Focus On Right Now

We keep seeing promotions of various candidates and postulations about who will be the front runner in 2020.

Who the hell cares? Few people had heard of Bernie before early 2016. Few had heard of Obama before early 2008. Few heard of GWB before early 2000 and most of us that had heard of him wished we had not. Most never heard of Bill Clinton before early 1992 unless they had been a victim of his sexual predation.

Are you seeing this trend? Are you getting my point?

Let me word it differently. Focus on 2020 in 2020!!!

This garbage of attempting to start the 2020 election a full year+ in advance is nothing but the cults vying for your servitude. Especially the attempts by the DNC. Who is going to be their chosen high priest? In the end, who gets chosen is as much up to you as the next Pope. We know this. That went beyond any question with what has been proven about the 2016 DNC nomination. The DNC nominee was chosen before the primaries ever began, then all control of the DNC was handed to their “chosen one”. Why would you think that 2020 will be any different?!!

Paying attention to the various potential candidates now is merely a distraction. Get your fucking head in the game. The key word is focus.

I don’t know how many times I have to keep repeating this. All names are cults. Trump, Hillary, Bernie, Tulsi, RNC, DNC… If you are cheering for the cult and willing to ignore the atrocities committed or promoted by that cult, you are no different from any member of any other cult. “If you don’t stick to your values when they are being tested, they’re not values. They’re hobbies.”- Jon Stewart.

In 2008 people cheered for Obama, claiming he was some god of “hope and change”. How did that work out for you? In 2016, we heard claims that Hillary would win and usher in some new era of.. more of the same. She lost, of course, because she offered more of the same. In 2018 we heard all about the Resistance which turned out to be The Assistance. All they have offered is a string of investigations which will prevent them from governing for the next decade. Know who pays for all those “investigations”? YOU DO.

So, now we get a push for 2020 including neoliberal corporate whores like Biden, Harris, Warren and O’Rourke. Plus Bernie, who promoted Hillary, Russiagate and continues bowing like a slave to the DNC, never mentioning one word about election fraud.

2020 can wait.

Right this minute, we have increasing tensions with Russia, China, Mexico, South America, Iran, a stalemate with North Korea. We have the media and war machine prostitutes screaming for ongoing illegal occupation in Syria plus ongoing war in Afghanistan. Because apparently 17 years of war is not enough. Most Americans are sick of war. Is the DNC trying to end any war or armed conflict? No. One can argue that the Republicans are being more progressive on that issue than the Democrats are.

Medicare for All has been a hot topic not since 2016, as many claim. That is what was suggested by Obama in 2008 in some form, so it has been a topic for coming on 11 years. Then he turned the ACA into a corporate welfare program. However, it is a really strong issue right this minute, supported by the majority of voters across all party lines. Is either major party promoting it, trying to bring it into being? No.

Right this minute we have tens of thousands of Americans who have been given layoff notices. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands who have already been laid off or lost jobs as a direct or indirect result of corporate bankruptcies and downsizing. Is anyone trying to resolve this problem beyond shoving propaganda down your throat? No.

Right this minute we have millions of Americans unable to afford medical care or often their own medications. This limits growth in the medical field and indeed is causing closure of hospitals at a rate expected to accelerate in the next year. This is not based on need. It is based on profit margin. This has and will eliminate hundreds of thousands of healthcare jobs and impact the health of millions of Americans. Are any elected officials working to save those facilities, even knowing the long-term impact? No.

Right this minute millions of Americans are homeless. Some even work full time. This is primarily because the cost of rent has increased dramatically since 2008, thanks to equity ownership. Meanwhile, Ben Carson has been making it more difficult and more expensive for the poor to afford low income housing. Are any elected officials working to correct this? No.

Once more, as with so many of my articles, this list can go on and on and on. These are only a few examples of what is happening right this minute.

Some alleged progressives love to scream and cry about privilege. Yet if all you can focus on is trying to push some name for 2020, if you think we can wait that long to take action on the problems we face right this minute, then you are the privileged one. The sick, the homeless, the unemployed, those dying under US military attack and many, many more cannot wait until 2021 for our problems to potentially be addressed. I repeat, potentially.

STFU about Bernie.

STFU about Hillary.

STFU about Beto.

STFU about Tulsi.

STFU about Trump.

STFU about 2020.

Focus on right this minute.

Leave Syria Alone

Since Trump announced ground troops would be leaving Syria soon, we have seen a lot of controversy and a lot of questions have been raised.

First, be clear on the fact that he only talked about ground troops. In no way has he stated that we would no longer be bombing the country. So it is very possible that US forces may continue bombing Syria unabated.

