Friday, November 25, 2005

HOWARD DEAN AND THE DEMO MONEY PROBLEM

Dr. Howard Dean, whose constructive use of the internet broke all records in raising money for his political campaign in 2004, is said to be having a bit of a problem in doing the same for the national Democratic Party. There are those who are quick to condemn the man as a "flash in the pan" who is incapable of doing an adequate job for the party as a whole. They fail to recognize the difference in the circumstances.
When Dr. Dean was running for the presidential nomination, there were many of us "small people" who were willing to dig into our very shallow pockets to donate whatever we could spare to assist in the changes which he and other progressive Democrats hoped to effect. Throughout the primary campaign, the field seemed to consist of Dean, Kucinich, Edwards, and Gephardt with a smaller amount of support for Braun and Sharpton. With the assistance of the media, the "establishment Democrats" weighed in and John Kerry swept in and took home all the marbles. We witnessed a campaign in which Sen Kerry, a true war hero in his own right was instantly put on the defensive and the same media which promoted his candidacy turned against him and gave us a Bush re-run, right down to another election scandal which went largely unreported until it was too late to correct it.
The progressives among us became understandably gun-shy. We are holding our fire and keeping our little bits of money in our pockets until we are sure that it will be used on behalf of those policies which we espouse. The Democratic Party as a national organization, as well as the media, is looking no further than those politicians whom we regularly see on the Sunday morning news shows, mouthpieces for the party line, Republican-lites, and stay-the-course advocates, willing to play nice at the game of "politics -as-usual". They cannot see beyond the huge profiles of Clinton, Biden, Kerry, and Gore while the media likes to hype an all-female field headed by Hillary on one side and Condi Rice on the other. With a contest like that, most of us who truly care about our country and its well-being may just stay home in bed and cover up our heads.
The great majority of us who are at the bottom of the human food chain have had enough of the same old "kiss the rich and screw the poor" choices that we have had for the last 24 years! We are sick and tired of being required to choose "the lesser of two evils" on election day, of holding our noses as we mark our ballots. We want to support someone who can think constructively, who will restore our democracy to "one man, one vote, and actually count the votes", who will stop spending our grandchildren's money on a needless and un-winnable war, and who will concentrate on rebuilding our national economy with real jobs by restoring our neglected super-structure and salvaging whatever is left of our damaged society. We need a candidate with guts, who will speak truth to power, a real barn-burning ass-kicker who is not afraid to tell the American people the truth about the liars and manipulators who have held our very existence in their hands for much too long
This candidate should be one who could marshall and organize his/her thoughts and present them in a cogent fashion so that there is no misunderstanding of what the nation needs and the steps that will be taken to correct the devastation which has been inflicted upon us by the last few administrations. We hear our corporations complaining that the pension plans for long-term employees are crippling them financially. There is an answer to that problem and they should be made to understand what that answer is. The cap should come off the Social Security contributions to allow that program to grow as it once did and that pension expense would no longer be necessary. When they cry about the cost of maintaining employee health insurance, they should be reminded that universal health insurance, with an administrative expense of only the 2% cost of administering Medicare would relieve them of that responsibility. Those who complain about the taxes that would be necessary to pay for these programs should be presented with facts and figures on what they currently pay for private insurance compared to the taxes necessary to fund universal health care and learn that their own financial situation would actually improve.
American corporations who have moved their plants overseas should be taxed as foreign corporations and have their American tax breaks ended. We will see if cheap foreign labor benefits them more than shipping, import taxes and tariffs. We want a candidate who can tell them their free ride is over and they must start paying their fair share for the benefits of the privileges and protection of the greatest nation in the world. The "fair tax" for which the rich so ardently advocate should be introduced, not as they present it but as it would be if it were totally fair. During the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, admittedly the greatest Republican President of the twentieth century, those in the top tax bracket paid income tax at the rate of 90%, business boomed, super-highways were built, many workers were able to buy their first home, and not a few millionaires were created. Now we have millionaires, good Republicans to a fault, who cry a river when they are asked to pay a measly 15% on their capital gains!
Yes, Dr. Dean, those who contributed to your campaign so liberally in 2004 are now keeping their hands on what little remains in their wallets. And we shall continue to do so until we are convinced that it will not be wasted like our contributions were then and in the same way our tax dollars have been mis-used ever since. When a real leader appears who is willing to stand up for us, for our aspirations, and our needs, the money will be available to launch a stem-winder of a campaign that will wash the crooks of both parties into the Potomac and put in their places true representatives of the people. True, you have been hired and are being paid by the Democratic "establishment" who are complaining about the amounts you are collecting for the purpose of electing their choices into office. I thought you might like to be prepared to give them the reasons the money is tricking in so slowly.
Tell them the American people are ready for a real change. When they are prepared to deliver it, we are prepared to support them with volunteers and with cash in amounts necessary to bring it about. Until we are convinced that they are seriously committed to effective the necessary changes rather than to continue to be Republican-Liteand "go along to get along", we will keep our money in our pockets, thank you.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Economy Gap

