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An Open Letter to My Reps

Jan 31, 2017
To Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Representative Peter Welch:

We are in the hands of a rogue government led by a mentally ill narcissist with the emotional maturity of a seven year old. He has his hands on the Big Button and could end civilization in twenty minutes. Any act of cooperation, collaboration, or collusion with this administration on the part of any of you will destroy your credibility, as it has Elizabeth Warren’s. I know re-election is at least as important to you as the maintenance of civilization, so I ask you to take what I am saying very seriously.

You should oppose, without comment, all legislation proposed by the White House or the Republican congressional majority, even in the unlikely event you agree with it.

You should, also without comment, vote against all nominees at all levels of the Executive Branch, even in the unlikely event you think they may be qualified, and you should not confess, as at least one of you did in the case of Sessions, that you have given any of them even a moment’s thought.

You should stop posting your outrage on Twitter. I know you think it sounds like reasoned and reasonable discourse, and perhaps it would be under different circumstances, but the fact that you aren’t simply answering this madness with a horse laugh or an obscenity plays into the hands of this pugnacious and dangerously out-of-touch individual and his power-drunk minions.

And you should let the country know that you are opting out of any involvement in a dysfunctional government led by a man who probably shouldn’t be allowed to roam the streets unattended. You should identify the naked emperor for what he is and then get on with the real business which history has suddenly conferred upon you.

You should (and here comes the hard part) fashion a New Deal for the American people, one which will convince the economically desperate sixty million who voted for Trump that you have heard them, and that real help is on the way. No half measures will do. The status quo is dead. What is called for now is Drama with a capital D. See alltogethernow.org if you would like one idea of what to do; however, whatever you propose must be a game changer on the same level as that which is proposed there.

And then get on the phone. Bring together, as loud vocal proponents of your New Deal, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Sierra Club, Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman, Black Lives Matter, Jerry Brown, Greenpeace, the SCLC, Warren Buffet, Hollywood, the AFT and the NEA, your family, my family, all those nurses in California, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Matt Taibbi, Naomi Klein, ThinkProgress, Edward Snowden, TalkPoverty, The Intercept. Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, the Onion—well, you get the idea: EVERYONE of a like mind, because we can ONLY take this on together. Then get back on the phone to the VFW, the American Legion, the other 24 veterans' organizations listed on Google, the Boy Scouts of America, and any other not-so-like-minded organizations that nonetheless would like to think the best of the U.S. and bring them on board as well. Remember above all else, we can only do this with a plan that will fix the economic train wreck we have been hurtling toward for the past 40 years.

That wreck is here, it has happened, it isn’t going away, our country hastens toward ruin, and there is no going back to November 7.
tags: New Political Party

What Happened?

Jan 24, 2017
In case you’ve been asleep since last August, when the mainstream media were predicting Hillary would be a shoo-in against the Donald: Good Morning!

Here’s what happened: Sixty million people, in desperation over their economic plight (37.4 percent of the labor force have no work and over half who do don’t earn enough to live on) voted their despair and put a scoundrel and buffoon in the White House rather than continue to support the status quo. Those of us who didn’t vote for him are just as responsible as those who did, having silently acquiesced in the hijacking of our nation over the past 35 years by the forces of unregulated capitalism and overweening greed.

Racism, abortion, immigration—these are all smokescreens for what is really going on—the emptying of your pockets by the super-super-rich, who are simultaneously killing the American Dream and threatening all human life with nuclear or climatic disaster.

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. But don’t look for a second coming to save you. This one’s up to you, Charley, and you and you and you. Ralph won’t save us; Bernie won’t save us; Elizabeth won’t save us: the status quo and all its traditional players are finished.

What will save us, if we’re lucky, is a daring New Economic Policy that will credibly revive for all Americans the ideals of equal opportunity and self-reliance upon which this brave new world was originally founded. And to my mind, this means jobs for all at wages that support a decent living. Promise the American people this and make them believe you can deliver, and in 2018 we can elect a veto-proof Congress that can set about making it happen.

Anything less, anything smacking of “business as usual,” is doomed to failure. And failure today carries a cost none of us wants to think about.

tags: New Political Party

Let Me Ask You

Dec 24, 2016
Let me ask you a couple of questions:

Do you think an adult living legally in the United States of America, between the ages of 18 and 65, who is ready, willing, and able to work should be able to get a job?

Do you think an adult living legally in the United States of America who is working full time should earn enough to live on?

If you answered “Yes” to either or both of these questions, then you need to be made aware of the extent to which you are living in a country where this is decidedly not the case, and then you need to answer a third question: What are you going to do about it?

The lack—not the love—of money is the root of all evil, and that evil displayed itself in spades on November 8.

Our actual unemployment rate is not four point something, it is 37.4%. That is the percentage of the labor force—Americans 16 years and over—that wasn’t employed in November 2016. In 1998, that number was 32.8%, and it has gone up in 16 of the 18 years since. You can look it up at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (data.bls.gov). In numbers, that is 119.2 million Americans who don’t work.

Of those who do work, more than half earn less than enough to live on. More than half! Read earlier blog entries here for citations you can look up to verify these numbers.

I don’t object to the rich. God love them, they’ll always be with us. But I do object to the poor. There is no excuse for poverty in the richest nation in history, never mind that that poverty has been increasing frighteningly since the Great Recession, as more and more multi-billionaires find more ways to squeeze the American workers—or do without them altogether—to enrich themselves beyond even their own wildest dreams.

And speaking of dreams. The American Dream must not be allowed to die. It will take the world with it, if it does. The next four years may not be dispositive of that question, but if we are not working from now until then to assure its survival, I am not at all sure it will survive.

Our traditional political parties are bankrupt of ideas. The Republican party has given itself over wholeheartedly to a reactionary and mean-spirited plutocracy. The Democratic party has self-destructed on the bifurcating influence of a misguided neoliberalism. Money dominates all.

Only a new, third party can save us. And it can happen. If Donald Trump can be elected president, anything can happen. But it will take a party that represents the beliefs of a large majority of Americans. To my mind, those beliefs include equity, opportunity, self-reliance, and independence. And none of those ideals is possible without assuring every American a job that pays enough to live on.

That is the first, non-negotiable, plank of the American Dream Party platform. More on the other planks next time.

tags: New Political Party

The Gathering Storm

Dec 15, 2016
We’ve heard it all our lives. We never really believed it. But now we find out it’s true: Anyone born in the United States can grow up to be president. Absolutely anyone at all.

I don’t know what will happen over the next four years. It is easy to imagine a worst-case scenario bringing about the end of civilization. Climate change or nuclear proliferation could spell our doom, and both are in “full vigor” to quote Ebenezer Scrooge.

Meanwhile, cities and states vow to become “sanctuaries” for Muslims and/or undocumented immigrants.

Mayor DiBlasio says NYC police won’t be pressured into increasing the use of stop-and-frisk.

Women’s rights advocates plan a “Million-Woman March” on Washington to exacerbate Trump’s hangover on the day after his inauguration.

It’s not enough.

It’s not enough to organize to stop the wave of unwelcome change that is coming our way. It’s not enough to support the status quo that was soundly rejected on November 8.

Sixty million Americans voted for someone they had ample reason to know was morally reprehensible, intellectually lazy, and utterly without the mindset or inclination for public service. Many of them voted against Hillary Clinton. All of them voted against the status quo. And forty-two percent of us didn’t vote at all.

And although we are about to be served up with “business as usual” on steroids for the next four years, further affecting our incomes and entitlements, especially for those who voted for Trump, business as usual will not do any longer.

Something in the social construct of America has to change. I believe that that change must happen in the areas of employment and compensation. All working-age Americans need to be able to obtain employment at a wage that affords them a decent living. Right now, we are so very far from that, and the number of people in the labor force who are working continues its 20-year decline.

The Tasmanian devil of unrestrained capitalism is about to have its way with America. Most of the social issues—abortion, immigration, gay marriage—are just smoke and mirrors for the real agenda, which is to concentrate as much wealth into as small a fraction of fabulously wealthy Americans as possible.

And we have just the president, congress and, soon, supreme court to do it.

tags: New Political Party

Bad News

Nov 13, 2016
The holocaust we visited upon the indigenous populations.

Four hundred years of African-American torture and oppression.

The Japanese internment.

My Lai.

Assassinations of foreign leaders.

