Archive for September, 2010

What’s a progressive to do?

By Steve Klinger

You’ve been in a growing malaise for a couple of years now, mind watching your retirement account shrink and your home value sink as your nation flounders in gridlocked futility.

Before that, pills you endured eight years of Bush and Cheney that drained the Treasury and the national spirit with an unjust and immoral war in one country and a bungled, pill unending nightmare in another. On the home front, an enormous real estate bubble concealed a putrescent financial foundation fathered by greed and government collusion that undermined the crucial regulatory process.

Maybe you thought you saw a way forward and had come out of political hibernation in 2008 and shared that exhilarating historic moment with much of the world.

But since around Jan. 20, 2009, things have gone steadily downhill as you watched your silly hopes deflated a day at a time by the corporatism exerting its reality all around you.

All the while the great purveyor of hope and lofty campaign rhetoric continued to espouse bipartisan solutions in a shark tank where he is the live bait. You began to wonder about his own sharklike traits. Torture, assassination, extraordinary rendition? What happened to the pledges and promises that inspired you? As more than one blogger has noted, real change turned to chump change.

You see rich white men angry that the world is increasingly not composed of other rich white men to help them hold the unwashed masses at bay while convincing the latter it’s all in their own best interest.

Your see young inner city men and women angry that there are no jobs, no affordable housing, no hope, no money to buy the cheap crap from China, where their jobs have all gone.

You see Tea Partiers and middle-aged Heartlanders angry that their American Dream has been hijacked by what they say is big government but what they mean is minority party-crashers who want to redistribute the wealth. Their wealth. Or maybe their potential wealth.

You note that most other Americans are merely resigned, apathetic, distracted and addicted, eating themselves to death on the couch while the reality shows play out their fantasies and society crumbles around them in quiet microfractures. Who needs a conspiracy when free enterprise does such a wonderful job of empowering the oligarchy by drugging the willfully complicit legions with games, gadgets and high fructose corn syrup?

The dissolution of the Great American Empire rattles along inexorably, all around us, yet we still need to find a way forward because we’re alive and people plus planet are suffering – and Election Day 2010 is nearly upon us.

Maybe this is you: Disillusioned by the millions, voters who punched the ticket for change two years ago talk about staying home this time or even voting Republican in their anger and frustration. Those emotions are not greatly misplaced, given the infuriating spinelessness of the Democratic Congress, the uninspired leadership in the White House and the success of the obstructionist, lockstep Republicans. When things seem hopeless, inspiration is in short supply. Once bitten, twice shy.

But take note of this too: Worthwhile change never comes from the top down, and it never comes smoothly and without great resistance. Leadership and vision are born at the bottom and grow up from the grassroots, if at all. Politics, for all its tawdry posturing and phoniness, quid pro quo and hypocrisy, still affects people’s lives in the most pervasive way and is boycotted only at our great peril.

So stay home, watch the wingnuts and sociopaths take control of Congress and you accelerate the corporatization of America; quit now and you concede we are a nation of winners and losers (who must fend for themselves); give up and you invite the church into your bedroom; capitulate and you become part of America’s headlong plunge into darkness, while the rabble are snakecharmed and the privileged steal the rest of the pie.

But there are other alternatives: You can identify and support the candidates who are forces for positive change on the local level, where progress must begin. You can find those who could be enriching themselves in the private sector but choose instead to fight to preserve social safety nets, advance and improve the education system, protect the environment and stand up to the forces of greed and self-interest.

The system is maddeningly imperfect and so are even the best candidates and incumbents. But voter apathy and resignation will only empower those who have built their base on distortion and deception and whose darker agenda will render that apathy a bygone luxury.

Better yet, you can be the change you have come to expect from others. Organize, localize, harmonize with the beings and environment around you. Grow food, share resources, create solutions. Advance evolution. Resist devolution.

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To the Barricades! The Geezer Revolution is Coming!

By Thomas Wark
When the new American revolution comes — as inevitably it will — it will probably be geezers who are first to the barricades.

While we slept, Dr. Kidglove’s deficit reduction commission colluded with corporations and Congress to hack away at Social Security benefits.

“Oh,” we shrugged, re-checking the iffy status of our 401(k) and other dwindling savings, “they’ll never touch Social Security.”

They’ve done touched it, folks, and ain’t a thang we can do about it now.  Get used to it: cheap dog food kind of tastes like, oh, Spam if you load it with ketchup.

