Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Confessions of a Couch-Potato Occupier

By Lloyd Agte
In September I wrote to Dan in an email that this Occupy Wall Street phenomenon seemed to be really heating up and spreading and turning into a Movement, and to let me know if it was starting to happen in Portland, and that I might come over and we could check it out.

Well, that was many cities and protests ago.  Yes there were some Occupy protests in Coeur d'Alene and Spokane, but I heard of them only belatedly, they being 30 and 50 miles away.  So I missed all of the occupations except for what I read on the Internet, what I read in the newspapers (which after a brief flirtatious romance, steadily lost favor and interest in the Occupiers), and what I saw on TV, particularly FSTV (Free Speech TV) on cable (the one redeeming channel on Direct TV).

And then after a warm but short lethargic summer (rain and cold here in Northern Idaho until well into July), and the sudden death by heart attack of my beloved nephew Steve, and many seasonal duties and undone projects, and my involvement in a local newly-formed Human Rights group as well as a nascent Community Development Corporation of which I am a board member, and then add the usual "race with winter projects" in the country--of pouring sidewalks before the freeze, insulating crawl spaces, etc, etc., all of which added up to a conspiracy to sabotage any political writing on my part, or even close monitoring of events taking place.  (Or at least the above is my excuse for being out of touch.)  In an email to Dan I wrote in October, my main political goal at the moment was Occupy My House for the winter.

The Occupy Movement was clearly something where you had to be there to fully appreciate what was happening.  For it was, as I sensed early on, primarily a forum, where otherwise unheard voices connected with each other on issues that the mainstream media continually swept under the carpet.  This is an extremely important activity in our time--to sort out the truth from the media and ideological chaff pretending to be information that blows our way 24/7.

Before all the summer distractions and duties, I had planned on writing a blog on income inequality, titled "It's the Inequality, Stupid," parroting the Clinton campaign staff mantra of "It's the Economy, Stupid."   (I thought Obama could win with such a slogan, but I guess I was being naïve, for I think he always wanted to be a "one per-center," and now he is.)  And the article was to begin with something like the Common Dreams email-blog I received March 25, wherein Andy Zimit wrote: "General Electric, the nation's largest corporation and maker of Japan's failed nuclear reactors, last year had worldwide profits of $14.2 billion. They paid no taxes - and claimed a $3.2 billion tax benefit, thanks to fierce lobbying and what the Times calls "innovative accounting." Oh yeah, and Obama just named its CEO his liaison with the business community."  But I did not get it written, and thankfully the Occupy movement to a great extent usurped my need, as the 99% theme encapsulated the income divide--a divide, unfortunately, that is still growing as I write.  For the past few decades the middle-class could pretend they were not poor because they could buy a car and a house on time and presumed things would get better soon.  But the collapse of the housing market and the labor market caught them up by the short hairs and they suddenly realized that their net worth was a negative number.  No longer could they thumb their nose at legislation aimed at helping the poor, for they realized "The Poor Is Us."   So the Occupy movement has done a lot to expose the reality of the inequality in this country.  But if we back door barking bloggers stop barking and let the Occupiers carry the banner, we will be derelict in our democratic duty to expose the falsehoods in our political society that our training and experience has bestowed on us.

Thus it is important I feel that we keep hammering away at the present and growing wealth inequality and the governmental Rule by Corporation that, in a silent and largely unseen coup, has overthrown our fledgling democracy.  We need to keep shouting, "WE WANT OUR DEMOCRACY BACK."  Well, okay, I agree, we have never had a true democracy but rather a wealth-biased republic.  However, with the slow but sure enfranchising with the right to vote of African Americans, then Women, then Native Americans, we were making progress.  But I can't think of a single major area where we are truly making democratic progress today. 

Quite the contrary.  As Capitalism creaks like the pillars of a failing bridge as unrest among the unemployed and displaced grows in the streets and as the fear increases in the one percent, expect more restrictions on democracy and civil and human rights.  And will the 1% start a war with Iran both to get more oil secured and to try to make us behave?  Would they then label protest during war as terrorism?  Of course they would.  Fine, then we could take back the country and have an honest democracy run by terrorists.  Hey, it's just a word.

Addendum By Dan Perin

Thanks, Lloyd, for taking time to write this article.   I think it is very appropriate.

I have to say that I am worn thin on protesting anything.  All the things you mentioned in your piece are reasons I just feel more and more like "a voice crying in the wilderness," about things that nobody cares to listen to.  I know the Occupy Movement seems to have legs and will probably continue even through the winter with some modifications allowing for more "indoor" activity, but folks don't seem to connect the clown show of the Republican debates with the problems the country has and how the clowns--none of them--can possibly provide an answer.  And anyone who thinks they will is absurdly demented!  I simply cannot believe so many have already forgotten how close we came to financial disaster and who was responsible for it, as well as the road-blocking thrown up against any effort to resolve the problems. While I think Obama is beginning to show some strength, I mostly feel that our problems are well beyond being solved by politicians.  They have staked out their territories so far apart that there is no relevance to anything remotely bi-partisan they plan to do "for the country." 

