. water held as a human right – clean, safe and accessible water for all
29 gun reform (whatever that entails)
30 fairness doctrine reintroduced into broadcasting
31 adopt Joseph Stiglitz economic plan from “Rewriting the Rules for the American Economy” (2016)
32. put an end to corporations like Walmart’s monopolization over consumer shopping; focus efforts on employee coops which can compete and keep prices down
33. make bankruptcy rules fairer so they do not penalize individuals
34. increase regulation of speculation on the Stock Market (whatever that entails)
Referring to Robert Reich’s posts below: It’s like Reich said in his commentary: “In fairness, Hillary is only doing what she knows best. Moving to the putative center is what Bill Clinton did after the Democrats lost the House and Senate in 1994 …..” I get that but I also know this … and it ties in with what R.R. said a couple of weeks ago about an old friend close to Hilary calling him out saying that most Americans don’t care about the TPP and R.R. defending against that. What is points to is that a decision was made that the progressives are disposable because they will have no where else to go (perhaps Bill helped her make that decision in the choice of VP). It’s the same thing Bill did with the workers in any case. He left the workers behind because it was assumed they would have nowhere else to go. The progressives are being disposed of, just like the workers. That may well work in the short term. Sometimes these short terms can last for years. But as the problems in the country deepen there will be more and more Trump type figures to appeal to the needs of those who continue to go unheard. I find that a very big concern …
It might surprize many that supporting what Bernie Sanders started here in America is a stance against my self interest and those of family and even my country of origin. Australia is a country that relies for a large part on coal exports for its economy. There is also economic reliance on the fossil fuel industry here in America. Everyone is tied to the current system at some point, somewhere, unless you are an island. It’s not to be condemned. But at what point do you take a stance against self interest and instead stand up for what you think is right. It’s not the moral high ground to do this, it just is what it is – a decision. And I’m talking about economic inequality here and climate change. I believe the progressive movement is the only one that has any hope of dealing with those issues.
I saw a post last week that the Oklahoma government was considering an investigation into radical Islamic terrorism in the state. I was also listening to the BBC news recently in their discussions about the Turkish coup and how Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, was accused of being involved with the coup. Even though he denies this, he is still considered a “controversial” person and is supposed to be involved with a number of “questionable” charter schools across the United States. Oklahoma was specifically named in the BBC program. I couldn’t grasp the gist of what they were saying at the time but I found this article which explains more. Apparently in 2015, the Center for Security Policy named four Gulen-affiliate charter schools in Oklahoma.
I quote from the article:
“The Turkish government accused Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen of organizing Friday’s failed military coup. While the reportedly reclusive 75-year-old imam — who lives in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania — denied any connection to Turkey’s military action and even suggested it may have been staged by the Turkish president, Gülen remains a controversial figure. He is allegedly connected to a vast network of questionable charter schools operating across the United States.”
Breibart News who wrote the article below reported about an FBI whistleblower who claimed Gulen was a “threat to U.S. interests”.
I quote again from the article:
“Leaked information revealed the U.S. government’s concern that these schools were being used to indoctrinate students and use taxpayer dollars to fund the Gülen movement in Turkey.”
With the Oklahoma government being so in favor of charter schools and yet so concerned with Islam I just see these two things as strange bed fellows.
See: Oklahoma Spending All Its Natty Ice Money Investigating ‘Threat Of Islam.’ Yes, In Oklahoma Read more at http://wonkette.com/604159/oklahoma-spending-all-its-natty-ice-money-investigating-threat-of-islam-yes-in-oklahoma#SAiblPg6mK63oaBC.99
As the RNC reaches its finality yesterday evening I was again drawn back to Chomsky and one of his talking points in “Requiem For The American Dream.” Quoting from it now:
“Principle 10: Marginalize the Population
One of the leading political scientists, Martin Gilens came out with a study of the relationship between public attitudes and public policy and what he shows is that about 70% of the population has no way of influencing policy. They might as well be in some other country.
And the population knows it. What it leads to is a population that is angry and frustrated and hated institutions. It’s not acting constructively to try to respond to this. There is popular mobilization and activism but in very self-destructive directions.
It’s taking the form of unfocused anger, attacks on one another and on vulnerable targets. That’s what happens in cases like this. It is corrosive of social relations, but that’s the point. The point is to make people hate and fear each other and look and only for themselves and do’t do anything or anyone else.”
This resonates with me at present with the entire election process. My way of dealing with everything is to try to understand how it fits into the bigger picture. Without knowledge, we just seem to be reacting and that is very unhelpful.
I think it’s ok to let off steam initially when the next piece of news arrives (and I’m not going to apologize for doing that). But after that perhaps its time to become more constructive.
Big Pharma is responsible for creating “disorders” and “diseases” and then developing treatments to cure it, all in the cause of making more money for its shareholders. They really know how to feed into the modern American quick fix mentality and then direct their marketing towards that.
This is the case with ADD/ADHD which is labelled as a “disorder” and the quick fix treatment is methylphenidate hci (aka Concerta). Concerta is similar to Ritalin in that both are methylphenidates. Methylphenidate was approved by the FDA in 1955 to treat what was termed “hyperactivity” in children which was given the name ADHD.
Then with all the marketing, ADHD was labelled a disorder to be fixed by using medication. Sales of methylphenidate increased by 500% in the United States by the end of the 20th century.
There are a lot of bad side effects to methylphenadate drugs, including suicidal thoughts in children who take it. But none of this is mentioned in the sales literature.
Thom Hartmann who is a former psychotherapist wrote a book called “Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception.” To quote from the article below and Hartmann’s ideas: “rather being a disorder, ADD and ADHD are simply a set of behaviors and tendencies that are often found among hunter-gatherers. For example, what modern, post-industrial society calls a “short attention span” is what hunters and gatherers would consider to be constantly observing the surrounding environment, being alert to any changes. What the modern world calls “impulsive” and “poor planning” may really be an ability to launch into the pursuit of game in an instant. Basically, hunters can take in everything around them, and quickly adapt to changing conditions.”