Posts Tagged ‘revolution’

Time is nowI haven’t made a blog entry in almost 6 years, but that ends today, the history of tomorrow is once again at stake, and “I must do something” always gets more accomplished than “something must be done.”

 

I guess the best way to reintroduce myself and my perspective is to give you a little basic background. I’m not a Millennial, I’m a middling Gen Xer. I first found my political voice when Barack Obama was largely an unknown.  He hadn’t announced his candidacy for President yet, he hadn’t even given his keynote address for John Kerry yet, the event that cemented him on a national stage – the call to unity of his Red states/Blue states speech –  a lot of you know the one. I was on board before that moment in time though. What first caught my attention was a speech he gave in 2002 at Federal Plaza in Chicago before the second Iraq war. He vocalized my biggest fears at the time – the ruin to America and the world that a “dumb war” would forge. I watched it so many times I can still remember the people in the crowd. Sadly, the original video is lost to time, but here are his words. I told my wife that day that this guy will become president – he spoke to the America I wanted, the one we needed, and I knew the America I believed in would agree.

 

Needless to say, I got “fired up and ready to go.” I was a mainstay on the barackobama.com blog (Aris) throughout the election and the fight for healthcare. I was compelled to fuel, inspire and encourage those first sputters of the political revolution America so desperately needed after 8 years of the Bush/Cheney calamity. We needed change, yes we did. And we did something considered impossible by every pundit at the time – not only won the White House, but also managed to introduce and push through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – you know, that affront to the soul of the GOP which every breathing Republican Representative and Senator has vowed to repeal and replace with – well, nothing.

 

The ACA wasn’t nearly enough, but it was a start. Pre-existing conditions would no longer disqualify a human being from being able to find health insurance, millions of previously uninsured would be able to get into the system, and women would not be discriminated against just for being women. It was far from perfect and still is.  Obama knew it, he had repeatedly said a single payer system would be the way he would like to go, but he was a pragmatist. His philosophy was to start near the dividing line and hope human decency and common sense would prevail. Instead, we saw the birth of the Tea Party (and also the beginning of the end for the GOP establishment). The party of “No” was born and any hope for change went out the window.

 

But three important lesson were learned.

 

First, there is no better feeling than to be part of a grassroots movement (unheard of at the time) and achieve a victory in the halls of power, a victory considered impossible by every talking head at the time. I hope and pray that you millennials get to feel it very soon too, on an even bigger and grander scale.

 

Second, no one, not even a champion for change, can serve two masters – when corporate and Wall Street money back a candidate, eventually a concession(s) will be have to be made, in Obama’s case, appointing some of the very snakes from the big banks, investment houses and the political establishment who nearly broke America’s back to positions of power, and sorry Hillary, that includes you too. How else do you go from the venom and lies you spewed against Obama as a candidate to Secretary of State? A deal with the devil, err, the DNC (which is trying even harder to drive you down our collective throats this time around)? Straight from the Hillary vault – Shame on you Barack Obama indeed. Not only were the foxes invited into the hen-house and put in charge of our treasure, but the wife of the bank-deregulator himself, Bill Clinton,  got double duty as a hawk flying over the field and double dipping into the disastrous regime change mentality which led to the political vacuum that delivered us the barbaric scourge of ISIS. What else could you possibly expect from someone without the foresight and judgement to see through the lies of George W. Bush and his cronies?

 

And third, mainstream media will never be the friend of anyone who is not part of the elite ruling class. Obama caught them by surprise in the beginning and that is the only reason he managed to pull off the impossible. A black man with a Muslim name? Endless loops of his firebrand, racist preacher, Jeremiah Wright? Dots connecting him to Bill Ayres of “American Terrorist” fame, no matter how far stretched? The birther movement breathing down his neck? No way could this guy be elected. So corporate media made a mistake born of greed. MSNBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, and yes even FOX, saw the dollar signs that come with viewership. On the left, what better underdog story could there be than his to appease liberal democrats and make them feel good enough to stay obedient to the party before Hillary Clinton’s DNC delivered coronation (yes, she had the vast majority of “super delegates” then too), and of course help deliver her the crucial African American vote in previously unseen numbers thanks to the historic nature of her adversary’s candidacy. On the right, well let’s just say racism was a bit of a theme, stupidity was encouraged and idolized (see Sarah Palin), and obstructionism was, and still is, always the soup de jour. Sound familiar?

