The Banana Republic and Baby Boomers

The rampant corruption of our political system is masterfully distilled by Lawrence Lessig to the barest elements in this video.

 

America truly has become a Banana Republic operated by and for the benefit of the rich.

We let that happen.

And, when I say ‘we’, I’m looking at you, fellow Baby Boomers. We did this, and now it’s up to us to fix our screw-ups.

It’s time for some of you to change the way you think and how you vote; otherwise, I don’t know how you’re going to look future generations in the eye and tell them, “I was thinking of you when I voted for corporatists, banksters, and wealthy elites.”

It’s time for you to stop voting against your own – and our collective – self-interests. It’s time to stop electing the liars who tell us that trickle down economics works, that government needs to shrink, that defense spending needs to increase, that we need to drill and dig more for our energy, and that corporations and banks must be allowed to do whatever they like without regulation and oversight because to do otherwise would hurt their (historically high) share values and profits as if that were the only measure of a vibrant, thriving, sustainable, and inclusive economy and society.

It’s on all of us, but it’s mostly on you Baby Boomers who somehow turned into 21st century conservatives who reject science, facts, your social responsibilities, and any compassion you may have once had for your fellow human beings and the planet we all live on.

To my fellow liberals, you’re almost as much to blame as conservatives. Enough already with the pandering and compromise; enough with the disengagement from politics and silence on critically important issues; enough with not calling your representatives and not calling people out for being wrong and wrong-headed; most of all, enough with staying home on election day.

There are more of us than there are of them. We can move this country back to the left if we get off our asses and do something – anything – to affect change.

Which brings me to this. A reality too many of my fellow liberals refuse to accept.

It is ‘Us’ versus ‘Them.’ It’s time we stopped pretending it’s not.

When you refuse to acknowledge that conservatives hold values, beliefs, and policy positions that only hurt society and which block any possibility for progress, then you have surrendered the fight. We must be ready, willing, and eager to make the distinctions and reinforce everything that distinguishes Us from Them.

We need to stop wasting precious time and energy by going into every issue and every debate thinking there’s some sort of mythical middle ground. That’s the naive and juvenile fantasy that has allowed our society to devolve. Conservatives know there is no middle ground, and they know they can get liberals to keep giving ground because that’s what liberals do. They compromise.

That’s why we have to take our measure of blame for the world we live in; a world where to be a conservative and a member of the Republican party has come to mean that you want to live in a Christian theocracy in which corporations operate with impunity while the state discriminates against women, minorities, LGBTQ, and immigrants…..and that seems not only normal but desirable to conservatives

We liberals have allowed conservatives to keep moving whatever middle used to exist farther and farther to the right. Hasn’t it gone far enough?

We liberals let the center move so far to the right because we either stayed silent or we compromised. We’ve always been the ones to compromise. That must stop, and it must stop now.

No more compromises with the right. You liberals who insist on compromise are the ones who now are actually allowing conservatives to go on ruining this country and what was once a great society. Not one without its flaws, but at least one in which the wealth and power gaps were not as obscene as they are now and not one in which it seems perfectly reasonable to some people that the likes of Trump and Carson are taken seriously as presidential candidates.

It’s time for my fellow liberals to quit being such pansies and push-overs. It’s time you started fighting – not physically, but intellectually and politically, in the public square, on social media, and out loud. It’s a fight for the future, and it’s time to fight like there is no tomorrow because unless we fight and win, conservatives and conservatism in its current form most assuredly will keep us from bequeathing any sort of bright and peaceful tomorrow to future generations.

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Maybe the middle class will wake up someday and realize they aren’t #Republicans

I have an answer to this question.

GOP slate
“So pathetic that an asshole like Trump apparently appeals to more Republicans than ‘august’ leaders like Perry, Santorum, and Cain who, incidentally, are also still being taken seriously while unmitigated failures like Jindal, Cruz, Paul, Christie, Rubio, Bush, and Walker (and Fiorina) are considered to be the ‘serious’ candidates.”

Yes, these guys and the entire slate of GOP candidates says a lot about what it means to be a Republican these days. How anyone outside the one-percenters finds common cause with them is a mystery to me.

Sharing the above on Facebook prompted this response….

GOP slate comment

 

I want to thank my friend for her strength and conviction, and for inspiring me to write this post.

Here goes……

Maybe, just maybe…

Maybe, just maybe, we can get those folks in the middle class who think they’re Republicans to wake up someday.

