Progressives. Meek.Greene. Strangers in a Strange Place



Campaign ’10: Meek v Greene [1st Debate Overview]

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

More than a month has passed, actually now it has been two.  In the third week of June, I heard the song in my head for the first time. With each day that passes the volume increases.  Friends, family, and familiars were privy to what has been a curiosity for me. Still haunted by what I know needs to be shared farther and wider, today I tell you my tale.  The story begins with two Florida Democrats.  Each aspires to fill the one open United States Senate seat.  The date; June 22, 2010.  I was amongst those invited to attend the initial Meek Greene debate.. The place?  The Palm Beach Post headquarters.   The time? Midday.  The reality realized and the reason my mind marinated in the melody titled It’s About Time. Today, Democrats, Progressives are not as they were.

I knew this was true and have for quite some time.  Still, never was this veracity as stark as it appeared to me on that day.   Oh yes.  Daily, none of us escapes what fills the airwaves.  We have heard the newer definitions and seen greater divisions within the Party; indeed, the population, for years.  During election seasons yours and my mailbox burst with messages, all of which signal the metamorphosis.   Often, in most every campaign, “It is about time, about space, and about two men [or women] in the strangest place.”  The difference for me, is blatancy.

A close comparison, face-to-face with the candidates, the two campaigns, persons in the crowd, and the strange circumstances that surround each of these, magnified what is evident everyday.  Amongst the audience alone, there were Democratic loyalists, persons with a strong  commitment to the Party.  Independents, people from the Press, there only to cover a story took their chairs.  Present were former Republicans, individuals who did not identify their preference, and those truly enamored with a billionaire’s earnings.  Then, there were a few such as me.  I value the common good, government of, by, and for all people.  The commonweal, I believe, is the basis for all that ensures a quality life, liberty and the possible pursuit of happiness.  We were a somewhat skewed sampling of the electorate. Within the Senatorial candidates and campaigns one could see aspects of any or all of us.

Their beliefs, background, and circumstances that brought each challenger to this scene were as dissimilar as the makeup of the spectators.  Jeff Greene led a lavish life of luxury and indulgence.  Even in the hard times, he managed to attend all the best schools and work in exclusive environs.  

Kendrick Meek has a skeleton in his closet, or at least that is how Mister Greene framed the phenomenon.  That aside, Senatorial hopeful Meek has a far more humble background.  He is and has always been an average American, amongst the working class.  Despite his less than glamorous childhood; he has achieved. Ultimately, Mister Meek worked his way into the Halls of Congress.  Currently, he serves Floridians in the United States House of Representatives.    Separately and together the two personify the strangeness of the times we live in and the dilemma that has become Democratic politics.

In 2010, Democrats are a divided bunch.  Perhaps, they always were.  Near a century ago, Will Rogers asserted, “I do not belong to an organized political Party.  I am a Democrat.”  At present, a far Left fringe and followers of a more conservative liberal agenda are self-identified Progressives.   As one author observed, Beware of the Progressive Democrat.  Helen Redmond cautions against a “Party of Lemmings.”  One might wonder . . .

What Do Progressives Believe?

When I was younger, I trusted that Democrats believed in social equality.  Those who identified themselves as advocates for democracy, a principle that speaks to government of, by, and for the people, marked off the box on their voter registration forms that denotes, “Democrat.”  However, slowly, over the decades, a silent transition occurred.  

Democrats began to define themselves as “Progressives,” or at least many did.  Unlike a score ago, when a large body of research revealed “that individuals were frequently unable to correctly identify their ideology, unlikely to express an ideologically constrained set of political values, and unable to consistently use ideology to inform their political preferences in a coherent way,” today individual survey respondents  report a preference for  an ideology that does not fit neatly into the conventional  liberal or conservative categories.  

Polarization has come to define political elites and the common people. People presume that labels are legitimate.  The latest examination of the electorate exposes what is evident through Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek.

Let the Debate Begin. Pundits, Press, the Public Define Progressive Positions

The opening scene began with little fanfare.  The dynamic duo, or applicants for the United States Senate seat, walked onto what sufficed for a stage, and spoke to citizen concerns.

Democratic Party neophyte, frequently featured CNBC guest speaker, The Man Who Shorted the Subprime Market, also known as a billionaire, Jeff Greene espoused his expertise.  Next to him, and there to promote his past performance, as well, was United States Congressman Kendrick Meek.  

Years earlier, the specifics of what each said, would not have been defined as democratic.  Today, we see this novel truth daily. Countless Democrats, moderates, conservatives, and liberal, call their positions Progressive. Studies seem to support  the divergence that has occurred.  For me, the hour and one half encapsulated what had occurred over time and in the vast space we classify as America.

The candidates posited their “Progressive” practices.  Humanitarian travels were amongst Greene’s treasure trove.  A trip to an island Republic, certainly would calm the United States, Cuban conflict. Further investigation revealed that Cuban American affairs were not Mister Greene’s priority.  Personal purchases played a primary role in what was professed to be a charitable  mission.  

Kendrick Meek humbly offered his own openhanded gestures. He unassumingly touched on his work in Haiti.  The Congressman never mentioned the banner headline; Haiti tragedy puts Kendrick Meek in spotlight,  his record. or the ample documentation to support his claims.  

