Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Blog Action Day: The Power of We

 We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.  Thus begins some of the opening words to the constitution of the first constitutional republic of the modern world.

Seems fair, simple and plainly spoken.  We the people ordain a constitution, a social compact, consenting to be governed in the expectant hope that domestic tranquility and the blessings of liberty for all living and future citizens will be respected and protected.  It was a revolutionary notion for its time and is still the ideal democratic republics aspire to realize and practice.  It is an idea that moves masses of people throughout the world to come together, demonstrating the collective strength of the “power of we”.  It’s very notion sets people in motion to force intractable power elites whose rule is based on custom and the vanity of tyranny to cede authority to the democratic impulses of a people’s fight for the consent to be governed.

Last years Arab Spring demonstrated that the democratic aspirations of people remain alive.  It took a massive movement of people, willingly sacrificing life and limb and the safety of loved ones to dispose of dictators and their self serving regimes.  The fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya were startling events in the rapidity of their downfall; and as an emblematic revelation of the fragility of tyrannical rule.  It also born hope in the hearts of people living under unelected rulers that change could happen if the “power of we” was focused on the task of disposing a regime whose sole goal was self enrichment and the perpetuation of its rule.  As the conflict in Syria grinds on, the world witnesses the awful cost of the struggle against tyranny. It’s a damning condemnation of Bashar al-Assad’s vanity of power and a moving example of the price human beings are willing to pay to realize the blessings of liberty that  many citizens living in western democracies too often take for granted.

As the United States contentious presidential election comes to a close, I hope that my fellow citizens understand the dear price people are paying to have some semblance of a representative democracy.  I also hope my fellow citizens realize that the duopoly of power exercised by the ruling democratic and republican parties represent economic and political interests that run counter to the interests of the vast majority of We the People.  I hope my fellow citizens understand that the two ruling parties are a class of political elites that have governed to serve the perpetuation of their rule,  financed by an embedded plutocracy that continues to enrich itself with the complicit enabling of democratic and republican party officials.

In this election cycle, my fondest hope for America is for my fellow citizens to break the stranglehold of self serving two party rule.  We must begin to adopt the ideas of progressive third party candidates, like The Green Party.  We must elect candidates that are free from the bought shackles of favoritism and patronage. Thus remaining free to pursue a moral and ethical conscience that advocates liberty, equality of opportunity and civil rights for all citizens.  We must also prepare to engage a political movement that goes beyond the ballot box, becoming activist citizens to win a future that promotes the ecology of a balanced sustainable path of growth, peace and prosperity for all.

 risk: politics, economics, environment

 Music Selection: John Lennon, Power to the People

Blog Action Day Post: The Power of We

October 16, 2012 Posted by | Civil Rights, democracy, government, republicans, social unrest | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michele Bachmann’s Handfull of Subpoenas

Michelle Bachmann recently advanced the idea that the new congress needs to go to Washington with a hand full of subpoenas to fully uncover and punish the criminal behavior of the Obama Administration.   Why does she want to do this?  Why does the Chairwoman of the Republican Tea Party Caucus think this is a good idea?

During President Clinton’s second term the GOP’s extreme partisanship led to impeachment proceedings and severely hampered the effectiveness of our government and its Chief Executive.  This distraction may have made some political hay for Republicans but crippled our Chief Executive’s ability to focus on and deal with the growing terror threat Al-Qaeda was preparing to launch against our country.  The GOP’s actions provided support, aid, cover and comfort to the terrorists and heightened our country’s vulnerability to attack.  Perhaps we should investigate their activities and motives for effectively becoming a Fifth Column for the Evil Doers?

Earlier in the year, Ms. Bachmann’s suggested to Chris Matthews that we should investigate the UnAmerican activities of congress and senate members to root out and expose those who hate America and are actively working for its destruction.  I’m not so sure about this; it may lead to the mass imprisonment of  the Republicans who obstructed President Clinton’s ability to perform his duties as Commander and Chief. With the GOP gone it would be impossible to form a consensus to effectively govern the nation so I’m kinda lukewarm on this one.  After all President Obama and the ruling democrats rely on the good will of the loyal opposition GOP party to show the country that democracy works and that we can all get along.

But because I don’t think Ms. Bachmann’s idea is a good one doesn’t make it bad. After all I’m coming from a pretty partisan place myself.  So in the spirit of consensus building I’m trying to understand why she would propose such a thing.  Though its a dangerous and scary place to visit, I have tried to get inside Ms. Bachmann’s mind to understand her reasoning why she thinks the congress should spend the next session investigating members for crimes against the republic.

I have comprised a list of 13 reasons as to why Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party may think this is a good idea for the country.  Please feel free to add your own.

1. Because its fun to shut the Federal Government down (ask Newt Gingrich)
2. It will heighten partisanship to levels yet unseen
3. Obstructionism is their preferred style of governance
4. Dissent is dangerous to a democracy
(America is long over due for another round of McCarthyism)
5. Enemy combatants sitting in congress must be imprisoned
6. It will demonstrate reactionary street cred
7. Sean Hannity thinks its a good idea
8. Rush Limbaugh thinks its a great idea
9. Glenn Beck tearfully pleads to show no quarter to “Wilsonian Reprobates”
10. Compromise/consensus forming is for sissies
11. Its how Michele Bachmann Mans Up and shows her pair
12. It plays well on Talk Radio and to the rabid dogs in the TP howling for fresh meat
13. 2012 GOP can say we did our best under trying circumstances now give us the White House and Senate. We’ll finish the job. Rove calls it the Coup de Grace campaign. A final silver bullet to the head of the democrats, democratic consensus and Federalism paid and financed by serious 527 money.

