Why We Could Be on the Verge of a Constitutional Apocalypse

By Les Leopold / AlterNet, February 21, 2017

If Republicans get full control of a few more State Houses, they will have the frightening power to amend the Constitution into their own authoritarian image.

As Donald Trump vilifies the press, the courts, immigrants, Muslims, Democrats, protesters and anyone who disagrees with him, it isn’t hard to imagine a modern-day Mussolini—or worse. But an even greater threat lies in Republicans’ march toward full control of state government. If they get there, they will have the frightening power to amend the Constitution into their own authoritarian image…or Ayn Rand’s.

Republicans now control 32 state legislatures and 33 governorships. They have majorities in both state legislative chambers as well as the governorships in 25 states. The Democrats have total control in only six states and legislative control in two more. (See here.)

If Republicans achieve veto-proof control in 38 states, they can do something that has never been done before—hold a constitutional convention, and then ratify new amendments that are put forth. To date, all amendments have been initiated from Congress where two-thirds of both houses are required. In either case, 38 states would be needed to ratify the amendments. The Republicans are well on their way.

We know what they are likely to do: end collective bargaining, outlaw abortion, forbid progressive income, estate and Wall Street taxes; prohibit class action law suits, privatize social security, guarantee “free choice” in all school systems, and so on. They would do what they’ve always wanted to do: outlaw the New Deal and its social democratic programs. And if they get crazy enough, they could end separation of church and state and undo other portions of the Bill of Rights.

A paranoid fantasy? Just say “President Trump.”

How did we get here?

Ask the corporate Democrats who have turned losing into an art form. Since 2008, they have lost 917 state legislative seats. Explanations range from Koch brothers funding to gerrymandering to voter suppression to the rise of the Tea Party. All partially true.

The Democrats also shoulder a good deal of the blame. Ever since Bill Clinton triangulated into NAFTA and away from working people, the Democratic Party’s embrace of financial and corporate elites has become the norm.

Hillary Clinton took $225,000 per speech from Goldman Sachs not because she was corrupt, but because this is simply the way the political game is played. You raise money from rich people, and then you back away from attacking their prerogatives while still trying to placate your liberal/worker base.

But as economist Jamie Galbraith put it, ultimately it is not possible for the Democrats to be both the party of the predators and the prey.

The failure and rebirth of progressivism?

The amazing acts of resistance popping up all over prove that the progressive spark is alive and well. Even seniors at the Progressive Forum in Deerfield Beach, Florida, are planning to put their bodies on the line to stop ICE raids.

While raising hell all over the country, we also should re-examine how our strategies and structures may have contributed to the rise of the right. After all, this electoral coup happened on our watch.

Silo organizing

Here’s our working hypothesis for how progressives contributed to the rise of the right: We have failed to come out of our issue silos to build a national movement that directly confronts runaway inequality.

For more than a generation, progressive organizations have shied away from big-picture organizing around economic inequality. Instead we’ve constructed a dizzying array of issue silos: environment, LGBQ, labor, immigration, women, people of color, criminal justice and so on. We are fractured into thousands of discrete issues, enabled by philanthropic foundations that are similarly siloed.

Few of our groups focused on the way Wall Street and corporate elites strip-mined the economy. Very few of us mobilized around the great crash. Few of us noticed as the CEO/worker income gap jumped from 45 to 1 in 1970 to an incredible 844 to 1 by 2015. We collectively missed how this growing economic inequality was causing and exacerbating nearly all of our silo issues. We didn’t connect the dots.

Most importantly, we failed to grasp how runaway inequality was alienating millions of working people who saw their incomes decline, their communities whither and their young unable to find decent jobs.

While the Tea Party and the right had a clear message—big government is bad—progressives had little to say collectively about runaway inequality.

Enter Occupy Wall Street

By the summer of 2010, the progressive failure was painfully obvious. After Wall Street had robbed us blind and crashed the economy, a Democratic president was about to enter a “grand bargain” with the Republicans to promote austerity. Think about this: While Wall Street got bailed out in full, Obama and the Democrats were about to cut Social Security. Amazing.

Then out of nowhere came Occupy Wall Street. (Out of nowhere is correct because the actions did not originate from any of our progressive silos.) In six months there were 900 encampments around the world. “We are the 99%” shifted the debate from austerity to inequality.

Unfortunately, Occupy believed in spontaneous political combustion and shunned any and all organizational structures and agendas. Social media, consensus decision-making, horizontal anti-organizing, and anti-leadership were to carry the day. In six months, they were gone.

Meanwhile the traditional progressive groups watched it rise and fall from the outside. We were spectators as we continued to press forward in our issue silos.

Enter Bernie Sanders

We got a second chance. Bernie Sanders, an independent socialist with a clear social democratic agenda, decided to challenge Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee. At first, few of us took him seriously. After all, he’d been around for 40 years, saying the same things but never gaining any traction outside of Vermont.

But like Occupy, he and his message hit a nerve, especially among the young and among disaffected working people who were fed up with the corporate Democrats.

In a flash, Sanders did the impossible. He beat Hillary in several primaries. He drew much larger crowds. He even raised more money from small donors than the Clinton machine could raise from the rich. Progressive unions like the Communications Workers of America and National Nurses United went all in. For a few months the dream looked possible.

But too many other large unions and liberal issue groups committed early to Clinton, thinking she would win easily. That would allow them to gain more access for their issues and for themselves. Didn’t happen.

Trump toppled the Clinton machine in the Rust Belt. Some say he did so with a toxic combination of racism, sexism and xenophobia and that certainly was the case for a good portion of his vote. Others are certain that Comey and Putin made the difference.

But in the Rust Belt, Trump won because he picked up millions who previously had voted for Obama and Sanders. It is highly likely that runaway inequality, and the trade deals that exacerbated it, defeated Clinton in the Democratic strongholds of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Michigan alone, Hillary received 500,000 fewer votes than Obama. (See here.)

What now?

We need to turn the marvelous anti-Trump resistance into a common national movement that binds us together and directly confronts runaway inequality. We need to come out of our silos because nearly every issue we work on is connected by growing inequality.

Such a movement requires the following:

1. A common analysis and agenda: As we’ve written elsewhere, resisting Trump is not enough. We need a proactive agenda about what we want that goes beyond halting the Trump lunacy.

The Sanders campaign offered a bold social democratic agenda to young people in particular. Progressive should be able to build broad support around a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street, free higher education, criminal justice reform, humane immigration policies, Medicare for All, fair trade, real action on climate change, and a guaranteed job at a living wage for all those willing and able.

2. A common national organization: A big problem. We have no equivalent to the Tea Party. We have no grand alliance that links unions, community, groups, churches and our issue silos. There are excellent websites like Indivisible that are successfully encouraging widespread resistance on the congressional level. But they consider themselves to be purely defensive against Trump.