Congressman Meek has often been characterized as an actual Progressive by numerous reputable and respected organizations.  On many themes the Representative speaks and votes  as a more liberal person might.  However, whether or not Mister Meek is an authentic Progressive, well, that depends on who you ask and what actions you assess.

For persons who favor a fuller, more robust reform than we have seen enacted, Kendrick Meek can be quite regressive and Progressive. Thus, the dilemma for persons in the audience such as me.  I felt  and feel immersed in a strange time, at a strange place,  almost as though I were in outer space.

The only clear consensus; corruption.  Weeks before the big debate, billionaire Greene stressed what average Americans might think questionable, regardless of a Party affiliation.  Jeff Greene accused Kendrick Meek. and the Congressman’s Mom of being in the pocket of an arraigned developer.  Mister Meek responded then, and in this more public forum.  Meek maintained his innocence and addressed his association.  Jobs and development for Liberty City residents was the reason Representative Meek had any relationship with the local businessman.  

Surely a Progressive or a Democrat would declare that rationale just. Yet, what of Congressman Meek’s vote on House Resolution 310?  “It hands over  public lands to an organization that seeks to develop them for its own private uses.”

What might spur a shopping spree or justify a jaunt to Cuba with no visible altruistic intent?  Well, only Jeff Greene knows for sure and he has yet to suggest what might help a Progressive believe he had the people’s best interest at heart.  Evidence for such a claim cannot be easily unearthed.  Nonetheless, the candidates Campaign Manager, in a telephone conversation, assured me that aspirant Greene is absolutely a Progressive.

Emblematic of Elections and Electorate

During the formal appearance, and earlier in interviews held with the Editors, Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek outlined their stance on the issues.  Jeff Greene articulated his values and addressed his financial worth as well.  People’s interest was obviously peaked.  After all, money in America is not only a source of pride, as it is for the billionaire businessman; it is also scorned.  Dependent on your principles or principal a person could be impressed or disgusted by what they think decadence.  

Mister Greene was asked why he thinks himself the more priceless aspirant.  His response evoked thoughts for why he may not be.  Default swaps loomed large in this discussion.  Lead Journalists felt no need to focus on the topic when they addressed Congressman Meek. Issues were the central theme.

Environmental concerns, Mister Meek explained, was an issue that helped demonstrate his consistency.  His record on Education, Health Care, the Economy, and Veterans Affairs, Meek said helped to illustrate that he was a worker.  He has been and would be  there for the people.  In the Meek interview, credit default swaps were not the issue. The financial faultfinding the Editors found in regards to Congressman Meek was his action on overcrowded classrooms.  

Mister Meek believes that Legislators must fund schools as the class-size amendment states.  The candidate cries out in favor of a reasonable student-teacher ratio.  On this subject, Kendrick Meek does exemplify what I think is a Progressive point of view.  

However, only days before the debate Alex Sink, another supposed “Progressive” candidate, and I believe a life long Democrat who seeks the Governor’s seat, stated that she disagrees with Kendrick Meek on this issue.  Jeff Greene appears to stand silently on the subject, perhaps, in the corner of an overcrowded classroom. In this strange time, it would seem there is no safe place.  There are only strange locales where the song plays as background music.  Might we consider many a recent political and philosophical campaign in this country?

Hillary Clinton recently described a progressive as “someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when we’re working together,” (CNN/You Tube Debate). The description offered by Center for American Progress is more precise. Their website explains, “As progressives we believe that America should be a country of boundless opportunity-where all people can better themselves through education, hard work, and the freedom to pursue their dreams. We believe this will only be achieved with an open and effective government that champions the common good over narrow self-interest, harnesses the strength of our diversity, and secures the rights and safety of its people.”

A different perspective is offered by the monthly magazine The Progressive which explains that since 1948 it has “steadfastly stood against militarism, the concentration of power in corporate hands, and the disenfranchisement of the citizenry.

While people and organizations might posture and proclaim an allegiance, what is perchance more real is The Role of Reputations.  Public opinion can be manipulated.  What the Press presents and persons choose to believe can build a movement.  Frequently, voters cast a ballot for or against an aspirant based solely on a sound bite,  Personal jabs can count more than a candidate’s record.

The Role of Reputation

Every person I spoke with before the two men entered the room had an impression of who the individuals might be. The records paved the way; nevertheless, in National, state, or local campaigns the Party, and or person who sets the agenda  will affect electoral outcomes.

Framing and funds to move the message mean more than a “fact” check.  Reputation rules.  A political hopeful will push possible hot buttons, posture, and pay for Press that promotes his or her position.  Personal attacks are preferable, perhaps more so today in a social media saturated society.  On the day of the debate as occurs daily on radio, television, blogs, and periodicals, Progressive politics are not the paramount issue.  Whether he [or she] was a newcomer to the Party or a ” career politician” matters more.

Alliances and allegiances also count.  When a candidate says they support the President and his policies this can work for or against him [or her].  Progressives might pounce, “panderer,” “Party pleaser,” or a person unwilling to really risk reform. On this single subject devoted Democrats have lost what would be their base.

War and Peace. Fund the Fight. Commit to End the Combat.

Congressman Meek supports global tranquility and a pay-as-you-go system.  Each could be considered a Progressive value.  However, in practice, the fiscally aware United States Representative, voted to fund further combat on credit.