 

What mainstream media and the DNC underestimated was the power of a grass roots movement. They underestimated the power of eloquence, reason and common sense. The fires of change were ignited and they were powerless to stop it … for a while. Eventually though, debts to big dollar donors had to be repaid, homage had to be laid on the DNC altar if any of his visions for our country would ever be even broached, back room deals would have to be made and his liberal left moral compass would have to be jarred hard to the right to find common ground with the center-right personality the democratic party has been careening to since the days of Bill Clinton. A good man was broken, a movement was snuffed out and Republicans took over the house and senate, guaranteeing years of being buckled up on a carnival ride that relentlessly ends exactly where it started. I don’t blame Obama, he would never, ever have been elected in 2008 without making those deals with the devil. And I’m not sorry I supported and voted for him, even with hindsight, because ANY other choice would have turned the great recession into another great depression, trillions for war would be tens of trillions by now. The wheels weren’t just coming off the American Dream, the road was ending and the abyss was straight ahead. So thank you Barack Obama for at least keeping us on the road.

 

But let’s fast forward to now.

 

Once again, we as a nation are at a crossroads, but the stakes are much higher. Once again we are faced with banks too big to fail, left helplessly counting down the days before Wall Street’s gravy train flies off the tracks once again, saddling the poor and working class with the unbearable consequences that last time saw home foreclosures, vanishing nest eggs and soaring unemployment decimate a huge swath of our society and steal every ounce of dignity and will from millions. Once again we are faced with millions of Americans who are uninsured or underinsured, one medical emergency from destitution. Once again we are being told all-out war is the answer to terrorism. Once again we are being told security can only come at the cost of liberty. Once again we feel powerless to change our stars because the billionaire class has all the power and influence to hijack our democracy. Once again we are angry. I know I am. In 2010 I didn’t disappear and quit writing because I lost my passion or ideals. I didn’t quit because I wanted to; I quit because I had to.  The ripples of greed and corruption radiating from the illegal shenanigans that brought our economy to the brink of utter collapse finally reached me. The small business I was working for dissolved beneath my feet because customers dried up amid the ongoing fear.  Businesses quit investing in materials and equipment, they started hoarding instead, unsure about what the future would bring.  Time that with a minor (thankfully) medical emergency and, well, you can guess the rest. It’s been six years and I’m still scratching my way back.

 

There are only so many hours in the day, but this moment is too important not to get involved somehow. This moment will define our collective futures.  This moment will determine what kind of legacy we leave behind for posterity. This moment may decide whether the generations to follow actually will inherit a livable planet. This moment it YUUGE!

 

So I find myself back in a familiar fight against a familiar enemy.  I simply could not stomach what Hillary Clinton stood for then, and all the lies, political contortions and lip service since have not budged me at all now. Growing up I was taught that if you want to know who a person is, just look at the company they keep.  In this case, that means Wall Street, big pharma, the fossil fuel industry, corporate media and the list goes on.  These are not friends of the 99%.  These are not the friends to solve our problems, they are largely responsible for them. If Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, I would much rather focus efforts down-ballot on trying to get Senate and House seats to minimize the damage a Trump presidency could cause.  Yes there would be four years at most of finger crossing and prayers, but it would be a lesson which would change the DNC forever.  They would finally understand how out of touch they are and how powerless they are when they do not bend to our collective will instead of trying to force us to bend to theirs.  Democracy means of the people, not of the privileged few.

 

So that brings us to the real fight, the fight that even Hollywood would have a hard time framing as anything other than destined.  The billionaire vs the anti-billionaire.

 

On the one had we have Trump, who with every sentence tries to boil that anger down to a simplistic fifth-grade-level answer, using “bad,” “good” and “great” coupled with vague, fact-less statements as his go-to rally calls. And if there needs to be more emphasis on a point to stir up a little more passion, we get a degree of very – bad becomes very bad, which then morphs into very, very, bad, and so on. We have very bad trade deals, that’s what’s costing millions of Americans jobs, which he will of course turn into very good trade bills, give or take a very on either end of the sentence. What will he change? Don’t worry about it, he has great people.

 

But trade alone is not nearly enough to get him where he wants to go, and there are plenty of other anger flames to fan.

 

So how else do you stir up fiery passion? You feed into our primal human nature – you make it an “us versus them” scenario. It works, it always has, and probably always will. It’s the immigrants, it’s the Chinese, the scientists, the thug protesters, the left wing crazies, the West-hating Islamists, they are the cause of your pain and fear. They are all very, very bad. But that’s not reality, it’s reality TV – entertainment designed to numb and distract your mind from the real problems, real problems which need real answers, not platitudes and finger pointing.

 

Then on the other hand, we have Bernie Sanders. He can make eyes roll with his penchant to take any political question, put it through a washing machine and have it come out the other end as a problem caused by income inequality, with Wall Street and the top one percent (and on occasion the top one percent of that top one percent) being the main antagonists in his version of “us versus them.”

