June 8, 2012

By the Rivers of Babylon: More Netroots Nation reports

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 7:00 pm

“And there we wept…when we remembered Zion.”

Today at the second day of Netroots Nation convention in Providence, Rhode Island, there were all kinds of panels to attend and films and presentations to watch — and they all seemed to have the same common theme: That Americans need to start working together instead of going for each others’ jugulars with red-white-and-blue tooth and claw.

During the American Transit Workers union’s presentation of a documentary on the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike that included video footage from the Lorraine Motel, with tears in my eyes, I remembered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s heroic bravery and wisdom.

“We are facing a two-headed creature here,” King said. “He is a labor-union hater with one mouth and a civil-rights hater with the other.” The ATW also gave out free ice cream at the showing as well. Dove bars. Dulce de leche. And chocolate chip cookies. No kale chips? Huh? What is this world coming to.

Then someone in the audience at a panel discussion on undocumented Americans stated that, “Sure, people of color have it hard these days — but we ALL have it hard. And we all need to unite in common cause to make sure that all of our voices are heard as we face the greatest challenges of our life; as the One Percent tries to drown out the American Dream for the rest of us — all the while trying to make us believe that they are on our side and are truly our friends.”

Uh, no, they are not. Make no mistake here. The One percent are NOT our friends. Never have been. Never will be.

“And the wicked carried us away…captivity.”

According to Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren who also spoke today, the One Percent’s philosophy, in one sentence, is “I’ve got mine — but you are on your own.” Why would we want to give the rich and powerful even more power and more money? “We don’t run this country for corporations. We run it for people.”

And then another free lunch was offered to us conventioneers. I’m so there!

“On 9-11,” said one firefighters’ union rep at an afternoon panel presentation, “it wasn’t the bankers running up those stairs. It was government workers there saving lives.”

In my own personal opinion, stuff like Wall Street deregulation and the Koch brothers and ALEC and Citizens Untied are the worst things that have ever happened to America’s freedom. These oligarchs’ highly-planned and highly-coordinated attacks on our laws, freedoms and way of life have been far more disastrous, far more scary and far more EFFECTIVE than 9-11 ever was.

There are also many massive and coordinated attacks on unions these days. And on women. And on people of color. And response to these attacks has been for us to viciously begin fighting each other for crumbs falling off these rich men’s tables. How American is that!

So. How do we now unite together instead of fighting each other? “Let’s organize around universal similarities,” one panelist said. We all love our families (at least most of us do) and we all have to eat. We all have emotions. We all need to breathe clean air and send our kids to school. “So mix all that up and come out with some common denominators that we can all rally behind.” We all love a good free lunch. Would that do for a start?

Americans of all colors and shapes and sizes have so much more in common with each other than we do with those few oligarchs who are currently spending billions of dollars on trying to turn us against one another. Come on guys. Get a clue! Kumbayah here! Everyone — every one of us — wants the American Dream. So let’s work together to get it back.

“Let the words of our mouth and the meditations in our hearts… WE’VE GOT TO SING TOGETHER!” Or the wicked will continue to “carry us away…captivity”. For sure.

So let’s “Sing a song of Freedom!” instead.

PS: This evening the AFT is offering a presentation of the movie, “American Teacher,” and then I’ll be taking the bus back to my sweet little room at the Warwick Motel 6 where I can listen to the people in the neighboring room fight and make up all night long.

And tomorrow Paul Krugman, Sherrod Brown and Van Jones will be speaking. Then on Sunday Netroots Nation will have a day of service and join the mayor of Providence in trudging around some kind of swamp, cleaning up garbage. And will they feed us? Yes they will!


October 10, 2011

Connect the Dots: Here’s How We Became the ’99 Percent’

…and some things we can do to change it.

Deregulation enacted by Republicans and conservative Democrats, and an unprecedented Supreme Court decision allowing corporations the free speech the Founders intended only for flesh-and-blood human beings, led to the majority of Americans steadily sinking economically, as the nation’s wealth flowed to the top. Here are some simple demands to reverse this lethal course, along with a few suggestions of my own following the highlighted portion.

“The demands are pretty damned easy to summarize:

– Reinstate Glass-Steagall
– Audit the FED
– Reverse Citizens United (via Constitutional Amendment)
– Overhaul the tax code for the mega-rich (1%) and corporations”
“#OWS: Take this video VIRAL, NOW!” Daily Kos, Oct. 9, 2011.

Here are my suggestions:

– End the corporate charter of any corporation that repeatedly or recklessly does harm to their customers or the environment.
– Revamp the rules regarding the appointment of boards of directors to corporations, making shareholder meetings more convenient to attend, or hold them online, and streamline voting procedures so that shareholders can more easily vote on the compensation packages of top executives and who will serve on the corporate board.
– End the practice of buying stock ‘on margin.’ (In other words, you must prove you have the money to pay for any stock you are buying.)
– Stricter enforcement of SEC regulations.
– Tax companies that outsource jobs or other assets overseas at a rate that will remove the profit in doing so.
– Tax offshored assets at the same rate domestic profits are taxed.
– Hold top executives responsible for a corporation’s criminal acts in the same way an individual American would be held responsible. (Example: If an executive approves a heart drug that his company’s internal studies say induces heart attacks, he or she would be as criminally liable as an individual who knowingly provided another person with a drug that caused a heart attack.)
– No corporation that sells equipment or electronics to the government will retain the right to secret proprietary codes or other information on their products.
– Finally, of course, we have to ban corporations from lobbying our government officials and limit the money spent in our elections.

But these suggestions are only a start; perhaps we should rethink the whole concept of the corporation as an entity for doing business as they have now become Too Big to Fail behemoths that threaten our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and our form of government, and many continue to exist only through taxpayer bailouts. As Ambrose Bierce put it more than a hundred years ago: “Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.” It’s time we brought back responsibility to the marketplace.

Watch the video here.

Here’s a simplified version of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Economic Bill of Rights, proposed in 1944, which, if enacted, would solve a great many of our problems:


July 19, 2011

Elizabeth Warren: We Can Do It!


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