There are hundreds of demonstrations popping up all over but no organizational glue to hold them together. There’s Our Revolution, an outgrowth of the Sanders campaign that is still getting its sea legs. But to date we have no common center of gravity that is moving us forward organizationally.

Ideally we should all be able to become dues-paying members of a national progressive alliance. We should be able to go from Paterson to Pensacola to Pomona and walk into similar meetings dedicated to fighting for our common agenda to reverse runaway inequality. Perhaps the hundreds of town hall meetings will head that way? It’s too early to tell.

3. An education infrastructure: The Populist movement of the late 19th century waged a fierce battle against Wall Street. It wanted public ownership of banks and railroads. It wanted livestock and grain cooperatives. It wanted a progressive income tax on the rich and public banks. The organization grew by fielding 6,000 educators to explain to small farmers, black and white, how the system was rigged against them and what they could do about it.

We need about 30,000 educators to hold similar discussions with our neighbors about runaway inequality, how it binds us together and what we can do about. (If you’re interested in getting involved, see here.)

4. A new identity: Our toughest challenge. For 40 years we’ve been conditioned to the idea that runaway inequality is an immutable fact of life—the inevitable result of automation, technology and competitive globalization. Along the way, neoliberal (free market) values shaped our awareness.

  • We accepted the idea that going to college meant massive debts for ourselves and our families
  • That there was nothing abnormal about having the largest prison population in the entire world
  • That it was part of the game to pay high deductibles, co-pays and premiums for health insurance
  • That it was OK for the super-rich to hide their money offshore
  • That there was nothing to be done about chronic youth unemployment, both rural and urban, other than to try harder to pull themselves up
  • That it was perfectly natural for factories to pick up and flee to low-wage areas with no environmental enforcement
  • And that somehow private sector jobs, by definition, were more valuable to society than public ones

These mental constraints have got to go. We got here as the result of deliberative policy choices, not by acts of God. We need to reclaim a basic truth: the economy should work for its people, not the other way around.

Most importantly, we have to relearn the art of movement building that starts in our own minds—we have to believe it is both necessary and possible, and that each and every one of us can contribute to it.

We desperately need a new identity—that of movement builder.

Is this so difficult to imagine?

Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, is currently working with unions and community organizations to build the educational infrastructure for a new anti-Wall Street movement. His new book Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice serves as a text for this campaign. All proceeds go to support these educational efforts.

 

13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush’s Watch Without a Peep from Fox News

by Bob Cesca, Huffington Post.com, May 2013

The Republican inquisition over the attacks against Americans in Benghazi has never really gone away, but it appears as though in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the House Oversight Committee’s Benghazi hearings this week there are renewed psycho-histrionics over Benghazi.

Lindsey Graham and Fox News Channel in particular are each crapping their cages over new allegations from an alleged whistleblower, while they continue to deal in previously debunked falsehoods about the sequence of events during and following the attacks. Fox News is predictably helming the biggest raft of hooey on the situation — turning its attention to Hillary Clinton in an abundantly obvious early move to stymie her presidential run before it even begins.

So I thought I’d revisit some territory I covered back in October as a bit of a refresher — especially since it appears as if no one, including and especially the traditional press, intends to ask any of these obnoxious, opportunistic liars about why they’re so obsessed by this one attack yet they entirely ignored the dozen-plus consulate/embassy attacks that occurred when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were allegedly “keeping us safe.”

The Benghazi attacks (the consulate and the CIA compound) are absolutely not unprecedented even though they’re being treated that way by Republicans who are deliberately ignoring anything that happened prior to Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.

June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al Qaeda attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.

October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of “Bali Bombings.” No fatalities.

February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.

May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al Qaeda terrorists storm the diplomatic compound, killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.

July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.

December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.

March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)

September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.

January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.

March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.

July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.

September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.

A few observations about this timeline. My initial list was quoted from an article on the Daily Kos which actually contained several errors and only 11 attacks (the above timeline contains all 13 attacks). Also, my list above doesn’t include the numerous and fatal attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad during the Iraq war — a war that was vocally supported by Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Fox News Channel.

Speaking of Graham, I ran a search on each attack along with the name “Lindsey Graham” in the hopes of discovering that Graham had perhaps commented about the attacks or raised some questions about why the administration didn’t prevent the attacks or respond accordingly to prevent additional embassy attacks. No results. Of course. Now, this could mean the search wasn’t exhaustive enough. But one thing’s for sure: neither Graham nor any of his cohorts launched a crusade against the Bush administration and the State Department in any of those cases — no one did, including the congressional Democrats, by the way.

This leads us to the ultimate point here. Not only have numerous sources previously debunked the Benghazi information being peddled by the Republicans and Fox News (for example, contrary to what the Republicans are saying, yes, reinforcements did in fact arrive before the attack on the CIA compound), but none of these people raised a single word of protest when, for example, American embassies in Yemen and Pakistan were attacked numerous times. Why didn’t the Bush administration do something to secure the compounds after the first attacks? Why didn’t he provide additional security?

Where was your inquest after the Karachi attacks, Mr. Graham? Where were you after the Sana’a attacks, Mr. Hannity? What about all of the embassy attacks in Iraq that I didn’t even list here, Mr. McCain? Do you realize how many people died in attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates when Bush was supposedly keeping us safe, Mr. Ailes? Just once I’d like to hear David Gregory or George Stephanopoulos or Wolf Blitzer ask a Republican member of Congress about the above timeline and why they said nothing at the time of each attack. Just once.

Nearly every accusation being issued about Benghazi could’ve been raised about the Bush-era attacks, and yet these self-proclaimed truth-seekers refused to, in their words, undermine the commander-in-chief while troops were in harm’s way (a line they repeated over and over again during those years).