Having wakened a bit early and turned to my usual morning fodder of whatever is on C-Span, I was treated (?) to a re-broadcast of an appearance of Alan Greenspan before Congress Now, requiring a barely functional brain to decypher this man's message before fully awake is asking a lot, so I really concentrated in order to absorb the words of this guru of finance. As he talked and I strained to grasp bits and pieces of his dissertation about how successfully our economy has been managed, I was struck by two points that he made.

First, when he and others like him talk about a "robust economy", they are speaking of the money supply in general, as if it were a separate entity from the lives of Americans at large. To them, if there is a good supply of money and "globalization" is bringing a greater share of it to this country, that's good! For instance, "outsourcing" is good because it is accomplishing that goal. Never mind that every citizen of China, India, or any other nation who works in an American-owned factory means one less American with a job, it's "good for the economy" and the economy is god!

When queried as to the reasons for the ever-widening gap between the super-wealthy and the middle-class, this great wise man wrinkled his forehead even more and admitted that he simply could not understand why this is happening. This fiscal genius betrayed the fact that the world view and the comprehension of nothing but money completely ignores the problem that is uppermost in the minds of working Americans, that of the ability to make a good living and to accomplish personal progress in the modern age. He also lamented the fact that people are saving their money rather than investing. I would venture that the working class no longer has any money either to save or to invest. The super-rich, while having investments that are worth far more than they and their immediate descendants can spend in this lifetime, are also putting cash back "in the sock" in preparation for the great crash which even they expect.
For those of us whose major "investments" are our homes, our cars, and our children, watching the "economy" would be amusing if it were not so serious. It's rather like watching a kitten in its first adventure at tree-climbing. At first it is fun but, as it goes higher, it becomes more desperate. The cat never looks down but keeps its eyes on the next branch and the next after that. As the branches become smaller and more frail until there are only twigs to support the climb, it becomes more desperate and an onlooker can only watch it go up and up, wondering if one should call the fire department for a rescue or if the poor thing will simply fall before help can arrive. The goal is simply "the top", though we know there will be disappointment because, once "the top" is gained, there is nothing more there and it will be a long way down.
The religious among us could consider another aspect of this whole situation. Never mind the good advice in the Scriptures as to helping our neighbors, honoring our elders, or feeding the poor. The pertinent caveat that is contained there which applies to this situation is even more specific: "You cannot serve both God and Mammon!" Even the "good reverends" who profess to be the artbiters of our morality as a society somehow forget this message as they appeal for more and more funds from the poor to whom they hold out hope for "mansions in Heaven" as rewards for their poverty in this life. Perhaps in his retirement, our honored fiscal guru should "go to the mountaintop" and await enlightenment which would enable him to understand that "the economy" is not everything but that what is accomplished with that economy is the measure of our nation's true value.

One ventures at one's peril to impugn the intelligence of such a sage as Mr. Greenspan but he can be excused if his brilliant mind is so consumed with the problems of the money supply that he can be forgiven for not being aware of the social issues involved in the present situation. When he sees the news of the rioting in France, he has not time to ponder the fact that it is caused by the desperation of the people as they suffer from lack of productive employment, the means to establish themselves in society, to provide for their families, and to overcome the ever-present racial discrimination. As the President travels to Argentina to help form the economic future of the two continents, he is met by demonstarations and similar riots as the Argentinian people are faced with the same problems.

