26 February 2010

My e-mail to Sen. Durbin on ending the filibuster

Dear Sen. Durbin,

I signed the petition you urged, expressing support for ending the power of the minority to block legislation (now if someone in the house would sponsor a similar petition to end gerrymandering, we might make progress towards restoring majority rule in this country).

I am concerned, however, that there isn't a move in the Senate to just DO IT. I refer to the procedure outlined recently in Talkingpointsmemo.com:

>>>"The Senate's presiding officer -- played by a friendly vice president -- would make a ruling saying the Constitution allows the Senate to change its rules by majority vote. That would allow a simple majority to rewrite the Senate's filibuster rules.

That ruling could be appealed by Republicans -- who could then filibuster their own appeal to delay, or end, debate.

"The goal is to derail the majority's effort to change the rules by majority vote," said Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Sarah Binder.

But, "according to precedent," Binder said, Democrats could simply table that appeal of the presiding officer's ruling, and go directly to an up-or-down vote.

From there, secure 51 votes and you can reform the Senate's filibuster rules anyway you want.

And, according to Binder, that doesn't have to be done at the outset of a new Congress. That's just a matter of tradition. If the Dems really wanted to, they could go through this process anytime they wanted."

I urge you to make the motion, talk to your colleagues... do whatever it takes to GET THIS DONE now, without fuss, and taking no quarter. The Republicans have declared all out war on the will of the majority, and it's up to Democrats to stand up for the People.

Thank you.

David Studhalter

Polls are showing public not bamboozled by Republican flimflam

Republicans, as we all know, are masters of crocodile tears, but in this case, it appears the bamboozlement isn't working. TPM reports that recent polling reveals that by substantial margins folks want legislation to be passed by majority vote, and they don't trust the filibuster. Probably at least some people remember the refrain Republicans used to croak with regularity during the Bush years: "Up or down vote! Up or down vote!"

I think this "Restore Majority Rule" meme should be a big ticket item for Dems, both nationally, and with its special meaning in relation to eliminating the supermajority needed under the draconian budget and revenue provisions of the Calif. Constitution as amended by the infamous prop 13 in 1979, in my home state of California.

25 February 2010

Republican Hypocrisy just incredible.

I find it just unbelievable to watch Newt Gingrich say the Democrats are "majoritarian" "like Hugo Chavez," because they might dare to use the reconciliation process to pass health care with a mere majority in the Senate, even though this same process has been used at least six times in the past, dating back to the 80s, to pass health policy changes, and has been used 22 times, (as Sen. Boxer pointed out on Maddow last night) since 1980... 16 of those times by Republicans. Now, can we all stand in a circle and yell "HYPOCRITES!"?

Oh, and Newt? I don't buy any connection with Hugo Chavez, but I'll take the "majoritarian" label and wear it proudly, as should any American. Our constitution is supposed to protect the rights of the minority, but when it comes to deciding policy, I say, bring on majority rule. Anything less compromises and diminishes our democracy. 

Health Care Summit: a Waste of Time

I suppose some kind of case can be made that by showing up just how unreasonable and obstructionist the Great Obstructionist Party actually is, the public will be influenced to support Democrats and Health Reform. But, frankly, I doubt it will have much of that kind of effect. Otherwise, the "Health Care Summit," underway at this writing, seems to me to be a monumental waste of time, and potentially even counterproductive. These people will offer nothing, and will merely grandstand and pander to their propaganda-addled followers. By listening to this grossly deceitful nonsense respectfully, the President accomplishes little beyond giving them yet another forum for their propaganda and lies.

23 February 2010

Deceitful politicians only reason Public Option not in reconciliation bill

I can imagine no reason, other than deceitful politicians, why, if we're now down to passing a health care bill using reconciliation (explain again to me why we didn't do this six months ago?)... that we cannot have a public option in the health reform bill. There were, unless some Senate Democrats were lying, more than 50 votes for a public option. Now, the White House says there aren't, even though 65% of the public when polled say they want it.

I reluctantly conclude that Democrats in Congress (and the White House) are practicing deceit and secret deals with Health Insurers, and that Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher are right in saying so.

Please write your Senators and Congressmen, and demand a public option (yet again), and that they get this thing done, finally, at long last.

