Monday, December 20, 2010

LA Socialist Local Holds Organizing Meeting (Discussion with Mimi Soltysik, Local Chair)

(originally published at OpEdNews)

The Los Angeles County Local of The Socialist Party of The United States of America held an organizing meeting in LA on December 11, 2010.

I attended the meeting to capture for OEN what American Socialists are doing to free us from the one party, two name corporate dictatorship under which the American government operates. In the name of full disclosure, I am also a member of The SPUSA, but not of the LA County local.

In attendance at the meeting were Lynn Lomibao and Rich Fuller, leaders of The Feminist & Family Services Committee, Mohammed Arif, leader of The Muslim Affairs Committee, Justin Simons, leader of the Youth Action Committee and Lauren Avery, Gay and Lesbian Affairs Committee leader.

Also at the meeting was Stewart Alexander, The SPUSA’s 2008 vice presidential candidate. Stewart’s presence seemed to have an invigorating affect on the others in attendance.

The meeting was Chaired by Mimi Soltysik, Chair of the LA County Local of the Socialist Party.

I caught up with Mimi a few days after the meeting to ask him about the goals set at the meeting and his impression of how much longer Americans can exist under a corporate dictatorship.

MB: Mimi, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I hope that this doesn’t take more than an hour of your time. I know you’ve got some recruiting to do.

MS: Rock it, my friend.

MB: How many people actually belong to Socialist Party of the United States of America and how many belong to your local?

MS: Your first question would probably be best directed to Greg Pason at national. He probably has the most accurate numbers.

I know that in the 2008 general election, there were 6,528 votes cast for Brian Moore and Stewart Alexander.

As far as the L.A. Local is concerned, the best figure I can give you is the number of those registered in the state, which I believe is right around 100.

Numbers haven't been a huge part of the focus in the first six or seven weeks that I've been in this position. Organizing a foundation that can be built upon has been the primary focus to this point and we’re starting to see some results in that area

MB: If not in numbers, how are you measuring your results? In what ways have these results manifested themselves?

MS: A few things we've been able to do in the first weeks.

We have a Facebook page up and running which has acted as an information hub.

We’ve been posting releases on places like Indy Media to let the general public know that the Socialist Party in Los Angeles is up and running, that there’s an active presence in Los Angeles with an infrastructure positioned to move forward with the Socialist agenda.

We have people in place who are motivated to carry out the Socialist agenda in the context of their particular fields of interest.

We organized and carried out our first meeting in Los Angeles, which you were a part of, to set up issue-specific committees intended to carry forth a plan of action in the community. People have volunteered to run with those committees and these volunteers are already meeting and setting up dates for future plans of action to have a positive impact in the Los Angeles County.

We are seeing this with the Feminism / Family Services Committee, the Youth Action Committee, and the Gay and Lesbian Committee.

We have a goal, which is to reach 10,000 Los Angeles residents who have registered with the Socialist Party in a one year time period.

Having said all of this, we are still in need of help, which we are actively seeking. Los Angeles County is the largest in the country and as I mentioned in the meeting, we need a sizable cadre of members to run with the Socialist agenda, to reach every pocket of the County, to provide examples of how the Socialist Party is determined to satisfy the needs of the working class, the impoverished, the hungry, the disenfranchised. As Chair of the Los Angeles Local, I can only hope to facilitate this process.

MB: Well, I think I may have asked the wrong question or I’m not understanding the meaning of that last answer. There are 10,000 registered Socialists in LA?

MS: Oh no. I think there are roughly 100 registered in the state of California. The goal is 10,000 by the end of 2011.

A goal of 10,000 registered in the city of Los Angeles.

MB: That makes more sense. I was going to ask why those 10,000 didn't vote for the Socialists.

MS: I think that there were less than 7,000 who voted Socialist nationwide in the '08 general election.

MB: 6,528 votes is a far cry from the 900,000 votes that Gene Debs was able to receive at the beginning of last century. What do you think happened to those Socialists and, judging from the activity in the LA area, is there anything that can be done to recapture what Debs was able to bring to Socialism?

MS: Let me start by saying that my answers are purely my own and that I give great deference to Greg Pason and Stewart Alexander, as well as Lynn Lomibao and others active in the Party.

I believe that the political and social climate is considerably different now than when Eugene Debs garnered 900,000 votes across the country. Third parties haven’t had a lot of success in the U.S. as of late.

MB: That's putting it mildly.

MS: It appears that corporate politics has really got a stranglehold on the electorate.

Ballot access is incredibly difficult, the debates are a joke and the Democrats and Republicans have been highly effective, along with mainstream media, at erasing third party politics from the collective consciousness of the general public.

But, that can sound like an excuse.

We have to become more active on a personal and then a collective level.

MB: What's the connection between the locals and the national party?

MS: They make themselves available when I have questions and request literature. More than anything else, they seem to be comfortable with the autonomy of the Los Angeles Local. Which we all greatly appreciate. Not that we aren't open to working with them on a more frequent basis, but they're 3,000 miles away, so it might be difficult to run every decision by them in real time.

Stewart Alexander, the California Chair, is always there to offer support and advice.

MB: So the SPUSA supports the locals instead of the other way around?

MS: With 100 registered Socialists in California, I don't know how much more we can offer at this point aside from moral support and our commitment to build the Party to be the success we all know it can be.

Los Angeles is the largest county in the country and if we walk the walk, we should be able to accomplish this.

MB: How many locals are there in the US and do any approach the size of LA?

MS: That would definitely be a question for Greg Pason. Geographically, we might cover more area than other locals, but I suspect that, at this point, there are other locals in the country that have a greater membership than L.A. We really are starting fresh.

MB: CA is known for its "progressive" leanings, yet with Prop 8 and the recent ban on pot, it may not be as progressive as many think. Do you think that LA may be an easier target than an east coast target? Do you think we can ever get the Midwest to actually lead the charge again? Sorry, I think I asked three questions.

And by target, I mean is LA more open to Socialistic ideals.

MS: I think that for far too many, Los Angeles is a struggle. A struggle to pay rent, a struggle to find a job, a struggle to feed a family. As a result, Socialism is an approach that would offer the types of solutions many need. I think Los Angeles offers a tremendous opportunity to have a positive effect as far as quality of life is concerned. I would agree, however, that the perception of Los Angeles being highly progressive politically is somewhat off base.

MB: So, are you finding more acceptance? Is 10,000 a reasonable goal? Or is 10,000 an ambitious goal?

MS: I think 10,000 is both ambitious and achievable. We've got roughly 10,000,000 residents in Los Angeles County. I think that, once the full court press is in effect, 10,000 will appear all the more likely.

I don’t know, historically, how much effort has been put into recruitment in Los Angeles County. I know that effort will be placed on recruitment in L.A. County.

MB: Fear of Socialism probably started when Wilson wouldn't support the Bolsheviks. Communism, which Americans were told was going on in Russia, began to be equated with Socialism. Then came Stalin and he was a scary dude. McCarthy took off on that. Khrushchev and Kennedy heightened the fear and, judging from the ridiculous ad campaign against universal health care, that fear of Socialism has been branded into the American brain. Do you think an unwarranted fear of "communism" is the biggest hurdle you have to overcome?

Or just the word Socialism?

MS: Maybe the perceived correlation between Socialism and Stalinism. However, the further removed the general public is from the Cold War, it would make sense that Socialism would be discussed in a context that has less and less to do with Stalinism. To be honest with you, what I find most shocking is those on the far left who continue to reiterate this problem. It seems to drive home the notion that such a problem exists. It may exist to Glen Beck and those who find him credible, but I think we’re finding ourselves moving into a new era. It’s becoming much more difficult for the mainstream media to sell the idea that Chávez and Morales are bogeymen, in my opinion.

We may never see the day where the majority of Fox viewers embrace Socialism and that’s okay.

We need to see the day where equality is a reality for the people of this country.

MB: More difficult to sell the idea?

MS: I think that, if we stop painting the possible embrace of Socialism as impossible, we’ve already crossed a major hurdle.

If you present the Party platform to people, they can, and often do, decide for themselves that this is an option that meets their basic needs.