So, tell me again, why I should not be discouraged?  "A plague on both their houses!"


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Portland Sets an Example


By Daniel Perin
Occupy Portland, Mayor Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese did not set out to make Portland an example for other cities to follow in handling the broader Occupy Wall Street events.  But that is exactly what they did.

It is now just after 8:00 o’clock Sunday morning and reporting of the events following the announced 12:01 AM Sunday closing of Chapman and Lownsdale parks to the protesters has proven to be nearly a work of art in how the government and its citizens can work together to resolve problems.  In the one physical conflict that occurred injuring a police person, the resolution came from the main body of the Occupy members who interceded and turned the hoodlum over to the police.

Unlike Oakland and Atlanta where heavy-handed police and government officials resorted to violent interaction with the Occupy groups, Portland, at all levels, worked to peacefully end the encampments so the parks could be closed and repaired.  Yes, there are businesses in the downtown blocks in Portland that were beginning to lose business and were urging a stronger police action to end the occupation.  But wiser, calmer heads prevailed leading to a peaceful resolution, at least until now. 

Many have moved out of the parks.  Volunteers within the Occupy members and others who have come downtown to help have begun the cleanup.  Numbers of trucks have hauled away the debris, tents are coming down, muddy walks are being swept and cleared.  At the same time food tables have been set up to feed those still at work.  Many of the homeless people who joined the encampment because they had no other place to be, have been provided with at least temporary housing in shelters and motels.  All in all, this has been an outstanding demonstration of democracy at its best!

I am very proud to be an Oregonian and a native Portlander.  I am proud of the way in which Mayor Adams and Chief Reese have shown restraint, yet decisiveness, as they have moved forward from day to day.  I have not always been a fan of Mayor Adams, but I applaud his obvious wisdom in exercising both his power as Police Commissioner and as supporter of the Occupy Movement.  I realize that it is not over until it is over, but there is every reason to be hopeful that the message will endure and continue to find positive means of expression.  And while Portland did not set out to be an example of the right way to work with protest movements, in fact, we have shown that restraint and peaceful steps can harmoniously resolve the serious issues facing all of us.

Again, it is not over until it is over, but we are way ahead of Oakland, Atlanta and other cities that have shown less enlightened leadership.  Kudos to Adams, Reese and the Occupy General Assembly.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All The News That’s Fit To Print!

By Daniel Perin

For years I have known, as I am sure you have as well, that what makes the headlines in print and other media is whatever is negative, brutal, sensational, or titillating.  What usually does NOT make the headlines is the TRUTH of what is behind the news.

Efforts have been made from time to time to produce a media outlet based on the “Good News.”  It has never worked with the possible exception of The Christian Science Monitor.”   Even they have trouble keeping it positive.  I would guess we all don’t want to waste time reading the bland items about a boy scout helping a senior citizen across the street.  Because of that bent of conscience we look for more sensational items.

Now we are facing one of the most important social events of our time—the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.  Not only are Occupy events happening across our country, there are correspondent events around the world.

How are these events being reported, locally and nationally?  My experience is that once the first shine of interest is past the news media began looking under rocks (or in tents) for someone, anyone, doing something, anything, that was detrimental to the movement.  Every kind of protest will eventually attract the hoodlum element, those persons with pent up rage they had no place to vent, or others who had nothing better to do than raise hell.  Wonderful!  Just what the TV reporter was looking for—a broken window, a blocked street, someone with a used needle (could have been for a legitimate diabetes need, but probably not).  The result is that the six o’clock news, always known for its sensationalism back to the 60s, could lift its ratings by appealing the prurient appetites of its audience.


Unfortunately, as reported above by Sarah Seltzer, what is missed by media is the background story, the principles that are being stated by those engaged in the camp outs, general assemblies, planning and yes, even cooperation with the police and other authorities.  In Portland, Oregon Mayor Sam Adams has made a gallant effort to recognize the validity of the OWS event while at the same time protecting the rights of individuals and businesses not engaged in the event.  He has had a difficult time of it and in all likelihood will have a price to pay.  Fortunately, he has already decided not to run for re-election, so he has somewhat less to lose.

I have watched the media reports—TV and the Oregonian—and it appears that slowly they are picking up more about the uneasiness of the general public and the inconvenience of dealing with those seeking to have their voices heard and RESPONDED TO in a meaningful manner than they are to the OWS voices.  Change is often inconvenient.  Get over it!  Can you honestly not see that our current government is broken, unable to operate and provide the legislation, opportunity and guidance that will generate jobs, financial recovery and physical well being to the citizenry?

The train of American Democracy is slowing and will halt altogether if we do not act to change the regulatory laws governing our financial institutions that have raped the public and then spit on their crumpled bodies by rewarding corporate executives with exorbitant bonuses and perks.  Both political parties are bought and paid for by the K Street lobbyists in Washington, DC.  The Supreme Court has made it possible for incredible sums of money to pour into political campaigns across the country without anyone knowing where that money is coming from.  We no longer have a country with “one person, one vote.”  What we have is corporate ownership of our legislative bodies.