22 February 2010

To Sen. Reid: Use Ruling from the Chair to End the Filibuster

Dear Senator Reid:

These are EXTRAORDINARY times. The American people elected Barack Obama and a historic Democratic majority in the Senate and House in 2008. Right now, a lot of people are frustrated with the inaction of Congress, particularly on health care reform, but also on financial re-regulation, and a number of other issues. People who are dissatisfied with government's actions, irrationally or otherwise, tend to vote out the incumbent party. So, the whole agenda that was the basis of the 2008 election is in TERRIBLE JEOPARDY right now. I don't need to tell you this.

WHAT GIVES? The Party of No. Or, rather, they don't give. They are unified in obstructing everything that is brought before them, and the archaic and undemocratic Senate rules are giving this MINORITY party untoward and unjustified power to block the will of the people.

The time has come to break with hidebound tradition, as the Republicans have done. They have abandoned comity, respect for the results of elections, and just common decency. What should the Democratic party leadership in the Senate --YOU -- do in response?

I say, abandon the conciliatory traditions which prevent using every means available to restore Majority Rule.

I am referring to the possible use of a Ruling from the Chair, coupled with some perfectly legitimate parliamentary procedures, to change the rules to eliminate once and for all the supermajority required to cut off debate. This procedure is described in some detail here

Let's face it, Sen. Reid. A constitutional amendment or legislation (such as Sen. Harkin's proposal), to change the rules (requiring 2/3 vote) simply isn't going to pass. This is the ONLY way to get this done. It will require heroic leadership, but what other reason is there for YOU and your colleagues to be in the Senate? This is your mandate. This is what the people elected you to do: stand up for them. Most people don't think about parliamentary procedure and Senate rules much, but there is polling to show that most people think the filibuster is unfair, and should be abandoned. Right now, it is literally crippling the effective functioning of our small-r republican form of government. With republican government hogtied, we get Republican government (big-R), even though we elected a majority of Democrats. This just cannot go on. It's time for the filibuster to be scrapped, once and for all, BY ANY MEANS available!

We have a historic opportunity and mandate here, and we need to be able to pass legislation to fulfill it! I firmly believe that if real health care reform, real financial re-regulation, real jobs programs, and real action on moving forward with a new renewable energy infrastructure and action on climate change were to pass the Congress, the majority of Americans would cheer from the rooftops and reelect their Democratic Congressmen and women and Senators by large majorities.

But the unacceptable, undemocratic, and unfair power of the Party of No to block legislation must first be broken, and THIS is the way to do it.

Thank you.

David Studhalter

19 February 2010

Four Points to Restore Majority Rule in America


• Direct Popular Election of the President by majority vote (runoff if needed)
• End Gerrymandering • fair, realistic districts without regard to constituency to ensure majority rule in congressional elections (and local and state government)
• End Filibuster • majority rule in the Senate and all state legislatures
• End the Power of Corporate Money; restrict lobbying and overturn court decisions giving corporations power to buy and sell elections

These reforms, all of which would probably require a Constitutional Amendment, are the minimum needed to restore a semblance of majority rule in this country. Without them, respect for the Rule of Law is in jeopardy, as only half of eligible voters, and sometimes even less, vote in national elections.


Four Points to Restore Majority Rule in CALIFORNIA

• End 2/3 Vote Rules for Revenue and Budget: Majority Rules
• End Gerrymandering • fair, realistic districts at all levels of government without regard to constituency
• All U.S. Citizens automatically registered to vote
• Direct mail voting (like Oregon’s)
These reforms are necessary to end gridlock in Sacramento and ensure majority rule. This is crucial to restoring the faith and trust of the people of California in the government of our state.

My letter to Alan Grayson

Dear Congressman Grayson:

I respect your commitment to the Rule of Law and restoration of majority rule in this country, and I deeply appreciate your willingness to throw over convention and stand up for the American people.

It seems clear to me, and to millions like me, that what we need, in addition to various specific policy goals, is a set of structural changes, which will require changing the Constitution. We all know how difficult that is… just 12 states can block it, and with the country as deeply divided as it is, it will be a long slog to get anything done.

Jonathan Turley recently published a terrific piece in the Los Angeles Times outlining some of these necessary changes, to restore majority rule.

Here’s my idea: why not pledge, and demand that every member of Congress and the Senate, and every governor and member of state legislative bodies pledge, to support the following changes to our system, and urge people not to vote for anyone who won’t sign on, regardless of party?