So we’re only left to conclude the obvious. The investigations and accusations and conspiracy theories are entirely motivated by politics and a strategy to escalate this to an impeachment trial. In doing so, the Republicans have the opportunity not only to crush the president’s second term, but also to sabotage the potential for a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Even if they never arrive at that goal, they have in their possession a cudgel formed of horseshit — a means of flogging the current administration with the singularly effective Republican marketing/noise machine, including the conservative entertainment complex. Very seldom does this machine fail to revise history and distort the truth. Ultimately, they don’t even need a full-blown impeachment proceeding when they have a population of way too many truthers and automatons who take all of these lies at face value — not to mention dubiously sourced chunks of “truth” proffered by radio and cable news conspiracy theorists who, if nothing else, are masters at telling angry conservatives precisely what they want to hear: that the probably-Muslim president is weak on terrorism. And so they’ll keep repeating “Benghazi-Gate, Benghazi-Gate, Benghazi-Gate!” without any regard for history or reality. Like always.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/13-benghazis-that-occurre_b_3246847.html

How Frank Luntz Is Killing the GOP

by Brett C. Di Resta, Huffington Post.com,  04/ 9/2012

Excerpt

..Frank Luntz is a top Republican pollster and wordsmith. Luntz is best known for working with Republicans on language, making sure that Republican talking points are soothing to the ear of Americans. The motto on his website is “its not what you say, it’s what they hear.” His strategy has been an unbridled success for the GOP. Republicans have learned that it’s not what they are selling, but how they sell it that is important. So the inheritance tax became the death tax. And anti-environmental bills get very green-friendly names, like Clear Skies… the GOP learned how to use the right poll-tested words…Another problem with winning with Luntz-style politics is that it has led to hubris; Republicans believe they can talk their way out of anything. Just look at their strategy in the war against women…RNC Chairman Reince Priebus blamed the media…No politician has shown greater adherence to verbiage and less fidelity to substance than Mitt Romney. Romney…

Full text

This post isn’t what you expect. I’m not here to bury Frank Luntz, but to praise him. For those not familiar, Frank Luntz is a top Republican pollster and wordsmith. Luntz is best known for working with Republicans on language, making sure that Republican talking points are soothing to the ear of Americans. The motto on his website is “its not what you say, it’s what they hear.”

His strategy has been an unbridled success for the GOP. Republicans have learned that it’s not what they are selling, but how they sell it that is important. So the inheritance tax became the death tax. And anti-environmental bills get very green-friendly names, like Clear Skies. Let’s just say the Pink Slime folks ought to have put Mr. Luntz on their speed dial.

More recently, the focus on language as opposed to substance, has led to foolish policy prescriptions. In 2011, the Ryan budget plan was a debacle. Citizens rebelled against the idea of ending Medicare as an entitlement while cutting taxes for the rich. After such a debacle one would think Republicans would change their policy, right?

Not the party of Luntz. As a Politico story laid out, the GOP just changed the way they talked about the plan.

And perhaps most important, the GOP learned how to use the right poll-tested words… Last year, (Republicans) were blindsided by the backlash to the Wisconsin Republican’s plan. It was immediately framed by Democrats as ending Medicare, crushing Medicaid while keeping taxes low for the rich. Ryan, who was being pitched as a presidential prospect for the party, receded as his plan came under attack from all sides.

The 2012 plan is — simply put — to not talk about the plan too much.

And there you have the modern GOP in a nutshell. When America hates their policies, they don’t change it or heaven forbid, compromise. No, they just use new “poll-tested words.”

Another problem with winning with Luntz-style politics is that it has led to hubris; Republicans believe they can talk their way out of anything. Just look at their strategy in the war against women.

Poll after poll shows that the GOP’s policies, be it transvaginal ultrasounds or making contraception coverage harder to get, have been a disaster with women. A recent Gallup poll indicates an 18-point gender gap in favor of President Obama.

But you wouldn’t know it was a problem by the GOP response. South Carolina Governor and VP contender Nikki Haley went on television and said, “Women don’t care about contraception.” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus blamed the media for the GOP’s problem with women. It’s as if the GOP is trying to pull the Jedi Mind Trick on the entire population.

Now, at the top of the ticket, we have a Luntzian candidate in its purest form. No politician has shown greater adherence to verbiage and less fidelity to substance than Mitt Romney. Romney, the true heir to Luntz, may cost the GOP in the end. And that may be too good for words.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brett-c-di-resta/how-frank-luntz-is-killin_b_1411525.html

The Ignorance Caucus

By PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times, February 10, 2013

Excerpt

[The Republican] party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions…while Democrats, being human, often read evidence selectively and choose to believe things that make them comfortable, there really isn’t anything equivalent to Republicans’ active hostility to collecting evidence in the first place.

The truth is that America’s partisan divide runs much deeper than even pessimists are usually willing to admit; the parties aren’t just divided on values and policy views, they’re divided over epistemology. One side believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs…

Full text

Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas.

To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed — and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

And such is the influence of what we might call the ignorance caucus that even when giving a speech intended to demonstrate his openness to new ideas, Mr. Cantor felt obliged to give that caucus a shout-out, calling for a complete end to federal funding of social science research. Because it’s surely a waste of money seeking to understand the society we’re trying to change.

Want other examples of the ignorance caucus at work? Start with health care, an area in which Mr. Cantor tried not to sound anti-intellectual; he lavished praise on medical research just before attacking federal support for social science. (By the way, how much money are we talking about? Well, the entire National Science Foundation budget for social and economic sciences amounts to a whopping 0.01 percent of the budget deficit.)

But Mr. Cantor’s support for medical research is curiously limited. He’s all for developing new treatments, but he and his colleagues have adamantly opposed “comparative effectiveness research,” which seeks to determine how well such treatments work.

What they fear, of course, is that the people running Medicare and other government programs might use the results of such research to determine what they’re willing to pay for. Instead, they want to turn Medicare into a voucher system and let individuals make decisions about treatment. But even if you think that’s a good idea (it isn’t), how are individuals supposed to make good medical choices if we ensure that they have no idea what health benefits, if any, to expect from their choices?

Still, the desire to perpetuate ignorance on matters medical is nothing compared with the desire to kill climate research, where Mr. Cantor’s colleagues — particularly, as it happens, in his home state of Virginia — have engaged in furious witch hunts against scientists who find evidence they don’t like. True, the state has finally agreed to study the growing risk of coastal flooding; Norfolk is among the American cities most vulnerable to climate change. But Republicans in the State Legislature have specifically prohibited the use of the words “sea-level rise.

And there are many other examples, like the way House Republicans tried to suppress a Congressional Research Service report casting doubt on claims about the magical growth effects of tax cuts for the wealthy.

Do actions like this have important effects? Well, consider the agonized discussions of gun policy that followed the Newtown massacre. It would be helpful to these discussions if we had a good grasp of the facts about firearms and violence. But we don’t, because back in the 1990s conservative politicians, acting on behalf of the National Rifle Association, bullied federal agencies into ceasing just about all research into the issue. Willful ignorance matters.

O.K., at this point the conventions of punditry call for saying something to demonstrate my evenhandedness, something along the lines of “Democrats do it too.” But while Democrats, being human, often read evidence selectively and choose to believe things that make them comfortable, there really isn’t anything equivalent to Republicans’ active hostility to collecting evidence in the first place.

The truth is that America’s partisan divide runs much deeper than even pessimists are usually willing to admit; the parties aren’t just divided on values and policy views, they’re divided over epistemology. One side believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs.