Representative Meek recognizes and states, were we to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we, as a nation, would greatly reduce our expenses.  “The war was a reason for chest beating in many cases and saying we need to continue to fight in Iraq, not looking at the price tag,” Meek said. “When it comes down to the war, I think we have to have enough discipline to say when.”  Then, days later, just as he had on other occasions, Congressman Meek voted to continue the flow of cash for endless war.

Strange as the contrast between Representative Meek’s rhetoric, voting record, might be, these are nothing in comparison to the silence heard from the Greene campaign. When asked of the war in Afghanistan, Jeff Greene endorsed an eternal devotion to Israel.  (Meek agreed.)  Mister Greene assured the audience, military engagements in the Middle East would not diminish his dedication.

Jeff Greene (and Kendrick Meek) avowed loyalty to war and peace as though the two divergent possibilities could be one.  The Progressive populace, on the other hand, is more definitive.

Foreign­Policy

Self-identified progressives appear to have a strong commitment to diplomacy in international relations and are predisposed to think of immigrants in a positive light. Zogby reports that 77% of progressives say that it is not America’s job to promote its values around the world and 97% think that our efforts in the war on terror should focus on reducing anti-American sentiment rather than on military force. . .

Activist progressives identified by Pew are even more likely to be dovish in their approach to military affairs than liberals. For instance, 96% of activist progressives think that diplomacy is the best way to ensure peace compared to 76% of liberals. About 78% of activist progressives believe that the United States should take its allies’ interests into account even if it means making compromises with them and 93% agreed that it is acceptable to refuse to fight in a war one believes to be morally wrong..

Then there is the issue of tax and spend.  Did the candidates think it wise to allocate Federal funds to forward America’s future?  As a United States Senator, would Mister Meek or Mister Greene vote to invest even more money in a Military Industrial Complex?  Would either work to endow the infrastructure, education, environmental research, or expand the development of renewable fuels? Perhaps the answer is revealed in personal realities.  Historically, how have Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene handled their own taxes? Obfuscation and again the role of reputation reign in the Greene rhetoric .  Representative Meek returns to his theme, the record.

Tax and Spend

Traditionally, a “Progressive” tax structure is one that charges those with higher incomes.  This is, usually, a prospect that Democrats endorse.  As one would expect, Florida Democrat and candidate for the United States Senate, Kendrick Meek supports such a system.  On this issue, Citizens for Tax Justice with an established thirty-year mission of “working for a fair and sustainable tax system” rated Congressman Meek’s record 100% in support of a Progressive tax.  Citizens for Tax Justice and Congressman Meek advocate for  “Taxation that minimizes distortion of economic markets,” CTJ and Kendrick Meek also think it necessary to “Require the wealthy to pay their fair share.”

Neither are philosophies reformed Reagan Republican Greene, from his actions, would favor.  The fiscally very flush candidate nay his wife, think such an agenda serves them well.  When asked Will Jeff Greene release his tax returns? they exclaimed in chorus, “Hell no!”

Ah; the paradox. For Democrats, and or Progressives this is truly a strange time, a strange place and these two men are in the strangest place, or they are but a reflection of a novel reality.  For me, personally, favoritism for other than the greater good is extraordinary.  In a country where all men are believed to be equal I struggle to understand.  Thus, as I cast my ballot for the candidate that offers a chance at meaningful reforms, Congressman Meek, I could not help but think of America and the newly adopted ballad; Look What They’ve Done to My Song.

Reformers and References . . .

Got A New Sheriff, Elizabeth Warren



Elizabeth Warren Rap Video- Got A New Sheriff

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

There is so much flak for what seems would be a fine Presidential appointment.  The nation’s Chief Executive, Barack Obama, is often characterized as Spock, a Vulcan who is almost virtually void of emotion.  It is said that our current President is practical.  He acts on logic.  Yet, this supposed intellectual individual has, at times, seemed ready to do other than what most think reasonable.  Mister Obama has not appointed the truly best Sheriff for towns throughout the country, Elizabeth Warren..

Rather than rapidly select Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren as the first-ever director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, a new agency born out of her years-long efforts to secure a Consumer Rights Department within the Federal Government, many speculated Barack Obama might nominate Secretary Tim Geithner disciple Michael Barr.

Since White House Advisor Larry Summers, an advocate for never-too-big banks did not favor Elizabeth Warren, there is even more reason for worry, or so the populace believes.   Americans have seen, heard, and read some backtracks. Yet, the post remains unfilled.   Granted, there are other candidates, any of which would avoid conflicts in the Executive Branch, but back on the boulevards . . .

The American people know what they want.  Fearful that Mister Obama will choose a financial insider or friend to one, have penned their names on numerous petitions.  The public took their preference to the streets.  Protests were held.  Rallies, rants, and campaigns organized to raise dollars have worked to deliver the people’s message. “We want Elizabeth Warren” to protect those of us who reside on Main Street.  Still, The Commander-In-Chief appears to be poised, or possibly persuaded by his pals on Wall Street and friends in the White House, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers. Thus, Today, the people again express concern, this time in the form of a short film. Elizabeth Warren Rap Video- Got A New Sheriff

Until the day when the decision is formally delivered, people will proclaim, Mister President, “We want Elizabeth Warren to serve as our Sheriff.”  Should Mister Obama do other than the public craves, we can only imagine how consumers will feel about out present Administration and their authentic commitment to change a seriously corrupt system.

