Posts Tagged ‘justice’

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!

March 24, 2010

It’s Waterloo All Right: Ours From the Right: David Frum March 22, 2010 by FrumForum

Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.

It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. But:

(1) It’s a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November – by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.

(2) So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now.

So far, I think a lot of conservatives will agree with me. Now comes the hard lesson:

A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/22-2 

“WISDOM” FROM THE OTHER SIDE

The Health Care Hindenburg Has Landed by Chris Hedges March 22, 2010 by TruthDig.com

The claims made by the proponents of the bill are the usual deceptive corporate advertising. The bill will not expand coverage to 30 million uninsured, especially since government subsidies will not take effect until 2014. Families who cannot pay the high premiums, deductibles and co-payments, estimated to be between 15 and 18 percent of most family incomes, will have to default, increasing the number of uninsured. Insurance companies can unilaterally raise prices without ceilings or caps and monopolize local markets to shut out competitors. The $1.055 trillion spent over the next decade will add new layers of bureaucratic red tape to what is an unmanageable and ultimately unsustainable system.

The mendacity of the Democratic leadership in the face of this reality is staggering. Howard Dean, who is a doctor, said recently: “This is a vote about one thing: Are you for the insurance companies or are you for the American people?” What is the point in supporting Democrats? How much more craven can they get? READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/22-1

NO CHANCE IN HELL

The Great Thing About the Health Care Law That Has Passed? It Will Save Republican Lives, Too An Open Letter to Republicans March 22, 2010 by CommonDreams.org by Michael Moore

To My Fellow Citizens, the Republicans:

Thanks to last night’s vote, that child of yours who has had asthma since birth will now be covered after suffering for her first nine years as an American child with a pre-existing condition.

Thanks to last night’s vote, that 23-year-old of yours who will be hit one day by a drunk driver and spend six months recovering in the hospital will now not go bankrupt because you will be able to keep him on your insurance policy.

Thanks to last night’s vote, after your cancer returns for the third time — racking up another $200,000 in costs to keep you alive — your insurance company will have to commit a criminal act if they even think of dropping you from their rolls.

Yes, my Republican friends, even though you have opposed this health care bill, we’ve made sure it is going to cover you, too, in your time of need.  So, when you find yourself suddenly broadsided by a life-threatening illness someday, perhaps you’ll thank those pinko-socialist, Canadian-loving Democrats and independents for what they did Sunday evening. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/22-0

CH-CH-CHANGES…

Signed, Sealed, but Not Delivered: Six Big Flaws Need Fixing to Make New Law Meaningful Health Care Reform by Jon Walker Monday, March 22, 2010 by FireDogLake.com

This health care reform bill passed late last night and soon to be signed into law is a seriously flawed piece of legislation, for it fails to achieve the goals of real health care reform. Now that it is essentially the law of the land, the country needs to work diligently at the federal and state levels to correct many of the most egregious problems with the legislation before the reform package fully goes into effect in 2014. The six main areas that need to be fixed are: cost control, enforcement, individual mandate, abortion, competition, and immigration.

1) Lack of Real Cost Control

This bill does not create real cost control and will not bring down premiums for most Americans.

2) Dangerously Weak Enforcement

There are some good new regulations, but regulations are only as good as the strength of the agency tasked to enforce them. This bill is dangerously lacking in this area.

3) Individual Mandate

The individual mandate, which uses the IRS to force people to buy a product from a poorly regulated, private industry, is an affront to the American people. People must be offered the choice of a public alternative, or the individual mandate must be repealed.

4) Abortion

This bill is a massive rollback of a woman’s right to choose. It would take away the abortion coverage of millions of Americans.

5) Lack of Health Insurance Competition

The bill will do almost nothing to address the problem of lack of competition in the health insurance market. Repealing the anti-trust exemption and adding a public option would be two big steps toward solving the problem.

6) Immigration

Under this almost-law, undocumented immigrants would not be allowed to buy insurance on the new exchanges, even if they are willing to pay the full cost of the insurance with their own money.

If the majority party wants to honestly deliver on these promises—not to mention if they want to remain in the majority—then a concerted and immediate effort is required to prove that this week’s legislation is truly the first step toward reform, and not the last.

© 2010 FireDogLake.com

Jon Walker is political writer and blogger for FireDogLake. He is an expert on health care policy and the politics of health care reform.

HEALTHCARE FIXES

“This Is What Change Looks Like”: Congress Passes Health-Care Reform

Once Rep. Bart Stupak announced he would vote for the Senate version of the health-care reform bill that came before the House, Democrats had their votes.

After the Senate version of the health-care reform bill passed, the House voted, 217-209, a package of “fixes” to the Senate bill, which strip out several special deals made with specific senators in order to win their votes — for example, a Medicaid windfall for the state of Nebraska — and add changes to various thresholds for subsidies and taxes. That package will require a vote in the Senate in order to pass into law, but, as a budget reconciliation measure, that vote will require only a simple majority. Still, Republicans are promising mischief in the upper chamber once that body takes up the reconciliation bill, so the fate of those fixes remains a bit dicey.  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/news/146117/%22this_is_what_change_looks_like%22%3A_congress_passes_health-care_reform

MY TWO-BITS

Suggestions for Progressives in Congress – both houses:

  • Adopt the Health Care Act fixes promptly.
  • Adopt a new rule that Republicans and other demagogues can use the same argument only three times in debate to limit time-wasting repetition and ideological obstruction.  Repetition is the tool of demagogues.  (Our Latin teacher in high school was a demagogue).  We assume (makes an ass of u and me) that elected representatives are able to remember an argument as part of the record, once given.  Three times is the charm, according to human learning capacity.  Our speech teacher said, “Tell ‘em where you’re going, go there, and then tell ‘em where you’ve been.”  Should be good enough for any argument to be fully expressed understood and assimilated.  Of course, the Republicans et al are stalling and inventing roadblocks, so they love repetition; added to it, their toolbox is very small so they have to say the same thing over and over anyway.  We’ve had enough of that.  Offenders should get a Timeout.
  • Put some hustle in the bustle – too much time is wasted on lies and the fallout from lies. Create a fine system for liars; charge the republicans for each offense – stiff fines, ones that will bring tears to their eyes so they will remember it; Pavlovian behavior modification works; check out the rats that ran to the bell and got some yummy cheese  – all receipts to go to Public Campaign Financing only.
  • Deliver the knockout punch.  The agitated resistance of the Teabag Party and for-hire goons is simple gangster-style intimidation by the hostile rich and their Fox, Republican and other demagogic tools.  The crooks know their selfish cause is on the ropes.  They are willing to fight to the grim death to preserve their ignorance, superstition, greed and terror, but they will be finished if the Progressives hold strong and stay on the offensive.  Old Chinese military proverb: “The time to be on your highest guard is immediately after the battle.”  Brace for counterattack.
  • Support Progressive candidates in every election.  What the People really want – in the significant majority – is to flush the bought-and-paid-for rascals out of our system.  Democracy is not an –ism.  Trying to run the country according to a script won’t work for people who don’t want to be in your lousy little play; people who prefer to deal with reality on a practical common sense basis.
  • Think outside the box.  We cannot long endure as a nation of over-consumers and garbage-makers.  We must find new ways of doing business, which are less invasive and destructive.  Arab philosopher al-Kindi, c.801-66 wrote:  “We should not be ashamed to acknowledge truth from whatever source it come to us.  Even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples.  For him who seeks the truth there is nothing of higher value than the truth itself.” 