I do believe that people are fed up with corporate politics. They’re fed up, they’re tired and they’re angry. We need to unify and fight. The time for concession is over. Fat cats have had fun at the expense of the working class for way too long and I think people will gradually become more amenable to what Socialism has to offer.

MB: A little while back, you mentioned that people on the left are actually heightening the fear of Socialism. I’ve read both the SPUSA and Green Party platforms. They’re almost interchangeable. And there’s strength in numbers. Have there been any overtures either way? It seems as if the Green Party name tends to make it appear to be a one issue party. Are they not really Socialists as well?

MS: People may think the Green Party is primarily focused on environmental issues, but like you said, their platform is pretty comprehensive. I think there are some Socialist ideals included in the Green Party platform. I don't know that they capture the demand for equality in quite the same way the Socialist Party does.

In my opinion, the time for concession has reached its conclusion.

MB: Really. It sounds as if it’s been tried, then.

MS: I can’t speak on behalf of the efforts of others. Personally, I admire many who’ve run on Green Party tickets, but I don’t know how much effort has been placed on uniting the two parties.

MB: Maybe the word scares them a bit, as well. In CA, the Peace And Freedom Party had a platform much like yours. Was the Peace and Freedom party representing the Socialist Party? Was there a connection?

MS: I know that Stewart Alexander had a past connection with the Peace and Freedom Party.

As far as this new incarnation of the Los Angeles Local is concerned, there has been no connection.

Our primary focus is organizing and achieving the level of unity required to take this fight to the streets.

MB: OK so there’s that unity again. And the Greens and PAFP are so close to Socialists. I won't belabor that point anymore, though.

MS: There’s no problem with coalition building, in my opinion. We’re open to that.

I was happy to know that many friends voted for Carlos Alvarez.

MB: Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. Having made use of the phrase "nanny state", Libertarians say that Socialism flies in the face of America’s “can do” attitude. How do you answer the “nanny stat” argument?

MS: I think that the corporate elite have a much better idea of what a nanny state looks like than the working class.

MB: Touché. Does part of your messaging speak to the basic misconception of Socialism=USSR?

MS: To be honest with you, what I find most shocking is those on the far left who continue to reiterate this problem. It seems to drive home the notion that such a problem exists.

I’m not saying that this perception doesn’t exist. It does.

What I am saying is that we intend to focus on what Socialism is and what it offers the working class. If we can collectively concentrate on that, I think we’ll start to see real progress.

I think we know why many connect socialism to Stalinism and it’s time to let that connection die. It’s an absurd connection.

MB: If you were to compare your ultimate goal, would it line up more with what Marx, Engels and Trotsky wrote about or more with what Scandinavia, especially the Swedes, have done?

MS: I think that Marx, Engels and Trotsky can’t be ignored. But, many in the United States have a very limited knowledge of who these people are and what they stand for. We have a responsibility to present those historical examples in a way that’s palatable and practical for the daily life of the working class. With an educated and empowered working class, I think we’ll see something a bit different from the sorts of Socialism practiced in the rest of the world. We can maintain an identity, while still adhering to Socialist principles.

I think the goal is to experience what a Socialist United States might look and feel like.

The people of the U.S. can be tremendously caring, charitable and sensitive.

The government and the media have enacted a masterful campaign of misinformation.

No more. Now, we can and should look to other Socialist countries in Europe with an open mind. Evidence shows that they enjoy a quality of life that we don’t experience here.

MB: The Greens have been going at it for quite a few years now and are very proud when they make any inroads. However, do we still have time in this country to build up slowly? We’re not in the same position we were in after the ’29 Depression. Manufacturing was still here back then. We’ve obviously lost it to cheaper labor. So, does the SPUSA have any plans to fast track its movement? I know this sounds like a question for Greg, right?

I fear that this country can’t really wait another 30 years for a paradigm shift.

MS: I hear what you’re saying and I agree. We intend to maintain a radical and revolutionary position and be as timely as possible. The mechanisms in place to deter this sort of movement are institutionalized and that’s an enormous factor. Many of us in the Los Angeles local spend a lot of time looking at our watches, wondering how we could’ve made better use of our time to push forth the agenda. I promise you that we take this seriously. It’s incredibly difficult to look in the mirror that you bought when you know that your neighbor is sleeping in his or her car.

Screw that. That’s unacceptable.

And, it’s disgusting.

Many who are much brighter than I have attempted to change this system, and I try to maintain a sense of reality. But I’m sincere when I say that the expectations couldn’t be higher.

MB: Agreed. Are there any “big spenders” in the LA area that you can access? For example, Bill Maher seems to be moving more and more to the left. Would it be possible to access him? And I know there have to be others.

MS: I think Bill Maher is funny, but I’m not sure he’d be willing to align himself with the Socialist Party. He has a boss. Do you remember seeing Michael Moore and Bill Maher on their knees begging Ralph Nader to drop out of the 2004 election?

Pretty gross, man.

MB: I don’t think that’s going to happen much more often. Yes I remember. Don’t you think that people have been duped enough by this “drop out or you'll screw it up for the Democrats” ploy? The Democrats have proven they drink from the same trough as the other guys.

MS: I’m not sure. I thought that might be the case in ‘08 until I looked at the numbers for Nader and McKinney. I know I’m not the first to say this, far from it, but Obama really laid an amazing marketing campaign on the people.

MB: I’ve fallen for it twice in a row and I thought I was smarter than that. But who didn’t want to be in on electing the first Black president, right? It’s proven to be a bust, hasn’t it?

MS: Man, I thought, and think, that Cynthia McKinney is a rad lady.

The real McCoy.

MB: I hope that we are all getting smarter than that.

MS: I hope so too. I’m optimistic. I know I’ve told you this before, but I was humbled by the effort you took to make it to our meeting. That has to be a good sign, doesn’t it? That a man in Antioch is willing to purchase a plane ticket to attend a Socialist Party meeting in Los Angeles?

A handful more Michael Bonannos and we're in business!!!

MB: Thanks. I have a lot of questions, but, as you say, many of them might better be asked of Greg. Thanks for giving me your time and you know I wish you all the luck in the world surpassing your goal.

MS: Thank you very much!! I look forward to the article.

MB: Have a good night, man.

MS: You too, my friend.


I, too, was humbled by Zolystik's compliment and, as mentioned, I did make the one day flight from the Bay Area to LA to report what happened at the Socialist meeting to OEN readers.


However, as a fairly new member of the party, I wanted to see what kind of “tyrannical” organization I’d joined. I suspected I didn’t join a tyrannical organization at all and, boy, howdy, was I right!


The number attending the meeting was small as one would imagine with a total of only 100 in the local party. However, they made up for their size with their enthusiasm. One would have thought that there was another million out there that maybe just couldn’t make the meeting.


There was none of the dry, whiny, cynical speech that we hear on C-Span everyday from Congress. There was fresh, passionate and very confident talk from these few Socialists.


I’ve heard that Democrats get into office and they try to make things right. It was FDR that started the social contract with Americans and, if one would listen to Democratic Party apologists, any Republicans who’ve been elected have worked hard to overturn those social contracts. The Democrats put money into public education and Republicans are elected and take it out and that’s why our education system is so broken.


Republicans purposely run up the deficit so that, when Democrats take over, they can point to that deficit and say, “We can't sustain these social “entitlements” that the Democrats want because we have to get the deficit down.”


Do you hear what the Democratic Party apologists are doing? They’re blaming the voters for the Democrats’ lack of accomplishing anything while they hold office.


Until Barack Obama became president, I thought that the best Republican president we ever had was Bill Clinton. Obama plays even more nicely with those who can’t make it any clearer that they want to promote anything but the progressive fixes that America sorely needs.


I ask the Democratic Party apologists, “After the two farces which were the 110th and 111th Congresses of The United States, do you still think that it’s as simple as “fixing the Democratic Party?” Really?


It's a crap shoot, dudes. Keep voting for Democrats until we get a majority of progressives. Under the American system of politics, that could never happen. Each and every Democrat and Republican in Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of someone other than the people of the United States. Neither branch of that party, The Corporatocracy, wants to change the system as it pays off for each and every one of them in the end, one way or another.


The rumor is that Comcast is ultimately going to buy MSNBC. As tepid as MSNBC is, it’s the closest thing that people who want to live in a society, not a serfdom, have.