You Tube Video: Edvard Grieg, In the Hall of the Mountain King

Risk: consensus, governance, democracy

November 13, 2010 Posted by | 9/11, Clinton, conservatism, democracy, democrats, Federalism, government, politics, republicans, Tea Party, terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Better Way (3): Vote Green Party

It was the summer of 75.  I was going into my sophomore year in college.  I just switched my major from business to political science and I was standing in front of a shopping mall on the outskirts of Boston getting signatures to secure ballot status in the State of Massachusetts for the Social Workers Party (SWP) Presidential candidate Peter Camejo.  That afternoon as I dodged shopping carts, roller skating kids and big finned cars spewing black emissions from leaded fueled V8’s,  I secured over 300 signatures from fellow citizens in support of a ballot listing for a socialist candidate for president.  I did so by engaging my fellow citizens in an appeal to their democratic sentiments.  I explained to each person who stopped to listen that their signature was an authorization to grant ballot status for the candidate.  Signing the petition was not an endorsement of the candidate or his views or an indication that they would vote for him.  The petition solely conferred ballot status to the candidate so that his views may be represented in the democratic market of ideas and voted on.  Most people readily if not eagerly signed the petition.  All felt it was critical that all opinions needed to be heard.  For many it was a passionate defense of the democratic process and a celebration of their commitment to the ideals of a democratic republic.  I doubt weather today’s voters would be so approachable.  The ability to listen with an open mind or being amenable to signing a petition to grant ballot status for a socialist candidate is rapidly disappearing from America’s political culture.  Pluralism is under attack.  It is being hunted down and eradicated like a species of animal unfit to live in a democratic landscape meticulously manicured by the Glenn Beck’s and Rush Limbaugh’s of the world.    Times have certainly changed.

In the interest of transparency and in the spirit of full disclosure I feel the need to admit that I have always been a registered independent voter ever since I was eligible to vote.  At the age of 54, I have been an active voter for 36 years and during that time I have rarely missed an opportunity to exercise my right and fulfill my responsibility as a fully enfranchised citizen in a democratic republic.

Like those who signed my petition back in 75 I consider it a privilege and duty to participate in the electoral process.  I always believed that free and open elections were a distinguishing characteristic of  America.  I consider voting a bedrock right that must be exercised to assure that democracy endures.   The US Constitution and The Bill of Rights remain the surest guarantor of our democratic freedoms and can only be defended by celebrating our enfranchisement through the consistent practice of voting.

The right to vote was hard won.  It was the a fruit of liberty watered with the blood of revolutionaries.  It was the full promise of liberation made to former slaves wrested from the peace won from drinking a long draft of wine pressed from the grapes of wrath.  Women right to vote was finally won well after the century mark of our republic finally securing true universal suffrage for all citizens.  When I vote I believe myself to be honoring the hard fought and dearly won suffrage victory of those who went before.  I scratch my head at learning that Meg Whitman only recently realized that healthy democratic societies requires its citizens to participate in the electoral process.  The growing preponderance of retired multi-millionaire businesspeople running for office is a curious development.  This new breed of politician comes before the electorate speaking about the poverty of the systems political values.  Emboldened with a perverse freedom from want these candidates approach politics as the next step in an enterprising career move.  Flush with cash channeled from their personal version of the American dream they testify to the sanctity of laissez-faire democracy and  are willing to use a portion of their treasure to keep hope alive for a very very select few.

During my 36 year voting career in national, state and local elections I usually vote for third party candidates.  I do this because I believe that the duopoly of our political system does not provide sufficient options for a differentiated choice between the two ruling parties.  I vote for progressive  third parties because I believe it important that we break the stranglehold of the two party system.  A precondition to breaking the control of the duopoly is to alter the political psychology of American voters.  This takes education, enhanced transparency and the visibility and honest engagement of third party candidates, not their demonization.    I try to vote for the person over party and I have voted for a Republican or two over the years.  If a third party candidate is not running for office I more then likely vote Democrat because I believe them to be a closer match to the political interests of my social position and political aspirations.

The expansion of choice, the delineation of positions, the articulation of differing visions and approaches to problems are important to the health of a democratic society.  The people who signed my petition for SWP ballot status knew and respected the importance that all voices need to be heard.  Some as I recall even expressed a dislike for socialism but voiced a love of democracy.  By signing the petition they demonstrated their commitment to cherished democratic ideals was greater then their political prejudices; believing that all voices needed to be heard and fairly judged by an open and free electorate.

The deep abiding respect for Americas democratic culture is in dire jeopardy.  The sickening video of a Rand Paul supporter stomping on a woman carrying a banner in support of his opponent has become an iconic symbol of American politics.  Last week, unlicensed security personnel for Sarah Palin’s handpicked Alaska Senate Candidate Joe Miller, handcuffed and forcibly restrained a reporter who dared to ask Mr. Miller a question.  These incidents are being played out against a backdrop of virulent attack advertisements playing in continuous loop on all media channels.  The unending stream of personal attacks demonizes the candidates that feature fantastic claims framed by blatant lies in service to a narrow ideology that protects the power and privilege of special interests.

Or consider the surreal parade of “I Am You” candidates.  These non-professional politicians speaking the hard truths political correctness refuses to utter, make comical faux pas that reveal damning personal virtues like witchcraft, Nazi affectations, knuckleheadism, opportunism and scoundrelism.  This off putting political theater erodes our faith and confidence in democratic process.

One can imagine the enemies of democracy gleefully advancing the careers of the political cretins presenting themselves as viable candidates.  These dangerous Fifth Columnists actually endanger democracy.  They are so off putting that the electorate will revile from the choices, like in Nevada which allows the voter to pull the lever for none of the above.  In fact an insidious Republican PAC is running ads aimed at Latino voters in the Southwest.  The ads advise Latinos to boycott the election and vacate the right to vote because the Democratic Party has abandoned them.  The advertisement concludes that not voting is the best way to send a message to the Democrats.