In her parting shot on leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton said of her Republican critics, “They just will not live in an evidence-based world.” She was referring specifically to the Benghazi controversy, but her point applies much more generally. And for all the talk of reforming and reinventing the G.O.P., the ignorance caucus retains a firm grip on the party’s heart and mind.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/11/opinion/krugman-the-ignorance-caucus.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130211&_r=0

Most American Voters Elected a Democratic House, But We Got a Tea Party Congress

by  MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, November 26, 2012

BuzzFlash isn’t the first site to note that approximately 53,952,000 Democratic votes were cast for congressional representatives, while only about 53,403,000 votes were cast for House Republicans.  (Curiously enough that is about the same popular vote victory that Al Gore won in the 2000 election: 540,000 votes.)

Yet, the Boehner/Cantor Tea Party tilt remains in the House of Representatives.

As PolicyMic explains:

Republican gerrymandering of electoral districts isn’t as sexy to kick up a fuss about, nor does it make for as good memes, but it’s safe to say that elaborate redistricting helped the party to win their current House majority. And to win by redistricting, looks an awful lot like cheating. Professor Geoffrey Stone emphasized that:

“Although the Republicans won 55% of the House seats, they received less than half of the votes for members of the House of Representatives. Indeed, more than half-a-million more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates than for Republicans House candidates. There was no split-decision. The Democrats won both the presidential election and the House election. But the Republicans won 55% of the seats in the House.

This seems crazy. How could this be?

This answer lies in the 2010 election, in which Republicans won control of a substantial majority of state governments. They then used that power to re-draw congressional district lines in such a way as to maximize the Republican outcome in the 2012 House election.”

Take Pennsylvania, for instance, the Democrats received 2,710,827 votes for congressional candidates; the Republicans, 2,642,952.  Although it was a slim victory, the Dems won the popular vote in Pennsylvania as far as electing representatives to Congress.

Astonishingly, however, due to gerrymandering from the Tea Party tsunami election of 2010, which left the Pennsylvania legislature and governor in full control of the GOP, only 5 Democratic reps to Congress were elected in 2012, while the Republicans will send 13 reps to DC!

In Ohio, Secretary of State John Husted – who unrelentingly tried to suppress Democratic votes in the 2012 election – has denied he was proposing to change the allocation of electoral votes in the Buckeye State to winners of congressional districts.   (Only Nebraska and Maine currently employ such a presidential election system.) But you can’t blame him for launching such a partisan trial balloon, given that his allegiance is to the Republican Party, not the people of Ohio. Under such a system for Ohio in 2012, Romney would have been awarded 12 of the 18 electoral votes in the state (due once again to gerrymandering).

In summary, citizens of the United States elected a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate.  Minus the partisan tactic of gerrymandering, the American people also elected a Democratic House.

President Obama should remember this when he deals with the Tea Party tilt of the gerrymandered Republican House.  John Boehner does not represent the majority of the United States voters; he represents the pathology of a minority.

http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/17656-most-american-voters-elected-a-democratic-house-but-we-got-a-tea-party-congress

Pundits and politicians contend for the soul of the Republican party

by Paul Harris, Guardian/UK, November 12, 2012

Excerpt

A civil war is brewing in the GOP – between the realists who have to get elected and the ultras in the conservative media…the fascinating element of this sure-to-be-brutal conflict lies not in the opposing arguments, but in the make-up of each side. For long years, buoyed by Fox News and a legion of talk radio shockjocks, the conservative media and its allies in radical think tanks have been an integral part of the Republican party…internet scribe Matt Drudge, radio host Rush Limbaugh and anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist…Steve Deace, a radio host in Iowa…Bryan Fischer, a radio host with the American Family Association…Limbaugh…Herman Cain…What do these people all have in common? No one elects them. They are pundits and firebrands whose very existence relies on stirring up the base. That is where they get readers, listeners and donors. These people do not fear election losses. They thrive on them. Opposition suits their purpose…Among the GOP’s elected representatives – and its more traditional elites – there is a sudden outbreak of moderation….it is not really a battle between two sets of warring politicians. Instead, it is a fight between politicians and pundits. It is policy versus talking points, voters versus ratings. Even Democrats should hope the politicians win.

Full text

A civil war is brewing in the GOP – between the realists who have to get elected and the ultras in the conservative media

There is rarely anything “civil” about civil war. That definitely seems to be the case as the Republican party and conservatives react to defeat at the hands of President Barack Obama.

As with most such fights – think of the Labour party in Britain in the early 1980s, or the Conservatives in the early 2000s – the conflict is between modernisers dragging a party more in line with the electorate it seeks to represent and reactionaries convinced salvation lies in a harder adherence to ideology.

On the one hand are people who accept the Republican party has now lost five out of the last six popular vote tallies in US presidential elections. They examine the changing demographics and social attitudes of Americans (less white, less religious, and more angry at the very wealthy) and see a powerful need to change.

On the other hand are Republicans who look at Mitt Romney’s capture of 48% of the vote and see a flawed “moderate in conservative clothing” who failed to connect to voters the way a true believer would. Just another couple of percentage points, these folks argue, and it would now be a dawn of a conservative golden age.

But the fascinating element of this sure-to-be-brutal conflict lies not in the opposing arguments, but in the make-up of each side. For long years, buoyed by Fox News and a legion of talk radio shockjocks, the conservative media and its allies in radical thinktanks have been an integral part of the Republican party. If you agreed with them, you saw people like internet scribe Matt Drudge, radio host Rush Limbaugh and anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist as necessary watchdogs on slippery politicians. If you didn’t, it seemed that in the Republican party, the inmates had taken over the asylum.

Look at those now standing on the side of retrenchment. There is Drudge, promoting the “secession” petitions that grassroots activists have sent to the White House from every state. That sort of extremist posturing feels very pre-2012 election (even Texas Governor Rick Perry – no stranger to secession talk – thinks so). Or look at Limbaugh. He dubbed critics of conservatism “the usual suspects” and asked millions of listeners to hold firm. Across the country “mini-Rushes” are repeating that message.

Take Steve Deace, a radio host in Iowa, who has slammed potential 2012 modernising candidates like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush or New Jersey’s Chris Christie. “Those people will never happen,” he emailed Business Insider.

Or look at Bryan Fischer, a radio host with the American Family Association. On the key issues of immigration, gay marriage and the deficit, Fischer’s argument is for more of the same message that has just rejected at the polls. “There hasn’t been such a rush to surrender since the French dropped to their knees before the Nazis in 1940,” he wrote this week.

There is even talk about a third party emerging from this fight. Limbaugh has floated the idea. So has Herman Cain, who may have run for the GOP nomination, but whose real power lies in his radio show and his speaking tours.

