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Posted on Oct 12, 2009
AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

A statue of George Washington gazes across the Capitol’s Statutory Hall. What would the first president have made of networks of lobbyists greasing the machinery of government with millions in payouts?

By Marie Cocco

I don’t have a sex scandal for you. The foibles of politicians and celebrities titillate. But ultimately, they have little to do with the most enduring and corrosive scandal of our civic life. It unfolds out in the open, day after day.

Millions of dollars slosh from the pockets of powerful corporate interests into the campaign accounts of lawmakers who then write the laws that determine the rules for how these businesses make money—or more money. Then millions more flood in through direct lobbying activity that ensures these same lawmakers are reminded, again and again, that the interests financing their campaigns have a favor to ask.

The nexus of campaign contributions, lobbying and the policy outcomes that do so much to help the powerful and so little to boost millions of average American taxpayers is well known. It used to be considered a worthy story just to point this out from time to time. Now it usually takes a scandal within a scandal—that is, a lawmaker or lobbyist who transgresses even the wide boundaries of the campaign finance and lobbying laws—to generate coverage.

Much of the important and little-heralded work now being done to document this national disgrace is undertaken by nonprofit organizations that have long endeavored to rouse the public and the media to this legal graft.

Most recently, the Sunlight Foundation teamed with the Center for Responsive Politics on a groundbreaking study related to health care overhaul. It shows outside lobbyists (lawyers, consultants and others who do not directly work for a company or trade group) donating to the same lawmakers as clients who have an interest in health care reform. The contributions by the lobbyists enhance the political power of the business organizations—which already are contributing through political action committees, or through executives who organize campaign fundraisers.

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Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and author of the main health revision bill under consideration in the Senate, was one of the chief beneficiaries. Between January 2007 and June 2009, the study shows, Baucus received contributions from 37 outside lobbyists who represent the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, the chief drug industry lobby group, and 36 lobbyists who listed Amgen, a drug maker, as a client.

As a group, drug companies were dominant players in the lobbying-campaign contribution complex. In all, 61 members of Congress—39 senators and 22 House members—got money from 10 or more outside lobbyists whose health care or insurance industry clients also contributed to their campaigns, the Sunlight Foundation says.

“When a lobbyist walks in the door, it’s not just one $500 contribution,” says Larry Makinson, senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation and chief researcher on the study. “It’s all the money their clients can bring.”

Preliminary results are in: The drug industry, in a private deal with the Obama White House, is expected to contribute only $80 billion in savings in the health care overhaul. Changes that congressional Democrats have long sought—such as allowing the government to negotiate deep discounts for prescription drugs in Medicare, as it does in Medicaid and in the veterans’ health system—have been largely abandoned.

The public seems to have become inured. Each presidential year, much attention is paid to the enormous sums raised and spent by candidates in both parties. Some focus is given to the carnival of corporate interests that the national party conventions have become, or to “independent” groups—loosely affiliated with one party or the other—that spend outrageous sums but supposedly don’t coordinate with the candidates.

Much was made of candidate Barack Obama’s supposed reliance on small, grass-roots donors to fuel his campaign. But Obama also raised as much from large donors as did George W. Bush in 2004, according to Common Cause.

That watchdog group’s list of individuals associated with leading financial companies who gave last year to joint party-candidate fundraising committees is a Who’s Who of the financial crisis: Leading Democratic donors were from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers. The Republican list includes JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley.

Read this, and weep. Understand that unless the current campaign finance and lobbying systems are demolished—not deftly “reformed”—few public aspirations can survive being smothered by cold cash.
   
Marie Cocco’s e-mail address is mariecocco(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2009, Washington Post Writers Group


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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, October 24, 2009 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land—There is some sketchy material in the same vein as what I have been writing here at http://www.1freeworld.org, including the original Food Not Bombs cookbook.  (Now there is a second edition.)  I recommend starting at the bottom of the contents page and working your way back until you’ve had enough.

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By no mans land, October 24, 2009 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

KDelphi:

I can’t say its a purely oral tradition. Its more a akin to giving everyone their moment on stage. In part, I think we are not used to the oral tradition and its coming into conflict with other aspects of the culture. In cultures that have strong oral traditions, misleading statements and facts are strongly policed. To lie is to be banished. It comes from not having the contractual mechanisms to enforce a promise or intent. Over time, being open and honest becomes engrained in the culture. That is where we saw the concepts of “honor” come from in centuries past. Its also why many native people tend to take outsiders at their word and end up learning the hard way. We are beginning to see that popular policing of falsehoods manifest in the internet culture.

As for government influence over the internet, I can only say that the current trend is to blend/blur the lines between government and business. Those who wish to make more money from the internet will look for bottlenecks to place their toll booths and those who seek more control for the sake of security/control will be happy to oblige them. It is in both their interests to find and leverage those choke points. Rupert Murdoch will become our librarian.

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By no mans land, October 24, 2009 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

Arniccisie:

“In my view anarchism also implies some sort of communal sharing of needed goods, so that people won’t be put in the position of having to fight for their needs or submit to employment, Welfare, or other forms of subjugation.”

That is precisely the sort of “gift-giving” economy that Bey tried to envision with his pot-luck dinner analogy. Where I think people get hung up is in defining the collective and when does it go from voluntary to enforced? Admittedly, I do as well.

I would be interested in reading some of the lit as well as to hear your ideas relating to our earlier conversation of the university.

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By KDelphi, October 24, 2009 at 12:00 am Link to this comment

NML—I kindve thought we did that a long time ago, with the telephone. And even earlier, when we used to talk to our neighbors…I used to, when I knew them. Now, most of my neighbors are “temporary”—I am the only one who owns their house on my block.

I know that the tendency is to think that, connecting every idea the moment you get it is good…but I am not sure that that is always true. Some people just say the same thing over and over and some believe whatever they read on the internet.

I used to listen to a program, Wash. Journal, on c-span in the AM—now, it is full of people just repeating things they “hear on the internet” and its boring. The MSM is also co-opting the “internet”, with all of MSNBC’s “trying to be tuned in and cool” and CNN’s “tweetingg”—the crawl runs constantly along the botton of cabel (cable? Orig a typo…lol) news shows. I just cannot watch it anymore, but places like HUffPo (Fluff Po?) just end up reporting what was “on FOX” or “On MSNBC” today.

Not everything everyone does or says is worth printing, but some people dont seem to know how to distinguish what should be repeated anymore—it is becoming more difficult—even bbc and pbs “tweet” now and I could scream! If Amy Goodman, starts, I can save money on a cable tv bil…lol

What do you think of the new laws that some in govt want to impose on the internet now? Anyone?

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By ThomasG, October 23, 2009 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, October 23 at 11:02pm

Blah.

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By ThomasG, October 23, 2009 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land, October 23 at 9:26pm,

Blah.

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By ThomasG, October 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment

stcfarms, October 23 at 3:24pm,

Blah.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, October 23, 2009 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

Thomas G:
“The answer is that anarchists do not accept anarchy when anarchy is applied to them.”

Now, I wonder how I missed that one.

No_Man’s_Land:
‘Of course they do. They resist any blanket application across a spectrum of people by a power structure. ...’

When I go out with Food Not Bombs I suppose I’m “applying anarchy”, and I’m just as happy to receive the food as give it.  Then there are other aspects of anarchism, like leaving people the hell alone when they want to be left alone, instead of making them work, taxing them, drafting them, arresting them, putting them in jail, lying to them, shooting them and blowing them up in the way of governments.  That’s what I try to practice and I could do with big blocks of it myself.  In my view anarchism also implies some sort of communal sharing of needed goods, so that people won’t be put in the position of having to fight for their needs or submit to employment, Welfare, or other forms of subjugation.  I wouldn’t mind having a bit of that applied.  So as usual you-know-who doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.  No surprise there, I guess. 

I know the literature is boring and tendentious, but it might help to read a little of it anyway.

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By no mans land, October 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

Thomas G:

“The answer is that anarchists do not accept anarchy when anarchy is applied to them.”

Of course they do. They resist any blanket application across a spectrum of people by a power structure. They resist blanket definition, preferring instead to let the person define the self. I think we should also be careful not to conflate the anarchist with anarchy. Most who live in a state of anarchy, don’t realilze it until another version of order is being thrust upon them.

But let me get this straight. There are planets and we have cells, therefore we must all eat jenos pizza rolls when the state declares it so? Such is the beauty of the state’s orechestral order.

I think anyone who’s worked in any government capacity realizes that the nation’s priorities are often subordiante to 1st) their own, 2nd) their immediate organizational agenda (which is really another version of the first). The closer we get to the policy level at the top of the hierarchy, the closer we get to anarchy, which brings us to a very measurable paradox. And, the more we climb up the ladder, the more the game becomes about maintaining the grand facade than the state itself. We do not outdress the queen, senators make faux apologies, Jefferson keeps his slaves, and soldiers stand in ranks to honor someone they don’t know or care about.

The hierarchy of the state certainly embraces anarchy in manner that is reciprocally related to their position within the hierarchy.

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By no mans land, October 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi:

I think its parallel version of it in many ways. It certainly doesn’t equate to the old man telling stories around a camp fire with zest, flare and wisdom. I think the primary similarity is the decentralization of information exchange. I can come back from an event and tell you directly now. No need for the middle man anymore.

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By Anarcissie, October 23, 2009 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land—I was just speaking about the homogenization part.  For many millennia, people adhered to their clans and tribes.  Within the clan good, outside the clan bad.  World empires could get along with diversity—divide et impera—but not capitalism.  Production-consumption, and thus the power of Capital, are maximized when the population is homogenized.

The special roles of academia and the media are indeed being broken up by the Internet.  Maybe this is a continuation of that homogenization.  “All that is solid melts into into air, all that is holy is profaned…”

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By KDelphi, October 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie—-yes, we could….

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By stcfarms, October 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Are we to believe that your car, house and computer are liberal democrats?
When you want to go left and the car wants to go right do you vote on it?

By ThomasG, October 23 at 1:06 pm #

  The answer is that anarchists do not accept anarchy when anarchy is applied
to them, attached to their bodies as a tail, and applied to the possessions of
the anarchists; if anarchy is a false argument when it is attached to the
anarchist as a tail and attached to the anarchist’s personal possessions,
anarchy is equally false when it is applied to others that are external to the
anarchist and the anarchist’s possessions.

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By KDelphi, October 23, 2009 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

NML—Do you really think of online blogs as Oral traditions? Just asking

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By ThomasG, October 23, 2009 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land, October 20 at 10:36pm,

No_Man’s_Land’s response to ThomasG’s 10/20 9:33pm post: “I would have to say that’s a false argument.