Abu Ghraib.

Somehow, these horrific acts all pale when set against the worst enormity ever perpetrated by the ignorant, arrogant, and brutish citizenry of this benighted country. This week’s election should lay to rest forever the risible myth of American “exceptionalism” and may rank us with the lowest of the low among history’s tyrannies.

I am so ashamed of my country I can scarcely lift my head.

Though I may strongly disagree with, possibly even abhor, some of his policies and procedures, Obama is one of the most intelligent, eloquent, and gentlemanly leaders we have ever had the good fortune to have in the White House. He will be succeeded by a petulant, vindictive, and inarticulate boor who never grew up, who does not know how to behave in private or in public, who hasn’t the civic understanding of a sixth grader, who is incapable of acting for anything or anyone except for his own pathetic self-aggrandizement, who is a resounding failure in both his personal and business life and still imagines himself a success.

Now, a few days after the election, we enter a period of uncertainty. Some pundits are attempting to assuage our anxieties, telling us, “Oh, he can’t do that” or “Oh, he can’t do the other.” In truth, we have no idea what he can or will do.

What we do know is that on January 20, 2017, two of the three branches of our federal government will be in the hands of racist, homophobic, and misogynistic loonies who, in denying climate change, will hasten the greatest train wreck in history which is about to rule our days and nights and drive us to extremes of desperation.

What we also know is that shortly after January 20, all three branches will be in the hands of those loonies, after the Senate invokes “the nuclear option,” as they in all likelihood will, if it is the only way they can confirm Supreme Court nominees as disgusting as Scalia, Alito, Roberts, and Thomas.

You may say, “Oh, he can’t do that,” but can he ignore the 60 million Americans he courted so shamelessly? Can he turn his back on building the wall; deporting tens of millions; killing NAFTA and the TPP; overturning Obamacare; repealing Roe v. Wade; letting slip the dogs of oppression against women, gays, and minorities; and “locking her up”?

I don’t really believe he has a clue as to what he is in for. He happened upon a line of virulent nonsense that was catnip to a fed-up and ignorant constituency, and he was swept, if not against his will then against his understanding, into the White House.

And so we march resolutely into the past, in search of a Great America that never was, but that we thought, perhaps, given our brash optimism and the blessings of our geographical situation, might be just ahead, if we could but muster the generosity, compassion, and political will that we hoped was in our hearts.


Note: I will be taking time off Alltogethernow.org for a while. Everyone seems to be doing a great deal of talking these days, and I am not sure who is listening to whom any more. I have grown as tired of my own voice as I have of all the cacophony around me. Silence is golden; and meanwhile we all await further developments.

tags: New Political Party

Stump Speech

Oct 09, 2016
My fellow Americans,

Good [morning | afternoon | evening].

I stand before you a rather odd duck: A politician without portfolio, a candidate for no office. I speak to you today not for my sake, but for the sake of my country.

I am not currently living in my country.

My country does not let bosses pay their workers less than a living wage, then force the rest of us to make up the difference.

My country does not educate its African-American citizens in inferior schools, then bedevil them throughout their lives with discriminatory hiring, housing, and policing.

My country does not become entangled in ruinous military adventures that deplete our public treasury of trillions of dollars while overflowing the private coffers of the obscenely wealthy.

My country does not kill, maim, and traumatize generations of its youth in order to bolster tyrannies which, if they were not our allies, would be our deadliest of enemies, opposed to all we stand for.

My country does not minimize, sexualize, or traumatize its female majority with boorish characterizations, substandard pay, and physical violence in order to assuage male insecurity.

My country does not risk the future of humanity in the face of the overwhelming evidence of imminent environmental apocalypse.

My country is not governed by men and women who are servants of big money, subservient to a tiny fraction of our population to the detriment of the rest of us.

No.

In my country everyone who can work has the opportunity to do so at a living wage, with only two expectations: That they perform their job to the best of their ability and that they be good citizens.

In my country, those who can’t work are cared for in a humane and benevolent environment designed to give them the fullest life possible.

In my country, the education of every single one of our young citizens is everyone’s priority and everyone’s most important task, as it is everyone’s only realistic hope for the future of our species.

In my country we acknowledge our racist tendencies and struggle mightily every day to overcome them, knowing that discriminating against a fellow human being is the worst thing you can do to them, short of depriving them of their life.

In my country, foreign relations are made for the purpose of promoting democracy, not commerce, and those nations that are not ready, willing, or able to entertain the prospect of endowing themselves with the blessings and responsibilities of self-determination may be tolerated without being welcomed into the community of a free people.

In my country, men are the equal of women.

In my country, our technological ingenuity is focused on the task of developing renewable energy sources for all our needs as soon as possible. And if it is not possible to do this within a decade or two, we will nevertheless turn our backs on the burning of fossil fuels and make do with whatever benefits may be had from the energy we can produce.

In my country, no special interest ever takes precedence over legislation to promote the good of all the people all the time.

In my country, there is inequality, but there is no poverty.

In my country, there are no hungry children.

In my country, we are all created equal and endowed with rights that may not be attenuated by reason of race, creed, class, income, gender, age, sexual orientation, or any other compartment into which the small-minded among us try to maneuver those of us whom they think of as threatening.

This is the country I hope to live in some day. So if my country is your country, let us make it our country. There is only one way to do that.

You know what it is.

tags: New Political Party

If You Are Thinking of Voting for Obama

Oct 14, 2012
Never mind all that nonsense about “the lesser of two evils.”

What you see, and have seen for four years, is what you got—a stooge of the corporatocracy, bailing out banks for criminal activity that brought the world to its knees and using their victims’ money to do so; a militarist willing to murder hundreds of thousands of innocents, squander our wealth, and traumatize a generation of our young people in pursuit of a handful of the guilty; a prosecutor of an endless war on drugs that fills our prisons with children, supports industries that feed on death and violence, and makes failed states out of our struggling southern neighbors; a rabid pursuer of whistleblowers, like Bradley Manning, who have revealed secrets that ought never to have been secret; finally, in the words of Ralph Nader on election night 2008, an Uncle Tom.

Yes, I embraced “hope and change” in 2008 and will always regret I didn’t vote for Nader. And I do not know how anyone as intelligent as Obama could have been so ineffectual in wielding the power inherent in the most powerful position in the world. His ineffectuality was either intentional or it is yet another lesson in the limits of power, a lesson we have failed to learn again and again since WWII.

Vote for him if you like, but it makes you one of them.

In the alternative, break loose from our failed two-party system. In fact, there aren’t two parties anymore. There is a Taliban-like fundamentalist right posing as Republicans and snatching up the support of a population whose education has been so neglected for fifty years that they are a broiling mélange of anger, ill health, and ignorance. And there is a so-called Democratic party assiduously protecting the right of a few to steal the wealth of the many.

Of course, most of you won’t break loose, and we will almost certainly have another four years of Obama, a polarized Congress, and the status quo. We will enrich the rich, wage wars that profit only the warmongers, punish the weak, ravage the environment, and abuse and neglect our own.

And bin Laden wins.
tags: New Political Party

Rocky Anderson's Platform

May 15, 2012
Here is what Rocky Anderson’s campaign stands for. If you take issue with any item here, I would like to hear what you think is wrong with it:

  • An immediate end to the ongoing wars;
  • Essential health care coverage for all citizens;
  • Urgent international leadership by the U.S. to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate disruption;
  • Adequate revenues to balance the budget through fair taxation;
  • Treatment of substance abuse as a public health, rather than a criminal justice, issue;
  • Control of the Federal Reserve by the Treasury Department and Congress;
  • A balanced budget (or a surplus) except in times of war or major recession;
  • An end to the legal concept of corporate “personhood”; a constitutional amendment to overrule Citizens United;
  • An end to the corrupting impact of money in our electoral system;
  • Protection of U.S. jobs, through re-negotiation of trade agreements and the establishment of jobs programs like WPA and CCC to improve our nation's infrastructure and employ millions of Americans;
  • An end to the stranglehold on our government by the military-industrial complex.
I would add a re-commitment to the rule of law. Somewhere since 9/11 we have misplaced our decency; instituted torture as a national policy; ended the notion of personal privacy; suspended habeas corpus and due process; and delivered misery and death to countless innocent men, women, and children.
tags: New Political Party

The Coming of the Candidates: Rocky Anderson

Apr 28, 2012
Ralph Nader has endorsed Ross "Rocky" Anderson for president and that is more than good enough for me.