What do these people all have in common?

No one elects them. They are pundits and firebrands whose very existence relies on stirring up the base. That is where they get readers, listeners and donors. These people do not fear election losses. They thrive on them. Opposition suits their purpose.

The last thing they need is any form of accountable relationship with actual voters. Former George W Bush speechwriter David Frum, firing a brutal shot from the moderate camp, summed up their tactics the best: “Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex,” he told MSNBC.

So, what of the people who actually have to appeal to the voters?

That is where the other side of the GOP civil war is pitching its camp. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s remarkable interview to Politico this week had him sounding like MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Jindal, echoing the “nasty party” fears of a previous generation of British Tories, said it was time for Republicans to stop being the “stupid party”. He went on:

“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything. We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”

Wow. That is heady stuff for anyone who has listened to Republican dogma over the past decade or more.

Among the GOP’s elected representatives – and its more traditional elites – there is a sudden outbreak of moderation. The new intake of the House of Representatives now includes a dozen Republicans who have refused to sign Norquist’s “no tax increases” pledge. Others have recanted their allegiance. It is a clear sign of an ideological break with the past in favour of practical reality.

House speaker John Boehner is making noises about not seeking to repeal Obamacare, apparently accepting that most virulent of political fights is finished. Chris Christie has not backed down despite conservative ire over his across-the-aisle back-slapping with Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Indeed, Christie has now earned the displeasure of the Koch brothers-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity, which once fervently supported him.

And Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol – the epitome of the Washington establishment conservative – even recently raised the prospect of supporting tax hikes. “It won’t kill the country if Republicans raise taxes a little bit on millionaires. It really won’t,” he told the flabbergasted viewers of Fox News.

Finally, there is immigration reform. Witnessing Obama’s overwhelming support among Hispanics, Republican politicians are rushing to embrace this once toxic issue. Three Senate Republicans, in the shape of John McCain, Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio, are making noises about legislation that includes the once-unmentionable idea of a path to citizenship.

This sort of thing is a huge shock to the “conservative entertainment complex” Frum so accurately identified. Which is what makes the coming Republican civil war so unique. For it is not really a battle between two sets of warring politicians. Instead, it is a fight between politicians and pundits. It is policy versus talking points, voters versus ratings.

Even Democrats should hope the politicians win.

http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/commentisfree/2012/nov/14/republican-party-soul-pundits-politicians

The Strange Sexual Obsessions Driving the Tea Party Movement by David Rosen

CounterPunch, September 19, 2010 

…The November election will determine whether the Tea Party will take control of the Republican Party and pull the Congress even further to the reactionary right…

Knowing full well that the majority of Americans reject conservative Christian values, the Tea Party has campaigned on fighting personal taxes, the federal debt and the “tyranny” of Washington…

At the heart of this unstated agenda are white Christian America’s deep-seated fears of sex, race and interracial “pollution.”…

Race, and particularly interracial sex and procreation, is the other unstated, hot-button issue that galvanizes the Tea Party movement. Demographic profiles depict the movement as a predominately middle-aged and older white constituency, often from smaller towns and cities throughout heartland America. 

Unstated, their lives have been uprooted by capitalist globalization and they are desperately clinging to post-WWII white skin privileges that assured them the benefits of a “middle-class” life. A half-century later, capitalism has betrayed them; sadly, they refuse to acknowledge it, instead blaming liberals, immigrants and a world beyond their control. The promotion of false consciousness is corporate media’s principal responsibility… 

Over the last two years, white, rightwing Christian activists, along with their political shills and media pundits, have rallied to the Tea Party. During this process, a mean-spirited constituency emerged that voices insulating and defamatory comments about the President as well as other black, Hispanic and (Middle-Eastern) Muslim Americans….These comments are not only provocative, but serve a political purpose of galvanizing discontent among a growing segment of older, working- and middle-class white Americans. This movement represents a neo-fascist propensity toward political tyranny. 

Race and sex have divided the New World since its founding four centuries ago…fear about the “pollution” of the nation’s white “stock” has haunted American politics. It underscored the belief in America’s “manifest destiny” as an imperialist power;…and it inflamed the Klan, fueling its terror and lynching campaigns as well as ‘60s racists. 

The great white fear of interracial “pollution” has found is most acute expression with Obama’s president. He is the offspring of not simply an interracial relationship, but an international coupling as well. He is the child of 21st century globalization, the symbolic representation of a hope for a world without boarders, without race prejudice, without white privilege.

 

In the face of today’s widespread sexual and racial “pollution,” those aligned with the Tea Party are fearful, furious. They are desperately holding onto a fictitious past. They worry that America is becoming a mongrel nation and that their privileged status is vanishing. However unstated, unconscious, there fears might be, Tea Party candidates O’Donnell and Paladino speak to a collective prejudice shared by many Americans. It is fear anchored in 19th century notions of nationhood, racial purity and imperial conquest. It is a prejudice that violates the spirit of what is the great hope of America. 

Full Text

Tea Party advocates and rightwing media pundits were gleeful in the aftermath of this week’s primary election results. They were buoyed by their candidates’ strong showings throughout the country against the Republican establishment, particularly in Delaware and New York. The November election will determine whether the Tea Party will take control of the Republican Party and pull the Congress even further to the reactionary right. 

Amidst all the victory hoopla, stories about the questionable sexual- and race-related attitudes and behavior of two of the Tea Party’s principal proponents, Delaware’s senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell and New York’s gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, have garnered as much notoriety as their often-questionable policy pronouncements. 

Delaware candidate O’Donnell proposed in a 1996 MTV program and again in a 1998 article, “The Case for Chastity,” that masturbation is sinful and that looking at pornography is equivalent to adultery. She proudly declared:

When a married person uses pornography, or is unfaithful, it compromises not just his (or her) purity, but also compromises the spouse’s purity. As a church, we need to teach a higher standard than abstinence. We need to preach a righteous lifestyle.

She has apparently not revised or repudiated her position in the intervening years.

The New York gubernatorial candidate Paladino has come under increasing media scrutiny for a growing number of apparent indiscretions. They include revelations about his collection of Internet porn which he gladly shares with his construction-industry “buddies” and racially-provocative e-mails depicting Pres. Obama as an African tribesman or a ‘70s-era pimp (with his wife, Michelle, depicted as a “ho”). More troubling are revelations about his extra-marital affair with an employee and the “love child” he fathered. 

What is most striking about these incidents is not the specific actions, but the fact that Tea Party proponents have shrugged off these embarrassments as inconsequential in assessing their candidates for public office. With an almost, aw-shucks attitude, the Tea Party right sees the values and actions of their candidates like the conduct of ordinary folk, their next-door neighbors. 

