Tag Archive for Republican Party

Progressivism: In pursuit of Justice

Lady Justice

Justice, both the scales and the sword.

“What is the current state of the Progressive Movement in America?” was the subject of a forum at the March Longmont Area Democrats meeting. The following are the especially heartfelt and honest prepared remarks by Padma Wick . Other forum members included Bob Kinsey, Strider Benston, Richard Juday, Rick Fitzgerald, and Jonathan Singer.


For many years I took part in various forms of activism to some degree. But I did not feel the ground under me cave until the 2000 election. Image a lake. Huge boulders have been thrown into the lake and those have produced movement. In my opinion the most profound movement has been the Occupy Movement, because it functions like moving water: fluid, organic and able to seep through and potentially break the wall sustained by corruption and violence. It will not be limited by the rules and demands of what Chris Hedges calls a dead system. Occupy has inserted into our language and press the grievances of the 99% (and perhaps more) of the people in the US and the world.

Of course, included in the 99% are Progressives, a term I often use and apply to myself. But I want to warn about labels. As soon as a label is applied that label can be usurped, distorted, dismissed and discredited. Sometimes we become attached to the label, rather than the fundamental cause which motivates us. For me the cause is the pursuit of justice: economic, political, social and environmental justice.

Some people remain loyal to a label, something like buying a brand, which has long since been bought out, outsourced and reduced in quality. As Democrats we need to be very wary of that. The temptation is to say, “I am a life long Democrat.” “My party right or wrong.” Certainly there are great members of the Democratic party, like many of you and our new State Representative, Jonathan Singer, who continue to fight the good fight. But I feel we should be vigilant and acknowledge that something has changed in the Democratic party. One of the skills of the Occupy movement is that it is vigilant and agile. It is not, as we have tried for so long, responding in the terms set down by Republicans and others in the ruling class.

With great respect for Jonathan, I say that I have no allegiance to any political candidate or elected official. My support depends on the degree to which they not only promise, but actually create (consummate with the power we assign them) economic, political, social and environmental justice. To quote T.S. Elliot, “affairs are now soul size.” At stake is not only the survival of our children and grandchildren, but of life on earth.

I have heard many people say, “I had no choice,” or “I have no choice but to vote for so-and so.” One ALWAYS has a choice! To my dying day I will have a choice. I may not make the right, courageous, or ultimately moral choice. God knows what I would do if the lives of my children or grandchildren were threatened. I do not judge the choices people make in extreme situations. Someone earns my respect for saying, I made this terrible choice because…….But I do not respect, “I had no choice.” As Strider BenstPon, has said, “If we say we have no choice, we are prisoners.”

Since Progressives value debate and differences of opinion, I will share with you the space I hold on the Progressive continuum. I will not vote for Obama, and certainly not for a Republican. Obama has said great things, both now and in ’08. But his actions don’t match his words. As a Constitutional Law Professor, who took a solemn oath, he has refused to use the legitimate powers of the President. He has not closed Guantanamo, ended rendition, torture, or insisted his cabinet pursue environmental and economic justice. Instead he has assumed unconstitutional powers for his and future Presidencies: the assassination of American citizens SUSPECTED of terrorist activities. And he has removed your primary Constitutional right of habeas corpus and made American citizens SUSPECTED of terrorist connections subject to military detentions without trial. The writ of Habeas Corpus called the “great order”, dates back to the Magna Carta in the 1200s, was lightly dismissed with the signing of NDAA. And there has been hardly mention of it in the press.

You will say I am unreasonable. At one time it was considered unreasonable to free slaves. Now it is considered reasonable to torture, unlawfully and indefinitely detain citizens, use drones against civilians, including Americans, and pollute our precious water supply for temporary gain. In such a situation I prefer to be unreasonable.

Our current situation is very difficult. I struggle all the time between acknowledging the gifts in my life and remaining informed and active. For balance I turn to these reminders:

Practice giving, but not so much that there is nothing left with which to work.

Observe precepts, but not so many that there is no freedom of choice.

Don’t confront what opposes, but find the place of least resistance.

Work hard, but not so hard that you don’t stop for tea.

Still the mind but not so much that it withers and dies.

So what can we, as individuals do? Break free of the bonds that have been created to keep our conscience subordinated to the will of a corrupt system. Do something that aligns with our true character. Remember that many forces are at work.

Whatever each of us does is a small part of a very large and complex flow that individually we can participate in, but not determine.