One also needs to evaluate and consider the big money moving into the campaign on behalf of  the two major parties.  The source of “big money” is big moneyed interests.  The Supreme Court decision of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has unleashed a tsunami of corporate money into the electoral process.  The money is buying favor from our elected representatives.  Lots of this money is flowing into the campaigns of Tea Party backed candidates who are running under the well worn moniker of Republicanism, exposing the sham masquerade of their avowed independence.

Big money is instilling fear and favor into politicians of the established parties.  Donkeys and Elephants are eager to avoid the scorpion sting of big money finance vehicles and are just as eager to mainline the addictive smack of big money contributions.  One can argue this has degraded and devalued the significance of our vote but I am here to assert that the value of our vote has never been greater.

Free people deserve more then a choice between the lesser of two evils.  If we value our democracy we must not squander our votes on candidates whose interests are antithetical to our own.  The Green Party offers a vision and solutions that are not beholden to the special interests that have a stranglehold over our political institutions and economic system. The political pornography polluting our airways is clogging the arteries of our body politic.  America can no longer suffer the paralysis of government engendered by extreme partisanship or the promulgation of  fear promoted by intractable power elites.  America is in desperate need for a cure the lesser of two evils cannot provide.  The greater or lesser evil can only be avoided by voting for a progressive candidate not bought or controlled by those who continue to thrive off the misery of our broken system.   The back and forth swing  of a pendulum that oscillates between the radical conservatism of the Republicans and the ineffectual liberalism of the Democrats united in service to a common master needs to come to a blessed end.  America can break with this cycle.  A vote for Green is a vote for the sustainable future of  a more democratic and just America.

The Ten Key Values of the Greens

Social Justice
Community-Based Economics
Nonviolence
Decentralisation
Future Focus/Sustainability
Feminism
Personal and Global Responsibility
Respect for Diversity
Grassroots Democracy
Ecological Wisdom

You Tube Music Video:

Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, This Land Is Your Land

Part 1: Tea Party Fundamentalism

Part 2: Damnation of the Democrats

Risk: democracy, elections

November 1, 2010 Posted by | conservatism, culture, democracy, democrats, elections, ethnic, government, Palin, politics, psychology, republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Deserve Better (2): The Damnation of the Democrats

A few days after President Obama took office I remember him emerging from a meeting at the Pentagon.  The summit was arranged to brief the Commander In Chief on the progress of the wars and to assure the nation that the new president was in-sync with his generals and admirals charged with running the war.  Emerging from the highly publicized meeting America’s new war time president stated “as long as the generals take care of what they have to do, we’ll take care of what we have to do.”  I found the statement to be unsettling.  It implied that  the new administration would not alter the course set by the previous administration insuring that the inertia of Bush’s policies and strategies would continue unabated.  On another level Obama’s statement also seemed to suggest an abdication.  I get nervous to think that the Commander in Chief  has ceded civilian control of the greatest military force the world has ever known.  The decision to pursue war or enjoy peace is too delicate a matter to be left to the decisions of an entrenched military-industrial bureaucracy.  The abdication of assertive control, weather its born from the desire to get along, build consensus or a deep seated need for acceptance has been a disturbing custom of Obama’s presidency and the prevailing characteristic of the Democratic Party.

Obama’s easy surrender to established protocols, processes, precedents has been a hallmark of his presidency.  It exemplifies the failure of the Democratic Party’s oppositional legacy to Republican rule during the two previous Bush Administrations.  At every turn, the Democrats gave in to the Republican conservative legislative agenda with little or no dissent.  The Patriot Act, the blind march to  two unnecessary wars, the dismantling of government oversight and regulatory controls on business, the slavish submission to Republican led expenditures or tax cuts in service to corporate welfare and the tepid lip service to the struggle for social justice made the democrats complicit accomplices in America’s dramatic conservative swing.

The democrats failure as an oppositional force to counter the reactionary juggernaut of neo-conservatism has emboldened the reactionary impulses of the ruthless power elites.  Threatened by economic distress and disintegration of our political institutions, Americas ruling  plutocracy has spawned a malevolent Tea Party movement to crush any progressive populism that may arise to counteract their social position, economic power and political sovereignty. The democrats adamant refusal to stand firmly against the destructive impulses of xenophobia and virulent nationalism has allowed an ugly chorus of fear to become our new national anthem.  The resentful voices of suspicion, intolerance and  exclusion grows ever louder each day as emboldened Falangists and neo-fascists take center stage on a surreal  commercial production of American political theater.

In defense of President Obama his presidential campaign and his administration have expressed a deep desire to pursue a political consensus.  This sentiment is admirable and the ability to form a consensus is an absolute and critical virtue to the health of a democratic society.  The freedom to express differing opinions, voice dissent, air grievances, petition, ability to listen, interest to hear, converse, change opinions and assimilate these competing impulses to form a consensus to express the common will are what makes democracies imperfect yet the fairest expression of governance.  Mr. Obama has sought to pursue and build consensus with an opposition Republican Party that has been nothing short of obstructionist since the democrats assumed control of the Executive office.  Rush “Country Firster” Limbaugh said it best “I hope he fails” set the tone and sealed the intractability of Republicans and any possibility of bipartisan cooperation to deal with the critical issues confronting the nation.

Last summers spectacle of town meetings designed to initiate a national conversation on Health Care Reform devolved into a partisan shouting match and an opportunity for the formation of the Tea Party galvanized by propaganda about a socialist takeover of the economy, death panels, and the idea that President Obama was a fascist dictator.  At this point President Obama still took the opportunity to sit down with the leadership of the GOP in a televised discussion to initiate a dialog.  The Consensus Builder in Chief was rebuffed again.  The democrats responded by killing single-payer and backing down on universal health coverage.  The watered down health care reform bill accomplished an extension of coverage for more, but not all Americans and eliminated preexisting conditions as a disqualification for coverage while also extending the power of insurance companies by making it mandatory that all tax payers purchase health insurance.