In fairness, a candidate’s private actions, to the extent that they are not criminal (e.g., pedophilia, rape) or inflict real suffering on another (e.g., physical and psychological abuse), shouldn’t be the principal factor in evaluating the candidate’s competency to govern. 

Over the last few years, Republicans like Sen. David Vitter, Sen. John Ensign and Gov. Mark Sanford have been outed for their sexual indiscretions with little political fall-out. These conservative Republicans have adhered to a liberal moral standard and have gone on with their political careers with only a little mud on their respective faces, suffering no real price to pay. Yet, as was evident with the revelations about president candidate John Edward and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, when comparable revelations of sexual indiscretions about Democratic came out, those involved were forced from the political playing field. Such is the nature of the moral double-standard that defines American politics. 

Hidden at the root of the Tea Party movement are the issues of sex and race, especially interracial sex and the resulting “pollution” of the white “stock.” The movement has sought to keep conventional “culture wars” issues like abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research at an arms-length’s-distance from its organizing efforts. Knowing full well that the majority of Americans reject conservative Christian values, the Tea Party has campaigned on fighting personal taxes, the federal debt and the “tyranny” of Washington. 

Nevertheless, the Tea Party’s appeal to traditional Christian values, its unstated secret agenda, was publicly exposed by the O’Donnell and Paladino revelations. At the heart of this unstated agenda are white Christian America’s deep-seated fears of sex, race and interracial “pollution.”

* * *

The sex-poses at the heart of the O’Donnell and Paladino campaigns are not isolated occurrences. As a “grassroots” movement, innumerable local Tea Party political leaders have been exposed in a variety of sex scandals and questionable practices. A handful of these are illustrative: 

In South Carolina in the wake of the Gov. Sanford scandal, a conservative blogger, Will Folks, revealed “several years ago, prior to my marriage, I had an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki [Haley].” Haley immediately responded, “I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage.” The revelation came out amidst a hard fought Republican primary that she won.

In Ohio, the Constitution Party candidate for U.S. Senate, Eric Deaton, was indicted for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor at the end of August.

Also in Ohio, State Senator Kevin Coughlin, a Tea Party die-hard from Akron, was outed for his affair with a fellow Republican while his wife was pregnant. 

In Indiana, Rep. Mark Souder resigned his seat from the 3rd District that he held since 1994 over an illicit affair. He was a true-blue conservative Republican with an A-plus standing with the National Rifle Association and 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee. Without referring to the unstated affair that drove him from office, Souder pathetically proclaimed, “I am so ashamed to hurt those I love.”

The movement, drawing upon its more libertarian stains, has sought to impose restraint on its most reactionary tendencies: 

In Montana, the Big Sky Tea Party Association fired its leader, Tim Ravndal, over the homophobic comments he made. Referring to homosexuals as “fruits,” Rayndal insisted that he did not imply an anti-gay intention. This issue is particularly sensitive in Montana due to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. Nevertheless, Rayndal opposed a Helena sex education proposal to teach gender tolerance.

In Florida, Everett Wilkinson, state director of the Tea Party Patriots, took a neutral position on gay marriage: “On [this] issue itself, we have no stance, but any time a state’s rights or powers are encouraged over the federal government, it is a good thing.” He is following the position advocated by Bob Barr, a former Republican Georgia congressman who wrote the original Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), who is a strong Tea Party proponent and a fierce libertarian who now opposes DOMA. 

Nevertheless, the Tea Party’s inherent fear of sex is always close to the surface. Earlier this year, Scott Southworth, the DA from Juneau County, WS, and a strong Tea Party backer, warned local teachers that if they used a new state sex ed course they could be committing a crime and serve up to six years in prison. He found particularly objectionable sexual relations between two consenting adolescents, often referred to as “Romeo and Juliet” affairs, that, according to state law, he considered incidents of sexual assault.

* * *

Race, and particularly interracial sex and procreation, is the other unstated, hot-button issue that galvanizes the Tea Party movement. Demographic profiles depict the movement as a predominately middle-aged and older white constituency, often from smaller towns and cities throughout heartland America. 

Unstated, their lives have been uprooted by capitalist globalization and they are desperately clinging to post-WWII white skin privileges that assured them the benefits of a “middle-class” life. A half-century later, capitalism has betrayed them; sadly, they refuse to acknowledge it, instead blaming liberals, immigrants and a world beyond their control. The promotion of false consciousness is corporate media’s principal responsibility. 

Since Obama’s 2008 election, Congressional Republicans have engaged in a systematic campaign to block nearly all Obama and Democratic legislative initiatives that would redress the Bush-era fiscal and social crisis. This do-nothing effort has been extremely effective, making all Americans suffer while the rich have prospered and the corporate media obfuscated accountability. 

Over the last two years, white, rightwing Christian activists, along with their political shills and media pundits, have rallied to the Tea Party. During this process, a mean-spirited constituency emerged that voices insulating and defamatory comments about the President as well as other black, Hispanic and (Middle-Eastern) Muslim Americans. These statements range from snide depictions of the President and his wife as in the Paladino emails to the belief among some 20 percent of the population that the President is a Muslim or not an American. These comments are not only provocative, but serve a political purpose of galvanizing discontent among a growing segment of older, working- and middle-class white Americans. This movement represents a neo-fascist propensity toward political tyranny. 

Race and sex have divided the New World since its founding four centuries ago. Few recall that the first interracial marriage took on April 5, 1614, when Pocahontas, a Powhatan woman and reputed daughter of Chief Powhatan, married the Englishman John Rolfe near Jamestown, VA. Since then, fear about the “pollution” of the nation’s white “stock” has haunted American politics. It underscored the belief in America’s “manifest destiny” as an imperialist power; it framed the pseudo-science of eugenics that lead to a 1927 Supreme Court decision that legalized the sterilization of 60,000 Americans for feeblemindedness; and it inflamed the Klan, fueling its terror and lynching campaigns as well as ‘60s racists. 

The great white fear of interracial “pollution” has found is most acute expression with Obama’s president. He is the offspring of not simply an interracial relationship, but an international coupling as well. He is the child of 21st century globalization, the symbolic representation of a hope for a world without boarders, without race prejudice, without white privilege. 

In the face of today’s widespread sexual and racial “pollution,” those aligned with the Tea Party are fearful, furious. They are desperately holding onto a fictitious past. They worry that America is becoming a mongrel nation and that their privileged status is vanishing. However unstated, unconscious, there fears might be, Tea Party candidates O’Donnell and Paladino speak to a collective prejudice shared by many Americans. It is fear anchored in 19th century notions of nationhood, racial purity and imperial conquest. It is a prejudice that violates the spirit of what is the great hope of America.
David Rosen is the author of “Sex Scandals America: Politics & the Ritual of Public Shaming” (Key, 2009); he can be reached at drosen@ix.netcom.com.

