Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who Writes Our Laws?

In a perfect world, the citizenship would get together, discuss pertinent issues with civility and respect and would enact public policies that benefit the many instead of the few.

We don't live there.  Not yet.


Fiction:  Hard working legislators who pour deliberately over thousands of social issues and craft the best possible bill to benefit the citizens and increase the growth of a strong middle class while crafting safety nets to benefit those too old or ill to fend for themselves.  It is this group of elected officials that keeps a vigilant eye on fairness and equality while advancing and refining an ever-evolving democracy.

Fact:  No, they don't.
Winning Progressive has a clear and informative article that I encourage you to read and absorb in its entirety because it is a remarkable tale of a well-oiled political machine serving the agendas of its clients with lock-step precision and catchy talking points that are repeated relentlessly through the monopoly we know as media.

An excerpt from their article reads as follow:

ALEC is short for the American Legislative Exchange Council. It is a not-for-profit (aren’t they all?) organization designed to be a one-stop shopping experience for state legislators. The legislation offered by ALEC is usually always geared to the advancement of corporate interests and the laws are actually written by corporate lobbyists. Shocked? No? Nothing shocks me anymore, either.  ALEC has its grubby hands in every single legislative body in this country. They are so blatantly outrageous that their website shows each legislator chairperson that handles and promotes “friendly” corporate laws. The legislative contact for each state is also the legislative sell-out.

If the above excerpt intrigues you, please go read their article and realize what you, the average person, is up against and whether you have a chance in a bizillion trillion of being the David in the Goliath tale.


We are sick and tired of lies and hearing the phrase: "Speak truth to power"  Power, in its current state does not care about truth because they thrive and prosper on lies and those who would speak the truth are quickly silenced with restriction on what they can say and how they can say it.  It is an unfortunate state of affairs in which corporations own a monopoly on talk radio and television stations. This is a fact, not some liberal-tree hugger-progressive-socialist rhetoric.  Freedom of speech only applies to some, not all.  And coverage of that speech is even more rationed.  Even Senator Rockefeller expressed his frustration during the recent hearings that enabled Comcast to purchase MSNBC, but I fear his threats to do something about it, were not realistic in implementation.

A case in point is the struggle in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.  By the time we heard about the happenings in Wisconsin it had taken at least a week of social media pressuring networks to cover hundreds of thousands demonstrating in Wisconsin's State Capitol for days on end.

When 100 tea party individuals show up at a public square, the coverage is relentless and we are bombarded with the message that these few represent everyone's opinions, thoughts and beliefs nation-wide.  Why the disparity? Because those who own the media control the message and that is what we have. Nothing more, nothing less.  Unless of course, you see how the message is used to influence public policy and laws and then, it gets frightening and we only have two choices: fight against it or allow the few to control every aspect of our lives. 


How do we fight this? In social media we vent, we seek to find others that share our passion for a truly democratic society and speak truths and facts to one another.  Not to power, because they are not listening, but at some point, we are going to have to decide who holds the power and why.  Hopefully it will be those who don't want to serve in politics but see it as their duty to represent the people's interest and not those of corporations.

DEMOCRATS:  Our biggest fall is that we are not properly organized, we take pride on the fact that we have diverse views and we can openly disagree with each other on substantive points, but how is that working out for us?

Take a look at the words WE, the DEMOCRATS use to refer to our elected officials: Spineless, Wusses, Cave-in, etc.  We compromise before we are asked.  Folks, we are easy pickings for the corporatist Republican party.


Not really, they are entities that live in thin air.  They are created by men on paper and dissolved just as easily.  Individuals using corporate power and finances against the average human being, are in fact, EVIL in my opinion.  The fact that the Supreme Court accorded corporations the status of humanity or personhood has not fooled anyone into believing that a corporation is actually a human being, but has made it clear how deeply corporate tentacles reach into something that should be held sacred and unscathed by mundane pursuits of unabashed wealth and power grabs: Our justice system.


Some have it, some don't. Some of us have never left our own state, let alone the country.  A vacation in which the focus is having fun does not impart great knowledge of how the locals live in other industrialized countries and for every message that says: "They do this better!" there is the obligatory vilification of another nation and hollow statements of "U.S. is #1", but then is never a follow up question of "#1 at what?"