ThomasG’s 10/20 9:33pm post quoted: “Should trees give up their cellular structure where each cell can go its own anarchical way?——Should your car, your computer, your house and the cellular structure of your body divest themselves of cohesion into anarchy and go their own separate ways?——or, are you for the natural order that keeps your car, your computer, your house and the cellular structure of your body cohesive and unitary?——if you are not for anarchy for your car, your computer, your house and the cellular structure of your body that gives all of these things form and substance, why would you advocate anarchy for that which is not directly connected to you?”

ThomasG’s answer:  The answer is that anarchists do not accept anarchy when anarchy is applied to them, attached to their bodies as a tail, and applied to the possessions of the anarchists; if anarchy is a false argument when it is attached to the anarchist as a tail and attached to the anarchist’s personal possessions, anarchy is equally false when it is applied to others that are external to the anarchist and the anarchist’s possessions.

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By no mans land, October 23, 2009 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie

In some ways its already happening. While universities and degrees provide a means to an end presently, it’s also wise to ask where real education is taking place today. Its happening online. In some ways, we’re returning to an oral tradition of education where we need not parade credentials to have a constructive exchange of ideas. There is simultaneous less emphasis being placed on credentials in the market place. DeVry now equals Harvard if you can have an impact the bottom line, hookers and comedians can run for office, and military minds are pondering how to decentralize their efforts while blurring the lines between government, business, and other nation states. Consequently, there is less respect for credential and more desire for ideas exchanged in immediate mediums. Thinking it could become bionic, the state attached the prosthetic arm of the market, but only became less relevant as the people’s librarian and gatekeeper of order. I can’t help but think of what happens when matter and anti-matter collide.

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By Anarcissie, October 23, 2009 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

You know, we could, in theory, replace all this stuff.

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By KDelphi, October 22, 2009 at 10:57 pm Link to this comment

NML—I see and would like to reply but cannot do it today…maybe coupla days…dont hold your breath!! lol ,j/k

Had med procedure dome amd feel very Z-o-o-o-e-y!

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By no mans land, October 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

“One should remember, though, that if it’s a choice between getting stuff real soon, and one’s culture and its history, most people will drop the culture immediately. So in a way, by homogenizing everything, the universities and corporations are doing what the people appear to desire.”

I suppose on one level they are. I wonder if its that organic though. Seems more like perpetuating an illusion required for self preservation. A 40% hike in tuition and another 5 years in hock post grad makes for a lot less stuff. Instead of selling their culture and diversity, they’ve convinced them to fund it themselves. The carrot pulls the cart into the quicksand with the university standing empathetically and heroically on the other side holding the only life line and another carrot.

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By Anarcissie, October 21, 2009 at 7:36 am Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land:
‘That’s an important point, though as I pointed out in my post to MarthaA, that “law-n-order” comes at a price. Wipe out diversity of people and culture and then spend the rest of our days lamenting what our order cost by trying to recreate it. There is something deeply ironic about divesrity celebrations at universities, don’t you think?’

There sure is.  And diversity policies in corporations, as well.  The paradox is resolved by taking diversity to be very thin, to apply only to the accidents of appearance, like skin pigmentation, or minor cultural divergences, like accent.  If it’s superficial enough the problems of difference can be resolved superficially, that is, quickly and cheaply.

One should remember, though, that if it’s a choice between getting stuff real soon, and one’s culture and its history, most people will drop the culture immediately.  So in a way, by homogenizing everything, the universities and corporations are doing what the people appear to desire.

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no mans land's avatar

By no mans land, October 21, 2009 at 4:11 am Link to this comment

KDelphi:

You bring up very good points. I do hate to try and define any one philosophy, because it often means different things to different people. It seems though that liberalism in its present form is in a state of conflict with the state, and opts to change it instead of dismantling it. While I am not an anarchist for the reasons I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t agree with you more about the falicies of modern liberalism.

I think we should all be clear about what it is we’re arguing for. The state as we know it, is just a braod set of rules under centralized mechanisms of power that must use some form of violence to enforce those rules, be it through policing, military, finanicial sanction, or the violence of the market itself. And, to expand that order beyond its present form will have consequences here and abroad. Perhaps those consequences are acceptible to the purveyors of “state-ism,” but we’ll be out celebrating what used to be the tribes of Africa one day, or perhaps we’ll just slap them on reservations and name some sports teams and streets after them.

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By stcfarms, October 20, 2009 at 11:15 pm Link to this comment

Anarchy is the natural order of the universe. It is neutral, neither good nor
bad. Nature does not judge, it sets the conditions by the laws of physics. The
organisms live or die by their ability to adapt, their wits, speed et cetera. When
nature culls the herd fiat money will be no help, well, maybe, as kindling.

Your access to food, water and energy usually determines your chance of
passing genes through a Malthusian bottleneck. Only one in two hundred
genes are likely to make the cut. Die offs are common to all species in all eras
and the numbers are fairly well established. Oddly enough, there is an order to
the universe, fractals and the laws of physics. Understanding them both shows
the safe paths through the hard times.

Tao Walker knows, his path is good but not all can or would follow it. My path
is untested as a whole but the components have been tested individually for
millennia so it is mathematically a good bet. No one knows for sure which
paths are best but I would bet against coastal areas…

With the obvious exceptions of religion, government and corporations the
ancient wisdom is sound and should be passed on to the young. If only
Neanderthals (behavior description, not species classification) survive then
that will not happen. An archos is not chaos, it is the natural state of life.

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By KDelphi, October 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment

NML—Anarchy is its antithesis. I’d say liberalism resists hierachy to a great degree as well.

You would have to define “liberalism”. The “liberalism” we supposedly have now is very far from anarchism, and just as far from freedom, in any real sens e of the word. The Constitution may have been “progressive” for those it applied to. It did not apply to most—and the “founders” refused to be courageous enough to apply what they knew to be right at the time—there is a difference between “liberalism” and “liberal political phillsophy”.

As Anarcissie says, “As with many other areas of liberalism, what is produced is a coercive structure of law and state force in which there are various compartments or spaces of freedom of varying size.  According to adherents of liberal political philosophy, these spaces could not exist without the structure around them, but regardless of what you may think of this view, it is clear that freedom isn’t free, and it may well not be freedom.  Whenever you hear the word “free”—free world, free trade, free market, free press—it is well to ask “Freedom of what, exactly?  and for whom?”

I am beginning to believe that anarchy (in a broad sense) may well be the natural order of creation…many fail to see any order at all in the universe. The “order” seems, to me, to be “randomness”...just when science or philoosophy tries to describe “order”, the exception seems to (dis)prove the rule of order.

Anybody?

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no mans land's avatar

By no mans land, October 20, 2009 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

Arnicisse:

“One might add that the genius of (classical) liberalism was to associate two paradoxical principles, the anarchist principle of freedom and the authoritarian principle of law (or perhaps I should say “law’n’order”, since the law has to be enforced).  In theory we then get “liberty under law”

That’s an important point, though as I pointed out in my post to MarthaA, that “law-n-order” comes at a price. Wipe out diversity of people and culture and then spend the rest of our days lamenting what our order cost by trying to recreate it. There is something deeply ironic about divesrity celebrations at universities, don’t you think?

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By no mans land, October 20, 2009 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

ThonasG:

I would have to say that’s a false argument. It assumes there is not a natural order to be found in anarchy. As stated earlier, there is plenty of order to be found within the smaller collectives of anarchy. Does the government need to watch and correct you 24/7 in your home? Is there not order among native peoples or is order only defined by the size and posture of the present version and map? Is there no order to be found in both churches and orgies?

Finally, I would counter by asking if we should expect cats to perform the cirque du soleil??

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By ThomasG, October 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land, October 20 at 8:54pm,

Should trees give up their cellular structure where each cell can go its own anarchical way?——Should your car, your computer, your house and the cellular structure of your body divest themselves of cohesion into anarchy and go their own separate ways?——or, are you for the natural order that keeps your car, your computer, your house and the cellular structure of your body cohesive and unitary?——if you are not for anarchy for your car, your computer, your house and the cellular structure of your body that gives all of these things form and substance, why would you advocate anarchy for that which is not directly connected to you?

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By no mans land, October 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

Thomas G:

“With anarchy, all of creation is a large bowl of worms, each going in their own independent ways; this was so after the big bang, but in time the chaos settled into galaxies with suns and planetary systems that follow predictable orbits and trajectories without randomly colliding like the worms.”

Aritotle argued along the same lines. He too argued that their was a “natural order” by studying the heavens. That sense of order was extrapolated to humanity, which is where we got the concept of divinely annointed monarchies and hierarchies. It was Aritotilian order that gave birth to “Aristocracies,” the remnants of which we wrestle with today. That dogmatic belief in the natural order also fueld the dark ages where anything that questioned said natural order face the inquisition.

If we want to develop our sense of social and political order from the planets, we are free to do so. I was merely pointing out the inevitable costs of order’s pursuit, for there will be those who resist that order. And, just as with the inquisition or the Indian tribes , anyone who challenges or prevents it will be considered a threat.

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By ThomasG, October 20, 2009 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, October 20 at 8:13am,

Anarchy is NOT the natural order of creation.

Anarchy advocates chaos over the natural order of creation.

I advocate creativity, liberal political idealism of the Left; creativity can cause upheaval and periods of adjustment that is for the greater good; it did not cause chaos when Saturn created more than an oyster although Conservative thought was that it would.

Conservative doctrine is and always has been that change will cause chaos.

Liberal doctrine is and always has been that creation is for the greater good and the chaos predicted by Conservatism always works its way through without all of creation falling into the abyss of chaos as Conservatism predicts.

With Liberal idealism and Conservative idealism, there is a dance of balance.

With anarchy, all of creation is a large bowl of worms, each going in their own independent ways; this was so after the big bang, but in time the chaos settled into galaxies with suns and planetary systems that follow predictable orbits and trajectories without randomly colliding like the worms; the same is so with people and governance.  It is possible, in the affairs of people that governance will devolve into anarchy, but the natural order of things will realign the affairs of people and governance from chaos into a more coherent system, because that is the natural order.

Living things and constructs of both man and animal take an organized coherent form that serves the greater good of the living thing and the construct; the affairs of mankind are no different in this respect——it would be contrary to the natural order for anarchy to exist other than as a passing component in the cycle of creation and destruction that endlessly recurs with all things in the cosmos.

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By no mans land, October 20, 2009 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment

Of course, antoher way to view anarchy is on the global stage. Countries and governments are out there purusing their interests and often engaging in violent behavior to attain that end. The WTO, IMF, UN, League of Nations, and NATO are all examples of efforts to establish world goverment amid this state of anarchy.

So. Those who disagree with anarchy therefore believe in worldwide order. They believe that national sovereignty is subordinate to that authority.

Allow me to play devil’s advocate:

So we’re all are on the same page, world government may end this state of anarchy that produces war, but we should also ask at what cost? What cultures will be wiped out in order to do so? What cultures have already been eradicated to establish national or international order? We lament what was done to Indian nations in North America while we advocate and end to the very anarchy that enabled them to exist. That is the cost.