References for Consumer Rights Reform and Realities . . .

Choice Becomes More Clear; Carole P. Kaye for Florida House District 86



Carole Kaye Democrat for House 86

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

“I don’t really want to stop the show,

But I thought that you might like to know,”


That the choice becomes clearer.

“So let me introduce to you

The one and only”
Carole Kaye, Candidate for Florida House District 86

Local Election Days are upon us.  For months now candidates for elected office have roamed their regions.  Everyday people have had ample opportunity to meet, greet, and yes, even eat a meal with aspirants.  Often, one challenger’s name is better known. He or she may be an incumbent, or closely associated with one. Consider the Florida House race in District 86. Dissimilar Democratic candidates Carole Kaye and Lori Berman appear on the ballot. Who are these office seekers?  What will they do for my community, commerce, our children, and me? Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and parts of Boca Raton constituents, who have not made politics their lives, search for answers as they travel to the polls.

Citizens are inundated with “information.”  Posters dot the landscape.  Banners fly on Boulevards.  Constituents don pins and place placards on their lawn.  Windows and automobile bumpers have not escaped unscathed.  Today, the message heard on avenue is “The time is now.”  Indeed, it is.  Early voting began on August 9 and will continue through August 22, 2010.  In Florida, while technically Primary Election Day is August 24, 2010, in reality it is today. In Palm Beach County House District 86, Primary Election Day is the final deciding date. Democrats with different styles compete for state House 86 seat.  There is no Republican challenger in this race.  The winner of the Primary will represent South Palm Beach County communities. Yet, many people do not feel equipped to decide.  Whom might I cast a ballot for, the much lauded Lori Berman or the lesser known, highly qualified, Attorney, Educator, and person who for years has shared and cared for my backyard, Carole Penny Kaye.  

Bit of Background


Perchance a bit of background might help me, the voter, more than the hype.  For a Democratic aspirant, a District with an overwhelmingly Democratic constituency can be quite attractive.  Fifty-four [54] percent of the people who reside in District 86 are registered Democrats, However, this was not the reason Carole Kaye decided to run for public office in the region.  This territory was and is her home.  From the first, and throughout her life, Ms Kaye has personified a commitment to her community.  

After college, she became a Teacher.  One score and five years later, Carole Kaye returned to the classroom, this time as a student.  Kaye capably completed her law degree.  Since then she has served as an Immigration Attorney.  Ms Kaye, through her skills, and abilities gives voice to persons who are guaranteed due process rights by the United States Constitution.  Carole Kaye believes the rights of her clients must be protected; that calling is her greatest responsibility.  As a Representative she will see herself as a civil servant.  Ms Kaye also affirms that, if elected, the populace she represents will be her principal priority.

Lori Berman, by contrast, is a non-practicing attorney. Originally, Ms Berman entered the race in her home District, 87.  Republican challenger Bill Hager also sought the peoples’ vote in that region.  However, a window opened. Maria Sachs, who had represented District 86, declared herself a candidate for the State Senate seat vacated by Ted Deutch, Ms Berman’s friend and one-time employer. Hence, Ms Berman slammed the door to District 87 shut. As Lori Berman recounts, at the request of her well-connected acquaintance, Representative Kevin Rader, a Delray Beach Democratic legislator, she chose to abandon her plans and run for the seat in District 86. Thus, the now 86th District hopeful, Berman, left her home community and the campaign she began behind.  The opportunity in the new district was hard to refuse.  

Ms Berman, an abundantly funded one-time Legislative Aide to former United States. Representative Robert Wexler and to his successor, Ted Deutch, understood that in a region where only 21 percent of registered voters are Republicans and 23 percent are without a party affiliation, she has an enhanced chance.  The likelihood of a win in this locality was thought far better than it might have been in the race she fled. Soon, Lori Berman will know whether her bet paid off.

Carole Kaye will also learn; is this the year that people take back their elections, or will politicians again exert their power? Will ample contributions and connections trump a genuine commitment?  Only citizens can decide.

Candidates. Campaigns. Community and Commitment.


During the course of the campaign each candidate spoke to fellow Democrats on the issues of import.  Berman and Kaye put out position pages and papers. These too reflect the disparity, the difference between these candidates and the variance in their dedication.

Each has identified them selves as a grassroots campaigner. However, even a local periodical which endorses Ms Berman questions this truth. The Palm Beach Post points to Lori Berman’s well-established network of politicos.   Many on Ms Berman’s list of impressive backers are powerful persons with whom the candidate associated with professionally.  

Carole Kaye also has gathered and accepted endorsements. The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance officially stated the organization stands with Carole Kaye and her candidacy.  Democracy for America’s Palm Beach County affiliate, and the United Haitian American Democratic Club also offered formal statements of support.  The acknowledgement of these also reflects what is real.  Carole Kaye connects to   a broad group of persons in her District.  She takes every opportunity to express her appreciation for her community as she did just days ago.

As was true for other local hopefuls, Ms Kaye was given an opportunity to seek an endorsement from the Palm Beach County Chapter of Democracy for America.  The District 86 Democrat participated fully in a comprehensive evaluation process.  

