CAPITALISM NOW CREATES MISERY INSTEAD OF WEALTH!

March 17, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

“The needs of the many far outweigh the wants of the few.”
- Star Trek’s Mr. Spock - 

Those words, so profound and eloquent even today, were first uttered by a fictional TV character on a popular series way back in the 1960s. I have always remembered and cherished them. They spoke and still speak volumes of truth.

We in the United States have always been taught – (brainwashed into believing?) – that our capitalist economic system is the fairest, most successful, most egalitarian, and most desirable system humankind has ever devised. Its spirit of liberty, competition, and unhindered personal incentive were the driving forces which would provide us all with great personal and material wealth, if only we would work hard enough, long enough, and were thrifty enough, to realize those aims. 

Events throughout the world over the past three decades have proven the fallacy of that supposition. Capitalists have embarked on policies of “free trade” and globalism, insisting that following them would be beneficial for everyone. Their definition of beneficial deserves close examination, for they have recklessly all but destroyed labor unions in the United States, and labor unions were the only effective means workers had to exert leverage in wage negotiations. Whereas important New Deal reforms not only leveled the economic playing field for more than 45 years and created the world’s strongest and most enviable middle class, today those gains by workers have largely disappeared. In their place has emerged a new super capitalism, where the greatest wealth disparity in the history of the country has come into effect. Among most workers, leisure time has become a f mere wistful memory, as continually rising prices and declining wages and benefits have made getting a second or even third job an absolute requirement. Outsourcing of good-paying American jobs to foreign slave-wage labor markets has had a disastrously crippling effect on once proud and strong American manufacturing. The huge drops in prices for consumer goods, and the creation of millions of  good-paying, new American jobs which “free trade” advocates assured us would be the end result of  globalization has simply not happened. Instead, millions of slave-wage jobs have been created in poorer countries while the overall American standard of living has actually dropped. The jobs created here were nearly all lower-paying jobs than those that were exported. Meanwhile, as worker productivity has risen dramatically and the cost of goods as well as the overall tax rate on the wealthy has dropped tremendously, the savings generated by these occurrences has been aggressively funneled upward, away from the poor, workers, and the middle class who comprise the MAJORITY 99%, and into the pockets of the filthy-richest 1%!

This is hardly broad-based economic progress – it is instead total economic regression! Even worse, this is NOT how capitalism is supposed to work!

In the idealized form of capitalism (something we do NOT see fully today), people can buy shares of stock in companies and receive dividend payments whenever the companies show a net profit. Buying stock gives these shareholders a say, at least theoretically, in the way the company is run and who its controlling officers will be. Periodic elections are held, and a set number of votes per share owned are awarded. The problem with this is that there are a great many small investors and only a few large investors. This guarantees dominance by the wealthiest stockholders who collectively own the greatest number of shares. The small investor has relatively insignificant power over the affairs of the company, and those who own no shares of its stock have no input whatsoever, even if the company is located in the same community and its business practices endanger the health and well-being of that community. Also, given today’s relatively higher prices and lowered wages, the majority of workers cannot afford to invest much income in stocks. This ensures that the will of the wealthy will always be met, many times at the expense of the small investor, and that small investors will never be given a fair shake.

In a great many other ways, the capitalist system is rigged to benefit the wealthiest members of society. The rich and their wealthy corporations have pooled their resources to hire powerful lobbying firms to represent their interests before the government. They have effectively bribed their way into near total control of all branches of government. They effectively own the Republican Party lock, stock, and barrel, and have steadily whittled down the once powerful and pro-labor Democratic Party into a meekly obedient, impotent non-entity. They have managed to shift the tax burden away from themselves and have placed it squarely on the shoulders of workers and all but the very poorest. Many have gamed the system to where many are able to escape paying any taxes at all, and have instead reaped huge financial rewards through the adoption of large subsidies given them by government! They have managed to infiltrate even the Supreme Court with their pro-corporate agenda. NONE of this has proven beneficial to the mass public in the least; only the wealthy, their corporations, and their government toadies have been beneficiaries of this nonsense.

