ave Hagen – writer/director of an upcoming documentary about far too much money in American politics – believes the American people haven’t yet experienced the feeling that they “don’t want this situation to continue”. Because U.S. citizens haven’t reached a tipping point in that regard, large numbers have become apathetic politically, with the 2014 mid-term elections registering the lowest voter turnout in decades. In the meantime, the upcoming 2016 election cycle will probably become the election where more money becomes spent than ever before in history.
As a guest on “Buzz Saw” with Sean Stone, Dave Hagen talks about his film “Under the Influen$e” about money’s immense presence in elections, so he and the film’s participants are doing something to get money out of the political system, end apathy, and transform conditions which have led to corporations (literally) running the United States House of Representatives and Senate. Hundreds of organizations in America, and thousands around the Earth, are making similar efforts to reverse the global trend toward increasing centralization of political and financial power, and the time is right for men and women concerned about restoring democracy to renew focus on wiser organized campaigns aiming at necessary changes, entrance into races at all levels of elective office, and other plausible, effective forms of political action – with simultaneous intensification of efforts.
More than enough men and women in America and around the Earth have become aware of what is wrong in societies and nations in the year 2015; the “tipping point”/critical mass was met some time ago . The problems haven’t been mentioned/covered nearly enough, if at all, by the corporate news media, but millions who get their news from the internet have become reminded of major problems needing serious address again and again. In other words, everybody knows what the critical problems are; all too well, like the back of one’s hands. For serious and concerned men and women the time for endless repetition in describing and re-acknowledging the problems humanity faces is best perceived as over. How many more times must people use valuable time and effort continuing to rehash/cover facts that nearly everyone paying attention is already clearly aware of?
The cases have been more than sufficiently made. Now is the time for turning the page and getting to real solutions. Now is the time for graduated, next-level, powerful global action.
ournalist and author Alison Weir traveled for the first time to Iran recently and sat down for an interview on Press TV’s “Face to Face”. Most men and women who come this way know who Ms. Weir is and the focus of her writings and talks. Back in the year 2000, she was a journalist at a small midwest American newspaper when she started researching the Israel-Palestine conflict and its history. Before starting that research she admits to having no knowledge of the political philosophy called Zionism, the decades-old power of the Israeli lobby over American politicians, and that American policy in the Middle East is driven primarily by Israel interests – at the expense of an independent US foreign policy.
Her impression of life in Iran is one of normal people enjoying time with their families with interesting cultural differences – as opposed to media-suggested visions of people living under oppressive, sad, and miserable conditions due, as the false narrative goes, to the authoritarian government there. Ms. Weir has found that American corporate media has for decades portrayed nations in the Middle East differently depending on the nation’s good or bad relations with Israel. She names CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, who has close personal ties with Israeli institutions, as an example of how media bias toward Israel enters the homes of unsuspecting Americans. She recently called out political commentator David Brooks, a regular on National Public Radio, for failing to disclose to listeners and readers that his son served in the Israel Defense Force.
So, the corporate American media has historically, and remains, heavily biased toward Israel, where any man or woman broadcasting/journalism professional who speaks out critically against Israeli policy – especially the apartheid conditions Palestinians have suffered under for over 60 years, or Israeli violations of international law and war crimes – most certainly faces termination. Corporate media’s tremendous Israel bias is surely something Americans have only recently begun to learn about, due in no small part to the internet and alternative media, but Alison Weir sees it as positive that awareness is increasing.
Media Israel-bias is a disturbing reality given the large percentage of Americans who remain unaware of the power to manipulate public opinion – especially with regard to United States military actions in the Middle East. Perhaps even more disturbing is the power and influence on the American political system wielded for decades by Israel lobbies such as AIPAC – the largest Israel lobby of them all. What Alison Weir has discovered through her years of intense independent research is that elected representatives in Congress, “even knowing their votes are against American interests”, know that if they vote otherwise that Israel lobbies will direct huge sums of money to opposition candidates in the next election – virtually guaranteeing their defeat and exit from office.