Anderson, a two-term mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, has a biography that reveals a lifetime devoted to fighting for social justice and a political system in keeping with the progressive, egalitarian principles which I believe were intended by our Founding Fathers, and from which we have strayed dangerously over the past thirty years. (But I needn't rehash what I have been writing about on this site for four years.)

Now I have someone to vote for for president in 2012. I confess to having voted for Obama in 2008 and I have regretted ever since not giving my vote to Nader, who represented my views far more closely than Obama. The latter talked a good game, and talked me into it, but his subsequent actions have appalled me. I fully expect him to win re-election, running as he is against an idiot who will probably scuttle his own campaign long before November.

So why vote for someone who is going to lose? Well, number one, Anderson doesn’t necessarily have to lose. The majority of Americans support the majority of his positions, believe it or not. And if you don’t believe it, then go to PollingReport.com and find out.

And number two, the lesser of two evils is still evil. Obama has clearly shown he is in the camp of the corporatocracy. Furthermore, he has extended presidential powers well beyond the framework of the Constitution; scrapped due process as it is generally understood (by everyone but his toadying AG); killed, imprisoned, and stifled more American citizens than we know of solely by personal fiat; and betrayed (by omission and commission) his race, his party, and his country. You don’t vote for someone who has done to us what he has done.

Americans are ready to demand a change. The U.S. has never been quite the beacon of decency and hope we have attempted to appear to be before the world. And today our escutcheon is particularly banged up. But we are still in a position to lead the world to a new level of democracy and freedom, if we can only retrieve from the forces of greed and oligarchy our tarnished American soul.
tags: New Political Party

The Coming of the Candidates: Jeanne van den Hurk

Mar 24, 2012
You don’t have to guess where Jeanne van den Hurk stands on the issues. This grassroots candidate for the 3rd Congressional district of South Carolina lays it all out for you at BeYourGovernment.org. This web site aggregates information on a variety of Independents and what I might call new-age Democrats, that is, Democrats not under the sway of the corporatocracy.

Van den Hurk supports universal health care, an end to the misbegotten war on drugs as well as our other militaristic misadventures, a green energy policy, restoration of Constitutional rights, and other issues of increasing importance to an increasingly alarmed electorate. As with the other candidate I have written about in this series, David Levitt, van den Hurk pays less attention than I think she should to employment issues. In time, I hope she will develop and deliver progressive positions toward alleviating the inequality which has exploded over the past thirty years and to the crisis in employment which is not going away soon. In that regard, I recommend she read over the entries I have posted here under the tag New Political Party.

[All the information about van den Hurk in this piece is taken from the above-referenced web page. If you are able to refute anything there or here, citing reliable sources, please email us with that information and we will post corrections to this piece.]

Van den Hurk accepts no corporate money and is therefore dependent on small and medium-sized contributions from—you. Yes, you, if you are reading this and are of the same mind as so many today who know we must find a means of wresting our country back from runaway capitalism and a bought-and-paid-for Congress. If continuous war isn’t to be the legacy we hand down to the next generation; if we are not to consign them to a standard of living significantly below that of our parents; if we are not to condemn them to a crippled planet and one in which the coming water wars will make the current oil wars seem like peace rallies: if this is not the world we are handing on to our children, then something needs to be done now, because this is the world where we are headed, as all the empirical evidence indicates.

Van den Hurk, like many of the doughty candidates who are stepping out of peaceful, private, middle-class lives to expose themselves to the cauldron of partisan politics, is married with children and is an entrepreneur with a jewelry design and antique business. I am a long way from South Carolina and only follow van den Hurk in her Twitter and Facebook capacities. I hope more is going on in her campaign than is evident in this social media. You can bet the Mainstream Media will avoid providing her with much coverage until and unless she makes dramatic inroads into the territory of the first-term Republican incumbent. And BeYourGovernment provides the minimum of campaign exposure.

So how are van den Hurk and these other candidates going to be elected? They will be elected by you. Your dollars, your word-of-mouth, your volunteer efforts, your votes. And if, come November, we find ourselves once again with a neo-liberal Democrat in the White House, a far-right Republican majority in the House, and a lame, old-age Democratic majority in the Senate—or worse, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

I contributed to van den Hurk’s campaign, and I will do so again if it maintains its viability. This is the very least you can do, and it is something you can do it right now.
tags: New Political Party

The Coming of the Candidates: David Levitt

Mar 06, 2012
David Levitt is opposing California Senator Dianne Feinstein, and will run in the non-partisan primary there on June 5. According to his web page, http://www.levitt2012.org, he has a doctorate degree from MIT and was a researcher at the MIT Media Lab before becoming a Silicon Valley scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur. This is his first foray into politics.

[All the information in this piece is taken from Levitt’s web page. If you are able to refute anything there or here, citing reliable sources, please email us with that information and we will post corrections to this piece.]

In California’s “non-partisan” primary, the top two vote getters will appear on the ballot in November, even if both are from the same party. Since Feinstein’s leading Republican contender is one Orly Taitz, known as “Queen of the Birthers,” it is not at all unreasonable to hope Levitt may face Feinstein in the fall.

Levitt’s major gamble—and innovation—is the Free Campaign. He intends to establish a credible candidacy with a tiny fraction of the money typically poured into Senate races. He will do so by exploiting the Intranet and its social networking tools. Of course, no campaign can be entirely free, and Levitt, like other progressive candidates coming forth, solicits small contributions from individuals and does not accept corporate money.

Levitt’s Issues and Solutions section of his web site is heavily weighted—perhaps too heavily—toward social issues (pro-choice, marijuana legalization, marriage equality), and is less attentive to economic issues. In time, I hope he will develop and deliver progressive positions toward alleviating the inequality which has exploded over the past thirty years. In that regard, I recommend he read over the entries I have posted here under the tag New Political Party.

Our country is on the cusp of becoming a police state inside of a banana republic. Mlitarism is rampant. The rule of law has been set aside. We are distracted by divisiveness over social issues that have nothing whatever to do with our well-being or our common interests. If we are to regain our greatness as the moral leader of the world, we must defeat a corporatocracy which has kidnapped our body politic. The only way I can see our doing that, short of armed rebellion, is by supporting a new “citizen congress.” Occupy Wall Street has shown us that we still have the ability to muster a widespread, grassroots social movement in this country, similar to the ones that brought about a measure of racial justice in the 50s and 60s and the end of a futile, illegal, and immoral conflict in the 70s. Such a social movement is needed more than ever today.

David Levitt, and others I will be writing about in this series, have stepped forth into the light—and the cross-hairs of an establishment that will stop at nothing to stop them—to offer themselves as a first generation of candidates for that citizen congress. We owe them our attention and, if their candidacy proves to our satisfaction to be a worthy effort, our financial support, our voices, and our votes.
tags: New Political Party

The Coming of the Candidates: Introduction

Feb 27, 2012
I have often on this site urged us to find, fund, and elect1,2 a new brand of politician that will wrest our country from the grasp of the corporatocracy. I have proposed a third party, naming it the New Century Party, and provided it with a platform with ten planks that should appeal to rational individuals across the political spectrum, from conservative to progressive, from Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street.

With the 2012 election coming up, a grassroots groundswell of sorts is developing, with several candidates coming forth to challenge the incumbent Republican and Democratic minions of the corporatocracy. They share an agenda which puts the people first, and promises to reverse the disastrous trends of the last 30 years. They share an awareness of the dangers of gross inequality in income and opportunity among Americans; of the disasters we are facing from global climate change; of the evils of militarism and unregulated capitalism. They support a publicly funded health care program; a revitalized, green economy; and a return to the principles of open government, the rule of law, and adherence to due process.

These candidates are not going to be slick; they are not going to be air-brushed; they are not going to have $400 haircuts. They may sound more like your next door neighbor (if you are lucky in your neighbors) and less like the snake oil salesmen currently spending tens of millions of dollars attempting to manipulate the less worthy instincts of an undereducated and frightened electorate.

They deserve and demand our attention. If we find them credible and their campaigns viable, we should support them with our dollars, our word-of-mouth, our letters to the editor, our volunteer labor gathering signatures, our Tweets, and any other assistance we can bring to bear.