It wasn’t always this way. Before Ronald Reagan brainwashed the country into believing that nearly all government regulation was evil and that government itself was a problem and not the friend and protector of the people back in the 1980s, things were far, FAR better for the overwhelming majority of the country and more egalitarian, too. Most of the wealthy were happy with their lot in life and accepted paying a higher tax rate on their income as a necessary duty and civic responsibility. They accepted the necessity of allowing lower-paid workers a voice in their economic affairs through allowing their labor unions to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions for them. They never much cared for unions, but at least their recognized their right to exist. All of that changed with the conservative mudslide which hit Washington and ushered in Reagan. He almost single-handedly converted what had once been the WE generation into a much more selfish, greedy, and short-sighted ME generation. Reagan’s appeal to the country’s baser, more self-centered instincts has proven to be an absolute disaster for all but the very rich and powerful. It has shifted our entire political spectrum, both parties included, far to the right of where they had once been. It indirectly led to the Great Recession of 2008 and the emergence of the reactionary, hatred and crackpot-driven Tea Party as dominant infesters of the once great liberal party of Abraham Lincoln. It has led to renewed calls for the complete dismantling of the great social programs of the New Deal and the Great Society, and to effectively roll the country back socially and economically to where it had been in the 1890s.

This, my fellow citizens, is what unbridled capitalism has done to our country. It has corrupted our government and has created wholly unnecessary stress for all but a very small few of the economic elites who actually control it. It is not of, for, and by the people – only SOME of the people; a very tiny few. It has grown from a driving, incentive-producing force into a conquering, evil malignancy which threatens to destroy our way of life. It claims to espouse freedom, but in reality is anti-democratic and all-devouring in nature.

Capitalism now creates misery instead of wealth!                                                                  

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A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT SET FORTH BY THE NEOCONS!

March 12, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

Within the past week, the ever-belligerent North Koreans began shooting their mouths off and stirring up trouble again. First they showed a video on their state-run TV of New York City being destroyed in a nuclear blast, and the rest of the world applauding with approval. Then came their warning that, should further sanctions be wrought upon them for continuing to develop their nuclear weapons program, they would soon launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the United States. They repeated that threat if the U,S. and South Korea were to hold any more joint military exercises. Now they are threatening both South Korea and the United States with nuclear destruction. Though they have long made crackpot threats, this time they deserve closer scrutiny, not only because they now possess nuclear weaponry, but also due to the relative youth of their extremely inexperienced,  30 years very young leader, Kim Jong Un.

 North Korea has had a long, long history of being regarded as a rogue nation. Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, was installed by Josef Stalin as the country’s first supreme leader once the Russians ended their Korean occupation following World War II. He almost immediately installed a very strict Stalinist dictatorship over the North, creating the world’s most insular country, a stigma which has persisted to this very day. With Stalin’s blessing, Kim Il-Sung also launched an unprovoked military invasion against the U.S.-backed South in 1950 and nearly overran the whole Korean peninsula in a few short weeks. This shocked the rest of the world and led to a massive retaliation by U.S.-led United Nations forces. These forces pushed the North back right up to the Chinese border, which caused China to intervene  militarily in what became a see-saw battle over control of the peninsula. Upon Stalin’s death in 1953, the two Koreas became officially split and an uneasy armistice went into effect. Each country was left with nearly the same borders it hard at the start of the conflict. Since that time, the United States has maintained a large number of troops there to effectively keep the North in check, as no official peace treaty was ever signed. Technically, at least, even though not realistically, the two Koreas are still therefore at war.

Since 1953, thanks to a great deal of U.S. economic aid, the South has prospered tremendously. This abundance has not occurred in the North, however. There, the nation has closed itself off from most of the rest of the world. It has poured what meager resources it has into its military and supporting the extravagant lifestyle of its leadership. The general populace has been largely ignored. This has resulted in widespread impoverishment and famine. With absolute governmental power being passed on from one generation to another, there has been little incentive since 1953 for the North to mend its ways. With strict control over the media and a ban on foreign travel in place, the people are trapped and remain powerless in a closed society, constantly beset with crop failures, hunger, and senseless economic misappropriation and deprivation.

As one would expect, human rights abuses have been rampant. Coupled with the threatening launch of missiles over, and near to, Japan, and its subsequent successful detonation of a nuclear bomb, the United Nations has repeatedly found it necessary to impose crippling economic sanctions on North Korea.                                                   

The country and its leadership have often exhibited bizarre and erratic behavior. At times, it has opened itself up to western scrutiny, allowing reporters in for brief periods and engaging in periodic episodes of negotiation with its immediate neighbors. Just prior to this latest incident, the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team were invited to stage an exhibition in the capitol city of Pyongyang. The exhibition was attended by current leader Kim Jong Un himself, who had American basketball star Dennis Rodman sitting right alongside of him. Kim lavished the visiting players with an extravagant dinner, and told Rodman to have President Obama (himself a basketball fan) call him to discuss shooting hoops. The eccentric and ignorant fool Rodman returned home and publicly offered this request in a number of well-reported media events, and even described the North Korean leader as a true friend who was greatly beloved by his people. Rodman, the Michele Bachmann of pro basketball, was simply too stupid to know he was being used by the Morth Korean. Amazinglt, several days after these media events had been staged, the North Korean leader was threatening to wage a nuclear attack on us!

