Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Give and They Shall Receive

(originally published at OpEdNews)

I received an action item from The PEN (The People’s Email Network) today.

The message encourages me to call my members of Congress, they give the phone number, and insist that we end the occupation of Iraq immediately.

I’m writing this article to ask for your help. I need help in understanding how we fail to see our government for the game that it is.

I’ve written at least two articles, “The Democratic Party is not Broken” and “Priority Number One” in which I try very hard to point out that the people who are not only heading up our government, but are capable of becoming a part of the federal government do so for their own benefit and the benefit of their families and friends. They are no more or less than legalized “Sopranos”.

The front page of the “Perspective” section in the April 8, 2007 Contra Costa Times was splattered with pictures of Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. The captions under the photos told the reader how “well” Obama’s fundraising is going and showed how much money each candidate has raised thus far. The front page of the political section of a widely distributed newspaper informs the people of the “score” in terms of money. If this isn’t an in your face admission that politics is a game in The FUSA, what is?

I’ve spent countless hours calling my members of Congress. I’ve spent countless hours talking to their staffers and being told that “I’ll be sure to pass your message on to Senator Boxer” or “Senator Feinstein” or “Representative Tauscher”. Do I know that my message was passed on? Of course I don’t. Not only do hundreds of thousands of people call these very same members of Congress daily, but the staffers are the people who decide whether or not Boxer, Feinstein, Tauscher or any other member of Congress should even hear the message.

When they’re not conducting what have become photo-ops on CSPAN, these members of Congress are out fundraising so that they can make it to the “playoffs” in ’08, 10, 12, 14, etc.

Here’s a passage from “Priority Number One”:

“Elected officials, especially on the national level, were wealthy before they were elected or defeated, they’re wealthy after they've been elected or defeated and they’re still wealthy when they retire. I don’t believe that they even care a whole lot if they win or lose. They see politics as some sort of game and a nasty one at that.”

I presume that The PEN truly believes that if we the people flood the phones, emails and snail mails with our demands and requests, we will make a difference in national policy.

I know The PEN needs donations to continue its work. So do Common Cause, MoveOn (to whom I wouldn’t donate a nickel), the ACLU, NARAL, every candidate running for office,, Truthout, the Center for American Progress, Common Dreams, OpEdNews (to whom I give most of my donations), Thom Hartmann’s sponsors, Democracy Now, to name just a few of the “Progressive” organizations. How do I know this? I receive messages, email or snail mail from these organizations telling me that if I only give $25, $50 or some quantity of money, I can ensure that the “Progressive” organization will continue to “put the word out”.

Even well meaning people play the game. Money is what drives policy and I’ve concluded that my occasional $25 donation can’t compete with the millions of dollars that every member of Congress receives from what’s been labeled “special interest groups”.

One can point out Howard Dean’s success in raising money in relatively small quantities via the internet. It was called a truly grassroots effort.

Let’s be honest about that effort. Dean did raise an impressive sum of money via his internet “grassroots” efforts, but I’m willing to bet that, if Dean did receive the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2004, he would have had to receive money from “special interest groups” as well as his “grassroots”. Once a politician begins to take money from “special interest groups”, they begin to pay special interest to the contributors. Once the “special interest” contributors gain the ears and minds of politicians, the grass dies because the roots are ignored.

The other part of Dean’s success was the fact that he wasn’t even successful. Adding insult to injury, he now heads up the Democratic Leadership Council, a group whose thinking is securely affixed within the box. There’s nothing even remotely radical about the thinking of the DLC.

We fear that The Regime will somehow ensconce itself into the leadership of this nation before the 2008 elections and will actually become an official, text book dictatorship.

Newsflash: The Former United States of America has been under a dictatorship for quite a long time.

Thom Hartmann’s book “Screwed” tells us that the American middle class in sinking in the quick sand of poverty. This brings me back to the donations requested by the organizations mentioned above. How much sense does it make for those who are losing even what we consider a middle class existence to give to some, most or all of these organizations? Many of the organizations actually promise to do all that they can to even out the playing field while draining those who have been “screwed” out of whatever resources they may have left.

I listen to Thom Hartmann daily and find his approach the most mature, educational and balanced approach in talk radio. But even Hartmann misses the point.

One of the ways in which Hartmann misses the point is through one of the tag lines that’s repeated on his show. The line is “where despair is not an option”.