This reform is not a significant ground breaking legislative event.  President Obama and the democrats should have recognized early on the inability to work a compromise with the obstructionists in the Republican Party.  As is the case with Cap and Trade legislation, rescinding  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan war, financial services reform, TARP and the economic stimulus bill;  the GOP, “Party of No” has done everything in its power to derail the efforts of the democratic party to address the deep problems confronting America.  The Democratic Party should have leveraged its control of the legislative and executive branch of the Federal Government to push through a program for a new America.  The pressing circumstances of history required decisive leadership and bold ideas to address the complex problems confronting America.  FDR’s “New Deal” or Johnson’s “Great Society” were ideas accompanied by innovative legislation to solve systemic problems.  The democrats tepid response acquiesced to the conservative demands of the GOP.   The Blue Dog Democrats yelped and barked louder then any rabid GOP hound subverting a robust game changing legislative response to the problems confronting America.

The democrats would again demonstrate their timidity in how they responded to the Gulf Oil Spill.  If the free falling economy was the equivalent of economic Armageddon the Horizon Deep Water catastrophic oil spill was its environmental equivalent.  In each case President Obama fashioned piece meal responses designed not to offend “free market evangelists” for fear of being accused of over reaching.  Both instances provided opportunities to mobilize the nation and its significant resources in these titanic tests of national resolve.  In both instances the cojones challenged donkeys failed to seize the reins of state to wield its power.  I am still shocked by images of Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein pulling the strings on Timothy Geithner like a marionette to exact concessions during the banking crisis.  Or consider the high profile of BP CEO,  Tony “I want my life back” Hayward mounting a $50 million PR campaign to quell any concerns that the benevolence of corporate capitalism will eventually “set things right.”    The Republicans turned this into President Obama’s Katrina with Bobby “don’t spend no stim in Louisiana” Jindal taking the EPA to court for declaring a moratorium on deep water drilling.  And the fattest of fat cats Republican Mississippi Governor Haley “rebuild the casinos first” Barbour shaming Obama to spend a portion of his non- Martha Vineyard family vacation swimming in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  It was a PR disaster for President Obama because he failed to act with the resolve or manner of a strong decisive leader.

But now as the midterms approach the democrats must answer to a crumbling alliance of constituencies that they have taken for granted and failed to help.  They are unable to see  constituents as anything other then a demographic voting block devoid of a face, personality or soul.  The democrats see stereotypes not people.  Labor unions are blue collar voters that now approximate 7% of registered voters.  This year the democratic controlled legislature failed to act on Card Check legislation that would protect the right of labor unions to vote and organize non-union companies.  Another important constituency of the Democratic Party is the LGBT community.  The military said it would comply with the decision of a California District Court  that overturned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Incredibly, President Obama’s Attorney General appealed the decision and asked the court to reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Teacher unions are also big supporters of the Democratic Party, but many democrats support school vouchers and Charter Schools and seem unconcerned that financial and institutional support of public schools continues to erode.  Working class families and woman  are under severe distress as unemployment rates approach 10%, home foreclosures rise , spiraling cost of living increases spike, the cost of sending kids to college slip out of reach and a marked erosion in quality of life and expectations for a secure future and comfortable retirement evaporate.    The democrats did little to solve these pressing problems save the offer of cheap lip service that they understand their pain.  Charlie Rangel secure in the refuge of his four rent controlled apartments will not feel the cold experienced by a homeless mother and her children this winter;  nor will Hillary Clinton lose any sleep worrying about  deploying Chelsea to fight an incomprehensible war in Afghanistan.

This mid term election democratic candidates are running away from their unpopular president.  They will run on a platform of tax cuts and appear as local election district manifestations of gun toting patriotic Christophanies.  The poverty of a party with no conviction of principle is made plain.  Having no principles, Democrats have not offered a true alternative to reactionary Republicanism.  Nearsightedness has robbed them of a vision for a new republic.  They offer no demarcation with the broken policies that preceded their rule.  The hallmark of their governance has been the complete compromise with an recalcitrant opposition; content to administer a broken and corrupt apparatus rather then chart a new path.  The democrats remain shining examples of self serving politicians retuning to office  on mythical inertia to secure rent controlled apartments while public housing remains an endangered and dear want for many.  They believe themselves to be righteously led by the presiding shame of a president made possible by an epic civil rights struggle who cannot muster the fortitude or conviction to extend the equal right of marriage for one of his liberal constituencies.

We deserve better.

You tube Music Video: Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Compared to What

Risk: democracy, two party political system, liberalism

 

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Bush, conservatism, culture, democracy, democrats, environment, labor, LGBT, Obama, politics, recession, republicans, social justice, TARP, taxation, Tea Party, unemployment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We Deserve Better (Part 1): Tea Party Fundamentalism

You hear it all the time.  All the candidates running for office are horrible.  The democrats and republicans both stink.  But this guy ain’t as bad as the other guy.  “He is the lesser of two evils”.  So we make our choice based on two evils.  We deserve more then the lesser of two evils.

When you think about it, a lesser evil is still an evil.  Even if its a lesser evil, the essence of its nature will soon enough turn on us as it seeks to actualize the essence of its nature.  It brings to mind Aesop’s Fable of the scorpion and frog.  The scorpion comes to a river that it can’t cross and calls on a passing frog to let it ride on its back to the other side of the river.  The frog was suspicious because it knew of the scorpions venomous nature but finally relented and let the scorpion mount its back for the ride across the river.  When they were halfway across the river scorpion delivered a fatal sting to the frog, dooming them both.   As the deadly venom took its hold, the frog asked the scorpion why it delivered its sting that would destroy them both?  The scorpion answered “it is my nature to sting.”  In a nutshell that is the nature of evil.  It will eventually deliver its sting.  So if we want to be safe we must avoid evil whenever we can.  This is most true when we are considering political candidates.