North Korea was claiming it needed to do this attack pre-emptively, to protect itself from an imminent attack by the U.S. and South Korea. Such a claim was preposterous, of course, and was ample evidence of the instability and paranoid nature of that oppressive regime. It was simply and erroneously drawing on the horrible precedents set many years ago by the Israelis in the six day war of 1967 as well as the neocon-dominated George W. Bush regime in this country with its 2003 plunder of Iraq on trumped-up grounds.

I suspected at the time that the chicken-hawkish clique of Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld was up to no good in Iraq, and, years later, my suspicions were borne out. We wasted a trillion dollars on that criminal endeavor. Worse yet, many hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were lost just so criminal war contractors’ profits could be met, and so the Bush regime’s paranoia could be abated.

Now a criminal and equally paranoid regime in North Korea is threatening us with an equally unjustified pre-emptive nuclear attack.

It is a very dangerous precedent the neocons have set forth; they have opened a terrible can of worms through their reckless and arrogant actions! We must NEVER AGAIN allow them to dominate our government, military, and foreign policy as they did during the Bush presidency – and beyond, even to our present day!   

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THE MEN WHO RUINED AMERICA! (Part I)

March 6, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

This is the first post in an intermittent series which will deal with a number of persons who have, in varying degrees, done tremendous harm to our country. Unlike the popular History Channel program The Men Who Built America, my series will not necessarily be in chronological order. Nor will it be confined to captains of industry, big bankers, or famous inventors. It will instead be a random sampling of those whose efforts have had a harmful effect on this nation, so that we may learn from the dangerous examples they set and hopefully never again repeat their mistakes! I will begin this series by featuring first a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court whose negative influences are sorely felt even to this day. 

LEWIS F. POWELL, JR. (1907 – 1998) was never known as a conservative firebrand, (unlike Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, or Samuel Alito, each of whom plague us today). In fact, progressive journalist Edward R. Murrow was one of his closest friends. While on the Supreme Court,  Powell was regarded as a moderate, even though many of his opinions were conservative in nature and origin. He became known as a skillful master of compromise and consensus-building. He was born and raised in segregated Virginia, and, like most white southerners of the day, did little to resist that state’s opposition to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1054 pro-civil rights Brown vs the Board of Education decision, even though he was chairman of the Richmond School Board at the time. He did, however, develop a close relationship with many black civil rights leaders as time went on. He received his law degree from Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and later earned his Masters from Harvard.

Powell’s legal career was a mixed bag, if judged from a progressive perspective. He settled into and became a partner in one of Virginia’s hugest law firms and stayed with them for more than 25 years. He devoted most of his time there  to  corporate law (particularly in the area of acquisitions and mergers), and represented numerous tobacco companies, and even lobbied for the Tobacco Institute. He was a board member of tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris until his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1971. Yet he also was a leader in the attempt to bring legal services to the poor and threw his support behind the Federal government’s Legal Services Program.

What I have found most detrimental about Powell’s legal activities was his issuing of what has become known as the Powell Memorandum. Written to a friend at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce while Powell was lobbying the Virginia legislature for the Tobacco Institute, it called for corporate America to become far more aggressive in shaping American politics, government, and law. And oh, did corporate America become much more aggressive in not only politics, law, and government, but in many other aspects of American culture as well! Powell’s memorandum sparked the creation of several far-right think tanks and was directly responsible for transforming our Chamber of Commerce into the rabid and malignant reactionary political beast it is today!

That’s right, friends: this nefarious memorandum, inspired by an irrational fear of “socialism” the short-sighted Powell shared with today’s far-right, anti-labor wackos like the Koch brothers, Fox “News”, Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul,  and the five very activist-corporatist-extremists who currently occupy our present Extreme Court, have all been influenced by this trash! When you hear some lying wing-nut accuse the President of having a “socialist” agenda, you can blame Lewis F. Powell, Jr. for this nonsense. When you hear talk praising job-outsourcing “free trade” economics, you can blame Lewis F. Powell, Jr. for this craziness. When you hear some fanatic railing against an increase in the minimum wage, or denigrating the influence of our ever-shrinking labor unions, you can blame Lewis F. Powell, Jr. for such idiocy! Even the accelerating call for privatization of many government services can be laid squarely at the feet of Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Don’t like the wealth disparity we have undergone? Blame Lewis F. Powell! Don’t like the Citizens United Ruling, which opened the floodgates for huge corporations to bombard you with millions of lying, slanted TV ads which insult your intelligence and which YOU ultimately pay for with higher product prices?  Blame Lewis F. Powell, Jr.! Don’t like how commercials on television have increased from 8 minutes per hour to the current 22 minutes per hour (and rising)? Blame Lewis F. Powell, Jr.!