Passion for the nation, our political system and UNDERSTANDING of what is really going on is too exhausting for most of us.  We have real lives and pressing issues that must be taken care of first and we are just too tired at the end of the day to consider formulating thoughts and a plan of action after careful assessment of facts.  For God's sake! that could take for ever! Our brains hurt.  We need to zone out and let the people we hired do the job we hired them to do.  You know, just like WE do at work every day.  Ahhh! that perfect world beckons.

We can't save learning and researching for when we go on vacation either.  Vacations are meant to get away from it all and besides, by the time we take than one week off, the power-hungry machine has already changed our world. So what's the point? 


Are Republican voters stupid? Are tea-party members morons? Probably not on both accounts, but their actions at the voting booth, the trolling on social media to bait the hook and create hateful rhetoric are well noted.

Another thing that is worth noting is how passionate they are about one specific issue and from what little unrequited exchanges I have had, it all revolves around a laser-like focus on hating the government in general and President Obama in particular.

From women's rights, to gay rights to insisting on bashing our public education and replacing it with private religious schools and revised history, their focus and determination is worth of admiration and if I dare say it.... worthy of emulation.

For those who dismiss racism or homophobia as a major component that fuels their passions, I invite you to read their blogs, their forum posts and their websites.  The comments section is just as telling as the topics on how they feel individually and collectively.

Before you ask: "where are the links?" My official answer to you is: "Don't be lazy, look it up yourself.  They all have their links in social media"  Or I can tell you the truth: "There is no way in hell they are getting a back link from my humble and seldom read blog"


I am tired of nonsense and distractions.  The latest shinny thing was Representative Wiener photos and his Twitter scandal.  There was no outrage over Clarence Thomas, his wife and their political affiliations, just a barrage of insults hurled towards democrats and nothing about the sins committed by "their side." Because you see, we are playing a virtual football game, except that we all lose and there is no Super Bowl.  No media coverage on these issues, no comments from the Justice Department, nothing from the elected DEMOCRATIC body.

I am not perfect and I view my self as a work in progress, but there is no way on Earth I am going to waste time with people who can't or won't effectuate positive changes.  I write about social issues in this blog with the hope my voice will join other disjointed voices in mutual accord.  I write to "the powers that be" with those issues, I call them sometimes and express my concerns to their staff.

I don't know that I am making any progress, but it seems more proactive that being insulted for being a Democrat.  I am a Democrat and I AM PROUD of it. I don't need to defend it and don't deserve to be insulted because I think that people matter far more than esoteric ideology that can't find steady legs on solid ground. 

Like most people, I have very few hours in the week to dedicate to the issues, because just like all other democrats, republicans or whatever we call ourselves, our plates are filled with responsibilities.

I need to connect with you and be on the same page, I need to have a conversation that does not devolve into name calling.  I need to find you as much as you need to find me. Sometimes, we find each other in the most unlikely places.


It is summer (Yay!) and this woman needs to sport daring short cuts during the summer months.  It is my experimentation season because I have become completely brazen in my old(er) age about hair.  What once was my pride and joy of tousled curls that caressed the small of my back, has now become a "wash and wear" tousled mess of short curls that require little to no attention on my part and must dare not touch the nape of my neck. 

While waiting for the lovely, young and incredibly confident Tracy to take me to her chair, I sat furiously perusing 3 hair style magazines looking for the most daring short cut I'd be willing to sport without resorting to hats for a few months.  In the background there was a huge LCD television set with the volume off and the captions turned on.  The channel:  CNN with the obligatory pre-game opinions on the upcoming second Republican debate.

I glanced briefly, read a couple of comments and went back to furiously find a short hair cut designed for someone who does not need a perm (You gals with naturally straight hair have no idea how much you are the source of envy at these times! - You have, what has been named in my family since I had any concept of the spoken language: "Good Hair")

My frantic perusal was interrupted by a middle age woman waiting for a teenage male getting a haircut:

Woman: "Excuse me!" "Ms!"... To my Tracy... "Why is it that everywhere I go, the TV is at CNN or some news channel? - Are you not allowed to display other stations?"