Ahh. The power of mere lines on a map…

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By no mans land, October 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

MarthaA:

There is always governance. The difference is in the size of the collective. Street gangs and prisoners develop codes of conduct. Families impliment hierarchy. Even baseball games have rules and umpires. Government is the codification of one rule set over large swaths of groups of people who are otherwise disconnected.

Interseting word “hierarchy.” It exists in many forms and usually demands conformity at the risk of violent enforcement.

Anarchy is its antithesis. I’d say liberalism resists hierachy to a great degree as well. Just ask MLK. The common denominator is self governance.

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By ardee, October 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

Anarchy is not an evil belief system I think. It may be unrealistic and utopiam however, but that is a sad commentary on the human species.

I just think we need to find a realistic way to run our nations for the betterment of all people.

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By Leefeller, October 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

An anarchist with even a little tolerance would be preferable to an absolutist without any tolerance.

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By MarthaA, October 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, October 20 at 8:13am,

Anarcissie quotes MarthaA: ”‘MarthaA: “Liberalism and anarchy have nothing at all to do with each other.””

MarthaA’s answer:  I’ll stand with my above statement.

An anarchist is one who wants to overthrow established governments and have a world without rulers and laws, which would send us back to worse than the Old West.

Anarchism is the political theory that ALL systems of government and ALL systems of law are harmful to citizens.  Believers in anarchism think that all government systems prevent individuals from reaching their greatest development.  Anarchism would be lawlessness and real terrorism.

I disagree vehemently with any kind of anarchy as being in any way a way to achieve greater development; the last preference for me would be anarchy, but one has to play with the cards they are given, should anarchy arise.  I am fully of the belief that governments are necessary for a civil society and a civil society is necessary for peaceful living.
 
Although, I would let you have Homeland Security—I think that organization is a total waste of taxpayer money.

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By ThomasG, October 20, 2009 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

OzarkMichael, October 19 at 10:43pm,

OzarkMichael quotes MarthaA:  Martha said: Liberalism and anarchy have nothing at all to do with each other.

Shenonymous said on Truthdig “War on Language”: “Shenonymous, October 19 at 6:23pm,  “Both shit and bucket will be objective facts verified not only by scientific examination.”

ThomasG’s answer:  Your subjective frame is blah.

You have subjectively mixed the use of theory and tools together into a Hitleresque approach, that combines subjective illusory “shit in a bucket” with actual, objective “shit in a bucket” that has mass and volume, in an effort to prove your preconceived notions in your post.

I suggest that you study the ‘Shenonymous’ Theory’ of “Shit in a Bucket” and by so doing, perhaps, you can learn to comprehend and distinguish the difference between illusory “shit in a bucket”, subjective reality and actual “shit in a bucket”, objective reality.

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By Anarcissie, October 20, 2009 at 5:13 am Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land:
‘MarthaA:

“Liberalism and anarchy have nothing at all to do with each other.”

I don’t believe that’s true. Anrachism is more than just a lack of government. At its core, it believes in inviduality and community. Where I think the two part ways is in our attitudes toward violence. Liberals believe that the state exists to protect the people from violence—from within and abroad. Anarchism considers the state itself violent and must therefore be resisted and dismantled. Liberals often believe this as well, but choose instead to alter the state (or at least attempt to). ...’

I think that’s fairly accurate, in general terms.  One might add that the genius of (classical) liberalism was to associate two paradoxical principles, the anarchist principle of freedom and the authoritarian principle of law (or perhaps I should say “law’n'order”, since the law has to be enforced).  In theory we then get “liberty under law”, a set of defined spaces where freedom is permitted, but not enough to seriously disturb the social order or threaten its ruling class.

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By ardee, October 20, 2009 at 3:21 am Link to this comment

MarthaA, October 19 at 11:39 pm #

OzarkMichael,

Amorphous nonsense.

It has finally happened! I am in full agreement with a post of MarthaA.

Ozark fails miserably to see the increasing stridency of his positions, the way he is forced to alter and distort the meaning and intent of the words of others to make his own sad points. It is also sad that he believes no one notices…..goodbye credibility, goodbye respect, goodbye Michael.

Martha, I would respectfully ask you to note that you also follow in the footsteps of this “person” when you charge all who dare to see things differently than do you as agents, spies, or whatever. Is this really the company you wish to keep?

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By MarthaA, October 19, 2009 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

OzarkMichael,

Amorphous nonsense.

Anarchy is absence of a system of government and law.  Disorder, confusion and lawlessness account no government. 

Anyone listening to you OzarkMichael will only get further ossified into amorphous nonsense.

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By OzarkMichael, October 19, 2009 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment

Martha said: Liberalism and anarchy have nothing at all to do with each other.

Liberalism is a type of governance favoring control by the people for the benefit of the MAJORITY Population; whereas, anarchy is NO GOVERNMENT AT ALL, but chaos—confusion account no form of government exists, usually in the interim while a government of some type is being formed.

We all can see that MarthaA has no objectivity at all.

Objectivity realizes the positions of the pawns on the chessboard, and makes a cool move that progresses its cause. But MarthaA blundered and bungled once again.

Allow me to explain. Both Lenin and Mao had abundant objectivity. They were able to see who and what was useful to them.

Lenin, for example, made great use of the Anarchists. They were small in number but without them the revolution would not have succeeded. They were braver than Bolsheviks. Of course Lenin knew that Anarchists later would be in his way, but he never tipped his hand. 

In other words, objectivity allowed Lenin to gain maximum advantage of every situation by using people as tools, or as objects toward the higher ends. After the tool is no longer needed, THEN Lenin discarded it, and if the tool didnt go along he had it executed. Now that is cool objectivity.

MarthaA, on the other hand, prematurely discards useful tools before she has used them! Where communist objectivity would advise that she just for once clam up, MarthaA foolishly exclaims “It will be a bullet in the head for you!” and suchlike… which she shouldnt say until AFTER the revolution is won.

It is like a play where the confused actress utters her lines long before she is supposed to. No matter how well she delivers them, the effect is never going to be as it was intended. Why? Because timing is everything. 

MarthaA is supposed to unite both proletariat and intellectuals(ie useful idiots) to her cause so she can reach that tipping point of revolution sooner. But all we see is MarthaA cheesing off almost every potential ally. Which should not happen since Truthdig is pretty far Left. Somehow MarthaA has made some of them into conservatives for me!

Lenin and Mao would be crying right now, MarthaA, as you indulge in amorphous subjectivity. Without the cold hard objectivity that drives towards revolution, you are useless. You ensure the continuing victory of conservatism.

For this I thank you. I can make a contact for you with the Republican party so they can fund your work. A little money is available if you are interested.

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By no mans land, October 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment

MarthaA:

“Liberalism and anarchy have nothing at all to do with each other.”

I don’t believe that’s true. Anrachism is more than just a lack of government. At its core, it believes in inviduality and community. Where I think the two part ways is in our attitudes toward violence. Liberals believe that the state exists to protect the people from violence—from within and abroad. Anarchism considers the state itself violent and must therefore be resisted and dismantled. Liberals often believe this as well, but choose instead to alter the state (or at least attempt to).

Anarchism is an attmept at the absence of dogma, or at least dogmatic systems and power structures. As such, anarchism encourages smaller communities of choice, not unlike a hippie commune, a cult, or a gang. The main difference is that anarchism, by virtue of being an anarchy, must tolerate violence. Not that all anarchists are violent, but it would probably take a “mind my own business” approach to violence. I would argue that if liberals accepted violence, they would shed their belief in the state and become anarchists as well.

Where I part ways with anarchism is that I believe that it can only last temporarily. For example, I think it would only be a matter of time before another force moved in and set up another, potentially more violent power structure. Or, the anarchy itself would produce gangs that would grow in power and eventually put others in servitude by means of controlling resources and sustenance, which is why I consider the unfetterd market anarchy. I believe it only produces servitude in the end and because that’s a dogma I cannot get beyond, I cannot be an anarchist.

It could also be argued that the only system in existence, ever, has been anarchy and that governments, power structures, laws, etc are nothing more than the natural evolution of those power structures and alliances that sprang from the anarchy. Since anarchism resists power structures, it believes in the cycle of destruction and rebirth.

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By MarthaA, October 19, 2009 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land, October 18 at 12:53pm,

NML said: ”(which is where I think liberalism and anarchy part ways)”

MarthaA’s answer: Liberalism and anarchy have nothing at all to do with each other.

Liberalism is a type of governance favoring control by the people for the benefit of the MAJORITY Population; whereas, anarchy is NO GOVERNMENT AT ALL, but chaos—confusion account no form of government exists, usually in the interim while a government of some type is being formed.

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By Anarcissie, October 18, 2009 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land:
‘Personally, I think one of the most effetive ways of challenging power is through what Bey termed, “artistic terrorism.” (To counter those united against sexuality, shower them with sexual imagery). Such things are small steps compared to one effective lobbyist, though.’

That sort of thing has been done and coopted and then the cooptations have been sent up, and so on.  Advertising people earnestly read Adbusters to find out how to make fun of their own material.  I think some people have a lot of time on their hands.

‘I would also ask if people are encouraged to speak in anarchism, though? At its heart, are group dynamics to guide the group. Those who oppose that sense of collectivism are opposed.’

It depends which anarchists you’re talking about.  Obviously a bunch of hooligans who break store windows, allegedly to make some political point, are not encouraging others to speak very much.  On the other hand, if you look at http://www.consensus.net/ you will find an elaborate scheme to elicit the desires and interests of all concerned in making group decisions which was written by one of the founders of Food Not Bombs, a more-or-less anarchist non-organization.

Anarchists, as you might expect, don’t form a tightly-knit group with a uniform ideology.  In fact, many people who are effectively anarchists don’t use the term to describe themselves because it has been used by and become associated with so many jerks.

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By no mans land, October 18, 2009 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

Personally, I think one of the most effetive ways of challenging power is through what Bey termed, “artistic terrorism.” (To counter those united against sexuality, shower them with sexual imagery). Such things are small steps compared to one effective lobbyist, though.

I would also ask if people are encouraged to speak in anrachism, though? At its heart, are group dynamics to guide the group. Those who oppose that sense of collectivism are opposed.

Not sure if you’ve seen it and parts are definitely cheesy, but the film “The Beach” has some astute obseravtions of anarchy, IMO. The tendency is to put the unpleasantries from within the collective out of site and mind lest they disrupt the utopia, which ultimately proves its undoing. I’d say we have that now as well.

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By Anarcissie, October 18, 2009 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

There are many ways of challenging power, other than by violence.  In fact, the use of violence pretty much ensures that what replaces the existing power structure will be another power structure (state) worse than the previous one.