Hopefuls were first seen and heard at many neighborhood candidate forums.  Those who were thought viable Democrats received  announcements from DFA.   Aspirants were asked if they would wish to submit a required application for endorsement.  Respondents were also given survey questions to answer.. Also,  exhaustive interviews were mandated. After all the criterion was met, assessments were made.  

More than satisfied with candidate Carole Kaye’s performances and positions, the Chapter then offered their official statement of support.  Ms Kaye  was thusly invited to publicly meet, greet, and eat with DFA members. At this dinner meeting, she would have an opportunity to accept her endorsement, Humbly she agreed to appear.  On that occasion, Kaye stood in front of dedicated Democrats and offered her thanks.

There are many things that I am grateful for in this race for the State House.  I am most grateful that I have not been compromised by the process.  I am grateful that I am firm enough in my positions to withstand the seduction of interest group endorsements and the promise of their donations, I am blessed by the strangers who have become friends and supporters, and I am comforted by the understanding of all who I meet who know, first hand, how difficult it is to run as an outsider in a county where democracy is not always practiced.

I have been asked to leave the race, threatened for staying in.  As they say, win or lose, after running one is never the same.  But I entered because of issues of social justice and intend to win because those issues are too important to come in second . . .especially in District 86.

I am thrilled that it is the voters who make the decision of who will serve…regardless of how the process is manipulated.   The district belongs to those who live in it.  As a resident of District 86, I intend to serve with great respect for the needs of those who live in my backyard.  

I am in this race to win; therefore, I must acknowledge the members of Democracy for America for their treasured endorsement.  Their confidence in me literally made my heart sing.  In the face of so much opposition, DFA’s belief in me gave me the courage to continue to fight.  Because the principles of the group are so close to my own, I am proud that the recognition was strong and unwavering.  I am proud to be the true progressive in my race, to not be, once elected, beholden to any special interest group, set of elected officials or party ideology.  I believe that everyone must have a voice in our democracy.  That ideal will serve as the guiding principle of my term as State Representative for District 86.

Thank you Hillary and Tom and to all the members of DFA.  You have given me the greatest gift—the gift of trust.  I will not disappoint.

Given a chance, those in attendance had faith that Carole Kay would be true to her word. Countless constituents authentically believe the choice has become clear.  A candidate committed to the people is far preferable to one who is but another Party loyalist, lobbyist for professional politicians, and partisan who carries the same old pail.  

Still, there are the many who have not had the time or energy to peruse the periodicals, to probe the candidates’ perspectives, or to authentically assess other than what is seen on the streets.   Elections have begun and so too might we.  People at this event, and others who were able to avail authentic information, today, could choose to do more than cast a ballot.  We might speak to those who are undecided and unfamiliar with Carole Kaye or Lori Berman.  Persons as devoted to a common cause could say, “Citizens who travel to the polls, may I introduce to you Carole Kaye, candidate for House District 86.”

Election Day and the Electorate


Now, we vote, with our hearts, our heads, and staunch determination to do what others think hard.  We work.  We watch. We wait for a novel truth; government of, by and for the people, not partisan promoters.  We hold our collective breath or exhale; express our commitment to our community and Carole Kaye who shares our interests.  As citizens throughout District 86 cast a ballot, we can do more than just hope that this overture did not arrive too late.  

Please remember, in Palm Beach County numerous neighborhood polling places have been open for days.  Tomorrow is another day. We can make this moment a new beginning. Least we forget, most who will go to the polls may have had little time to research, and read anything about the candidates, let alone this treatise.  For them, the choice was not well defined. This introduction is offered as an opportunity to further refine your understanding of the choice presented in District 86 and spread the word.  Contribute in whatever way you can. Volunteer. Take a friend to the polls.  Make telephone calls.  Chat with neighbor, or donate dollars.  

The decision is yours, mine, and ours.  By August 24, 2010 the decision will be made, the die cast.  Carole Kaye can,, with your help, represent us in Florida House District 86., Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and of Boca Raton. Let this elections begin with you.

References for a favorable reality; government of, by, and for the people . . .

Exit Strategy or Essentially Endless?



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Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  

This world in arms is not spending money alone.  

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.  

This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  

Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.


~ Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 16 April 1953

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The United States Military Industrial Complex has might.  General and former President Eisenhower understood this.  He warned Americans.  Abundant might does not make right; it only advances the notion of righteousness.  Patriotism is promoted through militarism.  His words fell on deaf ears.  The sound was hollow in contrast to the drone of drumbeats.  At the time, Americans were as they are today; dedicated to the customs we think characterize democracy.

We see this in many a war and peace policy.  Questions are asked of the government and the people. Testimony is taken.  Think tanks assess Foreign Policy. Conclusions are drawn and decisions made.  Still, in 2010, a few within the electorate wonder as General Eisenhower had.. With Al-Qaida Fading, Why Expand the Afghan War?

Nationalists take up arms in the name of the greater good.  Compatriots will do anything to defend and protect the principles that guide the American way of life.  Patriots wave the flag and pledge allegiance to this country.  Loyalists are looked upon as heroes.  Soldiers voluntarily sign up for service.  Troops are sent to foreign shores.  Combatants fight for what citizens know is correct.  Few suspect that their tax dollars pay to fund allies who are what has been defined as enemies of democracy.  Headlines herald; Pakistan Aids Insurgency in Afghanistan, Reports Assert.  The business of endless battles goes on as usual.

