Sunday, December 9, 2007

Foxes in the Henhouse

- How the Republicans stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must do to run 'em out -

Steve Harking and Dave Saunders

a good practical book. We have had Representatives who weren't Representatives and who were bent on pillaging the public purse. And we have been witness of one of the great transfers of public wealth to private bank accounts. We have watched a rich man's son drive the country into a wall. All we have to work with initially are our weak kneed Democrats. We must start somewhere. One of the things they suggest is that there was a time when Democrat meant a positive problem solver. If the party can find itself and its self esteem, then maybe ... . Of course the Republicans have had the same problem with their Representatives as have the Democrats. We have that in common. Maybe we have more things in common. A nuts and bolts book. Well worth reading.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Another Link - A Snave

We can cuss. We can beat on it with a hammer. Or, sometimes, with a scapel maybe, or a screwdriver, or photo, or stick, someone will dissect the pain and provide us a little understanding of the problem or ourselves or both. A thoughtful observer with a sense of humor. If you haven't yet, give Snave a look. heh.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lobbying & Representation

I have started redoing the laundry room. Painting. New linoleum. Moving water heater, washer, dryer. I continue to work half time. It is why we have representative government. It allows me to get work done in two places at once. Or does it? I could call my representative my lobbyist. I expect him/her to lobby on my behalf. My tax money pays his/her salary. But I don't pay for the election process. My lobbyist must spend a lot of time scrounging around, pandering, begging for money for re-election. It takes time away from what and why I elected them in the first place. Pure lobbyists are on payroll. They don't have to worry about being re-elected. They only have to worry about achieving their agenda. Seems a lobbyist on payroll is a more efficient way to achieve an agenda. There are many, many more lobbyists on payroll than are elected. Lobbyists on payroll are not my lobbyists; they do not represent me or even my section of the nation. Clearly their way of life is attractive to representative, like mine, because so many representatives when they leave office go into different sorts of lobbying. Lobbyists live in capitols like representatives and they therefore are closer to my representatives than I am. Not only that, but they like to visit my representatives. They go to lunch together. Not only that but they offer free services -- like drafts of legislation. And clearly, also, offer job opportunities. The outfits that hire lobbyists also are big donors to representatives wishing re-election. Their donations are bigger than mine. I see where I am placing my representatives in a situation where they clearly have conflicts of interest. I would like to see a situation where politicians begged for my vote and not for someone else's money. They only way that will happen is if the electorate (all of us) also covers the costs of election.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Were You There? Part II

November 12, 2007

The greatest and most glorious democratic movement I have seen this year was by lawyers. Not totally surprising because their profession is law. They were marching in their suits and ties, confronted by police, beaten, arrested and carted off. Marching. They were marching for the rule of law. They were marching against a president who arbitrarily was above the law. It was glorious. It was great. It revived my faith in mankind, democracy, the rule of law. In a second I would have marched with them. However, I was in the United States of America and they were in Pakistan.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

More Recommendations

Tonight I have three: Al Gore's book, The Assault on Reason. For the United States it is maybe more important than An Inconvenient Truth. I've read a critique by a guy who said he didn't think much of Gore because he should have said these things when he was in Congress and shouldn't have waited. Frankly, I appreciate the truth and I don't appreciate disparagement. Makes one wonder how many more books are unwritten and says tons about the problems of this nation.

The second is War on the Middle Class by Lou Dobbs. It is good. It is not much different from Gore's book. It does get at why it is so crazy now as opposed to fifty years ago. The critique on Dobb's book was that he was "nativistic," which meant he was born and raised in Idaho and that somehow trumped a college education at Harvard with a degree in economics.

The third is Impeachment of a President, Bill Moyers Journal, broadcast on Public Television 7/13/2007 and since rebroadcast by popular demand. On the show he interviews Bruce Fein, the constitutional scholar who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Clinton and John Nichols, author of The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Both strongly recommend impeachment of President Bush for many reasons. Both fault Congress for not initiating the process, suggesting to them that Congress is deficient in knowledge of the Constitution.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Simmering I

October 28, 2007

I need to take a break. I need to let my pot simmer. I have added a bunch of ingredients and they need to cook down, blend. I won’t know what I have or am until then.

I have been politically sleep walking. I want to thank our President, Mr. Bush. He did shake me hard enough to wake me up. It took some doing. The dream I was in was far better than this nightmare.