So here’s the deal. Mr. Olbermann, Mr. Soros, Mr. Hartmann, Ms Maddow, Ms Goodman, Mr. Chomsky, Mr. Moyer, Mr. Schultz, Ms. Huffington, Mr. Buffet, Mr. O'Donnell, Mr. Maher, Mr. Redford, Ms. Rhodes, Mr. Nader, Mr. Moore, Senator Sanders, Representative Kucinich, Mr. Donohue and all others who have so much more than we, the working class, can’t you challenge Comcast and buy MSNBC and run it as a worker owned cooperative? You, of course, would be the workers.


To paraphrase a line from The American President, when one looks at members of Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary, we see many people who claim to love America but who obviously hate Americans.

To the good people I mention above, I implore you, stop speaking for us and start working with us.


We need a new social order. We need a real "Great Society". We need Democratic Socialism. It is the only true "we" society.


To friendship,
Michael

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” - Oscar Wild
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Masterpiece of Masterpiece Theater

(originally published at OpEdNews)

Democrats and Republicans are wealthy people who put on an act called politics. If one’s gotten far enough in politics to be well known on a national level, one’s probably got some fessin’ up to do. One surely is financially endowed.

Barack Obama has been exposed as a corporatist; a member in good standing of The Corporatocracy.

Yet, there is still prejudice in the vomitus excrement oozing from the mouths of so many people. People are hanging on The President’s every breath with impeach forks in their hands. The ones that are referred to as Republicans only need the noose to complete the picture. Democrats were and still are spineless. The fact that they voted with a Republican president almost in lock step with congressional Republicans isn’t surprising.

Thus far, it is nearly impossible to find a Republican who will lend a helping hand to Obama. He’s beginning to look like a kid at the grown-up’s table.

It’s all theater and the lower and middle classes have never been the targets of any political philanthropy. Nonetheless, no sane human being can like how the present theater is playing out. It looks like junior high school or high school. The cool kids aren’t even paying attention to the new kid. They’re doing all they can to make him look ridiculous.

What’s the new kid doing? He’s saying, “Can’t we all play nicely with one another?”

If there was any legitimacy at all to what we perceive as governance, the facts that Obama is six foot fifteen and stronger than superman, his party, supposed allies, controlled the Senate and the House and even the governorships and he’s the president should have manifested themselves with facts that look like successful progressive legislation. During the campaign and at the very beginning of his presidency, we heard Obama say that change has to be quick. He said then and actually still insists that we don’t have time to screw around with politics

Who could have been making meaningful progress happen since January of 2008? Barack Obama! If things have to happen quickly, he should have morphed into President “No More Mister Nice Guy” a long time ago. There’s been nothing holding him from stomping on every Republican in Congress.

When it came to getting what he wanted, George W. Bush just did it. With the obvious unwillingness of Republicans to agree to pass anything upon which he based his campaign, Obama could have just done it; that’s not a reference to Nike, either.

Barack Obama proved that he doesn’t want to abuse his presidential standing a long time ago. There can be no person who doesn’t know that, no matter what pundits are paid to say.

He’s even admitted to having made mistakes, a human flaw to which one would never see Cheney or Bush admit.

However, if he ever wants to be better than politics, he has to stop participating in political theater.

Many on the right complain about having to be politically correct. Barack Obama has spoken like most other presidents about bipartisanship. He’s used many of the same words and phrases. He’s certainly an expert in political correctness.

“Our objective in the world is peace. Our country has joined with others in the task of achieving peace. We know now that this is not an easy task, or a short one. But we are determined to see it through. Both of our great political parties are committed to working together--and I am sure they will continue to work together--to achieve this end. We are prepared to devote our energy and our resources to this task, because we know that our own security and the future of mankind are at stake.” - Harry S. Truman, 1950

“Our foreign policy must be clear, consistent, and confident. This means that it must be the product of genuine, continuous cooperation between the executive and the legislative branches of this Government. It must be developed and directed in the spirit of true bipartisanship.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953

“I am proud--and I think most Americans are proud--of a mutual defense and assistance program, evolved with bipartisan support in three administrations, which has, with all its recognized problems, contributed to the fact that not one of the nearly fifty U.N. members to gain independence since the Second World War has succumbed to Communist control.” - John F. Kennedy, 1963

“If we fail, if we fritter and fumble away our opportunity in needless, senseless quarrels between Democrats and Republicans, or between the House and the Senate, or between the South and North, or between the Congress and the administration, then history will rightfully judge us harshly. But if we succeed, if we can achieve these goals by forging in this country a greater sense of union, then, and only then, can we take full satisfaction in the State of the Union.” - Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

“I would be the last to suggest that the road to peace is not difficult and dangerous, but I believe our new policies have contributed to the prospect that America may have the best chance since World War II to enjoy a generation of uninterrupted peace. And that chance will be enormously increased if we continue to have a relationship between Congress and the Executive in which, despite differences in detail, where the security of America and the peace of mankind are concerned, we act not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Americans.” - Richard M. Nixon, 1970

“Some people question their Government's ability to make hard decisions and stick with them; they expect Washington politics as usual.” - Gerald R. Ford, 1975

“Last year, I proposed to the Congress a major legislative initiative that would direct $2 billion into education and job training programs designed to alleviate youth unemployment through improved linkages between the schools and the work place. This legislation generated bipartisan support; but unfortunately, action on it was not completed in the final, rushed days of the 96th Congress.” - James E. Carter, 1981

“We look forward to the enactment of a responsible clean air act to increase jobs while continuing to improve the quality of our air. We're encouraged by the bipartisan initiative of the House and are hopeful of further progress as the Senate continues its deliberations.” - Ronald Reagan, 1982

“We rescued the system in 1983, and it's sound again -- bipartisan arrangement. Our budget fully funds today's benefits, and it assures that future benefits will be funded as well. The last thing we need to do is mess around with Social Security.” - George H. W. Bush, 1982

“Whatever our differences, we should balance the budget now. And then, for the long-term health of our society, we must agree to a bipartisan process to preserve Social Security and reform Medicare for the long run, so that these fundamental programs will be as strong for our children as they are for our parents.” - William Jefferson Clinton, 1997

“Bipartisanship is more than minding our manners; it is doing our duty.” - George W. Bush, 2001 (all emphases mine)

All of these words have been spoken by Barack Obama in some form or other. His quotes can be gathered and printed here, but they would not surprise anyone.

Obama’s hopes for bipartisanship and his promise to get rid of “Washington politics as usual”, as stated by President Ford in 1975, seem to be too familiar, almost script-like. However, he’s human and the vitriol and blatant apparent lack of cooperation should have bothered him into action by now. It would have bothered any human being in his position by now. If this was not theater, he’d have signed universal health care into law with the stroke of a pen and a, “Hey, I asked you guys for help and we only have so much time. I gotta do what I gotta do.”

Isn’t it strange that one-half of our political duopoly all act like cowards and the other half all act as if they own the place? Again, very script-like, no?

If this sounds like just another conspiracy theory, it’s not. There’s no way that any lower or middle class American could ever be privy to the ideas expressed by the president and/or to the president in the Oval Office or in any office in any building.

Ideas may be expressed at some point during the presidential campaign. Certain “operatives” may remind a candidate of the enormous cost of running for most political offices starting at the state level. If the candidate appears to have the popular support needed to win the election, he may be congratulated for his “lead” in the polls by corporate lobbyists or even high ranking officers of corporations. They may promise to help him complete the campaign and put him over the top.

This may be followed by some very specific caveats, however. They may go as far as to tell the candidate that they’re excited about his certain victory. Then they can begin to tell him about issues that relate to their specific businesses and how he can show his gratitude by “partnering” with them to solve these issues. Indeed, they may give him ideas or even specific “roadmaps” for solving their respective problems.

Another possible scenario has corporate money going to the candidate most likely to win without consulting that candidate at all. However, once elected, those who have passionate corporate interests may begin to request meetings with the president-elect and his staff. They may remind the incoming administration that it was their money that helped it gain the margin of victory and give suggestions for ways in which that administration can show its gratitude. The president-elect and, ultimately, the president, may be told that there’s more “support” to be gained for any reelection bid.