Perchance, countless citizens surmise, only Presidents past and present, know the secrets that necessitate endless engagements.  Confidential papers might provide clues to the American practice; today’s US-armed ally will be tomorrow’s enemy., A few question group-faith.  Individuals inquire, why might this war or that be deemed “absolutely essential.”  Most are satisfied with each Administrations answers. Indeed, Americans accept as General Eisenhower espoused. Money moves us to war.

Millions more are spent by and on mercenaries.  Billions are paid to private industries that produce weaponry.  Worldwide, economies whirl on with thanks to the war machine.  Whistleblowers are silenced.  When documents are leaked, the persons who snitched are sought out.  Presumably, dissent will be punished by the law.  Prosperity and profits, people’s livelihoods are dependent on the illusion the Military Industrial Complex has created.  

So, strike up the band.  March on and march forward.  Follow in lockstep, or follow the leaders history has left behind.  Ponder a time, when the marketplace will not dictate doctrines and military deeds, a democratic system not defined by deliverance, liberation, or occupations. Think to pursue a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and provide for the common defense. Henceforth, let us promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.  Endless engagements need not be recognized as ideal.  

So please. Pursue peace.  Promote peaceful negotiations. Develop the power of diplomacy.   Move On. Progress.  Speak out as President Eisenhower did!  Do not allow your voice to be muffled!!  En masse, the people can be the absolute power!

Please ponder this petition or its origin, and the reason for its revival.  Reflect upon prose penned by Major General Smedley D. Butler.  If you choose pen your signature .

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war, a few people make huge fortunes.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

~ by Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC Retired

References for a Military Industrial Complex reality  . . .

Media and the Message. CNN; Retain Bush Tax Cuts

 

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says the easiest way to cut the deficit is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The day was Sunday, August 1, 2010.  Former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan appeared on Meet the Press.  When asked to discuss the Congressional debate on tax cuts, the man known to move markets, a person who leans to the “Right,” offered a decisive decree.  In direct disagreement with Republican officials and the profitable corporations that fund countless political campaigns, Mister Greenspan declared, “Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts,  but not with borrowed money.  And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous.  And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here on it.”  

This statement was as a slap in the face to corporations, or more correctly to the tycoons who head these firms.  Multi-millionaire media moguls might understand this best.  These television and radio Executives experience firsthand that influence over an industry can translate into influence over an outcome.  Cable News Network Chief Officers are among those who actively make use of this truth.  Tax cuts expired?  “Never;” say network Administrators and the newscasters such as Allan Chernoff, who do their bidding.

Prominent persons in the Press know a snappy slogan, a simple statement repeated over and over again, an authoritative analysis, will yield a colossal return.  If the powerful exert pressure, they can sway the public and those who will persuade Congress to act, or not take action.   Without resorting to force, the wealthy need not worry. Forceful levy loopholes and tax rate reducers were long ago secured and still loom large.

Companies, most of which pay no United States taxes are often led by the affluent who, for years, sought greater protection for their wealth..  Indeed, many corporations forfeit less in levies in 2010 than in previous years.  Deductions are a delightful indulgence.  Even the electorate has grown to appreciate this pleasurable pursuit.

Individuals influenced by industry infomercials have insisted on the luxury.  Tax bills in 2009 are at the lowest level since 1950.  Regardless, many moneyed Americans want these lowered, if not eliminated in total. Thus, the public sees what they have for days, or is it weeks, a flood of news stories that speak in contrast to Economist Greenspan’s pronouncement.  The powerful understand that the former Fed Chairs statement was quite a severe blow to those invested in a taxless ideology.

On the same date, on Cable News Network’s a distinguished Anchor, Newsweek and Washington Post Columnist, Fareed Zakaria concurred.   The time to cut the deficit and let the Bush tax cuts expire is now.  Editor of Newsweek International and a New York Times bestselling Author, Mister Zakaria asserts, “Were the tax cuts to expire, the budget deficit would instantly shrink by about 30 percent, or more than $300 billion. But Republicans are now adamantly opposed to any expiration of the Bush tax cuts because they say that would weaken the economy.”  This contention, with consideration for a credible source, was a second slam to commercial interests and to the political Party that promotes their causes.  

Mister Zakaria’s editorial would not be aired endlessly on various outlets. Nor would Alan Greenspan’s words be heard on many a local channel.  Another expert on policy, one who also speaks for the “Right”,  David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan would also be kept out of sight.

Only a day earlier, an article penned by Mister Stockman appeared in The New York Times.  In the missive, Stockman, once identified as a man with “Lincolnesque credentials”  expressed the angst he feels when his cohorts’ claim the need to extend the tax cuts.  The Reagan Budget Director cynically summarizes “How my Republican Party destroyed the American economy.”  The treatise titled Four Deformations of the Apocalypse, was the final strike.  

These slams could not stand, high salaried Chief Executives and their shills, such as Cable News Network, calculated.  Turner Broadcasting Systems decided to turn the ultimate key.  Media is the message.  The Press is able to manufacture promotional presentations and produce alternative authenticities.  The company realized the need to take restrained; yet aggressive action.  Slick salespersons, public relations professionals in the Press are well aware of the sound adage; a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.  People like sweetened solutions.