The neoliberal centrists have thrown absolute fits. Now claiming that we should remain in Syria to “protect the Kurds”. Of course, this line is repeated over and over by the mindless sycophants, most of whom had never heard of Kurds before a few months ago, probably a majority of whom never heard of Kurds before a few days ago. That’s when they were instructed what to think by corporate media in between ads from military contractors and clips of pro-war speeches by Hillary and the DNC elite.

What the corporate media fails to mention is the fact that the Kurds have met on multiple occasions with Assad in an attempt to reach a peaceful arrangement. They have, up to now, rejected any arrangement offered because they want to break Syria into multiple parts to form a new Kurdish nation.

Another thing they fail to point out is the fact that the biggest threat the Kurds face right this moment is by Turkey. The same Turkey to whom the US has been selling weapons for years, possibly decades and continue to do so. The same Turkey which is a member of NATO. The same Turkey which is home to Incirlik Air Base, which hosts forces of Turkey, the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and Spain. Yet we are going to help “protect” the Kurds from Turkey? Really?

The US is also giving money to Israel, then selling them weapons. So we are literally paying for the weapons Israel is buying. What does Israel do with those weapons or at least part of them? Attack Syria. The rest they use to attack Palestine.

Then we buy oil from Saudi Arabia. Who funds terrorists. To attack Syria and Yemen. We sell weapons to Saudi Arabia. So we are funding Saudi terrorism in the worst human rights atrocities since at least Pol Pot in Cambodia. Whom we supported directly and indirectly.

I’ve already written in the past how our weapons are sold at a loss. That article is here: https://medium.com/@russellmeyers_35963/arms-sales-create-jobs-cf4eec9a714c

The media also fails to point out the fact that our very presence in Syria has always been illegal. It was never authorized by Syria or Russia or the UN Security Council. Those are the only entities that could have issued authorization. Russia is in Syria legally because their assistance was requested by the Syrian government. Iran is in Syria legally because they offered assistance and it was accepted.

Some claim we are assisting Israel, yet Israel has militarily occupied the Golan Heights since 1966 illegally according to the UN.

Keep in mind that the US has not won a single military campaign since WWI, if even then. Even WWII was won more by Russia than the US and allies. Yet we have been at war in some form nearly every single year of the existence of this country.

Keep in mind that when the US steps back, there are typically greater chances for peace in other countries. It is when we get involved that military tensions ratchet up dramatically. While I am no fan of Trump and do not trust him, try and name the last time a sitting president engaged in peace talks with any country in a meaningful way. Then try and name the last time our country engaged in peace talks without imminent threat of invasion, bombing, etc.

Try and name the last time this country was directly threatened. Our government makes continuous claims that there have been attacks or threats to “our assets”. Meaning our military installations. Which reside in nearly every country on earth. If our military installations did not exist in other countries, they could not be threatened. They are threatened or attacked because of our involvement in the affairs of countries in which we truly have no rightful business except as intermediaries. Yet how often are we intermediaries, rather than primary actors of force and suppression? How many violent dictators have we installed or assisted to power? The Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Pinochet and the list goes on. How many elections have we interfered in? How many leaders have we overthrown? How many times have we ignored the will of the United Nations Security Council and even the General Assembly?

How much of our lives can we spend in terror that some other country may go some direction which we have not dictated? How much of our nation’s wealth can we steal from our own citizens to spend on bombs, bullets, aircraft carriers, drones, missiles, nuclear weapons? How many chemical weapons in the form of depleted uranium and white phosphorous can we use on other countries, then bomb a government when our proxy terrorists use chlorine or there has been no attack at all?

How many Americans must go without medical care, food housing, education and jobs so we can keep paying for the profits of military contractors? For every penny paid to them, we lose a penny which can benefit our own people.

We cannot afford to wage any more wars. We don’t have the money and we cannot borrow the money. No, it does not create jobs. No, it does not make us safer. No, it does not make our allies safer.

It is time for the American Empire to fall, to fail. It is time to bring our troops home. It is time to stop building bombs and start building bridges and schools. It is time to let the military contractors go broke. It is time to use diplomacy. Words rather than weapons. Before the rest of the world makes our decision for us.

Defining Socialism

Many people in this country claim they are afraid of Socialism. I call BS.

The irony of their claim is just how many have benefited and/or currently benefit from Socialist programs which have been in place in this country their entire lives or close to it.

Let me give you a root words and definitions.