I will introduce them here, as they come to my attention. Please EMAIL ME with additional ones you would like to see featured here, providing me with at least the URL to their web page.
____________________
1 Birthers and Death Panels, from All Together Now, Aug 14, 2009.
2 Up From Slavery, from All Together Now, Sep 6, 2009.
tags: New Political Party

The New Anarchy

Nov 13, 2011
We are in a new age now. An age in which the many are subservient to the few. In which the wealth accorded those few outstrip the most magnificent treasuries of medieval monarchies or eastern potentates. In which anxiety, suffering, and want is, increasingly and inexorably, to be the lot of the 99%.

We have 25 million unemployed Americans and no jobs for them, either today or on the horizon. We probably have another 25 million or more working at part-time and/or low-wage jobs which barely—or don’t—allow them to scrape by. We have over 46 million Americans living without an income our government says is necessary to afford the basic necessities of life. And our government’s idea of what those necessities are is cruelly basic, indeed. Can you imagine supporting a spouse and two children on a gross salary of $22,350 a year?

The employment situation is not going to improve because the 1% have figured out how to prosper without the services or consumption of the lion’s share of the 99%. Scarcely anyone is needed to raise our food anymore, now that the “green revolution” and factory farming are well in place. Scarcely anyone is needed to manufacture the goods we consume, now that most manufacturing has been shifted to low-income labor in nations unhindered by environmental, safety, or other annoying considerations. Scarcely anyone is needed to perform a wide spectrum of services, from technology support, medical assistance, and legal research down to flipping burgers and pumping gas, now that the benefits of technology are maturing. Certainly no one is needed to vote any longer, our democratic institutions having been privatized by the corporatocracy.

Webster’s first definition of anarchy is “absence of government.” What we are experiencing is what I would call the New Anarchy, where institutions of public welfare, shared societal goals and responsibilities, and commonly held aspirations and the structures supported to realize those aspirations have been allowed to fade and disappear before our eyes. The “Me Generation” has been succeeded by the “Only Me Generation.”

Without a significant attitude adjustment to halt the runaway and quite literally antisocial train we find ourselves on, a great crash is in all our futures. A dog-eat-dog world can only end in a lonely death for the one dog left standing.

There is a better way, and it has been preached by preachers and sociologists and community organizers and philosophers and politicians since time immemorial. Ben Franklin may have said it best: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

The gibbets are in place, and the bodies are beginning to pile up.
tags: New Political Party

Platform for a New Century

Oct 17, 2011
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement will fade away and fail unless a political structure is born from this social uprising. Chris Hedges, whose writings I admire as much as I do those of anyone commenting on the American political scene today, says the political process is dead, and street action is the only way to bring about change. He’s wrong.

The OWS movement is being tolerated now by a regime which has nothing at present to lose by its tolerance. The movement has stopped traffic a few times for a few hours. But it hasn’t stopped the momentum toward global hegemony which the corporatocracy has been pursuing for 30 years and which, at this point in time, is all but in the bag.

We will take our country back by ballot or by bullet. I cannot see any third alternative, and bullets are notoriously unpredictable. People are making noises about third parties, but nothing significant has been launched that I know of. The time is now.

A third party needs a platform that sets forth a substantively and substantially new direction for our nation. It must appeal to a broad range of constituents, including fiscal conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Partiers as well as the millions of liberal Americans who have become disaffected by a co-opted Democratic Party.

A third party needs to go after 435 House and 33 Senate seats first. Congress makes the laws, and presidential politics in America has been turned into little more than a smokescreen to keep our attention off the prize.

And a third party must put America back to work, in our factories and schools, on our infrastructure, and in the powerhouse laboratories where the entrepreneurial ingenuity of the American imagination will forge a new age of clean energy, world peace, and global liberty.

Here are ten planks in a platform for a New Century:

1. Assured employment opportunities at a living wage for everyone between the ages of 18 and 65.
2. An educational system second to none, with recognized national standards and public support; enhanced compensation for educators, with escalators for service and merit; and public support for post-secondary technical, occupational, and public university education.
3. Publicly supported universal health care.
4. A balanced federal budget.
5. Energy independence in 25 years via conservation, targeted taxation, and vigorous research and development of renewable energy sources to halt and reverse the damage to the environment caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
6. A capitalist economic structure regulated to serve the interests of the people, the nation, and the world. Globalization? Yes. But not at the expense of hard-won protections for workers and the environment.
7. A simplified tax system that enhances the competitiveness of U.S.-based businesses and reverses the unprecedented income inequality which has burgeoned over the past thirty years.
8. A redirection in our response to global terrorism from military action and occupation to a revitalized international police effort. Future executive branch military action will require a formal declaration of war by Congress.
9. Term limits for elective federal offices and regulations closing the revolving door between government and corporate affiliation.
10. A commitment to personal freedoms for the individual, when those freedoms do not directly and demonstrably impinge on the freedoms of others.
tags: New Political Party

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Jan 09, 2011
The employment report that came out last Friday is a beautiful example of how to lie with statistics. The big number announced was the drop in the unemployment rate from 9.8 to 9.4 percent. The nation added 103,000 jobs in December and it is generally conceded that we need to add 100,000 to 125,000 jobs each month “just to keep up with population growth and keep the unemployment rate from rising.”1

So how did the measly increase of 103,000 jobs in December result in the largest drop in the unemployment rate in months? It is because the unemployment rate is based on a fiction the Department of Labor calls the “labor force,” which consists of the number of people who are employed or who are looking for work. An estimated 260,000 unemployed people gave up their long pursuit of employment in December, and that would seem to be the sole reason the unemployment rate dropped so precipitously.

For better or for worse, that number is the one which people latch onto when assessing the general state of our economy, and now we can see how misleading it is. To not count among the unemployed those who have given up looking for work is not simply a statistical failing, it is a moral failing. It is, however, a particularly canny political strategy, as now the nation is under the impression that unemployment—the single greatest threat we face today—is suddenly on a speedy and healthy mend, when nothing could be further from the truth

Give us an unemployment rate that includes all those who want to work but are unemployed, then include those who are working part time but want to work full time, and the millions of employed who are working for less, sometimes considerably less, than a living wage, and you will see a number that will strike terror into your heart. And in 2011, when many unemployed will begin exhausting their 99 weeks of compensation and will be desperate to take on any work at any pay, that number will begin to skyrocket.

America as the economic powerhouse of the world is history. The only question now is how fast and how far we descend in the coming decade into a second-rate, two-class society consisting of the few super-rich and the rest of us. A paradigm shift in priorities on the order of A New American Vision points a way out of our predicament. This, or something equally radical, is all that can reverse the trends of the past thirty years. And if we don’t get started on this now, it may well be too late.
____________________
1 CPBB Statement: January 7, 2011, by Chad Stone, accessed Jan 8, 2011.
tags: New Political Party

All Together Now

Jan 01, 2011
To reverse the dangerous social, political, and economic trends of the last thirty years;

To halt our lemming-like march to extinction via global climatological collapse;

To close the vast gulf between the obscenely super-rich and the billions of our fellow creatures who go to bed hungry every night and whose children die by the thousands every day from disease, infected water, and malnutrition.

I don’t know how we are going to do this. However, the world is full of brilliant, caring, and aware individuals who today are tilling their own plots of ground in pursuit of global justice. If we can coalesce into a cooperative force, we can bring our world back from the brink. This is something we must do and we must do it now. If we don't, all of our causes are lost.

2011 will be a pivotal year. As 99-week unemployment benefits begin to run out, millions of Americans will face destitution to a degree not felt in this country since the depths of the Great Depression. Home foreclosures will continue apace, with millions of those same Americans facing the double whammy of unemployment and homelessness. The new Republican majority in the House will initiate a full court press to bring down Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security with, apparently, the cooperation of the so-called opposition party and the White House. As Robert Reich says in his Dec 30 piece you will find on this month’s Noted with Interest, the rich will get richer, the poor poorer, the stock market will go up, and the misery for the average American will deepen.

In 2011, boomers will begin reaching retirement age in droves. After the hit they took in 2008-09 to their retirement accounts, many of them will be unable to retire, further freezing out young people who are already unemployed in numbers far higher than the national rate of 9.6 percent. Wages will fall as thousands more enter the labor force each month and the unemployed become increasingly desperate for work.

