Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How We Fix Our Political Process.

It should be evident to anyone not blindly entrenched in the Democratic and Republican parties that our political system has miserably failed us. Decade after decade we vote for new politicians who promise to change Washington D.C. Yet, eventually, most succumb to the corrupt practices of selling their influence to the highest bidder to fund their re-election campaigns. This short clip sums up the problem fairly well. It is from the anti-corruption group, "Fix Congress First":
This corruption has shut-out the voices of the people to influence the political process; in favor of the deep pockets of the moneyed interests such as: multinational oil and gas companies, Wall Street, mega-banks, health insurance conglomerates, telecommunication giants, military contractors and the pharmaceutical industry to name but a few. These corporations dump billions of dollars each year into political elections to influence who is elected. They hedge their bets, too, by donating to both parties. Therefore, which ever candidate wins, they can have greater success demanding friendly policies from that winner toward their business.

For example, the Wall Street crash of 2008 was in part due to the removal of regulations that helped prevent riskier investment practices. Amazingly, some of these regulations were put in place after the disastrous Great Depression to help prevent a future cataclysm. So, it shouldn't come as a shock to you that many of the politicians who removed those regulations had close ties with Wall Street. Sadly, the Wall Street crimes are but the most visible example of the rampant corruption of our political process. Often, the fingerprints of corporate influence on our politicians can be found every time there is an oil spill, a mine collapse or a reduction in healthcare.

The solution isn't one party over another, because they are two heads of the same dragon. Both parties are enslaved to their respective, big-money, benefactors and will continue to subjugate the average American to under-representation until we cut off the cash. I propose that we fund elections through public funds, so that money is no longer an advantage to either side. I believe this would free up politicians to work solely for the American citizens who pay their salaries with their taxes. That way they are responsible to we the people, and we the people alone. I think we'd see a greater effort to solve problems instead of doubling down on unreasonable positions out of a fear of losing election funding from the big donors. We can't afford to let the two parties pit us against each other anymore.

This doesn't mean we have to all hold hands and agree on everything but we can't have a reasonable debate on the issues before us, if we aren't all on a level playing field. Especially after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of unlimited corporate donations to elections. It's not a true democracy when corporations and other special interests have their thumb on the scaled tilting it to their advantage. Now is not the time for party loyalty; not when those parties are using us as pawns to throw up a mirage of legitimacy to hide and absolve them of their corrupt dealings. Please, if you truly want the best for America, don't donate to the Democratic or Republican parties.

Donate to non-partisan groups seeking to end moneyed influence in our beloved, democracy. One of those organizations that I have used and trust, is "Fix Congress First." To donate to their cause of ending corruption in politics, click on this sentence. Then spread the word and join the others at Rootstrikers. They are a grass roots network who's motto comes from a powerful quote by Henry David Thoreau, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” The branches of evil (corruption) are the two parties, so the roots of those toxic trees are where we must strike--and that means removing the money.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Congress Needs to Get Their Asses Back to D.C.

The DOW has dropped over 1,000 points the past 3 business days. No one has a job, yet, Congress is on vacation?!!! They need to get their asses back in town and fix this economy; in particular, create jobs!!! Either that, or they'll find themselves unemployed, too, in 2012. Do your job, Congress--regardless of party. Come together and stop the fighting--we don't have time for that anymore.

It's pitifully disappointing that we only have two parties to choose from; both of whom play the money game. My $10 donation, and a note to my Senator is not going to get the attention that thousands of dollars in donations, and a CEO name behind it will receive. How is that true, American, representative, democracy?!!

It's not. I find it pathetic that "The Great America" is funneled into two choices for our president--so much for the free market of ideas!! We have numerous of choices of what kind of cereal to buy but only two choices in politics. I am increasingly getting the feeling that voting in this corrupt system amounts to about as much as re-arranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic.

Since many of our problems lie within in corrupt, political parties, and whole industries rigged against the people, (banking, trade, energy, health care, telecommunications/media, etc) it makes me wonder if the American people will ever be able to restore a true, democratic system. I know Liberals and Democrats don't have much choice but to vote for Obama, but isn't that, in and of itself, part of the problem? The way we fix this must start with abolishing financial donations to politicians and their campaigns. In addition, we need to change the laws, so that lobbying becomes a non-profit enterprise; no more being a "professional lobbyist."