Democracy is a word with many meanings.  Some versions of it can be aligned with capitalism or fascism.  One would want to ask whether people are enabled to communicate about the issues they’re supposedly going to decide by vote or consensus, and whether the less powerful are given any opportunity to make their desires and interests known.  If you have to have huge amounts of money to run for office I think the answer is obvious.

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By no mans land, October 18, 2009 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie

Again. In complete agreement. Though, I see democarcy as being the only tool of the people to challenge the power structures you described without violence (which is where I think liberalism and anarchy part ways). I see capitalism, in league with the power structure, often in opposition to that democracy.

Your thoughts?

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By Anarcissie, October 18, 2009 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

No_Man’s_Land:

... So as an anrchist, what are your thoughts on the free market. Do you not think that it pursues an agenda of empire?’

To have markets, people must have some sort of property structure.  The markets exist within that structure, whatever it is.  Often, it is quite elaborate, as is the case in the U.S.  They are not “free”.

A good example is the creation of real estate in North America.  By and large, before Europeans arrived and invaded and took over, property relations in land were fairly loose.  The Europeans got rid of the Indians generally by violence and fraud, imported slaves, fought over the territory, and created a set of states with an elaborate set of laws under which real estate could exist, based on and maintained by force.

Again, it may be instructive to look at the notion of free expression, and the ways in which communication and culture have actually been first privatized—turned into property—and then turned into markets.  I’m speaking here not only of copyright and other forms of intellectual property but also of the way in which the radio spectrum was, in effect, seized by the government under a theory of military necessity and thereafter handed over mostly to large corporations.

As with many other areas of liberalism, what is produced is a coercive structure of law and state force in which there are various compartments or spaces of freedom of varying size.  According to adherents of liberal political philosophy, these spaces could not exist without the structure around them, but regardless of what you may think of this view, it is clear that freedom isn’t free, and it may well not be freedom.  Whenever you hear the word “free”—free world, free trade, free market, free press—it is well to ask “Freedom of what, exactly?  and for whom?”

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By no mans land, October 18, 2009 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

KDelphi:

I do think the Constitution was and in many ways remains progressive. It cetainly was not perfect, but it was absolutley a radical idea for its time. Prior to that, monarchies were believed to have derived their power, position, and right to rule from God.

The sad part is that once it was developed, most people stopped thinking of social constructs on a philosophical level in such a way, opting instead to address things issue by issue. With few exceptions, they stopped thinking of the big picture and how it contributes to or causes the issues that plague them. If a politician today were to ponder the merits or demerits of our democracy, they would certainly be labled as radical.

Perhaps we need more radicals then.

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By KDelphi, October 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

Yes, well there are so many definitions of what an “anarchist” is now, Anarcissie—I know that you have been involved in it long before it became so “popular” a term that neo-sons use it now, right? Yes, I think that there are many things we can agree on. to no one in particular:

One thing I cannot agree on, is the way Capitalism is practiced in this country—yet its seems that many think that it is necessary to be “free”...(I am not saying that you agree with the way it is practiced)

I am not sure that anyone really wants to work for big corporations, it is more that the US govt doesnt offer the necessities of survival that most modern govts do…relying on the “free mkt” for life and limb is a very anxiety producing experience—but relying on govt can be too. At least, in principle, we can “replace” reps in govt.. For people that think that they thrive on adrenalin, I guess…but it is not the type of ‘stress” (Wall St) that most decent people thrive on, I dont believe. What we own truly owns us now, and Capitalism tend to push the “consumer” culture, until we are no longer citizens, but are considered impt only in what we are able—and wiling—to consume.

Sure we “choose” in the “free mkt”, but we choose from the limited number of options available to each person from birth onward, and meritocracy is ceratinly a myth in the uS.

NML’s not addressing me, but, do you really think that the Constitution was “progessive”, even for its time? I think we need a Constitutional Convention so that it addresses all of the people that live here now. (you never even hear of anyone talking about passing the ERA anymore—I dont know that it would do much, but, Jeez, it shouldnt even be a question!—how about a “hate crimes” inclusion of battered women)I have heard that the Constitution followed some native traditons, but, since it exzcluded them as full human beings, I find that a little tired.

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By Jean Gerard, October 17, 2009 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Congratulations, all, on this string of comments! Lots of thoughtful questions, observations and suggestions, and overall a hopeful, though not foolishly optimistic spirit, and faith in ordinary people.  Such searching has the definite possibiliby of creating the complicated solutions that will be needed, step by step, to make changes that peace and justice demand.  And most important, in a spirit of understanding and mutual respect. Couldn’t help but tell you.

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By no mans land, October 17, 2009 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie

I would agree with but in slightly different fashion. I have been wanting to ask you something. I’ve done a lot of reading of anarchist philosophy. Quite impressed with Hakim Bey, I must say. I came to the conslusion though that it can only ever exist temporarily and that ultimately, anarchy becomes its own dogma that is imposed rather expereienced spontaneously as intended. To me, the free market represents this phenomeon. Left unchecked or regulated, it becomes monopolisitc and tyranical and eventually its entire existence becomes centered preserving its “freedom” through whatever tyranical means necessary.

I guess I see our republic as already having a lot of anarchist elements injected in it already. The ideas of self determination, local provinces, sates, and finally a federal goverment. Democracy, in its purest form, is a form anarchy is it not? Jefferson was very much a student of anarchism and based a lot of his consitutional philosophy on the Iriqios nation’s GREAT LAW.  Our constitution represents about 2/3 of it in fact (he left out the part about one with the earth and nature). AS a result we got a republic rather than a pure democracy, which while as anarchial, does lend itself to a more permanent state of freedom.

So as an anrchist, what are your thoughts on the free market. Do you not think that it pursues an agenda of empire?

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By Anarcissie, October 17, 2009 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi:
’... Anarcissie—what forces do you think could/would “drive’ that situation forward? Or, does it just have to happen organically? One person at a time? Do you think the planet can survive for that long? Just wondering…lol’

Well, the Maya Long Count runs out on December 21, 2012.  Maybe the Mayan calendrists foresaw something….

I don’t know what will drive the situation forward.  I experiment from time to time.  There are some immediate tasks which anarchists and non-anarchists can generally agree on, like ending the empire and stopping the wars.  People are engaged in various kinds of struggle towards that end.  That is a pretty important task because people are being killed.  Once we stop the government from slaughtering the innocent and trying to rule the world, we can argue over what to do next.  At home, we could put an end to the Drug War.  I’d like to see the growth of economic alternatives to traditional capitalism, like cooperatives and credit unions.  If people are determined to keep working for traditional bosses, they could at least be encouraged to form unions.  These are all projects which do not require anarchist faith or philosophy to pursue.  There are many others.

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By KDelphi, October 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi,” I hear you say, “wait! If the Democrats split, we would lose our House and Senate majorities!” Well,  what good are these majorities when the system effectively delivers a veto power to Senate “Democrats” who are actually Republicans in all but name? It would be better if people like Max Baucus and Mary Landrieu were in the Republican Party. They would restore some sanity to the Republican Party, and when a clear majority of people vote for change in swing districts - as they did in 2006 and 2008 - they would really get change instead of voting in Democrats who think it’s their job to act like Republicans. “

Oh, no, no no, I must not be expressing myself very clearly (which is fairly common, I’m afraid) I am not a Dem and dont see how Dems having the majority, as of late, has done anything BUT placate the msasses with “stimulus pkgs” and phony “health care reform”. Neo-liberal policies have proved disastrous for our waning working classes, in the uS, as well as worldwide, (driving down wages , destroying Unions) and disastrous for the planet as a whole. Only the corporations win. Glovbalization seems to be colonialisation with a smiley face and golden arches.

The “another $250” wil go directly to the banks (credit card companies) for those of us with medical debt and will fix nothing. Neo-liberal policies are a scam and are often more cruel than outright “conservatism”.

Both parties are a waste of good progressive thinking, in my opinion. Another party may not be able to amass a huge folowwing at first, but we have to start with something better than BaucASS…if they continue with these policies, the GOP will just win in 2010 (like Clinton in 94) and the cycle begins again.

Working class and poor always lose. That is what they see because it is true.

I see what you are saying about oligarchy…bordering on fascism, although I hate to throw that word out there. What else is it when the industrial complex rules the govt?

Acting individually , spreading to nationally may be one way to do this (the only way?) but it is certainly painful for many in the process…

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By de profundis clamavi, October 17, 2009 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

By KDelphi, October 17 at 12:39 pm #


de profundis clamavi

So , the idea is to simply get the greedy aristorcracy to placate the masses by throwing them a bone? Or are you saying that that is what happens, not what should happen? You may not even be on this thread anymore…

* * * * *

The greedy “aristocracy” (I’d call them an oligarchy because they don’t have titles like “Duke” or “Earl”, but that’s just a technicality) are trying right now to placate the masses by throwing us a bone or two, but nothing is happening because they are arguing among themselves about whether there is too much meat on the bone, and could they possibly convince the people to be satisfied with less?

The hard core oligarchs are represented by the Republicans. Their position is that the ruling class should give a little less each year to the poorest 90% of Americans, and as little as possible to the 9% professional class, in order to keep concentrating wealth and power in the hands of the richest 1%. They also manage to convince lots of oppressed working Americans that it is the government that is oppressing them, not the corporations. This is partly true - the government does oppress working people, but that is because the government only does what the corporations want it to do. So long as the government is the creature of the corporations, it isn’t just a weird fantasy for working people to believe that “government is the problem”. Progressives say that if the government worked democratically the way it should, then the government would work to protect the people’s rights against the corporations. Right-wing working class people don’t believe that is possible. They may be right.

At least half of the Democrats in Congress, especially in the Sentate, are also representatives of the corporate oligarchy, but their mission is somewhat different. They try to pose as champions of the people, struggling to deliver as much fairness and benefits to working people as they can, but they use the political system and the resistance of the Republicans as a handy excuse for actually doing nothing, thus keeping all wealth and power in the hands of - guess who? - yes, the corporations.

Finally, there are the left-wing Democrats who actually do work on behalf of the 99% of Americans who don’t have Upper East Side apartments and summer homes in Martha’s Vineyard, but their credibility is undermined by being in the same party with corporate sycophants like Max Baucus and Mary Landrieu. They should split off and form a new party, and let the conservative Democrats join the Republicans where they belong.

I hear you say, “wait! If the Democrats split, we would lose our House and Senate majorities!” Well,  what good are these majorities when the system effectively delivers a veto power to Senate “Democrats” who are actually Republicans in all but name? It would be better if people like Max Baucus and Mary Landrieu were in the Republican Party. They would restore some sanity to the Republican Party, and when a clear majority of people vote for change in swing districts - as they did in 2006 and 2008 - they would really get change instead of voting in Democrats who think it’s their job to act like Republicans.

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By no mans land, October 17, 2009 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

“The voluntary support of laws, formed by persons of their own choice, distinguishes peculiarly the minds capable of self-government.  The contrary spirit is anarchy, which of necessity produces despotism.”