The points at which she became most shocked were when she learned the degree to which a foreign country is determining US policy, the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty – and the attack’s coverup, and the history of the Israel-US “special relationship”. Political Zionism has influenced US government policies since the late 1800’s until today, and has caused great damage to the reputation of the United States as well as tragedies for the world – namely wars of aggression in the Middle East. Ms. Weir notes that most Americans are anti-interventionist and against wars of aggression but have succumbed, unfortunately, to manipulations of their perceptions by 1) making people fearful, under the pretense of “self-defense”, and 2) selling war through messaging altruistic concepts such as “we are helping these people… making their lives better”, and so on.
Toward the end of the interview, Alison Weir said:
“I expect and want this change to occur in my lifetime, and I’m not young. But… it might not. I think in the end, basically, often the struggle is the force of good against the forces of evil – good people opposing people that are not good, and I think in the end many of us believe that good will win. It might take a long time, but that’s a more powerful part of the world and the universe, and that will win.”
“But I think it, you know, I think America is very changeable. We’ve seen change in bad ways but we’ve also seen a change in good ways in the course of my lifetime. There’ve been many changes in our society, and I think this change will come. It might come sooner than people think, you never know if it might, suddenly, something might seem like a sudden change. It won’t be a sudden change because many people have been working toward it for a long time, but it may seem sudden.”
“I’m optimistic. I think we’re going to see America go back in many ways to its best nature, and I think we’re going to see the policies of supporting Israel and of these aggressive wars in the Middle East stop. I don’t know how soon, but I think that’s going to happen.”
Alison Weir’s book “Against Our Better Judgment” is available on Amazon. Besides using the “Look Inside” feature for reading a sample of the book, there have been hundreds of reviews and comments at the page which provide an education in itself. It was interesting to find that one commenter, critical of the book, was found in virtually every review comment section – repeatedly. Many know this activity of going online to manipulate public perceptions as trolling – in the case of Israel the term is hasbara.
“[Business and finance are] unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred… I should like to have it said of my first Adminstration that in it the forces of selfishness and lust for power met their match; I would like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces met their master.” (Campaign speech, 1936; quoted by Justice Douglas)
– FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT (1882-1945) 32nd President of the Unitese States
he people of Vermont gathered on the waterfront in Burlington, where Bernie Sanders began his political career as mayor, to hear him deliver a speech about why he is running for President of the United States. For presidential historians, the speech most likely reminded them of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Some excerpts from Bernie Sanders’ speech:
“Today with your support, and the support of millions across our country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally. Today we stand here and say loudly and clearly: Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires.”
“Brothers and sisters, now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same-old, same-old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas; now is the time for millions of working families to come together to revitalize American democracy, to end the collapse of our middle class, and to make certain that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a quality of life that brings them health, prosperity, security and joy – and that once again makes the United States the leader in the world in the fight for economic and social justice, for environmental sanity, and for a world of peace.”
“My fellow Americans, this country faces more serious problems today than at any time since the Great Depression, and, if you include the planetary crisis of climate change, it may well be that the challenges we face now are more dire than at any time in the modern history of our country. And here is my promise to you for this campaign: not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we are going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back.”
“We are going to take this campaign directly to the people in town meetings, door-to-door conversations, on street corners and in social media. This week we’re going to be in New Hampshire, we’re going to be in Iowa, and we’re going to be in Minnesota – and that’s just the start of this national campaign.”
“Let me be clear. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders; it’s not about Hillary Clinton; it is not about Jeb Bush, or anyone else. This campaign is about the needs of the American people and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs. As someone who has never run a negative political ad in my life, my campaign will not be driven by political gossip or reckless personal attacks. This is what the American people want and deserve. These are serious times – we need serious debates.”
“Politics in a democratic society should not be treated as if it were a baseball game, a game show, or a soap opera, and I hope the media understands that as well. Let me take a minute to touch on some of the issues that I will be focusing on in the coming months, and then give you a brief outline of an agenda for America. An agenda which in fact will deal with the serious problems and lead us to a better future.”