 

But here’s the kicker.  Bernie is not far off, he just has a hard time vocalizing that idea any differently than he has been for decades. But then again, if you have been right all along, why change it up?

 

If you have taken the time to actually research Bernie Sanders without relying solely on mainstream media, one thing is clear, his positions have never and will never change.  There are scores of videos from over the decades which could be strung together and you would think you are listening to his 2016 stump speech, verbatim. Here is a nice little collection strung together. That’s why he comes off as the most genuine and authentic candidate on either side in poll after poll. You know what you are getting, you know what he is against, what he will fight for, and for whom. Whether you agree or not, well, that’s the beauty of democracy, or at least it’s supposed to be if the system isn’t rigged.

 

The fact is too much wealth IS flowing to the top.  Yes, the super wealthy can and do create jobs, but those jobs are obviously too few and far between (hence all the aforementioned anger).

 

Corporate or minimum wage jobs have never been the backbone of America’s strength. In our happiest and most prosperous decades manufacturing was strong, entrepreneurs were pushing the envelope of creative ingenuity with undaunted spirit and small businesses were thriving. That simply cannot happen when most of the wealth funnels to the top. Why? Because the super wealthy don’t spend their treasure proportionally. How many dinners can they eat? How many appliances can they possibly need, or want? How much furniture, how many computers, how many calling plans, insurance policies, or any other product can they possibly use? It may be a little more than 1 percent, but not by that much. So they tend to hoard.  If Donald Trump showed us anything, it’s that &%$! measuring contests are very important to the super wealthy, and that measuring is done by comparing yacht sizes, net worth and political influence.

 

So here is the simple truth.  If we want to create more jobs, we need to create more customers, a lot more customers. We need to substantially increase the numbers of haves and put a serious dent in the number of have nots.  Will a small business cut jobs because of a 2% tax increase when their pool of customers with spendable income increases by 20-30%, or will they be netting more income than ever and need more help? Will the offset of not having to pay employee healthcare help or hurt with job creation? An inclusive economy blazes the trail to a vibrant economy. A healthy workforce is a more reliable workforce.  A happy workforce is a more productive workforce. Simple logic holds these truths to be self-evident. There is no conflict between capitalism and democratic socialism.  I guarantee you that worker in Germany who built that beautiful BMW didn’t feel oppressed during his/her 37 hour work week while figuring out where to take that next two week vacation.  I guarantee you he/she had a lot less stress when a medical emergency popped up and there was no need to worry whether or not their job would be there when they recovered. I guarantee you they did not create an inferior product, they built, sold and profited from something they were proud of.

 

On the flip-side, in the US today the biggest thing we manufacture is money – out of thin air. When the money that drives the banks is running low, the Federal Reserve taps a few keys and moves a few decimals, always resulting in the middle class accruing more and more debt until the bough breaks and our entire economy falls once again, sucking almost every ounce of liquidity out of the poor and middle class and replacing it with yet more debt.

 

The banks which got bailed out on the American taxpayer’s dime because they were too big to fail – they’re even bigger now.

 

I think we’ve all figured it out by now; prosperity doesn’t trickle down, it bubbles up.  We all know what rolls downhill and we all know it will eventually hit the bottom.  It’s only when prosperity is built from the bottom up that the sky’s truly the limit.

 

So with that let me just say the fire is back – I’m feeling the Bern. Time to pull my old blog out of mothballs and do what I can to help energize this revolution we all so desperately need.

 

***

iran-revolution  Has the ruling government of Iran finally bitten off more than they can chew?   I think they have.     

For a regime that depends on fear and oppression as their governing tools of choice, they are about to learn the cold, hard lesson that destiny has been teaching since mankind first grappled with the concepts of society and governing so very long ago … vices will be punished and virtue will be rewarded, especially when it comes to leading others.  The most ironic twist of fate is that their complete undoing may just come by one of the most ancient catalysts of revolution that human history is littered with and their own culture reveres, the power of martyrs.  

 

 Peaceful opposition protests have been a common occurrence since the controversial Iranian elections saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retain his seat back in June.  While the power of peaceful protests cannot be overstated, they rely on an ingredient that has now been publicly and thoroughly proven lacking in today’s hard-liners that are in power in Iran, that a peaceful protest will be met in kind with a peaceful debate about the problem. With this one heinous act, they have opened the doors of vengeance and retribution that may break the chains of restraint their opposition has generally abided by.  They have set the stage for a revolution long in the making and I have a hunch they will soon be reaping what the sowed.  