LAST WORDS:

Flattery can get you practically anywhere.  It’s staying there that gets tricky.

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“THINK MANCHURIAN CANDIDATES”

January 22, 2010

Frankenstein’s Supreme Monsters:

We cannot sustain the present form of huge international corporate mega-capitalism.  It is an out of control monster: a willful environmental vampire and oppressor of human rights.  Its rulers and masters make sociopathic decisions on a daily basis.  As they control costs both quality and choice disappear from the marketplace.  They tend to baronies, monopolies, and mini-kingdoms serving the pissant egos of self-styled “giants of commerce.”  They are moribund, sucking ghouls, parasites on the planet and body politic.  They are the great corrupters of mankind and despoilers of the earth.  And five traitors on the United States Supreme Court just waved a magic wand and turned these monsters into legal human beings, confounding our founders and destroying the democratic American Constitution. 

Added: The merger of corporations with the state is Mussolini’s original definition of fascism.  Look it up.

IMPEACH THE SUPREME COURT FIVE!

Supreme Court’s “Radical and Destructive” Decision Hands Over Democracy to the Corporations By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. January 21, 2010.

One expert calls the Citizens United decision “the most radical and destructive campaign finance decision in the history of the Supreme Court.”

“The Supreme Court has just predicted the winners of the next November election,” Sen. Chuck Schumer announced this morning. “It won’t be Republicans. It won’t be Democrats. It will be Corporate America.”

Indeed, in a momentous 5 to 4 decision that the New York Times has called a “doctrinal earthquake,” the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an unprecedented ruling today that gives new significance to the phrase “corporate personhood.” In it, the Roberts Court overturned the federal ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns, ruling that forbidding corporations from spending money to support or undermine political candidates amounts to censorship. Corporations, the Court ruled, should enjoy the same First Amendment rights as individuals.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the Supreme Court rejects “the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not ‘natural persons.'”

In other words, as Stephen Colbert put it last year, “Corporations are people too.”

On a conference call with reporters following the decision, critics could not overemphasize the enormity of the ruling, whose implications will be visible as early as the upcoming midterm elections. Bob Edgar, head of the watchdog group Common Cause, called it “the SuperBowl of really bad decisions.” Nick Nyhart of Public Campaign called it an “immoral decision” that will make an already untenable mix of money and politics even worse.

“This is the most radical and destructive campaign finance decision in the history of the Supreme Court,” said Fred Wertheimer, President of Democracy 21. “With a stroke of the pen, five justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy.” READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/rights/145322/supreme_court%27s_%22radical_and_destructive%22_decision_hands_over_democracy_to_the_corporations

The Bush-Packed Supreme Court Thinks Corporations Are People Too By Scott Klinger, AlterNet. January 22, 2010.

Corporations now have all the privileges of citizenship, without any of the responsibilities.

This week’s Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case removes all limits on large corporations to finance and influence federal elections. In its ruling the court reverses a decades-old ruling barring companies from using their general funds to fund political campaigns, and guts pieces of the popular McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation. In so doing the Court implicitly embraces a 125 year-old precedent in the case of Santa Clara v. Santa Fe, where the Court first developed the legal doctrine of corporate personhood, explicitly granting corporations the same political and civil rights granted to human beings (historian Thom Hartmann discovered that the principle originated with a corrupt court clerk who added it to the case summary, rather than with the court itself).  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/rights/145323/the_bush-packed_supreme_court_thinks_corporations_are_people_too

The Supreme Court Just Handed Anyone, Including bin Laden or the Chinese Govt., Control of Our Democracy By Greg Palast, AlterNet. January 22, 2010.

The Court’s decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates.

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations should be treated the same as “natural persons”, i.e. humans. Well, in that case, expect the Supreme Court to next rule that Wal-Mart can run for President.

The ruling, which junks federal laws that now bar corporations from stuffing campaign coffers, will not, as progressives fear, cause an avalanche of corporate cash into politics. Sadly, that’s already happened: we have been snowed under by tens of millions of dollars given through corporate PACs and “bundling” of individual contributions from corporate pay-rollers.

The Court’s decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates.

I’m losing sleep over the millions — or billions — of dollars that could flood into our elections from ARAMCO, the Saudi Oil corporation’s U.S. unit; or from the maker of “New Order” fashions, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Or from Bin Laden Construction corporation. Or Bin Laden Destruction Corporation.

Right now, corporations can give loads of loot through PACs. While this money stinks (Barack Obama took none of it), anyone can go through a PAC’s federal disclosure filing and see the name of every individual who put money into it. And every contributor must be a citizen of the USA.

But under today’s Supreme Court ruling that corporations can support candidates without limit, there is nothing that stops, say, a Delaware-incorporated handmaiden of the Burmese junta from picking a Congressman or two with a cache of loot masked by a corporate alias.  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/politics/145354/the_supreme_court_just_handed_anyone%2C_including_bin_laden_or_the_chinese_govt.%2C_control_of_our_democracy

Grayson: Fight Now or ‘Kiss Your Country Goodbye’ to Exxon, Wal-Mart By Sahil Kapur, Raw Story. January 22, 2010.

Congressman says of recent Supreme Court ruling removing decades of campaign spending limits on corporations “opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law.”

WASHINGTON — Responding to the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday to overturn corporate spending limits in federal elections, progressive firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) immediately highlighted a series of moves to “avoid the terrible consequences of the decision.”

“If we do nothing then I think you can kiss your country goodbye,” Grayson told Raw Story in an interview just hours after the decision was announced.

“You won’t have any more senators from Kansas or Oregon, you’ll have senators from Cheekies and Exxon. Maybe we’ll have to wear corporate logos like Nascar drivers.”

Grayson said the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling — which removes decades of campaign spending limits on corporations — “opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law.”

“It allows corporations to spend all the money they want to buy and sell elected officials through the campaign process,” he said. “It allows them to reward political sellouts, and it allows them to punish elected officials who actually try to do what’s right for the people.”

Fearing this decision before it became official, Grayson last week filed five campaign finance bills and a sixth one on Thursday. Grayson said the bills are important to securing the people’s “right to clean government.”

The bills have names like the Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act and the Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act. The first slaps a 500 percent excise tax on corporate spending on elections, and the second mandates businesses to disclose their attempts to influence elections. More details are available on the congressman’s Web site. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/politics/145339/grayson%3A_fight_now_or_%27kiss_your_country_goodbye%27_to_exxon%2C_wal-mart

THANK GOD, A LITTLE GOOD NEWS!

A Constitutional Amendment to Wrench Control Away from the Corporations by Jan Frel, AlterNet January 23, 2010.

Rep. Donna Edwards and Jamie Raskin assail the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and call for a mass movement of people to support a constitutional amendment.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards and constitutional law professor Jamie Raskin speak out against the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and call for a mass movement of people to support a constitutional amendment. Visit FreeSpeechforPeople.org to learn more and get involved!  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/blogs/rights/145361/a_constitutional_amendment_to_wrench_control_away_from_the_corporations/ 

Obama Adopts Volcker’s Solution: If Banks Want Govt. Guarantees, They Have to Close Their Casino Operations By Zach Carter, AlterNet. January 21, 2010.

