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Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 02:44 PM PDT

Robert Reich is Right ...

by We Shall Overcome

... if Hillary Clinton is going to be ready to run she needs to be ready to fight the good fight:

Some worry she's been too compromised by big money - that the circle of wealthy donors she and her husband have cultivated over the years has dulled her sensitivity to the struggling middle class and poor.

But it's wrong to assume great wealth, or even a social circle of the wealthy, is incompatible with a deep commitment to reform - as Teddy Roosevelt and his fifth-cousin Franklin clearly demonstrated.

The more relevant concern is Hillary Clinton's willingness to fight.

Personally, I am heartened to see Reich continue to call for Hillary Clinton to address the single biggest issue facing the country, and the core issue from which so many other issues are tied to - inequality.

Read the whole column - it's what the left has been demanding for the past 8 years from Dems and hopefully Hillary will adopt several of the agenda items Reich puts forward. I want all of them, but don't want to get my hopes up.

It's nice to see Reich's column on the Friday before Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy. Now, it would also be nice to see Elizabeth Warren sound off in a similar fashion, followed by Bernie Sanders announcing his candidacy next week.

Here's hoping.


Wed Dec 24, 2014 at 07:58 AM PST

Corporate Socialists Unite!

by We Shall Overcome

Robert Reich has a new column up about the $1.1 trillion Cromnibus bill that is a handout to a bevy of America's great corporate socialists:

Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They're wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.

Consider the new spending bill Congress and the President agreed to a few weeks ago.

It's not especially large by historic standards. Under the $1.1 trillion measure, government spending doesn't rise as a percent of the total economy. In fact, if the economy grows as expected, government spending will actually shrink over the next year.

The problem with the legislation is who gets the goodies and who's stuck with the tab.

Reich lays out a good frame for our times - government isn't the problem, who government works for is the problem.

Ronald Reagan loved to use the line: "I'm from the government and I am here to help" as a dig against Democrats, liberals and progressives.  

Perhaps a new spin on that line should be: "I'm a Corporate Socialist (or Plutocrat if you prefer) and I'm here to help."

Because today's government has been bought and paid for by Big Business and works for the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else.

Read the whole thing - it's a good preview of the economic issues the 2016 campaign and beyond should turn on:

The size of government isn't the problem. That's a canard used to hide the far larger problem.

The larger problem is that much of government is no longer working for the vast majority it's intended to serve. It's working instead for a small minority at the top.

If government were responding to the public's interest instead of the moneyed interests, it would be smaller and more efficient.

But unless or until we can reverse the vicious cycle of big money getting political favors that makes big money even bigger, we can't get the government we want and deserve.


Protestors calling for police reform should make gun violence prevention policy (universal background checks, anti-trafficking, gun violence restraining order, limits on magazine capacity) part of their message ... those polices HELP COPS and will help communities plagued by gun violence ... and they will place the GOP and the anti-protestors crowd between a rock and a hard place.

Want to find common ground between the police reform protestors and the police?

Step unto the gun violence prevention policy platform and the two sides have something they can agree on and can work toward implementing ... while at the same time working to ratchet down overly aggressive use of force.

In fact, tougher gun violence prevention laws will make the need to use force far, far less - if cops know dangerous people have a tougher time getting their hands on guns, then they won't feel the need to respond with force so often.

If cops and police reform protestors can agree on a set of gun violence prevention policies, then that could build relationships and ties between the two groups that can open the door to more reform to help police do a better job of policing without the need of overly aggressive tactics.

Could this be a win-win?


Should cops and police protestors join and support gun violence prevention laws?

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Mon Dec 22, 2014 at 07:58 PM PST

Francis: There he goes again

by We Shall Overcome

This Pope Francis is my kinda Pope:

Francis issued a blistering indictment of the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, accusing the cardinals, bishops and priests who serve him of using their Vatican careers to grab power and wealth, of living "hypocritical" double lives and forgetting that they're supposed to be joyful men of God.
Francis speaks truth to power, again

He's certainly living up to his namesake - St. Francis of Assisi.

If you're like me (probably not), you're mom took you to see Brother Sun, Sister Moon when you were 8 years old - Ghandi, too, but that's another story.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon is a 1970s film about the life and times of the man who would become St. Francis of Assisi, the man from whom Pope Francis takes his papal name.