  • End the electoral college, and majority popular vote needed to elect the president (run-off if no majority)
  • End gerrymandering. All Congressional districts to be drawn fairly, "minimally contiguously", and without regard to constituency (there are various methods to ensure this)
  • End the filibuster… majority cuts off debate in the Senate, majority changes rules
  • Overturn Citizens United, end the power of corporate money, and instigate meaningful public financing of elections

If these four things, worded in a catchy and memorable way, could be accomplished, we’d still have less “democracy” than many advanced countries that don’t have anything like our Federal system and inherently undemocratic system for electing Senators. But is sure would go a long, long way to restoring “one man, one vote,” and giving renewed legitimacy and respect for government.

Thank you.

David Studhalter

Get health care done, Sen. Reid, through RECONCILIATION, NOW

Been here, done this, but I'm giving it another go, after reports that up to 52 senators may be on board: my e-mail to Harry Reid today: 

Dear Sen. Reid:

I am writing to urge you IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS to support and energetically work for the use of reconciliation to pass meaningful health reform FORTHWITH, and that it include a public option and a medicare buy-in for those over 50 or 55.

The TIME IS NOW to get this done, and support for Democrats, including your own re-election, Sen. Reid, will surge once this is done.

The American people are sick and tired of MINORITY RULE and the obstruction of the party of No. But, it's a sad fact of life that when the majority party cannot get the job done, the electorate blames them... even by electing the very people who have obstructed reform! Of course it makes no sense, but this is the reality.

Thank you.

David Studhalter

18 February 2010

Labor Law: The Law in Shambles (Geoghegan)

Left-leaning Chicago labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan wrote a fascinating "pamphlet," à la Tom Paine, called The Law in Shambles. It makes an argument that when Fareed Zakaria a few years ago argued that the U.S. and Iran(!) had in common too much democracy and not enough rule of law, he had a point but had it half backwards; should've been not enough of either. In fact, he says, the arbitrariness and unfairness of our society in the last 30 years has all but destroyed respect for the rule of law. He argues that this is literally destroying the fabric of our society.

One chapter I found fascinating was the one on labor law. His thesis follows on British historian Sir Henry Maine, who argued that modernity resulted from the transformation of the basis of livelihood from "status" to "contract." Geoghegan says that in the last 30 to 50 years or so in America, we have gone from "contract" to "tort." Where formerly there was either an explicit contract (35% of the workforce union members employed under labor contracts in 1958), and those not explicitly covered by contract were nonetheless implicitly brought in to the bargain (e.g., parallel benefits and work rules, including not being fired without cause and due process), we now have an environment where very few workers are employed in this sort of bargain. Almost everyone is "at will," and the process has become one of distrust and adversarial relationship. This all occurred in conjunction with a widening class gap and income gap, that has resulted in what he calls the "corruption of the middle class," wherein the middle class is not only shrinking, it has come to distrust the system of law, believing (rightly) that it is arbitrary and stacked against them in favor of the wealthiest. Employees by and large literally hate and distrust their employers, and believe that there are no real protections for them against arbitrary and unfair treatment. And they're basically right.

Depressing stuff, and it reminds me of why I just can't stand employment law. It's just too depressing, and I find myself all but unable to represent, even as a paralegal, employers in this rotten system.

Geoghegan: Busting the Filibuster

I have been reading a number of things lately by Chicago labor lawyer and scholar Thomas Geoghegan. Here he makes the case (which I've tried to make here as well), for "busting the filibuster."

16 February 2010

Nuclear Power: too dirty to matter

I am not reflexively opposed to nuclear power in principle, as some of a new-agey bent are, but I believe the weight of evidence says that it is plagued by unresolved waste disposal issues that drive its already uneconomically high costs to the point where almost every other energy alternative appears preferable, at least here in North America. The reality is that nuclear reactors have never been built anywhere without public or ratepayer subsidies on either the front or back end, usually both. When all the costs (including waste, public health, and environmental damage costs) are included, the cost of nuclear power is higher than any other form of electric energy. Which is why I'm surprised by this NYT article saying that there's a new drive from policymakers for nuclear power.