He may also be told that any unwillingness to repay their kindness could put them in a very bad mood. He may be told that they’ve seen horrible accidents in their lives. They may tell an unwilling president about the kinds of awful things they’ve seen happen to school children who just so happened to be as young as his own children.

They may ask him, “Isn’t it just awful when things like that happen to little kids, especially little girls?”

It comes across as “small talk”, but “small talk” with a message.

However, this is not a conspiracy theory. Hard facts proving that this happens have not come forth. It’s difficult to find proof anywhere that any of this happens. It’s more a conspiracy “guess” based upon how the play unfolds after each presidential election. It’s not all that different, is it?

Those who supported the president during his campaign become frustrated. Whether it takes four years or whether it takes eight years, the president is eventually busted. He’s busted for breaking his campaign promises or misleading his supporters. Sometimes the supporters feel abandoned. Sometimes, as maybe happened in the case of George W. Bush, they just plain feel like fools. Since Truman, for sure, presidents have never created the utopian “morning in America” that their supporters were certain that they would create; the “change you can believe in”.

Even The New Frontier was as old as secret attacks on the island of Cuba and far too many members of The Great Society left their lives in Southeast Asia.

It seems that there is more hatred toward Barack Obama than there’s been toward any previous president because part of his heritage is African and that part cannot be hidden. However, despite all of the hate, he proceeds as though those who hate him deserve their day in court, so to speak and he’s tried to give them that day. They don’t want a day in court; they want to preside over the court. They don’t even show up when subpoenaed, metaphorically speaking. Their responses to his invitations have become more predictable than the seasons.

Yet he takes it, as if he has no choice; as if it’s all been planned out; the necessary deals have been made and the play has begun.

I’ve watched Rachel Maddow of MSNBC talk about this phenomenon night after night, making the same case. The Democrats have the House, Senate and Administration. They should be able to pass wonderful progressive legislation. Why don’t they? Don’t they see what we see?

Now she’s dwelling on the power that the Democrats have in the lame duck session of Congress and she asks, “Will they finally get the courage to act upon progressive legislation or are the Democrats, all of them, cowards?” The answer, of course, isn’t “yes” or “no”. The answer is there are no Democrats. There are no Republicans. There are no debates. There is no process. There is no meaningful legislation.

Wealthy members of Congress, Democrat, Republican and even Independents, are playing roles laid out for them by those who buy them.

Don’t they see what we see?

They create what we see. They create the allusion of government. Government in The FUSA is, indeed, created. It may be the most realistic piece of fiction ever written.

To friendship,
Michael

“About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.” - Herbert Hoover

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stop Running Away From Who We Are

On July 15, 1960, John F. Kennedy said the following words in his acceptance speech: “If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I'm proud to say I'm a “Liberal.””

I watched a program last night entitled The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. He was a producer, director, writer and performer in the wonderful TV series The West Wing.

He had recently been called too conservative by someone on the left and a socialist by someone on the right.

In his own defense, he played a clip from The West Wing which he wrote. In it, the Democratic Party presidential candidate responded in a debate to his Republican opponent’s accusation of being afraid to be called “liberal”. The Democrat’s response sounded an awful lot like what Kennedy said in 1960.

When’s the last time we heard any Democrat say words that were even close to what Kennedy said?

Kucinich ran for president in 2004 on a personal platform so diametrically opposed to most of the other Democratic candidates, especially John Kerry, that, until he lost the nomination, one could only assume he’d choose to run an independent campaign if he did lose.

When he lost the nomination, he stepped up and supported Kerry! Kerry was talking about a “surge” in Iraq before Bush did it. He’s enamored of so called “Free Trade” and, if he had been elected, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear him quote Clinton and say, “The era of big government is over.”

Just as Ron Paul will not pull the trigger and move, permanently, from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party, Kucinich knows that, if he takes his millions and moves to the Green Party or even the Socialist Party of the United States, he’d lose for sure.

Or would he?

I think he’d be a hero.

What made the Tea Party candidates so popular was that they said exactly what that group of people wanted to hear. They weren’t afraid to express their views, no matter how far they might be from “mainstream” America.

I submit that the Democratic Party will withhold any support from anyone who speaks the way Kennedy did. If I’m right, it will prove that the Democratic Party is too stupid to know that is what many, maybe most, Americans want to hear.

At the end of his show last night, Lawrence O’Donnell admitted that he is a socialist, at least in the sense that he utilizes the Post Office, supports Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. He displayed a Time Magazine cover which read We’re All Socialists Now.

We need candidates who don’t run away from they are. We need candidates who say that they are proud of the help the government has given the people since the days of FDR and that help is absolutely constitutional. More government help, like universal health care, is also within the bounds of the kinds of programs that The Constitution allows Congress to pass and the president to implement. It would be ethically, morally and politically courageous to run on the transparent truth of one’s convictions.

I’m of the opinion that, if we got money out of the system, a Socialist, the kind of Socialist one finds in Scandinavia, could win the White House and Democratic Socialists could win Congress. However, they would have to campaign on what their true intentions were and not mince words. They’d need to debunk every stupidity that was shot at them from the right or the fake left. And they could do it, too.

The media would have to turn truly fair and give such candidates the air time it gives to Ds and Rs. Most importantly, the media would have to include these candidates in televised debates.

These “big spenders” would come closer to balancing the budget than Democrats or Republicans. Clinton supposedly handed Bush a surplus, but too many Americans had to pay for it the hard way.

Democratic Socialists would balance the budget without cutting “entitlements” to working class Americans. They’d do it by cutting “entitlements” to wealthy Americans, corporate America and military America.


To friendship,
Michael

“A belligerent state permits itself every such misdeed, every such act of violence, as would disgrace the individual.” – Sigmund Freud




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Thursday, October 07, 2010

(published at OpEdNews)


A few days ago, I was asked what I wanted to see President Obama do in the next two years.

Recently, so called Democrats voted with so called Republicans in the Senate to kill a bill that would stop providing tax incentives to corporations who send their jobs to countries whose people are all too happy to receive a wage upon which no one in any country could live above the line of subsistence, let alone comfortably; to countries whose leaders favor payments of money over protecting the environment.

In 1968, George Wallace, running as an independent, said, “There ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats.”

I abhorred many of the things Wallace did and said at that time. To stand in front of university doors so that he could stop people from entering merely because of the random color of their skin was unconscionable.

After he was shot, Wallace had a change of heart and went to his grave at least outwardly decent. He made amends with African Americans.

I remember the “dime’s worth of difference” phrase, though. He actually was right and it’s become even truer as time has passed. Almost all politicians were wealthy before they ran for office and were elected, remain wealthy during their terms and are wealthy when they’re either defeated or retire.

I had heard that Barack Obama spent $700 million to buy the presidency in 2008. This site says that he spent over $300 million. Either number is ridiculous.

The Supreme Court’s January, 2010 ruling in Citizens United v The FEC has allowed corporations to reach into their vast profit margins and pull out any amount of money that they deem “necessary” to get their candidates elected. The decision also states that there is no disclosure rule for corporations who do this. So, buying a job for $300 million is already obsolete in a black comedy sort of way.

Don’t forget, The Corporatocracy and China have made some sweet and sweaty deals. It’s in China’s interest to keep American jobs going to its nation. It’s so much in its interest that it may accidently drop a $1 billion dollar bill in the office of some corporate CEO who may decide to use it to buy a candidate or two.

Meg Whitman has spent, to date, over $140 million to buy the governorship of California. Jerry Brown has spent a modest $10 million.

The point is that Obama, Bush, Clinton, HW, Reagan and even some before that have/had little or no say in the governance of The Former United States of America.

What incentive can outweigh receiving millions and/or billions of dollars? What can Obama do? What could Bush have even done?

Prima facie, it looks as though the Democrats are for unions and working people and the Republicans are for the wealthy. You gotta be kiddin’ me.

Once again, I present you with the prescient oration Paddy Chayefsky wrote for the movie or book, Network, in 1976. I implore you to watch it and watch it and watch it until you not only hear the words, but until you actually begin to listen to the words.

I paraphrase: There are no Republicans, there are no Democrats, there are no nations, there are no borders. Am I getting through to you, people?

Now, having told the truth about how it is, I will tell you what I would like to see Obama do in the next two years, hoping against hope.