The root word of Communism is community/communal. Defined, it indicates a system in which all property and wealth belong to the community and (ideally) is shared equally. While on the macro scale this has been problematic, it is possible. On smaller scales, it has worked and continues to work in small communities across the planet. It can be found in tribal communities removed from capitalist influence, from Tibet to Russia to Greece to South America. Some refer to Marxism as Marxist Socialism but I personally prefer to use separate names for each to avoid confusion.

The root word of Socialism is social/society. This denotes a system in which resources are used to benefit the society and it’s members. Individuals can own private property, make profits, etc. This system typically utilizes higher tax rates which are then used to benefit the citizens in that system, such as providing access to healthcare and education along with strong social support programs. Such Social Democratic systems exist and are called such in numerous countries to varying extents, including Germany, France, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, England, Canada and more. Countries with the highest quality of life and longest lifespans.

The root word of Capitalism is capital, meaning money or profit. This is a system where all resources are directed toward money and profit, especially weighted toward those at the top of the financial chain. In a true capitalist society, everything is for sale, including public offices and justice. Only the rich have rights as they purchase those rights. Vertical mobility in such a system is virtually impossible, as when you gain upward mobility, you become a threat to those already at the top and they can afford to stop your ascent by any means.

The true fact is that from true Communism to true Capitalism, no current system is pure. We live somewhere on a continuum in between the extreme poles.

Now let me give you another definition. Any government program which is paid for by society for the benefit of society is, by definition, Socialist. By this definition, as mentioned above, the US has had numerous Socialist programs in place for most of the last century. These programs are what have made life livable for many millions, improved our education and quality of life compared to the 19th century and expanded the strength of our economy at one time to the strongest in the world. It has been the weakening and dismantling of those programs which have caused major disruption up to and including a declining lifespan for Americans. It was our Socialist programs which literally made the US the country that those in other countries once followed and looked up to. But no longer.

A short list of the Socialist programs which were once strong in this country include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, fire departments, public police, public roads, public libraries, public health departments, water and sewage treatment systems, child labor laws, the very existence of a minimum wage, wage protection laws, consumer protection laws, worker safety laws, overtime pay, public defenders, Miranda Rights, public elections, welfare programs, public housing…

Getting the point yet? Each and every one of these programs is Socialist in concept and primarily in execution.

To go even further, think of all the jobs these programs support directly and indirectly. Directly they support doctors, nurses, teachers, librarians, road maintenance crews, public defenders, police, firemen and more. Indirectly they support suppliers, building construction and repair, grocery store jobs, farmers, ranchers, food processors, lumber harvesting and milling, paper companies, computer technicians..

The fact is, without these programs in place, our entire economy would collapse. Can you imagine the millions of seniors on Social Security and Medicare being stripped of those benefits?

So, the next time you encounter anyone who says they oppose Socialism, I seriously encourage you to share this article with them. Challenge them to offer viable capitalist alternatives to these programs. Because those alternatives simply do not exist.

Military Recruitment

I heard a report today that 1100 schools in the US have banned military recruiters from recruiting teenagers at those schools.

You can save the “patriotic” BS for someone else. I’m a veteran.

As a veteran, I support these schools entirely. The military should not be trying to recruit impressionable and under-developed minds to fight wars for corporate profit.

As an absolute rule, the military should be forced to be honest in their recruiting efforts. Just call it truth in advertising. The tobacco industry is forced to pay for anti-tobacco ads and place warnings on their products. So, why is the military allowed to directly engage in false advertising?

If the military were honest in their advertising and recruitment efforts, the number of people signing up for service would plummet. Public support for our massive military budget that exceeds the rest of the planet would be virtually nonexistent. Aside from warmongers who are clinically imbalanced.

Honest advertising for the military would include images and videos of what happens when our bombs land and when bullets hit their marks. It would show what happens to a human body when struck with a round from a Vulcan machine gun. Did you know that a Vulcan is actually considered a rotary cannon that fires 6000 rounds per minute? That each round is 20 mm across? That 20 mm is 3/4 of an inch?

Honest advertising for our military would show victims starving to death or dying of dehydration because we destroyed their access to food and clean water. It would include images of cancer victims and children born with crippling deformities thanks to our use of depleted uranium and Agent Orange. It would illustrate children burned to the bone and blinded by our White Phosphorous. It would divulge the fact that Agent Orange, depleted uranium and White Phosphorous are all chemical weapons.

Honest advertising for our military would admit the fact that if the exact same chemical weapons, starvation and dehydration methods were used by our enemies or against our military, they would be portrayed as absolute monsters. In fact, they have been for far less. Consider only months ago when there were allegations of chlorine gas in Syria. The OPCW found trace amounts of chlorine in rubble. Trace amounts that can come from destroyed PVC piping or cleaning products. Which do you think does more damage? Cleaning products or radioactive dirty bombs and chemicals that burn to the bone and cannot be extinguished?

