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marmar

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Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
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Confronting the Great American Myth


from YES! Magazine:


Confronting the Great American Myth
The founders of the United States have the society they wanted—one that keeps people like them in power.

by David Korten posted Feb 01, 2019
This is part one of a two-part series.


We grow up in the United States proud of our nation’s historic role in leading humanity’s transition from monarchy to democracy. We rarely ask, however, whether the system we have truly fits the definition of democracy.

Merriam-Webster defines democracy as “government by the people.” What we have in the United States more closely resembles the Merriam-Webster definition of plutocracy, “government by the wealthy.” A nation ruled by big money is not a democracy.

The 2018 midterm elections inserted a wave of new political blood into Congress and many state houses—younger, more female, more racially and religiously diverse, less beholden to big money, and attuned to a strong public desire for change.

At the national level, the new representatives of a restless electorate encounter a system in political lockdown, at least until the next election. That makes this is a good time for a serious reality check on what will be required to achieve the democracy we thought we had and a future that truly works for everyone.

.....(snip).....

The original Constitution thus affirmed slavery, secured the rights of property, and limited the vote to White male property owners. Voting rights for other Americans—women, Native Americans, Blacks, and those with no property, including Whites—came slowly and to this day remain to be fully secured. ..........(more)

https://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/confronting-the-great-american-myth-20190201





After Years of Republican Rule, the House Takes on Voting Rights

After Years of Republican Rule, the House Takes on Voting Rights


By Mike Ludwig,
Truthout

Published
January 30, 2019


Natalie Landreth, a senior staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund, remembers testifying before Congress in support of a bill to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act back in 2006. At the time, the reauthorization legislation passed the Senate with a near unanimous approval from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“Support for VRA Reauthorization was wide and nonpartisan, Republicans by and large didn’t vote against it, it passed something like 96-0,” Landreth said in an interview. “Now Sen. Mitch McConnell is suggesting that the H.R. 1 and other voting bills won’t even make it to the Senate floor? The conversation around voting has degenerated so far in so little time.”

A hearing on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee revealed a deep divide between Republicans and Democrats — not to mention millions of voters — over H.R. 1, the sweeping voting rights and anti-corruption bill at the top of the Democratic agenda. After years of Republican rule in the House, the rise of dark-money campaign groups and Super-PACs, and fierce legal battles between GOP-controlled state legislatures and civil rights groups over access to the ballot box, the tension between Republicans and the new Democratic majority was on full display.

“The idea that we did not have problems in the 2018 election … is really an embarrassment, and I think people should be ashamed of themselves,” said Rep. Karen Bass, a Black Democrat from California, during an intense exchange with witnesses about the reality of voter suppression.

.....(snip).....

The bill before the judiciary committee is known as the For the People Act, and its proposed reforms would address virtually every high-profile electoral controversy that has arisen over the past decade. The bill would establish national automatic voter registration, set rules to curb partisan gerrymandering and restore voting rights for people with felony convictions in states that have not already done so, a major goal for racial justice groups. ...........(more)

https://truthout.org/articles/after-years-of-republican-rule-the-house-takes-on-voting-rights/








McConnell can't hide his disdain for democracy


(Newsweek) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ridiculed a House proposal to make Election Day a federal holiday on Wednesday, announcing his opposition to the bill that would make voting easier for Americans.

“This is the Democrat plan to restore democracy? A brand-new week of paid vacation for every federal employee who would like to hover around while you cast your ballot?” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Just what America needs, another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work for I assume... our colleagues on the other side, on their campaigns.”

McConnell also condemned the bill as a “Democratic political protection act,” “a power grab” and argued it would result in a “Washington-based taxpayer-subsidized clearinghouse for political campaign funding.”