Maybe if……

….people started asking themselves what it means to be a Republican today 

….people shut off Fox and Limbaugh and paid more attention to organizations like Represent.Us and the work they’re doing to fight corruption 

….more people decided to end their willful ignorance and consumption of right-wing propaganda they’d come to realize that people like the current slate of Republican hopefuls are not only a complete disaster from a policy and leadership perspective, they actually are a danger to America and to a modern society

….the poor, working poor, and the disappearing middle class in America who think they’re Republicans stopped voting against themselves and the rest of us when they vote for a Republican, we’d be back on top as a nation and as a society

How did it come to this?

Let’s be honest. The only reason this pathetic and laughable slate exists is because they appeal to the Republican base; a base that can be counted on to vote.

That’s why we on the left need to show up to every election; from school board and town council, to federal elections. We need to show up so that we can outvote our fellow citizens who operate under the self-inflicted delusion that they are Republicans.

I say self-inflicted because in the 21st century the only way to be as misinformed as self-professed middle class Republicans are is to be so willfully. And, that’s how Trump gets more than scorn and ridicule as a candidate. Because people are willfully misinformed and too easily manipulated.

Silence is surrender

So, maybe, just maybe, if we on the left keep speaking out loudly and forcefully we’ll see rational Republicans  speak up.

Where are they? Where are the rational Republicans?

It seems reasonable to conclude they either agree with what their party has become, or they are content to hide in fear of The Base. We need to help them to find the courage to come out and criticize their party and people like Trump, Santorum, Cain, and all the rest, frankly. These candidates are complete frauds. They have only their undeniable track records of failed policies and leadership to show as their credentials to be President. All anyone need do is examine their records to know that to be true.

Take a stand

If my fellow citizens who consider themselves to be Republicans are offended by criticism like this, that isn’t my fault. If you’re offended, then I have to assume it’s because you identify with the ideology of present-day Republicanism.

If you think I’m wrong, then show me the inaccuracies. Show me the unfairness in my criticisms. Show me indisputable data from sources other than Fox, Heritage, Cato, or corporations. Defend your party and your candidates using logic and facts.

If you can’t, then you’re invited to agree with me publicly that, at a bare minimum, the obvious truth is that your party has been usurped by cretins, clowns, and charlatans like Trump, Cain, and Santorum.

Just as bad and perhaps worse is that your party is controlled more so than the Democratic Party by the kind of Big Money that is literally dangerous to people, the planet, and to the global economy.

A party which embraces people like these just can’t be taken seriously except when it comes to the ideological and political danger that present-day Republicanism represents to every socio-economic strata of our society except, of course, to the oligarchs in control.

It’s on liberals, too

We Americans on the left must stop being cowards. We must first show up on every election day for every level of office. We must proudly speak up and revel in our ability to outvote our fellow Americans in the GOP base. We must be forceful in order to inspire more Americans to come out from under their apathy to vote against candidates who would gladly turn over our entire democracy to the oligarchs who run Wall Street, corporate media, and multi-national corporations.

We liberals cannot be afraid to offend. We must raise up our voices and find the courage to point an accusatory finger at dangerous characters like these Republican candidates. Maybe it will help to wake our fellow citizens up to the truth. Maybe it won’t. Either way, it will reveal the truth.

That truth is a simple truth, and it is this: conservatism is a backward-looking and failed ideology, and the Republican Party of the early 21st century is the party in the lead when it comes to being of, by, and for the rich corporatists, not We The People.

Optimism over willful ignorance

One-half of America is willfully ignoring reality. If we on the left stay silent about that, we are just as culpable for the disappearance of the middle class and any opportunity anyone has for improving their lot in life as those who insist on voting against themselves by voting for a Republican. Any Republican.

I hope it’s clear by now that political apathy on the left is a challenge we on the left can solve. We can start to overcome that apathy by being outspoken about it.

We need to hear from more people like my friend who later added this….

GOP slate comment 2

I want to be optimistic like her. I want all of us to be optimistic. I think that optimism is contagious, but it must be nurtured and strengthened everyday.

That’s why I won’t stay silent. We need to inspire each other and give each other strength. That’s why I rail against conservatism, right-wing ideology, and Republican candidates who never really represented ordinary Americans and have completely stopped doing so now.

If you’re reading this, all of this applies to you, too. That is unless, of course, you’re either among the top one percent or you’re content in your role as a modern-day serf surviving off the scraps that fall from the unfettered and under-regulated corporatist’s table of trickle-down economics and failed Republican policy.

Stop accepting the things you think you cannot change.