Obama’s endorsement of Volcker’s plan is truly an extraordinary step forward for economic policy, but there’s a long way to go.

The news that President Barack Obama is finally listening to Paul Volcker is welcome, but the specifics of Obama’s big bank crackdown are not as positive as initial reports had indicated.

For more than a year now, Volcker has been urging policymakers to deliver strong regulatory medicine to revive the weak U.S. financial system. But Obama and other top advisers like Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner have resisted the former Federal Reserve Chairman’s overtures, instead opting for a set of small-bore, technocratic tweaks to a system that is fundamentally broken. (There’s one major exception to this pattern—Obama’s proposal to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency is a dramatic and critical step for salvaging the American economy, and the President has advocated for it over Geithner’s objections.) Volcker has repeatedly suggested that banks that are too-big-to-fail are simply too-big-to-exist, and has consistently and correctly urged that banks be banned from participating in risky, high-flying securities trading. Today, Obama acknowledged these were good ideas. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/145321/obama_adopts_volcker%27s_solution%3A_if_banks_want_govt._guarantees%2C_they_have_to_close_their_casino_operations

A Rumble with Wall Street … That’s a Fight We Should Welcome Posted by Isaiah J. Poole, Campaign for America’s Future, January 23, 2010.

One of the lessons of Tuesday’s election is that voters don’t want to see their elected leaders capitulating to the very people who brought the economy down. It does not matter whether President Obama’s pronouncement on financial reform this week was prompted by Tuesday’s election disaster in Massachusetts or was a long-building unleashing of his inner populist. What matters is the potential for real White House leadership on changes that must happen if we are to have a stable, growing economy on Main Street. This is the fight for which we have to bandage our wounds and pick ourselves up to win. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/blogs/politics/145349/a_rumble_with_wall_street_…_that%27s_a_fight_we_should_welcome

Remember?

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?

December 31, 2009

What is Democracy?

What is democracy?  In the narrowest definition it is popular self-government.  It is political, it involves many people, and it requires tallying judgments to record popular decisions.  Elections are the crucial element, with the rule that majorities can never eliminate minorities from the electoral process.  However, voting is not enough.  To make political participation effective citizens need information and public associations to give them access to the system, and they need elected officials to respond.

Democracy is not everything all the time anywhere.  It doesn’t favor capitalism, socialism, or any other -ism.  It does not mean two-party politics, constitutions, a vigorous press, or voluntary associations.  Democracy does not contain cures for cruelty or oppression.  It has no exclusive claim to compassion or social responsiveness.  It has affinity with liberty, equality and fairness, but it doesn’t give reliable support for any of these.  Democracy, as Robert Wiebe writes, “reveals our humanity not our salvation.  We may not like it.”

The risks of the modern world make us realize that a collective life defines democratic citizens. Democracy can’t rely on private interests and private rights.  It is about shared purpose, community and public lives and duties.  As we realize limits to growth, we begin to understand that IT must go in SOMEONE’S backyard. “Democracy,” Robert Hiskes writes, “presumes a set of ideas about what it takes to accomplish things together and voluntarily as a matter of faithfulness and engagement – not out of force.”

The way we understand ourselves as a public is our most critical issue today.  There is widespread frustration that money rules, not citizens.  Has our American public become a myth? Our democracy was formed during colonial days when people decided what to do about common problems and acted together to implement their solutions. Citizens are powerful when they act collectively.  While we may despair of the national picture, we still act locally.  When citizens do, they are willing to act at a higher level.

Of course, local interests can be unrelentingly selfish.  Well-intentioned leaders, self-styled as “the public’s agents,” can be very contemptuous of people.  It may be because they see the “big picture” and the public through a lens of idealism, which blinds them to community interests. Yet, no argument for self-rule is as compelling as what people experience and how they cooperate with those who hold different values within local communities.  If we want democracy to flourish, we need to encourage people to grow where they were planted.

“Society in every state is a blessing,” Tom Paine wrote in Common Sense, “but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer…our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”   Functioning as private consumers and private property owners, rather than as public citizens with common or community interests would seem to make his point.  The state or a few of its leaders do not exercise public reason.  It can only occur through deliberative action, and deliberation is a joint social activity.  Thus, in the fullness of its meaning, democracy is we the people, acting together to reform or improve our shared public sphere.  Increasing participation is its indispensable goal.  As Langston Hughes wrote:

“O’ yes,

 I say it plain,

 America never was America to me,

 And yet I swear this oath –

 America will be!”

John Legry, December 28, 2001

Executive Director, (ret.)

Citizen Involvement Committee

Multnomah County, Oregon

RUN YOUR CURSOR OVER TYPE BELOW TO PICK OUT HOTLINKS.

Take Your Money Out of the Hands of the Banking Oligarchs Arianna Huffington, Rob Johnson, Move Your Money

Take Action: How? For starters, you could move your money to a small bank.

Monopoly Capitalism Is the Root of All of America’s Problems Daniela Perdomo, AlterNet

Politics: Monopoly capitalism exemplifies everything that’s gone wrong with American politics, and we need to do something about it — soon.

Burt’s Bees, Tom’s of Maine, Naked Juice: Your Favorite Brands? Take Another Look — They May Not Be What They Seem Andrea Whitfill, AlterNet

Health and Wellness: One of AlterNet’s most popular articles: Confident that you are buying good, socially conscious brands? Find out the real story.

 

Thomas Paine - Author-Patriot, 1737-1809.

"The world is my country. To do good is my religion."

 

IT AIN’T OVER

December 16, 2009

Citizen Paine

VIDEO: Howard Dean Tells Dems to Kill Senate Health-Care Bill by AlterNet Staff, AlterNet.

With no public option and no Medicare buy-in, the Senate bill is not worth voting for, the former DNC chairman tells “Countdown.” Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean would rather see no health-care bill than a bad one. So he tells MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.

Are Americans a Broken People? Why We’ve Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppression By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet.

A psychologist asks: Have consumerism, suburbanization and a malevolent corporate-government partnership so beaten us down that we no longer have the will to save ourselves?

Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not “set them free” but instead further demoralize them? Has such demoralization happened in the United States? Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further? What forces have created a demoralized, passive, discouraged U.S. population? Can anything be done to turn this around?

Yes. It is called the “abuse syndrome.” Abusive pimps, spouses, bosses, corporations, and governments stay in control [by shoving] lies, emotional and physical abuses, and injustices in their victims’ faces, and when victims are afraid to exit from these relationships, they get weaker.

Does knowing the truth of their abuse set people free [from] abuse syndromes?

No. The truth of their passive submission to humiliating oppression is more than embarrassing; it can feel shameful — and there is nothing more painful. It is not likely that the truth of humiliating oppression [will] energize constructive actions.

Has such demoralization happened in the U.S.?

In the United States, 47 million people are without health insurance, many millions more are underinsured or a job layoff away from losing coverage. Despite the sellout by their elected officials to the insurance industry, there is no outpouring of millions of U.S. citizens protesting this betrayal.  And, the majority of Americans oppose U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry, yet only a handful has protested.