© 2010 CounterPunch All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/148223/

 

Education – right wing conservative

The Big Picture: A 40-Year Scan of the Right-Wing Corporate Takeover of America By Don Hazen and Colin Greer, AlterNet, October 3, 2011…They want to control and privatize government resources. Capitalism is exhausted here. It needs more public money. It’s always needed public money, it needs more now. When you look at the growth of capitalism in America from railroads all the way to the computer, it’s publicly funded…So the reinvention of capitalism is the issue, and the reinvention of government is what is happening. So capitalism is directly claiming public investment now…Charter schools are a very good case study for the [privatization] impulse.… forget whether or not they work, because they don’t. But even if they did they are not cheaper. Charter schools are simply the transfer of public money to profit-making activity. That’s the system they are steadily building — prisons, schools, public parks, there’s a conversion of the whole system into an investment of capital which is a major extension of what’s always been true. …

The Right’s ‘School Choice’ SchemeBy Rachel Tabachnick [1], Political Research Associates, November 2, 2012 -This article originally appeared at Public Eye [2], the Web site of Political Research Associates.

Republicans Tell Iowa Homeschoolers Education Not Government’s Role by Julie Ingersoll, Religion Dispatches, March 24, 2011 — …three potential presidential candidates spoke to the crowd of several hundred, all agreeing that government should not “interfere” in education…Whether through homeschooling or Christian schools, the goal is to “replace” public education… which is considered unbiblical. According to Reconstructionism, the Bible gives authority for education to families—not the state—and the Bible does not give the state the authority to tax people to pay for the education of other peoples’

The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education By Rachel Tabachnick, AlterNet, May 6, 2011

Messing With Texas Textbooks by Bill Moyers, PBS, June 29, 2012

Ignorance Is Strength By Paul Krugman, New York Times, March 8, 2012

11 Most Absurd Lies Conservatives Are Using to Brainwash America’s School Kids By Amanda Mar­cotte, Alter­Net, March 11, 2013 — If recent elec­tions have taught us any­thing, it’s that young Amer­i­cans have taken a decided turn to the left. Young vot­ers deliv­ered Obama the elec­tion: the under-44 set voted Obama and the over-45 set broke for Rom­ney. The youngest vot­ers, age 18–29, gave Obama a whop­ping 60% of their vote. Now Repub­li­cans have a plan to try to recap­ture the youngest vot­ers out there: Take over the cur­ricu­lum in pub­lic schools, replace edu­ca­tion with a bunch of con­ser­v­a­tive pro­pa­ganda, and reap the ben­e­fits of hav­ing a new gen­er­a­tion that can’t tell real­ity from right-wing fantasy.

How well this plan will work is debat­able, but in the mean­time, these shenani­gans present the very real pos­si­bil­ity that pub­lic school stu­dents will grad­u­ate with­out a proper edu­ca­tion. To make it worse, many of these attempts to rewrite school cur­ricu­lum are hap­pen­ing in Texas, which can set the text­book stan­dards for the entire coun­try [3] by sim­ply wield­ing its power as one of the biggest school text­book mar­kets there is. With that in mind, here’s a list of 11 lies your kid may be in dan­ger of learn­ing in school.

Lie #1: Racism has barely been an issue in U.S. his­tory and slav­ery wasn’t that big a deal.

Lie #2: Joe McCarthy was right.

Lie #3: Cli­mate change is a mas­sive hoax sci­en­tists have per­pet­u­ated on the public.

Lie #4: The Bible is a his­tory text­book and a sci­en­tific doc­u­ment.T

Lie #5: Black peo­ple are the descen­dents of Ham and there­fore cursed by God.

Lie #6: Evo­lu­tion is a mas­sive hoax­sci­en­tist­shave per­pet­u­ated on the public.

Lie #7: Sex is awful and filthy, and you should save it for some­one you love.

Lie #8: Drag­ons actu­ally once existed.

Lie #9: Gay peo­ple do not actually exist.

Lie #10: Hip­pies were dirty, immoral Satan-worshippers.

Lie #11: Ayn Rand’s books have literary value.

 

Threats to democracy

 

Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction…Advocating, encouraging, and sanc­tioning sedition is the new norm on the conservative side…a wake-up call for progressives…it’s time to openly con­front the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of US government. When they’re in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they’re out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all — indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can. When they need to win an election, they use violent, polarizing, eliminationist language against their opponents to motivate their base. This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive under­mining of the government’s authority and capability to run the country. And it’s been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater…puts the short-term needs of the Republi­can party ahead of the long-term viability of the American democracy they’ve sworn to uphold… Guilty of Sedition? How the Right Is Undermining Our Government’s Authority and Capability to Run the Country by Sara Robinson

 

…It is an affront to our democracy that you need a specific identification to vote for a candidate, but not to finance one. Why is it so easy to buy a government, but becoming so hard to vote for one? Voter suppression laws, overzealous filibuster use, you name it — the Republicans use every tactic they can to stop our democracy from actually selecting the person with the most support. Why do they do this? It seems obvious: when you don’t have winning ideas, you change the rules of the game. When you can’t convince voters that you are the best choice, you restrict their ability to choose. Voter Suppression Is Treasonous by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm

 

10 Ways Our Democracy Is Crumbling Around Us 

 

On the Sabotage of Democracy by Bill Moyers

 

How the Wealthy Wage War on Democracy Itself

Our Democracy Is at Stake  by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, New York Times, October 1, 2013 – This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.…structural changes in money, media and redistricting…are superempowering small political movements to act in extreme ways without consequences and thereby stymie majority rule. If democracy means anything, it means that, if you are outvoted, you accept the results and prepare for the next election. Republicans are refusing to do that. It shows contempt for the democratic process. President Obama is not defending health care. He’s defending the health of our democracy. Every American who cherishes that should stand with him.

The End Game for Democracy

It Can’t Happen Here? 

