Grassroots Campaign: Restoring Democracy

Grassroots campaign - Creations, Ltd.

Everyone tends to scoff at the idea of a grassroots campaign, at least at the federal level. After all, ‘corporations are people’. Money is speech. Unlimited money can be poured into elections. Huge financial entities have the same rights as individuals. Many big donations can be anonymous. Sounds like Orwellian ‘double speak’ doesn’t it? But these things are the law of the land in our democracy/republic. And not everyone is happy about it. Corporation are. Rich folks with a political axe to grind are.

We the people, of limited means, are not exactly delighted as we find our democracy turning into a corporatocracy, worse, a kakistocracy. We find our puny personal budgets unable to contribute enough to political campaigns to ever exert any kind of individual pressure on policy. We find ourselves losing ground in the policy wars. Tax cuts favor the wealthy. We see that people with money are avid to cut programs that benefit less fortunate Americans. People who need food stamps must prove they are working. Medicaid is always on the chopping block. Trump’s new budget suggest cuts to SSDI. Small wonder people are becoming tribal. There is power in numbers.

The mentality that has been trending for quite a while is that the safety net is being used by a bunch of deadbeats. Since the courts keep assisting these people in getting benefits so that the government cannot find the takers, indiscriminate cuts will please those Americans who insist they are being ripped off. The problem is that cuts to SSDI will probably end up hurting honest disabled folks who need help most.

Bending over backwards to protect the rights of giant corporations has given us a government that panders to giant corporations. As long as the Citizens United decision allows rich folks to dominate our democracy, we the people find that federal money is not making its way into our communities. Our corporations no longer act as benefactors. Although infrastructure is a recurring topic, nothing is happening to improve the aging infrastructure in our towns, villages, cities. Working parents find their wages stagnant, and they get no help with child care. Our medical system is still too random and does not help everyone. Medical bills are sending far too many families into bankruptcy. Many seniors cannot afford all the care they actually need. Corporate money has influenced state governments to bust unions that used to fight for citizen’s rights.

It often seems that corporations, who have abandoned America in droves, have more rights than citizens do. They have aggregate rights equivalent to their dollar value and their political contributions and their lobbying. How can we the people compete?

This is why I see great value in the current push by Democrats to fund candidates for 2020 with grassroots money. Overturning a court decision can be very difficult. It could take many years to reform the whole ‘corporations are people’ routine which brought us to Citizens United, a very bad ruling for we the people. Ignoring the ruling, blithely going about the business of a major election without big money donations would not be at all illegal and could take all the air out of a common complaint that ‘there is too much money in politics’.

Using grassroots funding is a brave thing to do, an act that is revolutionary in spirit but does not break any laws. If every Democrat agrees to run on a level playing field it could work. Joe Biden is clearly not willing to stake his presidential run on small money donations. He is asking for big money donations. If even one Democrat goes against the grassroots campaign model will that make the whole issue moot? Does it give Joe Biden an edge in the race or will it work against him? Are the Democrats who are running grassroots races being too unrealistic to compete against Republicans who have no compunctions about tapping big donors and who don’t mind promising favors in return. Didn’t we always find quid pro quopretty shady? There seems to be a lot of shade around lately.

We do live in interesting times and I find myself admiring the steel of the new Democrats who are taking the party out of the corporate sphere and back into the domain of the American people. It will be interesting to see if showing some ethical backbone will be a winning stance for the Democrats to take and if it will begin to restore some perspective in a society that has come to believe that money is all and that a good economy is enough to give us the democratic society our forefathers dreamed up. Hint: it’s not.

Bad President? – Graphic Testimony

bad president - YouTube

When during his campaign a President calls on Russia to find his opponent’s emails.

When he hires a campaign manager with connections with a pro-Russian Ukrainian leader and a history of overspending requiring foreign loans and a penchant for activities which seemed to involve money laundering, a man who is going to jail for at least seven years.

manafort to court Daily Mail

Is he going to be a bad President?