[In] the 2000 U.S. presidential election the Florida Supreme Court’s order for a recount of the disputed Florida vote was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in a politicized 5-4 decision.  Justice John Paul Stevens remarked: “…the identity of the [loser] of this year’s presidential election…is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.” Even this provoked few demonstrators.

When people become broken, they cannot act on truths of injustice. Furthermore, …truths about how they have been victimized can lead to shame about [allowing] it, …[and make them] even more psychologically broken.

U.S. citizens do not actively protest obvious injustices [because]…they feel helpless to effect change. The more we don’t act, the weaker we get [and]… move to shut-down mode and escape strategies such as depression, substance abuse, …which further keep us from acting. This is the vicious cycle of all abuse syndromes.

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?

Maybe.

Shortly before the 2000 U.S. presidential election, George W. Bush [joked] to a wealthy group, “What a crowd tonight: the haves and the haves-more. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base.” Yet, …citizens who had come to despise Bush and his arrogance remained passive in the face of the 2000 non-democratic presidential elections.  Perhaps the “political genius” of the Bush-Cheney regime was in their full realization that Americans were so broken that the regime could get away with damn near anything… [Even slamming] a boot on their faces.

What forces have created a demoralized, passive, discouraged U.S. population?

The U.S. government-corporate partnership has used its share of guns and terror to break Native Americans, labor union organizers, and other dissidents and activists. But today, most U.S. citizens are broken by financial fears.

The U.S. population is increasingly broken by the social isolation created by corporate-governmental policies. A 2006 American Sociological Review study (“Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades”) reported that, in 2004, 25 percent of Americans did not have a single confidant. Social connectedness is disappearing in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. There has been a significant decrease in face-to-face contact with neighbors and friends due to suburbanization, commuting, electronic entertainment, time and money pressures and other variables created by governmental-corporate policies. Union and other ways that people support each other to resist oppression also decreased.

We are also broken by a corporate-government partnership that has [taken] control [of] basic necessities of life, including our food supply. We are broken by socializing institutions that alienate us from our basic humanity. A few examples:

Schools and Universities: Do most schools teach young people to be action-oriented — or to be passive? Do most schools teach young people that they can affect their surroundings — or not to bother? Do schools provide examples of democratic institutions — or examples of authoritarian ones?  School is nothing less than a miniature society: what young people experience in schools is the chief means of creating our future society. Kids learn to comply with authorities for which they often have no respect, and to regurgitate material they often find meaningless. These are great ways of breaking someone.

Mental Health Institutions: Aldous Huxley predicted today’s pharmaceutical society “[I]t seems to me perfectly in the cards,” he said, “that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude.”  Today, increasing numbers of people in the U.S. who do not comply with authority are being diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric drugs that make them less pained about their boredom, resentments, and other negative emotions, thus rendering them more compliant and manageable.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is an increasingly popular diagnosis for children and teenagers [who] “often actively defy or refuse to comply with adult requests or rules,” and “often argue with adults.” A more common reaction to oppressive authorities is passive defiance – e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Virtually all children diagnosed with ADHD will pay attention to activities that they actually enjoy or have chosen. The “disease” goes away when ADHD-labeled kids are having a good time and in control.

When human beings feel too terrified and broken, they may stage a “passive-aggressive revolution” by getting depressed, staying drunk, and not doing anything — one reason why the Soviet empire crumbled. But, diseasing or medicalizing rebellion and drug “treatments” even weaken this power.

Television: In Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978), Jerry Mander compiled a list of the “Eight Ideal Conditions for the Flowering of Autocracy,” claiming that television helps create all eight conditions for breaking a population.

(1)   Occupies people so that they don’t know themselves — and what a human being is;

(2)   Separates people from one another;

(3)   Creates sensory deprivation;

(4)   Occupies the mind and fills the brain with prearranged experience and thought;

(5)   Encourages drug use to dampen dissatisfaction (while TV itself produces a drug-like effect, this was compounded in 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxing the rules of prescription-drug advertising);

(6)   Centralizes knowledge and information;

(7)   Eliminates or “museumize” other cultures to eliminate comparisons; and

(8)   Redefines happiness and the meaning of life.

Commercialism of Damn Near Everything: Gross commercialization of spirituality, music, and cinema deadens their capacity to energize rebellion. So now, damn near everything – not just religion – is an “opiate of the masses.”

The primary societal role of U.S. citizens is no longer “citizen” but “consumer.” Citizens know that buying and selling within community strengthens that community and that this strengthens democracy, consumers care only about the best deal. Citizens understand that dependency on an impersonal creditor is a kind of slavery, consumers get excited with credit cards with a temporarily low APR.

Consumerism breaks people by devaluing human connectedness, socializing self-absorption, obliterating self-reliance, alienating people from normal human emotional reactions, and by selling the idea that purchased products — not themselves and their community — are their salvation.

Can anything be done to turn this around?

When people get caught up in humiliating abuse syndromes, more truths about their oppressive humiliations don’t set them free. What sets them free is morale.

What gives people morale? Encouragement. Small victories. Models of courageous behaviors. Anything that helps them break the vicious cycle of pain, shut down, immobilization, shame over immobilization, more pain, and more shut down.

The last people to turn to are mental health professionals. Specifically required talents are a fearlessness around image, spontaneity, and definitely anti-authoritarianism, which are not traits medical or graduate schools encourage.

If you want to feel hopeless, there are a lot of things you could feel hopeless about. If you act on that assumption, then you’re guaranteeing that’ll happen. If you act on the assumption that things can change, maybe they will. The only rational choice, given those alternatives, is to forget pessimism.

A major component of the craft of maintaining morale is not taking the advertised reality too seriously.

An elitist assumption is that people don’t change because they are either ignorant of their problems or ignorant of solutions. An elitist who has never been broken by his or her circumstances does not know that people who have become demoralized do not need analyses and pontifications. They need a shot of morale.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/politics/144529/are_americans_a_broken_people_why_we%27ve_stopped_fighting_back_against_the_forces_of_oppression

SPECIAL BONUS: A Global Philosophy for Successful Living in Eight Aphorisms.

From the BUDDHA: Go forth in joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.

From JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Follow your bliss.

From CHRISTIAN TRADITION: Practice the Golden Rule.

From GHANDI: Act. “Without action there is no result. You may not see the result in your lifetime, but if you do not act, there will be no result at all.”

From JACQUES COUSTEAU: Hope for the best. “I hope for the best, although I can’t say why.”

From TOM PAINE: Use Common Sense. “Reason is the most reliable path to the truth.”

From his holiness the 14th DALI LAMA: “If you want the best idea of how the world was created, don’t pick the best mythology, consult the best science.”

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From FatLemon: “Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t forget to salute the man in the moon.”

LAST THOUGHT:  Don’t get mad, get even.  Fight harder.  Take back the Democratic Party and elect Progressives to all offices in the land.  Continue to fight the oppressive fascist powers.  Bill Hart stood for courtesy, courage, and justice.

HONEY, I’M HOME!

September 11, 2009

Iraq debate – personal historical view

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:25 PM

Colin Powell said, “Don’t get into war unless it’s absolutely necessary, and when we do, go to win, no half measures,” but it doesn’t apply very much in real life.