The March to Anarchy

House Republicans Changed The Rules So A Majority Vote Couldn’t Stop The Government Shutdown by Ashley Alman, Huffington Post, October 13, 2013   — In its effort to extract concessions from Democrats in exchange for opening the government, the GOP has faced a fundamental strategic obstacle: They don’t have the votes. A majority of the members of the House have gone on record saying that if they were given the opportunity to vote, they would support what’s known as a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government. So House Republican leaders made sure no such vote could happen…Republican members of the House Rules Committee were developing a strategy to keep a clean CR off the floor, guaranteeing the government would remain shut down. Though at least 28 House Republicans have publicly said they would support a clean CR if it were brought to the floor — enough votes for the government to reopen when combined with Democratic support — a House rule passed just before the shutdown essentially prevents that vote from taking place. During a floor speech on Saturday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) drew attention to the quietly passed rule when he attempted to present a motion to accept the Senate’s clean continuing resolution and reopen the government. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), presiding over the chamber, told Van Hollen that the rule he was asking to use had been “altered” and he did not have the privilege of bringing that vote to the floor…the recently passed House Resolution 368 trumped the standing rules…“Mr. Speaker, why were the rules rigged to keep the government shut down?” Van Hollen asked. “The gentleman will suspend,” Chaffetz interjected. “Democracy has been suspended, Mr. Speaker.” (Van Hollen)

Democracy: government by the people; the common people of a community, as distinguished from any privileged class …What’s wrong with this picture? On every key issue of public concern…the government in this supposed democracy has gone against the wishes of the majority of the public. Clearly, whatever it is, this is no democracy we are living in today… A Profound and Jarring Disconnect by Dave Lindorff,

The U.S. Behaves Nothing Like a Democracy, But You’ll Never Hear About It in Our ‘Free Press’ By Noam Chomsky, AlterNetAugust 15, 2013

Chaos Looms By Paul Krugman, New York TImes blog,  August 1, 2013

Political dysfunction spells trouble for democracies By E.J. Dionne Jr. , Washington Post, May 19, 2013 ……We should consider whether democracy itself is in danger of being discredited. Politicians might usefully disentangle themselves from their day-to-day power struggles long enough to take seriously their responsibility to a noble idea and the systems that undergird it[there are] two streams of discontent the world’s democracies face. One is material. The other might be called spiritual… politicians might contemplate their obligations to stewardship of the democratic ideal…

The Day After Tomorrow by David Brooks, New York Times, September 13, 2010 Every political movement has a story. The surging Republican Party has a story, too. It is a story of virtue betrayed and innocence threatened…the story Republicans are telling each other…is an oversimplified version of American history, with dangerous implications. The fact is, the American story is not just the story of limited governments; it is the story of limited but energetic governments that used aggressive federal power to promote growth and social mobility… If the current Republican Party regards every new bit of government action as a step on the road to serfdom, then the party will be taking this long, mainstream American tradition and exiling it from the G.O.P.  That will be a political tragedy…America faces a series of problems that can’t be addressed simply by getting government out of the way. The social fabric is fraying. Human capital is being squandered. Society is segmenting. The labor markets are ill. Wages are lagging. Inequality is increasing. The nation is overconsuming and underinnovating. China and India are surging. Not all of these challenges can be addressed by the spontaneous healing powers of the market. Most important, it would be an intellectual tragedy. Conservatism is supposed to be nonideological and context-driven. If all government action is automatically dismissed as quasi socialist, then there is no need to think. A pall of dogmatism will settle over the right. Republicans are riding a wave of revulsion about what is happening in Washington. But it is also time to…think about the limited-but-energetic government tradition…at the heart of the American experience.

5 Ways GOP Tried to Subvert Democracy in 2012 — And They’ll Try Again

How the Billionaires Class Is Destroying Democracy

Our Dumb Democracy: Why the Untied States of Stupid Still Reins Supreem

6 Biggest Religious Right Threats to America

America’s Most Dangerous Enemy

10 Ways Our Democracy Is Crumbling Around Us By Les Leopold, AlterNet, April 5, 2012  - Our democracy is in grave danger. In fact, it may already be fatally wounded as a financial oligopoly increasingly dominates American politics and the economy…here are 10 reasons to worry.
1. Money and Politics
Our democracy is supposedly rooted in the idea of one person, one vote. But the introduction of big money into politics distorts, and perhaps, destroys that ideal….all candidates, regardless of party, spend most of their time begging for money, not legislating. You can’t get elected without kissing the oligarchs’ rings.
2. Voter Disenfranchisement
3. Our Skewed Distribution of Income – Ratio of CEO Compensation To Average Employee Compensation in 2000 – Japan 10:1…Britain 25:1…U.S….365:1
4. Tax Breaks for the Super-rich
5. Wall Street Bailouts
6. Deficit Hysteria
7. Crumbling Social and Physical Infrastructure
8. The Failure to Create Jobs
9. The Revolving Door
10. Worshiping the Market Gods

A GOP witch hunt for the zombie voter By Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, April 30, 2012

Are Republicans Committing Treason?By Cliff Schecter, AlterNet, July 20, 2011

Betting Against America’s Government, The Progress Report, April 19, 2010 by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, and Alex Seitz-Wald

Guilty of Sedition? How the Right Is Undermining Our Government’s Authority and Capability to Run the Country By Sara Robinson, Campaign for America’s Future, April 6, 2010

The ‘Voter Fraud’ Fraud by Ari Berman, TheNation.com. April 4, 2012

Democracy in America Is a Series of Narrow Escapes, and We May Be Running Out of Luck by Bill Moyers, CommonDreams.org, May 17, 2008  - …The reigning presumption about the American experience…is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is “better” than the past and the future will bring even more improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, “The system works.” Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power -and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions.
…there is a class war and ordinary people are losing it…The conclusion that we are in trouble is unavoidable…statistics that show real wages lagging behind prices, the compensation of corporate barons soaring to heights unequaled anywhere among industrialized democracies…extremes of wealth and poverty cannot be reconciled with a genuinely democratic politics. When the state becomes the guardian of power and privilege to the neglect of justice for the people as a whole, it mocks the very concept of government as proclaimed in the preamble to our Constitution…Our democracy has prospered most when it was firmly anchored in the idea that “We the People” — not just a favored few — would identify and remedy common distempers and dilemmas and win the gamble our forebears undertook when they espoused the radical idea that people could govern themselves wisely.

‘On a Mission From God’: The Religious Right and the Emerging American Theocracy by Maureen Farrell, BuzzFlash.com, March 9, 2004

Conquering by Stealth and Deception – How the Dominionists Are Succeeding in Their Quest for National Control and World Power by Katherine Yurica, September 14, 2004 – Paul Weyrich’s Secret Manual on How to Win Politically

Mitch McConnell: We Must Rewrite The Constitution Because ‘Elections’ Haven’t ‘Worked’ By Ian Millhiser,  ThinkProgress.org, July 13, 2011

When Democracy Weakens by Bob Herbert,New York Times, February 11, 2011

Who’s Very Important? By Paul Krugman

Invasion of the Democracy Crushers by Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch.com, October 24, 2010

Our Fill-in-the-Blank Constitution By Geoffrey R. Stone, New York Times, April 13, 2010,

The Perfect Storm That Threatens American Democracy by Robert Reich, Alternet.org, October 20, 2010

The Plutocracy Prevention Act by by Chuck Collins, The Nation, June 28, 2010