More than half of respondents in the survey, released by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, said they think elected officials don’t share their priorities, and almost two-thirds said elected officials seem motivated by selfish reasons. Less than a quarter of the millennials polled said they will definitely be voting in November.
On Acronym TV this week, two individuals working to fix our Democracy in crisis.
Christina Tobin is the founder and chair of Free & Equal. She has a long history of supporting ballot access, having gathered and defended over 1 million signatures for the Green Party, Constitution Party, Republican Party, Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, Socialist Equality Party and independents. Free & Equal Elections Foundation is a non-partisan grassroots organization, whose mission is to shift the power back to the individual voter through education. Their motto, “More Voices, More Choices.”
Daniel Lee is a lifelong activist. He serves on the national leadership team for the group Move to Amend, which is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy; Move To Amend is calling for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns.
Only hours before Paul Ryan and Patty Murray announced that they reached a two year budget agreement (The BiPartisan Budget Act of 2013), representatives from a broad coalition demanding a budget that would cut military expenditures in order to increase funding for a wide range of domestic programs called on Congressional leaders to craft a budget for people, peace and the planet.
Now, because this broad coalition included over a hundred peace, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, environmental and community groups it is almost universally ignored within the walls of Congress. That is one reason why part of that call came in the form of an unscheduled visit to the office of Paul Ryan and Patty Murray.
David Swanson, writing at War is a Crime points out, the Murray Ryan Budget deal, which sets aside more than 50% of the 2014 budget for the military budget is an unbelievable outrage to churn out on International Human Rights Day while numerous members of Congress were off in South Africa claiming to support the use of nonviolence to effect change in the world. At a press conference before the office visits, speakers representing a Budget for People, Peace and the planet spoke to the media.
Speakers at the news conference included the following: Jill Stein, Green Shadow Cabinet; Cheri Honkala, Liz Ortiz, and Glen Davis of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign; David Swanson, Roots Action; Mark Dunlea, Hunger Action Network of New York State; Dr. David Schwartzman, Professor Emeritus Howard University and community activist.
The TPP is a Trojan horse that seeks to usher in a backroom secret sweetheart deal for the global elite, and President Barack Obama wants the deal fast-tracked through Congress. That effort was dealt a serious blow on Wednesday, when WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire Trans-Pacific Partnership Intellectual Property rights chapter. According to the WikiLeaks press release:
“The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents.”
Remember the concept of Corporate Personhood from the Citizens United case?
The TPP combines all of the worst elements of NAFTA and Citizens United, shoots them up with steroids, sprinkles in a speedball and codifies these principles into a trade agreement that is in fact much more than a trade agreement.
On August 31, with the nation eking out the final hours of summer, President Obama took to the podium and, shockingly, did not announce that he was going to continue in the trend of the Imperial Presidency, wherein the Executive branch, in the words of Chris Hedges, “abrogates to itself the right to declare war, which is, of course, traditionally the role of Congress.” Rather, while maintaining that he believes he has the right to act without congressional approval, Obama announced that he would allow Congress to have a voice. His speech was also a direct pitch to the American people to win support for military intervention in Syria. While only 20% of the American people thought the US should take action in Syria when Obama spoke, that number was up from only 9% last week, indicating that while the march to war may have stumbled, it continues forward.
However, let’s be clear, the United States is not on a humanitarian mission. Neither is it taking sides in a Syrian civil war. As horrific a dictator as Assad is, some of the rebel forces have direct links to Al-Qaeda and so are not so likely to advance US interests in the region were they to topple Assad. With that in mind, we will take a detailed look at the lies, hubris, and lack of vision in Obama’s Syria deception speech of August 31 in this special expanded edition of Acronym TV.
“Good afternoon, everybody. Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. Yesterday the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people.
Our intelligence shows the Assad regime and its forces preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets in the highly populated suburbs of Damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place. And all of this corroborates what the world can plainly see — hospitals overflowing with victims; terrible images of the dead. All told, well over 1,000 people were murdered. Several hundred of them were children — young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government.”
While the United States has presented a powerful case, to borrow the phrase from President Obama, that the Syrian government is responsible for gassing their own people to death, the power in its case does not lie in truth and transparency, but in arm-twisting, deceit and obfuscation. The administration also stands at the ready to flout international law in its open disregard for UN authorization for force and the US constitution, for Obama, while prepared to give congress a voice, is also prepared to wage war on his own.