Honesty would divulge the fact that depleted uranium is exactly what I stated. It is a dirty bomb. It spread radioactive waste over an area. The radioactivity poisons that area for decades, even generations.

Honest recruiting efforts would present all this information to any potential military applicant. It would not include giant flags and colored smoke from jets flying over football stadiums. It would not be videos showing US troops saving children from imaginary enemies. It would not mention helping our communities when we send troops to the Mexican border while an entire state burns to the ground and hurricane victims suffer lack of transportation, food and clean water.

Honesty would show the fact that over 70% of Islamic terrorist weapons in the Middle East come from US military stores.

Honesty would show that some people in the desert with land-based weapons and no aircraft have never been a threat to the US. So they have never been fighting for “our freedom”. They fight for corporate profits. They guard Afghan poppy fields for the drug companies. They guard oil fields for oil companies. They guard mines to protect precious metals.

Honesty recruiting efforts would show a printed list of veterans who have committed suicide in the past year. Then a list of veterans who wound up in prison because of drug problems they developed fighting PTSD. It would include a trip to an inpatient psychiatric unit for veterans. Images of wounded vets who have lost limbs, become paralyzed, live in chronic pain which may never stop. It would specify how many veterans above the norm become divorced and lose their families. If they are too unstable, they may be banned from ever visiting their own children for the rest of their lives.

Honesty would point out the fact that if the military were truthful about all the above, enlistees would either walk away or be more prepared mentally and emotionally when they encountered these conditions. So the number of veterans suffering PTSD and/or committing suicide would be a fraction. Of course, the ones who still joined would be giving full emotional consent and agreement to commit atrocities. 

So yes, as a veteran I support schools that ban recruiters. Stop the absolute crap of claiming how veterans fight for freedom. If recruiters are allowed on school campuses, then they should be forced to present facts or the school should allow other presentations which present these facts.

Syrian Troop Withdrawal

On 12/19/18, Trump announced he will order withdrawal of US troops from Syria. By now we should know to hold our elation about such an announcement. Look at what happened with North Korea.

Don’t forget he is still belligerent toward Iran, who is helping Syria. He is also completely unpredictable regarding Russia and Turkey. So we have absolutely no idea what may come next.

With Trump himself, one has to take note of the fact that his announcement is only regarding ground troops. He did not make any announcement that we will not be bombing Syria or supporting Israeli military aggression in Syria.

The response to this announcement by the media was predictable. Corporate media immediately began attacking, claiming this action helps Iran.. and Assad.. and Russia.. and ISIS. Never mind that ISIS opposes Assad (kind of the whole point of ISIS’s presence in Syria), somehow this action helps both Assad and ISIS. How it helps Russia is anyone’s guess.

Of course, he makes the claim that this withdrawal is because the US somehow beat ISIS. If we beat ISIS and not Assad, then were we assisting Assad all along, while claiming Assad is some kind of monster? What happened to all the claims of Assad using chemical weapons on his own people at the most inopportune times over and over and over? Obviously, Russian and Iranian military presence which actually fought on the ground and bombed ISIS military positions had nothing to do with the defeat of ISIS. The US beat ISIS by bombing the Syrian military repeatedly. Because that makes sense.

This announcement also comes right after the announcement of a $5 billion weapons deal with Turkey. Maybe he thinks Turkey is going to invade Syria? Or that Turkey will band with Israel and Saudi Arabia to invade? We can only guess what actions the CIA will be engaging in next to keep our military in Syria.

I’m still waiting for more of a response from “the Resistance” about this. The one thing you can count on is that the response will not be positive. Anyattempt to move away from warfare in any way will be attacked ferociously and they will find some way to twist it into how it gives Mueller more ammunition and Trump should be impeached for withdrawing US troops from a country where our presence has been illegal from the very beginning.

We can also expect corporate media and “the Resistance” to start an aggressive campaign to use this as a further push for war with Russia and most likely Iran. I expect it to be part of the “protect Israel” story they weave.

No matter what, the one thing we should never expect of any of this is that it will be a step further toward peace in any part of the globe. That’s not what our government or media are about. Because “good guys” never want war to end, right?

The Battle For Everything

Make no mistake, this is war.

I have even close friends tell me that I can be “too aggressive” at times. especially on social media. I agree I can be aggressive. However, saying too much so is very open to debate.