The meme expresses my feelings exactly.
Change
I’m starting with no longer accepting liberal cowardice.
For far too long too many liberals and self-proclaimed “progressives” and “trans-partisans” – yes, I’m looking at you, Join the Coffee Party Movement – are doing little more than wasting precious time and energy by pretending that every voice matters and that there’s more than one side to every issue. There isn’t, and the insistence that there is actually  looks like cowardice to me.
The Left in too many places demonstrates far too little commitment to recognizing and acknowledging right from wrong; good from bad, in terms of people, behaviors, beliefs, leaders and policies. By “engaging”, we execute perfectly on a strategy of surrender. By “engaging”, all we accomplish is NOTHING. We allow the more committed, better organized, more unified, and more forceful conservatives – and their shills – to control the conversation and the outcomes.
By always wanting to “engage in conversation” and “really listen to the other side” and “working to find compromise and middle ground”, we have surrendered, and in so doing we allow the center to move further and further to the right. That’s dangerous and wrong for everyone except the tiniest few, and it must stop. Now.
You say you want to speak truth to power? I say, “Start by empowering yourself, and start that by speaking truth to yourself.”
The truth is on full display everyday. All that’s required is the courage to look at it.
Conservatives, corporatists, and the rich are the ones who effed this country up. It wasn’t us liberals, or the poor, or the peaceniks, beatniks, or hippies; it wasn’t legal or illegal immigrants; it wasn’t minorities or Santorum’s “elitists” in the ever-shrinking middle class who struggle to find ways to send their kids to college.
It always has been, still is, and always will be conservatives and their so-called conservative “values” who wreak havoc on the rest of us.
And just like it always does, it falls once again and now to us liberals to clean up the conservatives’ mess.
I say let’s do it differently this time.
Let’s stop pretending we can “work” with them. That’s the formula that has failed us for the last 35 years. It’s they who must change.
Yes, this is about Us versus Them. To deny that is the cowardice that denies the reality of our situation and how we got into it. To deny that reality is the cowardice that only strengthens and emboldens conservatives and their duped minions to continue making society worse instead of better for more people.
We have long since passed the time for pretending we can work with conservatives. Instead, we need to start telling the right-wing that they are NOT welcome into the discussion because they ARE the problem.
This isn’t demagoguing. This is reality.
Prove it to yourself.
Ask yourself these questions. See if you aren’t feeling empowered as a liberal by the truth of the answers.
  • Who still wants to deny human rights to other human beings because they are LGBTQ?
  • Who wants to cling to the lie of in-person voter fraud just so they can make it harder for people they don’t like to be able to vote?
  • Who denies that everyone on Wall Street and in the financial services industry writ large doesn’t need regulators crawling up their asses every single minute of every single day?
  • Who wants to forcibly legislate their religious beliefs on the rest of us?
  • Who denies science and blocks policies that are rooted in and based upon science?
  • Who wants their racism and xenophobia to manifest itself in the form of walls, moats, electric fences, armed patrols, and drones on our borders?
  • Who screams at busloads of children?
  • Who seems perfectly content with the fact that we have become an imprisoned nation that applauds policing in poor and minority communities by para-military forces?
  • Who defends the abuse of police power?
  • Who thinks whisleblowers are the traitors and spies the patriots?
  • Who thinks the minimum wage is either fine as is and perhaps should be abolished altogether?
  • Who thinks that labor unions are still too strong in comparison to the people running corporations?
  • Who thinks health care is something only those with the means to pay for it should get, and who is warm and content in their unbridled selfishness when asked what alternatives they have to health care as a human right?
  • Who still votes for any politician anywhere who is still peddling the lies of trickle-down economics and smaller government?
  • Who believes that corporations are people and money is speech?
Look. There’s no excuse in modern America for anyone outside the One Percent to consider themselves to be a conservative or, for that matter, a Republican.
None.
And, here’s why this is so important. Anyone outside of that tiny sliver of the obscenely wealthy and powerful who is still allowing themselves to be duped into voting against themselves is also VOTING AGAINST THE REST OF US.
We don’t have the luxury of time to try and convince them to end their madness and to stop voting for people who consider them to be just another expendable resource. Instead, we need to stop them by no longer pretending that they can be part of the solution. We need to stop wasting time trying to find compromise. We need to stop pretending like enough facts will someday turn the light bulb on over their heads.
We outnumber them. There are more Liberals than there are Conservatives. We’re just used to being conciliatory and willing to compromise. No more!
What we need to do is exercise our strength of numbers.
Liberals must become lions. We must roar louder, longer, stronger, and more ferociously than those Americans who call themselves conservatives and who think they’re Republicans.
We must stop giving them cover by constantly engaging them online, in our living rooms, and in the coffee shops and polling places.
We must show up in greater numbers. We must be loud. We must be forceful.
And most of all, we must vote. Liberals – and people who call themselves moderates only because they think “liberal” is an insult – outnumber the truly lost and dyed-in-the-wool duped conservatives.
It is Us versus Them.
It’s time we stopped pretending otherwise. It’s time to work together as Liberals so that we can fix the fuck ups that conservatives leave every time they end up in power.
It’s up to us to change the things we can no longer accept from conservatives. And, that’s everything that is stamped with the “conservative” label. Everything.