Widely considered a signature issue for Democrats, the package includes provisions that would allow federal employees a holiday on Election Day while also encouraging private companies to give their staffers a day off in order to vote. ..........(more)

https://www.newsweek.com/mitch-mcconnell-ridicules-house-bill-election-day-federal-holiday-1312034




We Are Destroying Our Life Support System

We Are Destroying Our Life Support System



By Dahr Jamail,
Truthout

Published
January 28, 2019


The warming of planet Earth continues apace, and the ramifications become ever more stunning with each passing month. While no single meteorological event or phenomenon can be attributed solely to human-caused climate disruption, this is now nearly always the leading cause of the event, or at the very least a major contributing factor.

Recent data from the World Meteorological office showed that 2018 was the fourth warmest on record, making the last four years the hottest four years in Earth’s recorded history.

On that note, it is worth remembering that the single worst mass extinction event in Earth’s history, the “Great Dying” that happened 252 million years ago and took out as much as 96 percent of all marine species and two-thirds of terrestrial life, occurred due to rapid planetary warming.

Another feedback loop has been discovered in the Arctic, this time in Greenland, where it was recently reported that melting glaciers are yet another source of methane.

.....(snip).....

Writing these climate dispatches has become increasingly difficult over the last five years. Each new report of the melting of glaciers and ice fields that is accelerating yet again, each new source of methane that is now speeding the warming of the already overburdened atmosphere, each new bird species listed as “declining significantly,” each new atmospheric CO2 level reached, and every round of temperature records across the planet leads to yet more grief, anguish, rage, anxiety, sadness — and finally, acceptance. ..........(more)

https://truthout.org/articles/we-are-destroying-our-life-support-system/






Chris Hedges: The World to Come


The World to Come
Chris Hedges


(Truthdig) The ruling elites are painfully aware that the foundations of American power are rotting. The outsourcing of manufacturing in the United States and the plunging of over half the population into poverty will, they know, not be reversed. The self-destructive government shutdown has been only one of numerous assaults on the efficiency of the administrative state. The failing roads, bridges and public transportation are making commerce and communications more difficult. The soaring government deficit, now almost a trillion dollars thanks to the Trump administration’s massive corporate tax cuts, cannot be eliminated. The seizure of the financial system by global speculators ensures, sooner rather than later, another financial meltdown. The dysfunction of democratic institutions, which vomit up con artists such as Donald Trump and hold as alternatives inept, corporate-indentured politicians such as Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, is cementing into place a new authoritarianism. The hollowing out of the pillars of the state, including the diplomatic corps and regulatory agencies, leaves the blunt force of the military as the only response to foreign disputes and fuels endless and futile foreign wars.

Just as ominous as the visible rot is the internal decay. Among all social classes there is a loss of faith in the government, widespread frustration, a sense of stagnation and entrapment, bitterness over unfulfilled expectations and promises, and a merging of fact and fiction so that civil and political discourse is no longer rooted in reality. The nation’s isolation by its traditional allies and its inability, especially in the face of environmental catastrophe, to articulate rational and visionary policies have shattered the mystique that is vital to power. “A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial,” George Orwell wrote. “That is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.” Our elites have exhausted fraud. Force is all they have left.

The United States is a wounded beast, bellowing and thrashing in its death throes. It can inflict tremendous damage, but it cannot recover. These are the last, agonizing days of the American Empire. The death blow will come when the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, a process already underway. The value of the dollar will plummet, setting off a severe depression and demanding instant contraction of the military overseas.

Seth A. Klarman, who runs the Baupost Group hedge fund, which manages about $27 billion, just sent a sobering 22-page letter to his investors. He pointed out that the nation’s ratio of government debt to gross domestic product from 2008 to 2017 exceeded 100 percent and is close to that in France, Canada, Britain and Spain. The debt crisis, he warned, could be the “seeds” of the next financial crisis. He decried the global unraveling of “social cohesion,” adding, “It can’t be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions.” ...........(more)

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-world-to-come/




Millions of Americans Flood Into Mexico for Health Care -- the Human Caravan You Haven't Heard About


Millions of Americans Flood Into Mexico for Health Care — the Human Caravan You Haven’t Heard About



By Mark Provost,
Truthout

Published
January 23, 2019


The Trump administration is trying to convey panic that there’s an immediate crisis on the southern border, pointing to caravans of desperate people who have traveled thousands of miles.