When a man who is running for the office of US President says he can grab women by their ‘lady parts’ or just kiss them without permission because he is famous. When he pays off two women he slept with while his wife was pregnant. When his lawyer paid hush money so this wouldn’t derail his election campaign and then he paid his lawyer back for the payoffs while he was a candidate and while he was the actual President.

Trump and his women Extra Newsfeed

Check to Cohen San Francisco Chronicle

Isn’t that what we think of as a man who would be a bad President?

When the President exaggerates the crowd that shows up for his inauguration and spends twice as much on it as was spent on the previous President’s much-better-attended inauguration. When it has been demonstrated that this man lies all the time.

Trump v Obama crowd size CNN.com

When a President of the United States gets his advice from white supremacists like Steven Bannon and Steven Miller.

Steve Bannon and Miller 2 Haaretz

Is he a bad President?

When a President appoints people to his Cabinet who intend to deconstruct the agencies they head, people who act like royalty and insist on being treated as such – when he puts someone who does not believe in climate change in charge of the EPA, and someone who has never been in a public school in charge of Education, and someone in charge of HUD who feathers his own nest with a $31,000 dining room set while lots of city tenants still put their children to bed in apartments full of lead paint.

Ben Carson dining set CBS News

Is that guy a bad President?

When a President separates mothers and children seeking asylum (or fathers and children) and puts them in cells (cages). When this same President has ICE agents hunt down working people with families who happen to be here without papers, or checks documents of citizens on public transit hoping to catch someone who is undocumented, instead of racking of arrests of all the MS-13 gang members, criminals, and thugs he is always warning us about. When a President refuses to accept a decision of Congress and vows to find any way, even one that oversteps accepted practice so he can build an unnecessary wall.

Children-cages clydefitchreport

ICE on trains Daily Beast

Is he a bad President yet?

When a President ignores sensible traditions of our democracy. When he will not keep his business interests in a separate trust while in office. When he won’t let us see his taxes. When he flaunts the law and the hotel agreement he made that his is violating every day. When he ignores taboos against nepotism which resulted from centuries of governing experience. When we have almost a family-run government which is not at all what our forefathers designed.

emoluments-clause-trump-The Nib

Trump INternational Hotel The Boston Globe

Republican National Convention: Day Two

Does that make him a bad President?

When this man who is our President told his political base, the very people who elected him that he would turn the clock back to when America was a bustling industrial hub and then he says that rich CEO’s will make that happen. Then he gives those rich guys big tax breaks – except that when they get those tax breaks everyone finds out we can’t reboot that old Industrial Age. Time has moved on.

Armour-Chicago-1910 sometimes-interesting.com

tax cuts and jobs act Biloxi Sun Herald

robots-in-a-factory-Quartz

Are we there yet? Is that a bad President?

OK, maybe the jury is still out on the economy for some of you but what if those tax cuts are just an obscene bribe to powerful monied people to keep that President in power?

 

GDP Growth - Pinterest

America has spoken alethonews.com

american-oligarchy-1-caribflame.com

Is that a bad President?

When a President loves leaders who make their citizens fear them; who call themselves democratic but who are not, leaders who are actually dictators; or even when that President only flatters them to ingratiate himself with them (does he think these paranoid guys can’t see through this ploy?) When a President protects leaders who are murderers. When this same President attacks our friends and Allies.

world autocrats.trump theglobepost.com

Is he a bad President yet?

When a President explodes the deficit to give rich people huge tax cuts and then cuts the social safety net (Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Food Stamps) and our health care as Trump does in his newest budget.

Tax Cuts and deficits doodlethenews.com

Let them eat - Fortune

2019 budget cuts to safety net WaPo

Doesn’t all this (and much more) make 45 a bad President?

Everyone keeps saying we have no proof that Donald J. Trump is unworthy to be the President of America, but how much proof will it take?