I have been a Progressive at different levels my entire life. I am 56 years old, so I grew up through Vietnam and the first Cold War. I’ve seen Watergate, Reagan, Honduras, Iran, Iran-Contra, the fall of the Berlin Wall (while I was in Germany), Desert Storm (when I was recalled to active duty), 17 years of Afghanistan, 15 years of Iraq, the assassination of Qaddafi… All along the way I have fought for human rights, against war, against prejudice, against income inequality.

The problem with the Progressive movement is that too many in this movement over the years have been too nice. At least, that is my take on it. Too many are too willing to compromise. Don’t use harsh words, listen to opposing views, take incremental steps. Look where that has gotten us.

The line has moved ever onward in a steady march to the right. More war, more bombs, more debt, more corporate control, fraudulent elections, more censorship, more blatant prejudice and on and on.

Here are just a few examples of how we have moved ever farther to the right in the last few years and why this is most definitely civil war with no civility at all coming from the enemy.

Job market. Right now retail and manufacturing in this country are collapsing. Auto companies, GE and numerous other companies are laying people off by tens of thousands. Retail and small businesses are closing by the thousands. Automation is eliminating tens of thousands of jobs annually. At each step, more jobs are lost. Lost jobs means lost consumers, so there will be fewer jobs in retail or manufacturing in the foreseeable future.

Stock market. The stock market has been propped up by false images brought about by stock repurchases for years. That had to come to an end at some point because it was unsustainable. Even as I write this, the collapse I have predicted for the past decade or more is happening.

Lack of medical care. Millions of Americans have no health insurance. Millions more cannot afford the premiums, deductibles and medications. As fewer and fewer can afford care, more hospitals and clinics close. That means fewer medical jobs available and decreasing pay for the ones that are left. As a nurse, I can state without reserve that burnout and apathy are now common in the medical field. So experienced medical professionals are retiring or just walking away in droves. So the quality of care declines. The end result is that millions suffer acute or chronic illness, too often with long term consequences including death.

Income inequality. Because of the conditions already mentioned and simply the greed of the rich, the poor in this country keep getting poorer and the rich have been getting richer. More wealth is concentrated in the hands of a decreasing number of rich people than any time in world history. Less money in circulation means entire economies, including ours, will soon collapse. This has begun. We see protests and riots globally. Of course, corporate media reports on very little of it because you’re not supposed to know. It may give you ideas they don’t want you to have. When they do report on it, they make the rising millions seem like lawless gangs and criminals.

Poverty. Poverty is widespread and increasing, bringing hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, illness, social anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, depression and rising suicide rates.

Censorship. People rage against Trump for banning one CNN reporter from the White House. He did not ban CNN, he banned one reporter. CNN could have sent another reporter. Yet the same people raging about this have nothing to say about RT being banned. The DNC attacks Trump and yet are suing Wikileaks for releasing the DNC emails. Great! I’m for it. Evidence discover will backfire spectacularly on them! Many people who claim to be in favor of freedom of the press hate Assange and think it’s good that Alex Jones was censored. It’s all okay with them as long as a corporation does it, even when corporations own 95% of the media. FB and Twitter remove Progressive pages while YouTube demonetizes Progressive outlets. Neoliberal zombies don’t care. They keep listening to Rachel Maddow think for them.

Election integrity. Do we really have to go over what happened in the 2016 Democratic primary again? I’m just mentioning it, I won’t recap yet again.

Russiagate. Make no mistake, Russiagate is a march to war. It can go nowhere else. Even though polls have proven absolutely that most Americans do not believe this to be an issue which is of primary concern to them. Yet you hear about it every day. No evidence, no viable motive for Russia ever presented.

Environment. Right now we have over 1300 Superfund sites in this country. Climate change is a reality, no matter what science deniers claim. Over 95% of scientists agree. The only ones that do not have profits to make by denying it.

Collapse of the dollar and other currencies. The value of the dollar is built on thin air and resources we do not own. Systems of payment for oil which we have nothing to do with. The world is slowly turning away from that system, signing the death note for the dollar at a time when the US has more debt than all other countries combined. Hence other countries are selling off US Treasury bonds, hastening our demise. Meanwhile real estate and other investments are falling rapidly around the world.

The fall of capitalism. The UN recently issued a report stating capitalism is unsustainable. It is built on the need for never ending expansion of production requiring the consumption of resources beyond the capacity of not only the global environment but beyond the capacity of the market itself. We are already beyond the tipping point and it is falling in on itself. There is no way forward for capitalism to continue uncontested and humans to survive without a massive population failure.