The world over, the wealthy are reaping the profits of the labor of the poor while the working class sink more deeply into debt and desperation. While the powerful concentrate on the dangers of nuclear wars and a crashing world economy, they are neglecting to notice a much greater threat to their power and position. The unrest and growing desperation of the poor could cause a world-wide upheaval that would repeat history as demonstrated by the first American Revolution, the overthrow of the monarchy in France, the Communist takeover of Russia, and the South African rebellion which led to the changes in the political landscape there. Political changes are in the wind in every nation of the world as a more intelligent and better educated working class realize that a mere subsistence is not enough and they determine to gain their freedom and opportunities for a better life. Slavery, whether imposed by bond and whip or by starvation and neglect, will not long be tolerated by any living person so long as the breath of God stirs in his body.

The only salient fact that Mr. Greenspan cannot grasp is the "trickle-down economics" simply does not work and never has. The super-rich will not voluntarily concern themselves with the plight of the lower classes unless they are forced to by a higher power and that power is the Federal government, "Putting the money back in their pockets" is to take it out of the pockets of the working class and the poor and "creating wealth" should not be the only end product of a democratic economy. It matters little how much money is created in a nation if it creates class division that is so pronounced that revolution is incubated thereby. And, Mr. Greenspan, the policies that have been advanced by you and President Bush have established such a condition.
Now, do you understand?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

BRING OLD GLORY HOME!

Bring home that once-glorious banner, those stars and stripes that once fluttered proudly and defiantly in the dawn's early light, that strengthened the sailors on that mighty ship that Commodore Perry commanded on the Great Lakes, that inspired the men of the Army of the North as they fought bravely and at great cost in order to preserve The Union. Bring home the flag that vanquished tyranny and the ambitions of empire in two world wars and kept the peace in the trouble spots of the world, bringing freedom from oppression and the blessings of liberty throughout the world for more than two centuries.
Bring her home to rest and recuperate; wash off the stains of the blood of innocent civilians, of women, children, and old men, the blood of American citizens, sent to fight a war that needed not to be and was based on lies rather than the sacred truth to which she was dedicated. Let time heal the wounds from mortars' fire, from bombs and land mines that tore at her as they tore at the flesh of those who were nearby. Let the true love of American patriots heal her wounds and banish her shame as she proudly flies above the graves of those so wrongly sent to die in the sands of the Middle East for the greed of arrogant men.
Send her in honor to escort food to the hungry of the world, to accompany medicine to the ill and building materials to the homeless. Let her once more signal to all who are in want that she brings the hopes and prayers of the good people of the nation which she represents. Let her send our message of love for our fellow man so that the whole world will know and love the United States and our flag once more as the sign of their salvation and the promise of freedom. Let her fly beside the Statue of Liberty as a token of the real meaning of the hopes and ambitions of all mankind.
Restore her credibility so that wherever she flies, all men who look upon her will know that she stands for human kindness and for truth and that all who suffer persecution and injustice will find deliverance under her benevolent shadow, that there they may worship God as they understand Him and pursue their dreams of freedom and the rights that are due them as human beings.
She is old and she is tired but she may proudly wave for yet more generations with tender loving care. She regenerates with every honorable task over which she presides and fades in the presence of dishonesty, lies, and treason. Now she hangs, limp and wounded, stained with the blood of innocents on behalf of the misguided in dishonorable conquest, exhausted in the task of covering the coffins of the fallen as they are brought home from the battlefields under cover of darkness and accompanying the fallen heroes to their final resting place.
Let us throw off the old, misbegotten ideas of pre-emptive attacks or preventive wars and restore diplomacy as the acceptable way of settling differences between nations. Let us work together again as members of the family of man to create peace in the world, working with respect and love to heal our neighbors' wounds and to feed the hungry, to rescue the downtrodden with kind words, good deeds, and greater opportunites for self-betterment . Then, and only then, will Old Glory be able to fly in all her olden glory, proudly wafting in the breeze over the home of the brave and the land of the free, a beacon to the world of truth and justice.
Let us work and pray for that day when Old Glory returns to her original condition. Then, when her very presence evokes pride in our souls, when our beloved democracy is truly restored, can we once again pledge our allegiance to "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all", sing "God Bless America" with real feeling, and know once more the thrill in our hearts as she is proudly borne in our streets.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

COULDN'T SAY IT BETTER! wOULDN'T TRY.