Powell’s memorandum has had a horrible effect on our society. It has cheapened our way of life while laying the groundwork for very definite corporate overreach in a great many areas. Yesterday, on March  5, 2013, the Dow reached an all-time record high. Recently released statistics confirm that corporate profits are at 60 YEAR HIGHS, but that job creation has remained abysmally low, while workers’ salaries have failed to match corporate profits or productivity gains for many, many years now. It would appear from this firm evidence that the complaints leveled at corporate America by those “socialists” on the left were fully accurate, and that Powell was gravely wrong to issue the memorandum as he did! Lewis F. Powell, Jr. simply did not have the foresight to envision the disastrous consequences his call for “corporate aggression” would unleash upon this country. For that reason, I have deemed him to be one of the men who ruined America!                                  

Posted in "free market" economics, capitalism, corporate greed, corporatist, extremists, Fox "News", labor unions, lobbyists, Lying TV ads, Politics, Progressives, reactionary Republicans, special interests, Tea Party, Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans, very activist Supreme Court, wealth disparity | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AN END TO THIS “PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY” GAME!

March 1, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

The dreaded sequester is now upon us, thanks to Republican unwillingness to budge on closing unneeded tax loopholes for the very rich and their bitterly partisan desire to shift blame for this action solely onto the President. The trouble is, while Republicans once again place playing political games far above the needs and wants of the people, millions of Americans will suffer needlessly. Thousands of teachers, police, firefighters,and government employees will lose their jobs, and our defense and disaster-relief options will become limited. Additionally, a great many section 8 housing people will literally be thrown out on the streets to swell the already far too numerous ranks of the homeless,  just because reactionary Republicans felt this was the opportune time to make a foolish, short-sighted political point. In doing so, these heartless clods will be throwing the baby out along with the bath water!

The way democracy has been practiced in the United States has always included compromise and give-and-take, both inside and outside of our branches of government as well as our political parties – until very recently. The party out of power has nearly always employed the very wise tactic of “give a little to get a little back.” This has served the nation reasonably well, albeit at times imperfectly, over its 200+ years of existence. It has also shown the world an enviable method to achieve progress among disparate groups as each works with the other to achieve positive solutions to pressing problems. Most regrettably, it now appears that this American method of practicing democracy is on the wane.

Thanks to the overbearing rigidity and unyielding stodginess of the now far-right, Tea Party-infested Republican Party, compromise has become equated with surrender. Uncompromising,  total governmental gridlock has been the result. It has wrought only unneeded and dangerous economic and political instability. Its only real achievement has meant the end of progress as well as repeated, unheard-of attempts to shut down our federal government. This, my friends, is regression in action, and it is destroying our democracy one manufactured crisis at a time.  These modern Republicans have voted in near lock-step unison against all Democratic Party initiatives ever since Barack Obama was first inaugurated President in January of 2009.  They opposed his economic stimulus program, even though it saved our automotive industry and prevented our economy from sliding into a second Great Depression. Then they opposed his Affordable Care Act of 2010, which permanently ended the ability of overly profit-hungry insurance companies to discriminate against persons with pre-existing conditions and made it illegal to dump customers undergoing prolonged, expensive treatments. They opposed all efforts to implement a badly-needed federal jobs program. They have systematically and routinely failed to act on hundreds of presidential judicial appointments. They have unprecedentedly voted to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress on the flimsiest of politically-driven charges. They have abused the practice of filibuster in the Senate, making it possible for one single, solitary Senator to secretly block any bill whatsoever without having to give any type of public explanation at all. They also voted in near-unison against any tax increases on the very wealthiest Americans, even though those wealthy Americans have enjoyed ridiculously low tax rates for 11 years (with numerous tax loopholes as well) and have unfairly held down everyone else’s wages while exporting millions of good-paying American jobs to foreign slave labor markets.  This nearly-unanimous voting pattern by the GOP more closely resembles European-style parliamentary democracy more than its traditional American counterpart. For the European version usually has one party or one coalition of parties voting as a bloc in an effort to achieve a vote of no-confidence in the existing government, which they hope  will force a special new election to topple that existing government,  allowing them to take power. Unfortunately for these Republicans, that is NOT the way we do things in this country!