It’s true that Latin and Central Americans are coming to the US fleeing violence and poverty, much of it caused by destructive US trade policy over the course of decades. But there’s another massive “border crossing” phenomenon afoot — and Trump has not said a word about it. We’re talking about thousands of US citizens crossing the border each day in search of affordable health care.

At just one checkpoint in Yuma, Arizona, up to 6,000 Americans cross the border every day and enter the bustling Mexican town of Los Algodones, seeking heath care.

Unlike the Trump administration that seeks to build a wall between the countries, Los Algodones welcomes Americans seeking dental care with open arms.

Los Algodones has to be seen to believed. There are more dentists per capita than anywhere else in the world. It seems like every square foot of public space wall is covered with advertisements promising quality and affordable dental care, vision care and prescription drugs. The community’s economy is built to serve the flood of “dental refugees” — mostly senior citizens from the US and Canada seeking major dental care they cannot afford in their own countries, even with insurance.

The statistics are jarring. Approximately 74 million people in the US have no dental insurance, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. To put those numbers into perspective, that’s nearly a quarter of the population, or roughly twice the number that lacks health insurance overall. ............(more)

https://truthout.org/articles/millions-of-americans-flood-into-mexico-for-health-care/





Ever run across a quote that just hits you and makes you think? .......


Hannah Arendt:

"Economic growth may one day turn out to be a curse rather than a good, and under no conditions can it either lead into freedom or constitute a proof for its existence."

Simple, elegant and more relevant than ever.


Teachers Are Rising Up to Resist Neoliberal Attacks on Education


Teachers Are Rising Up to Resist Neoliberal Attacks on Education

By Henry A. Giroux,
Truthout


Hannah Arendt once argued that, “Thinking itself is dangerous to all creeds, convictions, and opinions.” In the current political climate, the institutions that nurture critical thinking are similarly seen as dangerous and threatening to our increasingly authoritarian social order. These institutions include public and higher education along with almost any form of progressive media.

As a result, purveyors of neoliberal ideology and policy have been working relentlessly to undermine public education in order to define it in strictly economic terms. Taking an instrumentalist approach obsessed with measurement and quantification, they have aggressively attempted to turn education into a business, faculty into devalued clerks and students into consumers.

Fortunately, teachers and students are refusing to participate in the destruction of US education. The historic strike initiated on January 14 by 33,000 teachers in Los Angeles — the nation’s second-largest school district — is the latest evidence of a nationwide trend in which public school teachers and students have increasingly gone on strike and engaged in walkouts.

A Wave of Resistance Against Neoliberal Approaches to Education

This wave of resistance has emerged to counter the neoliberal market-driven approach to education, which historically has cut across mainstream party lines. Market-driven reforms have been supported since the Reagan administration by every president and by every established political faction since the 1970s.

Refusing to promote the relationship between education and democracy, critical thinking and active citizenship, and rejecting the connection between education and social and political change, the advocates of neoliberalism have weakened the power of teachers, attacked teachers unions, reduced teaching to training, and implemented a full-fledged attack on the imagination through methods such as teaching for the test and cutting back on funding for the most basic necessities of schooling. Public schools have been transformed into charter schools or sites that aid in the criminalization of poor Black and Brown students. Neoliberal leaders have, moreover, sought to strip schools of their anti-authoritarian and egalitarian potential to teach students to live as critical and informed citizens in a democracy. ...........(more)

https://truthout.org/articles/teachers-are-rising-up-to-resist-neoliberal-attacks-on-education/