In many respects The Tea Party has done this country a favor.  They have energized the country by reigniting passion back into the political process.  Their raucous demonstrations and appeal to populist sentiments has served to remind America of its activist heritage and the many protest movements that have been central to the creation of our republic.  America, the great democratic experiment,  is the result of a history of struggle to claim and extend democratic rights and privileges to all citizens.  The great social justice struggles that fought for universal suffrage, women rights, living wages and labor laws, civil rights, environmental protection and antiwar movements are important chapters in America’s story that are often neglected and too often forgotten.  The Frederick Douglas admonition that “power concedes nothing without demand” is a keen wisdom that Tea Party activists have taken to heart.

The Tea Party has adamantly asserted that the elite class of professional politicians is beyond reformation.  The political elites cannot change their nature.  The Democrats and Republicans are well beyond redemption.   A more astute truism has never been spoken.  Here the Tea Party rhetoric diverges from their practice because they advocate support for GOP candidates.  So the first lesson we can learn from the Tea Party is to do what the Tea Party says “don’t trust either party,” not what they do, support the GOP.

I am convinced that both parties are totally bought and controlled by big money channeled through K Street lobbyists doing the bidding of large corporate interests. The final nail in the coffin was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  This decision has altered the democratic scales of our Republic.  They have been dis proportionally tipped against the individual citizen.  The law of the land  has codified this inequity by protecting the right of deep pocketed corporate institutions to purchase the favor of political elites that rule America.  This will further strengthen the entrenched class of the two party monopoly.  This leaves the citizen to content themselves in the illusion that America is still a participatory democracy.  Dressing up in Minuteman costumes to pretend we are racing off to meet the dreaded enemies of our republic; and proclaiming an intention to water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants makes for amusing political theater in a land where  the value of one man one vote is severely distressed.

Here the mendacity of the Tea Party’s populism is made clear.  Tea Party candidates are the principal recipients of corporate money.  This money finances expensive media campaigns that flood the airways of critical electoral districts with advocacy ads  in support of Tea Party sponsored candidates.  This money is also used to attack liberal Democratic Party opponents.  The populist claims of the Tea Party are bankrupted by the heaps of corporate gold flowing into their campaign war chests.  This prompts conservatives to parrot “global warming is a liberal fiction” and “God placed oil on this earth for our use and its our divine right to extract it.”  They condemn government regulations as an assault on the economic liberties expressly protected in the Constitution.  It is as if they believed the  natural resource of the land was theirs and not the property of a faceless global corporate entity.

We can also be thankful to the Tea Party for revealing how the core values of conservatism are put into practice.  Property rights trump all rights.  Militarism and nationalism is our salvation.  Tolerance is the hallmark of ignorance.  Compromise and negotiation is a sign of weakness and consensus born from a democratic process must be repressed.   The stridency of their pronouncements seep with homophobia, Islamophobia and insistence on closing the southern border and eradicating illegals within our midst expresses deep cultural and racial fears born from an eroding cultural supremacy.

The geopolitical reality of the changing demographics of America’s ethnic and cultural landscape fuels a desire to arrest the democratic political process.  The populism of  the Tea Party is based on summoning the support of the declining population of Caucasian America.   They give voice to the anger of  the ebbing dominance of a demographic group;  screaming, crying and cursing its economic, political and cultural pain.  Barack Obama manifests the threat in a stark contrast of black and white.  He fuels the fear that gives pointed political focus to the racial aspects of Tea Party politics.  The nations first Afro-American President conveniently offers cover to an undercurrent of racial animus prevalent in Tea Party slogans and images.

The Tea Party’s professed love of the Constitution is disingenuous.  I ask where was their righteous outrage as Bush and the Republicans violated some of the basic tenants of the Constitution.  Most were out front cheering him and his fellow Republicans on.  Their support of positions that deny the basic civil rights to the LGBT community; the clamoring silence concerning violations of privacy rights under the Patriot Act; the failure to recognize religious freedom and the right of Muslims to build mosques; their practice of advocating the selection of circuit judges on the basis of ideological commitment to the GOP and the endorsement of torture and unlimited imprisonment without due process for enemy combatants in the war on terror are examples of their disdain for constitutional protections and basic human rights.

Fundamentalism is a strain of thought that is psychologically appealing in a complex world with no easy answers.  With fundamentalism the cosmology is all figured out.  There is no need to ask any questions because the answers are self evident truths that confirm the ideology before the question is asked.  The Tea Party raises the US Constitution with a fervor that rivals any Bible thumping Born Again Christian or Quran fueled Taliban operative.  I heard a Tea Party member once advance the idea that no new legislation can exceed 30 some odd pages in length because that was the length of the original US Constitution.  This thinking fetishizes the Constitution.  It believes the original document to be a holy tablet that the Founding Fathers brought down from the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains.  It fails to take into account that the United States of 2010 is a vastly different place then it was when it emerged on the world scene as the first democratic republic in the late 18th Century.  This fundamentalism fails to remember that some of the original framers of the Constitution were slave holders, considered people property, disenfranchised women and perceived Native Americans as savages and worthy targets of genocide to annex their lands for the new and growing republic.   No the reality of the 21st century nation state and the rights and responsibilities of its citizens in an interconnected global ecosystem has evolved and is vastly different from the time when the Constitution was authored.  The foresighted crafters of our Constitution sat through a sweltering Philadelphia summer and sweated out this hollowed document  through intelligent compromise and a respect for consensus and the democratic process.  It is a vital lesson lost on Tea Party zealots content to wave copies of the document as some righteous proof of their love of country while they profane the spirit and enduring truths of the Constitutions essence.