Voters today are fed-up with congressional stalling, obstruction, and inaction. They are sick to death of manufactured crises every few months. They want cooperation and compromise between parties and the various branches of government. They want a return to GOOD government: government without name-calling, brinksmanship, or back-stabbing. They want government to work properly – the way it did before reactionaries took control of the Republican Party, and especially before the Tea Party began its unhealthy infestation of the GOP.

In European and South American parliamentary democracies, the effective head of state (usually a Prime Minister) can and sometimes does dissolve the Parliament and will, for a time, rule by decree, if he or she believes an imminent threat to the country’s security exists. In 1958, French President Charles De Gaulle did precisely that, and eventually saved French democracy as a result. Perhaps President Obama should emulate De Gaulle by DISSOLVING CONGRESS ALTOGETHER and calling for brand-new congressional elections! After all, this current Congress is showing itself to be unworthy of representing the country as a whole, in that it places grandstanding and political gamesmanship far above the pressing needs of the citizenry. After all, Congress has repeatedly in recent years shown that it is more devoted to the wants and needs of special interests than it is in the common good of the populace. In some cases, notably in terms of Hurricane Sandy relief and in its steadfast refusal to place an outright ban on assault weapons, it has even voted AGAINST what the voters wanted and needed!

Perhaps it would be good for members of the Tea Party and other reactionary Republicans to actually experience that which they have falsely claimed we have been living under: a dictatorial and fascist  presidency under Barack Obama. Then and only them, they may recognize the foolhardiness and ridiculousness of those reckless and meritless accusations. It would serve them right to be forced out of power long enough to come to their senses and realize that compromise is the only way to get things done in a democracy like ours, where ALL parties have the right to provide an input, and being a strict, doctrinaire hard-ass is simply not allowed!

I realize that what I have proposed above is unprecedented for American politics and would, for many reasons, be impractical. It is, in effect, based on fantasy more than reality. Nonetheless, I am calling out loudly for AN END TO THIS PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY GAME the Republicans have been playing!                                              

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THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES!

February 25, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

This being the age of information, we are literally swamped with trivia, advertising, and a sorry lot of DISinformation as well as an ample supply of useful and factual data, all thanks to the internet and other forms of newly-emerging social media. The information we ravenously consume arrives through our televisions, iPads, and computers instantly, at the touch of a button. Disinformation finds us through lying, very slanted extremist media sources like Fox “News”, far right-wing talk radio (a la Savage Nation and Rush Limbaugh, to name just two), as well as crackpot journals like Newsmax. Irresponsible politicians like Ted Cruz, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Rand Paul, and Mitch McConnell constantly spew out falsehoods in an effort to warp or conceal the truth from our eyes. They do this in utter contempt of, and disregard for, the American voters who pay their bloated $174,500 annual salaries, and at the behest of corrupt corporate lobbyists, whose contributions to them vastly dwarf those salaries. Is it any wonder, then, that so many of these politicians lie as they constantly do, or that so many of our citizens, tired of unending political strife, accept what these liars feed them as the gospel truth? Is it any wonder that so many angry, confused, low-information voters respond heartily (with little critical thought) to the loudest and most persistent voices around them, namely those belonging to the Tea Party- infested, reactionary Republican Party?

It is a paradox (and a disgusting shame as well) that in this time of unprecedented access to factual information, so many ignorant and badly-informed people abound as they do. But that is unfortunately the case, and it is our duty as progressives to continually strive to transform these low-information types into much better informed citizens and voters. We should approach this task completely devoid of any airs of condescension or elitism. But complete this task we MUST, for the benefit of the country as a whole! 

I would strongly urge each of you to read a most amazing book: A People’s History of the United States, by the late great Boston University political science professor, Dr. Howard Zinn. This phenomenal work was originally published in 1980, and was updated in 2010, just before the author’s death at the age of 88. It deals with the entire history of our country, only instead of focusing exclusively on the accomplishments of prominent political, economic, or social elites of each era as most histories do, it places major emphasis on history being presented through the eyes of ordinary common people (including minorities) instead. A look at the chapter titles, along with a very short digest of what each includes, will help you understand why this book should be on your must-read list:

Chapter 1 – “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress” – gives the story of North America’s indigenous population and includes info on genocide and enslavement practiced by the early settlers here.

Chapter 2 – “Drawing the Color Line”  -examines African-American enslavement and the way poor British citizens were mistreated in the 13 original colonies.

Chapter 3 – “Persons of Mean and Vile Condition” – examines how poor people were treated in colonial America, and how their opposition to poverty was handled.