Chris Hedges: Confronting the Culture of Death



by Chris Hedges


The issue before us is death. Not only our individual death, which is more imminent for some of us this morning than others, but our collective death. We have begun the sixth great mass extinction, driven by our 150-year binge on fossil fuel. The litany of grim statistics is not unfamiliar to many of you. We are pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at 10 times the rate of the mass extinction known as the Great Dying, which occurred 252 million years ago. The glaciers in Alaska alone are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice every year. The oceans, which absorb over 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, are warming and acidifying, melting the polar ice caps and resulting in rising sea levels and oxygen-starved ocean dead zones. We await a 50-gigaton burp, or “pulse,” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost on the east Siberian arctic shelf which will release about two-thirds of the total carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Era. Some 150 to 200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal are going extinct every 24 hours, one thousand times the “natural” or “background” rate. This pace of extinction is greater than anything the world has experienced since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Ultimately, feedback mechanisms will accelerate the devastation and there will be nothing we can do to halt obliteration. Past mass extinctions on earth were characterized by abrupt warming of 6 to 7 degrees Celsius. We are barreling toward those numbers. The mathematical models for this global temperature rise predict an initial 70 percent die-off of the human species, culminating with total death.

The corporate forces that have commodified the natural world for profit have also commodified human beings. We are as expendable to global corporations as the Barrier Reef or the great sequoias. These corporations and ruling elites, which have orchestrated the largest transference of wealth upward in human history, with globe’s richest 1 percent owning half the world’s wealth, kneel, and force us to kneel, before the dictates of the global marketplace. They have seized control of our governments, extinguishing democracy, corrupting law and building alliances with neofascists and authoritarians as the ruling ideology of neoliberalism is exposed as a con. They have constructed pervasive and sophisticated systems of internal security, wholesale surveillance and militarized police, along with criminalizing poverty, to crush dissent.

These corporate capitalists are the modern versions of the Canaanite priests who served the biblical idol Moloch, which demanded child sacrifice. And, as in this ancient Canaanite religion it is our children who are being sacrificed to these “mute idols,” as 1 Corinthians puts it. Their future is being taken from them. These corporate forces are, in biblical terms, forces of death. They will, unchecked, create more human misery and death than the evils of Nazism and Stalinism combined. ...........(more)

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/confronting-the-culture-of-death/




Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 70% Tax Proposal Is a Great Start--But We Need to Abolish the Ultra-Rich


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 70% Tax Proposal Is a Great Start—But We Need to Abolish the Ultra-Rich
To combat inequality and oligarchy, we need to tax the accumulated wealth of the billionaire class, not just income.

BY Mark Engler and Andrew Elrod


(In These Times) Last week, when 60 Minutes aired an interview with newly sworn-in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman New York congressperson caused an uproar with what, by Washington standards, seemed a rather immodest proposal. Asked whether an expansion of public investment in green technologies would require raising taxes, she cited history.

“You look at our tax rates back in the 60s… (and) on your 10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. Given that a 70 percent tax on the wealthy would be nearly double the current rate on top earners, CBS’s Anderson Cooper responded with disbelief. “What you are talking about…” he said, “is a radical agenda compared to the way politics is done now.”

Cooper was not the only one to express skepticism. While conservatives were predictably apoplectic, even ranking Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, responsible for drafting the tax code, were incredulous. Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett described Ocasio-Cortez’s suggestion as “a little over the top.” New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell dismissed it as “comical.”

.....(snip).....

America indeed long had tax rates on the rich that reached the levels Ocasio-Cortez proposed or higher, while the nation experienced massive economic expansion. In fact, she understated the rates from the past: For two decades after World War II, until 1964, the marginal tax rate on the highest bracket hovered around 91 percent.

For a married couple in 1960, that applied to income earned above $400,000, the equivalent of approximately $3 million today. Yet this was the period in which the United States economy boomed most dramatically, when college students could reliably expect both a new car and a home mortgage after graduation. The annual growth rate in GDP reached levels as high as 7 and 8 percent. .......(more)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/21690/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-70-tax-marginal-rate-oligarchy-inequality-rich




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