For most of my political life, presidential contests have offered little or no choice. Congressional choices have been a little better, but not much. These “contests,” filled with sound and color, are much like choosing between two different styles of jeans. I cannot tell if either candidate has a relationship to my interests which I see as the nation’s interests.

I am not sure I see any difference in the race to 2008.

When I look over the long haul, my experience, it dawns on me that the opposing candidates have more in common with each other than they have with me. They represent less of my interests than the interests of others.

I have decided that politicians are those attention getters we all grew up with in grade school classrooms. They will do what is necessary to do what they do. When they get older, this means campaign financing. Dollars replace clapping and cheering. They will be attentive to the loudest clapping, the most dollars. To balance this playing field, their source of campaign funds as with their salary must come from me, John Citizen. That is one very important answer. There is no other way. There will still be work to do. Of late, there has been a lot of talk about how teachers should know what they teach. It is equally reasonable that we ask politicians to know the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and what a democracy is.

I am outmatched. A single citizen. In a nation where corporations have the legal status of citizens. I am not rich. Never will be. In a nation where private dollars fund political contests. Because corporations can off shore their headquarters and flow of money and responsibilities to the United States, equity, fairness, and patriotism mean that I should be able to do that also? I do not think so. Not only that, but I think if corporations want to play they should stay.

I can understand how Captains of Industry, with a thousand or a hundred thousand employees, might see things differently than I do. I can understand how they might inadvertently – in their legislative initiatives, in their employee practices -- overlook the welfare of single citizens. On the other hand, when knowingly and with intent, they introduce legislation giving themselves an unfair advantage, combine with other industrialists for the same purpose, employ legions of lobbyists to catch and hold the ears of my representatives, or engage in practices that divide the citizenry, including physically attacking parts of it in many different ways, then I must be opposed.

To the above must be added some of the very rich and some of the less rich.

I problem is that the public discourse of public issues ended some time ago. Our news is managed. It is well managed and it does not represent my interests nor the interests of most I know.

I know we, the citizens, are losing. It is like a war, a war on many fronts, and yet not all of the opposition know they are fighting. Some don’t know they are being fought. Few know they are losing. Few want to say “War.” The issue needs reframing. What if a small powerful part of society decided to declare war on the rest of society? What if the rest of society did not know it? Who is the enemy? How would the battle be fought. Who is winning? Losing? Who are the combatants?

They are winning and taking no loss, and since they are winning and taking no loss, there is no hurry.

Who are we and who are they? And why should I care either way?

When the Captains of Industry (I think they would prefer Generals) increase their salaries by factors of ten and their employees’ wages are stagnant, is this simple greed or is it greed plus a desire to distance themselves from their employees? Or is it distance from their employees-as-a-class. What about gated communities? When President Bush feels free to lie to Congress and the American people to justify a war is he telling Congress and you and I where to go? When he pardons an office staff member who was in instrument in illegally revealing the covert identity of a CIA officer, endangering her and her contacts, what does this say about how he sees the expendability of his staff versus us workaday blokes? When he calls the rich his “base,” does that identify his class as he sees it? When he tries to bring oil contracts to his friends by sending an ill-equipped army to Iraq – forgetting that he already had another war going that was unfinished – what does that say about who he sees as his class and how they are treated and who he sees as peons? And what of the tax breaks for his friends? Does he care for the workaday folks? No, it is war on the cheap. Inadequate body armor, inadequate medical care, inadequate armored vehicles – All Katrina Moments. On the other hand, his friends at Halliburton had no-bid contracts, felt free to lie on their justifications for payment, have sought immunity from investigation, and they deliver gasoline with water in it and deliver water no soldier should drink. It is this matter of who obviously is cared about and who is not. A man who lives in this kind of world and who is so arrogant is very dangerous. He could consider a coup. He could consider introducing a viral infection to the general American populace. He could consider staging an attack on American. He bounds are quite narrow, reflecting his class, and I and the majority of Americans are not members.

It is interesting that most members of Congress also are not members. Yet they do not appear to be threatened. Do you suppose they are still asleep?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jim Hightower and Molly Ivins

I have added a link to Both Jim and Molly are Texans. Both lighten the world with laughter. Like good neighbors they bring to the critique of Bush sharp knives which they truly delight using. Molly lost her last go-around with breast cancer this year. Some of her books include: Shrub, Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? and You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You. They are a joy. Jim's website resembles many of ours, but he has more and better resources. Would we all have his perspective. Would we all relish the fight.