Tracy: "Most people like to see the news" (not wanting to say that corporate insists on making sure their customers are not offended by programming, including, I found out the last time I was there, playing country music.  It is deemed by corporate that it imparts a negative image and some customers are offended by it.  Therefore: elevator music!)

*** Shocker:  I like country music and it does not offend me (for crying out loud, we live in the WEST) ***

Woman: "Well, I just don't understand it, the news is the news and it is boring.  Politicians are going to do what they want and there is nothing we can do about it, so why waste time watching this stuff?"

There was the polite, non-committal "Hmmm" and "Sure" from Tracy and the lady proceeded with "I have enough things in my life to worry about and don't have the time for any of this... besides, it does not affect me, so what difference does it make?"

Without meaning to, I raised an eyebrow and wondered how many of the people who live around me feel and think exactly like her.  It bothered me. I can't deny it.

I pretended to be engrossed in finding that perfect hair cut, but I raised my head slightly and an elderly gentleman sitting across from me and waiting patiently for his wife (who has obvious mobility issues)  held my gaze for a few seconds, smirked in her direction and rolled his eyes.

I suppressed a smile of understanding and, yes, relief, and continued to turn the pages.... realizing that at his age, he knew that what politicians do affects his life.  The middle-age lady was not aware of it... not yet.  If the Ryan plan takes hold, she will wake up one day and realize something went horribly wrong somewhere while she, and the rest of us, were busy with our lives.

"Olivia? are you ready?" said Tracy with a smile and shaking her head at the tangled dead raccoon that I call hair.

"Yes!" and with decisive emphasis tapped 3 pictures of the shortest hairstyles I could find. "I want a combination of these!." 

Tracy looked at them and firmly said "No! you can't have that, they are all wrong for  you" She added, "These women have straight hair and you don't want to spend hours applying product and playing with your hair.... C'mon... let's see what we can do."

Half an hour later, my Tracy did her magic.

If only life was as easy as a hair cut.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The People - The States

It is true that anything man made can be changed. This applies to laws that have been disregarded and to broken social contracts.

From Social Security to Medicare, from worker's rights to Union busting, from the Department of Education to a dismal Health Care and Prison systems.  Everything can be made to work better and on behalf of the citizens of the United States, if we can kick the multinational corporations to the curb.

While for years we lived in apathy complaining to each other about the government, calling them crooks and not being interested in our political landscape, something odd happened; we got hit on 9/11 by terrorists and got over our apathy in a heart beat.  

We did not like the Bush Administration but we solidified around fear and the common goal of keeping each other safe. We all know how all this ends.  It ends badly.

We engaged in bogus wars under the guise of National Security.  We sent thousands of our own to slaughter in a foreign country so corporations could rape and pillage the oil fields on behalf of Halliburton and other multinational corporations.  We spent unaccounted trillions of dollars on these wars by privatizing what the military used to do.

We are disgusted. 

Our men and women are serving next to mercenaries who have better equipment and are paid in six-figures.  The corruption is not only out of control, but blatant.  The kind of in-your-face and nothing-you-can-do-about-it corruption.  They basically told us to suck it up and take it, because corporate America was in charge of our blood and treasure with the blessings of our elected officials and the Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama

Enter Barack Obama who wins by a landslide thanks to a population that is jaded, beaten and mentally and emotionally exhausted.  His message of Hope and a fresh start resonates with all of us, but we never imagined that the corporations would continue to fight to stay in power and control, not only in Washington, but to blatantly extend their grasp into Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida and Indiana to name a few.

Let's be honest, we did not know their true reach and to a large extent, we still don't know.  Investigative reporting and journalism are almost extinct in our country because there is no real freedom of the press since networks and other news outlets are owned by corporations and monopolies. 

We also don't have a law, as they do in Canada, that prohibits lying in the news. (Okay, that is just simple and cool... can we have it here too?...please?)


Wisconsin has been on a wild ride in the ongoing fight to preserve worker's rights to collective bargain and fighting a mentality that vilifies teachers and all civil servants.  

With unions dwindling across the Nation and worker's rights systematically being eroded by corporations that treat workers as disposable commodities, the country has kept a vigilant eye on Wisconsin's workers' struggles and taking notes.  These other state want to unify successfully against Republican governors that are, enthusiastically, applying the same tactics to dismantle Unions, eliminate funding from education, and get rid of fire fighters and police officers.

