Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams, Ugly Truths: Monopoly for the Masses

“I think Barack Obama is a one-term President.” —former Vice President Dick Cheney

Well, I think Dick Cheney is an asshole—but he’s probably right. President Obama runs a serious risk of being a one-term President because he’s largely failed to deliver on his campaign promises (the ones he made to the voters in order to get elected), and the window of opportunity for keeping those promises continues to shrink. At this point it makes no difference why Obama reneged on his promises; the end results are the same.

For what ails this country blame Obama, yes, but not before you blame previous administrations going back 30 years. Blame Wall Street’s shadow government, greedy corporations, and their minions, the lobbyists, too. In Congress, blame the Republican obstructionists and spineless Democrats who, for expediency’s sake, shirk their responsibilities to their constituents. Blame wrong-headed Supreme Court decisions; blame an ill-informed electorate that believes Faux News is the purveyor of gospel truth; blame a disinterested public that’s too dimwitted to fully understand the issues or too complacent to get out and vote. While you’re at it, blame the chickenshit defenders of the status quo (which probably includes all of the above); there’s plenty enough blame to go around.

The inconvenient, unbearable, ugly truth of the matter is that the U.S., as it’s existed for more than 230 years, faces imminent danger of becoming something the Founding Fathers never envisioned, something they abhorred. While a dysfunctional government watches dispassionately as the economy sputters and grinds to a halt, the social infrastructure of a once great nation inexorably turns to rubble.

Common citizens suffer for lack of jobs, lack of affordable housing, lack of health care, and lack of competent, trustworthy leadership. Meanwhile, a very small percentage of the total population ransacks the economy and carries off all the goodies—thoroughly shortchanging the middle class and totally disenfranchising all those below the middle class.

If current trends continue, it won’t be long before the people in the upper echelons of the middle class and those in the lower echelons of the privileged class begin to feel the pinch, too. When the richest of the rich have extracted every last dime from members of the lower classes, it’s only a matter of time until they begin feeding on their own.

In every Monopoly game, there can only be one winner.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Only NORML

CBS refused to run a paid 15-second NORML ad on its 42nd Street digital billboard, so I’m letting the ad run here, for free:

Take that, CBS!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Righting Wrongs by Writing Rights

Corporate dominance of the political process was foretold by the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, in which corporations got the go ahead to spend unlimited amounts of money to back the candidates of their choice or to influence legislative outcomes. With that monumental error of lapsed judgment, the SCOTUS turned the tatters of our Representative Republic into an official Corporate Kleptocracy.

The problems attributable to corporate influence—and now, dominance—over our society are systemic, pernicious, deeply ingrained, and difficult (but not yet impossible) to overcome. These problems will, however, become more intractable as corporations flex their newfound political muscles and test the potential of the gift handed to them by the Supreme Court.

Restoring political power to the people won’t be easy, but, for the moment, at least, it’s still possible. Fran Korten’s Yes! Magazine article, republished by AlterNet, lists some specific ways to put the brakes on corporate ability to sway political decision-making processes. Even better, Quinn Hungeski suggests, on his AlterNet blog, that maybe it’s time to reintroduce some of the old laws that once governed corporations.

Not to be relegated to a lonely corner of the room, John Nichols, writing for (also republished by AlterNet), recounts how Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards assumed a leading role in calling for a Constitutional amendment to preserve the people’s ownership of our government and our elections, but Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, political activist and founder of Creative Commons, thinks that a Constitutional Convention is the better way to go.

Among the things that must be done immediately, if not sooner, to reverse the bad policy decisions coming from career politicians acting on behalf of corporate lobbyists are to make the necessary Constitutional corrections to ensure that political power resides with the people, and to implement procedures that guarantee fair elections at all levels of government. These are the logical starting places from which many other needed corrections will follow.

To all those politicians—professional or otherwise—who think that the smart bet is to curry favor with the corporations, I’ll say only this: Think again, dumbasses! Have you forgotten that every corporation’s primary goal is to cut costs and trim expenses to bolster the bottom line? How long do you think your job is going to last once corporations realize they no longer have to pretend they operate in a democracy? When they decide that you can be of no further use to them, your job is history.

But, hey, you can take solace in the fact that your job won’t be outsourced to a third-world country. It will simply cease to exist.

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Structuring the News

Do televised news reports often leave you baffled? This video shows the probable reasons why.

When TV news seems pointless, vague, confusing, irrelevant and incomplete, and it often leaves you scratching your head and wondering what that was all about, now you know why; there’s an app a formula for that. If you want fair and balanced news you can trust, you’ll have to make your own (or watch Jon Stewart on Comedy Central).

Many thanks to novelist Timothy Hallinan for bringing this one to my attention. Oh, and Tim shares a few of his ideas on how to effect some meaningful changes to our dysfunctional government at Murder is Everywhere.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Looking for Answers (in all the Right Places)

In response to my previous post, Suzan (Welcome to Pottersville 2) asked what the first step is in dealing with the corrupting influences powerful corporations have on government. Having pondered that question for a few days, I’ve come to realize that I probably have a better understanding of what needs to be done than I have on how to go about doing it.

While I busy myself creating a laundry list of specific actions that will lessen corporate influence and help reverse a corporate takeover of the U.S. Government, watch this trailer for the 2003 documentary film The Corporation, based on the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, by Joel Bakan:

Then, after you’ve seen the trailer, watch the 23-part YouTube video documentary series, from machbar, accessible under the right-hand column heading “Related Videos.” These videos are essential to understanding the dangers corporations pose to you, to society, and to all life on Earth.

Finally, read what PFAW has to say about the recent Supreme Court decision, and sign their petition for a Constitutional Amendment granting Congress the authority to limit corporate influence in elections.

In the meantime, I’ll keep working on the list.

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