Chapter 4 – “Tyranny is Tyranny” probes the causes of the American Revolution and presents an outline by which our Founding Fathers and subsequent leaders have waged war to avert the nation’s attention away from undesired attention on the economy. 

Chapter 5 – “A Kind of Revolution” – deals with our Revolutionary War, its effect on native Americans, resistance to participation in that war, plus early opposition to federal taxation.

Chapter 6 -“The Intimately Oppressed” – features stories on early American feminists and how they resisted the gender inequalities of their day.

Chapter 7 – “As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs” – covers the 19th century struggles between native Americans and the American government, including Indian removal, particularly during the presidencies of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

Chapter 8 – “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God” – shows how, despite its unpopularity, the Mexican-American War occurred due to the expansionist policies of then-President James Polk aided by elements of the American press, which misreported the actual popular sentiment. Hmmm – sound familiar?

Chapter 9 – “Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom” deals with the Civil War, its effect on African-Americans, the abolitionists, plus slave rebellions.

Chapter 10, – “The Other Civil War” focuses on the abuses labor endured as it resisted the government control directed against it by domination from 19th century corporations.

Chapter 11 – “Robber Barons and Rebels” – features info on how corrupt industrial institutions like railroads and banks became so dominant and how various groups like the Knights of Labor, the Farmers’ Alliance, the Haymarket martyrs, and the Populist Party all emerged to fight this corruption.

Chapter 12 – “The Empire and the People” – shows how the Spanish-American War, which obtained Cuba and the Philippines for us, was imperialist and racist in nature, and was once again sold to an unwilling American populace by a trigger-happy, jimgoistic American press.

Chapter 13 – “The Socialist Challenge” – describes the rise of socialism and anarchism as popular ideologies in the U.S. and covers the radical activities of the slowly-emerging American labor movement.

Chapter 14 – “War is the Health of the State” – covers World War I, our opposition to, and eventual entry into it, and describes how we became involved to expand our foreign markets and gain greater economic influence. 

Chapter 15 – “Self-Help and Hard Times” – shows how our government worked to destroy the radical International Workers of the World labor movement, and points out how the notion of 1920s’ prosperity was a myth to all but a privileged few. It provides solid info on the real causes of the Great Depression. 

Chapter 16 – “A People’s War?” – here Zinn, a World War II veteran himself, presents little-known facts on widespread opposition to the war among minority communities as well as covering the effects of Japanese internment. This chapter also offers evidence that use of atomic bombs may not have been necessary and explores sordid government attempts to control public opinion during the early days of the Cold War.

Chapter 17 – “Or Does it Explode?” – deals with the civil rights movement, and alleges that our government often made reforms simply to improve its international image, and often did not fully enforce the civil rights laws it passed. 

Chapter 18 – “The Impossible Victory: Vietnam” – presents a very accurate view of the Vietnam War in that it examines in detail the intense opposition to it among all classes of American people and the complete ambivalence toward it which existed among the Vietnamese people themselves.

Chapter 19 – “Surprises” – covers the myriad of new movements which sprang up in the 1960s, from modern feminism to abortion rights to the counterculture to the Native American rights movement and even beyond.

Chapter 20 – “The Seventies: Under Control?” – explores America’s growing disillusionment with its government during the 1970s and the political corruption it exposed among the CIA and the FBI. Zinn maintains that corrective measures taken by the government were superficial and merely cosmetic, and failed to truly reform it as should have been done.

Chapter 21 – “Carter – Reagan – Bush: The Bipartisan Consensus” – describes how both the Democratic and Republican parties came to their current practice of producing legislation favorable to corporations as opposed to the people themselves.

Chapter 22 – “The Unreported Resistance” – describes important movements which rose up but were largely ignored by the pathetic mainstream media from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. These movements included The Council for a Nuclear Weapons Freeze, the Citizens’ Clearinghouse for Nuclear Waste, LGBT social movements, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and a very great many others. 

Chapter 23 – “The Coming Revolt of the Guards” – offers Zinn’s view of a possible leftist revolt against the growing inequality now existing in the country. He predicts it will even include the middle class, and he may not be too far off the mark…

Chapter 24 – “The Clinton Presidency” – examines the effect that era had on the U.S. and the world, and the assertion is made that, while Bill Clinton offered a great amount of change, once the dust was all settled, we ended up with pretty much the same scenario as we had during the Reagan-Bush years. 

Chapter 25 – “The 2000 Election and the War on Terrorism” – covers the fiasco of the Bush / Cheney years, and strongly suggests that the 9/11 attacks did not occur because these Islamists hated freedom (as W had claimed), but rather in direct response to American foreign policy (support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, the stationing of American troops inside Saudi Arabia, etc.).