15 February 2010

Unvarnished truth: why we should adopt the German model because the Right has destroyed our economy

There's a terrific short article in the March Harper's by prominent liberal labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan called Consider the Germans. (Unfortunately, not available online yet; and you may have to be a subscriber to read it online even after they post it). His key points are that it's the mixed-system in Germany, where workers are on every board, wage rates are publicly disclosed information and workers are involved in management even of small businesses (by law)-- that have made it possible for Germany to keep its Industrial base and manufacturing economy.  (Until recently, despite crowing about China, with less than a tenth the population, it was Germany that was the top exporter in the World). As he puts it, with mandatory 6 weeks vacation, "they're beating us with one hand tied behind their back."

Why? works councils, co-determined corporate boards, and wage setting institutions. Things we almost had in this country after the New Deal, but which our fundamentally rightist politics have done away with. But the reality is that the Ayn Rand-worshiping top-down American management system doesn't work well in a competitive world, and the German mixed system, where every corporate board is one-half controlled by worker representatives, works much better.

As Geoghegan says, maybe we'll decide one day, out of patriotism, that we have no other choice than to emulate this kind of system. This is the key to waking up American working people to the need to reform our economy through progressive legal change: it's patriotic because the fucking misguided right wingers have destroyed our economy. Decades of extraction in place of production have taken a toll. It is no coincidence that since 1974 productivity of American workers has grown steadily, but real wages have remained flat. The Extractive Caste has (mostly legally) stolen the margin of difference, while failing to invest to conserve American manufacturing production or capacity, American jobs, or the robust middle class, which is the foundation of our consumer economy. Of course, there's probably a more polished and effective way to frame these points to convey the message to the working people who need to wake up to reality, but that's the unvarnished truth for you.

12 February 2010

LAT: Turley: Real Reform needs to go beyond Campaign Finance Reform

I agree 100% with this article by Jonathan Turley:
Real political reform should go beyond campaign finance

There are ways to ease the two-party stranglehold on our political system, but they require taking a broader approach.

By Jonathan Turley

February 11 2010

For decades, political reform in the United States has largely meant campaign finance reform. It is a focus the political mainstream prefers, despite the fact that it is akin to addressing an engine with a design defect by regulating the fuel.

The complete article can be viewed at:
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-turley11-2010feb11,0,457747.story   [Visit latimes.com at http://www.latimes.com]

Key points:
  • Our current problems are either largely caused the stranglehold the two parties have on our political system. This needs to be changed structurally. 
  • A constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United v. FEC is not enough; at best it would return us to the status quo of a month ago; but our problems with electoral dysfunction run much deeper.
Turleys' proposals:
  • Remove barriers to third parties. Change registration, financing and qualification rules to encourage third party candidates to run.

  • End the practice of gerrymandering. We need a constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering (I have discussed this before, see this, from 2005).
  • Change the primary system. The principal reason incumbents are returned to power is that voters have little choice in the general election. Move top two votegetters to general election (Federal and State offices), regardless of party; have automatic runoff.
  • Abolish the electoral college. This one's a no-brainer at this point.
  • Require a majority for presidents to be elected. If no outright majority, two top votegetters in runoff. Controversial, but it would ensure more democracy and make candidates really seek honest support from independents. This procedure works well in many countries around the world.
Turley acknowledges that Congress won't vote to implement such sweeping changes, and a constitutional amendment or set of them are thus pretty much DOA. 

I'd add: 
  • End filibuster and other abuses. Remove the authority of Congress to make its own rules, to some extent. End filibustering, holds, and some other tools of obstructionists to block the effective enactment of what the people vote for, by constitutional provision.
There is a danger in utilizing the nuclear option of a Constitutional Convention to try to effect these changes; because it could so easily by hijacked by the malevolent forces of plutocracy, which will spend money on propaganda to gin up the Knownothings and the Teapartiers to focus on issues that don't even belong in the constitution, like same-sex marriage. But with continued effort, and goodwill, we could change our system. 

It seems to me the danger of being hijacked is worth the risk, because as things stand now, our government isn't really working at all. We have to work very hard to bring about change, and to correctly frame the issues so that the people understand what's at stake. Ultimately, if we can't rely on the people to do the right thing, democracy will not work anyway.

10 February 2010

Lanza on karma and emptiness (without using the words)

Robert Lanza writes about karma and emptiness, although he doesn't call them that, from a (purported) scientific perspective. Frankly, I don't think these rather fuzzy attempts to make metaphysics sound like science really help much. Not everything true is science, and because something is metaphysics, and not subject to external scientific verification, doesn't mean it isn't true and internally verifiable. B. Alan Wallace has a very clear take on the differences between these approaches to truth.