The other is Hartmann’s sign off – “Tag, you’re it!”

We’re what? We’re people who’ve been protesting and marching and calling and writing since 2000, no, check that, since 1960, no check that, since before 1960? The truth is not much has changed.

We give ourselves credit for ending the Vietnam war. Yet, in the years between Vietnam and Iraq, we invaded Grenada and Panama, bombed Libya, Afghanistan, Serbia, Sudan, killing civilians. We brokered a trade between two organizations that promoted and still promote terrorism – Iran and the Contras.

We armed Osama bin Laden and now we demonize him.

We armed Saddam Hussein and then attacked Iraq in the early nineties. Look at what we’re doing there now.

Most of us thought that investigations into Bill Clinton’s life were bogus, yet they still proceeded, utilizing millions of dollars of taxpayer money. I bet the phones and emails of members of Congress were all a-buzz at that time, yet the sordid investigation continued.

Whereas that particular investigation of Clinton was, indeed, bogus, no one investigated his taking jobs away from Americans and sending them to slave labor nations. NAFTA was passed by wealthy politicians who stood, and still stand to benefit from the loss of decent middle class jobs in America and the perpetuation of squalor within the nations to which those jobs were sent.

How many phone calls have been made to our members of Congress? How many emails have been sent? How many snail mail messages have been sent?

Has war stopped? Has the FUSA stopped propping up tyrannical governments like Saudi Arabia and China? Did African Americans, working through peaceful disobedience with Martin Luther King, really win anything in the sixties?

Did they win the right to vote? Witness Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.

Did they win the right to live life as Caucasians have been living life in the FUSA? Witness profiling.

Did they win the hearts and minds of all Americans? Did they win equal rights? Witness Bob Jones University.

Did they win the respect that all people, American or otherwise should receive? Witness Michael Richards and Don Imus.

Why haven’t African Americans, to this day, won the hearts and minds of many Caucasians in America? We all contacted our members of Congress We all marched and protested. We all donated to that one special organization or candidate who was going to level the playing field.

Wealthy people who can afford to run for office on a national level know wealthy people. The candidates are supported, to say the least, by the wealthy people they know and payback’s a bitch, especially when it comes to the people who supposedly voted for those candidates because they promised to make a positive difference.

There’s a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson which says, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Those words may or may not have been taken out of context. I’ve heard Hartmann say something to the affect that Jefferson didn’t really mean what the quote implies and I’ve heard him go on to explain why. Maybe he even put the quote into the proper context.

However, I look at the words, out of context or not, which say, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

I also look at what it does not say.

It does not say, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with phone calls to your members of Congress” or “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with emails and/or snail mail” or “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with marches and protests.”

What I read is “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” (emphasis mine)

If it isn’t obvious to everyone that we have been under the dictatorship of a small group of wealthy politicians, it may help to recall John Kerry’s concession “blurb” after losing the 2004 presidential election. It was obvious that he just didn’t care.

It’s obvious that, as long as we allow this dictatorship by the wealthy to exist, we will enable a government filled with very talented thespians who just don’t care.

To friendship,

“I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents.” - Sir Winston Churchill

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Anonymous said...

You wrote that:

"The other part of Dean’s success was the fact that he wasn’t even successful. Adding insult to injury, he now heads up the Democratic Leadership Council"

Howard Dean is NOT head of the DLC!!!

Howard Brush Dean III (born November 17, 1948) is an American politician and physician from the U.S. state of Vermont, and currently the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the central organ of the Democratic Party at the national level.

gary said...

You paint a rather depressing story, one that's hard to argue against. I can offer you one glimmer of hope. The internet may help make the country more democratic. In the past we heard only what mainstream media (and special interests with large advertising budgets) wanted us to hear. Now we can hear what the candidates say directly from them. For example:

This has the potential of deflating the large sums of money (and accompanying influence peddling) that make the system so dysfunctional. So how's that for a silver lining?


Michael Bonanno said...

Anonymous, although I'm a bit curious about the anger that seems to accompany your response, I thank you for the correction nonetheless.

Yes, I remember now, RNC, DNC, two legs of the same pair of pants.

Thanks for the brief biographical info as well.

As for you, gary, thanks for the link. You're right, offers the kind of selection that would never fit into the Electoral College process.

In some of the cases, I, personally, am glad. But that's what the first amendment's for, hey?

To friendship,