—Thomas Jefferson

Free Market = Anarchy = Despotism = Indentured Servitude = Slavery

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By KDelphi, October 17, 2009 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi

So , the idea is to simply get the greedy aristorcracy to placate the masses by throwing them a bone? Or are you saying that that is what happens, not what should happen? You may not even be on this thread anymore…

Sorry so long—doing a little power play of my own. Probably wont do any good,but, have to try to express anger somehow…

Anarcissie—what forces do you think could/would “drive’ that situation forward? Or, does it just have to happen organically? One person at a time? Do you think the planet can survive for that long? Just wondering…lol

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By stcfarms, October 17, 2009 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

You are right, mankind is not ready for anarchy because it requires thought
rather than force.

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By Anarcissie, October 17, 2009 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

stcfarms:
‘The revolution will only be successful if liberals, conservatives, commies and others can work together to destroy the common enemy, government. ...’

But then they’d all have to become anarchists.  Liberalism, conservatism, communism and so forth are theories of how to do government, how to organize the social order from the top down, and make the unwilling conform to one’s noble vision.

If they all became anarchists, it would be unnecessary to destroy the government; it would wither away because no one would use it.  We are a long way from that situation, however.

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By stcfarms, October 16, 2009 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

The revolution will only be successful if liberals, conservatives, commies and
others can work together to destroy the common enemy, government. As it
stands now these groups fight each other because they mistakenly believe that
it is only the other groups politicians that are the problem. Wake up people,
your crook is just as bad as their crooks.

“Religion is a disease that you get from your parents and give to your kids” W.
C. Fields

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By mike112769, October 16, 2009 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

TRUTHDIG: since you INSIST on editing my comments, I will no longer be viewing your site. I have been telling everyone about what an interesting site you have here. I tell them you will write about what the MSM won’t. Well, it seems as if you are pretty mainstream yourself. You are just as guilty of censorship as the people you write about on here.

If you want a public forum, let us say what we want to say. YOU are NOT allowed to edit my thoughts. Who the hell do you think you are?

Goodbye.

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By mike112769, October 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

Shift and a few others here have it right: There is a revolution coming here, in one form or another. The status quo cannot last.

American men are far from wussies. There is a time and a place for everything. Right now, I think we are all hoping our politicians will realize what they are doing to the people of this country.

God help the world when the American people have decided they’ve had enough of the American government.

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By stcfarms, October 16, 2009 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

My girlfriend and I lived in a VW camper for 7 years then we moved into a 17’
Traveleze for ten years. When we found a house that we liked we walked in
and paid cash for it. The period that we camped out was great and if we had to
we could surely do it again.

By Anarcissie, October 16 at 12:34 pm #

If you lie very low it’s possible to live pretty much disconnected from the
system.  I’m talking about things like parking your car in the woods and living
in it, or squatting in abandoned buildings.  It’s not secure and it’s not
convenient, and you can’t keep much stuff, but I know of people who have
done it for years.

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By MarthaA, October 16, 2009 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, October 16 at 12:34pm,

Homeless and jobless Common population squatting for survival is what happens when the Conservative philosophy is followed by government; which is disgraceful in the United States, but is exactly what the cult of Evangelical Conservative Christians brought to pass in the United States. The conservative squanderers of the United States have arrived at being like Scrooge in Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”, or worse:

“Scrooge’s redemption underscores the conservative, individualistic, and patriarchal aspects of Dickens’s ‘Carol philosophy’ which depended on a more fortunate individual willingly looking after a less fortunate one who had demonstrated his worthiness to receive such attention. Government or other agencies were not called upon to effect change in an economy that created extremes of wealth and poverty but personal moral conscience and individual action in a narrow interpretation of the old forms of ‘noblesse oblige’ were [expected] to do so (Restad 139).”

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By Anarcissie, October 16, 2009 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

If you lie very low it’s possible to live pretty much disconnected from the system.  I’m talking about things like parking your car in the woods and living in it, or squatting in abandoned buildings.  It’s not secure and it’s not convenient, and you can’t keep much stuff, but I know of people who have done it for years.

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By stcfarms, October 16, 2009 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

It is a physical island made from plastic barrels.

By Leefeller, October 16 at 6:24 am #

STCfarms, a floating island was a television series I believe, (Lost?)  but I do
not watch TV. Is this a physical literal island or an allegory?

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By dihey, October 16, 2009 at 5:49 am Link to this comment

Bulls Eye Marie! I pity people who believe that we live in a democracy. Most representatives and senators are life-sized puppets bought forever by those who have the clout to buy.

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2009 at 3:24 am Link to this comment

STCfarms, a floating island was a television series I believe, (Lost?)  but I do not watch TV. Is this a physical literal island or an allegory?

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By stcfarms, October 15, 2009 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

The public fool system is the tool used to dull their wits and train them to be
compliant drones. The Stockholm Syndrome will keep them from escaping or
fighting their oppressors. Even though I have successfully escaped the system
I have had trouble getting others to follow. The situation has become so bad
that I am building a floating island to leave. I do not like having to leave this
way but I am not willing to fight for those that will not fight for themselves.


By Shift, October 13 at 6:53 am #

  American men today are NOT independent thinkers and cower behind an
uneasy silence.  This system will not change until the abusers create an
environment too harsh to ignore, and this they always do.  The hour is
approaching.

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By Anarcissie, October 15, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Ooh, someone didn’t close their italics tag.

I agree with Ozark Michael: a revolution, in the sense of a sudden forcible change in political institutions, might very well be on the rightist side.  (The word “conservative” has been used but conservatives are by definition not revolutionaries.)  In any case, leftists, by attempting to seize power, are going against their fundamental principles of peace, freedom and equality, and consequently don’t do it very well, often winding up with the likes of Napoleon, Lenin, Mao.

However, revolution can also refer to a sweeping change in a lot of people’s minds leading to substantially different conditions without the use of (much) force, for example, the Civil Rights movement (and the many movements which it inspired and continues to inspire).

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By walt, October 15, 2009 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

I recognize and share everyone’s passions here.
But I have to ask respectfully, if this country reaches the “tipping point” why do
you believe the outcome of a revolution would be a progressive society? I think it
far more likely that it would plunge this nation into an extreme right wing
direction. You are talking about France in the 1700’s. In these times revolutions
grew with momentum. With our communications technology this struggle would
not radiate out as it has in past revolutions. It would be simultaneous. Regions
would swing right. Others to the left. It seems once the control mechanisms are
taken off, our options are civil war or martial law. The outcome is very uncertain.

The revolution has to be breaking the model they have built for us. Destroy the
49/51 stalemate. New parties new politicians, new directions. Fire the bums.

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By ThomasG, October 15, 2009 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi, October 15 at 11:00 am

de profundis clamavi said:  Let’s think about the difference between a coup d’etat and a revolution. A coup d’etat occurs when a number of individuals who hold enough of the levers of power - senior military command, communications network, police, intelligence service - suspend the existing, legal operations of government and claim legitimate power for themselves. They usually claim to act in defence of some ideal that holds some persuasion with some significant part of the population. A coup d’etat can be, indeed, must be, planned and prepared and individual responsibilities must be assigned and carried out. A coup d’etat takes place from the top down, and although its results may be transformative, the process is the opposite of revolutionary. If the extreme right seize power in America, they almost certainly will do so via a coup d’etat. Think about it - the essential ingredient for a coup d’etat is force, and the military attracts conservative personalities who crave authority both as followers and as leaders.

A revolution is something quite different. A revolution takes place when public dissatisfaction leads to mass disobedience on such a scale and with such momentum that the government irretrievably loses control. This is something that cannot be planned. It cannot happen until a huge number of people perceive that the existing government has led them to a catastrophic situation, that the existing government is incapable of reforming itself through existing legal channels, that the existing leadership are incapable or unwilling to address fundamental problems, and they must also sense that the governing class have lost their nerve and are unable to provide answers or explanations that convince themselves, let alone the population at large.

Then something sets a spark off - in France, it was a poor harvest in 1788 leading to a spike in the price of bread in 1789. Riots ensued, and the civil unrest combined with government bankruptcy led to a constitutional crisis. What started as a civilized debate between the aristocracy, the clergy and the wealthy mercantile/professional class quickly spiraled out of control.

People point to the French Revolution and say how it failed to achieve liberty, equality and fraternity because it led to Napoleon and eventual restoration of the monarchy. But they’re wrong. After the Reign of Terror in 1792-94, reinforced by the Revolutions of 1830, 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871, France’s successive ruling classes have understood that if they get too greedy, if they let the people perish, if they ignore popular discontent, they imperil their own privileges, wealth, power and ultimately their very lives.

America’s ruling class have yet to learn, and urgently need to learn, that lesson.

I can’t say when or how they are going to learn that lesson or who is going to teach it to them. But never fear. Our ruling class themselves are busy at work setting the stage for events they will not be able to control. Then they will reap what they have sown, and then they, or their heirs, will learn the lesson the French aristocracy learned in 1789 and thereafter.

For now, all we can do is wait and watch. The people will know when their time has come.”


I agree with your post.

When awareness in the masses of the American population passes the tipping and the American population are pushed by the American Aristocracy into revolution, America will experience anarchy for a while, but like the results achieved in the French Revolution, the American Aristocracy will develop an awareness and fear of what can and will happen as a consequence of their greedy destructive behavior and, like in France, the American Aristocracy will through fear adopt a more liberal approach toward governance that is in their own self-interest, as well as in the best interest of the masses of the American population.

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By OzarkMichael, October 15, 2009 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

‘de profundus’ said: If the extreme right seize power in America, they almost certainly will do so via a coup d’etat. Think about it - the essential ingredient for a coup d’etat is force, and the military attracts conservative personalities who crave authority both as followers and as leaders.

and

People point to the French Revolution and say how it failed to achieve liberty, equality and fraternity because it led to Napoleon and eventual restoration of the monarchy. But they’re wrong

The American revolution, which by your definition was a rightist coup d’etat, was a success.

Leftist revolutions, such as in France, destroy more than they create. So people are right to point to it as a failure.

Dont be so sure that a revolution in the USA would be Leftist. Only a minority thinks like you do.

The poorer people(out here anyway) are rather conservative. I think that poorer people tend to be more conservative across the country as a whole too.

It would be very foolish of you to hope for a fight which in the end you would lose.

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By de profundis clamavi, October 15, 2009 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

By KDelphi, October 14 at 4:14 pm #


So, Anarcissie has stated these things before , and, I agree with them , to the extend that they help—but de profundis, are you just suggesting that we wait for the govt to implode under its own military weight? because I coudlve sworm that you were implying that some further type of action was necessary.

If you think it will happen soon, we need do nothing. But, very many—Afghanis, Pakistanis and Americans—will die in the process. Does someone have ideas about what we can do to “nudge it along”?

