Anyone who watched Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” with tears in their eyes – as I did – please heed the advice of fellow humans around the world living without the stress of exorbitant “co-pays”, student loan debt and not having a vacation since the first Bush Crime Family squatted in the White House – a true representative democracy doesn’t operate merely as a war machine and money funnel for those at the top.
So, let me repeat what I’ve been saying for years: our “representative democracy” is no longer functioning.
As the Princeton study revealed: the wants and needs of working people have a statistically insignificant effect on government policy. The middle class, once economically vibrant, heavily unionized and politically powerful are now divided, economically vulnerable, easily exploited, weak – and below 50% of the population. Since there is no democracy without a middle class, we should all be enraged and alarmed.- but not surprised. Just as the middle class was built by government policy, it was destroyed by government policy functioning as an appendage to the affairs of the 1%.
If we were a true representative democracy, the United States wouldn’t be the least upwardly mobile with the widest income gap of all industrialized nations – a reality that was the exact opposite a mere 30 years ago.
Liberals often wonder how working class Republicans can support a political party dedicated to decreasing their standard of living. Yet, in many ways, the same critique can be applied to working class Democrats in regards to the modern Democratic Party. To put it bluntly… yes, Republicans suck… but the fact is, the establishment Democratic Party is no longer the party of the working class majority.
On his program, “Conversations with Great Minds“, Thom Hartmann discussed the modern Democratic Party with Thomas Frank, author of the new book “Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?” Frank explained that starting with the McGovern Commission of 1972 and the creation of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in the 1980s, the DLC Democrats (and now the Third Way/Clinton Democrats) deliberately turned their back on the New Deal, working class coalition that built the middle class to begin with, to embrace “the Professional Class.” No longer the “party of the people,” the “New Democrats” share much of the same economic agenda the super wealthy Republican constituency. All one has to do is look at the Clinton/Obama penchant for free trade deals to understand that people who work for a living are well outside the “New Democrat” sphere of concern. Shipping well-paying jobs to wage-slave nations, cutting Social Security for seniors or medical care for veterans are all acceptable baggage to be jettisoned if you believe that the proper role of government is to ensure that the rich get richer.
“What I decided after researching this problem and reading a lot of the sociological literature on professionalism is that there’s basically two hierarchies in America. One is the hierarchy of money and big business and that’s really where the Republicans are at: the one percent, the Koch brothers, that sort of thing. The hierarchy of status is a different one. The professionals are the apex of that hierarchy. And these two hierarchies live side by side. They share a lot of the same assumptions about the world and a lot of the same attitudes, but they also differ in important ways. So I’m not one of these people who says the Democrats and the Republicans are the same. I don’t think they are. But there are sometimes similarities between these two groups.
Among other things, professionals tend to be very liberal on essentially any issue other than workplaces issues. So on every matter of cultural issues, culture war issues, all the things that have been so prominent in the past, they can be very liberal. On economic questions, however, they tend not to be. (dishes clattering) They tend to be much more conservative. And their attitudes towards working-class people in general and organized labor specifically is very contemptuous.”
Neither The Establishment Democratic or Republican Party Represents the Working Class Majority
Despite the stark reality of income inequality and upward immobility cultivated as a result of a government that ignores the wants and needs of the majority of its people, many still hold onto the outdated notion that the Democratic Party is interested in the economic vibrancy of the 99%. It’s not. Thanks to 30 years of the DLC “New” Democratic Party, the “party of the people” concerns itself only with the upper middle class white professionals… what USED to be the main constituency of the Republican Party. Watch Thom Hartmann interview with Thomas Frank:
The shift in allegiance can be seen in the advisors whom the President and the Democratic Party establishment surround themselves with. Whereas Franklin Roosevelt’s “Brain Trust” was a true “meritocracy” featuring the best and the brightest from all corners of the country, the new insiders are nothing but banksters and the ivy league elite – who can do no wrong and fail upwards, no matter the disasters they create.