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Howard Zinn was a most remarkable man. He became a pacifist after having come to the realization that he had murdered an unknown (and unknowing) number of people by dropping bombs on them in France during the closing months of World War II. The horror of what he had done began gnawing at him and eventually led to a lifetime of pacifistic and social acyivism. His story can be ciewed in a phenomenal documentary called You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, which is shown occasionally on LINK-TV, but may also be purchased through Netflix or Amazon. com. He was also interviewed regularly on Amy Goodman’s show Democracy Now. Clearly, were his book to be read by a few of the ignorant Tea Party faction, it would have a transformative effect on them. I urge you to buy a copy and give it to a reactionary right-winger you may know for his or her birthday or Christmas gift!                                                                        

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THE TIME FOR UNIVERSAL COMPULSORY NATIONAL SERVICE HAS ARRIVED!

February 16, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

Happy Presidents’ Day weekend, readers. Today and this entire week we in America will  celebrate the lives of two of our greatest Presidents: George Washington, the father of our country, and Abraham Lincoln, the savior of our Union. It is regrettable that, were each of these men alive today, they would be sorrowfully hanging their heads in utter shock, disbelief, and horror at the state of our government today. They would recoil from the way large multinational corporations have turned our once proud democracy into a plutocracy designed to overwhelmingly aid the very wealthy and powerful. They would be alarmed at the infestation of the Republican Party by tax and federal government-hating Tea Party rabidly-extremist fanatics. They would be appalled at this party’s obstructionist tactics: its refusal to aid victims of natural disasters; its utter refusal to raise taxes in the face of mounting debt; its refusal to curb reckless and wasteful spending on both a bloated military and on ridiculously unneeded projects like bridges to nowhere; as well as the contempt it has shown the current President for nearly four years now – from holding his Attorney General in contempt of Congress for groundless political reasons to refusing to allow a confirmation vote on a perfectly-qualified war hero candidate’s bid to become the President’s next Secretary of Defense during a time of war.  They would also be greatly upset with the way this wretched party has liberally and routinely abused the filibuster to turn what was once settled by a simple majority vote into now needing a super-majority of 60 Senate votes to pass! Finally, they would NEVER have approved the perverted change of the Second Amendment from not impeding the citizens’ right to bear arms only as part of a locally-organized militia to this insane current misperception that everybody has the absolute right to his or her own personal handgun, semi-automatic, or automatic military-grade weapon!

These great Presidents would be completely justified in hanging their heads in utter disgust at how this nation they helped forge and preserve has deteriorated to its current miserable state.

A little more than two years ago, on Wednesday, June 10, 2010, I posted  a piece called “The Un-tied States of America” over at my first, blogspot.com location for this site. I did this prior to my moving the site over here to wordpress.com. In this post I observed how politically fragmented we were becoming. This, of course, was long before the evidence of the disastrous influence of Tea Party infestation had become fully apparent. Judging from the number of dissenting comments I received from that piece, it was clear to me that a number of these dissenters had missed my point and thought I was referring to mainly geographical or economic differences, as we had undergone during the Civil War of Lincoln’s time. The points that were missed were that I was referring to the hugely prominent differences we are experiencing now socially, culturally, politically, and economically rather than geographically. Today, for example, many evangelical Christians have little time or use for liberals, minorities, Catholics, Muslims, or Jews, and vice-versa. The wealthy, with rare exception, avoid the poor and working class like the plague. It was abundantly clear from the 2012 election campaign that the major conservative Republican candidates not only didn’t understand those below them on the income scale – they looked down on them in utter contempt and disregard as well. Conservative Christians by and large view Muslims with deep suspicion and make little effort, if any, to try and understand the history, social mores, or the actual teachings of the religion of Islam. Altogether too many ethno-centric Americans look upon Europeans with disdain, and automatically assume, without even bothering to first investigate, that all things American are somehow or in some way “better” and that foreign-made goods and systems are therefore automatically inferior or suspect – and thus, so too must be their people. Those of us who reside in the real world know how baseless these beliefs are, and one need look no further than imported automobiles, electronics, or even European health care systems for abundant proof of the fallacy of such ignorance! This is especially true when it comes to politics and economics. Here, many Americans simply refuse to believe that our form of government and our economic system are not always the world’s best, or that they are often rife with corruption and economic policies blatantly favoring the very wealthiest citizens. Instead, many make absolutely no effort at all to learn about possibly better alternatives, and prefer to go on living in blind faith that all things American are always the world’s best and can’t, or shouldn’t, be improved upon. Worse yet, they often dismiss other possible alternatives by referring ro them as “socialist” or “fascist” without having the slightest clue as to what constitutes socialism or fascism!