You dont have to join the military or be an Af-Pak civilian to be destroyed by US Imperialism.

Just letting the future unroll as one big horror show doesnt seem to be a satisfactory answer.

* * * * *

KDelphi, let’s think about the difference between a coup d’etat and a revolution. A coup d’etat occurs when a number of individuals who hold enough of the levers of power - senior military command, communications network, police, intelligence service - suspend the existing, legal operations of government and claim legitimate power for themselves. They usually claim to act in defence of some ideal that holds some persuasion with some significant part of the population. A coup d’etat can be, indeed, must be, planned and prepared and individual responsibilities must be assigned and carried out. A coup d’etat takes place from the top down, and although its results may be transformative, the process is the opposite of revolutionary. If the extreme right seize power in America, they almost certainly will do so via a coup d’etat. Think about it - the essential ingredient for a coup d’etat is force, and the military attracts conservative personalities who crave authority both as followers and as leaders. 

A revolution is something quite different. A revolution takes place when public dissatisfaction leads to mass disobedience on such a scale and with such momentum that the government irretrievably loses control. This is something that cannot be planned. It cannot happen until a huge number of people perceive that the existing government has led them to a catastrophic situation, that the existing government is incapable of reforming itself through existing legal channels, that the existing leadership are incapable or unwilling to address fundamental problems, and they must also sense that the governing class have lost their nerve and are unable to provide answers or explanations that convince themselves, let alone the population at large.

Then something sets a spark off - in France, it was a poor harvest in 1788 leading to a spike in the price of bread in 1789. Riots ensued, and the civil unrest combined with government bankruptcy led to a constitutional crisis. What started as a civilized debate between the aristocracy, the clergy and the wealthy mercantile/professional class quickly spiraled out of control.

People point to the French Revolution and say how it failed to achieve liberty, equality and fraternity because it led to Napoleon and eventual restoration of the monarchy. But they’re wrong. After the Reign of Terror in 1792-94, reinforced by the Revolutions of 1830, 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871, France’s successive ruling classes have understood that if they get too greedy, if they let the people perish, if they ignore popular discontent, they imperil their own privileges, wealth, power and ultimately their very lives.

America’s ruling class have yet to learn, and urgently need to learn, that lesson.

I can’t say when or how they are going to learn that lesson or who is going to teach it to them. But never fear. Our ruling class themselves are busy at work setting the stage for events they will not be able to control. Then they will reap what they have sown, and then they, or their heirs, will learn the lesson the French aristocracy learned in 1789 and thereafter.

For now, all we can do is wait and watch. The people will know when their time has come.

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By Leefeller, October 15, 2009 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Isn’t this like the don’t ask don’t tell of of reality, as everybody knows?

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By The Die Hard, October 15, 2009 at 5:14 am Link to this comment
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Strength in numbers.

Don’t buy holiday presents, except from second-hand stores that support charities or purely local market places.  Don’t buy ANYTHING you don’t absolutely require, and buy that only from dollar-type stores. 

Use libraries.  Ditch the cell phones and “apps.”

Grow what you can, and make what you can, and fix what you can.  Get together with neighbors to pool your talents.  It’s amazing how we’ve forgotten how much we used to cooperate with our neighbors to get done.

Eat healthier.  Millions of people would not need so many drugs if they did not eat so much junk food.  Or eat so much, period.

Walk or ride a bike.  Turn off the TV.  Turn down the heat and a/c.

For each of us, that’s maybe a couple of dollars a day.  But multiply that by tens of millions of people….

When the fatcats see their easy revenue drying up, they will also see their influence slipping away, and the politicians will quit paying so much attention to them.

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By Anarcissie, October 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi—Looks like Truthdig got rid of my last message in response to yours.  Maybe it got attached to some other article—that’s happened before.
I’ll try to reconstitute it….

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By berniem, October 14, 2009 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

Our “elected” officials are just like the rest of the American aristocracy. Where honest people believe that they become rich by doing good, our corrupt leaders and their benefactors believe they are doing good by getting rich!

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By ThomasG, October 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi, October 14 at 11:53am and de profundis clamavi, October 14 at 12:42pm,

It’s a process and awareness is the key.  Awareness grows incrementally and provides cumulative effect.  The most important thing that you or I can do is facilitate awareness in the masses and when awareness reaches critical mass Revolution will occur.

Whining about President Obama is counter-productive.  President Obama is one part in the building up a cumulative critical mass of awareness in the masses of the population of the United States.

When a critical mass of awareness is reached in the masses of the population of the United States, change will happen.  I don’t know whether it will be peaceful or violent, but what I do know is that it is necessary.

Do not whine about what can’t be done, participate in facilitating awareness that will spark critical mass and if peaceful Revolution does not come that is in the best interest of the masses of the people of the United States——learn to live with the necessary result of a violent Revolution.

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By ThomasG, October 14, 2009 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Marie Cocco,

The people of the United States elect their chosen representatives in both Houses of Congress to represent the interests of the people, in effect, our elected representatives are lobbyists for the people that elected them.

It is an abomination to have “special interests” lobbying the people’s lobbyists.

Corporations do not cast a vote to elect the members of both Houses of Congress, individual people cast individual votes, and individual people that cast individual votes must be all that is allowed to lobby the chosen and elected representatives of the people.

Business and industry screams Communism when the people want to form a “collective” to represent their interests as employees, but business and industry forms “collectives” to lobby Congressmen and Congresswomen in the Senate and House of Representatives.

The Right-Wing Conservative EXTREMISTS use Corporate Communism for the few to lobby Congress and to secure TENS of TRILLIONS of DOLLARS of communal resources as socialized responsibility for privatized benefit and at the same time decry Communism and Socialism for the masses.

The Right-Wing Conservative EXTREMISTS of business and industry use, have always used and will continue to use Corporate Communism in support of business and industry.  Communism and Socialism that is good for business and industry is just as good for the masses.  For business and industry to decry Communism and Socialism while they have their hands out grasping and clinging to Corporate Welfare for the Wealthy is “greed is good sophism and propaganda” that must be rejected by the masses of the people of the United States.

Corporate Communism for the FEW, for business and industry, at the expense of the MANY must give way to Communism/Socialism that serves the greater good of all of the people of the United States.

It is time for a change.  It is time for an end to Corporate Communism for the FEW at the expense of the MANY.  It is time for the many, the masses of the population, to share in the benefit of their own communal taxes that the U.S. Government forces them to pay.

Corporate Communism lobbies the people’s chosen representatives to secure benefit for business and industry and get communal benefit of the peoples taxes that rightly belongs to the people, NOT greedy Corporate Communists.

Corporate Communists as Corporations do not have a VOTE to elect Congressmen and Congresswomen in the Senate and House of Representatives or to elect a President; the right to lobby elected representatives in the Congress, the House of Representatives, the Senate and government must be restricted to those voters who elected them and denied to Corporate Communists representing “collectives” of Corporate Communes seeking Welfare for the Wealthy at the expense of the voting constituents that elected them to office.

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By KDelphi, October 14, 2009 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

If the USAns respond like the French, I will be very surprised. Glad, but surprised.

As they say, in France, the govt fears the people and, in the uS, the peopel fear the govt.

I already do alot of the stuff people (Anarcissie)are mentioning, out of necessity, but, it does make me feel better to buy second hand, etc. But, I have no choice. If I work, I lose what crappy medical coverage I have, and, I cannot risk it.

So, Anarcissie has stated these things before , and, I agree with them , to the extend that they help—but de profundis, are you just suggesting that we wait for the govt to implode under its own military weight? because I coudlve sworm that you were implying that some further type of action was necessary.

If you think it will happen soon, we need do nothing. But, very many—Afghanis, Pakistanis and Americans—will die in the process. Does someone have ideas about what we can do to “nudge it along”?

You dont have to join the military or be an Af-Pak civilian to be destroyed by US Imperialism.

Just letting the future unroll as one big horror show doesnt seem to be a satisfactory answer.

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By de profundis clamavi, October 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

By Anarcissie, October 14 at 2:21 pm #


“don’t just get mad, get active.”

How, exactly?

One possibility is a slow-moving general strike.  Basically, don’t work, don’t produce, don’t consume, don’t pay taxes, look into cooperative and communal exchanges below the government’s radar, try to use free stuff, burn your plastic, and so on.

Not everyone can do this, but many young people or others without heavy commitments may be able to, and those who can’t do it all can do some, or help others who are doing it.

* * * * *

I have been doing what you describe, to the extent I am able to do so, for years. However, I own property and have to earn enough money to pay bills, and cannot avoid reporting income and paying taxes.

I try not to buy ANYTHING unnecessarily, especially imported manufactured goods coming from the outsourced globalized corporate economy. If you have to buy clothes made in Vietnam, at least buy them at a charity second hand store so the retail chains don’t profit. When you drive past a boarded up mall, celebrate that the medicine is working.

Try to buy as much of your food as possible directly from local farmers.

Try to give up meat. It’s bad for you, bad for the poor farm animals, and terrible for the environment.

Try not to drive a car. That’s practically impossible outside a big city, but if you can use public transport, do. 

One thing to remember is that the government cannot monitor, and cannot so easily tax, the cash economy. To the extent you can manage to earn money in cash and spend it in cash, you not only deprive the government of the ability to audit and tax you, you also cut the banks and credit card companies out of the opportunity to squeeze profits out of you and out of the businesses who sell goods and services to you, through their parasitic credit/debit card interest and fees.

I have no ideological bias against taxes levied by a government of the people to provide for the general welfare of the people, but our government’s primary purpose seems to be financing one foreign military adventure after another, to create profit opportunities for government contractors. If they would spend it instead on schools and healthcare and public transport and infrastructure, and if the tax system was graduated so the rich pay more (like they did in the 50s and 60s) instead of less (like they do now) I would have no objection to paying taxes.

But what I am describing is not going to bring down the government. My guess is the US government will bring about its own collapse by bankrupting itself paying for the latest round of imperialist wars, currently in Afghanistan. That is how the French monarchy set off the revolution in 1789. That is how the Soviet Union brought about its own collapse just 20 years ago. People who don’t think the United States can collapse should remember that back in 1989, hardly anybody foresaw the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union.

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By Anarcissie, October 14, 2009 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi:
’... Moyers comments on just one aspect of the corporate takeover of the American government, and he concludes, “don’t just get mad, get active.”

How, exactly? All we are permitted to do as private citizens is contribute and volunteer for political campaigns, write to our representatives and attend the occasional public demonstration. ...’

One possibility is a slow-moving general strike.  Basically, don’t work, don’t produce, don’t consume, don’t pay taxes, look into cooperative and communal exchanges below the government’s radar, try to use free stuff, burn your plastic, and so on.

Not everyone can do this, but many young people or others without heavy commitments may be able to, and those who can’t do it all can do some, or help others who are doing it.