Candidate Obama was just the latest DLC democrat to woo votes with progressive rhetoric, then continue the betrayal once his power is secured.
During an interview with her pal Andrea Mitchell at former first lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral, Hillary Clinton made some rather infuriatingly ridiculous assertions, heaping praise on Ronald and Nancy Reagan for having “started a national conversation” about HIV/AIDS when “nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it.”
Anyone who lived through the 1980s – or has a grasp on history and reality – knows just how maddening it is to listen to Hillary Clinton speak of an “effective” and “low-key advocacy” for the disease when, in fact, the response was nothing short of morally reprehensible. Prompting ACT-UP to adopt the slogan “Silence = Death” in response to Reagan‘s unwillingness to speak of the disease even as hundreds of thousand of Americans remained ignorant, ignored, terrified and dropping dead.
As Michael Specter wrote in the New Yorker, “President Reagan’s first speech on the subject wasn’t until May 31, 1987. By then, more than twenty-five thousand people, the majority of them gay men, had died in the United States.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral is over and he is resting in peace. I’ve had loss in my life, so I know the pain brought on by the sudden death of a loved one. So, let me extend my sympathy to Scalia’s family and friends who are no doubt in the midst of grief. This too shall pass, trust me. Now that that’s out of the way, let me say… unfortunately, the damage Scalia inflicted on this nation will be with us for longer than many lifetimes put together.
While I feel for anyone who’s grieving, let’s get real. The loss is his family’s burden alone. As for the rest of us? The United States – and the world – breathed a little easier the day Scalia stepped off this mortal coil.
If there’s mourning to be done, let it be for the tragedy that Antonin Scalia spent the bulk of his limited lifespan using his powerful position to kick down on the vulnerable and politically unconnected, undermine the very foundation of democracy, push to execute people later found innocent and block other human beings who happened to share the same moment in time in which Scalia wielded power from rightfully enjoying a seat at the table – that Scalia, of course, considered a birthright for himself.
Just as Ronald Reagan made some Americans “comfortable with their prejudices,” Scalia wrapped these prejudices, along with his antidemocratic right-wing ideology, in the lofty veneer of legal legitimacy. A self-declared “originalist,” he supposedly came from the point of view that the Constitution was “dead,” (or as he put it, “dead, dead, dead”), rather than a framework for a functioning, evolving, civilization.
Yet, Scalia’s consistently inconsistent rulings illustrate a tactic right-wingers have elevated to an art form – namely, using any means at their disposal to rationalize their ideology. Like George W. Bush, “fixing the facts around the policy” to justify an illegal invasion neocons wanted before some of the servicemembers they sent to die were even born, Scalia made the Constitution as malleable as conservative Christians make the Bible – another so-called “sacred text” they cherry-pick and twist until it conforms to any offense on their wish list.
This MLK day, as in years prior, people all over the country will learn that Martin Luther King, Jr. “had a dream” that black children and white children would one day play and go to school together without having to call National Guard to protect them from the red-blooded CONservatives who can’t deal with, among many things, non-white people and/or progress. With the election of our first black President, surely, we are told, King’s dream is now a reality… so much so, that we can can now congratulate ourselves on our evolution by adding the made-in-China MLK statue to the National Mall. Tragically, among the many myths we’re told in America, it’s no surprise that MLK has undergone the standard whitewash from which he’s been transformed from an anti-militarism revolutionary for social & economic justice into an orator who pondered, Rodney King-style platitudes about “why can’t we all just get along?”
On King’s national holiday, our so-called “leaders” from sea to shining sea will give their standard speeches meant to, not rally us to change the structures that create poverty for the many and affluence for the few, but convince us all of the importance of the maintaining of the status quo. “See! We have a bi-racial President! Surely our system must be working.”
As King said himself, “the arch of history is long, but it bends towards justice.” But what he ALSO said was, “The dispossessed of this nation – the poor, both white and Negro – live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against that injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which the society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty.”