As a Vietnam era veteran, I know Johnson’s phony Gulf of Tonkin Incident fished us into war (I was drafted).  He bought into the radical right’s communist containment scare.  The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars wrote:

      “In part, the process of deception has also been unintentional.  Much of the rhetoric and many of the actions that have accompanied our… involvement have been ad hoc responses to situations of stress: a cumulative series of reflex moves and lunges produced by deepening executive anxiety, defensiveness, alarm, desperation, and even a sensed state of siege.  Similarly in rhetoric, our ‘national honor,’ ‘[enemies] with nuclear weapons,’ and the goal of ‘peace with honor’ – all have misled the public.  At the root of executive deception is a vast amount of executive self-deception – or, .to put it bluntly, stupidity.”

America blithely ignores offers of friendship and makes enemies as fast as we can throw the first sucker punch.  This is not military sense; it’s a bad case of ideology and invention over reason and fact.  But, Americans don’t run out when the fight’s tough – see: Khe San.  We stood nearly twenty years while our military-industrial complex ruined Vietnam.  Our prolonged stay, and side invasions of Cambodia and Laos, generationally disrupted and destabilized Southeast Asia, distorted America’s rule of law, and led directly to the Bush neoconservative leadership miasma.

We are now fighting a war for the health and life of the republic.  Look at how the radical right Republicans have warped the nation they want us to fight for, die for, and honor.  The self-destructive insanity of the radical right Republican way of war makes it looks as if the bad guys have already won.

These are politically motivated wars, fought to extremes because of ill-informed egos and profit.  Bush’s indefensible “give war a chance” was disgusting; so is Obama’s current pursuit of it.  End the war now, no matter how wimpy it looks to arrested-adolescent bullyboys.  We’ve got a lot of positive work to do, and one dollar spent on peace really is worth ten wasted in war!

NEWS LINKS: 

How 9/11 Should Be Remembered.  The Extraordinary Achievements of Ordinary People by Rebecca Solnit.  Eight years ago, 2,600 people lost their lives in Manhattan, and then several million people lost their story. The al-Qaeda attack on the Twin Towers did not defeat New Yorkers. It destroyed the buildings, contaminated the region, killed thousands, and disrupted the global economy, but it most assuredly did not conquer the citizenry. They were only defeated when their resilience was stolen from them by clichés, by the invisibility of what they accomplished that extraordinary morning, and by the very word “terrorism,” which suggests that they, or we, were all terrified. The distortion, even obliteration, of what actually happened was a necessary precursor to launching the obscene response that culminated in a war on Iraq, a war we lost (even if some of us don’t know that yet), and the loss of civil liberties and democratic principles that went with it. Only We Can Terrorize Ourselves

Afghanistan and the Wages of Empire by John NicholsIt is amusing, if remarkable, that there are still some players in Washington who try to maintain the fantasy that Afghan President Hamid Karzai governs with anything akin to legitimacy. Karzai, an alleged oil-industry fixer awarded control of his country by occupying powers, has always served with strings attached.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/09/11-8

Posted September 11, 2009.

Obama’s Quagmire Looks a Lot like Vietnam by Robert Scheer, Truthdig.

The way he’s headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency.  True, he doesn’t seem a bit like Lyndon Johnson, but the way he’s headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency. LBJ also had a progressive agenda in mind, beginning with his war on poverty, but it was soon overwhelmed by the cost and divisiveness engendered by a meaningless, and seemingly endless, war in Vietnam.

http://www.alternet.org/world/142565/obama%27s_quagmire_looks_a_lot_like_vietnam/

Victory is a state of mind.

Victory is a state of mind.

AVAAZ – “VOICES”

July 16, 2009

This is a very interesting group.  They’re doing a lot of good and significant things for the right reasons, using positive methods. 

ABOUT AVAAZ Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

Dear friends,

Here’s a quick report back on recent campaigning at Avaaz. Our community has grown like wildfire and is becoming really extraordinary — the pace and impact of our advocacy is intense. In just the last 8 weeks, we’ve run 9 major national and global campaigns on issues ranging from climate change to Iran to Guantanamo. Much more remains to be done on all these issues — but together we’re contributing in powerful ways. Here are some highlights from the last 8 weeks:

Brazilian rainforest – Brazilian Avaaz members made 14000 phone calls and sent 30,000 online messages to President Lula’s office in two days(!) and in the 11th hour successfully reversed a law that would hand over much of the Amazon rainforest to agrobusiness for exploitation – this was a major victory on climate change since the Amazon consumes enormous amounts of the greenhouse gasses that are warming the earth.

G8 Summit – last week 130,000 Avaaz members signed a petition in 48 hours calling for the G8 industrial countries to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius – focusing on shaming 3 countries who were blocking progress. The petition was delivered at the summit to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (see image at right), along with giant personalized postcards.

Outside the summit, Avaaz members stripped down to green underwear in a humorous theatrical delivery of the campaign’s message that generated substantial media coverage (pictured at right). As Avaaz and partners built pressure in Italy and around the world, the blocking countries relented, and the G8 leaders agreed to the 2 degree goal! However, they failed to agree on specific actions to make the goal a reality — our challenge now is to make sure leaders live up to their rhetorical commitments with a binding global treaty at the UN summit in Copenhagen this December.

Iran Protests – our community rapidly responded to the election crisis in Iran with an opinion poll to gauge the views of ordinary Iranians, a petition to world leaders to withhold recognition of the new President until the crackdown on protests ceased, and a fundraiser to support technology that would allow Iranians to freely access the internet. The rapidly deteriorating security situation has made it difficult to conduct the poll (final word on that coming this week), but the technology fundraiser has raised over a hundred thousand dollars to support the best tools for Iranians to access the internet and communicate freely. The situation in Iran remains uncertain, and we will continue to both support freedom of expression and oppose those who would exploit this crisis to justify military action against Iran.

Japan climate targets – In Japan, we raised the alarm as the Prime Minister Taro Aso was about to choose a damagingly weak climate targets. Funded by small online donations, Avaaz ran a national opinion poll that showed that 63% of Japanese people wanted strong targets, publicized it in the press, in a full page ad in the country’s largest business newspaper, and one in the Aso’s favourite comic book (see right). Internationally, Avaaz ran a front page ad in the Financial Times, and Avaaz members demonstrated and met with Japanese climate negotiators at summits in Paris and Bonn.

At last, the Prime Minister announced a target stronger than polluting industries had urged — but far from strong enough to stop catastrophic climate change. So we redoubled the pressure with a widely-covered international press conference dubbing the Japanese leader “George W. Aso” — comparing him to Bush for holding back progress on climate change.


Free Burma’s political prisoners
– Over 400,000 of us signed a major petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon asking him to make the release of Nobel prize winning political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners his top priority. The petition was delivered in an extended meeting with Moon’s office and in a press conference at the UN in New York. The UN chief issued a strong statement backing the release of Suu Kyi and traveled to Burma to attempt to meet with her, but was rebuffed by Burma’s military junta. International pressure did cause the junta to delay a new show trial to extend Aung San Suu Kyi’s prison sentence, but it will take much more pressure to secure her release.