Scott Gessler agrees with Kaye Fissinger

Scott GesslerScott Gessler agrees with Kaye Fissinger.  Bet that got your attention.  He didn’t do it on purpose, of course.  It simply served his partisan objective, at least this time.

What in the world could I be talking about, you ask.

As might be recalled, not long ago I pressed the point that non-partisan elections simply mean that political parties and their registered voters do not determine candidates in a primary for a general election against candidates from competing political parties. I stressed that it does not mean that candidates have no political affiliation or that they don’t bring ideological affinities to a non-partisan office.

Some sought to take issue what that description, insisting that they and their favored candidates were pure as the driven snow.  (And we know how long snow remains pure after it has been driven.)  And that they (in our case, city council/mayor candidates) are blank political slates on which each issue begins to write anew.

Along comes Scott Gessler, Colorado Secretary of State, to say, “Uh, no.  That’s not the way it works.”

Douglas County has a hot school board race.  Hot because it is sharply divided between pro-voucher candidates and anti-voucher candidates.  It’s a fight to see who will control the school board going forward.  Douglas County School District is being sued by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union over its voucher plan that would provide substantial school tuition assistance for students to attend religious schools and/or to attend schools outside the normal district boundaries.  The Douglas Country voucher program is currently under court injunction preventing the program from going forward.

School board challenger Susan Meek filed a complaint with Gessler’s office claiming her opponent Craig Richardson along with Justin Green Williams and Kevin Larsen, are running as a Republican Party slate.  She contends that this is a legal violation because the races are non-partisan.  Meek used as evidence fliers that proclaim her opponents as the Douglas County Republican Party’s choices for the school board.

After scratching their collective head for awhile, Gessler’s office found that the statute calling for nonpartisan school board elections applies to how candidates file for office, not how the campaign for it.  A candidate cannot file for the school board as a Republican or Democrat, but he or she can run as one.

Scott Gessler is a Republican who ran for the office of Secretary of State in a partisan election.  The three pro-voucher candidates are incumbents who have the largest campaign war chests funded by longtime school-reform and Republican activists.  Meek and three challengers oppose vouchers.  The pro-voucher candidates are predictably using smoke and mirrors to camouflage their pro-voucher stands, preferring instead to use the standard Republican whipping boy – unions.  (Big bad bogeymen.  Can’t have that.)

So the upshot of this is that Fissinger (that’s me) was right and the Republican Golden Boy Scott Gessler says so.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Cory Gardner promotes selfishness

I recently received a letter from Cory Gardner. In that letter, he assured me that my that my Medicare and Social Security benefits “will not change for you ever.”

If this was intended to reassure me, it did not do the job. What Cory Gardner is asking me and everyone over 55 to do is to be selfish, and not think of the coming generations that include our children, nieces, nephews and grandkids..

Working for the next generation is one of the ideas that made this country what it is. Those who fought in World War II did so to rid the world of a maniac and make the world a safer place. There are many such examples.

Asking us to be selfish does not seem like a good idea. Reducing the benefits of the coming generations benefits no one, except the rich who are not paying their fair share of taxes. In a recession, cash flow needs to be increased. The middle class will not be in a position to pull this country out of the recession until it is allowed to flourish. We need jobs and money to survive. All of us.

Cory Gardner’s actions do nothing to alleviate the problem. They are the actions of a young man who is following the corporate agenda. Either he is unable to resist the siren call of the corporate dollar or he is following that agenda without thought.

Rep. Gardner, read up on economics 101.

Rep. Cory Gardner has stated clearly, “I want to see spending cuts.” I wish Rep. Gardner would think about where these spending cuts are coming from. Education? Do we care about the classroom size of our children? Infrastructure? Are we planning to repair our own roads and bridges? Environment? Clean water to drink anyone? The social safety net did not get us into this fiscal house of horrors. It was wars that weren’t included in the budget and unbridled greed.

Cuts come from real people and real programs that were designed to protect citizens. Plus arguments about spending cuts aren’t adding up. Historically, cutting spending during recessionary times just makes the economy worse. (See 1937). Economists in both political parties are saying that what needs to happen is job creation, which requires spending not cutting. Once our economy is more stable reasonable cuts can and should be debated. Maintaining a rigid position in the face of contrary information is not smart. Please, Rep. Gardner, read up on economics 101. Draconian cuts now will not create jobs or put our country back on track. We need a representative who will work for the good of all the citizens in the 4th Congressional District.

Eight myths to chill an old-school Republican soul

Guys! YO! I'm over HERE. Sigh!

The St. Louis Post Dispatch, no bastion of liberalism, mourned the loss of the Republican Party as it was known in an editorial on Sunday, June 26th.

Editorial: Eight myths to chill an old-school Republican soul

“It’s sad to see what has happened to the Party of Lincoln,…Today we have the spectacle of smart, patriotic men and women putting their brains and integrity on ice to please a party dominated by anti-intellectual social Darwinists and the plutocrats who finance and mislead them.

A message to SOME Republicans

I watched a video clip this afternoon. It gave me a type of hope I have not felt in a very long time.

I have watched the Republican Party for decades. I’ve seen it descend further and further into viciousness and selfishness.

Once before in my lifetime the Republican Party marched head long in that direction. It was during the era of the communist witch hunt, the era that sported the name of its visible symbol – McCarthyism. It was an era that birthed the resurgence of American plutocracy.

One Republican had the insight, the foresight, the decency to say NO. That man was a Republican President. He turned on Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee. He warned of the coming power of the military-industrial complex. His name was Dwight Eisenhower.

Despite the evil harbored in the man of Richard Nixon, despite his personality disorders, despite the foundation he laid for the current conservative party, the march off the conservative cliff was slowed. Even Nixon signed into law progressive policies. He signed the National Environmental Policy Act. He signed the Clean Air Act. He instituted OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Although he gave lip service to the Equal Rights Amendment for women, he was personally pro-choice. He signed the Supplemental Security Income Program into law, an anti-poverty program that still exists today.

The election of Ronald Reagan, and all the Republican Presidents that have followed, and the take-over of Congress in 1994 by the likes of Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, and so many others, committed the nation to a hideous transformation. Its Constitution slowly and steadily began to be redefined into something unrecognizable by decent, honest and compassionate people.

I have wondered if this descent into national hell had any hope of being stopped. But today I listened to a Republican in the Colorado Senate. The honest and heartfelt speech of Senator Jean White on civil unions made me think of the question asked of McCarthy. In that case it was an accusation. The question – Have you no decency? Today the answer was YES. This Republican went against the fierce inhumanity of her party.

Listen and watch this video. And when you are finished, I ask Republicans who are still capable of hearing to “come out of the shadows,” and to reject the party that shames our nation. Help the rest of us to reclaim a nation still worth reclaiming.

What they do is not spontaneous or random. It is planned.

Sadly, it takes a crisis for most Americans to understand when something is seriously wrong. More often than not they fail to see blatant partisan agendas until those agendas slap them in the face, or the wallet. Such is the case with the outrageous actions and beliefs of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and all of the like-minded elected representatives up and down the government ladder.

The Republicans have been on a roll with their lies, immoral belief system and inside out, upside down attempts at explanations of damned near everything. With the money and power of special interest businesses behind them, they have been able to milk discontent to their liking. Organizations like Americans for Prosperity (of trans-national corporations and other over-sized business entities) and the money of the likes of the Koch Brothers have hijacked the concerns of millions and focused them into a “Tea Party” of discontent to capture governorships, state legislatures, and the House of Representatives.

Make no mistake about it. There is a Conservative Agenda long ago outlined and executed. They are strategic geniuses with a tenacity that is satanic in nature.

When, where and how did all of this planning begin? It began at least in 1981, when the Patron Saint of Conservatism Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency of the United States. It began because they had captured the highest office in the land (indeed, in the world) for conservatism for the first time since Herbert Hoover. Eisenhower was impure. So was Nixon.

It began in earnest with the formation of an organization called the Council of National Policy, also in 1981.

The Council for National Policy is a highly secretive organization that claims over six hundred members consisting of the most powerful religious, political, business and media conservatives in the nation. Initially their membership was publicly available and that listing can be found on the Internet. Coloradans might be surprised, or maybe not, at who from our state appears on this list. It is reported that Joseph Coors provided the seed money.

As attention began to focus on them, the organization went substantially underground. Its membership is confidential and by invitation only. Members come from government, religion, business, media and conservative think tanks responsible for providing contrived “studies” that assist with the conservative talking points that are repeated endlessly on talk television and radio.

