Archive for category Democracy
Read this: The recent success of the Paris Climate Conference was largely touted with enthusiastic accolades. So many critical countries coming together and signing this significant agreement, Wow! These leaders agreed “in Paris to address the severe problem of ‘unchecked climate change’.” They have finally got it together and are moving to make significant changes. Oops, not so fast. There is one stumbling block and not a small one. “When the agreement was approved in Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who hosted the talks, announced that it is ‘legally binding.’ That may be the hope, but there are more than a few obstacles that are worthy of careful attention.” The final step, when “negotiators have sought to forge a legally binding treaty that needed ratification by the governments of the participating countries to have force.” The big problem here is “of course” the United States. Without this (and Republican approval), the conference is little more than a large wish list. Read the rest of this entry »
Watch and read: The linked article and video below by Alexandra Rosenmann from the AlterNet is from an interview with Noam Chomsky discussing TPIP. Chomsky says TPIP “has nothing to do with reducing tariffs, (and calls) it ‘pretty extreme’.” Greenpeace, having recently released a portion of the agreement (about 280 pages) says: “Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labor rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents. They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of power from people to big business.”
Chomsky points out that “so-called free-trade agreements are not free-trade agreements. To a larger extent they’re not even trade agreements. These are investor rights agreements.” By all means, let’s protect investors above all else. In the short video you’ll hear exactly what Chomsky says. Read the rest of this entry »
Read this: The American voters, the 90% that is, are tired of politics as usual, tired of being ignored, tired of it all. In what may be dramatic signs of frustration about to boil over they are reaching out in every direction for something that is NOT THE SAME OLD BS. “From feeling the Bern to cheering The Donald, Americans are done with acquiescing to the political establishment.” They seem to be ready to speak out, to resist, to risk their livelihood and their very way of life. OK, maybe they are not quite there yet, but for the first time since the 1960’s they seem to be rapidly moving in that direction. After all, what do they really have to lose?
The article below from The Nation Magazine, by Steve Fraser examines what it takes to move the American people to resistance after being trained for years to acquiesce and go along with the established order in our politics. For too long the accepted mood has been we can’t change things, we must work from within the system, blah, blah, blah. As Fraser says ” To rise up means to silence those intimidating internal voices warning that the overlords have the right to rule by virtue of their wisdom, wealth, and everything that immemorial custom decrees. Fear naturally closes in.” At some point, however, frustration outweighs the fear and America seems to be approaching that threshold. Read the rest of this entry »
Read this: If not now, when would be the right time? Assuming Bernie Sanders does not gain the Democratic nomination, Jill Stein of the Green Party has boldly offered to run as his VP, if Bernie would run as the top of the Green Party ticket. Everyone is quick to say this could never work. The arguments against a 3rd party candidacy are voluminous. At the same time the complaining about our two party system, with all of it’s corruption are never ending. The majority of Americans don’t seem to like the leading candidates from either party. Meanwhile Sanders is the one candidate with a popularity rating well above 50% and yet he may not win the Democratic nomination. For the majority of disillusioned, frustrated Americans, will there every be a better time and a better candidate with which to try a 3rd party option? Einstein famously said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Well, if this election continues, as it looks like it is headed and we don’t decide to take a chance and follow our hearts now, then maybe we should just shut up and stop complaining. We obviously do not have the courage to try, the courage our forefathers so represented.
The article below from Salon.com, by Kevin Zeese and Patrick Walker explains their take on this offer of a powerful Green Party option. “Dr. Jill Stein opened the door to Sanders on April 22 when she wrote him about how they could work together to advance his political revolution … that everything would be on the table, including her running as the vice presidential nominee and Sanders running as the presidential nominee.” Read the rest of this entry »
Read this: As usual, Norm Chomsky makes us rethink what we often lazily take for granted. He poses the question, “Who Rules the World” and immediately refutes what is probably our most common answer. That quick, assumptive response is often “the states” or “the great powers”, but he says this may be misleading. Regardless of the level of supposed democracy, decisions and politics “are heavily influenced by internal concentrations of power, while the general population is often marginalized”. Chomsky emphasizes that, to understand who rules the world, we cannot ignore the “’masters of mankind,’ as Adam Smith called them: in his day, the merchants and manufacturers of England; in ours, multinational conglomerates, huge financial institutions, retail empires, and the like.” Basically what we know as multinational corporations. He describes “the ‘vile maxim’ to which the “masters of mankind” are dedicated: ‘All for ourselves and nothing for other people’. This doctrine or policy is intricately entwined with ‘class war, often one-sided, much to the detriment of the people of the … the world’.”
In the two articles below found in The Nation magazine, Chomsky makes many points clarifying policies and tools used by “the masters (to) hold enormous power”. Read the rest of this entry »
Read this: So we keep hearing that Bernie Sanders is just too radical to get elected by the American people. Many in the media, particularly from the right, are constantly feeding this idea. Even the Clinton campaign, as well as Hillary herself, want to keep reminding us that this is so. I have my ideas, but instead lets get a couple other opinions, including a commonly perceived radical. After all who could possibly better identify another radical?
