Archive | Power to the People

Greece

They get it in Greece: “Why should the little guy have to pay for what the bankers did?”

And here’s the thing. The exact same thing is happening here. School budgets are being slashed, people are taking salary cuts, local governments are falling apart under the weight of the economic crisis. Why aren’t we out in the streets?

Because the same money men are behind it all. They always have been. And whether you want to believe it or not, it doesn’t matter anymore who’s allegedly in charge – they are:

The crisis in Greece and the European Union in general is exposing the deep flaws within the post-Soviet economic and political structure in Europe. The fires in Athens are a harbinger of a bigger crisis to come, one that Americans will have to pay attention to. But do not count on the U.S. press to honestly report what will happen, or the U.S. government to stand aside in neutrality. The Obama administration is pushing the Europeans and the IMF to get the bailout deal in place quickly, even as right-wing Republicans are screaming they will not support the U.S. paying its portion of the IMF bailout funds.

The people of Greece seem determined they will not pay for the orgy of corruption and double-dealing that has left their economy in tatters. Whether it was Goldman Sachs playing funny with derivatives to help the Greek government to hide its debt, or German companies rushing to buy up newly privatized industries, or the wide-spread corruption of Greek politicians, they are saying something that American workers and middle class might be thinking, and that has some people afraid: “’let the plutocracy pay’…’Why should we, the little man, pay for this crisis?’”

Comeback of the Year

For future reference:

This weekend I was with my quilter friends of twenty years. We come in various shapes and sizes and selected religious backgrounds. For some reason the discussion of abortion and federal dollars came up with all of the hushed voices and somber mightier than thou that goes along with such conversations.

I chimed in, ‘Stop right there with your comments. For over eight years this country has used my tax dollars to wage a war that has killed innocent children, women and men and has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of American soldiers in the process. All of this blood that was shed rests squarely on my shoulders and no one gives a damn about that. Don’t use tax dollars and abortion in the same sentence again!”

The conversation stopped and they looked at me with big eyes and by golly that was the end of it. For a minute there I thought that they could feel my pain. Being the resident peace-niq is exhausting sometimes but I do believe that they got the message. Never give up, folks.

The Vanishing Liberal

Kevin Baker in this month’s Harpers (subscription only):

And so we arrive at the present moment, in which the people are not asked to do anything. The fine words and able presentation of Obama, whether delivered at West Point or on Wall Street or in the well of the House of Representatives, obscure the fact that they are subtle parodies of a century of liberal argument. Whereas the Populists’ soapbox lecturers or the Progressives’ magazine exposés or FDR in his radio “fireside chats” explained the way of the world to the people and argued for why and how that way must change, Obama—like most Democratic leaders—concedes that the way of the world is wrong but tells us why it must stay that way because, some time in the past, powerful interests decreed it so.

Thus we are told that single-payer or a public option may be a good idea but that private insurance companies are simply too well–ensconced for reform. Afghanistan may be hopeless, but we have already committed to it. The power of the people is never activated, nothing much is asked or required of us, even as thugs overrun congressional town-hall meetings.

Instead, the party that claims to represent all progressive interests in this country proceeds with its impervious, self-interested agenda. The administration’s stated priorities for the near future are to balance the budget before a deep recession has abated and to commit the nation to a long-running war in a dysfunctional Asian country that we neither understand nor care about—thereby promising to repeat, simultaneously, the two worst mistakes made by liberal presidents in the past seventy-five years. As for the long term, the White House will form a commission bent on cutting “entitlements,” such as Social Security and Medicare, that are the bedrock of retired Americans’ prosperity.

Obama is an adroit politician and, like the last adroit Democratic president, he may be able to secure another term in the White House. Perhaps he will even be able to keep a Democratic majority in Congress, though this now seems unlikelier by the day. But to treat this as a triumph of activism is to say that a prisoner retains free will because he is able to stay in his cell. Obama, the congressional Democrats, and most of our politicians at every level now maneuver within political confines defined by financial and military interests they cannot conceive of challenging. Perversely, our ruling elite today is one of unparalleled diversity, and includes unprecedented numbers of women, minorities, and individuals who have worked their way up to power on brains and determination alone, usually without having inherited connections or wealth. It is a meritocracy much like the one long envisioned by many liberal reformers—and it has decided to capitulate, reap its considerable rewards, and draw the ladder up after it.