The American people have been abandoned by their representatives and by a suddenly global economy and an international corporatocracy that look elsewhere for both labor and markets. Housing prices—an important indicator of a society’s economic well-being—continue to fall,1 plunging additional hundreds of thousands of homeowners underwater with every drop of a percentage point.

In his piece noted above, Reich hopes that “[p]rogressives, enlightened Tea Partiers, Independents, organized labor, minorities, and the young [will] form a new progressive movement designed to reconnect America.” This is our hope as well, and has been our theme here at All Together Now since 2008. In 2011, we must begin to forge that movement. And we must do it without, at present, an obvious leader around which to assemble our forces. Until one arises, we must gather our forces around the task itself. We have leaders aplenty, as noted above, tilling important patches of soil around the globe. What we need now is followers, committed to the goal of working together. If you are willing to be one of them, send me your name, your email, and your thoughts on how we should proceed. No task is more important to the future of our planet and our species.

1 US house prices fall in October, set to tumble further, by Mark Trumbull, from the Christian Science Monitor, Dec 28, 2010, accessed Jan 1, 2011.
tags: New Political Party

The Ostrich Syndrome

Dec 11, 2010
We’re all ostriches, our heads in the sand, hoping the threat goes away, hoping it’s not the threat we know it is, hoping someone else will do something about it before we have to because, frankly, we don’t have a clue about what to do.

Robert Reich’s piece in the Huffington Post the other day1 laid it out: The Republican worldview, that government needs to get out of the way and let the free market reign, has captured critical brainshare and momentum in American politics. This has happened despite the fact that this same too-free market has manipulated millions of households into foreclosure and thrown one of ten Americans out of work. Before this worldview is revealed as the disaster it is, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid could become historical curiosities; the economic powerhouse of the American middle class wither away; and society revert to that horrible Hobbesian vision where the life of man is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Now is the time to realize this and now is the time to act. There are two directions those actions can take: violent or nonviolent.

Violent acts consist of a spectrum from mild gestures of civil disobedience (marching, public interferences, tax strikes) to armed insurrection. Today, except for ill-disguised celebrity love-ins at the Lincoln Memorial, large (or small) public demonstrations seem beyond our capacity, and individual acts of rebellion are too isolated, infrequent, and obscure to matter. Armed insurrection would plunge us into a future where the only certainty I can imagine is that our glorious experiment in democracy would suffer a sea change into something as bad as the worst excesses of history have visited upon our species.

Nonviolent action is still possible and always preferable to the cost, pain, and uncertainty of violence. Our political structure, though tattered and almost wholly co-opted by the corporatocracy, nonetheless remains accessible to us. We can still elect a Kucinich or a Feingold (I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with my own Bernie Sanders whose recent “filibuster” seems to have been a mere publicity stunt).

In order to work within the political structure, however, I see no alternative to the daunting task of fashioning a second party. And I am not being cute when I say that. It is clear that the Republican and Democratic parties have converged into a single handmaid of the corporatocracy, and that we are as much under the thumb of a one-party system here as are the hapless Russians.2 Our new party must have a new American vision, one that understands how to strike the proper balance between self-reliance and government involvement in the lives of its citizens. I believe I began to outline that vision in my Nov 13, 2010, piece, “A New American Vision.” It is time to begin the hard task of building our new party by discussing this vision, adapting it, honing it, advertising it, slowly winning adherents, and then finding, supporting, and electing representatives at all levels of government who adhere to these new American principles. I believe they are, in essence, the old American principles we have long valued and little practiced.

I also believe that this year, this month, this week, with this pivotal piece of legislation pending before a lame-duck congress, that this is the hour we will look back on one day as the point where “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” We are almost certainly going to take the wrong road. The crucial question will be, how far down that road will we go before we realize our mistake, and how much will it cost us to turn around and find our way back?
____________________
1 Why the Obama Tax Deal Confirms the Republic Worldview, by Robert Reich, from The Huffington Post, Dec 8, 2010. Accessed Dec 9, 2010.
2 Elections in Siberia Show Russia’s Drift to Single Party, by Clifford J. Levy, from the New York Times, Dec 10, 2010. Accessed Dec 11, 2010.
tags: New Political Party

A New American Vision

Nov 13, 2010
A government of, by, and for the people puts the people first, and molds its social, political, and economic institutions to serve the people, and not the other way around.

I propose a New American Vision where everyone works who can, and where all earn a living wage doing so. The ragged, heartless, and inefficient vestiges of the social “safety net”—food stamps, WIC, TANF, UI, CHIP, Medicaid, etc., etc.— can then be dismantled, with custodial care retained only for the very tiny minority who are not able to work.

I propose a New American Vision where a balanced federal budget, if necessary by Constitutional amendment, and a strong defense—the strongest in the world—are top priorities. In that context, I propose a six-month withdrawal from the hopeless military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan. The efforts we are making in these countries cannot succeed through military force and must be handed over to a re-energized and adequately funded international police force.

I propose a New American Vision that harnesses our considerable resources in a concerted effort to develop clean, renewable energy. None but the most craven corporate lackeys will deny we will run out of nonrenewable resources this century. We must tax those remaining barrels of oil, gallons of natural gas, and tons of coal to finance the American innovative powerhouse that alone can show the world the way to safe, clean energy.

I propose a New American Vision that reinvents capitalism to serve the people, and not vice versa. This should begin with a sharply reduced corporate income tax and a more progressive personal income tax to counteract the unprecedented income inequality which has been allowed to metastasize over the last 30 years. Certain capitalist enterprises which tend to work against the interests they purport to serve, such as the medical and pharmaceutical industries, should be nationalized. In the context of a capitalism that serves the people, America will do business with any nation that strives to preserve the human rights and labor and environmental protections we have fought for so long and which are so vital to our society. It is unconscionable that we should do an “end run” around those rights and protections by exporting our manufacturing and other industries to nations which, far from sharing those values, are publicly and violently opposed to them.

I propose a New American Vision where federal elective offices immediately are assessed a five percent pay reduction and term limits are established for House and Senate seats—four terms for the former and two for the latter. A professional American political class is inimical to a people’s liberty, and a much higher number of our citizenry should and must become involved in our representative form of democracy.

Finally, I propose a New American Vision where, to quote the Constitution (10th Amendment), “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Those powers reserved to the people should be those powers over one’s individual behavior which do not adversely impact on the rights of others, including the power to ingest whatever substances one desires, the power to determine one’s own end of life, the power to marry whomever one chooses, etc. Regarding the latter, discrimination against any individual on the basis of their variation from some imagined “norm” is, to my mind, about as heinous an offense against another human being as can be conceived—it is a kind of murder, and it should be dealt with, wherever it appears, in as harsh and condemnatory a manner as possible.

And once our own house is in order, we can see ahead to a New World Vision, where a child doesn’t die every few seconds of starvation and polluted water; where war becomes a miserable memory; where the boundless potential of human capital is given a global opportunity to flourish; where, gradually, we re-learn to live in harmony on our one tiny world.

This is a New American Vision for we, the people, who have been given dominion over this fragile world and who must decide, and soon, whether that dominion will serve all the people and the generations to come, or be sacrificed to our dark side and to the blind greed of a few.
tags: New Political Party

The Scamming of America

Nov 07, 2010
Here is how it works, and it is really quite simple. A true-life example: The federal government reaches into your pocket and extracts three billion dollars. They give it to some other country, on the condition that that country purchase three billion dollars worth of weaponry from American corporations. The lion’s share of the profits from this sale goes into the pockets of a few high-level corporate executives who, in exchange, fund the campaigns of the individuals in the federal government who are empowered to enable this scam.1

Of course, a puny three billion dollar sale is just a drop in the bucket. The real bucks come with endless war. It has been estimated, by a Nobel Prize winning economist, that the war in Iraq will ultimately cause the extraction of three trillion dollars from our pockets—that’s three thousand billion dollars.2 And who can begin to guess what the one in AfPak will cost, now in its tenth year and no end in sight.

And when the Republicans return to power in 2011 and 2013, and begin chipping away at Social Security and Medicare, the last vestiges of the middle class will disappear into a maelstrom of foreclosures, bankruptcies, and suicides.