Far from criticizing our broken system, they’ll no doubt remind us all of King’s dream that “men,” “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” A palatable phrase our corporate-sponsored government can regularly regurgitate for the masses to swallow, while easily neglecting the message King concentrated on in the last years of his life – economic justice… of which we’ve not even come close to bringing to fruition.
WATCH: Georgetown University’s Christopher Chambers discusses the whitewashing of King’s message:
In fact, income inequality is higher now than when Dr. King died in 1968 and the working class is worse off now than when King organized his first “Poor People’s Campaign,” in which he meant to confront the issues of jobs, income and housing.
Dedrick Muhammad, Senior Director of the NAACP Economic Department and Nicole Kenney, NAACP Economic Program Specialist posted at the NAACP website,
“Dr. King states, ‘There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it.’ We are currently funding three unpopular wars that, like the Vietnam War, are diverting a significant amount of dollars that could be used to aggressively combat poverty and provide opportunities to reclaim the American Dream. It is simply a matter of priorities. Therefore, in the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, let us reevaluate our country’s commitment to the groups Dr. King sacrificed his life to protect- the economically vulnerable and recognize that advancing a strong middle class economy must have progressive policy as the center of the struggle (e.g., social safety net, government investment in opportunity and equity, and progressive taxation on the wealthiest of Americans). Let’s not commemorate Dr. King’s memorial without recommitting ourselves to fulfilling the vision he and so many brave men and women fought for – economic justice for all.”
King said, “We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty.” Then, as it is now, ensuring that society works for ALL is the highest form of patriotism.
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The Republican Party is no longer a political organization. It’s a cult that’s infiltrated our government and is using its mechanisms to enact a greed centered agenda, while playing games of distraction for the benefit of their dupes. One of those games is a war on women, which includes their non-stop attack on Planned Parenthood. Sometimes, they even admit it.
To illustrate that they’ve passed “useless” and crossed into the realm of “dangerous,” Republicans are now conducting hearings and pushing policy based on the fabrications of deceptively edited videos released by the right wing, misogynist, anti-privacy, “Center for Medical Progress” in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. But… Like all conservative initiatives these days, right wing policies result in exactly the opposite of what they’re publicly promising to achieve. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy Labor Day!
While some enjoying the day off, let’s remember that, not only does everything good about the working class quality of life came as a result of the organized labor movement.
“Let’s get one thing straight…
Employers and Corporations did not feel generous and decide to give you two days off every week to have a social/personal life. (We now call them weekends). Corporations did not just feel like being nice one day and give their employees paid vacations. CEOs didn’t get together in a board room and say “Let’s give our employees more rights at work” or “Maybe there should be laws to limit our power over an employee”.
Virtually ALL the benefits you have at work, whether you work in the public or private sector, all of the benefits and rights you enjoy everyday are there because unions fought hard and long for them against big business who did everything they could to prevent giving you your rights. Many union leaders and members even lost their lives for things we take for granted today.
The right-wing attack on unions is nothing more than ignorance and propaganda.
If Republicans would rather support corporations instead of organized groups of workers working to secure a fair work environment A.K.A a union, I ask them to walk the walk as well. Give up every benefit and right that you use that unions are responsible for.”
We math doesn’t lie. The Center For American Progress shows that decline of union membership in America directly tracks the decline of the American middle class.
Sign the Care2 petition below telling Chuck Schumer and the Senate conservatives to stop sabotaging diplomacy with Iran.
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The Senator from Wall Street, Chuck Schumer, was one of the illegal Iraq invasion’s most vociferous cheerleaders. Why wouldn’t he be? His fellow warmongering pal, Netanyahu, proclaimed, “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”
Now, he’s opposing the diplomacy that will avoid another war in the Middle East.
“When Bush took office in 2001, Iran had no known centrifuges in operation. Today, Iran is operating about 3,850 centrifuges, with plans to add approximately 3,000, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
…It’s impossible to say whether Iran’s march toward nuclear-weapons capability could have been stopped by diplomacy. But there hasn’t yet been a good test. Because of bitter infighting in the Bush administration, its diplomatic efforts were late in coming and, once launched, have been ineffective.