Pope Francis' latest admonishment reminds me of a particular scene from that movie ... it's a little long but well worth the 15 minutes to give more context to Pope Francis' message from today.

Francis meets Pope Innocent III

It was an interesting message Pope Francis gave to the Vatican, just before Christmas:

Francis turned the traditional, genteel exchange of Christmas greetings into a public dressing down of the Curia, the central administration of the Holy See which governs the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. He made clear that his plans for a radical reform of the structures of church power must be accompanied by an even more radical spiritual reform of the men involved.

Sat Dec 20, 2014 at 03:40 PM PST

Poor old Republicans ...

by We Shall Overcome

For those who don't know, Will Rogers was a Progressive Era (1900-1935) entertainer and political wit. He died in a plane crash in Alaska at age 55, far too soon. But before he did, he wrote a treasure trove of columns for the New York Times.

He was a Democrat and his writings during Roosevelt's first year in office are quite apropos for our times, for example:

That was the one big thing he [Roosevelt] did that really started the whole “Back to Normalcy” movement. That’s an old Republican expression. Poor old Republicans, they weren’t a bad bunch of fellows, just dumb. You know a dumb fellow can be the most likable fellow in the world. You can just kinder love ’em and pity ’em at the same time. Well, what are a Republican’s thoughts now? Here they see a guy come in and do everything in the world that they ought to have done years ago, but didn’t think of doing. So it’s as I say: They meant well but were just dumb. They didn’t put the country on the bum purposely, as lots of folks think. They thought they were getting somewhere.
Will Rogers Writings

This could have been written about George W. Bush & Crew post-2008 - the likable guy Americans wanted to have a beer with, but who didn't realize one beer would turn into 12 or 16 and end with a headlong crash into a ditch.

I encourage anyone with an interest in the parallels between the Depression Era and post-2008, as well as the years leading up to the Depression (the Progressive Era), to take a read through Rogers writings - in many ways, it's a trip back to the future.


By now, you probably know the travesty that is the $1.1 trillion "cromnibus" bill that just passed the House and Senate, thanks to the Democrats who have all but surrendered to Wall Street and other Big Business interests ... Republicans, too, but that's to be expected.

Elizabeth Warren may have gotten the headlines about the sell out to Wall Street this bill was, but Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, not surprisingly, also was not happy ... not one bit.

He also voted against this legislation, in particular because of the cuts to pensions and the bailout provisions that Wall Street itself wrote into the bill and then whipped support for via phone calls from Jamie Dimon ... just wow - they write the legislation and whip the Congress for the votes.

Who needs "legislators" when the "whiz kids" on Wall Street are a full service operation - from commercial banking to investment banking to retail banking and political consulting to boot, they are a one-stop pocket lining shop, and they just put you and I back on the hook for when they screw it all up again. When the house of cards comes tumbling down, we have just been assigned the "patriotic" duty of bailing out Wall Street once again.

Thanks Democrats.

Well here is hoping Bernie Sanders decides he indeed will be running in the Democratic presidential primary for 2016, and if he does, you can be sure the Dem primary will be broadcasting his message into every living room in America, calling out the Too Big to Fail Banks and all the other Big Money interests that are corrupting our political process.

Take a listen below to Sander's Senate speech about all that is atrocious with the crominbus - it's a nice preview of what to expect from a Sanders candidacy and I think you'll agree, it's the exact message this country needs to hear:

Break them up


Fri Dec 05, 2014 at 08:35 AM PST

Respect Authority w/ poll

by We Shall Overcome

Hey, you, shut the hell up already and respect authority!

You know, the same authority that loots trillions from the National Treasury to bailout a Wall Street run amok.

The same authority that loots trillions from the National Treasury and dumped it into the deserts of the Middle East never to be seen again.

The same authority that murders unarmed people of color for petty "crimes" - that plays judge, jury and executioner and is never held accountable.

Hey, you, shut the hell up already and respect authority!


Is this the type of authority that should be respected?

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Continue Reading

Thu Dec 04, 2014 at 06:48 PM PST

We Shall Overcome

by We Shall Overcome

Just a reminder ...