I would like a speech from the oval office. I would like the news media to refuse to allow the “other” party to give a rebuttal. Maybe some of you don’t know this, but this bullshit piece of political correctness is new. The rebuttals were given during the campaign and the winner won. He’s the president. He gives the State of the Union address. He addresses the American citizens. The president, not the presidential candidate, speaks after the politics is over and the governing begins. No rebuttal. No Democratic rebuttal to a Republican president and no Republican rebuttal to a Democratic president. That little move, whenever it started, was one of the silliest and most divisive contrivances to ever be allowed to see the light of day and it’s merely one of the divisive contrivances that makes us formerly united.

In his speech, I want to hear Obama say that he will work solely on election reform during the remaining two years of his term.

I want him to say that he won’t work on health care reform because there will be no health care reform without election reform.

I want him to say that he won’t work on financial reform because there will be no financial reform without election reform.

I want him to say that he, along with Bush, Clinton, HW, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy and Truman all committed the impeachable offense of going to war without a Congressional declaration.

I want him to say that The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and The Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq were not even in the same zip code as a Declaration of War. I want him to say that any “OK” from Congress to a president to sort of kind of think about when it may sort of be OK to attack a nation that did nothing to America is not a Declaration of War, but a Congressional abdication of its responsibilities. I want him to admit to guilt, but I don’t want him to be impeached or to step down unless HW, Clinton and Dubya promise to go before The Hague for committing war crimes. I want him to say he’ll pursue all of the above who are still alive for unconstitutionally going to war.

I want him then to say that he will go before Congress and ask if it’s OK by them to end any and all wars that are in progress because he cannot constitutionally do it himself. If they choose not to end the war in Afghanistan and bring the troops home from Iraq and, basically, everywhere they don’t belong, I want him to resign because I want him to say he will no longer execute illegal wars.

I want him to bring before Congress legislation by which money will play no role in whether or not a candidate can even be a candidate, let alone be elected.

When debate begins, I want him to use the presidential bully pulpit to out, in no uncertain terms, anyone who wants our elections to remain commodities to be purchased by the wealthiest people. I want him to demand from that pulpit that anyone who wants elections to continue to be bought by the highest bidder debate that point of view in front of the entirety of the American public.

In fact, if his bill is voted down, I want him to use a signing statement to push it through anyway. This will show that maybe he’s grown a pair. We like presidents who use signing statements? Then he should use one to get money out of elections.

I want him to hammer home that elections are opportunities for those who wish to serve, to do the right thing, whatever they think it is, by the American people. I want him to ask whoever wants elections to remain commodities to explain to the American people how this helps them.

I want him to include that there will be a fine in his bill for Americans who refuse to exercise their right to vote. I want him to tell the American people that a democracy, republican or otherwise, cannot be sustained by a citizenry which bitches and moans, but doesn’t vote.

Then, possibly, when he steps down after his only term is up, the candidates that run for that office will actually be candidates who want to govern.

If he doesn’t work on election reform, I want him to step down and hand his position over to somebody who will.

But, I dream. There’s no incentive for anyone, from Jim DeMint to Dennis Kucinich, to work hard for election reform. Where they are and how they got there, along with what they do, is nothing more and nothing less than a racket. It’s theater, ladies and gentlemen.

The previous corporate front man couldn’t put a sentence together if it was made out of Legos. When he spoke, bullshit vomited from his mouth.

Barack Obama is articulate and when he speaks, bullshit vomits from his mouth.

Of course there are “third” parties, but, just in the way we refer to them - third parties - it’s obvious we think of them as we would think of a third eye on a human face.

It feels awful being a nihilist. It feels awful saying that those who appear to be in charge are not and those who are in charge don’t have the best interest of Americans at heart. In fact, I submit that many who are in charge aren’t even Americans.

So, let’s sit back and listen to the pabulum on the TV machine as the Chinese buy the 2010 elections.



To friendship,
Michael

“Sanity is a madness put to good use.” - George Santayana


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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Buy Nothing Day and the “Spirit” of Christmas

(originally published at OpEdNews)

In 1996, Greg Gerritt began encouraging people in the small state of Rhode Island to take to heart the message that is said to be at the center of what is known as The New Testament. Gerritt probably didn’t use the Bible to sell what he wanted to do in Rhode Island, but think about it.

In 1996, Greg Gerritt, who once served on the national committee of The Green Party of the United States, introduced Buy Nothing Day to Rhode Island.

Buy Nothing Day was started by a group called Adbusters out of Vancouver, Canada. Adbusters’ idea was to convert the day after Thanksgiving, a day on which more people do more shopping than on any other day of the year, into a day on which people would buy nothing. Hence the name.

Today the day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday”. This ominous sounding moniker is actually a forecast of good tidings, especially if one is a money changer. No matter how poorly retail sales have been throughout the year, the giant retailers whose CEOs and top managers rake in millions and millions of dollars per year can count on Americans to put themselves, their families and other loved ones at risk by spending money they don’t have on gifts that people don’t need. Consequently, the wealthy captains of retail can be certain that their profits will be in “the black” starting on the day after Thanksgiving until December 25.

Many Americans who call themselves Christians claim that they place themselves more deeply in debt starting on the day after Thanksgiving as a way to celebrate the birth of a very special man. As with all religions, not all Christians practice their faith in the same manner. Not all Christians see the full month before the day on which this man was supposed to have been born as a time to fret over the equity with which they part with the money they borrow. Not all Christians use this time to become agitated, depressed and even angry because of the internal and external conflicts they suffer over the distribution of gifts purchased with borrowed money.

However, the man, obviously the man that people today refer to as Jesus Christ, was an extremely special man. This man is so special that we began counting time once again based upon the year in which he was supposedly born. He was supposedly born about 2,010 years ago. Therefore, many of his followers, aka, Christians, feel the need to become more reckless, not only with their financial standing, but with natural resources and Mother Earth in general starting on the day after Thanksgiving.

Adbusters had seen enough of this consumer insanity and initiated Buy Nothing Day. Adbusters were well aware that consumerism was consuming the consciousness of Americans and noted that, on the day after Thanksgiving, Americans began losing their fiscal minds more and more each year.

There’s not a lot of secular history written about Jesus Christ in spite of his amazing accomplishments and the power he claimed to have over everyone’s eternities. In fact, most of what people “know” about Jesus Christ is written in only one book and in only the second half of that book.

It’s really not important, however, to debate the historical narrative of the life and times of Jesus Christ. What’s important is that the part of the book that’s dedicated to that life and time emphasizes what many would today call “socialism”. Although it’s written that, at times, Jesus Christ warned anyone who would listen that they’d better believe in his words and follow his lead and direction lest they spend eternity experiencing unimaginable torture, torment and agony, the bulk of the writing about Jesus Christ describes giving to those less fortunate, inclusion and peace.

When Greg Gerritt decided to introduce parts of Rhode Island to the anti-consumerism message of Buy Nothing Day, he, intentionally or not, added a piece that’s much more in line with what is written about Jesus Christ. Not only does Greg Gerritt encourage consumers to spend not one penny on the day after Thanksgiving, but uses the day to collect coats from those who have extra and distribute them to those who have none.

What a different outlook we would have if, every day, from the day after Thanksgiving until December 25, the goal for those with an overabundance was to search for those who don’t have any and, when they find them, to give them what they need! Why, it would be almost like the conditional love and peace that Jesus Christ is supposed to have promoted; conditional, of course, because, to use a phrase from another religion, his message was “peace be unto you”, as long as you believe the right way.

Greg Gerritt has never said anything to me about the Biblical references I’ve made throughout this column. My impression is that Gerritt merely wants those who have too much to give to those who have too little. My impression is that Gerritt could care less about all the references I’ve made to religion.

Yet, ironically, what Greg Gerritt does in Rhode Island and a few have begun doing elsewhere is the kind of “celebration” that Jesus Christ, as portrayed in most of the New Testament, would have wanted to see.

So, how’s this giving without buying been working out since 1996? Last year, two people were trampled to death on “Black Friday” as they callously stormed into the money changers’ temples.

Thanks Greg, thanks Adbusters for your attempts to turn the time of year that’s always fallaciously referenced as a time of “peace on earth and good will toward men” into entire years of “peace on earth and good will toward men.”