 

 Our own history shows precedent of what kind of power a singular event like this can have in moving a nation from the ground up.  Remember the Kent State shootings in 1970 that left four of our students dead and nine others injured, one permanently paralyzed?  These were concerned young Americans protesting our invasion of Cambodia and calling attention to what they believed to be a misguided war in Vietnam.  In a span of just 13 seconds the actions of eight National Guardsmen galvanized a nation.  John Filo’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo of  Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller would go on to become one of the iconic images of the movement against the Vietnam War, forever seared into our American consciousness. In the aftermath, hundreds of campuses across the country were closed because of millions of striking students and just five days later a flood of protesters, over 100,000 strong, descended on Washington and helped grease the wheels of change.  Time may well find that the casualties of the Ashura Protests in Iran on December 27th rock the foundations of their iron-fisted government in the same, if not even a greater way.  

 

 Our priority now should be to make sure the Iranian people that are choosing to stand up for their freedom know they are not alone, to make sure that they understand the West is not their enemy in pursuing a transition to peace and tolerance, but a mighty ally that they can count on.  We must ensure that Ahmadinejad’s formidable Anti-Western propaganda machine is not the only voice the people hear.  Hitler’s own propaganda machine proved just how lethal fabricated truths can be and we can not let that kind of history repeat itself in any form or fashion ever again.    

 

 The future of Iran lies with its youth and they are the ones that we must compel ourselves to nurture right now while they find themselves looking for an identity to claim as their own.  They are the ones that will determine the trajectory of their country in the years to come and make or break any hope for lasting peace in the Middle East.  We in the West can beat our chest and stomp our feet all we want, but the only ones that have any realistic chance to defeat a regime born and raised on Anti-Western sentiment and affect the change we are collectively hoping for, is the generation that is forming its identity right now.  Is there a force more powerful than the innocence of youth asking why you are doing something that’s not good for you and forcing you to defend a position that is so obviously wrong?  I’ll bet more people quit smoking because their children forced them to question their reasoning and actions than any gum or patch ever did by a long shot.   

 

 From the smallest tribes to the mightiest empires, our common aspirations have always been to leave a better world for those that follow.  I don’t think any parent worthy of being a parent would willingly condemn their children to a harder life, or a worse world to live in than they had, do you?  That is the crux of the power the new generation in Iran wield.  Archimedes said if you give him a lever long enough and a fulcrum to place it on, he could move the world.  The youth of Iran are a lever long enough and this latest deadly protest may very well be the fulcrum on which to place it.  This is their chance to move the world.  

 

 We saw it happen on our own shores during Barack Obama’s historic election.  We saw our young people take unprecedented interest and action in the governing of our nation because they connected with someone that finally decided to publicly take on the demons of division and hate.  While he certainly didn’t solve all of the problems that have long ailed us, he did put one heck of a dent in them and helped start a new generation along a new path of tolerance and prosperity, not only here in America, but all over the world.  Their force did not only show up in their own actions, but in the countless stories we all heard of parents, friends and relatives being moved by their passion.  They made us take a long look at ourselves and focus on the things that are truly important today to move forward, not the things that drove us apart in a past that can never be changed.   

 

 There is a reason that we all have a rebellious streak early in our lives, the troubles of every day life haven’t beaten the hope out of us yet.  It is a time that we refuse to accept many things that seem  profoundly nonsensical to us in the grand scheme of things as we see it through the pristine lens of our innocence.  It is a time that we still have the energy to ride the wave of defiance against the absurd.  It is the same reason that the protesters in Iran are largely made up of the young, they are refusing to accept hate as a way of life they want to pursue, they are refusing to concede that oppression and being denied their human rights is the life they must lead.  They have seen with their own eyes the broken down, hopeless old souls left in the wake of the carnage that those ideals have brought to those that came before and they simply don’t want to turn out that way themselves.  They are finally tasting the power of a little American style “Yes We Can” and I have a hunch that this time they will.  

 

 Yes, I think Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the rest of their flagrantly arrogant hard-line cronies have finally cracked the lid on their very own Pandora’s Box, infinitely strengthened by the names of at least eight martyrs of the Ashura Protests that it now bears.  They can try to steal the bodies in a desperately feeble attempt to quell the unrest sure to be focused on the funerals like a laser beam, but it is indeed too little, too late. They have stirred a force that isn’t going to come at them from outside their borders, they have ignited a nightmare right under their own noses that may finally see the fall of the Islamic Fundamentalists that have been perched in the seats of power for over three decades.  They should know that the Iranian people are not going to let themselves be their punching bags forever and like I said, the vices of a governing body will eventually be punished.  Now they are about to get a taste of something that we Americans are testament to and know a little something about, the power of a righteous revolution.  

 

 The tide has turned indeed … Godspeed.