While the lap dogs of the media kept us busy fretting over celebrity divorces, phonied-up videos of a black USDA official speaking to the NAACP, and  manufactured controversy about whether the First Amendment applies to Islamic American citizens, that deficit commission was meeting in absolute secrecy.

We still haven’t figured out that the moment anything happens behind closed doors in Washington, John Q. Public is going to suffer for it.  When the something that’s happening involves a whole gaggle of outspoken enemies of Social Security and all other aspects of the social safety net, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Now, these dudes who had made up their minds even before they began meeting in secret to agree with one another, will make their official report in December — right after the Tea Party kooks, Republican extremists and other whores of corporate America have swept control of Congress.

So when Alan Simpson, Pete Peterson and the rest of the gang tell Congress that the geezers have sucked too long and too hard at the public teats, you can bet that Congress will rubber stamp it  tout de suite.

The vote is rigged anyway because the House has already passed a  resolution calling for an up-or-down/no-amendments vote on the Commission’s recommendations, a procedure that assures the enactment of the commission’s recommendations.

Every significant aspect of corporate government is rigged against We the People who formed this more perfect union.

Once, ten per cent return on investment was considered a fair and decent profit for an American business.  Then Wall Street and the big investment banks — yes, the outfits we had to bail out with our tax dollars a couple of years ago — decided that ten per cent was peanuts, wouldn’t pay the big bonuses CEOs were entitled to.

So they bought a few more congressmen and began to work away at the American labor movement, which created the middle class.  In secrecy and shady deals, American labor was so neutered that American jobs, particularly in manufacturing, went “Poof” and reappeared overseas. And corporate profit margins soared — 20 per cent, 25, 30. . . .Exxon Mobil!

It isn’t coincidence that trillions went to save corporations and a few dimes went to create jobs for the millions of unemployed Americans.

Perhaps the jobless will join the geezers on the barricades when revolution comes.   Who do you imagaine discovered that dog food tastes like Spam if you load it with ketchup?

It wasn’t the fat cats in corporate suites and boardrooms.

Read more by Thomas Wark at

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See pigs fly! See the cow jump over the moon!

By Thomas Wark

The great national orgy of self-deceit goes on.

Tonight, our Commander in Chief will speak to us about “the end of the war in Iraq.”

Haven’t we seen this movie before? Didn’t the spoiled rich kid dress up in a smartly tailored Sojer Suit and declare “Mission Accomplished?”

How many times can one war “end” but still continue to kill American servicemen and women? We’re laaving 50,000 of them over there with targets on their chests, but the “war is over?”

Why do we buy this bovine excrement? Why do we trust the media that repeat it? Do we enjoy being gulled? Gulling ourselves?

In November we will stage a general election. We will tell one another that we are participating in the democratic process.

Nonsense. A handful of billionaires, multimillionaires and the corporations they control will buy a majority of the House of Representative and half the Senate. The “elected” members of Congress will do the bidding of the most powerful among the richest one percent of Americans.

It will be ugly. Venal clones of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and their ilk will be governing us. Our yoke as citizens will be the legislation of Hate. Non-Christians, persons of color, liberals and others on the hate list will live in fear of the gun-toting, bible-quoting bigots giddy on power.

Dr. Kidglove? He has already rendered himself irrelevant by his foredoomed efforts to compromise with the devil. Some say that when the devil rules Washington, Dr. Kidglove will be impeached.

Maybe so. Will it matter? Will it matter if irrational, corrupt politicians oust a weak, inept leader on spurious grounds? Our once-proud nation has become a vast political cesspool; whatever emanates from Washington, regardless of the party of origin, stinks.

But we think we’re the moral compass of the world! We tell ourselves that the rest of the world is jealous because we’re free! We ignore the suspension of our civil rights that is ironically acronymed THE USA PATRIOT ACT. Over childishly absurd opposition by a witless minority, our elected whores manage to pass health care legislation that increases the power of insurers and corporations to withhold health care or make it excessively expensive for the poorest and most needy among us. And we call it “reform.”

We tune our televisions to a manufacturer of falsehoods, fear, lies and innuendo and tell ourselves that we’re watching “news.”

We will dial up our HDTVs tonight and listen to the “leader of the free world, the head of the richest, most powerful nation on earth,” as he declares once again the end of war in Iraq.

And we will believe. We will bless the troops. We will wave flags. We will sing patriotic songs.

We will be Americans. But we will still be at war in Iraq, where we never should have gone in the first place.

Read more by Thomas Wark at

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