We Shall Overcome

Lyrics derived from Charles Tindley's gospel song "I'll Overcome Some Day" (1900), and opening and closing melody from the 19th-century spiritual "No More Auction Block for Me" (a song that dates to before the Civil War).

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

We'll walk hand in hand
We'll walk hand in hand
We'll walk hand in hand some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

We shall all be free
We shall all be free
We shall all be free some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

We are not afraid
We are not afraid
We are not afraid some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

We are not alone
We are not alone
We are not alone some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around some day

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day
Continue Reading

Today I listened to the Common Cause member briefing where Robert Reich, chairman of Common Cause, and Miles Rapoport, president of Common Cause, lead a conference call to cover the state of politics in America today and the issues Common Cause champions, including the repeal of Citizens United, restore the Voting Rights Act and expand access to the ballot box, net neutrality, and public policy to help working families and the middle class.

Common Cause is a non-partisan organization that does not endorse candidates and works with politicians of all stripes that help ordinary Americans.

If you are wondering how to stop extreme policies and Big Money from exerting any more influence in our political system, joining Common Cause would be a good first step. And if you are a little down in the dumps about the nature of our politics today, I'd suggest listening to the call for a pick-me-up ... the staff and leadership of Common Cause is very positive and confident they can make the necessary changes in our system. And why shouldn't they be - it's been done before, after all.  

Here's a link to today's Common Cause conference call.

And here is a brief description of the org:

Common Cause is the original. Our founding in 1970 sparked a democracy reform movement that continues to grow.

We make a difference. Common Cause:

Drove the movement that won voting rights for 18-year-olds

Led campaigns that secured and now work to defend and strengthen laws limiting the influence of money in politics.

Successfully lobbied for state and local laws permitting public financing of political campaigns to offset the impact of large, special interest contributions.

Helped exposed ethical breaches that drove two House Speakers and a majority leader from office; our lobbying ultimately led the House of Representatives to create an independent ethics oversight agency.

Wrote the landmark California law putting citizens in charge of drawing congressional and state legislative districts, ending partisan gerrymandering.

Spearheaded a reform coalition that exposed the secret workings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate cabal that has quietly engineered the passage of hundreds of state laws putting private profit ahead of the public interest; thanks to that campaign, more than 50 major companies have abandoned ALEC.

Common Cause

After reading this diary currently on the rec list and the comments in it about Michael Brown not being an athlete - I had the thought, I bet he could have been an athlete under the right circumstances.

Another Big Mike was in similar circumstances and he did become a good athlete under the right conditions:

Football star Michael Oher was born Michael Jerome Williams Jr. on May 28, 1986, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was one of 12 children born to Michael Jerome Williams Sr. and Denise Oher, who provided their children with little to no support. Michael Sr. was frequently in prison, and Denise was addicted to crack cocaine. As a result, Michael Jr. was in-and-out of foster homes and frequently homeless. He also performed poorly as a student, repeating first grade and second grade and attending 11 different schools during his first nine years as a student. Oher's estranged father, was murdered while Oher was a senior in high school. ... The young boy was finally taken in by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy when he was 16, and the Tuohys became Oher's legal guardians when he was 17. In his junior year, Oher began to excel in football. By the beginning of his senior year, Oher was the starting left tackle on the varsity football team. He quickly became a top football prospect in the state of Tennessee, which led to multiple scholarship offers from Division 1 schools.
The Blind Side Story

Michael Oher went on to become a star in the NFL and the focus of the Michael Lewis book, The Blind Side, which was turned into a major feature movie.

We need more Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy's and fewer Joe Scarboroughs, fewer Rudy Gullianis, fewer of the so-called leaders we see in St. Louis and others around the country and in our politics who just don't get it.

Come on America, these stories are not only happening on the big screen with a Hollywood budget ... they are happening each and every day on the streets of our country.  


Give the chance, could Michael Brown had followed in Michael Oher's footsteps and played in the NFL?

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Listening to or reading Bernie Sanders is like breathing again for the first time in years ... how did common sense become so uncommon over the past 30 years:

The American people must demand that Congress and the White House start protecting the interests of working families, not just wealthy campaign contributors. We need federal legislation to put the unemployed back to work, to raise wages and make certain that all Americans have the health care and education they need for healthy and productive lives.
You tell em' Bernie

I'm not going to comment further on Bernie's prescription for the country, other than to say, it's just what the doctor ordered. I will give a sneak peak of what you can expect to read in the rest of the article, a straightforward, honest analyses of the problems we face and a set of solutions to fix those problems.