While true; each of the three esteemed experts spoke eloquently, and with abundant authority, the more persuasive and popular drone can and does drown out a meaningful message.  Cable News Network has vast resources and knowledge of how to deliver decisively, the populace demands, words of woe and whoa!  The Turner channels, with Corporate Chiefs interest at heart, transmits, as many Republicans, Democrats, and Independents wish to believe; life as we have come to know it cannot change.  

Regardless of Party affiliation, in America the public professes, “We are taxed enough.” En masse, citizens clamor;  “No new taxes!” “No tax increases!” We do not want to pay the price, is the consensus.  Most do not want to acknowledge, as Alan Greenspan and Fareed Zakaria have, Americans have paid for their own indulgence and chosen ignorance dearly.

In accordance with the adopted corporate mission, the wishes of Chief Executives, and possibly his own penchant, Correspondent Allan Chernoff compiled   a report that would please the common folk. This puff-piece touts as the public wishes to believe; the people need not contribute to the greater good of the community.  The innocent “documentation” that passes for fact, or is passed on as the truth, floods the airwaves.  It appears on local stations and hour after hour on network programs.  

This “news story” [sic] makes no mention of how the quoted sources benefit from a promoted belief, “In planning to let taxes rise, President Obama hopes to chop the budget deficit. But if families have to cut back on spending to pay those taxes, that may hurt the economy. It could de-rail the recovery.”

The Press hides what threatens the wealthy; the words of Alan Greenspan, He said “The problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is that spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day that proves disastrous and my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here.”  

The “Right” and media moguls who used to anxiously await Alan Greenspan’s advise now reject the man once titled an oracle.   David Stockman, once characterized as a wunderkind is no longer welcome at the White House, on Wall Street, or in the Mainstream Media studios.

Interesting, or possibly, as expected, the words of the esteemed Mister Zakaria are also void in the less than honest, well honed, and more aired, Cable News Network account. “Federal tax receipts as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest point since 1950, and they had dropped to very low levels even before the recession. Half of Americans now pay no income taxes.”

Instead, the report that invites Americans to retain Bush Tax cuts is broadcast farther and wider than the more informed elucidations.  Contrary to the tax cutters claims that President Obama plans to punish the Middle Class, Bloomberg reports, “Obama and congressional Democrats want to extend [the tax cuts] for households earning up to $250,000 and let them end for wealthier taxpayers.”  Fareed Zakaria and perchance more surprisingly, in another forum, David Stockman, wish this were true.

Truthfulness is often tweaked when expert and powerful prose point to a vapid veracity, one that is less desirable to the self-defined blissful spenders who were featured in the ubiquitous Cable News Network account.  

The no tax and spend only on self throng condemn the acumen Mister Zakaria avows; “We have to be willing to pay for the government we want, which by the way is among the smallest in the industrialized world or we have to dramatically cut the government, which means cutting popular middle- class programs, since that’s where the money is.”

No, the pious people proclaim loudly, we will not pay taxes, then assert, we want no government in our lives.  Tax cuts advocates forget the foundation that our forefathers fashioned.  Essayist, Pamphleteer, Philosopher Paine espoused as Fareed Zakaria did today.   The two understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule while each concedes the commonweal must care to invest in the greater good.  Were we to forget that no man is an island, we will forsake the future as we have in recent decades.  Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch.  Perchance today, Fareed Zakaria spoke to the practical reality.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.

A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing.  This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Instead of Paine’s and Zakaria’s profundity, the language Americans long for is the sentiment expressed by profiteers highlighted in the Chernoff commentary.  Scott Hodge, President of Tax Foundation, an institute that Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman acknowledged as an unreliable source, reinforced the accepted alarm.  Mister Hodge affirmed, “If Congress does nothing, it could lead to one of the largest tax increases in American history.”  Robert Traphagen, a partner with Traphagen Financial, and a man who makes money when affluent clients invest in purely personal wealth, affirmed, “If new tax legislation is not implemented, it would be a dramatic effect to the middle class.” Indeed, it would.

Were we to adopt as Fareed Zakaria, Doctor Greenspan, and David Stockman think wise, Americans would have more money for schools, streets, services. The middle class would thrive.  Media moguls would have less money to survive. Hence, the mantra, the message, If Bush tax cuts expire this will  hurt America

References for varied realities . . .

Of/By/4; The Belly Belatedly Understood



Of/By/4 in 18 minutes By Lawrence Lessig

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Dearest Mommy and my natural father . . .

I apologize.  My belly, my bloated body, only belatedly do I understand.  It never was in the genes.  The abundant meat that weighed heavily on my bones was not caused by my chromosomal structure; it was piled on by Congressional and corporately funded campaigns.  Mommy and the husband who helped make me, much to my embarrassment, today I acknowledge my error. I was spoon-fed, and not by the two of you.  Legislators, Lobbyists, and big businesses that place misleading labels on chemically cooked up cuisines put corn fillers on my every plate. I chowed down.  My little body bulged out.  From the inside out, I grew bigger and wider.

I am so sorry.  I did not realize.  Sugar and high fructose corn syrup made me other than pleasingly plump.  I thought it was you, the givers of my DNA, Deoxyribonucleic acid.  I believed that genetic material was my doom.  Oh my parents, trans fats and trans fatty acids made me do it, blow up like a balloon.  

I know I blamed you. Now I understand.  Only your votes could have prevented my childhood obesity.  