The Tea Party’s political fundamentalism is mirrored in many respects by the religious fundamentalism held by many of its members.  If the Constitution anoints true believers with political righteousness, religious fundamentalism provides theological justification for a social agenda advanced with nasty intolerance, celebratory bigotry and cultural exclusion.  Religious fundamentalism has long been the cornerstone of the conservative movement.  They attack secularism as an obscene manifestation of the liberal welfare state.  It threatens civil liberties for everyone as it seeks to exclude the full rights citizenship  for all citizens.   It is a dangerous foil aimed at the heart of public education.  It is a tool employed by education reformers to underfund school programs, transfer monies to charter and private schools and transform humanities based curricula. It seeks to replace science in our public schools with stories from the Bible.  Evolution, natural selection, and big bang theories are replaced with creationism and  a 6,000 year old world that was created in 6 days.  Civil law and cultural mores will be guided and enforced by a moral code of prohibitions written 3,000 years ago to bring order to a nomadic tribal people assembling the nation of Israel.

The future competency of our nation and its ability to compete in a complex world is at stake.  America cannot hope to maintain its leadership in the world economy if it allows science to be politicized, its schools to crumble and a segment of its people not fully enfranchised with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.  The greatest danger is the installation of a bifurcated society where well to do Judeo-Christian Caucasians are in a position to purchase the best education, access health care services and enjoy a full pallet of rights and freedoms not available to the growing stable of “others” lawfully excluded from their rightful inheritance of citizenship.

The Tea Party has crystallized the choice in the coming election.  Beware of the Bible thumper.  Beware of the Constitution waver.  The stridency of  Tea Party proponent’s and their religio-political fundamentalism may stand like “Old Hickory” on a timely quote from their sacred tomes but  resorting to such a defense reveals an inherent weakness in their argument.  No dialog, no consensus, no possibility of arriving at a democratic resolution to problems.  Tea Partyer’s may offer factual recitations from the books but no understanding and less truth can be found in pronouncement of their words.

You Tube Music Video: Art Tatum, Tea for Two

Risk: Constitution, secular democracy, education, civil rights

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Bible, Christianity, Civil Rights, class, culture, democracy, elections, government, labor, LGBT, politics, Quran, religion, republicans, social justice, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fundamentalist Politics in Nevada

Political operatives  circulate this photo in an attempt to taint the reputation of candidates running  for office in highly contested elections.  It has surfaced again in the Nevada Senate  election  campaign of Harry Reid and Sharron Angle.

I recently received an e-mail with this lovely image. The e-mail states that this is a photo that captures the 1889 public execution of Remus Reid for horse stealing and other crimes in the Montana  Territory Prison.  Remus is an ancestor of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Mr. Reid is running for reelection and is locked in a campaign battle with Teabagger darling Republican Sharron Angle.

The e-mail stated that a professional genealogy researcher (read: political hack) discovered this photo and asked Harry Reid if he cared to comment on it.  Mr. Reid’s reply maddened the author of the e-mail, stating that Mr. Reid’s reply is a typical example of his Bull Shit.  To quote the e-mail on this disingenuous genealogical inquiry:

“Believe it or not, Harry Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

“Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”

NOW THAT’s how it’s done, Folks! That’s real POLITICAL SPIN, or typical Reid “BS”

The real BS of this story comes from Sharron Angle and her political propagandists.  This Teabagging wind bag asserts that she has been anointed by God to save Nevada and the Union from socialists, liberals and terror loving anti-Americans (read democrats).  God officially came out for Ms. Angle’s candidacy a few weeks ago.  Not surprising since Jesus Christ has been the unofficial head of the GOP since at least the Reagan Administration.  The breaking news of God’s endorsement of Sharron Angle was scooped by that hard hitting team of journalists at the 700 Club.  You can see the story here:

Interesting this deeply Christian women says nothing about repealing gambling or legalized prostitution in her state or ending the wars but will make it her first order of business if elected to repeal the health care bill that extends coverage to all citizens.  Curious that God would direct this deeply religious woman to deny health care to the poor and give a free pass to the wealthy riding their camels through the golden eye of the needle.  Somehow I don’t think Ms. Angle’s positions are something that Jesus would support.

To make a point of righteous indignation, we get Ms. Angle circulating photos of a public hanging of Mr. Reid’s ancestor.  I don’t believe Jesus would approve of this either but Ms. Angle no doubt knows a side of Jesus Christ I have yet to discover.  So Mr. Reid responds with some amusing political satire to the inanities of Rovian inspired Teabagger politics and the point becomes the political spin of Mr. Reid.

I imagine Ms. Angle is trying to hold Mr. Reid accountable for the crimes of a distant ancestor that was dead before he was born.  Theologically this is not very Christian of Ms. Angle.  According to Jesus everyone is responsible for their own salvation.  The sins of my father and great great uncles may be visited upon me but I am not responsible nor accountable for those sins.  Christianity teaches people are active agents in their own salvation.  Ms. Angle should go back to Sunday School.  There are loop holes to this belief.  According to Pat Robertson, the CEO of the 700 Club, the only exception to this New Testament precept is if you are Haitian and your ancestors made a pact with the devil to rid Haiti of French colonial rule.  But as far as we know Mr. Reid is not Haitian (though at press time we understand that Rush Limbaugh is reviewing Reid’s birth certificates) and so would not fall under this rule of being guilty for your ancestors sins.

This e-mail campaign is typical reactionary Rovian electoral tactics.   It is born from the same virulent partisan attacks of Andrew Breitbart that demonstrates no allegiance to truth and less to the guidance of any moral compass in journalistic pursuit.  Again in my estimation a most Un-Christian practice.  Attack an opponent to raise an emotional response using lies and racist symbolism are Tea Party practices that is rife throughout the movement of these little neo-fascist Christian Falangists.

The less said about issues and substantive programs to address the deep rooted problems of our country the better for the Teabaggers and the GOP.  The Party of No got their Brown Shirt Shock Troops motivated around no taxes, no social welfare, more guns and prayers.  It is the sycophantic mantra for a white middle class movement that patronizes class distress and offers no solutions to their pressing economic and cultural constriction.  Nothing about issues. All about raising an emotional response with cliche, platitudes and negative symbolism.