Ever-increasing warfare. Right this minute, there are more countries engaged in military conflicts than at any time since WWII. The US is spending more on “defense” than all other countries combined. Meanwhile, all sides of our government claim to be opposing one another while all sides are in a non-stop and ever-accelerating push to war with Russia, China, Iran and anyone else who does not bow down to our imperial design. Corporate media takes profits from the war machine and acts as the advertising wing of the same war machine. It would be impossible to name a war or military confrontation the US has engaged in for the past 40 years, perhaps ever, that our media opposed.

This is only a short list. Yet it is illustrative of the challenges we are up against. Incremental change and pragmatism are not viable responses any more. Trying to convince people using nice words is no longer an option. In no way do I endorse violence. There may come a time when violence is the only choice we have as a response to the conditions at hand. This is not that time. However, tolerating those who continue to defend the neoliberal Establishment characters and tactics cannot be done any more with polite language and pedagogy. It’s time to treat adults like adults. It is far beyond time to call BS for BS.

If we are not contradicting the status quo, debunking propaganda ferociously, then we have laid down our arms and surrendered. By default, we are culpable for the continuation of the same problems listed above and all that goes with them.

This is the battle for everything. We do not need to be friends with the enemy. We do not need to recruit spies for the other side. We need comrades in arms. Peaceful, mindful warriors for the cause of bringing down the real enemies. The warmongers, the unrestricted capitalist eating machine, the power mongers, the priests and sycophants of hatred and bigotry, the sexists.

Call me aggressive. Call me not a nice person. Call me an asshole. I’ll even agree with you at times. We cannot keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. That is the definition of stupidity. The one thing you cannot call me is stupid. Try it and I will absolutely call you on it openly.

Choose your side. Because neutrality is not an option.

Government Of The People

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people..”

These words of Lincoln should stand tall and strong in the minds of Americans. Unfortunately, that is not true. Some will say any longer but I’m not sure just how much they ever truly sank in to the American consciousness.

Those words indicate that we, the people of this country are the true rulers of our own country. Yet too many in this country make reference to “our leader/s” when referring to elected officials. Elected officials are not our “leaders”. They are our employees. In voting, we hire them. If we are collectively unhappy with their job performance, the next election and sometimes even before that, we can fire them via recall elections or impeachment. Elections are really little more than performance reviews in which we determine as a group whether elected officials job performance merits their continued employment.

Consider the job title for them. Representatives. Not manager, not dictator, not supervisor. Representatives. Meaning they are supposed to be there to vocalize and act on what is best for our interests. Not the interests of their biggest donors. It is exceedingly rare that it works that way. This is what should be the part of Lincoln’s statement, “For the People”.

Merriam-Webster defines a congress as “a formal meeting of delegates for discussion and usually action on some question”. Discussion. Not argument. Meaning multiple sides should be represented in a rational manner. I typically refer to our legislative body as CONgress because too many members consider “con” to be the operative part of that word. The literal definition of the word from Latin means, “To act together”.

What amazes me is the fact that so many Americans believe elected officials are educated or endowed with some special knowledge or power. There is no special education, no specific qualifications to hold any office in our government. Any citizen of this country can run for elected office. If there were any special education necessary to hold office, that education should be not only available to all citizens but mandatory in basic education. Yet it has been decades since even Civics was required in our school system. Public understanding of the workings of our government being so illiterate at this point is a clear indication that we need to bring that part of our education back. However, civic ignorance was literally the goal when that class was removed from the national syllabus. So it is up to us to educate ourselves and one another on this subject. Happily, there has been a resurgence of interest in the subject for some.

Of the People.” As I stated, there is no special education, knowledge or power to hold office. Yet we elect people to office and then allow them to use powers and terms such as “executive privilege”, “classified” and “privileged information” to hold over us on a continual basis. This is absolutely wrong. In a government of the people, no such special privileges should exist. Elected officials are accountable to us. They should not have any right to refuse to answer any question which does not place human life in eminent danger.We, the people of this country should have access to most of the information generated by our government and especially elected officials. We should have the right and ability to check on what is allegedly being done “on our behalf” at any time. FOIA requests should not incur formidable costs for the press, leading to weighted access to only the most wealthy press sources, which are typically corporate. Any independent media should be able to file information requests and receive answers. That information has already been compiled under our own expense.

By the People.” Many elected officials refuse to hold town hall meetings. Even if they do, they are more likely to tell voters we are wrong, even with overwhelming support on a topic. Call them and you get automated systems or flunkies reading a script. Email or write and you may get a form letter in the mail or email in response, often not even addressing that specific topic. Try social media and you may get blocked.We have seen time and again other countries conducting public referendums on various major issues. We live in a time when we can access bank records securely online, we have block chain technology, a continuous push for voter ID and a national ID card. Yet we have no national referendum on anything. There is no valid reason that we, “the most powerful country on earth” cannot implement methods whereby each of our voices are heard. A system which recorded each individual’s choice on any issue could be recorded and identity verified. The problem is, if such a system were implemented, we would have concrete public records when officials went directly against the popular will and instead acted in favor of corporate donors.