How do you get rid of a bad President? We have put all our cards on the 2020 election. It’s a huge risk, a risk that could destroy our democracy. I hope we can “make it so”. Register to vote asap. Don’t forget. Pay attention to the elations. We the people are a branch of the US government.

register-to-vote -therenewalnotice

and Don’t forget to vote!

Vote 2020 Connect FM

If your President threatens violence against people who vote for a Democrat, vote anyway!

“You know, the left plays a tougher game. It’s very funny,” Trump claimed in the interview first published Wednesday. “I actually think the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher.”

“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point. And then it would be very bad — very bad,” he continued. “But the left plays it cuter and tougher — like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress . . .  with all this invest[igations]. That’s all they want to do is — you know, they do things that are nasty.”

“Republicans never played this,” the president concluded.

https://www.salon.com/2019/03/15/donald-trump-suggests-things-could-get-very-bad-for-democrats-who-dont-support-his-presidency/

Photo credits: From Google Image Searches -YouTube, Daily Mail, Extra Newsfeed, SF Chronicles, CNN.com, Haaretz, CBS News, clyde fitch report, Daily Beast, the Nib Boston Globe, Getty Images, sometimes interesting.com, Biloxi Sun Herald, Quartz, The Week, Pinterest, alethonnews.com, caribflame.com, theglobepost.com, Fortune, WaPo, the renewal notice.jpg, connect FM

 

Annie Leibovitz, President Maker

Beto_ORourke_Vanity_Fair_c0-14-900-538_s561x327

The photographs that Annie Leibovitz took for the Vanity Fair articleon Beto O’Rourke make him look like such a quintessential American that they bring to mind a president as authentic as Abraham Lincoln. They are archetypal, especially the one of Beto with his family and the photo in his vehicle tooling around dusty roads in Texas. And he cooks. We can just see a new informal vibe, emblematic of the style of most Americans, inhabiting the oval office and the halls of Congress. We can feel ourselves sort of longing for that young family to occupy the White House and play on those lawns with their pets. Perhaps they will play their music for guests of state. His policies are not at the outer edges of the party, but are not too moderate either. Is he too young and too quirky with his journeys of self-discovery? I must admit I had not taken him seriously until I saw Annie Leibovitz’s photographs, better than but reminiscent of Life magazine and Norman Rockwell. One more word: iconic.

BETO-OROURKE-VF-201904-OPENER

BETO-OROURKE-VF-201904-02

BETO-OROURKE-VF-201904-01

BETO-OROURKE-VF-201904-03

BETO-OROURKE-VF-201904-05BETO-OROURKE-VF-201904-07

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz

Churchill on Brexit, the EU, Immigration, Diversity and more

United-States-of-Europe-672x372 Katy Jon Went

Winston Churchill was 90 by the mid-sixties, but he was born at the end of the 19 th century, the Victorian Age. Since he played such a prominent role on the world stage his positions on important issues affected decisions made in concert with other world leaders and set the world on pathways that reflected the closely-held positions of these leaders. Many issues trending in today’s conversations were addressed by Churchill and other world political and military figures, especially at the end of two wars that began in Europe and eventually affected nations on every continent. Some of those issues included: what should happen in Europe after two world wars, Churchill on isolationism, a Churchill design for a European union of sorts, what Churchill wished for the relationship between Great Britain and America, Churchill on immigration, and on diversity. I used Andrew Robert’s book Churchill: Walking with Destinyas my source because it is chock full of primary source material. (When Andrew Roberts is speaking you will find double quotes in use; when Churchill is quoted directly, single quotation marks will be found.)

Europe after the World Wars, Isolationism, and the Relationship between the UK and the US

Pg. 163

In 1911

‘It must always be a guiding star of British Statesmanship, not only to federate the Empire, but to draw nearer in bonds of friendship and association to the United States. The road to unity of the English-speaking races is no doubt a long one, and we cannot see the end of it.’