These governors did not wake up one fine morning deciding to destroy their states and the working class, it was all planned ahead of time.  While they were elected by the general population, their funding and direction comes from the likes of the Koch brothers, The Heritage Foundation and Carl Rove's many incantations among others.  

Current Status for WisconsinRecall petition signatures have been collected for various legislators and Wisconsin citizens have gotten an early start on recalling Governor Scott Walker in preparation to oust him at the end of his first year.  

If all goes well, Wisconsin will have a special election sometime in June for these legislators and will be able to press the "recall button" on their governor in a few more months.

Wisconsin has showed the nation that Worker's rights are the rights of the middle class and taking away collective bargaining and chipping away at social foundations is not only detrimental to one state, but to all states.  All our States  economics are intertwined in a complex ritual of consumer spending, manufacturing, transportation and innovation. What happens in Wisconsin, affects all of us in various ways.

North Dakota

The only state that has a state bank is North Dakota and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics North Dakota's unemployment rate as of April 2011 is 3.2 % and declining.  So far, North Dakota has inspired 11 other states to pass legislation that would enabled them to cut their dependency on Wall Street banks and keep the money in the communities they serve.  These include California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Arizona, New Mexico, Washington State, Maine, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana and Virginia.  The Public Banking Institute keeps up-to-date records on each state's status.


The state of California has passed through the state legislature single-payer health care.  Not once, but twice.  Former governor, Arnold Schwatznegger vetoed the bills twice during his tenure.  California has an excellent chance of passing it this third time around since they elected Jerry Brown, a progressive Democrat that has vast experience as Attorney General, former Governor of California, Oakland Mayor and once again, Governor of California.

If  you recall, We, The People, forked over $700 Billion dollars and that is the number we are going to stick with for now, however, Mother Jones explains the cost of the bailout to an incomprehensible $7.2 trillion. 
California is putting things in place to be the second state to have its own bank. This move will serve to keep funding local and to serve their communities without being dependent on Wall Street.  California is the 8th largest world economy and they should do very well financially.

California is also benefiting from Florida's rejection of Federal funds to build a high-speed transit system.  While construction will begin slowly, it will dramatically reduce the unemployment numbers in the state and help stabilize its economy.


Big mistake, big mistake, big mistake. They elected Rick Scott as their governor who is hell-bent on destroying unions (sound familiar?), firing state employees, turn the government into a nanny-state that requires urine, blood and saliva samples to conduct testing on state employees and recipients of federal and state benefits.  

The costs of these test is horrific and their application discriminatory. There is no recourse in place to contest botched tests or positive results from prescription medication.  Rick Scott has also refused billions of dollars of stimulus money to build high-speed-rail, but had no problem taking over $200 million of stimulus funds to offset the state's budget and compensate the many medical facilities he owns, is part of, benefits from, and will likely conduct the mandatory drug testing he so cleverly mandates.

Mistakes can be corrected and Floridians are initiating their own recall efforts to get rid of some of their legislators.  Public efforts to recall Rick Scott are under way, but state law does not have a "recall button" like Wisconsin does for the Governor.  This is something that Floridians may want to consider as they go through the process of recalling other officials.


While the noise of distractions is deafening, Vermont has quietly gone about its business and passed legislation into law to institute single-payer health insurance.  The legislation was signed into law by Governor Peter Shumlin on May 2011.  Vermont is the first state to pass this law.

For those who advocate "state rights" this should be a cause of celebration but it is not.  The idea of state rights, is only good in theory, once it becomes a reality that benefits the population, corporatist begin to shiver.

While we are all inundated by strident distractions and personal attacks in social media, it does the soul good to realize that some of our elected officials and the people of our states are working tirelessly to rectify wrongs and give the power of government back to the people. 

We are the government and we are working to get our power back.  The way it is being done in the above mentioned states, is the best and most honorable way to proceed.  However, a little help from the Justice Department to prosecute those who interfere with voter rights, would be greatly appreciated.

We are a young country that has hit middle-age.  We are wiser now and learn a lot quicker from our collective past.

There is Hope - Peace
Image: By Rickipedia799 [Public domain]