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By KDelphi, October 14, 2009 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi—do you have suggestions? I am with you. I am not being facetious. They are killing people like me anyway. I have very little to lose.

tman—only problem with states seceeding is the fragmentation it would cause. If I were ‘king of Merka” I would redraw the Mason Dixon Line. But, excepting that, I am not sure how that would work. We could be well rid of Texas. But, some would want to get out, etc.

I am ready for a revolution int the streets. (it would be violent only to the extent that there is already the horrible violence of poverty, homelessness , starvation and lack of heatlh care in our cities and rural areas anyway)I would die for it. On Medicaid, they are going to let me die anyway. I am very serious. I am going to Cleveland tomorrow, to , bascially, go to jail. I cant even get neo-liberal people on here to donate for bail. (Ive given the website over and over)But, i do believe that there are enough of us, , that,  if we are seroius, and united, they wouldnt have a choice. We owe it to the future generations.

Maybe I am waasting my time tomorrow. But, if I get to look one “death care industry” CEO in the face and ask him why he doesnt care if I die, it maybe worth it. Some say that they are “too removed” from the proces to “feel bad”..they have removed themselves! I submit that they have psychopathic personality disorders and gie not a rat’s ass for thier people , their country not the planet.

I am sure I will be back here by Fri or Sat. (someone will bail us, and, unless my 20 yr old car breaks down on the 5 hr drive…)But, if I am sick, and, willing to go to jail, not just for myself, and people bleed and die for it, everyday, why does a corporate guy like Obama deserve a Peace prize?

Do you have a website? You should have. Is there a place to go to read about actions on ideas liek this (there are milions of us, former middle class, suburbs, no longer, believe me)

There has to be action on this—people are dying.

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By tman, October 14, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

The time has come for the people in each state to vote on succeeding from the union. We can just eliminate the present government and start over.

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By de profundis clamavi, October 14, 2009 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

Wait, I’m not finished.

A society is ripe for revolution when

(1) the system of government is controlled by a ruling elite whose class interests and loyalties are stronger than any notion they may (or may not) have that they owe a duty to the people as a whole (such as the ruling class of people who circulate back and forth through the revolving doors of Congress, K Street and Wall Street, snarfing up loads’a'dough along the way)

(2) the fastest and most effective way for members of the ruling class to make themselves richer and more powerful is to pursue policies that damage the country as a whole (such as imperial wars, corrupt military contracts and sweetly sold public monopolies, arcane financial speculation, union busting, outsourcing and globalization, all carried out by harnessing the power of the state)

(3) the people become cynical unbelievers in the legitimacy of the public institutions that have always commanded their loyalty, they feel sufficiently insecure or desperate - afraid of losing homes and livelihood or having already lost them - that they feel they have little to lose by breaking the law to confront their government, even to the point of risking imprisonment or death, and

(4) the people smell a whiff of the possibility that if they rebel they might succeed in overturning injustice.

Are we there yet? Not quite. In particular, I think requirement (4) is distinctly missing - hardly anybody seems to believe they can successfully challenge the corporate sponsored US government.

I am in my early 50s. I have a long, good memory. I grew up in this country and I’m sure that the sense of unfairness, futility and injustice I feel, and that millions of other people seem to share with me, about our government and our society bears no resemblance to anything I remember when I was young, even including the period of the Vietnam war. We definitely had the sense then, unlike now, that we could change this country, and even the world, for the better. Now that hope is all but gone.

Barack Obama and his Wall Street mafia gang (Geithner, Summers, Bernanke), Max Baucus and the rest of the corporate sycophants in the Senate, are urinating daily on the last desperate hope of the American people to see some evidence that their system of government is still capable of doing some good for them.

Barack Obama has proven himself incapable of leading. He seems to have good intentions, but he is acting like a moderator at a meeting where a confident, arrogant, smug majority of the attendees are representatives of corporations like Goldman Sachs, Wellpoint, Cigna, Blue Cross and Johnson & Johnson, not New York or Michigan or Montana. Without a strong president willing to do some Congressional arm-twisting (like FDR and LBJ) and mobilize the public (like FDR and LBJ), Congress will just serve us up that same old corporate [you-know-what] sandwich.

Obama is not going to save us. We can only try to save ourselves. It is not going to be easy, it is not going to be pretty or polite and it definitely is not going to be “bi-partisan”, except in the sense that both the Republican Democratic parties deserve a beating. Or even better, extinction. We can expect the corporate state to respond with intimidation and violence when the interests of the ruling class are threatened. Take, for example, the massed armies that looked like they stepped out of Star Wars to crush a few thousand dissidents recently in Pittsburgh. How do you think they would react to a million of us demanding Change We REALLY CAN Believe in, THIS TIME? Different from the Mullahs of Tehran? Different from the Junta of Myanmar? Different from the Soviet tanks in Prague and Budapest?

There’s only one way to find out.

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By ElkoJohn, October 14, 2009 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

We have a government of, by and for the super rich,
bought and paid for by the big money profiteers.
Occasionally, the Congress will throw the rest of us a bone.
Get use to it—it will never change until something
catastrophic happens.

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By KDelphi, October 14, 2009 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi

My ole pc is messing up, I wrote a longer post, but it aint flyin’!

Just wanted to say , “Bravo!” again….thanks.

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By de profundis clamavi, October 14, 2009 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

I received this clip from a friend who also tells me he thinks I’ve “drunk the Soviet Kool Aid”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg7xhTyOtAk

Here’s what I told him:

Moyers comments on just one aspect of the corporate takeover of the American government, and he concludes, “don’t just get mad, get active.”

How, exactly? All we are permitted to do as private citizens is contribute and volunteer for political campaigns, write to our representatives and attend the occasional public demonstration. All of the above I have done. None of that can achieve anything against a permanent army of well-funded lobbyists and a government comprised of people from a narrow elite class which is, incidentally, the same class to which the lobbyists, the financial elite and the controllers of mainstream media belong.

We vote, we demonstrate, we contribute, we write letters to our representatives and newspapers. Polls show, repeatedly, that a clear majority of the American people want universal healthcare, and favor a “public option” only because we’ve been told we can’t have universal Medicare. The ruling class know that if we ever got it, we would never give it up - just look at the seniors and watch their backs rise and their claws come out at the slightest suggestion that they should give it up.

But what plan is Senator Baucus willing to dispense to us, grudgingly, as if to a crowd of ungrateful and greedy children who asked for more gruel? What plan is Olympia Snowe willing to lend her support (for today only, mind you)? For what plan does our gracious President give Ms. Snowe a hearty public pat on the back for her half-hearted support? Answer: A complicated scheme to force every man woman and child in the United States to buy insurance from the same private companies that control the government - this is a TAX payable to private companies if there ever was one. It should be described and publicly discussed in those terms. A TAX payable to the insurance companies to ensure their profits. A TAX to propitiate the gluttenous appetite of unrestrained corporate greed just like the TAXes levied by the East India Company on the oppressed people of Bengal in the 18th Century.   

Is it “Soviet Kool Aid” for me to look back on the 1950s and 1960s and, apart from the oppression of minority groups, to see a period of equality and fairness that now seems unimaginable, and irretrievable?  Take, for instance, the top marginal Federal Income Tax rate of 90% under President Eisenhower. Clearly, Eisenhower must have been drinking the Soviet Kool Aid too. Remember anti-trust laws? Usury laws? Unionized labor? State and regional banks? Locally owned businesses? Family farms? Affordable college tuition? American made goods? Is my sense of bereavement for the loss of these things a “Communist” sentiment?

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By MarthaA, October 14, 2009 at 12:00 am Link to this comment

Money talks, which is why NO lobbyists should be allowed by law to give money directly to Congressmen and Congresswomen, only anonymously to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, because corporations put individuals at too much of a disadvantage.

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By walt, October 13, 2009 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

The problem is we have not built any affinity with them. Just as the Masters of
the Culture Wars want and that makes us all so easy to control. We don’t listen
to them. We don’t connect with them. We don’t respect them. And I believe,
they are the key.

So the smart-asses at Fox who all pull down salaries in the millions (!) make
them believe they are looking out for them. And as we hate Limbaugh, we by
extension learn to hate those who follow him. The Right-Media has been able
to channel all their rage and frustrations into self-destructive activities like
Beck’s Sept 12 march. Part 2? There is no part 2. It’s all about the catharsis.
Now go home and obey your masters. The pay off was Beck’s phenomenal
ratings boost. He IS the new Howard Beal. He’s mad as Hell and … Duh!

Why can’t we build a bridge between our outrage and theirs? We are all pissed
off about the same things: really we are. Government that ignores us and
spends our money on things we don’t want: Wars that profit corporations and
mean nothing to us … Jobs gone, gone, gone, never to return … Health care
costs that we can’t afford and don’t cover us when we need it. The list goes on.

What if we were to find common cause between us? Think it’s impossible? Then
you my friend are part of the problem. Because the situation we face in a
nutshell is we have no power. No lobby. No representation. Just like “them.”
What could we do if we worked together. Communicated with one another?
Used the internet to build a consensus? What kind of political power would we
have? Well the current scenario the system loves - 49% / 51% could suddenly
become 75% and 25%. The system would be fucked.

So that is my “Hope.” Very achievable. All it takes is for us to get off our high
horses, purge the idiots on the Extreme Right and Extreme Left from our
dialogue and get on with it. Imagine silencing all those who promote class and
ideological warfare, feel the only solution is a violent revolution or a vote-
consuming third party?

As an example: What kind of support could we get and impact would we have
with a non-partisan political movement that simply says, we are weary of
writing to you. Tired of voting for you. Bored with listening to you. So we are
going to fire you. All of you. Republican, Democrat or Independent. You’re in
power now? You’re out tomorrow. You had your chance and you blew it big
time. You are history. Everyone of you. All incumbents go down. (Except Alan
Grayson) All new faces. I’m serious. Could it be any worse than the fools we
have now? And who we don’t get rid of in 2010 we take out in 2012. Want to
retake control of our government? Don’t ask a politician. Do it yourself. Fire
‘em all!

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By walt, October 13, 2009 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

I remember watching a video of the Sept 12 rally in which a liberal interviewer
actually spoke (!) to demonstrators about the signs they were carrying. When he
told a group who were saying “No More Cazrs” that czars were actually initiated
under Reagan and Bush 2 had them too, they kind of got confused. “I didn’t
know that” one said thoughtfully. Another said, “Well, I learned something
today.” I wonder how many others did not know that Medicare was a Public
Option or that the VA was a Single Payer system. We mocked them, but did we
as this journalist did try to reach out to them? In this age of calculated
misinformation it really shouldn’t be a surprise what they do and don’t believe.
I wondered if they were patiently spoken to, how many would say “I learned
something today.”

I’m not arguing that there weren’t certified nut cases out there. Just that all of
them were not. But no one talks to them except the Right. No one tells them
the truth respectfully, least of all not us. In fact, no one in politics tells any of
us … anything.