“Today we live in a nation which is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, but that reality means very little for most of us because almost all of the wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny handful of individuals. In America we have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on Earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider. The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time; it is the great economic issue of our time; it is the great political issue of our time, and we will address it.”
“Let me be very clear, and let the top 1% understand this. There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, and when 99% of all new income goes to the top 1%. There is something profoundly wrong when in recent years we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, and we have shamefully the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country.”
“There is something profoundly wrong when one family owns more wealth in this country than the bottom 130 million Americans. This grotesque level of inequality is immoral, it is bad economics, it is unsustainable. This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about. This has got to change, and as your president, together, we are going to change it.”
“My fellow Americans, let me be as blunt as I can and tell you what you already know. As a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision Citizens United, the American political system has been totally corrupted, and the foundations of American democracy are now being undermined. What the Supreme Court said, essentially, was that it was not good enough for the billionaires to own much of the economy – they could now own the United States government as well, and that is precisely what they are trying to do.”
“Now, what I learned in school, an I think what the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our country have long-known, that American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and buy elections. It is not about the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and other incredibly wealthy individuals spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer. According to media reports, if you can believe it, the Koch brothers in this election cycle are prepared to spend more money than either the democratic or republican parties.”
“That is not democracy – that is oligarchy. In Vermont at our town meetings we know what democracy is about, and that is ‘one person, one vote’, and that is the kind of political system we are going to fight for and are going to achieve.”
… “If we don’t get our act together and have the United States lead the world in combating climate change there will be more drought, more famine, more rising sea level, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances. As human beings who look out over this environment, who appreciate the beauty that we have on this planet, we are not going to allow the fossil fuel industry to destroy this planet.”
“This campaign, starting today, is going to send a message to the billionaire class, and that is: ‘you can’t have it all’. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in the country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs abroad while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. To the billionaire class, I say that your greed has got to end – you can’t take advantage of all of the benefits of America if you refuse to accept your responsibilities. And that is why we need a tax system which is fair and progressive, which tells the wealthiest individuals and the largest corporations that they are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.”
“When we talk about power, we talk about Wall Street. In my view it is time to break up the largest financial institutions in this country. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island onto itself gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out. If a bank is too big to fail, that bank is too big to exist..”
“…we must be focused on campaign finance reform and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn this disastrous Citizens United decision. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who has not made it clear that he or she will move to overturn that disastrous decision which is undermining American democracy.”
“And that is why I as president will fight to make tuition in public colleges and universities free, as well as substantially lower interest rates on student loans.”
“I am vigorously opposed to an endless, perpetual war in the Middle East.”
“And to those who say we cannot restore the dream, I say look at where we are standing today. As some of you will remember, this beautiful place was once an unsightly rail yard that served no public purpose and was an eyesore. As mayor, I worked with the people of Burlington to help turn this waterfront into the beautiful, people-oriented public space it is today. We took that fight to the courts, to the legislature, and to the people and we won. The lesson to be learned, and it is a profound political lesson, is that when people stand together, when people are prepared to fight back, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.”
“We can live in a country where every person has health care as a right, not a privilege. We can live in a country where every parent can have quality and affordable child care and where all of our qualified young people can get a college education regardless of their income. We can live in a country where every senior can live in dignity and security, and not be forced to choose between food and medicine. We can live in a country where every veteran who has put his or her life on the line to defend this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and deserve. We can live in a country where every person no matter their race, their religion, their disability, or sexual orientation realizes the full promise of equality that is our birthright as Americans.”
“Brothers and sisters, that is the nation we can build together. And I ask you and people throughout this country to join us in this campaign to build a future that works for all of us, and not just the few people on top. Thank you again for coming out on this beautiful day. Thank you.”
What separates Senator Bernie Sanders from Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush is that he is the only one of the three who has used the term “billionaire class”. Ms. Clinton and Mr. Bush can no longer ignore wealth inequality in the United States – the highest level of inequality of any major nation on Earth, and an issue of great concern for tens of millions of Americans. If Ms. Clinton and Mr. Bush – with Senator Bernie Sanders in the race for president in 2016 – choose not to honestly address this central, serious issue, the number of voters who were leaning in their directions and voting for them who change their minds to support/vote for Bernie Sanders may become historic.