Of course, the biggest problem with having a government of, by and for the people is the personal responsibility involved. It would mean we had duty and responsibility to be informed, a commitment to be involved citizens. Many Americans do not want that. They want “leaders”, without truly paying attention to where they are being led. They want to vote once every 2–4 years, hand power and control to their anointed cult leader and then passively-aggressively complain when things become worse. Find someone else to blame. Yet they will praise themselves excessively when anything improves, cheering how “we” had anything to do with it. Even though they exerted no additional effort than submitting a ballot. If they even did that.

If we want the way our government operates to change and be more reflective of our collective will, more responsive to what the people want, then we mustdo something to make it that way.

I’ve said numerous times, we have no heroes. We are our own heroes. It’s time for us to act like it. No more blame. No more excuses. No more whining.

Yellow Vest Protests- The Difference Between French And Americans

I already detailed in my last post a number of reasons that the Yellow Vest movement is not likely to spread to America any time soon.

Let’s say I am wrong and it does spread here. If so, how would it be different?

Most of all, mainland Europeans (do not include the UK in this) have a far different mindset than Americans do. Pay attention to interviews with most of the protesters. What do they state their demands are, individually? It is true that removing Macron from office is on the list but it is far from the first item on that list. Long before that, you will hear them speaking of actual issues regarding economics and social issues on which they demand policy changes. The main point being that they understand that the name at the top of the page is just another name at the top of the page. Without policy change, nothing positive will occur.

Contrast that with America. In America, look at the Women’s Marches. They had no definitive list of complaints, no specific policies they wanted changed. The same thing would happen if the Yellow Vest movement spread to America. There would be no focus on policies. No specific changes that protesters wanted to enact. There would be little or no solidarity as there is in France, where over 70% of citizens agree with what the protesters are demanding.

The long and short of it is that any such protests in America would be seized by political parties to force their own agenda. They would become “Impeach Trump” rallies, with no plans beyond that agenda. None that the public would be privy to, any way. If they actually managed to get Trump impeached, it would be called a success, even though no discernible change would follow. There would be big “we won” parties and speeches and then back to the same path we have been on.

Part of the reason for the differences between the countries is media. Many countries in mainland Europe have standards of public conduct, which includes their media and advertising. Take their advertising as an example. If you advertise a product in Europe, you can state the claims of benefits of your product. What you can not do is compare your product to your competitor. You cannot claim your product is best. You cannot claim there are flaws in competing products.

The same concept holds true with electoral candidates. You can state your policies and plans. You are not allowed to demean your opponent or their policies.

In each case, if you breach such conduct, you can be personally sued, censured, admonished, held accountable in numerous different ways.

This affects the national mindset. They focus on issues, plans, promises. They remember those promises and hold elected officials responsible far more than they are in America.

Here in America, attacking your opponent, being led by the media and already elected power-grabbing officials is the norm. Policies are not necessary, all you have to do is attack your opponent and make them look worse.

Another part of the difference is education. France and most mainland European countries have socialized adult education. More Europeans have advanced adult education than the American population. That advanced education leads to a populace that has greater critical thinking skills.

If these protests came to America, they would be inserted into a population that thrives on violence. Large numbers of people who worship the Second Amendment yet turn a blind eye to children tear gassed at our border, ignore our own unarmed citizens being shot down in the streets. This is a culture of reality show spectators, armchair quarterbacks, MMA and pro wrestling fans. We have subcultures that watch or actively participate in dog fights or rooster fights to the death. Aggression and force are our stock in trade. Hoarding wealth and possessions is idolized.

So, perhaps the real question should not be whether the Yellow Vest protests will make it to America. Perhaps the real question should be, “Do we want it to?”

Yellow Vest Protests- Could We?

The Yellow Vest protests in France and spreading to other parts of Europe have garnered very little attention in US corporate media. The only mention I have seen of them has been to make it seem as though the protesters are hooligans bent on destruction. Or trying to blame Russia for civil unrest. Never examining what the protests are about or who is involved. Not daring to mention that 70% of French citizens support the movement, including many police.

There is also the narrative that Socialists want “free stuff”, not mentioning the high taxes French citizens pay to support their social system. Not mentioning that taxes have been lowered for the rich, while attempts to increase fuel taxes on the poor were attempted.