Many of the original western settlers had a hand in the violent displacement that stole land from the Native Americans.  Did Ms. Angle’s ancestors occupy Native American land as they colonized the West?  Did Ms. Angle’s ancestors rightly compensate Native American’s for their land when they took control of the hood?  If Remus Reid horse stealing ways is a valid campaign issue perhaps we should examine the genealogical lines of other westerners to determine how they got control of the land that they currently occupy.

One last point about the e-mail that I found curious was that “Politically” was misspelled in the subject line.  The subject line read: Politicaly correct? I wonder if the ignorance born from people who quote words like “refudiate” are seen as badges of honor.  These badges (kind of like Rush Limbaugh’s imaginary medals of honor that adorn his puffed up chest) are worn only by True American’s who hate pin headed liberal intellectuals who know how or care enough about the quality and “correctness” (there’s that word again) of communication to use a spell checker.  Correctness, accuracy, truth and morals means little to the authors of these e-mails and the Andrew Brietbarts of the world.  Its all about the preservation of their cosmology that protects the fundamental truths of political party, social class an eroding culture of privilege and  a warped theology.

Who ever is sending this stuff out, Joseph Goebbels would be proud of you. Keep repeating the Big Lie. Pretty soon you’ll begin to believe it yourself and swear its true.

My response  to this dangerous nonsense:

Kristallnacht in America

Il Duce’s Ghost

American Evita

You Tube Video: Paul Robeson, Ballad of Joe Hill

Risk: culture, politics, religion, truth

July 27, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, culture, democracy, democrats, elections, faith, republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Name Is Legion

stempedeOne of the more disturbing Gospel passages for me appears in the fifth chapter of Mark.  It is the story of Legion;  a man possessed of many demons.  Legion lived amongst tombstones and took to cutting himself.  The townsfolk were terrified of Legion and bound him with chains.  Legion would break his chains and he could be heard howling and cursing his fate as he roamed the night in lonely exile through his mountainous domain.

One day Legion saw Jesus approaching the village and went to him begging not to torment him.  Jesus saw that the man was possessed of demons and commanded them to leave the stricken Legion.  When the illness left Legion the demons asked Jesus if they could inhabit a heard of pigs foraging nearby.  Jesus consented and the pigs went mad and rushed off a cliff into the sea where all the pigs drowned.

Though the story may be the first accounting of a human sickness causing a swine flu infestation it always bothered me.  Jesus’ consent to infect a heard of innocent pigs whose sickness compelled them to leap to their deaths is disturbing.   Perhaps there is a cultural justification to the story for the prohibition of eating pork and the classification of pigs as haraam but upon rereading the story,  it was the desire of the illness to enter the swine.  The story is a wonderful examination of the non-discriminate nature of illnesses and disease.  Jesus provides the reader with an important lesson not to shut out the ill and to take considered action to engage the malady to effect the cure.

Who amongst us does not have demons or illness lurking within?  Indeed we are all Legion.    As a person in recovery, I identify with Legion’s state of possession and find great comfort in Jesus’ example of the necessity to heal. He rebuked the use of chains, showed tenderness and empathy to the infirm.  He effected the cure and commanded the ill to rejoin the the community as a whole and healthy human being.  John Donne’s Meditation 17 is very similar in the importance of community in dealing with illness and tribulation.

Jesus’ understanding of illness and his example as a healer stands in direct contradiction to some of the inane proscriptions for dealing with the swine pandemic that have been put forward.  Guided by fear and the desire to politicize the pandemic some politicians are using the swine flu as an opportunity to collect some political capital.  The Stepford Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman; observed with great intelligence and insight that the the last swine flu outbreak occurred while another democratic administration held the White House.  Ms. Bachman apparently suspects that the pandemic may be politically inspired and connected to the platform of the Democratic Party in some way.

Twitter and other social networking sites are alive with tweets proclaiming this is evidence of another terrorist attack.  Ive seen a bunch of tweets stating this pandemic is clear evidence of Al-Qaeda activity in Mexico using our open borders to destroy America.

This type of thinking is very dangerous.  I remember when AIDS first surfaced as a disease.  Little was known about its origins and causes.  What was known was that many Gay men were becoming infected with the disease and if I recall correctly it was referred to as the Gay influenza or virus.  This categorization of AIDS stigmatized the disease and those who were infected.  This stigmatization contributed to the spread of the disease because homosexuals who were infected with AIDS would avoid treating the disease because of guilt and shame.  Non-gay men who were infected with the disease may have been slow to seek treatment because they believed themselves not to be infected because they did not engage in homosexual activities.  In either case the misinformation, stigma and shame attached to the disease by people for the purpose of political gain were responsible for the spread of the disease.

The howling yodelers of Talk Radio and Fox News are also crowing about the political dimensions of the flu.  Some want an immediate closure of our borders and question the political resolve of of the Obama Administration to live up to their pledge to protect the Homeland.  Glen Beck of FOX TV states that President Obama is a prisoner of his liberal PC convictions.  Beck cries through a river of alligator tears about  the failure to close the borders is synonymous with an act of sedition that seeks to destroy America.

While Mr. Beck professes a great love for his country he demonstrates a poor understanding of  what distinguishes America.  Just lurking underneath the surface of Mr. Beck’s demagoguery is blaming Mexicans for the pandemic just as Ms. Bachman blame of democrats for the spread of the disease.  Science  instructs that illness is an equal opportunity malady.  It does not discriminate on the basis of people place or color.

In Mark’s story about Legion, Jesus took action.  Jesus didn’t say use a more study chain nor did he say build a wall around us to protect us from this scourge.  No Jesus touched Legion.  In story after story Jesus touched lepers,  blind people, crippled and the dead to cure them.  Jesus was available during his ministry to all people and allowed others to touch him so that their faith would free them from their demons.  Jesus understood that a wall of ostracism is a poor defense from a pandemic.  Ironically its isolation that incubates the disease of body, mind and soul.  Jesus  stressed that the ill be part of the community to witness and teach others about restoration, rehabilitation, the importance of action and the need to serve.