Perhaps, the chemicals that clung to the frozen foods we were all fed persuaded you as well.  I remember the ample advertisements that tempted us to indulge.  TV dinners. Yum!  Soda to sip on. Sensational. Potpies and popped corn all cooked in a jiffy.  Delicious!  It seems, in retrospect, our preferred diet did us in.  Fast foods, we thought, bought us time.  Indeed,  these processed products only purchased candidates and ensured greater corporate profits.  

Oh yes; the junk we ate also added pounds, advanced poor health, and did I  mention, help promote people whose claim to fame was the desire for absolute power.  We were appeased and deceived, Corporations and Congressional candidates achieved.  

My dear parents, today, I accept what I was unaware of for the many years I gluttonously gulped on boosted beverages, or swallowed all the overly salty, starchy, sweetened fare. My fat was not yours or mine.  It was theirs. Big businesses gained on my back and yours.

Your apologetic, loving and lumpy daughter . . .

Betsy

References for reflection, food for thought . . .

 

A Birth Date Plea; Presidential Power in a Democracy



Cornel West discusses President Obama’s administration on Real Time With Bill Maher

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On the eve of President Obama’s birth date, thoughts turn to his time in office.  As a man, countless admire the person, Barack Obama, and yet, feel that they cannot fully celebrate his performance.  Hope has all but disappeared.  Audacity appears vanquished.  Still, some are sure that there is reason to believe. People ponder potentials not fully realized.  Prospects for change loom large.  Several may be shared in the sentiments offered on this auspicious occasion.

Dreams have yet to die.  The desire to write to the President on the anniversary of his birth or converse with him personally is strong.  Most will only be able to meet Mister Obama circuitously. Nonetheless, millions will try to talk to the man in the White House.  People, such as esteemed Educator, Doctor Cornel West has addressed the President profoundly though the airwaves.  “One of America’s most provocative public intellectuals,” West speaks of what is needed for a genuine success.  The Princeton Professor ponders aloud; if only President Obama advanced classlessness.

The obligation of a citizen, in a democracy, is to speak to truth.  Silence secures a society ruled by the few.  Those who serve power, the elites well-endowed with dollars, will do the bidding if the people let them.  In a society established on social parity, it is vital that each of us acts on the values avowed in the Declaration Of Independence, advanced in the United States Constitution, and a G-d-given veracity, “all men are created equal.”  A President, in the United States, is not exempt from this truth.

A Commander-In Chief is not meant to be more royal or right than Jane or John Doe is . . .  or at least that is what our forefathers intended.  If a citizen chosen individual authentically thinks to serve society, he cannot lose light of the purpose articulated in a campaign.

An elected official is selected to represent us all. This should not be a promise, but a pledge.  As a President, a man or woman is designated to officiate only for a term or two.  This person is not donned with a crown.  Nay is he or she bequeathed supremacy over others who inhabit this nation.  The individual, who we the people place in the Oval Office, be it Barack Obama or whomever is selected in the future, must think of him or herself as a fellow civilian first and foremost. Yet, often, as Americans witness today, this is not what occurs.

Doctor Cornel West of Princeton University aptly observes; big finance and big business are in bed with the government.  Our current President and his Cabinet make love to manufacturers.  Producers of petroleum are closely connected to today’s policymakers just as others were in the past.  Persons in White House, from their actions, seem to pay deference to companies that take advantage of the common folk. A concerned citizen could easily construe profiteers are in power.  

Authority resides in affable relations with an Administration.  After all, as we saw months earlier, before the BP well explosion, energy plans benefited an industry that wished to grow earnings. The Treasury too was given over insiders, intent on furthering financial strength for his fellow investors.

Philosophically and in principle, it is not the place of an elected Chief Executive, to act as a corporate Chief Executive.  To be truly effective, an American President must embody the people.  He or she must remember the reasons supporters cast a ballot.  The electorate does not merely vote for an individual; constituents also vote for the institution we call democracy.

Mister President, as we honor you, please honor as the people originally requested.  Exasperated and exhausted, the electorate expresses our birthday wish in the form of a plea.  A President needs to perform as though he/she is, as she/he actually is, one of us!  Mister Obama we await your awareness and acknowledgement.  Please recognize that your role is to speak to truth, not solely converse with tycoons on act on their behalf.  

Barack Obama, please remember as you had stated; the power of a President is profound only when the President works with and for the people.  Please do not forget what the electorate cannot; your words on the campaign trail.  “This campaign is not about me, it’s about the issues in your daily lives. It’s about how am I going to make this country a little better. If you help me, we’ll change the country. We’ll change the world!”  Mister Obama you once knew; in a democracy, the President is but a partner, a citizen amongst the populous.  On your birthday, may we begin anew.  Together, let us keep hope alive.

References; Democracy Deferred or Realized  . . .

Let the Bush Tax Cuts Expire



CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says the easiest way to cut the deficit is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

Thomas Paine; Reflections From the Past

Essayist, Pamphleteer, Radical, Inventor, and intellectual Philosopher Paine espoused as Fareed Zakaria did today.   The two understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule while each concedes the commonweal must care to invest in the greater good.  Were we to forget that no man is an island, we will forsake the future as we have in recent decades.  Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch.  Perchance today, Fareed Zakaria spoke to the practical truth.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.

A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing.  This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.