Having said that, I fear it might be too late to do something about ending money in politics. The corporations have had a long time now to entrench themselves within Congressional offices. This latest ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate donations to campaigns could be the last nail in the coffin of American democracy. I wish I could say that things will get better but that's very much in doubt these days; especially without the political leadership to go against the corrupt system itself.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Time to Break Up the Republicans and Democrats by Empowering Other Parties.

My brain is liquifying into molten anger and shooting out of my head the longer I contemplate this "deal" that Obama made between himself, and the Tea Party Republicans. By the way, I say "Tea Party Republicans" instead of Tea Party and Republicans because after this heist, those Tea Party, bomb-throwers have shown that they have over-run the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. The irony, being, they trampled all over Ronald Reagan in order to do it because their, "Saint Reagan" raised the debt ceiling numerous times over his presidency. I can definitely say that I never pictured a conservative party more conservative than Ronald Reagan!!

And, President Obama has proven with this deal that he's a push-over and now that the cat's out of the bag, the Republicans are laughing because they know they own him. Just like a bully owns the scrawny kid who won't stand up for what he truly believes in. I've defended him, supported him, donated to him, wrote letters to the editor lauding him, campaigned for him and believed in him only to feel disappointed every time. I know the left won't always get what we want, but, lately, it seems the only ones he has the courage to stand up to are his own supporters in the Liberal base!! And, while I didn't see him as the "Messiah" who would solve everything, I must say that I didn't expect Obama to be a spineless, bowl of jelly, with a poker face worse than that of a preacher!!

So, what should he have done different? Well, first, he should have never connected the debt ceiling debate to the negotiations on deficit reduction. And, when the Republicans started with these hostage threats, he should have stood up to them and simply stated, "As the President of the United States, using the rights granted to me by the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, I will raise the debt ceiling; with your help, or without." Let them challenge such an action to the Supreme Court, because he has the Constitution squarely on his side. It would have gone a long way in showing his ability to stand up to the bullies on the right-wing of the political divide.

Still, I would have voted to pass the bill to prevent crashing the economy. However, I'd turn around and tell the president that he must raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires to get my support again. As well, as keep Medicare changes to means testing the rich and slight age adjustments; such as, raising the retirement age by a few months, every other year until the number 67 is reached. Other than those changes, however, Medicare shouldn't change drastically.

In the end, all this posturing is like shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic, in hopes, that it will prevent the ship from sinking; after it's already begun taking on water. That's because, to truly solve these problems, we must get at the root of how these entire industries (banking, health care, telecommunications, trade, energy, etc) corruptly operate. This means, ending the practice of allowing money to influence elections and government decisions. This corrupt system has allowed corporations to buy our politicians, and thus, get legislation that favors them. However, it also punishes the middle-class, families, the disabled and seniors.

We must, therefore, declare our independence once again. It is time we declare ourselves independent of the two parties and force a new way to govern, which doesn't just include more parties, but a total overhaul of the system of governance that we use. I suggest a parlimentary system that most industrialized countries use to better represent diverse views. A two party system tends to stagnate between the two sides who often just cancel each other out. So, what you often end up with is grid-lock and dysfunction. A parliamentary system keeps the government in power on a short-leash, so that, if they ignore the peoples needs, then a vote of no confidence is taken. If the party in power loses that vote, then a new election takes place to find new, fresh, leadership. Something has to change in America, or else, the power keg of rising crises will explode into a real mess; such as a revolution.

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Monday, August 01, 2011

The Democrats and Republicans are the Same Party--The Corporate Party: Finding Refuge in The Green Party.

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O.k., I throw my hands up. This is my Howard Beale moment (take a moment and click on "Howard Beale moment" for some stress release). The government in America is rotten to the core and both parties pit us against each other to keep us busy while they destroy everything we've worked hard to build in this country. They do the biding of their corporate masters to maintain the rigged system: The oil barons, the drug companies, big banks, telecommunication giants, health care monopolies and the list grinds on and on. As the immortal George Carlin said so aptly, "The politicians are put there to give you the illusion that you have a choice. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you [...] It's a big club--and you ain't in it. You and I, are are not in the big, club. The game is rigged [...] It's called the 'American dream, because you'd have to asleep, to believe it'" (click on this sentence to see the rest of his skit on his explanation of the "American Dream." I highly recommend it for your sanity).