The group meets three times a year and revealing what is discussed is prohibited. Attempts are made to keep locations and the invited speakers a secret. But in recent years, capable investigative reporters and media pressure have forced the organization to be more open. George Bush and Dick Cheney have been keynote speakers at the conferences. Other speakers include Grover Norquist, Oliver North, Robert Bork and Rick Santorum, to name a few

Initially conceived and created by religious Dominionists, the marriage with Republican Conservatives across the spectrum of influence is now complete.

Dominionists have absorbed the financial positions of business conservatives and translated them into the Gospel of Prosperity, a gospel that says God wants you to be wealthy and that if you do as you are told, you will be. If you are in need or poor, it is because you have been disobedient to God’s will and you deserve your suffering. They will usually not say this when visible to the public at large, but they will say this in somewhat protected confines.

Financial and corporate conservatives recognize and need the numbers of Dominionists (frequently known as the religious right or fundamentalists) and have no issue with the creation of a theocracy. It maintains allegiance. It establishes authority. It provides a voting army.

And those who have integrated both Dominionism and a fascistic definition of capitalism have now risen to power in large numbers.

The well-developed agenda of the Council for National Policy explains why Republicans never vary from the positions they advocate – no matter how provably wrong and no matter what polls may reveal about the public’s positions as new information or changing circumstances change viewpoints. They are not interested in representing the public at large. They are only interested in convincing enough of the public to win elections. Any variance risks lost time if not collapse of the objectives. Achieving their goals demands no modification, no acquiescence, no compromise.

It also explains why and how they “over-reach” and claim a mandate whenever they are successful in gaining control of a legislative body, a state or a branch of the U.S. government. It makes no difference to them whether they win by one vote or by one million. A mandate is always claimed. The objective is to gain the power and codify the agenda – by any means available or necessary.

It is why you hear them claim “the American people” (fill in the blank) even when the American people do not agree with them. It is why Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Scott of Florida, and Chris Christie of New Jersey, to name a few who have grabbed the headlines recently, are ramming an agenda down the throats of any and all. Truth, justice and the American democratic way be damned.

This time, however, they have picked on the American worker and there are lots of them. American workers do not like to be insulted, to be used, to be abused. The American worker is opening his or her eyes. The American worker is recognizing that even if they are not a member of a union, they are the next target, the ultimate target. The absence of jobs, the uncertainty of retaining jobs, the threatened loss of a middle class or even a working class lifestyle is eating away at their consciousness.

For those who have not yet clarified their feelings and perceptions, let me remind them of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

It ain’t over until…and no one is singing

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Who's behind the mask?

Pundits on the left. Pundits on the right. Pundits all over the place. These days the punditry can both masquerade as “news” and be reported as “news.”

The Republicans are energized. The Democrats lack enthusiasm. Whatever “side” they are on, they have one thing in common, that they are all self-declared prognosticators who know how the election is going to turn out before it even occurs. Sometimes it reminds me of little boys in the restroom challenging one another. I win. No, I win.

Hey, digging in and doing the research — that’s boring. It takes too much time and it might spoil both my story line and the outcome I’m predicting.

Robert Creamer (I guess you could call him a pundit, too.) actually did some interesting research on a number of House races across the country. In Time for the Pundits to Take a Deep Breath he details some interesting information on 18 House seats in play.

It’s way too early to call this game. Why? Most voters are just now starting to pay close attention — to the issues, to the arguments, to the candidates.

Although many voters are decidedly unhappy and anxious, polling shows that they don’t see Republicans as the answer. They hold the Republicans’ allies — Wall Street, insurance companies, America’s big business corporations — in vastly greater disdain than Democrats. And in spite of all the generic polling, elections are choices between individuals.

Democrats have the edge on the ground game. The wild card is, of course, the fallout from the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that declared corporations to be people with free speech rights. Corporate cash is likely to flood the airwaves. Will it work? Or will the voter rebel?

So turn off the talking heads and take the news and newspapers with a grain of salt. Help the voters do their homework. Talk to the voters about the issues and the consequences of their choices.

Republican “establishment” candidates have been falling like flies. The GOP is now the GOTP.

Handlers will polish up the offerings of the Grand Old Tea Party voters. At a minimum, these candidates will backtrack on their statements and play the victim card. Tell the voters what these GOTP’er candidates don’t want them to know. And above all, GOTV (Get out the Vote).

Make sure that Congress (House and Senate) doesn’t become the Tea Party’s institutional Cuckoo’s Nest.