Rethinking Economic Relations with China, Rogue Nation

Please read Robert Borosage's piece in HPost on how China cheats the global trade regime, and how, after 20 years, we can no longer pretend that the Chinese mercantilist policy is benign ... or acceptable going forward.

I have believed for some years now that the "Globalization" and "Free Trade Forever" tropes have very much run their course and that we are on a collision course with disaster if we don't regear our economy towards production, technology and infrastructure development, higher taxes on the rich, sensible trade protections, and a serious (and expensive) jobs policy to ensure a continuing and growing middle class.

If the Chinese won't play by rules, they need to be slowly but surely frozen out of sharing in our markets. We are deeply entwined with them, but nothing is forever, and even the worst effects of wrongheaded policy can be reversed over time.

Amend the Constitution to Restrict Corporate Control of Politics in the wake of Citizens United

Here are two websites devoted to the amendment of the constitution to erase the damage done by Citizens United v. FEC. 

Move to Amend 

Free Speech for People

09 February 2010

Fireside Chats

I wrote this to the White House today:
The Q+A thing is a good idea. How about Fireside Chats? I imagine Pres. Obama is a little tired of being unfavorably compared to Pres. Roosevelt (Well, read the 1944 State of the Union... we do have a LONG way to go to match what FDR said 66 years ago)... but the President is great when he's speaking one on one to the American people, and I think if we Democrats seized the initiative in framing a message of incremental progressive change, rejecting the framing and mean spiritedness of the Great Obstructionist Party and even far too many in our own party, the tide could be turned into a wave of support.

How About We Just Bite the Bullet and Make a Commitment?

When I read mean spirited and arrant nonsense like this column in the NYT by Ross Douthat (probably better yclept Ross Dontdothat), I am inspired to ask this simple question:

Are we truly not a wealthy enough, and a generous enough, society, that we will make a commitment to provide decent health care to all our citizens? 

If the answer, selon the GOP, and too many Democrats, is really going to be No, we can't afford it, then all I have to say is, for shame. We can afford Gulfstreams for the Morally Repugnant Elite but not a doctor for the children of coal miners in West Virginia and the elderly on fixed incomes everywhere in America? F--k that! I will never, ever accept that reasoning or settle for that kind of just plain rotten cheapness. These people should be deeply, deeply ashamed of themselves.

And as for the notion that health care will rise to 25% of the GDP, this is the most ridiculous nonsense of all. Yes, of course we have to raise taxes; the Bush tax cuts were outrageous gifts to the wealthiest Americans. In any case, long term predictions of future trends, including predictions of growth in spending, are always wrong. (Bank on it: they never take into account social and technological changes accurately, which effectively reform the value of goods and services generationally; this should be understood as a fundamental principle of economics. It's why you can't accurately say what 200 florins in Beethoven's time was worth in today's money... because there simply is no "equivalent purchasing power").

I mention Beethoven because I came across an anecdote in Marek's Beethoven biography to the effect that even with the huge economic disruptions caused by the devaluation of the Austrian currency and general depression in the aftermath of the Napoleonic invasion, if a person had a letter from a priest attesting poverty, doctors and hospitals were required by law to treat them for free. This in an autocratic society that recognized the absolute power of the Emperor. Of course, medical care was something very different then, but even in that time and that society, the right of people to the common decency of receiving health care when needed was acknowledged.

Moreover, if you look around the world, countries that do provide health care as a "right not a privilege" spend far less as a percentage of GDP on health care than we do, because they accept that government has a proper role in regulating health care costs, and, to a reasonable extent, health care expenditures as well. Of course it's rationing. But we ration now: the wealthy get it all, and the poorest get nothing. That's rationing. A decent form of rationing might not pay for every test, not every procedure, not every piece of expensive technology, not every drug. But reasonable care for all. We can afford it, and we are a lesser, more niggardly, and meaner people for not doing so now.

(I sent a much shortened version of this spiel to whitehouse.gov)

All hail Michelle Bachmann, the GOP prophetess!