“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.”
– ELWYN BROOKS “E.B.” WHITE (1899-1985) American writer, editor
Doug Hughesdeserves being honored and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his effort on behalf of American democracy. Most people in America want Citizens United overturned. America’s top civilian honor goes to men and women who have made efforts “In especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
After considering what Florida U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Doug Hughes might have gone through before deciding to land with his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capital Building, the idea of taking whatever steps necessary for the American people to honor the man took hold. The popular image of postal carriers is the rugged man or woman who delivers your letters through rain, snow, hail and thunderstorms come what may, but Mr. Hughes took that concept to an entirely higher-purpose, democracy-protecting other level.
One wonders how his experience at delivering the mail, in particular the evolving of political mailings through the years, figured into his decision to take non-violent, civil disobedience action. Mr. Hughes probably noticed the difference after the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court in 2011, when the number of election-time mailings going from his Jeep to his mailbag to people’s homes and businesses started to increase dramatically. Every one of those correspondences passed through his hands while scanning the addresses to determine the accurate destination, almost like reading a book about the consequences for the American people of the Supreme Court’s regretful decision.
So, he personally saw the great increase in mailings to citizens in his Florida region coming from super-pacs/organizations spending on behalf of candidates to get them elected, with good God-fearing names like “Americans for Freedom”, “Patriots for the U.S.A.”, “Founding Fathers of America”, or, to go all the way with ridiculous names for super-pacs, “Americans for America”. While Doug Hughes zeroed in on the correct mailing address on each piece of mail, he most likely also observed the deceptively named political groups on return addresses in the upper left-hand corners of the envelopes, and like seeds grow after being planted, the idea for taking “the mail” to the Capital came to life and took shape.
The Real News Network produced a two-minute video which explains how the mainstream media put a spin on Mr. Hughes’ truly heroic act of political conscience, focusing on terrorism and fear while dreadfully failing to report on his noble intention: getting rid of Citizens United and its allowing those with the most money to literally buy up democracy in America. Media corporations, owned by the same wealthy people who became able to buy elections after Citizens United, once again intentionally dropped the ball and avoided the “elephant in the room” – a completely unacceptable situation of too much money killing the democratic process in elections across the United States.
(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)
Like most Americans, Mr. Hughes came to conclude that something is seriously wrong when money cancels democracy, and that strong collective action is necessary to correct that wrong. He deserves Americans’ profound thanks and appreciation for taking an action carrying with it a level of personal risk and sacrifice most would never seriously contemplate.
Doug Hughes delivered “the mail”, carrying out an amazing handoff of 535 letters addressed to America’s elected representatives calling for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing that true democracy is the law to observe in America for all time. An Article V Constitutional Convention or super-majority (two-thirds) vote in the U.S. Congress is necessary for an amendment overturning Citizens United to become reality.
Amendments may be adopted and sent to the states for ratification in one of two ways:
Affirmative votes by two-thirds of both the Senate and House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress.
A national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (34) of the states.
To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress):
The request of legislatures of three-fourths (38) of the states.
State ratifying conventions in three-fourths (38) of the states.
Mr. Hughes’ self-sacrificial, honorable example is a profound one very worthy of emulation in ways which require little or no risk by comparison. Share the path of true democracy with Doug Hughes and an increasing number of determined, morally motivated men and women across the 50 states of America, then create and “deliver” your own personal message to elected representatives at both state and national levels.
Palestinians are at the heart of the conflict in the M.E Palestinians uprooted by force of arms.. Yet faced immense difficulties have survived, kept alive their history and culture, passed keys of family homes in occupied Palestine from one generation to the next.
This blog is devoted to legal, historical and human rights matters, in which issues of general concern are addressed freely and spontaneously. It is intended to further an informal exchange of views in the democratic spirit of freedom of opinion and respect for the opinions of others, in an effort to understand rather than condemn, to propose constructive solutions rather than grandstand. The perspective is both from inside and outside the box and the added value lies more in the questions than in the answers.