Obama himself doesn’t explain his heath care objectives in simple terms. Did
you see Keith Olbermann do it in his hour-long discussion on his father’s
hospital experience? It was riveting. It was powerful. Most of all it was
convincing. Obama spoke of his mother’s death in the hospital but never with
such passion and conviction. He is a great orator but not, if you will, a great
communicator.

So here’s my point and please forgive me for going on. Progressives on these
and other pages incessantly carp on about how stupid Americans are, how they
are wed to TV and live mindless lives. I don’t believe it. I come from a working
class family. My relatives and neighbors are neither dumb nor out of touch.
They are, to paraphrase the movement of the real left of by-gone days
supremely “in touch.” They live the horrors of our horrible health care system,
they lose their homes and jobs, see their futures dead ended with dissolving
401ks, get extended for multiple tours in wars they don’t understand. Oh they
get it. You better fucking believe they do. What they don’t get is us.

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By Anarcissie, October 13, 2009 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

No one compels the people to vote for the richest candidates.

Here in New York City, a majority of people say they are opposed to Bloomberg’s overriding of term limits.  Glossy junk mail arrives in our mailboxes every day, paid for out of Bloomberg’s billions.  Yet every poll indicates he will win re-election by a landslide.  Why?

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By seektruth, October 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

Correction to my last post:

I would NOT support preventing an industry group, union or special interest group from endorsing a candidate, speaking out in support of a candidate, even running an ad declaring its support for a candidate—that’s free speech.

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By seektruth, October 13, 2009 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

OzarkMichael: You are right that some efforts at campaign finance reform have been struck down by courts as interfering with “free speech.”  So yes, the courts will have to be cooperative.  And progressives will have to make sure that we have strong constitutional support for the changes we demand.

For example, I would envision to prevent an industry group, union or special interest group from endorsing a candidate, speaking out in support of a candidate, even running an ad declaring its support for a candidate—that’s free speech. What we need to stop is the flow of money to politicians. 

We need to persuade the courts that financial control of politicians is called CORRUPTION, not free speech. And remember, courts are political bodies (whether they admit it or not). A mass movement for change will bring the courts along with it.

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By KDelphi, October 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

We need publically funded campaigns.

Ozark—And I suppose that you think that Bush won in 2000 , fair and square. (unless youre being facetious) I suppose it is a coincidence:

“..In the broader Republican family, relatives of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia also have been picked for plum posts in the Bush administration. Janet Rehnquist is the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Eugene Scalia is solicitor general at the Labor Department. He was one of Bush’s attorneys when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the then-Republican presidential candidate in the Florida election case.

Of course, the top job handouts are not limited to the White House and the high court. Capitol Hill also comes in for its share of spoils. After all, what are friends for?...”

Read more at:http://www.seattlepi.com/opinion/35502_helen177.shtml


http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/5659

Conservative Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas Say Virtually Bribing Judges is Okay
By: Scarecrow Monday June 8, 2009 9:27 am    

“... In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a judge who accepts campaign contributions from a corporate CEO during his/her reelection campaign must recuse him/herself in a case involving that corporation. From the New York Times:

By a 5-4 vote in a case from West Virginia, the court said that a judge who remained involved in a lawsuit filed against the company of the most generous supporter of his election deprived the other side of the constitutional right to a fair trial.

”Just as no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, similar fears of bias can arise when — without the consent of the other parties — a man chooses the judge in his own cause,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court. . . .

The West Virginia case involved more than $3 million spent by the chief executive of Massey Energy Co. to help elect state Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin. At the same time, Massey was appealing a verdict, which now totals $82.7 million with interest, in a dispute with a local coal company. Benjamin refused to step aside from the case, despite repeated requests, and was part of a 3-2 decision to overturn the verdict.

The wonder is that the company/CEO and judge are not on trial for bribery.

...You can’t have a fair trial without a judge whose impartiality is beyond question. You can’t gain respect for the administration of justice if a judge appears to accept payments from those involved in the litigation. It’s hard to think of a more important foundational principle to our system of justice.

... According to Justice Robert’s dissent (Scalia, Alito, and Thomas also dissenting), we should fear [trying to craft] rules that prevent judges from looking like they’ve been bribed by litigants with cases before them:

”It is an old cliche, but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease,” Roberts said. He wrote that it is not clear that Blankenship’s money even affected the outcome of the election.

”I would give the voters of West Virginia more credit than that,” he said.

Both Scalia and Roberts said that the ruling would end up undermining confidence in the judicial system, not enhancing it as the majority contended….” and on


While it is true that SCOTUS are not “elected” Bush’s appointment to presidency wil have the consequence of rightwinging our country into oblivion for out lifetimes. And the Dems can only fight back with “moderates” like Sotomayor.

At least the GOP knows what to do with power when they get it!

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By OzarkMichael, October 13, 2009 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

samosamo said: One big obstacle here is the judiciary, the supreme court,  because they are being bribed to judge in the favor of those with the most cash

I dont believe it. If this is true we are finished.

However, i would need proof before i accept it as fact.

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By seektruth, October 13, 2009 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

Roger Lemonde: Your question is indeed key—how do we get leverage over a system that is so deeply corrupted by money?  This is why I say that progressives should make campaign finance reform (really, a campaign finance revolution) their defining issue, because nothing else will be achievable until we do.  It will require education combined with grass-roots activism.

For example, every time a congressman holds a town hall or other local meeting, someone needs to be present with an itemized list of his/her contributors. People in the crowd need to hold posters saying things like “Cong. X: Why did you accept $25,000 from the insurance industry?”  Or, “Do you represent us, or the pharmaceutical industry?”  etc. We need to shame them.  We need to force them to admit how dependent they are on corporate money. Demand meetings with local editorial boards. GET THE WORD OUT about how corrupt your congressman is.  Shame is the most effective tool in politics.  Of course, this all has to be done at the local level—with an organizing group, such as PDA.  But it’s got to be priority #1 for progressives.

At the same time, we need to work with members of congress like Denis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders to put forward legislation that will make the changes we need—and so that there is something to advocate for and demand that our reps support.   

It’s the civil rights movement of our era.  We need to make noise, point fingers, embarass and ridicule politicians.  As Saul Alinsky said, “Power goes to two poles: to those who’ve got money and those who’ve got people.”

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By Rodger Lemonde, October 13, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can any of the clever commentators here come up with a
way for the people to get leverage on this situation?

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By Shift, October 13, 2009 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

By walt, October 13 at 11:28 am #

Shift ... I don’t get your comment really. This is the fault of American MEN?

I believe that it is the fault of contemporary American men Walt.  Our ancestors fought and died to preserve our freedom.  Our fathers fought for our freedom.  Today American men are too uneducated, inattentive, and cowardly to fight for the freedoms that are being taken from us at home right under our noses. Preoccupied with sports they ignore the clear evidence that Government at the behest of the oligarchs steal our rights, institute draconian laws designed to firmly blunt any attempt by citizens to restore our freedoms, wrongly participate in the demonization of those who openly try, and willingly fight for American Fascism and empire in foreign lands under the false guise of patriotism.  Can this be labeled anything other than stupidity and cowardice?  I think not.

I’ll await the women to speak for themselves.

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By Kay Johnson, October 13, 2009 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

“How shocking and aggravating was it early on in this “debate” to hear our elected officials wryly state “Single Payer is Off the Table.” At that time, a majority of Americans favored it. Right or wrong as a solution, it never saw the light of day. It was unilaterally taken “off the table” before anyone even sat down. We didn’t take it off. Our patronizing “Government” did. And not on our behalf, but on behalf of their employers, which we once naively thought was us.”—walt

I am by far more cynical than most of my friends, but, like you, Walt, I was shocked when Obama excluded single-payer advocates from taking part in the discussions about health care reform. It was as if there was no such thing as “single-payer.” Even the polls clearly stated that about 70% of U.S. citizens wanted, and needed, a “single-payer” health care system. “We the people” are NOT represented by our elected officials.

Like everyone else, I have written so many letters to my elected officials advocating for “single-payer”—I can no longer count the number. In addition, I have signed countless petitions over the past couple of years. I have also marched, etc. I have attended rallies and protests, etc.

Today, I am surprised, though, that “health insurance reform” is NOT a done deal—thus far. When the “Baucus 13’ were arrested—doctors and nurses—and Baucus kept calling for “order” and “police,” the discussions seemed to shift, just a bit. Wasn’t it then, that “the public option” surfaced? My Senator’s (Schumer) public option was “barely” an option. However, that is no surprise to me.

Certainly, the obscene amounts of money are a corrupting influence. As ardee points out, “That it cost Barack Obama 750 million dollars to win the White House job that pays $400,000/year should speak volumes to the voting public.”

“The largest giveaway in American history remains the airwaves, why cannot our media donate free space and airtime to legitimate candidates for office?”—ardee

In 1995, I was working in radio when I began to hear about the upcoming deregulation. I tugged at the sleeves of everyone I knew, but no one was paying attention. I kept saying to people that this deregulation would turn out to be a very bad idea—and a Democrat, Clinton, was at the helm. As the deregulation unfolded, the situation became worse than I ever could have imagined. The next time the subject of deregulation came up for discussion, “everyone” seemed to be paying attention, and millions of us said, “NO MORE!” “We the people” actually won—that time. But, we have lost so much. The airwaves are supposed to be “a public trust.”

Marie Coco brings the facts to us—how perverse and corrupt our system of government really is. The number of lobbyists, along with the money, certainly does not bode well for “we the people.”

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By seektruth, October 13, 2009 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

There is not a single item on the progressive agenda—health care, fair wages, improved public education, drug policy, low-income housing, policy toward Israel & Palestine, de-militarization of our society, global warming—that can be truly reformed until we enact serious and significant campaign finance reform. 

This should be the #1 priority of every progressive, because otherwise we are just pissin’ in the wind.

This would be a start: 1) abolish PACs; 2) reduce maximum individual contribution levels; 3) require candidates to federal office to raise money only from constituents (i.e., a congressman could raise funds only from registered voters in his/her congressional district; a senator, only from residents of his/her state); 4) provide a well-funded public option for candidates who do not wish to spend time raising money; and 5) require TV networks to run political ads as free public service announcements.

The longer we delay, the more entrenched corporate and special interest oligarchs will become.  We are losing our country.

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By glider, October 13, 2009 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

Walt’s post concisely presented the essence of the situation.  What strikes me is just how in your face the corruption is now.  Government officials fool most of the public and simply flip the bird at the rest of us.  They seem to know that they can act as corporatists with impunity.  The media and the government appear to be irreversibly taken over by corporate interests and I feel the same sense of helplessness that Walt describes.  How do you work within the system to correct a corrupt system?  This corruption is certainly an equal opportunity employer and a count of corrupt congresswomen bears that out.  By the way that Lincoln quote is precious.  Thanks.

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