Politicizing problems obfuscates solutions. The mother of fear is ignorance and the thinking exemplified by Ms. Bachman and Mr. Beck is enough to create 10 pandemics of fear, suspicion and resentment.  Little do they realize the real gold that can be mined through the challenge of tribulation. We’ll close with these words from John Donne’s Meditation 17.

Writes Donne:

Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

You Tube Video: Louis Armstrong, St. James Infirmary

Risk: isolation, politicization, ignorance

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Bible, community, culture, democrats, gay rights, jazz, LGBT, Obama, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To The Barricades!

Thomas Hart Benton
Mine Strike
1934

Workers in the heat of struggle throughout the history of the labor movement have often cried “to the barricades” as a last resort to defend their rights, freedoms and protect their means of living. It is a signal that the interests of labor and capital are at distinct odds with each other. When an impasse is reached and the irreconcilable requirements of both parties are unable to be resolved through negotiation, workers take direct action with slowdowns, strikes, sit ins and takeovers as the only means to exert their will and protect their interest.

So it is with great sympathy that we hold up the workers and picketers at Republic Window and Door in Chicago. Last week the management of Republic informed their workers that due to the slowdown in the housing market they are going out of business and that the company cannot pay the workers any separation compensation due to lack of funds. In a radical action to protect separation benefits owed to them in accordance with federal law, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN); workers have taken over the factory in a desperate attempt to secure a just separation settlement. The workers, many of Hispanic decent and members of the United Electrical Union, have barricaded themselves inside the factory in a kind of Battle of the Alamo of the US labor movement.

The timing and circumstances of Republic’s closing is unfortunate and is symptomatic of the country’s severe economic malaise. Ironically the projected severity of the economic downturn facing the US economy is the direct result of the deconstruction and dismantling of America’s manufacturing base. The rationalization of the US manufacturers that began in the 1980’s with Micheal Milken and Drexel Burnham Lambert accompanied by a storied SWAT Team of vulture capitalists had to battle and undermine the political clout and power of labor unions to achieve their objectives. The erosion of union power accelerated as membership dropped and the demonization of unions became a political tool used by the Republican’s to attack their rivals in the pro labor Democratic Party. As Republican trickle down economics grew in ascendancy quality of life, wages, heath care and employment benefits for working people have fallen precipitously. The political attacks against unions continue as a large lobbying effort is underway to defeat The Employees Free Choice Act. Without strong unions working people are at risk and remain extremely vulnerable to the debilitating effects of the current recession.

Historically, Chicago has played a central role in the formation and development of the US labor movement. Chicago’s Haymarket Square Riots is a seminal event that propelled the development of the organized labor movement. It was critical to the rise of the American Federation of Labor and endowing unions with the political power to secure the 8 hour working day, better working conditions, decent wage scales and employment benefits. Today as the workers at Republic have walled themselves inside their perishing workplace in an attempt to be rightfully compensated for their exertions and service, Republics management must find a way to meet its commitment by respecting the dignity and economic well being of its former employees. Lets hope that this struggle going on in Chicago represents an awakening for Americas new found respect and support of unions and hopefully not its death knell.

Our prayers and best wishes are with the Republic workers; as they stand in defense for the rights and well being of all American workers. May God continue to bless them with dignity and may the unity of disenfranchised workers serve to assure a prosperity for themselves, their families, and our nation. For truly as it is written in the Gospel of Luke, the laborer is worthy of his pay.

May the Lord continue to bless them and keep them.

You Tube Video: Rachel Maddow, Republic Window and Doors

You Tube Music Video: Pete Seeger, Which Side Are You On?

You Tube music Video: Natalie Merchant, Which Side Are You On?

Risk: labor unions, recession, social safety net, manufacturing, WARN,


December 9, 2008 Posted by | folk, manufacturing, social unrest, unions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dos Equis Presidentes (Part 2)

William Jefferson Clinton’s the “Man from Hope” biography reads like a modern political Horatio Alger story. He came from a difficult and confused lineage and used his exceptional gifts of charm and intelligence to advance to the highest public office in America. Early in his first run for President, I developed an admiration for Clinton based on his sticktoitness, fortitude and his ability to keep on coming after getting knocked down by the seeming knockout punch.

He is a living testament to Ma Joad’s closing words from the movie “The Grapes of Wrath.” Say’s Ma Joad, “Rich fellas come up an’ they die, an’ their kids ain’t no good an’ they die out. But we keep a’comin’. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out; they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, ’cause we’re the people.”

In Clinton’s mind he has been crowned by the tide of history to speak for the common people. Any tactics or political counter punches he can deliver on adversaries are justified to ensure that the democratic march of history arrives at a destination that extols a yeoman’s vision of a Jeffersonian utopia. Clearly a sense of entitlement to lead and the justification of his actions will be condoned by fate and history will absolve him.

So he takes risks. He takes the high, medium and low road to achieve the goal of securing the Democratic nomination for his wife Hillary. He will say or do anything to achieve this goal. He is not above stoking racial suspicions and broadening the racial divide to get Hillary the nomination.

Every tactic, any strategy to deliver the dynamic duo to the domicile of their dynastic destiny will be fully employed; the alienation of African American voters notwithstanding. If the Clinton’s use of deft political machinations to get the nomination succeeds they risk the disenfranchisement of African Americans from the Democratic Party. If this strategy succeeds Clinton 2 will raise the Stars and Bars over the White House signaling the return of the Dixiecrats and the triumph of racial politics.

You Tube Video: Look Away Dixieland.

Risk: Political, Cultural, Racial

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Clinton, democracy, democrats, politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment