Monday, November 23, 2015

December 10, 2010: the day Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) changed the discussion to inequality

First published December 11, 2010

It has occurred to me that yesterday was the perfect storm.

For the first time in my lifetime, a real man took the floor in the United States Senate, and fought for the soul of his country.

Senator Bernie Sanders, 69 years old, stood up on the floor of the Senate and over a period of eight and a half hours, gave the world an incredible history lesson and economics lesson about what has happened to the United States economically from 1928 to 2010.

I have never seen anything like this, and I doubt I will ever see it again.

But Bernie Sanders, armed only with facts, evidence, and the truth, laid out clearly, and unimpeachably, how Reaganomics -- which has controlled the financial wellbeing of the American people from 1980 to 2010 -- was merely a replay of the laissez faire economics which led up to the Great Crash of 1929, and the Great Depression which ensued.

I do not know what the future holds, whether Sanders's landmark speech will go unheeded like the great warning given to us by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910, or whether it will mark a turning point bringing us back from the abyss which lies ahead if present policy is continued, but either scenario guarantees that we will look back on yesterday, December 10, 2010, as a significant day in American history... the day the case was made for fairness by one Bernard Sanders.

In 1980, professional screen actor Ronald Reagan began one of the greatest con jobs in all of history, convincing a majority or at least a strong plurality of the American people that government is bad, and corporations are good.

This policy has been in the ascendancy for thirty years. The antitrust laws which prevented monopolization and ensured competition have been virtually torn out of the law books, the securities laws were rendered unenforceable by congressional action impeding private enforcement and staffing reductions impeding public enforcement, income tax and estate laws were manipulated to increase the burdens on the working class and to decrease the burdens on the wealthiest of Americans, the copyright laws were manipulated to favor large corporations over artists, creators, and the public, the laws which separated the financial markets and banks were eliminated, and on and on.

Republican Pres. George H. W. Bush of course continued Reaganomics.

And Pres. Bill Clinton, nominally a Democrat, continued it, too. He even expanded upon it, by foisting NAFTA upon the American people, and accelerating the export of American jobs to other countries, further obliterating the middle class that had been created by the protections of the New Deal for trade unions, and by social safety nets such as Social Security and unemployment insurance and the GI Bill. Bill Clinton's term created unprecedented opportunity for multinational corporations, all at the expense of the common man, to whom not a thing "trickled down". Although a Democrat, and most often labeled a "centrist", one would be hard pressed to find a single economic policy of Reagan and Bush which Clinton did not at least continue, and in many cases expand upon. His "centrism" helped to further weaken our country's "center", its middle class. So I reject the appellation "centrist"; he unfailingly represented the right wing's economic agenda. Unlike Reagan, Clinton probably wasn't doctrinaire about Reaganomics and trickle-down, he was willing to do whatever the polls said would be popular. And since Reagan's sales pitch had worked, he just went along with it. He of course never attempted to mount his own sales pitch for what he knew was right; that would be "leadership". We've had none of that.

Then Pres. George W. Bush came along, getting into power in 2000 only by election tampering and judicial cronyism, and clinging to power in 2004 only by massive election fraud, and in both terms continuing with great vigor the right wing, anti-people, pro-corporation policy of his admitted hero, Ronald Reagan.

The very first murmur of an end to Reaganomics was the campaign of then Senator Barack Obama in 2008, who made numerous campaign promises, among them that he would fight for a public option in health care, an end to the Hyde Amendment impairing womens' right to choose, and an end to the George W. Bush tax cuts for the rich.

Unfortunately it was only in the campaign that Mr. Obama waged those fights.

As President he has not fought at all for the things he represented that he believed in, and his healthcare reform was cause for great jubilation among healthcare insurance companies and the investors who held their stock, since its primary features were to force an increase in the number of policy holders, whether they could afford to buy the policies or not, and to prevent people other than those on Medicare [or in the employ of Congress] from having access to a public option.