Suggesting @SenSanders steal #TPP text is asinine

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been registered as Non-affiliated my entire life. I consider myself to be a fan and a supporter of Senator Sanders, and I’d like to think that I can offer some evidence of having more than just dabbled as a layperson into matters of TPA, ISDS, TPP, and TTIP.

I also want to make it abundantly clear that I have nothing personal against Robert Naiman or Truthout, but I have to take issue with his op-ed from today, “How Bernie Sanders Can Kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Read it and let me know if I’m missing something below.

photo by Josh Lopez, 350.org (https://www.flickr.com/photos/350org/6757389543/)
photo by Josh Lopez, 350.org (https://www.flickr.com/photos/350org/6757389543/)

 

With Friends Like This….

…who needs enemies?

The people who stand to gain the most from Bernie breaking his oath and revealing the text of the TPP are only his opponents.

While we Bernie supporters might cheer him for his courage, his revealing this document would absolutely end his political career. There’s fighting the system, and then there’s being naively quixotic.

Can’t you just see the campaign ads against this wild-eyed, socialist madman from the backwoods of Vermont just willy-nilly revealing state secrets as he spins in his chair in the Oval Office.

Then there would the GOP ads!!!

The Black and White Logical Fallacy….

…with a sprinkling of No True Scotsman

Robert Naiman is engaging in both, and probably a few more.

Bernie’s choices are not to binary; to reveal the text or else be seen as not doing enough. Bernie can keep doing what he’s doing by making this an issue the country ought be paying attention to without breaking the rules or putting himself at risk.

Hell, the secrecy is a prime issue in and of itself!

Then there’s this. We’re a nation of laws. They’re supposed to apply to everyone, but in my opinion, this is not an issue I want Bernie committing political seppuku over. I consider Edward Snowden to be a hero, but I don’t want Bernie to be his roommate.

Mr. Naiman seems to be trying to frame Bernie’s “inaction” by what Senator Durbin did and didn’t do about intelligence on Iraq. That’s the No True Scotsman fallacy in full view.

It was his job as a member of the intelligence committee to tell the American people that the intelligence didn’t match the Bush administration’s rhetoric. Of course, it was other people’s job too; he was the one who subsequently confessed to inaction.

That sounds like, “If only Durbin had acted like a true <fill in the blank> and just broken his silence, we never would have invaded Iraq.” 

That’s a dubious notion at best. We were a nation drunk with fear, blood-lust, and revenge, and looking back there seems nothing that could have stopped the Cheney/Rumsfeld/W juggernaut in the Middle East.

Bernie’s illegal release of the TPP text would be equally dubious. Even if every sentence of the TPP were revealed tomorrow – and with a $100,00 bounty from WikiLeaks, it just might have been released by the time you read this – we’re still going to see too many of our fellow citizens acting like the good corporatist’s Pavlovian dog at the ringing of the supposed “free trade” dinner bell.

It sure as hell seems unlikely to change the minds of Senators and Representatives contemplating the fast-track bills, S.995 and H.R. 1890.

Now that I think about it, it seems eminently fair to add the Appeal to Emotion logical fallacy to Mr. Naiman’s approach in all of this. 

So What To Do?

Bernie can’t do this alone. No one can. We all need to unite, first and foremost, and voice our opposition in granting the president fast-track authority.

There are tons of examples of people making their voices heard; from Reverend William Barber, to Fight For The Future, to the Pittsburgh city council, to one of my personal favorites and a leading organization in this area, Public Citizen.
(My own page has many more links. articles, and original blog posts.)

So, how about it, Mr. Naiman. Let’s not call for Bernie to act like a fool or a madman. Instead, let’s help him as best as we can so he stays out of trouble and so maybe we can see him on the ballot and even in the White House!

Reich exposes economic myths. That’s too kind. They are lies.

Reich exposes the bullshit perpetuated by corporatists and their shills in just 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Now what? What can we do about it?

Start by sharing this video as a way of informing people.

Next, be forceful and assertive in confronting the lies and the abject lack of humanity at the core of perverse ideologies like Objectivism and theories like trickle-down economics.

Finally, be more politically active. Call your elected officials. Tell them what you want from them, and tell them you’ll be voting. As corrupt as our system is, they still can’t get into office – or stay there – without our votes.