United States and Torture – A global fundraiser and petition on stopping torture and closing Guantanamo prison allowed Avaaz to secure a giant, 9 story billboard just blocks from the White House in the heart of Washington DC to deliver our message — but at the last minute the company selling the ad space refused, despite members of the US congress offering to help unveil the billboard in a press conference. Avaaz has now secured an alternative option for delivering our edgy message that will have Washington DC buzzing with our call for justice.

UN Climate Summit – At a major summit on climate change in Bonn, Avaaz recruited among members in Germany to help our partners organize a massive 500 person aerial photo spelling out ‘Yes You Can’ as a message to leaders discussing climate targets (see right). It helped raise the profile and urgency of these faltering but urgent talks. Avaaz also sent a 16-person lobbying/activist team to the summit negotiations and members in 10 key countries joined “negotiator tracking teams” that are following and responding to urgent needs to press individual country negotiators at these summits.

Peru – Avaaz arranged with local indigenous and top political allies to deliver a global petition against new laws that would cause massive devastation to the Peruvian rainforest and its people, taking out an ad in the national newspaper (at right). The ad and campaign generated much attention, and the domestic and international pressure worked, for now — the Peruvian congress has revoked the controversial laws!

Israel – As Prime Minister Netanyahu prepared to make a speech responding to Obama’s historic Cairo address and demand that Israel stop illegal settlements of Palestinian land, Avaaz took out a front page ad in a major newspaper – Haaretz – delivering a joint petition from global and Israeli Avaaz members edgily asking Netanyahu to ‘be more like Obama’ and stop the settlements. Netanyahu has so far refused, but we’re helping to build an unprecedented wave of Israeli and global pressure and attention on this issue.

The petitions, fundraisers, rallies, and lobbying campaigns our community is doing are having an incredible impact. Avaaz has grown by 50,000 people a week and is now almost 3.6 million engaged citizens in every country of the world — and we’re truly global – operating in 14 languages our community has 25,000 members in Singapore, 35,000 in South Africa, 130,000 in Italy, 50,000 in Mexico… There hasn’t really been a community like ours before, able to rapidly and effectively mobilize people power all over the world to the greatest needs and concerns of all human beings — it’s a reason for hope.

It’s also an exciting journey — looking forward to taking on the next 8 weeks, and 8 months, and 8 years together!

With hope,
Ricken, Alice, Pascal, Ben, Veronique, Paul, Graziela, Brett, Raluca, Luis, Raj, Milena, Paula, Iain, Taren, Margaret and the whole Avaaz team.

PS – To see some of the highlights of Avaaz campaigning in 2007 and 2008 and leave a comment, click here:
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2/

And to check out other recent Avaaz campaigning highlights like our climate victory in Germany, our messages to Obama wall in DC, the delivery of our Swine Flu petition to the WHO, our Green Recovery march at G20 Summit in London, or our support to Tibetan organizations to break the blackout on their communications — visit the Avaaz blog: http://www.avaaz.org/blog/en/.

Click here to learn more about our largest campaigns.

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace and Bebo pages! You can also follow Avaaz on Twitter!

HOLY GRAIL, BABOON HEART

July 10, 2009
Pastiche Der Nibelungen.

Pastiche Der Nibelungen.

Ammunition for discussions, harangues and loud debates

BEYOND DAN BROWN: The DeVinci Load. The so-called Holy Grail is the object of legendary quest for Arthurian knights and may be a “wide-mouthed or shallow vessel,” although its precise etymology (in the true literal sense of the word) remains uncertain, and small wonder. The Grail was probably inspired by classical or Celtic mythologies, which abound in horns of plenty, magic life-restoring caldrons, and the like. In Finland, the pre-Christian Kalevala features the sampo, which might be a pillar that holds up the sky, or a mill to produce salt, meal and gold, or a talisman of happiness and prosperity. Take your pick.

The first extant text (or more aptly invention) about the Grail is Chrétien de Troyes’ late 12th century unfinished romance Parceval or Le Conte du Graal, which combined the religious with the fantastic. In the 13th century Robert de Borron’s poem extended the Christian significance of the legend, linking the Grail with Christ’s cup at the Last Supper and with Joseph of Aramea whom he said used it to catch Jesus’ blood as he hung on the cross. In the same century, Wolfram von Esenbach’s Parzival* gave the Grail profound and mystical expression as a precious stone fallen from Heaven (sampo, anyone?). Malory’s late 15th century Le Morte D’Arthur transmitted the fanciful Grail essence to English-speaking readers.

In the story-telling invention, the quest itself became a search for mystical union with God. Through various permutations by many different writers over several hundreds of years, the Grail theme formed a culminating point for the Arthurian romance. It’s a good story device; it doesn’t really matter what it really is, as long as it stands for truth, justice and the “right” way. Its physical presence is just like the True Cross, Longinus’ Spear, St. Michael’s pickled peritoneum, or any other “holy” relic: e.g. entrepreneurs started fabricating bits of the true cross as soon as they noticed a market for it – in fact, selling bits and pieces obviously would part the cross out, so they invented the miracle of overnight renewal; as we’ve seen from Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the DeVinci Code, and Newsweek, people are still making big bucks selling new baubles to hang on the old artificial tree, which is patently, the Grail’s only real value. When you get right down to it, it’s buying a box of air, isn’t it? That’s the way faith works, so have fun with the storyline.

Incidentally, Christ is the Greek Chrestos – a mystery cult popular with the poor and lower middle class of the 1st century C.E. Working people infected their middle class masters with it. Female heads of households were particularly susceptible to its egalitarian message. Self-proclaimed “Apostle” Paul of Tarsus cobbled Chrestos with the historical Jesus movement as a sales package for Gentiles (infuriating the Jesus movement because he co-opted and lied about their guy; of such petty human foibles are great religious movements conceived), but that’s another story.

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* Parzival by Wolfram Von Eisenbach, 13th century C.E. Much ado about fabrics, flags, one’s place at the table, head-busting by foolish men for foolish ladies, and the romantic search for the fabulous grail – the holiest snipe hunt for the silliest prize: the Americas-Stanley-Wimbledon cup of immortality available only for unblemished boobery.  “He’d paid his debt to joy, his life was but a dying.” – Wolfram Von Eisenbach, Parzival.

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MOURNING IN AMERICA: In time, the plastic fantastic mourning that passes for genuine grief will dim.  Society’s itch to have its heroes, even if it has to lie like hell to make them, will be satisfied for the time being.  It will be trotted out again with the next “must-vent” crisis, and we shall have walls of flowers, teddy bears, and balloons – everything in short, nothing short of a full Super Bowl extravaganza – and many blathering speeches shy of substance and dripping with hypocrisy and crocodile tears, mindless chest thumping and blubbering, murmured prayers and homilies, all accepted as available.  Flags will fly.  Guns will boom.  Vendors and trinket salesmen will profit.  Blimps will display large advertising messages and rockets will light the night sky with red, blue, green, yellow and, Lordy loo, who knows what color pyrotechnics?  The body politic will sleep steadier, enervated and expended by a good old-fashioned group grope and mope. This has to be one of the silliest societies on record.