To friendship,
Michael

“Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student.” - George Iles


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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day Wish

I’ve published this poem every year since it was first published in 2004. This year will be no exception.

(originally published by WHITE HERON PRESS, Spring, 2004)

I wish for independence from the past,
might overruling right,
white men encountering
their new world,
slaughtering its true inhabitants.

I wish for independence from the arrogance,
fostering false license to hawk,
redeem extensions
of our own humanity
to dance attendance
upon the burdens of wealth.

I wish for independence from the blindness
guiding us westward,
turning nature into dirt interruptions
without offering notice
to the peace
upon which we trampled.

I wish for independence from the gluttony
which continued
to swallow whole
territories suitable
for planting white seeds,
pulverizing cultures.

I wish for independence from conformity,
born of urban sprawl,
away from cities,
conceiving jealousy
of blood pumping
within mere feet
of white picket fences.

I wish for independence from The Corporacracy,
governing body
governing bodies,
stratifying rich from poor,
life from death,
blending earth
with destruction.

To friendship,
Michael

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” - Sir Richard Steele

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Who Does the Killing?

(originally published at OpEdNews)


While I was visiting friends about a month ago, a discussion dealing with social current events ensued. More specifically, a discussion about war ensued.

I began the discussion by asking my friend if he’d ever heard the late Utah Philips talk about who’s really responsible for the killing that takes place during war. Philips recorded his thoughts in a narrative he entitled “The Violence Within”.

My friend hadn’t heard this narrative, so, as I happened to have my laptop with me at the time and I had loaded the talk onto the laptop, I played it for him.

At this point, it may or may not be relevant to know a little about my friend and the ways in which we’re of a like mind as well as the ways in which we are not.

If you’ve ever participated in a political poll you know that, at the end, the pollster asks about your educational background. The question is usually a multiple choice question. To paraphrase, the questions asks:

What is your level of education?
a) Graduated from elementary school
b) Graduated from high school
c) Attended some years of college
d) Have a college undergraduate degree
e) Have a post graduate degree.

I have 59 college credits. I don’t even know how one goes about obtaining 59 credits. If I could find a real easy course worth one college credit, I may be able to get an Associate’s Degree in Generality. So, I always check the box that says “some college”.

My friend, on the other hand, is a graduate of The Coast Guard Academy and is a Maritime Lawyer. He has been on both sides of oil company litigation. Much of what he’s done has depended upon the financial rewards of taking a particular position at any given time. In other words, as with most of us, my friend, in the pursuit of employment, has, for the most part, accepted positions which offer the best wages and benefits.

In his defense, if there is any needed, my friend, in his capacity as a lawyer, has always been on the front lines of ensuring that the American judicial premise of “innocent until proven guilty” is upheld.

Although it’s been very difficult to find an oath for lawyers with as much universality and weight as the physician’s Hippocratic Oath, there is a set of ethics that The American Bar Association has published to help guide the integrity of legal representation. The following is but a sample of those ethics:

Canons of Ethics

Rule 1.1 – Competence

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

Comment to the Rule. In many instances the required proficiency is that of a general practitioner. Expertise in a particular field of law may be required in some circumstances.

This doesn’t appear, as mentioned, to carry the weight of the Hippocratic Oath and is obviously not as well known among the general public.

Politically, my friend considers himself a Progressive. If that’s what he thinks he is, who am I to tell him differently? However, from my perspective, he’s more of a Democrat in a very American political party sort of way than he is a Progressive. He’s very quick to defend President Obama and equally quick to disparage a professional American politician who is a member of The Republican Party. I would compare him to the “corporate NGOs” that, when begun, were very much grassroots movements but have since become, for lack of a better term “big NGOs”. I consider MoveOn.org, TrueMajority and CommonCause “big NGOs” When you read “big NGOs”, think “big oil”, “big tobacco” and other “bigs” that Liberals and/or Progressives have been fighting for years.

As much as I respect many of my friend’s opinions, I consider him a Democratic Party apologist. It isn’t difficult for a self described Progressive to find him or herself in this position. The media with which most people in The FUSA are familiar and from which most people in The FUSA get their information have made it abundantly clear that there are only two serious American political parties. One party is represented by the color blue and the other by the color red. When talking heads attempt to predict the outcomes of elections, the discussion always seems to center around whether an area will remain red, turn red, remain blue or turn blue. When this media talks about swing areas, it’s very appropriate for one to think of the sandbox equipment with which children play. Swings in a sandbox move in two directions, back and forth. Likewise, a swing area in The FUSA is an area that could go “either” way; it’s not an area that could go any way.

I, on the other hand, think that the only two situations under which the death penalty would be acceptable are if it is used to kill corporate personhood or if it’s used to kill the Electoral College. In fact, I may go as far as to say that the two least serious political parties in America are The Democrats and The Republicans.

Anyone who’s gotten this far and is wondering about the debate concerning war and who actually is responsible for the killing that happens during war can now breathe easier. My tangential journey was necessary to clarify why my friend has his opinion and why it’s wrong.

If you’ve listened to Philips’ narrative, you’ll know what my friend means when he says that the talk is a “theoretically admirable position”, but he doesn’t agree with it.

As Philips ultimately informs us, if the triggers on guns weren’t pulled or if the buttons in the cockpits of planes weren’t pressed and the bombs weren’t dropped, it would be much more difficult to proceed with war.

The late Utah Philips described himself as a pacifist. I don’t know that I’m a pacifist. I don’t know that I couldn’t be driven to violently defend someone somewhere under some circumstance. If a pacifist is a person who swears to never engage violently with another, no matter what the other has done or is doing, it would be difficult for me to be a pacifist.

However, I don’t believe that Philips was suggesting that all soldiers become pacifists. He may have wished that could be the case, but, as a veteran of The Korean Conflict, he knew that people would defend against violence with violence if they thought their defense was the only way to protect the safety of, if no one else, themselves. I can’t even summon the imagery of what it would look like to allow armies led by crazed yet charismatic people to enter one’s space, to kill one’s friends and loved ones at will and to merely stand there and wait one’s turn to die.

This isn’t a judgment call on my part. I’m not saying that it would be wrong or right. I’m merely saying that I can’t imagine refusing to do something so intuitive as to protect one’s self and one’s friends and family. Philips, on the other hand, obviously didn’t have a problem with that imagery.

I do, nonetheless, realize that if I had a weapon in my possession while an invading force was killing those around me, it would be I who would engage that weapon to stop the oncoming force. If I had a simple gun and I aimed it at another human being and pulled the trigger, the bullet would find its target or, possibly, someone close to the intended target. I may believe at that moment that pulling the trigger was an action that had to be done. Whoever the bullet finds, it may kill and, without any hesitation, I would have to confess to killing that person.

Civilian leaders and/or military leaders can order me not to pull the trigger or can order me to pull the trigger. However, it will always be my decision to pull the trigger or to not pull the trigger. This is the simple point that Philips makes.

What he says is that, by using the explanation that we are at war and we have no other option but to do what our superiors, both civilian and military, tell us to do dehumanizes us.

Philips referenced Principle IV which emerged from The Nuremburg Trials. Principle IV states that, “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him”.

In a case during the Vietnam War known as United States v. Keenan, a soldier was found guilty of murder when he shot and killed an elderly Vietnamese woman after receiving orders from his superior to do so. In its decision, The Military Court of Appeals held that “the justification for acts done pursuant to orders does not exist if the order was of such a nature that a man of ordinary sense and understanding would know it to be illegal.”

So what does my “Progressive” friend have against soldiers refusing to kill people they don’t know for reasons of which they are either unsure or which they know aren’t true?

“If we let the military (The Military) decide when we should or should not go to war,” he said, “we will have a military dictatorship!”

I know that The Founders placed not only declaring war but commanding it in the hands of a civilian government. It was done so that we would not come under the control of the military. My friend had a point, sort of.

It’s taken me a month of thought, but I finally know why he’s wrong and how he did what he did.

He’s a lawyer and has been one for a very long time. He’s argued against himself in court, albeit not in real time or, for certain, at the same time. He’s successfully defended big oil and has prosecuted them as well. Now that’s good!