Andrew Roberts

“Churchill’s mind was starting to move along the lines that were to climax with his suggestion of joint Anglo-American citizenship at Harvard in 1943.

Pg. 793

‘Twice in my lifetime the long arm of destiny has reached across the oceans and involved the entire life and manhood of the United States in a deadly struggle.’ ‘There is no use in saying we don’t want it, we won’t have it, our forebears left Europe to avoid these quarrels; (America is speaking) “we have founded a new world which has no contact with the old.” There is no use in that. The long arm reaches out remorselessly and everyone’s existence, environment, and outlook undergo a swift and irresistible change.

There is no halting place at this point. We have now reached a stage in the journey where there can be no pause. We must go on. It must be world anarchy or world order.’

Roberts

“Churchill defined what connected the English-speaking peoples as ‘Law, language, literature – these are considerable factors. Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice, and above all the love of personal freedom.’

“To those isolationists who believed the United States should not have gone to war, he said,”

‘The price of greatness is responsibility. If the people of the United States had continued in a mediocre station, struggling with the wilderness, absorbed in their own affairs, and a factor of no consequence in the movement of the world, they might have remained forgotten and undisturbed beyond their protecting oceans: but one cannot rise to be in many ways the leading community in the civilized world without being convulsed by its agonies and inspired by its causes.’

Pg. 795

‘The gift of a common tongue is a priceless inheritance and it may well someday become the foundation of a common citizenship. I like to think of British and Americans moving about freely over each other’s wide estates with hardly a sense of being foreigners to one another.’

‘If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail. I therefore preach continually the doctrine of the fraternal association of our two peoples.’

Pg. 894

‘Neither the sure prevention of war nor the continuous rise of world organization will be gained without what I have called the fraternal association of English-speaking peoples. This means a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.’

Roberts

“He wanted this to go so far as to involve the joint use of all Naval and Air Force bases in the possession of either country all over the world.”

Pg. 959

On Socialism – 1959

‘Among our Socialist opponents there is great confusion. Some of them regard private enterprise as a tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is – the strong and willing horse that pulls the whole cart along.’

Pg. 972

On Democracy

‘I was brought up in my father’s house to believe in democracy. “Trust the people” – that was his message. I used to see him cheered at meetings and in the streets by crowds of working men way back in those aristocratic Victorian day when, as Disraeli said, “The world was for the few, and the very few.”

Pg. 903

‘No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of ministers who are their servants and not their masters.’

How to Prevent Another War in Europe, ‘the United States of Europe’,  Britain and Europe – Churchill and Brexit

Why was Europe such a contentious area? How could we achieve long term peace in Europe and end that awful pattern of conflagration, high dungeon, and woeful destruction? Churchill, like his American counterparts had some ideas about government, how to quell German aggression, how to keep the peace in Europe, and how to stave off dissent in the coming iteration of the United Kingdom. Churchill believed that a united Europe, that worked to lower barriers among European nations would help keep the peace. He did not see this as one government over all of Europe. He saw this as a ‘United States of Europe’ where nations maintained their autonomy. Since he did not see this alliance as either military or economic it is difficult to see what he actually had in mind.

But what Churchill’s position was on whether Britain should be a part of this European alliance is quite telling. Churchill was opposed to a United Kingdom presence in the ‘United States of Europe’. Churchill was flexible and could change somewhat with the times. Would he ever have favored joining the EU? From all he said it seems unlikely. Since he would never have joined I assume he would favor Brexit once the UK made what he considered the mistake of joining in the first place. Interesting anyway to see the roots of the EU in the aftermath of WWII. Churchill did evolve, so he might have changed his mind on this. That we cannot know.

Pg. 624

On Allied post-war decisions

‘When the war is won by this nation, as it surely will be, it must be one of our aims to work to establish a state of society where the advantages and privileges which hitherto have been enjoyed only by the few shall be far more widely shared by the many and the youth of the nation as a whole.’