Who will challenge this shining fortress upon a hill? The right-wing pseudo-Populists who have devoured the Republican Party may win some victories in the short run. But the Tea Party and its fellow travelers have already become a jointly owned subsidiary of News Corp. and the likes of Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks lobby. (To understand just how fraudulent the movement is, one need only look at the $549-a-seat price tag for tickets to its first convention, and the $100,000 speaker’s fee paid to Sarah Palin. So much for box socials and sing-alongs.) Right-wing Populism is anyway inherently contradictory, a demand that the state recede to a size that will leave its citizens utterly defenseless against the gigantic forces at loose in the world today. No one is going to abolish the Federal Reserve, or the income tax, or Social Security and Medicare; if they did, small businesses and working people would be trampled beneath the corporate entities bent on their exploitation. The counter-Populism of the right is the prisoner’s last, despairing option, to move from learned helplessness to suicide.

Coming to power when he did, with the political skills and the majorities he possesses, Barack Obama squandered an almost unprecedented opportunity. But it is increasingly clear that he never intended to challenge the power structure he had so skillfully penetrated. With the recent Supreme Court ruling that corporations are, once more, people, American democracy has snapped shut again—the great, forced opening of the past 130 years has ended. There is no longer any meaningful reformist impulse left in our politics. The idea of modern American liberalism has vanished among our elite, and simply voting for one man or supporting one of the two major parties will not restore it. The work will have to be done from the ground up, and it will have to be done by us.

Woo Hoo

Here’s one for the good guys:

WE WON! 75,000 emails in 24 hours convince Sen. Committee to kill anti-marriage equality bill

Thanks to you and your hard work the Pennsylvania State Senate Judiciary Committee just voted 8-6 to table SB 707! SB 707 is the bill to amend the PA Constitution to ban same sex marriage. This is a huge victory for us, since the vote effectively kills the bill.

This is your victory. We had over 120,000 emails sent to senators, over 75,000 in the last 24 hours! In addition, our allies and friends generated thousands more phone calls, emails and letters.

We should celebrate, but we need to remain vigilant. It is unlikely, but it is possible that the bill could come to life again. Especially if they think we aren’t going to act again.

Please encourage your friends and family to join us at www.keystoneprogress.org

Activists to Dr. No: We’re Not Leaving

This just cheered me up. Some youthful activists are sitting in at Tom Coburn’s office until he allows the Uganda Recovery Act to pass the Senate. (Boy, the Senate really is the place where good ideas go to die – or get obstructed.) Go sign the petition, donate money for coffee, and cheer these guys on!

The momentum is building and more people just keep coming to join dozens of activists refusing to leave Senator Tom Coburn’s office in Oklahoma City until he allows the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act to pass the Senate. Click here to help from wherever you are.

Here’s the low-down: After impassioned lobbying from tens of thousands of activists, historic legislation aimed at ending Africa’s longest-running war is on the verge of passing the Senate unanimously. In fact, the bill has more bipartisan support in Congress than any bill focused on sub-Saharan Africa in American history. But Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, nicknamed “Dr. No”, is single-handedly blocking this landmark legislation because the bill authorizes new funds to assist victims of the violence (you can read more about why in the Campaign FAQ).

As Senator Coburn prevents this bill from passing, the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is terrorizing communities across three countries in central Africa. In the past two months alone, Joseph Kony’s rebel army has massacred hundreds of people and abducted hundreds more, including children who are forced to become soldiers.
That’s why we are holding the Oklahoma Hold Out, and we’re not going home until Senator Coburn agrees to a compromise.

The most committed activists – who know that Senator Coburn’s obstructionism is preventing the action needed to end this senseless violence – are “holding out” outside Senator Coburn’s office in downtown Oklahoma City until the Senator allows the bill to pass.

People are driving and flying from all corners of the country to join in person.
We invite you to join as well, or if you can’t join them in person, we need your support from right where you are.

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