How many spoonfuls of Bernie's medicine do you want?

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While Bob McCulloch's handling of the Wilson-Brown shooting was wrong in a lot of ways, he did say something I found to be profound.

When asked last week how we prevent future situations like this from happening, he said:

"The idea, I hope, is to avoid ever being in that situation."
... at 34:25 in this video

That is an idea that everyone on all sides of this problem can agree on.

The Darrin Wilson's of the world don't want to police neighborhoods that they fear.

The Michael Brown's of the world don't want police who fear them policing their neighborhoods.

Bob McCulloch is right - the question to ask is how do we avoid creating communities that are set up to have people fear one another?

There is a lot to unpack in the idea of communities that are set up in such a way that people fear one another - centuries of history, hopes, aspirations, competition and more. I'll get to a few ideas of how that might be addressed later in the diary.

The immediate recurring problem of overly aggressive policing in these communities is an immediate crisis that needs immediate solutions to help stem the suffering.

Body cameras are a good idea, but to my mind, while they help treat the immediate crisis, they don't stop the crisis from happening to begin with. They treat the symptom but not the disease.

That said, until we can create communities that are more safe, stable, healthy and optimistic, I am all for body cameras to help treat the symptom of police-community fear and all the pain that flows from that relationship.

But the larger challenge is to avoid ever being in that situation. To solve that problem, we need to create healthy, stable, safe and optimistic communities so that we help police and people in those communities not fear one another, and so we don't ask people in these communities to put their lives at risk — it is not fair to the Michael Brown's of the world, and it is not fair to the Darrin Wilson's of the world.

I am no expert, and I am certain many others have thought this through much better than I have here, but there are several concepts I think most would agree can help these communities and the law enforcement who are a part of these communities to avoid ever being in that situation:

1. Give people a decent living standard - that could be accomplished through a minimum wage, through access to quality healthcare, through access to good housing and well planned neighborhoods, parks, safe street design and maintenance. I am sure there are a number of other measures that I haven't thought of.

2. Bring the diverse members of all communities together in face-to-face settings, where people who often don't cross paths in life, can see one another for who they really are - just people, who want the same things out of life: happiness, health, respect, opportunity, love. This could be accomplished through civic activities - sports (little league, soccer, basketball, etc., and police are encouraged to coach, volunteer); food co-ops where farmers come to the inner city to describe their farms, products, issues they face, their families, etc. and police are encouraged to help in some fashion at the food co-op); inter-faith organization activities. Again, I am sure there are a number of other measures that I haven't thought of and I am sure there are many that are already in place and working on these issues.

Bob McColluch's statement — The idea, I hope, is to avoid ever being in that situation — is simple and profound.

I'd like to see him follow up that statement with action.

If he thinks some of the ideas laid out above are worthwhile and would help Ferguson and other communities like them to avoid ever being in that situation, I'd like to see him and the commission set up by Jay Nixon to address the problems associated with Ferguson, lead an effort to implement them.

I am sure the commission will come up with other ideas - implement those in Ferguson and in other communities across the United States that can benefit from them.

Finally, this issue is part of a larger conversation this country needs to have — as an advanced, developed economy and country, are we going to try to strip away the growth and progress that was made in the 20th Century and was led by progressives at the grass-roots level and implemented by progressive-minded politicians (Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson), progress that gave use food safety and security, progress that gave us clean water and air, progress that gave us education opportunities, job and wage security and stability, progress that gave us healthcare security, progress that gave use Civil Rights and Voting Rights, or are we going to continue to cut taxes on the wealthiest in this country and cut spending that supports the progressive state that was built over the last century?  

We see the kind of instability, anxiety and fear that are encouraged and exacerbated by financial/capital-gain driven economies that are focused on distributing wealth and financial security and stability to only a few and those resources are then supposed to be trickled down on the rest.

That is a system that, in my opinion, encourages situations such as Ferguson, where the health, happiness, stability and security go to certain communities at the expense of other communities, and we create the exact situation Bob McCulloch says we need to avoid.

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