Pg. 632

“Once the war had been won, in about twenty months-time, he predicted,” ‘there would once more be those who wished to help Germany on to her feet. Only one thing in history is certain: that mankind is unteachable.’

Roberts

“After the peace had been won, Churchill believed the world would have a brief ‘opportunity to establish a few basic principles.’ “He thought future international relations could be based on Christian ethics, and the more closely we follow the Sermon on the Mount the more likely we are to succeed in our endeavor.”

On Britain and Europe – (Brexit)

Pg. 899

United States of Europe

“A speech on Sept. 19, 1946, picked up on a phrase from a speech of April, 1944 in which he had mentioned a future ‘United States of Europe’.”

Roberts

“Churchill recognized that the two greatest tragedies of his life time had both stemmed from Franco-German wars, and he pledged a new Franco-German amity that would be the essential first step along the road to European Unity, and which he hoped would be a counterpoise to Soviet Communism.”

“In Europe he said: ‘Let Europe arise!’

Roberts

“This was his Western Europe counterpart to the Fulton speech, a passionate statement in support of European unity which still reads very well today. In his peroration, he as usual made it perfectly clear – as he always did whenever he spoke in public or private on the subject – that he did not intend Britain to join the United Europe.”

‘In all this urgent work, France and Germany must take the lead together. Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America, and I trust Soviet Russia, for then indeed all would be well, must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live and shine.’

Roberts

“Churchill made another emotional appeal for a united continent at an important meeting of the United Europe organization at the Albert Hall on 14 May 1947. Germany and France ‘would form a major regional entity in the new post-war world. There is the United States with all its dependencies; there is the Soviet Union; there is the British Empire and Commonwealth; and there is Europe, with which Great Britain is profoundly blended. Here are the four main pillars of the world Temple of Peace.’ “He intended Britain to be , as he put it a friend and sponsor and ‘profoundly blended with a United Europe, though not an integral part of it.’

“Why the European federalists should have apparently thought at one time that he was thinking of British membership of a federal Europe I have never understood. He always made it quite clear that Britain, if he had anything to do with it, would stand aloof.”

10 Dec. 1948 in a foreign policy debate

‘We are not seeking in the European movement…to usurp the functions of government. I have tried to make this plain again and again to the heads of government. We ask for a European assembly without executive power. We hope that sentiment and culture, the forgetting of old feuds, the lowering and melting down of barriers of all kinds between countries, the growing sense of being a good European – we hope that all these will be the final eventual and irresistible solvent of the difficulties which now condemn Europe to misery. The structure of constitutions, the settlement of economic problems, the military aspects, these belong to governments. We do not trespass on their sphere.

Pg. 936

Harriman, Acheson, General Walter Bedell Smith, and more on the question of a European Army

“They got nowhere with him over the opposition to fusing the European countries’ armed forces into one outside NATO, which therefore never happened.”

Of course Europe became more unified and less contentious before the advent of the EU probably through a combination of partition, the ‘iron curtain’ that divided Eastern Europe from Western Europe, the numerous American bases in Europe, and the democratic practices that pertained in Western Europe along with economic prosperity.

Churchill on Immigration and Diversity

Churchill’s Victorian roots in British aristocracy show up more when he speaks about diversity. After WWII immigrations to the UK started to bring people to England who did not fit Churchill’s love of uniting English-speaking nations. They came mainly from the West Indies at that time and were often neither white nor English-speaking. Would Churchill have liked the idea of remaining separate from the EU even more if he was still in charge of a nation flooded with 21 st century refugees. Andrew Roberts who wrote the book Churchill: Walking with Destinybelieves that Churchill’s views on race (skin color) were deeply embedded in his aristocratic soul and that they might have proven to be a thing he could not change. Churchill had a paternal interest in the nations that made up the British Empire, nations he saw as undeveloped. He thought it was the responsibility of leading nations to bring order to less developed nations. We understand this kind of arrogance but it is no longer in favor; this sort of noblesse oblige. Even the American leaders Churchill met with during the last years of WWII had little patience with his passions to include the needs of nations in England’s far-flung Empire in their military plans, although at the end of the war we added certain protectorates to our own empire, perhaps because the war in the Pacific tromped all over these island nations.