Both the Tea Party and the Progressive movements in the U.S. are made up of people who believe government has failed them, that the essential responsibility of their elected officials, to provide services and protections necessary to maintain an efficient, safe, and well-functioning society, have been abandoned in favor of the promotion of special interests which are inimical to the interests of society at large.

We live in a corporatocracy and a plutocracy, where fewer and fewer are becoming richer and richer, and we—miserable damn fools that we are—with our iPods and our televisions, fritter away the last days of democracy on Facebook and at the mall.

We need a new American vision, one that puts the people first. And we all need to get behind that vision. Tomorrow, I will flesh out a few details of that vision, as I see it, and I will challenge you to identify the ideology my vision comes from. It is an American vision, composed of the best ideas from left, right, center, the Tea Party, and Progressives. It is a vision that puts the people first, a vision to restore America’s promise to itself and to the world.

Let us hope it is not too late.
____________________
1 Israel Commits to F-35 Purchase, by John Reed, from DefenseNews, October 7, 2010, accessed October 11, 2010.
1 The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, by Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, on Amazon.com, accessed Oct 11, 2010.
tags: New Political Party

America, Wake Up!

Dec 25, 2009
America, wake up!

It is way past time to put your invective away, disown the cynical manipulators who stir you up to such passionate intensity, and focus on the facts: Your economic situation hasn't improved in 40 years; you've got a miserable standard of health care which no European or Canadian would tolerate for five minutes and for which you pay through the nose; your kids are fat and stupid from playing video games and eating nothing but sugar, salt, and fat all day; their schools are little better than prisons; one in six of you is under- or unemployed; the debt you have so massively and eagerly incurred has made billionaires out of a handful of the most evil bastards you could ever hope to imagine; and your world is melting faster than the Wicked Witch of the West.

Obama has delivered nothing but a measly stimulus package and a handful of cash for clunkers, while strapping your children and grandchildren with over $13 trillion in debt and Wall Street guarantees. It has become impossible to imagine a life for them free of endless domestic and international conflict, a 19th century standard of living, and an environment that will produce pandemics and mass starvation.

You are being played for a sucker by the likes of Glenn Beck and Barack Obama both. Go back to the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Remember what this country is about. It is about opportunity and freedom, it is about the individual, it is about all the people, not the tiny few who have bought off the government, enslaving the people and robbing us of both opportunity and freedom.

And once you come to your senses, don’t get mad, get even. It’s easy: Elect representatives who represent us, not them.
tags: New Political Party

Right Is Right

Dec 01, 2009
We have no rights but those we declare for ourselves. We have no right to food, clothing, or shelter, the necessities for sustaining life. People go hungry every day, are dressed in rags, and sleep every night on the cold hard streets. Even here in the promised land.

We have no right to health care, as the thousands who die needlessly every year will attest, or would if they could.

We have no right even to work, as nearly one in five of our working-age population will tell you.

The one right we have declared for ourselves is the right to an education, and we have made provision for underwriting the delivery of that right through the public coffers. All adults pay, that all children may learn.

If we can do that, why can we not, in the richest country in the history of the world, declare for all our citizens the right to the basic necessities of life, including the right to health care and the right to work, and make provision for underwriting the delivery of those rights through the public coffers? Of course, we could, were we not so busy pouring our wealth into mindless, endless, meaningless wars, and were the fat cats of the military-political-industrial-academic complex not so in command of a world they are fast destroying to fill their bulging pockets even fuller.

Well, the times they are a’changin’ and do not for a moment think they are not. Voices everywhere are raised in indignation and in anger. Thus far, our collective response has been inchoate. But it will not be for long. Regrettably, we seem to need a leader, a flint upon which to strike the spark of action. Soon, someone will step out of the shadows and assume that role. They will speak to the need for justice and for equity, and the decent American people will rise together and take their country back from the thieves and their toadies.

The American Idea is the hope of the world, and that Idea—subdued now under an avalanche of greed and governmental corruption—must prevail, or the world is lost.

tags: New Political Party

Up from Slavery

Sep 06, 2009
People are having a hard time coming to grips with the realization that Obama is every bit the corporate lackey that his predecessors have been for the last 30 years, Clinton included. He has lost his progressive base, those of us who are more informed, more mature, and therefore more wise and far-seeing than our center and right-wing compatriots. However, for all our information and wisdom, we managed to be well and truly snookered by the Obama campaign, some of us—myself, for instance—blinded by the unimagined euphoria of seeing a black man make a credible run at the White House in this deeply arrogant, self-satisfied, ignorant, and racist country.

At least one pundit has predicted the Democrats will lose 30 to 50 seats in the House in 2010, possibly even losing their majority. The Democratic hold on the Senate is so marginal that we can predict their losing at least the ability to forestall Republican filibusters. We will then settle back into frigid gridlock for the remainder of Obama’s one-term presidency.

It is already scarcely more than a year before the midterm elections. It is urgently incumbent upon progressives and their liberal Democratic friends to:

  • Forget health care, forget EFCA, forget energy reform, forget AfPak. Leave all these to the Lilliputians currently running things. Something may happen, something may not. But it is too late in the day to continue wasting our energies on these damaged issues, and to continue to do so plays into the hands of the feral opposition.
  • Convene a summit in October consisting of progressive and liberal leaders, elected and otherwise, public and private figures, organizers, donors, volunteers, a million-person march on Washington and once there:
  • Get worried. Get organized. Get going. Egos set aside for the nonce, and everyone pulls for their lives. The prize on the horizon? November 2, 2010.
  • Identify incumbents who are sympathetic to our positions and who are up for re-election and facing a tough struggle. We need to be on them like white on rice, with support, money, volunteers—whatever it takes to ensure their re-election;
  • Identify weak incumbents from both parties who are not sympathetic to our positions and find, fund, and elect those who are, providing them with an even greater full court press than the previous group;
  • If resources remain, take them into the starkest enemy territory, where the people are most abused by lies and manipulation—Coburnland, Hatchville, Bachmanntown, etc. Bring facts and truth to these blighted landscapes, not because we can turn them around in 2010, but to plant some seeds of hope for the future.
Nothing matters now but stemming the retreat from the hard-won, still precarious position we are in. The opposition have done all they can to stonewall that position and render it impotent. They have done a terrific job of appealing to the lowest instincts of the American people, confusing and enraging them with their lies, their brilliant mischaracterizations, and their irresponsible intransigence.

The American people must know the truth, and the truth will—must—set them free.
tags: New Political Party

Birthers and Death Panels

Aug 14, 2009
The radical right owns the debates—all the debates—for two reasons: 1) by virtue of the outrageousness of their arguments (the Employee Free Choice Act’s card check provision will destroy democracy; health care reform will institute death panels; Obama’s presidency is illegitimate since he wasn’t born in the U.S.); and 2) by the complicity of the mainstream media in focusing its time and coverage entirely on that outrageousness. Oh, and a third reason: the Democrats’ unwillingness to come together in favor of any reform that might threaten their donor base, which is to say, any reform that favors the people’s interests over those of the corporatocracy.

No reform legislation that would satisfy the American people, let alone progressives, has been passed so far in the Obama administration, or will be passed in its remaining 40 months. This seems clear. As the stock market rises, making the fat cats happy, salaries languish and initial unemployment claims increased to over 550,000 for the week ending Aug 8.1 In July, our most important economic indicator, the growth in the gross domestic product, was minus 1 percent while China’s increased a whopping 14.9 percent.2 While the earth burns, an insufficient energy bill languishes in the Senate, awaiting further watering down on its way to passage.

The status quo is unsustainable. The golden goose—the physical, intellectual, and financial power of the people—lies wounded and gasping for breath. Two generations of a failed educational system has produced an inarticulate, angry populace that cannot reason or recognize their own self-interest, and are pawns in the hands of a cynical, grasping plutocracy.