I, on the other hand, have to go to court in the near future to pay a traffic fine. There’s a noticeable difference in our familiarity and comfort with the American legal system.

I’m not necessarily saying that my friend is a good lawyer because he kicked my butt a month ago. That may not be the most difficult thing to do.

I am, however, saying that I now realize that at no time did I ever imply that the military (The Military) should be given the responsibility to decide when The FUSA should go to war. I parenthetically put the phrase “the military” in caps because when I think of an entity known as The Military which has any capacity to overthrow the civilian government, such as it is, of The Former United States of America, I don’t think of soldiers who occupy the bottom most ranks in the service.

Consequently, it’s absurd to believe that a military dictatorship would be generated because a bunch of front line soldiers actually refused to engage in murder. It’s absurd to believe that people who are demonstrating that they’d prefer not to be part of a war, especially one which they’ve concluded is illegal, would have any interest in belonging to a fellowship which has as its goal the power to decide when to go to war.

If soldiers, sailors, pilots and the other members of the military who actually control the weaponry are absolutely sure that, when they engage that weaponry, they are not only obeying “the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over (them), according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice” but are also supporting and defending “the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and are bearing “true (emphasis mine) faith and allegiance” to The Constitution, they should, by all means, fire their weapons.

However, if military personal have first engaged their brains and researched why it is that the President of the United States and the officers appointed over them are telling them to kill and have either come to the conclusion that the reason is not at all clear or that it’s very clear that the reason is illegitimate and internationally unlawful, they are actually required to stop firing their weapons.

Basic training is a time when almost every activity of a recruit is controlled by a commanding officer. The idea is to teach soldiers to almost react instinctively to commanding officers during the heat of battle. This premise is understandable. The battlefield is not a place for democratically conducted brainstorming sessions.

However, no man or woman should be asked to or expected to “lose his or her mind” and, as much as unquestionable obedience is essential during battle, those obeying are not cattle, dogs or cats. They are human beings. For whatever reason, human beings can react based upon a presence of mind, even a quick thought process. Human beings can do more than just salivate at the sound of a bell.

Since the end of World War II, The FUSA has preemptively invaded Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, Grenada, Panama and Iraq. We hear so much about how Iraq represented the first time that The FUSA had ever preemptively invaded another nation. That’s never been true.

In one conflict, Americans were told that one party or another asked for our help and that was used as an excuse for preemptive war. Americans were told that US destroyers had been attacked while they were in the act of spying upon another nation in that nation’s sovereign waters. That was used as an excuse for preemptive war. Americans were told that the head of a sovereign nation was involved in international drug dealing and that was used as an excuse for preemptive war. Americans were told that an “ally” complained to us that one of its neighbors was “stealing” its oil supply and we preemptively attacked Iraq for the first time. Americans were told that Iraq hardly had room for its citizenry because the land was so filled with weapons of mass destruction and we attacked Iraq a second time. Americans have recently been told that Al Qaeda’s knowledge of world geography is so poor that the only place in which it knows it can train its new recruits is Afghanistan. We’ve been in Afghanistan since 2001, but, in reality, with President Obama’s promise to escalate that war, we’ve recently begun a preemptive strike against that nation.

Americans have been told that Congress, the only branch of government that can declare war, has, in some of these cases, basically told the Executive branch that it really doesn’t feel like declaring war, thank you, so it signed its responsibility over to the Executive branch. In other cases, the Executive branch has been able to kill enough time debating what the definition of “declare” is to allow it to preemptively attack a sovereign nation without Congressional approval or even Congressional deferment.

If you’re in the military and you’re a person who has the responsibility to kill “the enemy”, I want you to know that I have more faith in you than our government has or even my friend has. I know that you joined the military because American based corporations have taken from you opportunities that Americans once had to work for a living wage and not fear illness and/or injury. I know that you joined the military because you believed that the military can train you for non-military occupations for when you get out of the military. I know that you joined the military because you became enraged at what happened to Americans on September 11, 2001.

I also know that you’re aware of your surroundings and you’re able to read. I know you have access to the internet, books, newspapers and other news outlets. I know that you can understand if what your civilian government, with the unquestioning aid of your superior officers, is telling you to do is ethical and even legal.

I can try to imagine how frightening it must be for you to entertain the idea of laying down your weapons and saying, “No, I will not kill these people anymore. My mission is murky at best and I refuse to kill to support an obscure or illegal mission.”

When you joined the military, you did so because you ultimately wanted to protect the land that is called The United States of America and its citizens. You never wanted your military service to be a negative experience even though you were well aware that you could die in the fulfillment of that service.

Now you realize that, if you lay down your weapons and refuse to kill someone you don’t know for a reason that’s unclear at best, you’ll probably be charged with disobeying an order and there will be a court martial. You know the chances are that you’ll be found guilty and you’ll have to do time in a military prison. You know that your discharge from the military will not be an honorable one and you know that can hurt you when you begin to pursue a career.

It’s understandable that you can be severely conflicted, but it’s also possible that what you do or refuse to do with your weapons may embolden your comrades in arms to do the same. You know that an illegal war could ultimately be forced out of existence by your actions and the actions you may set in motion. You will be sacrificing your standing in society to get others to a point where the civilian leadership and the military superior officers will have no choice but to accept the decision of the people who do the killing and dying. You know that it will be possible that, even if you are found guilty and imprisoned, it may get to a point where those who follow your courage, if there are enough who do, will no longer be found guilty of disobeying an order and, although it may be technically called “mutiny” in the beginning, those who follow your actions may ultimately be found not guilty based upon the illegality of the war or wars and may be held up as heroes.

The point of reference to which you have to compare the above scenario is, as you’re attempting to kill the so called “enemy”, you accidentally hit a child or some other innocent person, putting to an end a life which may have held promise for itself and for all of humanity. You can do that and you’ll be discharged “honorably” from the military. However, when you return to The FUSA, what will be awaiting you?

One thing to which you can look forward is having nightmares of that child falling to the ground as he or she was running, attempting to escape a battle in which you should not have participated.

And for what occupation will the military ready you? The heads of American based corporations are anything but patriotic towards The FUSA. This is one reason why the states are no longer united. American based corporations have done their best to divide Americans because that’s what works best for them. The jobs they have to offer are not offered to Americans like you. They’re offered to the lowest bidder, probably a person living in China who will work for significantly less than what you are paid as a soldier.

If you’re lucky, you can work for a private sector mercenary corporation and go back to Afghanistan or wherever natural resources cry out to the American government to be stolen.

One thing you won’t do, either way, is to persuade The Military to overthrow the civilian government of The FUSA. You’ll want no part of that, I’m sure.

To come full circle, this is why my friend is wrong. Soldiers whose consciences cannot be controlled will never belong to that part of The Military which possesses the capacity to form a military dictatorship. They will merely be soldiers who knew what was right and did it. They will be the heroes for whom America is waiting and whom America needs so urgently. They will be the heroes who may help to unite the states of America once again.

To friendship,
Michael

“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.” - Herbert Spencer


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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ron and Rand Libertarianism May Also be a Disaster

(originally published by OpEdNews)

If pure Anarchy or Communism is to work, the premise “to each according to his needs, from each according to his ability” has got to be a realistic premise.

Under each of these non systems, government will ultimately become unnecessary. Everyone will be equal. There will be no bosses and there will be no classes. Each person will share possessions as well as the responsibility for getting things done, even the most mundane and menial tasks.

The last thing that Libertarians would have you believe is that they’re anything like Anarchists or Communists. Libertarianism, as far as Libertarians are concerned, is a legitimate, responsible form of governance and the other two forms can only lead to chaos and probably totalitarian dictatorship.

In chapter 5 of his publication entitled THE STATE AND REVOLUTION, Vladimir Lenin writes, “From the moment all members of society, or at least the vast majority, have learned to administer the state themselves, have taken this work into their own hands, have organized control over the insignificant capitalist minority, over the gentry who wish to preserve their capitalist habits and over the workers who have been thoroughly corrupted by capitalism--from this moment the need for government of any kind begins to disappear altogether.”

Lenin goes on to say that the “fundamental rules of the community will very soon become a habit.

In its Statement of Principles, The Libertarian Party states that “…they (the government) must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life -- accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action -- accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.”