In view of the strong sense of public outrage at Obama's backroom deal with GOP leaders to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, in this time of massive deficit and economic depression, and the President's inability to convince the people that the nonsensical thing he is doing makes any sense, Pres. Obama further demonstrated his weakness by trotting out his Democratic Party, Reaganomics-loving, predecessor, Bill Clinton, to speak to reporters yesterday, in an attempt to deflect attention from Senator Sanders's historic speech.

How fitting. And how surprising that a longtime supporter of Reaganomics would argue for its continuation.

The "mainstream" media -- which ignored Senator Sanders's historic address on the floor of the Senate -- was quick to report on Clinton's tired talk with reporters in the Whitehouse briefing room, a vivid illustration of why the "mainstream" media are no longer "mainstream", and why no tears are being shed for their ongoing demise.

Among Twitter's 100 million plus members, the Bernie Sanders address trended #1 worldwide. It was clearly the most important story in the world that day: a battle for the soul of the most powerful country in the world, trying to pull it back from its government's love affair with the most powerful multinational corporations and aggregations of wealth the world has ever seen, whose greatest joys in life are the rape of forests, oceans, and mountaintops, the slaughter of everything that breathes, the building of armaments, the destruction of ancient peoples and cultures, and the privatizing of water needed by poor people for their survival.

Yesterday was the perfect storm. A perfect alignment of the forces of light versus the forces of darkness.

On one side, Bernie Sanders fighting for the people.

On the other, the corporatists, plutocrats, and oligarchs, and the corporate media who continually try to spin their malignancy as benign, fighting for the wealthy.

What a day.

I will remember it forever.

God bless Bernie Sanders.

Full transcript of Sen. Bernie Sanders(@SenSanders)'s historic 12/10/10 speech

Video of the speech

A paperback book of the speech

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

TPP is public, outrageous, and stoppable ~ @Roots_Action

We can stop the TPP.

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Months ago, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also known as NAFTA on steroids, looked like a done deal. Now it looks stoppable. The full text has finally just been made public, and it's as bad as anyone imagined. See a wonderful 8-minute video on the page you land on after signing:

Please click here to sign this petition:

To the Speaker of the House and Democratic Party Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Party Leader Harry Reid:

We are writing to urge the Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This agreement would destroy jobs, degrade the environment, undermine the Internet and weaken U.S. democracy and sovereignty.

Research and the history of trade agreements since NAFTA show that these types of trade agreements produce trade deficits, lost jobs, lower wages, and environmental damage.

We've stopped them before. Click here to help stop this one.

The TPP’s scope is too broad. It usurps the legislative authority of Congress by writing rules concerning safety and labeling of foods, access to healthcare and medicine, regulation of banks, rights or workers, future energy sources and so much more. Essentially, its scope is everything.

These are issues that should be considered by Congress not written in secret by trade negotiators. In our representative democracy these types of issues should be publicly debated, hearings should be held and people should express their views before a law is passed.

In addition to undermining the legislative authority, the TPP weakens federal courts by expanding Trade Tribunals through investor state dispute settlement rules. The experience of the TPP indicates that Congress needs to reconsider how trade agreements are developed: trade should put the needs of people and protection of the planet before profits; and trade needs to be negotiated with transparency and participation of the people.

Add your name.

After signing the petition, please forward this message to your friends. You can also share it from the webpage after taking the action yourself.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now.

-- The Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

> Economic Policy Institute: What’s Wrong with the TPP? This deal would lead to more job loss and downward pressures on the wages of most working Americans
> Jim Hightower: TransPacific Partnership - Corporate Coup d'Etat Against Us
> Alliance for Democracy: Why People Oppose the TPP and TTIP
> Joan Brunwasser: TPP Fight is Not Over
> Flush the TPP: Call to Action Against Global Corporate Domination

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day

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Advancing Indigenous Peoples' 
Rights and 
Cultures Worldwide.

Art by Louie Gong.

12 Things to Do to Commemorate Indigenous Peoples
on "Columbus Day"

Christopher Columbus arrived as an immigrant to "the New World." He did not "discover" America. He was not a hero, he was a war criminal. Today, let's remember and celebrate the Peoples who were here first!