Our country cannot remain a world leader in an increasingly competitive global environment while fostering such ignorant, narrow-minded, and delusional beliefs!

We have become an intellectually lazy people. We are immersed and inundated with entertainment and fantasy rather than reality. When the “adventures” of “Honey Boo Boo” are allowed to dominate our thoughts, we are ALL in VERY deep trouble! We constantly take the easy way out rather than allowing ourselves to be challenged and then successfully overcoming the challenge at hand. We claim to be the land of the free, but we quickly try to limit and sometimes eliminate the social and economic freedom  of immigrants, minorities, or dissenters. We demand that poorer countries adopt our political and economic systems, even as we exploit them and even as we exploit our own labor force! 

We CANNOT keep living like this – something MUST change! 

We desperately need to broaden our horizons and re-establish our original tendencies of tolerance, innovation, dedication to learning, and community spirit. We must renew our tradition of civility to others and acceptance of new ideas which marked the early decades of the country. Failure to do so will inevitably result in a dissolution of unity and our collapse as a nation. We can no longer afford to be a warring, un-tied country of individual nation states with conflicting ideologies within its population.  We must again become the truly UNITED States, with the federal government leading the way. 

The best way to achieve this, in my opinion, would be to institute a program of UNIVERSAL, COMPULSORY NATIONAL SERVICE, in which ALL persons, regardless of race, background, or creed, would be required at age 18 to begin. This would be a two-year, government-supported tour of duty in either the Peace Corps, VISTA, or the military. This huge force of able, energetic young people could be used to clean up and renew our decaying inner cities, repair our sagging bridges and highways, help construct a much-needed new electrical grid, or help growers in the fields. They would be paid and taxed at a fair market value by either the federal government, a combination of the federal government and private employers, or the military. In each case, the participant would be awarded a specified number of school funds upon successful completion of the tour and participating employers bwould be awarded tax breaks once the participant had finished the tour of duty satisfactorily. 

This is not my original idea. Democratic New York 12th District Congressman Charles Rangel has long supported such a plan, and various similar plans have been successfully implemented in Europe and Israel for many years. In our case, young participants would, over an extended period of time, learn teamwork, self reliance, proper work ethic, self discipline, self awareness, consideration and respect for others, knowledge of the world beyond that of their home, and a sense of community, among dozens of valuable and important other lessons in the process. Wealthy suburban kids would be paired with and forced to interact with various minority, inner-city, poor, and middle class kids. and each would receive an eye-opening understanding of the others along the way. Such understanding would continue well into each participant’s adult working careers and would completely dispel today’s tendency toward avoidance, self-indulgence, or arrogance. It would produce a country filled with intelligent and responsible employees for industry, rather than saddling business and government with an unsuitable lot of misfits, malcontents, dropouts, or loafers with no goals or future in sight. Instead, the entire nation would benefit tremendously from the civility, respect for fellow citizens, and instilled work ethic which would invariably result. It would also promote good, responsible citizenship.

I would strongly urge you to write or call your Representative and Senator – and even the White House – TODAY- and urge them to forge a successful plan of this nature! Let’s all line up behind and strongly endorse and support an idea whose time has definitely come: the creation of a universal, compulsory National Service program for young Americans!        

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LENTEN THOUGHTS, 2013

February 13, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian churches marks the beginning of Lent. This Lenten season commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe is the son of God. It is a season of self-reflection, penance, abstinence,, and charity which lasts approximately 6 weeks.

Regardless of whether you are a believer or not, this is an excellent time for self-examination. It is never a bad thing for us to actively reflect on what we have done as well as what we have failed to do over the past year. Doing so is healthy and can often lead us to positive outcomes. For example, have we been selfish, greedy, thoughtless, wasteful, overly aggressive, deceitful, or dishonest? Have we been overly impatient, rude, or thoughtless with friends, family, co-workers, or employers? Have we invariably unnecessarily hurt their feelings in the process? Have we been bitter, scornful, or gluttonous? Have we ignored others in need when we could have just as easily given them aid or comfort? On a more serious level, have we been guilty of murder, theft, or an illicit sexual affair? Have we  graciously forgiven those who may have done us wrong? Have we always tried to practice the Golden Rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

Since none of us is perfect, I’m sure we all have been guilty of one or more of these things. If we can honestly recognize our own faults and transgressions, and work to overcome or reverse them over the next 6 weeks and beyond, we will not only find we are happier with ourselves, but each of us, in our own individual way, will have made this world a better place for everyone. Shall we give it a try?                                      

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