There is one nonviolent solution to the cataclysms we face, and it is an unlikely one. Until the tanks begin rolling down Main Street, the power continues to be invested in the people and their elected representatives. We must join forces to find, fund, and elect representatives who are responsible to the people—all the people—and not to a tiny number of super-billionaires. If we cannot do that—and it is as long a shot as I can remember in a lengthy experience of the American political scene—we are finished, as a people, as a nation, and as a promise to the world.
____________________
1 Retails Sales and Unemployment Claims Disapppoint, by Phil Mintz, from Business Week, Aug 13, 2009, accessed Aug 14, 2009.
2 China Soothes Credit Tightening Fears, from Reuters, quoted in the New York Times, Aug 12, 2009, accessed Aug 14, 2009.
tags: New Political Party

Mending America: A Summary of Where We Aren’t

Jul 19, 2009







We need fundamental, systemic change in this country in the way we:

  1. manage our financial sector, including banking, investment, and consumer credit;
  2. produce and consume electricity;
  3. balance worker and environmental interests against the capitalist profit motive;
  4. pay for and provide health care; and
  5. educate our children.
And we are not seriously addressing any of these issues.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the bank bailouts have rewarded the wrongdoers and punished the victims, guaranteeing trillions in bad loans to predatory lenders while providing a pittance of relief to their prey and an insufficient stimulus to the economy.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act does not adequately support the development of new technologies, gives away too much in carbon credits to dirty energy sectors, and may not even pass in its current inadequate form.

One of the two main provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act—the card check method for voting for representation—was recently removed from the bill, and the other provision, calling for binding arbitration after 120 days of failed negotiations for a first contract, will likely also be removed or weakened out of existence.

Obama’s health care plan has never included the single-payer model, which will have to happen eventually. It is inconceivable the rest of the industrialized world can be wrong while only America—spending twice what others spend and receiving far less for it—is right. In the past days, the public option has also disappeared from discussions. What is left? The absurd notion that since the insurance industry is at the root of the problem, we should require everyone to purchase insurance.

And if anyone can point to a coordinated, coherent, intelligent, energetic, and well-funded plan to lift our urban and rural populations out of their generational slough of ignorance, poverty, and violence by assuring every child a world-class education whatever it takes, then we wish you would point it out. This most important priority has become lost in the helter-skelter of political posturing and faux reforms that is Washington today.

Obama is a good man and could be a great president. However, he is up against a political structure that is bought and paid for by the privileged interests, those fewer and fewer individuals who are amassing greater and greater fortunes, at the expense of the rest of us. In five days, the third and last increase in the federal minimum wage—the only worthy act of the 110th Congress—is due to go into effect, raising the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. This earns a full-time worker $15,000 a year when even the federal poverty level for a family of four (generally acknowledged to be inadequate) is over $22,000. (Can you imagine supporting a family of four on $22,000? On twice that?)

Where we should be coalescing, we are splintering. Where our focus should be on the general welfare, our politicians are serving the few. And where we should be looking to the future to assure our children a healthy life in a healthy world, we are wedded to a status quo that is destroying our country and may, in time, bring down our species with it.

We must build change from the ground up, not the top down. And that means a new political party, of the people, by the people, and for the people. It can be done. It must be done. There is simply no other way.
tags: New Political Party

NPP Plank 4: The Economy

Jul 13, 2009
It was Winston Churchill who famously observed, “[D]emocracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”1

One may say the same about capitalism—it is the worst economic system except for all the others we have tried. The essential problem with capitalism is that it can too easily be subverted to the service and enrichment of the few, to the detriment of the many. It happened in the last decades of the 19th century, during the 1920s, and again during the early 2000s, following the extensive deregulation of the financial industry at the end of the Clinton administration.

An economic system, like a political system, must be administered for the benefit of society in general, and in order for that to happen, it must be rigorously restrained and guided by a set of rules. The New Political Party (NPP), in setting out its fourth platform plank on the economy, proposes that the following should be among those rules:

  • Lenders may not dissociate themselves from the risk involved in their lending. Without having to retain risk, lenders make bad loans. When they sell off those loans in complex and opaque bundles of derivatives, the system embarks on a game of musical chairs. When the music stops, the public is the player left standing.
  • Interest rate limitations will be placed on all business and consumer credit products, perhaps indexed to the prime rate.
  • States are required to live within their income. Individuals are well-advised to do so. In order to assure future generations of an equal opportunity to better their economic lives, the federal government will operate on a balanced budget that includes a significant annual reduction in the deficit.
  • Globalization has lifted millions out of poverty around the world and kept down prices on thousands of consumer items. However, it has done so at the expense of American manufacturing and with a disregard for hard-won labor and environmental protections. This needs to be reversed, both in the cause of economic and political justice, and in order to save human civilization from the perils of global warming. The U.S. will not admit manufactured goods from countries which do not observe the minimal labor and environmental protections enjoyed in this country. This includes the right of workers to organize and bargain for enhanced working conditions and environmental protections at least as stringent as those required at home.
  • Shared labor and environmental protections will serve to level the playing field among international competitors. To level it further, the U.S. will cease subsidizing American farmers and industry, a practice which plays havoc with the economies of developing countries, often forcing them to focus on limited and exotic products to the detriment of their ability to support their local population with staples.
  • Plank 1 and 3 (a living wage and universal health care) will act as powerful improvements to our national economy.
What other issues should the New Political Party address regarding our economy?
____________________
1 Winston Churchill, from Wikiquote, accessed Jul 12, 2009.
tags: New Political Party

Independence Day

Jul 04, 2009
On this most important American holiday, six months into an administration which promised hope and change, with our In-box filled with requests for our signature and our dollars from MoveOn, Democracy for America, True Majority, and other such organizations which we have helped and supported over the past difficult years, we pause to consider just where we are today, and where we (and the country at large) would wish to be and how we are to get there.

For the true Progressive, those organizations noted above, all of which support, tolerate, and/or ignore the continual flipping, backsliding, and repudiations of the progressive agenda by the White House, have removed themselves from any claim to our loyalty or our funds. Progressives have an agenda which, in the last election, was most clearly articulated by Ralph Nader. We voted for Obama, however, because we wanted to win. In doing so, we got more of the same, as the worst excesses of the Bush administration, including kidnapping, torture, domestic spying, and preventive detention, continue to be supported today.

One liberal initiative after another is now being passed with much fanfare and little substance. A credit card bill fails to set a ceiling on interest rates; an energy bill is universally acknowledged, by supporters and detractors alike, to be grossly insufficient in addressing a life-and-death issue; a tobacco bill ensures the survival of a toxic industry. Other initiatives are effectively stalled (EFCA), or strangled and trampled beyond recognition (a health care bill which is gradually but inexorably abandoning a public option, let alone the single-payer plan favored by 76 percent of Americans).

The Obama administration, the Democratic party, and the grassroots organizations which have grown up on the Internet to support an agenda for change no longer represent the progressive voice in America. On this day, of all days, we should declare our independence from all three, and begin the long and difficult task of building a new political party that represents the will of a people still eager to believe in, embrace, and realize the promise of a great and noble idea.
tags: New Political Party

NPP Plank 3: Health Care

Jun 28, 2009

No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
—Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)
The current, very heated debate surrounding health care reform is being conducted entirely within the context of the status quo, whereas medicine and health care will experience revolutionary change this century, rendering the status quo unrecognizable, probably within a generation.

In the first place, many diseases will be eradicated, possibly including such big-league killers as cancer and heart disease. We will learn to prevent many of these maladies, some as early as in the womb. Others will be cured by new pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures. In the second place, it is not unreasonable to predict a doubling of longevity among industrialized populations by 2100.1

We are well on the road to these changes today, and they will transform our attitude toward health care, as medical procedures proliferate and many of us hang around a good deal longer making use of them.

Combine this slightly futuristic picture with the status quo in America: 47 million Americans, nearly one in six, were uninsured before disaster struck our economy in 20082 and many millions more were underinsured. More to the point, medical care is consuming ever-greater proportions of our gross domestic product, up from around five percent in 1960 to over 17 percent today.3 Given the assertions made in the second paragraph, that proportion is only likely to increase, and any health care reform must, of necessity, be geared to slowing the pace of this growth.