Michelle Bachmann wants to explain to the American people why we can't have Social Security and Medicare (Taiwan can have universal health care that pays for Chinese herbal medicine, long term care, dental and vision, as well as Western high-tech science-based medicine, but we, the Superpower of the World, can't even afford basic health care for the elderly, don't you see?). Here's what she said, this past weekend at the right-wing Constitutional Coalition in St. Louis, Missouri:
"So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don't have any other options, we have to keep faith with them. But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off, and wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can't do it. So we just have to be straight with people. So basically, whoever our nominee is, is going to have to have a Glenn Beck chalkboard and explain to everybody this is the way it is."
PLEASE, please, Great Obstructionist Party, adopt Michelle Bachman's (and Paul Ryan's and Tom Price's and Sarah Palin's) plans for Social Security and Medicare as your party platform and agenda! (You might try to put it in complete sentences first). Wonderful! We'll cream you and end up with a two thirds Senate majority, with which we can get rid of the filibuster forever, and enact a progressive agenda to actually address our society's problems! Oh, please!

06 February 2010

Untitled from 1973?

I wrote this about 35 years ago. I have no recollection of it, but here it is anyway. My sister came across it on an undated piece of notebook paper. (Something about people in their early twenties (with the occasional genius exception): they so often mistake the obscure for the profound).
Amidst the sordid reminisce through receding souls exploding, the hard-won, now hard-nosed what that's this and here, the plated sparks flow by like voices in my heart, and the passing words draw up the faint resounding of an edda long since untold (the very hills that rang of it long since worn away). The oldest trailing song, sorrow-voice, comes into my heart as I were one with them, and I hear it the smallest minute and I weep to hear it. Our road led away even then; for us the seeming choice is lost: it's long since the young earth's firstborn walked her face. Their song though abides its sense, even as her children abuse her face, and put aside her gifts, and worship their own nature's god. And I think my song could be such, but I were so entwined in that image. My voice croaks and stops; the words are lost -- and the moment fades when even deep that spirit sounded.

04 February 2010

FDR's economic bill of rights speech

In the post below I linked to an excerpt from Franklin Roosevelt's 1944 State of the Union address, in which he set forth a new 'economic' bill of rights. Reading it over, I think it's important enough to quote in full:
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.
Would that the Democratic party stood for these principles today, 66 years later.

I find it a little hard not to wonder, wistfully, what the world would have been like had Franklin Roosevelt survived the end of the war, and overseen the implementation of his program for our country.

Apologia and rethinking politics

I don't kid myself that I have many regular readers. Maybe none, in fact, although there are a few who look in when I call their attention to something, which I appreciate. I also don't kid myself that anyone is responsible for that situation other than myself.

Lately I ventured a few longish posts about an issue of what I think of as natural philosophy that has always interested me, and I got a bit of feedback, but mostly nothing, as I expected. If anyone cares to say they either like or don't like that kind of rumination, I would be interested.

I have also been pretty quiet about some of the recent rather discouraging developments in the political arena. The fact is, I'm deeply discouraged, and have lost most of my faith that Democratic electoral politics has a genuine capability, given the structural impediments of our political system, to effect change that actually makes peoples' lives better in meaningful ways.

I'm not saying those of us who believe that government should work for the people and not for the Morally Repugnant Elite (a phrase used in Haiti a lot that I think fits the bill here too)...should give up. I do think, though, that Joe Bageant is right when he says that our political parties and political system have been all but entirely hijacked by corporatist interests. Michael Moore says much the same thing, and it seems to me if you find him simplistic and annoying, you ought to examine what you believe in, because he represents a pretty clear statement of the actual interests of ordinary people, unfettered by propaganda. If we want, as I do (for example) to have a president who will reiterate Franklin Roosevelt's 1944 State of the Union address, in which he laid out his conception of a "new bill of rights," guaranteeing each citizen a job with a living wage, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, a home, medical care, education, and recreation; -- and mean it, we have to act locally to change peoples' minds, and work long term to resist the undemocratic control of our government by moneyed interests. The recent Citizens United v. FEC case, which I am convinced is one of the most sweepingly regressive court decisions of the past century or more, will only make this that much harder.

But if there is any responsibility that free people simply cannot shirk, no matter how deeply entrenched opposing interests may be, it is to articulate, advocate, and work for change in the system of governance which we espouse to exist only by our consent. No matter how long it may take. And so, that is what we must do. We must state our views. We must vote accordingly. We must organize and contribute our resources to others and to organizations who think as we do. And we must resist the imposition of policy imposed by undemocratic institutions and systems, with efforts at change, and, when necessary and appropriate, with civil disobedience. Because it's a long, hard struggle ahead.
«We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.»
--Justice Lewis Brandeis