On Diversity

Pg. 943

‘Problems will arise if many coloured people settle here’ “Churchill told the Cabinet on 3 February 1954. ‘Are we to saddle ourselves with colour problems in the United Kingdom? They are attracted by the Welfare State? Public opinion in the United Kingdom won’t tolerate it once it gets beyond certain limits.’

“Although Churchill did not like the implosion of the Empire he had so loved and fought for, and denounced what he called ‘the magpie society’, he did not attempt to impose curbs on immigration, which were not introduced until the early 1960’s. On the issue of West Indian immigration, on another occasion he told the Cabinet that a good slogan was ‘Keep England white,’ indicating that his view on the matter of ethnicity had not materially changed since his adolescence.”

Churchill has been gone from this world for over 50 years now, which is why so many primary sources were available to his biographer, Andrew Roberts. But it was surprising to me to learn how contemporary his thoughts actually were and how once again he seemed to own a certain prescience about the future concerns of the modern world. Nations are grappling with all kinds of ways to form unions that boost their influence and power, in both military and economic spheres. We constantly go to war and obsess about how to stop having wars. We may agree that Churchill’s views were those of a modern white supremacist but we are all learning that living with immigration and mixing people of different nationalities and races in relatively safe nations with healthy economies is creating cultural difficulties for everyone that will require patience and tolerance to resolve. If we can’t cope with living in populations that are more global in scope then a world conflagration more deadly than any ever experienced could result. Churchill made me think about what the world needs to do to avoid WWIII. I am not the only one who wants to avoid that. People work for this outcome every day. Churchill was not a perfect man; but he was a great man. We could use another. (Autocrats need not apply).

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Katy Jon Went

 

Fox and Dems

 

No Dems on Fox in 2020 - the HillThere is a lot of talk in the media about why the Dems turned down an offer to hold one of their primary debates on Fox News. It seems relatively uncontroversial to me. After all, Fox New is not really a news channel now is it? However, apparently during daytime broadcast hours there are a few actual journalists, like Chris Wallace, on Fox News doing actual news. These journalists who make up a minority of commentators on Fox News are wounded at the rejection by the Democrats.

It turns out that there are more reasons than just the Fox News reputation as a propaganda outlet to say no to Fox News. There isn’t much data available but there is some. A 2017 study found that 50% of the people who watch Fox are Democrats, but this data is old.

Another study from 2018 found that the Fox News audience is overwhelmingly white. This would make Fox News a poor venue for a party that is a “big tent”.

2019 study of the demographics of Fox viewers found that the median age for people who tune in Fox News is 65, although the same was true for people who watch MSNBC. This study also backs up the study from 2018 and found that 94% of the Fox audience is white.

In addition to the content of Fox News it seems that there are other compelling reasons for declining the offer to hold a primary debate at Fox, and it is difficult to think of any reasons beyond not hurting the feelings of a few TV journalists for putting such an important election debate on a channel that is not watched by many of the voters the Democratic Party hopes to attract.

There is also the problem that folks on the right are not allowed to refer to the Dems as the Democratic Party because it makes them sound like the keepers of democracy. Right-wingers now chance being ungrammatical and consistently refer to the party on the left as the Democrat Party. They also insist that our democracy be called a Republic, probably not so much because it is a republic (a democracy based on a written document) but because the word Republic is reflected in the name of the Grand Old Party, the Republicans. Parsing words, using semantics as propaganda is what we do now. I believe the Democratic Party made the correct decision. Why go on a TV station that is reluctant to use the party’s actual historical name?

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – the Hill.com