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REVERY: We’ve come a long way, you and I.  Thousands upon thousands of miles, and yet we’re still far short of our destination.  Where are we going anyway?  Haven’t we already been there?  The universe is a big round circle in a dimension so large that we poor mites cannot see the curve.  It looks like a straight line to us, but so does time, and time is a repetition of itself, always telling us the same thing.  As each generation is born, the next arises, and each of those, and all of those millions more, grows by the same learning process, through the same biology, give or take a tiny percent of one gene, which seems to specify skin tone and what we call racial differences.  It’s the same as classifying men by the size of their nipples and finally as insignificant. We all begin as fertilized eggs.  We are one with the chicken and the salamander, the fish and the spider. There is not one atom within us that is remarkable for being unique.  There is nothing unique in the universe, except individual discovery.

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SOME LINKS WORTH VIEWING:

Washington Diarist by Leon Wieseltier, Accommodationism: “One of the most troublesome qualities of reason is that it is not always reasonable.” http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=cf4e433c-60bd-4184-abc3-fc372c7f8304

Broken Promises: Health Care Deals Struck in Secrecy http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/10-1

Law Will Let Afghan Husbands Starve Wives Who Withhold Sex http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/10-4

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FINAL WORD: “We’ve never done it with a baboon‘s heart!” Hector Elizondo, ER, 9-29-94

Robin the Old: One Brunch Only

 

Marijuana Papers

July 9, 2009
FIRST PAPER:
Choices.

Choices.

There are many terrible drug habits.  The worst is alcohol, in numbers of users and anti-social effect.  It is the leading cause of teenage deaths: 80,000 young Americans a year, 40,000 maimed from mixing drink and driving.  U.S. government/police statistics confirm the following:

–     100,000 alcohol-related deaths annually (compared with zero marijuana deaths in 10,000 years).

–     At least 40-50% of all murders and highway fatalities are alcohol-related.

–   Alcohol is indicated in 69-80% of all child/rape/incest and wife-beating cases.

–     Heroin is indicated in 35% of burglaries, armed robberies, grand theft auto, etc.

–     The FBI reported over 600,000 arrests for simple marijuana possession in 1997.

Approximately 50% of all drug enforcement money, federal and state, for the last 60 years has been directed toward marijuana!  70-80% of all people now in prison would NOT have been there 60 years ago.  In cultivated ignorance and prejudice we put 800,000 of 1.2 million people in jail (1998 – not including county jails) for a minor habit.  80% of them were not dealing.  In 1978 there were 300,000 people in jail for all crimes combined.

After wide cultivation for 10,000 years, marijuana was outlawed in America in 1937.  Was it because it threatened public health – or certain business interests?  Hemp (cannabis sativa) is one of the most useful plants known to man.  Its fibers make rope, sails, shirts, paper; it provides clean lighting and lubricating oils, animal feed, and is safely used in medicines.

What happened?  In the 1920’s and ‘30s, Americans became concerned about drug addiction – especially morphine and a Bayer Company “miracle drug” called “heroin.”  Most Americans didn’t know smoking hemp was intoxicating until William Randolph Hearst began a sensational campaign linking “killer weed” to jazz musicians, “crazed minorities,” and “unspeakable crimes.”  His newspapers featured headlines like:

  • MARIJUANA MAKES FIENDS OF BOYS IN 30 DAYS: HASHEESH [sic] GOADS USERS TO BLOOD-LUST

Not all shared their view.  The U.S. Siler Commission studied marijuana smoking by off-duty servicemen, found no lasting effects, and recommended NO criminal penalties apply to it.

But, the anti-hemp campaign had results.  By 1931, after two years of secret hearings Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act.  Unsure if it was constitutional to ban it outright, they taxed the plant prohibitively instead.  Growers had to register; sellers and buyers were buried in paperwork; noncompliance was a federal crime.  The tax was $100 an ounce (“legitimate” marijuana then sold for $2 a pound).  The Act ruined the legitimate industryMedical use was too expensive; doctors and pharmacists turned to chemically derived drugs.  Nonmedical uses were taxed to death and farmers stopped growing.  No brainer, it still grew wild all over the U.S.; its “illegitimate” use was little affected by Congress.

Going on four generations now, propaganda and lies have relentlessly drained taxpayer’s money to build government’s anti-drug machine and the conditions of a police state.  Virtually every state is in the midst of the biggest prison expansion ever in America’s and the world’s history, creating political vultures only concerned for the growth of their prison-related crime-fighting industry and job security.  They demand more prisons and more money to pursue this “law and order” madness against an invented crime.

We can moderate society’s problems and reject the police state by simply legalizing marijuana.  We can clear the jails, and re-employ police, court, prison and rehabilitation staff to deal with real crime and hard drug abuse.  We can put money into our schools and health care without raising anyone’s taxes.  We can also stop lying to ourselves, and end a terrible multi-generational injustice.  Let’s just say “no” to these anti-marijuana bozos.               jl, Portland, 6-05

Just Say Now (Willamette Week article on present efforts to legalize marijuana:

http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3535/12786/

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented:

http://www.jackherer.com/

SECOND PAPER:

Fresh moral dilemma in every bite!

NAMING NAMES:
Was it a conspiracy?  Was a viable industry ruined because it threatened public health, or because a few large businesses would profit from banning it?  Hemp was outlawed in 1937 just as new technology that processed it faster, producing higher-quality fiber with less cost and environmental damage than wood-based pulp, was invented.  Hemp would have undercut competing products overnight.  Popular Mechanics predicted that it would become America’s first “billion-dollar crop.  …10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [forest] pulp land.”

William Randolph Hearst had a vested interest in protecting the pulp industry.  He owned enormous timber acreage and hemp could put his paper-manufacturing division out of business and ruin his land value.  He slanted the news to protect his investments.  He led a yellow journalism campaign to outlaw hemp.  As example, a car accident in which marijuana was found dominated the headlines for weeks, while alcohol-related accidents (outnumbering marijuana over 1,000 to one) made the back pages.  Hearst popularized the word “marijuana” to introduce fear of the unknown to create a useable hysteria.

The Du Pont Company also had pulp industry interests, patenting a new process for wood-pulp paper.  Their own records show wood-pulp products as over 80% of all their railroad car holdings for the next 50 years.  Du Pont was also drastically changing its business strategy.  Primarily a military explosives maker, they realized after World War I that peacetime uses for artificial fibers and plastics would be more profitable.

Du Pont poured millions of dollars into research to create synthetics like rayon and nylon.  Two years before the Marijuana Tax Act outlawing hemp, they developed a substitute for hemp rope.  The year after the tax, they brought rayon out in direct competition with hemp cloth.  Du Pont assured Congress in secret testimony that they could make synthetic petrochemical oils to replace hemp oil.  The millions spent on research, and hundreds of millions in expected profits would be wiped out if newly affordable hemp products hit the market.  So, Du Pont worked with Hearst to eliminate hemp.

 Du Pont’s point man was Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the new Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) (out to make it big like FBI’s Hoover).  He was appointed by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, chairman of Mellon Bank, Du Pont’s chief financial backer, and Anslinger’s wife’s uncle.  Anslinger used his clout to sway congress.  When the American Medical Association (AMA) argued for hemp’s medical benefits, Anslinger led the entire congressional committee to denounce and dismiss them.