The Libertarian Party Statement of Principles also states that “The principle of non-initiation of force should guide the relationships between governments.”

It was quite easy to find sample quotations which reference Anarchism. In fact, it was too easy. It merely depends upon which type of Anarchism one wishes to reference.

Interestingly enough, while doing search for Anarchism, one finds hits for Libertarianism and Communism. One might say that Anarchism utilizes the best of Libertarianism and Communism or, depending on the point of view, the worst of Libertarianism and Communism.

Why, then, are Libertarians thought to be right of Mussolini and Communism left of Marx? Well, not left of Marx; sort of right there next to him.

The answer is in the fact that both Libertarians and Communists believe that a central government is either totally unnecessary or minimally necessary. Government merely restrains the freedoms of the individual. Rules of community will become a “habit” and non-initiation will, in and of itself, be strong enough to “guide the relationships between governments.” Human beings will lose any desire they may have to want more than they need, want what is fair or want more than the other person has. No one will go without because there will be no governing body to interfere with the ability to obtain anything at either no cost or the fairest of costs.

Tariffs are duties paid by companies for the privilege of importing their goods into another country. Although tariffs are very complicated financial instruments - that’s what the call such things these days - the truth is that Ronald Reagan and his administration put the final touches on eliminating tariffs which companies would have to pay to import products into the United States. Note that there is no link, no proof here provided. The reason is that tariffs are based upon the product in question, the countries in question and many other factors that economists use to keep the rest of us in the dark.

Reagan, being a “student” of Milton Freidman who said that the private sector can handle anything that humanity could ever want, wanted to make it easy for American manufacturers to have their products manufactured by people living in nations which make it legal to pay workers less than subsistence wages and then import them back into The FUSA with impunity.

This completed the thinning of the American labor herd, which was begun in the late 1970s with the advent of automation.

To look at this from another angle, as soon as the top executives of American corporations saw the chance to murder American labor, it didn’t give a second thought to pulling the trigger. It sort of shoots holes (no pun intended) in the theory that, left to its own devices, humankind will ensure that everyone is treated fairly, doesn’t it? As soon as American executives found that they could improve so called “worker productivity” and, consequently, increase profits, they planned to keep the extra profits for themselves. They could have spread it out among those American workers fortunate enough to remain employed, but chose to role in it like little piggies rolling in slop. They laughed and reveled and played with the profits like they were some sort of new transformer toys.

Let’s look at the Preamble to the Libertarian Party Platform:

“As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”

Yet, immediately following the above passage, the Preamble states:

“We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.”

Do these statements seem to be contradictory or at least dependent upon whose “individual’s rights” one is referring? In the case of the recent Rand Paul statement, the right of the property owner is obviously the object.

Could, however, an “individual’s rights” refer to the rights of individuals to enjoy the freedom to enter any establishment, public or private, that the remaining individuals in that society enjoy?

Is this left purposely ambiguous? I submit that, considering the premise of most of the Libertarian Party’s ideology, the rights refer to those belonging to the owner, the moneyed class. Possibly it could be argued that the term “moneyed class” in many instances is an embellishment considering that some who own small businesses like restaurants aren’t actually wealthy. However, they are in control because they are the owners and those who are forbidden to enter their establishments are being controlled, at least as it pertains to entering those particular establishments.

Putting aside the fact that the so called “Founding Fathers” were, themselves, the moneyed class of their time, my personal interpretation of the passage from The Declaration of Independence which reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, the term “unalienable Rights” means rights with which people are born. People are born with the right to equal access to all accommodations offered to the public, whether those accommodations are privately owned or publicly owned.

I realize that The Declaration of Independence is not part of The Constitution, however, it can be looked at as sort of a preamble to the Preamble to The Constitution. The Declaration of Independence says to me, “These are the reasons why we’re cutting ties with the British Empire and, following our list of reasons, we shall write a constitution which ensures that our nation will not employ the unfair policies enunciated in The Declaration of Independence.” It’s a personal observation, admittedly, but one which I consider, if nothing else, at least legitimate.

Top officers of American based multinational corporations received an opportunity from the advent of automation and the virtual abolition of import tariffs to demonstrate what humankind would do left to its own devices. These people chose to keep the increased profits for the benefit of a few top executives of the corporations, to discard American workers like so many old dish rags and to export jobs heretofore done well by American workers to workers in nations which allow subsistence level wages, not to mention lax environmental and labor laws.

The argument has been made that these exported jobs have actually helped those in the slave labor nations by increasing their wages. It’s not that the wages haven’t increased. It’s that the point from which the wages were raised were so low that the new wages are still subsistence wages. Furthermore, the argument seems to be made as if to imply that the betterment of these slave labor nation workers played into why corporations actually sent the jobs to those nations in the first place. Call me cynical, but I find that hard to believe. Go ahead, you’re allowed to disagree with me. This is The Former United States of America after all.

Although some nation states have been referred to as “communist countries” throughout history, I submit that, in light of what pure communism is supposed to look like, there has never been nor will there ever be a “communist country”.

I’ve never even heard anyone even pretend that there’s been an anarchist nation state in history.

I do believe there have been Libertarian nations, but we refer to them as Fascist nations.

“Wait!” you say. “Libertarians believe in minimal or no government intrusion. It states that the only purpose of government is to protect the Mother Land or Father Land (I’ve yet to hear the phrases “Brother Land” or “Sister Land”, but that’s just me). We all know that Mussolini ruled over Italy with an iron fist and Franco didn’t spend a lot of time soliciting suggestions from Spaniards on how to improve his governing process.”

“You’re right,” I would reply.

However, I would remind you that both Mussolini and Franco did solicit input from corporations and that alliance, at least according to some antiquated, non corporate published dictionaries, was and is a mainstay of Fascism.

As an aside, I’ve referred to one of my favorite political talk show hosts on radio and/or TV in many of my articles. His name is Thom Hartmann. Ironically enough, my references have always been in the form of criticism. This reference is to the fact that Thom says that the difference between Progressives and Conservatives is that Progressives see people as innately good and Conservatives see people as innately bad.

This is an interesting observation as Progressives are usually behind initiating regulatory legislation and Conservatives are usually opposed to such legislation. This is an interesting observation as Progressives feel the need to mandate environmental conservation and Conservatives are willing to let corporations, or at least the people who run them, self regulate. This is an interesting observation as Progressives want universal health insurance while Conservatives want to leave it up to “the invisible hand of the market”, obviously manipulated by very visible people, to Ouija Board (a noun turned verb) the necessary financial decisions guiding the health of Americans.

I’d submit that, observing what people do when they’re left unattended with untold quantities of profits obtained from the backs of workers, they are innately narcissistic and self centered and unwilling to share. Hey, but who am I do question my favorite talk show host?

There are no Communist Party candidates running for office in 2010 of whom I’m aware and, if there are any such candidates, they have less than a snowball’s chance in the fictitious place referred to as hell of winning. The same can be said of Anarchist Party candidates.

We know, for sure, thanks to the media’s continuing to give Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for the US Senate from Kentucky, free air time, that there is a Libertarian dressed in Republican clothing running for office. If he’s elected, his influence will basically be the same as his father’s influence has been on American foreign and/or domestic policy. It will be the same as that of Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee. In other words, it won’t exist.

However, if the media, as it has done with the Pauls, continues to treat the Tea Party Movement (do I have that politically correct?) in the same perpetual open forum process, can we not at least give some credence that there may be a Ron or Rand at the top of the Republican presidential ticket in 2012? For, as much as President Obama has gone back on so many of his promises in the short time he’s played the present day version of “Queen for a Day” and as much as he’s been so blatantly obvious (or obviously blatant) a puppet of The Corporacracy, the president still looks more like a winner than most Republicans who are in that psychedelic spotlight at present. In fact, we’ve recently had a son following a father in that theatrical role with but one presidency separating them. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a father-son ticket in 2012? To put it politely, this would most likely be more exciting than any sexual experience any member of The Tea Party Movement could have ever imagined in his or her wildest dreams.

One thing that I believe is certain about the Pauls is that they are not part of the political theater. They mean what they say and that, in conclusion, is what frightens me more than anything else.

To friendship,
Michael

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.” - Mark Twain


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