When we watch the evening news it’s easy to conclude that America is now a foreign country run by some unnamed corporation according to rules no one has ever heard of before. The America of our history books and all those Victory at Sea documentaries is long gone. It’s been replaced by the America of Ariana Huffington and FOX/MSNBC Sort-of News. A strange place indeed. In this inspiring TED Talk, Lawrence Lessig has a prescription to recover what we lost. The hard part is believing it’s actually possible…
We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim
Lawrence Lessig | TED | APR 13
________________________________________________________________________________ Lawyer and activist Lawrence Lessig spent a decade arguing for sensible intellectual property law, updated for the digital age. He was a founding board member of Creative Commons, an organization that builds better copyright practices through principles established first by the open-source software community.
In 2007, just after his last TED Talk, Lessig announced he was leaving the field of IP and Internet policy, and moving on to a more fundamental problem that blocks all types of sensible policy — the corrupting influence of money in American politics.
In 2011, Lessig founded Rootstrikers, an organization dedicated to changing the influence of money in Congress. In his latest book, Republic, Lost, he shows just how far the U.S. has spun off course — and how citizens can regain control. As The New York Times wrote about him, “Mr. Lessig’s vision is at once profoundly pessimistic — the integrity of the nation is collapsing under the best of intentions –and deeply optimistic. Simple legislative surgery, he says, can put the nation back on the path to greatness.”
For years now we have been listening to republican politicians and their eager media cheerleaders yak on about how we are robbing future generations with our profligate government spending. This canard is hammered into our conciousness whenever we see one of those deficit “doomsday clocks” ticking off how many trillions of dollars our kids will have to pay to get out of the debt hole we created. Paul Krugman takes on that argument today and he makes total sense. If we have a deficit problem in this country it’s a deficit of leadership and sound economic policy, not dollars…
Cheating Our Children
Paul Krugman | NYTimes | 29 Mar 13
So, about that fiscal crisis — the one that would, any day now, turn us into Greece. Greece, I tell you: Never mind.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a remarkable change of position among the deficit scolds who have dominated economic policy debate for more than three years. It’s as if someone sent out a memo saying that the Chicken Little act, with its repeated warnings of a U.S. debt crisis that keeps not happening, has outlived its usefulness. Suddenly, the argument has changed: It’s not about the crisis next month; it’s about the long run, about not cheating our children. The deficit, we’re told, is really a moral issue.
There’s just one problem: The new argument is as bad as the old one. Yes, we are cheating our children, but the deficit has nothing to do with it.
This brilliant article by Lewis Lapham discusses the period leading up to George Bush’s War on Iraq which cost a trillion dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives and accomplished absolutely nothing. It is well worth reading in light of recent statements by politicians and their TV cheerleaders advocating preemptive military action against Syria and Iran. When you hear a politician talk about the need for war you should always ask if they are planning to participate. Note — Don’t miss Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer” at the end…
The Road to Babylon
Lewis H. Lapham | Harpers | Oct 02
Misgovemment is of four kinds, often in combination. They are: 1) tyranny or oppression, of which history provides so many well-known examples that they do not need citing; 2) excessive ambition, such as Athens’ attempted conquest of Sicily in the Peloponnesian War, Philip II’s of England via the Armada, Germany’s twice-attempted rule of Europe by a self-conceived master race, Japan’s bid for an empire of Asia; 3) incompetence or decadence, as in the case of the late Roman empire, the last Romanovs and the last imperial dynasty of China; and finally 4) folly or perversity.
— Barbara W. Tuchman
When President George W. Bush in his January State of the Union address pronounced the sentence of doom on Saddam Hussein (“America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation’s security I will not wait on events, while dangers gather”), I assumed that he was striking at a target of rhetorical convenience. The war on terrorism was not going as well as planned (Osama bin Laden still at large, Afghanistan not yet transformed into a Connecticut suburb, bombs exploding every seven or eight days on a bus in Israel), and who better than the tyrant of Baghdad to stand surrogate for all the world’s evildoers? The man was undoubtedly a villain, a brutal psychopath who murdered children and poisoned village wells, stored biological weapons in hospitals, subjected his enemies to unspeakable torture, and imprisoned his friends in the cages of perpetual fear. Not a nice fellow. Who would not be glad to learn that he had retired from politics or died in a traffic accident? If Mr. Bush chose to express his disapproval in what he called “the language of right and wrong,” who was I to deny him his demagogue’s right to issue harebrained threats?
Our new Secretary of State is famous for asking,”How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” I guess Bush and Cheney never asked that question…
The Last Letter
Tomas Young | TruthDig.com | 20 Mar 13
To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
My brother-in-law, with whom I enjoy heated political ‘conversations’, knows that I am sympathetic to a liberal point of view. I was therefore surprised that he sent me a video today which looks at income inequity in America, a subject of repeated and vociferous debate between us. After viewing the video I realised that he sent it because the data and conclusions it presents are so staggeringly amazing that it falls outside the realm of normal political debate. Looking at this doesn’t arouse anger, so much as eye-blinking astonishment…
I think Robert Reich has hit the nail on the head here. The aim of republican party today is to dismantle the federal government, terminate all social programs and install a system where only the rich have access to power. They are America’s Taliban and the sooner we treat them as such the better off we’ll be…
(After posting this article I noticed and added an earlier article by Professor Reich spelling out how the republican strategy of deficit reduction is their political weapon of mass destruction and why the democrats should not allow them use it.
The Sequester and the Tea Party Plot
Robert Reich | RobertReich.org | 28 Feb 13
Imagine a plot to undermine the government of the United States, to destroy much of its capacity to do the public’s business, and to sow distrust among the population.
Imagine further that the plotters infiltrate Congress and state governments, reshape their districts to give them disproportionate influence in Washington, and use the media to spread big lies about the government.
Finally, imagine they not only paralyze the government but are on the verge of dismantling pieces of it.
Far-fetched? Perhaps. But take a look at what’s been happening in Washington and many state capitals since Tea Party fanatics gained effective control of the Republican Party, and you’d be forgiven if you see parallels.