Last year, both Seattle and Minneapolis voted to stop recognizing "Columbus Day" in favor of Indigenous Peoples' Day, shifting the holiday's focus from Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their modern-day descendants. Inspired by this movement, the University of Alaska Southeast, Oklahoma University and even Fargo, North Dakota recently voted to also embrace Indigenous People's Day.

In the past two months, eight cities got rid of Columbus Day in favor of adopting Indigenous Peoples' Day. Three of those cities adopted Indigenous Peoples' Day this week: Albuquerque, NM, Lawrence, KS, Portland, OR, St. Paul, MN, Bexar County, TX, Anadarko, OK, Olympia, WA, Alpena, MI. Oklahoma City came close to passing it in September and will try to pass it again on October 13th, the day after the holiday.

We can all take example from these cases and take action for change. 

1. Watch and Share Reconsider Columbus Day by NuHeightzCinema  

Reconsider Columbus Day
Reconsider Columbus Day

2. Sign a Petition to President Obama to Change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day
take action now

3. Reconsider what you were taught in history class about the "discovery of America" with this short animated film, History vs. Christopher Columbus.

4.  Brush up on your knowledge of Indigenous Peoples. Watch First Light.
"First Light" Trailer

First Light independently documents the work of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the first such task force to investigate issues important to Native Americans. The TRC was dedicated to uncovering and acknowledging the truth about what happened to Wabanaki children and families involved with the child welfare system.

5. Celebrate Indigenous Leaders
Learn about and celebrate some of the incredible Indigenous leaders from U.S. history and contemporary times. Here are some resources to get you started:
            Great Chiefs and Leaders
            Women in Leadership
             Youth Leaders
Show these leaders some love and spread the word! #IndigenousLeaders

6. Take Action by Getting Involved in the Anti-mascot Movement
There are still more than 1,000 high school, university and professional teams that continue to have Native American mascots. Though changes have been made at the high school and college levels, at the professional level there has been virtually no change. Start the change in your community. Check out our Abolishing Racist Native Mascots: A Toolkit for Change.

7. Read and share these great articles:
By Indian Country Today.  


8. Come to a Cultural Survival Bazaar in Amherst, MA.

The Amherst Bazaar falls on "Columbus Day" weekend, a holiday that many Indigenous Peoples in the US and their allies are working to rename and reframe as "Indigenous Peoples' Day." Celebrate and support Indigenous Peoples on this day by attending the Cultural Survival Bazaar, taste Indigenous foods, listen to Indigenous music and stories, and support Indigenous communities by buying art that benefits their cultures. 

October 10, 11, & 12, 2015
Amherst Common
Boltwood Ave.
Amherst, MA 01002
10am to 5pm

Mayan hip hop performances by Tz'utu Kan, whom we welcome for the first time to perform rhythms that express interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar through Mayan sounds and intercultural borrowing from Native American, Andean, Rastafarian, hip hop, and dancehall rhythms.

9. Participate in a People's Climate Movement Event

With increasing awareness about the connection between climate change and social and economic inequality, the environmental movement has begun to blossom into a holistic struggle for  justice. This fall, front-line communities impacted by the environmental crisis and climate change, are joining with workers, people of faith, students, immigrants, racial, climate and economic justice activists and other community members, to call for bold action on climate at the local, national and global levels. Look for an event in your area here. 

10. Learn about the American Precolonial Roots of Democracy. 
American democracy was founded on the principles of The Great Law of Peace founded by the Haudenosaunne People (Iroquois) in the Northeast. Read more.

Our work is only possible because of people like you, who believe in and support our mission to advocate for Indigenous Peoples' rights and support Indigenous communities' self-determination, cultures, and political resilience. Please donate today. 
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12. Spread the Word!
 One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is raise awareness about Indigenous Peoples. Forward, post this message on facebook, or tweet it! 
#AbolishColumbusDay #IndigenousPeoplesDay


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As always, we welcome your comments. Please send your feedback and suggestions to

Cultural Survival advocates for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supports Indigenous communities' self-determination, cultures and political resilience since 1972.  

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