The article linked below in salon.com, by Sean Illing briefly examines this idea of “radical Bernie Sanders”. Illing quotes Noam Chomsky (assumed here as our consensus radical) from a recent interview where he says Sanders is “considered radical and extremist, which is a pretty interesting characterization, because he’s basically a mainstream New Deal Democrat. Read the rest of this entry »
Read this: During this primary season I have had many conversations with friends and acquaintances regarding the Hillary vs Bernie dilemma. In many cases that individual will explain why they are supporting Hillary, while at the same time admitting that they actually support almost every policy position of Sanders. There are many rationalizations for this, but often the main ones seem to be: electability, the ability to get things done and of course the desire to have a woman in the White House. These are valid concerns and I try not to attack these justifications, because I have been there. I understand. After all, as part of this web site name suggests, I too am guilty. But I think these are like one side of a coin and wonder what could the other side look like. For me the time has come, if not well past, to stop that “safe” way and stubbornly strive for what is needed, really reach for the stars, because while we are being careful, safe and patient, the players on the other side have been aggressively subverting and eliminating any semblance of progress toward equality and fairness “We The People” had accomplished. And of course we can’t forget that other question: What are we leaving for future generations?
Rather than giving more of my argument on the Bernie vs Hillary debate I will point to someone else’s comments. Read the rest of this entry »
Watch this: In today’s political world the majority of the tools needed for political change are all owned and controlled by the top 1% and of course corporations. The same group that is often causing and benefiting from the situation that we the people feel needs changing. Even voting is manipulated to minimize any real effectivity. The tools that are inviolate for the powerless are ideas and their bodies. The ideas will inevitably lead to some form of action and then even those with no political capital have the ability to use their bodies in defiance of situations or laws deemed unjust. In a democracy this marriage of ideas and civil disobedience should be practiced continuously and by the majority of those with little power or leverage, the bottom 90%.
The YouTube video below, created by the environmental group breakfree2016.org shows many examples of civil disobedience utilized by people around the world, with little or no power, as they fight the battle of Climate Change with very few tools except their ideas, their voices and their bodies. Read the rest of this entry »
Read this: The linked article below from Salon.com, by Ben Norton sheds light on a common activity of the Global & US corporate elite. Around the world, but particularly in South America, they consistently, quickly and quietly encourage the replacement of thriving democracies with oligarchy. Stories abound and too often the US government appears to be supporting if not directly involved in these actions.
Norton quotes The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald as saying “Brazilian financial and media elites are pretending that corruption is the reason for removing the twice-elected president of the country as they conspire to install and empower the country’s most corrupted political figures.” Read the rest of this entry »
Read this: Most people living in a deep seeded misconception that democracy and capitalism are harmonious if not mutually required. The Bernie Sanders bid for the presidency has caused us to questioned one of these while trying to strengthen the other. Regardless of what his presidency might accomplish, “for the first time since the end of the Cold — and perhaps since the beginning of the Cold War — large numbers of Americans have begun to ask questions about capitalism.” This economic concept that we have been taught is “not questionable” is beginning to be examined. All I can say is please don’t stop regardless whether Bernie should fail in his bid.
The article in the link below from Salon.com by Andrew O’Hehir examines this in much more detail. Sanders focus on the overwhelming issue of inequality has inevitably lead us to the very foundation of our economy, capitalism itself. Finally, as O’Hehir says “the neoliberal policy prescriptions of tax cuts, deregulation, privatization and fiscal austerity ha(ving) been understood as the natural order of things — and as the oxygen necessary to nourish democracy around the world — the Western world’s entire leadership caste has been startled to encounter a resurgence of systematic nonbelief.” As I read, I can’t help but feel an “ABOUT TIME” audibly slipping from my mouth. A lot has been written about this, for years, but until Bernie, the media avoided it as if it were mere myth. Even now it continues to be hard to find real unbiased discussion of where capitalism fits with democracy. The media and political powers don’t want that conversation to become center stage. O’Hehir says it well “To the bankers and politicians, it feels almost as if a crusty old Vermonter had come close to stealing a major-party presidential nomination on a platform of Flat-Earthism, or by professing that the moon landing was a fake.”
With the Republican Party representing the 1% and the Democratic Party focusing on the top 10%, protecting the economic status quo is priority number 1 and they seldom get to any others. There is no hoping for the Republican Party, but the Democrats used to be the party of the working man or the family man. The party of the people, unions, etc. Obviously that has changed, “the Democratic Party has spent the last few decades prostrating itself before the temple of Big Money — a process greatly accelerated under the husband of its current frontrunner — and renouncing any semblance of class-based politics or egalitarian economics.” Bernie frequently says it is not about him, but he has been the catalyst for discussions most of us never thought would take place. Again O’Hehir accurately says ” The Sanders campaign was an attempt to seize power in the Democratic Party, largely from outside, and renounce its allegiance to capitalism and its subservience to the entire package of economic, ideological and military imperialism sometimes called the ‘Washington consensus.’ The true danger that campaign presented to the American political establishment lay not so much in Bernie Sanders himself — an unlikely candidate, and a less likely nominee — as in the heretical ideas it embodied, which may now prove difficult to contain.”
There is a lot in this article. Read it in entirety and you will probably be thinking, as I am, we must keep the discussion front and center until everyone begins to question the role, definition and limits for what we call “capitalism”.