This is not the America I fell in love with in the history books. It has festered with rampant corruption and social injustice for decades and has now fully collapsed into a cesspool of putrid exploitation of the American citizen and natural environment. The military industrial complex got us involved in two wars; one of them, Iraq, being completely unjustified and perhaps even illegal. They have left us financially drained, demoralized and numb at the loss of life incurred. It boggles my mind how Republicans can talk about getting serious about cutting spending while they still support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cynic in me says they don't want them to end because that stops the gravy train to the military contractors!! There's corruption everywhere else, why not the military? Just look into Halliburton, Black Water and the oil conglomerates.

I dared believe that Barack Obama was that transformational figure who would instigate an overhaul of how the system worked against the people--rather than for the people. However, rather than being a president fighting hard for liberal principles, he has been an opportunist who cares less about his supporters than saving face with Republicans who "drink his milkshake" on a daily basis. He has caved to Wall-Street and caved to the Republicans on nearly every demand and managed to even alienate his most ardent supporters!!

He caved to Republicans over health-care, which watered down the plan to the point that it is nearly useless. He also caved to the Republicans last year by extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy and now he fails to get tax increases, yet again, with this debt ceiling, "deal?!!" He didn't even get an extension to unemployment benefits in a jobs crisis--despite unemployment being the main issue concerning Americans!! Nor did he get an extension of the pay-roll tax cut for middle-class workers!! It's great that we won't default, but if that's the new standard for success then we're screwed. This was another rotten deal that Obama is forcing the left to swallow. He caved on holding anyone on Wall-Street responsible for the Great Recession, has failed to close Gitmo. In addition, he continues the Afghanistan war despite losing: too many lives, billions upon billions of tax payer money and a decade of time that could have been used to rebuild America. We seem to be the same place we were when we started that damn war.

True, he killed Osama, but in the end, that's just a vivid distraction from how shitty things are at home. It's like how movie studios use mind-blowing, special, visual effects to distract the audience from a paper-thin plot. I bailed on him after caving in on health-care reform, but I decided to give him one more chance, only to be "left at the alter" again. He seems to have commitment problems when it comes to standing up for his beliefs. He's like the kid who keeps telling his friends that he'll stand up to the class bully for them but never does and actually somehow ends up helping the bully beat them up!! As Michael Tomasky of "The Daily Beast stated, Obama is "handing the Republicans the keys to the house and saying “take what you want.”

He's corrupted to Wall-Street, too. They're all corrupt. In America today, you must do the biding of corporate donors that fund your campaign. Until we end monied interests being able to lobby Congress, our government is hopelessly broken. But, I think the biggest loss that Obama is responsible for is allowing the Republicans to hold the American economy hostage to get whatever they wanted. By capitulating in this manner, he has emboldened this kind negotiating for the rest of his presidency. And, he has set a precedent that other presidents might have to face.

Therefore, I am firing the Democrats and joining the Green Party--for good. I'm giving Democrats a "time out." I don't want to hear any comments saying the Green Party is a wasted vote, because the Democratic Party is, so corrupt and beholden to corporations that your vote for them is a vote for continued corruption, anyway. The Greens might not be very powerful but at least they aren't beholden to corporations. They have the integrity to actually stick to their principles. That means more to me right now than supporting a party (Democrats or Republicans) that say one thing to get elected but do another in office.

People are always surprised when a politician doesn't do what they say on the campaign trail. But, when you realize that the real party leaders are the monied interests pulling the strings, it makes perfect sense. People tell me, "If you don't support the Democrats then the Republicans will get their way on everything!!" To, which, I say, "They already do!!" As far as I can see, the two parties are both to the right of the political spectrum--that's how far things have shifted in this country.

In the end, I know the Green Party won't be able to change the system but I'm partly doing this to protest the current state of affairs in American government. The ship is going down with the crew--America is fading quickly into the dusty, history books of Earth. In the coming decades, it will not be a shock to this historian to seen an even bigger depression than in the 1930s, a second American revolution and/or a civil war. Things are gonna get worse before they improve--if, they improve. So, strap on your helmet and hang on. At this point, it's no longer about the "American Dream." It's about surviving the coming, "American wasteland."

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