Five years after the tax was imposed, the government reversed itself when the Japanese seized Philippine hemp, causing a wartime rope shortage.  Overnight, they urged hemp cultivation and made a movie, “Hemp for Victory” – then, just as fast, recriminalized hemp after the shortage passed.  While it was legal, it saved the life of a young pilot named George H.W. Bush, who didn’t know when he bailed out of his plane that:

–     Parts of his aircraft were lubricated with hemp oil.

–     100% of his parachute webbing was U.S. grown cannabis hemp.

–     All the rigging, ropes and fire hoses of his rescue ship were hemp.

President G.H.W. Bush opposed decriminalizing hemp grown in the U. S.

Does the hemp conspiracy continue?  Doctors can’t prescribe marijuana for patients as medication for chronic pain, although one judge found, “the record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people and doing so with safety under medical supervision.”

The Anti-Drug Industry continues its ruthless disregard for truth, mercy, and facts.  The evidence of marijuana’s benign nature is fully documented.  Propaganda and greed fuel the anti-marijuana crowd, not facts or justice.

Just Say Now (Willamette Week article on present efforts to legalize marijuana:

http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3535/12786/

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented, with authenticated  copies of original materials:

http://www.jackherer.com/

“They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you’re high, you can do everything you normally do, just as well. You just realize that it’s not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.” – Bill Hicks.  

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented:

http://www.jackherer.com/

Don’t Ask Polar Bears and Fools About Free Speech

July 2, 2009
Five in the Stones

Five in the Stones

DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL

When I was in active military service, 1966-70, I did not care about the sexuality of the person beside me, I cared about his professionalism.

 The military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is discrimination pure and simple. It is an unnecessary, non-job related issue, and a blatant labor and civil rights disgrace. 

 It not only destroys the lives of the men and women directly affected, but also the military’s organizational unity.  It is a morale downer, a Salem Witch Hunt mentality introduced into the ranks. 

 The largely fundamentalist religiously inspired objection to gays is based upon misinformation (an actual and purposeful misreading of their own texts), a scapegoat us vs. them mindset, and an absolutist morality used generally as one more self-terrorizing control over the fearful toiling faithful. 

 If America is to ever achieve equality, freedom, and justice, we must strike down “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Strike a blow for human rights and humanity.  We are either all Americans working in defense of our country and its ideals, or we are a nation of strangers, fighting for the barest survival. 7-02-09

POLAR BEARS AND CUB SCOUTS

 Woe is me!  Everything is going to hell in a hand basket!  We can’t do anything about it!  Wring hands!  Cry despair!  Weep!  Moan!  Thrash!  Have you gotten out of your SUVs?  Moved closer to work?  Convinced others of the need to ACT and quit bitching?  Is it the price of gas that bothers you, or the lack of it?  Would you quit hitting yourself over the head with the hammer, or go get another one if someone took yours away?  The time to ACT is now, and to hell with the system.  Do you need a leader to tell you not to put your damned finger in the light socket?  Too bad revelation comes so late to this benighted species.  Is it the wall of water rushing at you that scares you, or the fact that you were too dumb to notice it until the rising tide was at your doorstep?  Our over-consuming must stop at once.  Each of us has a part in that, regardless of what leadership, or the imbecile next door is doing.  Get off your butts and MOVE.  Or, don’t.  The future belongs – collectively – to all of us, if we all work for it.  It doesn’t exist for polar bears, or cub scouts, if we don’t. 6-22-08

FOOLS AND CORPORATIONS

 Today’s privately monopolized television serves rightwing corporatists by dumbing down the American people.  There is no choice, just program packages arranged like blood diamonds.  In television, the garbage includes:

  •  Religious programming – Christians only need apply.  They’re getting ready for Armageddon, 24-7.  Why do we have to pay to watch them?
  • “Ain’t corporations great?” propaganda, not one cloud on the big rig’s sky.  Not one word about how they changed the weather.
  • “Reality” shows, which are evidently scripted.  One can get just as excited at a professional wrestling match or roller derby – for as little cause.
  • “Beauty and fitness” programming – Americans care so very much about hair and blemishes.  Coach looks fifty years younger, hey?  Just a dab.
  • Right wing filtered news, commentary and opinion, which screams down the truth in favor of dogma and self-interest.  To hell with integrity.
  • Sports, improbably including auto/truck/motorcycle noise-making and gas-fuming circle-go-rounds – another loophole in EPA emission standards?  For those of us who left games at adolescence, it’s a real drag.
  • Shopping channels and infomercials feeding the callous over-consuming malaise destroying our planet.  There are addicts of all kinds.
  • Commercials – non-stop and multiplying.  Why do we have to pay for these?  The damned television people should be paying us to watch them!

Real history, especially recent U.S. history, is slighted, under-reported, and often misrepresented, or ideologically slanted.  We discuss firefights on entering Baghdad, but not the illegal policy and the criminal lies that drove them.  We see Troy and Rome, and incessant searches for objects of pseudo-history and outright myth – lost arks (boat-sized and box), spears of Longinus, grails and virgins, “true” crosses, and “god-ravaged” city ruins.  We don’t see labor history, women’s history, or civil and human rights history.  We don’t review Iran-Contra and the early days of the present administration’s emergence from the Reaganite distortion of our national progress.  Everything from Carter to Bush Jr., except for Clinton’s tacky sex life, is a black hole of non-accountability.

 This is all part of the Great Privatization of America.  “Do good and be rewarded” is Christian and Rightist hypocrisy.  They don’t do the right thing selflessly, but for a substantial bribe.  We are fools to allow corporations to determine our national information policy, control our public airways, own our means of communications.  We are fools to allow them to continue to distort our national consciousness, or to interfere with our right to meet and discuss and decide as a unified national community.  We are fools to allow them to keep us ignorant and apart.  3-09-08

FREE SCHOOLS, FREE LIBRARIES, FREE SPEECH

  Radio and television station owners should be held accountable in their charge to serve the public interest.  Instead, the right wing has been systematic in its suppression of the progressive voice and we ignore their censorship at our peril.

 The right wing has overwhelmed any residual of the “Fairness Doctrine.”  They have done so with free licenses granted by the American government on behalf of the American public that are worth millions of dollars to licensees.  The only requirement imposed upon them is to serve the public interest.

 A free and democratic society cannot survive without a free and fair flow of information.  All ideas should take their chances in the sea of democratic pluralistic debate.  It is an abomination to a free and equal society to tolerate any, most definitely including private, abridgement, censorship, or exclusion of fair and balanced opposing views.

 Right-wingers have taken over radio and television resources and foreclosed progressive voices on a systematic and pervasive level throughout the United States.  No progressive voices can now be heard in Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington D.C., or Philadelphia – in the heart of revolutionary America the cracked pots have replaced the cracked bell.  It is a deliberate creeping plague designed to manipulate American public opinion to undemocratic ends; it must be treated or it will kill free speech.

 President Obama’s inspired effort to reinvigorate American democracy will amount to a pimple on the butt of national history if the right wing is allowed to continue its assault on our democratic institutions. We can bear no more “fixed” news, no more right wing press dominance!  Let progressives fairly compete for the public interest. 

 There is no more important infrastructure repair for us to make than to preserve, defend and advance the democratic institutions that make America great: free schools, free libraries, free press, and freedom of speech.  3-08-09

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