Health care reform must, therefore, address the world to come, not the one which is quickly passing away. With that in mind, the Health Care plank of the “New Political Party (NPP)” supports the following:
  • Free, universal, government-managed basic health care to be provided to all U.S. persons (citizens and permanent residents) from prenatal care to death.
  • “Basic health care” will include primary-care physician examinations with an emphasis on preventive and family planning medical services; physician and hospital treatment of all injuries and illnesses; dental care; mental health care; the provision of medicines and drugs; and long-term nursing and/or home health care. Assisted suicide services will be funded in all states where they have been legalized.
  • Organ donations will be required from all decedents until such time as the manufacture of artificial organs is perfected.
  • Individuals who persist in unhealthy lifestyles (tobacco smokers, the obese, etc.) or refuse to participate in reasonable and proven preventive health care measures (vaccinations, colonoscopies, etc.) will be taxed a surcharge to compensate for their added burden to the system.
  • Elective and cosmetic surgeries and other medical procedures considered by the people to be beyond the scope of basic health care will be the responsibility of the individuals seeking them.
  • A significant portion of the remuneration for physicians and other care providers will be based upon their effectiveness in delivering preventive health care and in treating illnesses and injuries with efficiency, effectiveness, and economy.
  • The pharmaceutical industry will be nationalized, removing it from the for-profit sector.
  • The government will fund medical malpractice insurance, government attorneys will defend these cases, higher standards of proof will be required for demonstrating malpractice, and ceilings will be placed on awards.
  • The system will be funded by federal income tax revenues and will not be allowed to run on a deficit basis for more than one year.
Businesses will be relieved of the necessity to provide health insurance to their employees, providing an enormous boost in competitiveness domestically and internationally. The 50 percent of bankruptcy filings now at least partly due to devastating health care expenses4 will disappear. A portion of the finance industry which has been responsible for the collapse of the world economy—the medical insurance industry—will be eradicated.

Nothing has been said here about rationing health care services, limiting choice of physicians or hospitals, or any of the other draconian measures with which opponents of a national health care system would frighten us. The measures above which may seem controversial—required organ donations, the nationalization of a major industry, the placement of restrictions on malpractice claims, and penalizing the intentional pursuit of ill health—are the prices a free people pay to enter into a cooperative agreement to insure high-quality health care at a reasonable cost.

Anyone wishing to opt out of this arrangement will be free to do so and will receive a tax credit. They are thereafter on their own, so perhaps there is room for a small continuing health insurance industry after all. Do I hear any takers?
____________________
1 Aubrey de Grey says we can avoid aging (Video), from TED Talks, Jul 2005, accessed Jun 27, 2009.
2 Census Bureau: Number of U.S. Uninsured Rises to 47 Million Americans are Uninsured [sic]: Almost 5 Percent Increase Since 2005. From Medscape.com, Jan 8, 2008, accessed Jun 27, 2009.
3 Remember the HMO Revolution, by Robin Hanson, from overcomingbias.com, Jun 10, 2009, accessed Jun 27, 2009.
4 Health Insurance Costs, from the National Coalition on Health Care, 2009, accessed Jun 27, 2009.
tags: New Political Party

NPP Plank 2: Education

Jun 13, 2009
The U.S. system of universal free public education, developed in the 19th century, is one of the brightest stars in the firmament of American democracy. But even the brightest stars eventually go out, and today the system so suffers from its shortcomings, and the cost of those shortcomings has become so high, that the American system of education finds itself undergoing a sea change.

The most glaring among its shortcomings is its failure to deliver a quality product across the full spectrum of society. Urban, rural, and minority populations have consistently received short shrift. Urban minorities, in particular, have been relegated to what are essentially custodial detention facilities, abysmally underfunded, where generations have been lost to poverty and violence, in a downward spiral of despair.

Though impossible to say just how the education system will appear once the smoke clears, it is safe to speculate that there is a better than even chance that the new system will do a superior job of delivering on the egalitarian promise of universal education. Note, for instance, the excellent work being done by the following schools and institutions:

The Seed Foundation
With two boarding schools in D.C. and Baltimore, the Seed Schools take poor urban minority students through a rigorous college-prep program.
KIPP—The Knowledge Is Power Program
There are 66 schools in 19 states participating in these open-enrollment, college-prep, K-12, charter schools.
The Equity Project
This new NYC charter school will pay elite, committed, and effective teachers $125,000 per year. Stay tuned!
Teach For America
TFA takes recent college grads and places them in urban and rural schools where education inequality has been most pronounced, then provides them with lots of support.
These efforts, and many more like them, will transform society by educating those students who would otherwise be left by the wayside. They share a common theme: They are committed to doing Whatever It Takes to break the centuries-old pattern of underachievement and despair suffered by populations which, together, account for more than one-fifth of our people.

The American education system is failing at all levels, not merely in the ghettos and rural backwaters. Our very best students are falling behind internationally, as emerging industrial giants such as China, India, and Brazil pour enormous resources into boosting the educational systems upon which their continued growth depends.

Read All Together Now’s postings on Education to stay abreast of the most exciting developments in this area.

The New Political Party platform proposed here rests, in its essence, on three planks: a minimum wage that is a living wage (see NPP Plank 1: A Living Wage); a commitment to educating all Americans to the fullest extent of their capabilities and aspirations; and universal health care, which will be discussed next time. There will be other planks as well, but these three are the bedrock positions from which progressives must neither waver nor retreat.
tags: New Political Party

NPP Plank 1: A Living Wage

May 31, 2009
It is the lack of money, not the love of it, which is the root of all evil.

In this land of plenty, tens of millions of working adults and their children—possibly as many as one in three or four of us,1 have less than enough for the bare necessities, let alone the “plenty” enjoyed by fewer and fewer of us as time goes by.2 The lives of the poor, like the lives of the most miserable sub-Saharan African, are spent scrambling for subsistence, working harder than the rest of us work,3 and exploited and further impoverished by an economic system that preys on them.4 The poor are an unending burden on the body politic; our health care system; our criminal justice system; and our local, state, and federal social welfare systems.

The first plank in the platform of a new political party (NPP) must address this issue, calling for a minimum wage which is a living wage, realistically indexed by place of residence.1 Until all working Americans are freed from what is essentially a modern serfdom, all our other social and economic ills will continue to plague us.

A more equitable distribution of the existing economic pie will, of necessity, result in less income for those in the top brackets, at least in the short term. Given the enormous gap between rich and poor which has been allowed to develop over the past thirty years,5 this may be looked upon as a correction rather than an attempt to “soak the rich.” In the medium and long term, economic justice and equity will act as a rising tide, lifting all boats to higher levels of fiscal well being.
____________________
1 Poor and Poorer, All Together Now (ATN), Apr 28, 2009.
2 Wage Slave, ATN, Jan 29, 2009.
3 Poor No More; No More Poor!, ATN, Nov 19, 2008.
4 Soaking the Poor, ATN, Sep 4, 2008.
5 Gap between rich, poor seen growing, from CNNMoney.com, Oct 12, 2007, accessed May 31, 2009.
tags: New Political Party

Memorial Day

May 25, 2009
Make no mistake. We are on the wrong track. This is no lone voice crying in the wilderness. Eighty-two percent of Americans during the last year of the Bush Administration1 and 56 percent of Americans still today2 agree.

The formation of a new political party is an idea that can only be entertained in the most extreme of circumstances. When a people’s elected representatives have ceased to represent the people; when inequities in opportunity, education, and income have metastasized beyond anything ever tolerated by a free society; when basic guarantees of liberty such as due process and an independent judiciary have been set aside in the name of expedience and fear; when a global economic system is crippled by a corporatocracy answerable only to itself; when military solutions are applied to social, political, and economic problems which military solutions cannot solve; and when an imbalance of such startling proportions raises the executive branch not only above the other two branches but above the rule of law itself;

Then, the contemplation of a new political party, one which engages the best wisdom of both conservative and liberal traditions; which invokes the wise counsels of our brilliant Founders; which, for all the abominations we have visited upon the colored races of the earth, yet understands the special nature of America’s origins and our purpose; the contemplation of such a new political party becomes not only a daring leap of faith but an urgent necessity in the face of an intolerable status quo.

With the waning of the Republican Party and the unwillingness of the Democratic Party to answer to the demands or to meet the needs of the people, the time has come for the formation of a new political party. We encourage the legions of individuals, groups, organizations, and interests who today are working for a strong, sane, and compassionate America to band together to form a political party in support of a new breed of candidate, one devoted to harnessing the promise and power of America for the betterment of all humanity.

This is our right and our responsibility. This is the time. The future awaits our courage.
____________________
1 Bush Hits New Low as “Wrong Track” Rises, by Gary Langer, from ABC News, May 12, 2008, accessed May 24, 2009.
2 Three in Five Americans Give President Obama’s Job Performance Positive Ratings (.pdf, 6 pp. 323Kb) from a Harris Poll, May 21, 2009, accessed May 24, 2009.
tags: New Political Party

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