Inasmuch as I'm too busy with business to write my own blog, I will offer this Garrisaon Keillor piece for any who happen to pass by:


DeLay had better keep an eye on his friendsBy Garrison Keillor
October 16, 2005
My Dear Mr. DeLay:
I have been waiting two weeks for one Republican to leap to your defense and express outrage at a grand jury so callous as to indict a virtuous man, and nobody has. They've all been coy and cautious and whispering to the press that you are not their favorite guy in the whole world, so I am going to stand with you, sir, and cover your back. I don't like to see a man abandoned that way.
When you're a Jet and the spit hits the fan, you've got brothers around. You're a family man. I am an old liberal and if we had a Hammer, we would support him in the morning, and in the evening, all over this land. You are the greatest political fundraiser since William Marcy Tweed, sir, and that Texas grand jury is trying to referee a football game by the rules of badminton.
Corporate money not used for political campaigns? The thought is preposterous on its face. Any schoolchild knows that politics is not about highfalutin debates and policy papers; it is about putting the screws to the fat cats and squeezing them until they squeak and then hiring agents to level your hapless opponent with a barrage of rotten fruit and dead cats as you yourself stand above the fray, Bible in hand, your arm around some orphans, eyes upraised to Old Glory, your face nicely lit. And you win the race and go to work flogging your timid colleagues and raising truckloads of dough and building your war chest and scaring the bejeebers out of people. That's how it's done.
This country was not built by nervous nellies and Sunday school teachers but by bold marauders, dodgers, Sooners, buffalo hunters, forty-niners -- people who saw what they wanted and took it. You're one of them. Politics is about power. You grabbed hold of it and became King of the Republican Hill, a majority leader who knows that one can never have too much majority.
I am disappointed by your attempts to beautify yourself. It's pitiful, sir, and demeaning to blow-dry your hair and try to project warmth through those drill-sergeant eyes and belt-sander voice. You're the man, sir, who redrew the map of Texas to squeeze more Republican congressmen out of it, and got Indian tribes to pay for you and yours to fly to Scotland first-class and play golf, and who paid his wife as a consultant, etc., etc., etc. Personal warmth was not what got you to the dance. The rest of us tiptoe through the tulips, fearful of giving offense, but you, sir, are one brass monkey.
But politics is treacherous. Those Republicans who kiss your ring at prayer breakfasts and wave the flies away from your plate -- if they should sense that you are a wounded elephant, they will throw you out the window without blinking. Count on it, Mr. Leader. Behind those bland faces are neural synapses making intricate calculations. Don't worry about the Democrats, they are harmless, shaking their pointy heads and waving their small, plump hands. It's your friends who will do you in. Look at Julius Caesar. Look at Richard Nixon.
Mr. Nixon was done in by the ginks who forgot to burn the tapes, and so a great statesman suffered the ultimate humiliation of being quoted accurately when he was talking like a drunken bus driver about Jews and liberals. You, too, could be sandbagged by your pals, who may suddenly find it convenient to distance themselves from you as if you were not their daddy but just some stranger who came around every month and paid the bills and petted the dog.
Your best strategy is to Instill Fear among the Flock. Yes, you've done certain things that don't look good to grand juries and Unitarian schoolmarms and amateur birdwatchers, but so have your Fellow Republicans. They have shoved old ladies down the stairs and feathered their own nests, and you know it, and they know that you know it, and now you need to demonstrate that you will not bend one iota, no mea culpas and don't weep for me Argentina. You did not have sex with that woman, and you intend to go on Hammering, and if they let you down, you will sing like a canary and take those clowns with you.
Meanwhile, sir, I am at your side, your loyal pal and obedient servant.
Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country. Tribune Media Services.