For everything you think you know about Syria, know this there is only one indisputable fact, according to William Polk, a long time foreign policy consultant who served in multiple Presidential administrations and as a member of the Policy Planning Council, was “cleared” for all the information the US Government had on weapons of mass destruction, including poison gas, and special intelligence. That one single indisputable fact is this:
On Wednesday, August 21 canisters of gas opened in several suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus and within a short time approximately a thousand people were dead.
That, on September 3, 2013, is the only indisputable fact we know.
In defeating the grandfatherly Ken doll with the heart of a blood sucking vampire squid and his religiously radical running mate who claimed that a child conceived in the act of rape is a blessing from God, you might not want to gloat too much. To use a sports analogy, you did not so much win as the other guy lost. Even so, you never in your entire life have to run for public office again. What a weight off of your shoulders that must be!
So forgive me for being obtuse, but now that you have nothing to lose, why do you –- in the guise of this Grand Bargain you are talking about — want to author a plan that will gut social security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits while simultaneously protecting corporate welfare? That hardly seems like a bargain; that seems more like theft.
If you ditch this grand bargain idea of yours and adopt some of the principles outlined in the extraordinary document entitled The 99%’s Deficit Proposal, you will expose just how little our elected officials serve our interests. You will enjoy a popular support like never before — and even if you make a few enemies with the Wall Street crowd, who cares? Remember, you never have to run for office again.
Ditch The Grand Bargain and commence with Operation Trojan Horse!
On taxes: A tax of ½ percent on the sale of stocks bonds and derivate, is much less than the tax we pay on underwear, and yet this speculation tax would raise about $800 billion over the next decade. Want to add a trillion to that? Tax capitol gains at the same rates as income? Why should the profits from stocks that Mitt and Ann had to sell just to scrape by in college be taxed at a lower rate than the guy working construction to get himself through college?
On Social Security: We can have a fully funded social security for its 75-year planning period if we removed the outdated cap on wages subject to the social security tax of $107,000. Tax all wages and social security is fully funded. No bargain. No debate. You’re welcome.
On Medicare and Medicare: Dude, you don’t want to go down in history as undoing Medicare, do you? How about we cut the waste in Medicare and Medicaid. The for-profit middle man health insurance industry has created a pervasive culture of -– as Ralph Nader points out — over diagnosed, over-treated and erroneous or unnecessary procedures that come with a price tag in the hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
A single-payer, full Medicare for all system would cut present administrative costs in half. Canada’s system, which allows patients to freely choose their doctor and hospital, covers everyone for half of the $9000 per capita that Americans will pay this year. Our system leaves 50 million people uncovered of whom 45,000 will die this year alone due to lack of coverage, according to a peer-reviewed study by Harvard Medical School researchers.
You supported single-payer, President Obama, before your meteoric ride through the corrupted electoral process. But you’re done with that now. No more elections. So ditch your grand bargain and lead us to a grand new deal: one that reverses the decades long upward re-distribution of wealth. Don’t bargain with the elites who want to take away food stamps from 47 million Americans, and drive even more than the into poverty — a group that now numbers 30% of Americans now and yet shockingly, was not courted at all in the election cycle.
The effect of your Grand Austerity bargain will be this: more and more people will realize that graphs showing the wealth divide will continue to widen, their debt load will continue to grow and once the American Dream is revealed as a hoax, our streets will look like those of Spain, Greece, or worse. While I know you have a rainy day plan for this potential outcome in the form of a hyper-militarized police force and constitution busting laws like the NDAA in place, I don’t want to believe that that is part of your grand bargain.
There has been a class war going on in this country for decades, waged by the elite against the rest of us.
Now that you no longer have to raise money from those blood sucking vampire squids ever again, we are asking, President Obama, which side are you on?
A decade ago, in the run up to the war w. Iraq, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in New York and cities all across the country and the world … and war happened anyway.
But was before occupy.
Our creativity, our new way of thinking about protesting, and our crowdsourcing of ideas that make us collectively so much greater than the individual sum of our parts came into being.
If a new world is in fact possible, if we are in fact Unstoppable, we need to leverage our might and bring into being a new type of protest campaign that staves off a war with Iran; that in fact, reverses the homicidal bull in a geopolitical china shop that is US foreign policy altogether and replaces it with a world that places human needs – here and elsewhere above corporate greed.
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