Yes, the protests began as a protest against an additional fuel tax. However, it grew from there to include many other issues.

At this point, our media is attempting to make it seem like 70% of France are just unruly thugs wanting to remove the neoliberal Macron from office, while he is the “good guy”, defending himself. By having police fire tear gas at French citizens.

Of course, this must be Russia behind all of this. France has never had a popular uprising where they overthrew an overbearing power structure. Right?!

Many people in America are suggesting that we need just such an uprising in this country, with many of the same demands. Problem is, such an uprising is not going to happen here in the near future. It may happen but not yet.

For one thing, Americans are still sold on the idea that we are “free”. That any problems we have are the result of being victims of outside forces.

BLM was not a real movement, it was Russian propaganda. That’s why they were banned from Hillary’s rallies. Black men are not shot down in the streets or even their own back yards. In France, if one person is shot down or beaten, they face mass protests. Color doesn’t matter. Wonder what will happen with hundreds arrested and thousands tear gassed? Here, we just pass it off as “the price of freedumb”. The police were threatened. That wallet looked like a gun. That 6 year old was a threat to be dealt with by lethal force.

We are so “free” that we can sacrifice some of our freedom. We can censor our media, silence voices. It’s not the government doing it, it’s just the corporations that own the government doing it. That makes it all okay. If you do not agree with a particular voice, don’t turn the channel. Petition to have that voice removed entirely. Other voices that you have never heard of? Just trust the corporations to pass judgment and you’ll go along with it.

Americans listen to corporate media, neoliberals and right wing voices (same thing, really) telling us how great the economy is doing. That any suffering or lack is all because of Russian trolls, Chinese trade practices or immigrants. The numbers and evidence don’t add up.

We hear all the time that the US is the richest country on earth. Does it feel like that to you? Does it look like it when you hear of people dying because they cannot afford diabetes or heart medications? For proof, the media offers the stock market. Problem is, only a fraction of Americans actually have money in the stock market. Or a savings account. It’s hard to invest when you can barely pay rent and feed your family.

As a nurse, I have personally seen people die from dental infections. They could not afford a dentist. Most Americans have no clue of the relationship between dental disease and heart disease. I’ve witnessed people beg doctors for the least expensive medication because they could not afford the most effective medication for their condition. I have tried to comfort patients who would not be able to afford their medications after they were discharged from the hospital I worked in. All I could do was refer to the social worker, cross my fingers and offer what I knew were likely empty platitudes.

We are so wealthy that millions of Americans go bankrupt every year due to medical bills. That causes businesses to lose money and prices to rise. It causes people to lose homes and vehicles. Aside from the stress, health issues and shame which goes with it, as though it was a failing on their part.

I’ve written before that illegal immigrants account for only 0.25% of your entire income, at most. That’s a generous number. Of course, that number does not include the much higher expense of tracking them down, rounding them up, incarcerating them, feeding them, paying ever-increasing numbers of border patrol agents, more militarization of the border, building a wall which will be tunneled under, lawyers, legal challenges and lost labor or failed crops. Those numbers completely dwarf any social support they may have received at any point.

We are so wealthy that we go further in debt daily paying student loans, while French citizens can attend university without additional cost.

We are so wealthy that the majority of divorces in this country are due to financial issues.

We are so wealthy that many roads and bridges in this countries are tragedies in waiting.

We are so wealthy we cannot afford to fight forest fires which destroy hundreds of homes and tens of thousands of acres of forest every single year.

We are so wealthy our teachers must work multiple jobs to pay their own bills while parents must provide school supplies on top of paying property taxes, sales tax and income tax. It is the ultimate insult to pay sales tax on school supplies after paying all the other taxes that are supposed to provide our children with an education. Then stand by and watch as schools beg for donations of computer equipment from corporations who get tax breaks for sending jobs to other countries.

We are so wealthy that our government conducts trade at the end of a missile. We can afford to bomb countries that are no threat to us but cannot provide shelter to millions of our own people.

But you should be scared to death because maybe some Russian troll posted memes. Or because China may sell something at Dollar Tree you want to buy. Because those are our biggest problems.

No, protests on the scale of the Yellow Vest protests will not happen here yet. Eventually they will. When the oligarchy has sucked the last penny dry. When the dollar collapses to negative worth. When you can no longer afford to even watch network propaganda. When gun nuts are faced with the choice of using their guns to rob people or sell their guns to eat.

Because we value our “freedoms” so much, our country has chosen collapse over calling the rich and powerful to account.

Just don’t protest. Because that’s unAmerican.