Confederate Flags, Roads, Schools, Military Installations and Monuments: Tear Down America’s Heritage of Hate
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Before he was America’s most famous traitor, Benedict Arnold earned a reputation for bravery and leadership as a high-ranking officer in the Continental Army. Of his many accomplishments, he helped win the first American victory of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga, where he surprised a sleeping British garrison, captured the fort and obtained much needed artillery for use in future battles.
Arnold was seriously wounded twice in battle, had his horse shot out from under him and nearly lost his leg. Refusing to allow amputation, his leg was crudely set, leaving it 2 inches shorter. After a short time convalescing, he returned to Valley Forge to the cheering of his men.
Arnold’s victory at the battle of Saratoga was instrumental in winning French support for the war, which ensured the colonist’s path to ultimate liberation from the British aristocracy. The French supplied 85% of the gunpowder for Continental Army, so, it’s safe to say, without Benedict Arnold, the war would have been lost.
There is only one monument to Benedict Arnold in the United States – the statue of a boot at Saratoga National Park with an inscription reading, “To the most brilliant soldier of the Continental army.” Commemorating the injury that ended his career on the battlefield, nowhere does the monument bear his name. You see, we don’t erect monuments to traitors. That is… unless the traitor is Southern.
Benedict Arnold did more for the cause of liberty than any Confederate traitor
It can safely be said that Benedict Arnold did more for the cause of liberty than any Confederate traitor. Quite the contrary, while Benedict Arnold was pivotal to the American Revolution’s ultimate triumph, Confederate traitors sought to limit the franchise of freedom by rallying around the worst cause for which any collection of idiots ever gathered – the “states right” to own other human beings.
In his “Cornerstone speech,” Alexander H. Stephens, Vice of the Confederate States, explained,
“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea [opposite of “racial equality”- ed]; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
Even back then, every day, was “opposite day” in conservative Bizarro World. In true, conservative, fashion, Stephens calls Northern abolitionists “insane” and “fanatics”, explaining,
“All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning.” He goes on, “One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics. Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails.”
For those who still insist on buying conservative revisionist history nullifying the inherent racist ugliness of their treason, please refer them the words of their own Confederate “heroes.”
Confederate monuments are meant to carry a subtext of white supremacy
The Jim Crow South was maintained via a systematic campaign of terrorism that went on for generations. Today, from the Supreme Court rolling back key sections of the Voting Rights Act, to the ongoing Republican voter suppression tactics to a legal system that disproportionately imprisons blacks, then takes away their rights to vote, the disenfranchisement of black Americans – especially in Southern states – continues. This is the Confederate “heritage.” The proliferation of monuments to the Confederacy honors “heritage,” alright – a heritage of white supremacy.
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Hypocrisy is like mother’s milk to the right wing Republicans. Couple that with their unbridled greed, and there’s no low too low for Republicans to sink in order to transform America from a democracy into an oligarchy.
They talk about how much they “love America” while dismantling the egalitarian democratic republic our founders – inspired by the Liberal Age of Enlightenment – fought a revolution to create. In addition to the hypocrisy of faux-patriotism, in direct defiance of the God they pretend to worship, who told them to pray in their closets, Republicans make a public show of religion, while championing every divisive, hateful, inhumane, kiss up/kick down, selfish evil that ever dared masquerade as a political philosophy.
Despite the fact that the Christian Bible Republicans wave like a cudgel sternly warns that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” Republican hypocrites are so self-aggrandizing and greed-centered, they no longer feel the need to hide their corruption. Now they’re turning government solely into an appendage to the affairs of billionaires right out in the cold light of day, confident that the right wing propaganda outlets that blanket this dying democracy from sea to shining sea will assure their victims that it’s all in the name of “freedom.”