Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jon Stewart took aim at the National Rifle Association convention on The Daily Show on Tuesday, pointing out that Republicans seemed a bit too eager to use the event as a platform to discuss national policy positions. “The NRA convention is like a…

Will Economic Inequality Turn Us Into A Bad Science-Fiction movie?

We’ve all seen them a time or two.  Those science-fiction movies where everything is gloom and no one’s gonna get out alive, yet life isn’t quite worth living.  And with the exception of a few matriarchs or patriarchs of well-armed and sociopathic families and communities, there are no old people.  Everything is covered with grey ash while trash fires burn in the streets, as lone adults walk along with heads bowed and every man and every woman are for themselves.  All the children, meanwhile, have banded into small gangs just to survive and, there are no families, and bandits roam the country side.

Welcome to the freedom and free market loving of a possible New America.  Everything is privatized and out of reach.  There are no police.  Neither is there a post office.  If you wanna send a letter more than twenty-five miles you either hire a smuggler, or pay the matriarchs and patriarchs whatever they might demand.  And forget about healthcare.  If you’re in an accident or come down with an illness, you’re screwed. 

Back in the day, when politicians said, “if elected I’ll run this (country, city, state) like a business,” little did voters who did not possess a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), realize what that would eventually look like.  It only made sense that if you’re going to run things like a business, you might as well become a businessperson.  At least the mission and goals become clear and concise, increase profits for shareholders, first and foremost.

Those old science-fiction movies always seem to have the same theme, the rich separate themselves from the rest of us and, over time there is total separation.  The rich know nothing of our lives and we know little of theirs.  Now we are separated only by gated communities and distance.  Tomorrow, the rich may live in a ring of luxury, circling high above us, upon which we can gaze only at night. 

Right now, it may all seem like silly science-fiction, but that kind of future is possible.  Between recent Supreme Court decisions that allow states to take away rights, deny health care to its citizens and take away most all limits on how rich people and corporations (also said to be people) can spend their money in our political process, we may well be heading in that direction

But it would be both a sin and a shame, to have our democracy end up looking like something from a bad science-fiction movie. 

Another good reason to get out and vote.  And if you don’t, things will only get worse.
Walter Lide

On last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert addressed President Obama’s decision to seek clemency for non-violent drug users imprisoned when drug-sentencing laws were more strict. “Our criminal-coddling president doesn’t share…

Sunday, April 27, 2014

During the 2012 presidential election, Republican nominee Mitt Romney regularly liked to joke that President Obama wanted the US economy to look “more like Europe”. In the context of modern American politics, few insults are more stinging. To be…

Friday, April 25, 2014

Is The U.S. Supreme Court An Oligarch's Best Friend?

Forget the zombies, it’s the oligarchs who’ll eat you alive.  And, with the help of the U.S. Supreme Court, the oligarchs are coming to get you!

When they attack, however, it won’t be in mass hordes.  As a matter of fact, you’re not even likely to see them coming, but come they will, because they are already on their way.  Until the stunning Citizens United, Supreme Court decision of January, 2010, oligarchs have acted in the shadows, hiding behind public relations firms, front groups, lawyers and a bevy of brought and paid for politicians. 

But ever since the Court, first opened the village gate and decreed that corporations are people, with the same First Amendment rights of free speech as the rest of us, oligarchs, such as the Koch brothers, have been doing their war dances and sharpening their weapons.  Their main weapon being, unbelievable massive amounts of money with which to by media time and not have to be responsible for anything they say.  In other words, they can lie and get clean away with it.  Add to the mix their ability to finance and buy political campaigns and politicians, the rest of us may be defenseless against them.

The Town Hall has already been taken and on every state, local and federal level, the oligarchs are running amuck.  Some are even stepping out of the shadows and bearing their teeth.

Take Sheldon Adleson, for instance, one of the top ten richest men in the world who, along with a few others of the top 1 percent, are currently buying up the Republican Party.  And he recently hosted a diner for the top Republican candidates at his Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

It’s amazing that we let them get away with it, but most everyone aspires to be rich; to be in that top 1 percent.  But one day, when we ask an average 10 year old what they want to be when they grow up, don’t be surprised when they say, “I wanna be an oligarch.”  That American dream goes pretty deep.

And even though the costs may far outweigh the benefits, it’s a lot like Walt Kelly once wrote, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Walter Lide

The Hungry Oligarchs

If you’re not scared of the hungry oligarchs yet, you haven’t been paying attention.

According to a study scheduled for release later this year, it’s the economic elites and well-connected business people who are running the country and us average voters don’t really count for much.

Worse yet, even when we organize into citizens and public interest groups, “we have much less influence than corporations or and business-oriented groups,” a Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University, one of the study’s authors. Page and his co-author, Marten Gilens, a politics professor at Princeton University are hinting that our democracy may have morphed into an oligarchy without us even noticing. 

If recent efforts to enact background checks for potential gun buyers is any example, things are only going to get worse.  "The Supreme Court's recent decisions, which have removed most legal limits on big financial contributions to politics, are likely to increase the political clout of wealthy individuals and leave average citizens with even less influence than they have now," said Page. "I find this very troubling. The Court's view that political donations constitute 'speech' protected by the First Amendment opens the door to money-driven politics and a distortion of democracy."

Which brings to mind an old saying, “money talks and bullsshit walks.”  In the case of our devolving democracy, however, money may talk and our votes may walk; straight into oblivion. 

Walter Lide

Humans can survive weeks without food, but only days without water — in some conditions, only hours. It may sound clich├ęd, but it’s no hyperbole: Water is life. So what happens when private companies control the spigot? Evidence from water privatization…

Monday, April 21, 2014

Forget the zombies, it's the Oligarchs Who'll Eat You Alive.

Scroll down to learn more about how the oligarchs are coming to get you... 

Oligarchy Defined: Koch Brothers Worth $100 Billion, Buy GOP For Just $412 Million (via Breitbart Unmasked)

In the 2012 election, Charles and David Koch spent at least $412 million to swing elections across the country, an amount greater than the ten largest unions combined. Now Bloomberg reports that the Koch brothers’ combined net worth has exceeded…

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bill Moyers: America is on the verge of being overrun by ‘mad dash’ toward oligarchy (via Raw Story )

Bill Moyers criticized both political parties on Friday for furthering the “protection racket” built to protect the mega-rich from paying their fair share of taxes while extending their influence over politics. “Sad that it’s come to this,”…

The War on the Poor and Working Families

Friday, April 18, 2014

Study: Popular movements strangled by influence of the wealthy elite in Congress (via Raw Story )

A forthcoming study found that ordinary citizens exert little influence on the political process, even when they form coalitions to compete against corporate interests. A co-author of the study, which will be published later this year, said he was particularly…