Fortunately, the elections held Tuesday, November 8 demonstrated the outrage of the public over what Republican majorities have tried to do since the 2010 elections.  Ohio voters overturned Republican Governor John Kasich’s anti collective bargaining law.  Other union busting efforts defeated.  Voter suppression tactics defeated.  Birth control as murder defeated.  It looks like there may be hope for change after all.

I am not saying that any of these issues should not be open for debate.  I am only arguing for transparency and getting rid of the conspiratorial efforts of moneyed interests in our political system.  There are legitimate questions about the role of government in the lives of individuals.  Some issues will never be finally settled to the satisfaction of everyone, but we MUST get back to the individual having a voice in the policies and actions of their government.  To me this is mostly what OWS is all about and I, for one, encourage the voices speaking out, acting out, on my behalf.  I support their effort to self-regulate as they present their views.  I support local government allowing for a place for protesters to stand their ground and present their case.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Is Lloyd?


If you have been wondering what happened to Lloyd, the co-author of this blog, these photos may help.  Here he is trampled by the bull on Wall St., and being dragged into bankruptcy court.












No, they are not Photo Shopped.  I checked with Lloyd and here is his response:  Nope the real thing.  Was chaperoning my video class in New York in '04, the year I retired, where one of my students had a film in the New York Student Film Festival (won Best Experimental Feature).  

So, you see, Lloyd was way ahead of the rest of us in the Occupy Wall Street protest.  Incidentally, Lloyd is a seasoned activist having been a student at Kent State when the National Guard killed four student protesters.  This helped launch his social activist inclinations.  His writing has been on hold due to continued construction efforts on his retirement home in Plummer, Idaho.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

To My Senator and Representative in Congress

I have written to both of my Senators and urge you to do the same.  We MUST stress the importance of changing the way our government operates in order to return to responding to the people, not the MONEY.-- Dan Perin


Honorable Sir/Madam:

We are all aware of the Occupy Wall Street protests taking place all over the country, and indeed, the world.  Hopefully, this will be more than an inconvenience to the corporate elite and the political bureaucracy in Washington, DC. 

I am writing to let you know how strongly I feel YOU must be part of the answer to the issues raised by those in the streets who have had enough of politics as usual.  It is the huge sums of money being poured into political coffers by the richest persons and corporate entities that is the major reason politics is corrupt and the people’s voices are drowned out.  When our voices will not be listened to, we have no choice but to rally in the streets and demand that you listen.

I am sure you are aware of the most recent polls that show for the first time ever in polls that a majority of us would vote even our own senators and representatives out of office if ALL could be voted out.  We feel that starting from scratch could not be any worse than continuing with the failure of our current representatives to actually listen and respond to our needs.

I am sharing an article I recently posted on my blog, Insight and Outsight, about what we might expect from the Occupy Wall Street protests.  I urge you to view it and take to heart the need to act as never before to right the ship of State.


There are people who have ideas worthy of consideration.  I urge you to listen to them and seriously examine how you might better represent me and your other constituents in this time of crisis. One among them is Lawrence "Larry" Lessig, a director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a professor of law at Harvard Law School.

Thank you in advance for listening and acting on our behalf.

Daniel J. Perin


Sunday, October 9, 2011

What Next for Occupy Wall Street?

By Daniel Perin

Forty years ago in Denver, Colorado there was a strong alternative life style movement that began to seriously consider building a new type of community.  There were several iterations of this idea, one of which more or less grew out of the Denver Free University folks.  They targeted a neighborhood just east of downtown between Colfax and 17th and began to buy properties in that area.  They planned on closing streets and making neighborhood parks in their place.  They would have community buildings where families could share activities, including community potlucks on a regular basis.  The times changed during the process and those who had professional talents tended to return to the business community.  Others hung on for a while but the community never really came about.

The Whole Life Learning Center, which I founded in 1973, also envisioned a mountain community where people could “return to the land” as it were.  While we examined many possibilities, we never were able to pull together the resources in people and money to accomplish our dream.  A few years ago my son and I began to envision that dream of community again.  There was still a need for a place where individuals and families could gather together, share their talents and their longing for a caring community of like-minded people.  We envisioned all the aspects of how people would share in building and enjoying a sense of “belonging,” including an educational program for children.  Again, we were unable to complete that dream.

In the meantime we all have watched as our society has continued a downward spiral of lost jobs, lost homes, lost communities.  In the place of these lost values we saw the richest 1% of our society gather in 25% of all the wealth of the country.  That gathered wealth has not been used for the benefit of the society that made possible its attainment.  Instead, it continues to accumulate while corporations find more ways to automate what few manufacturing jobs remain and ship other jobs overseas with little hope or effort to replace those jobs in a meaningful way.

So now we find ourselves gathering in protests all over the country, indeed, all over the world, saying enough is enough!  Or as Howard Beale in the film, Network,[1] based on Paddy Chayefskey,s script, said, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Today I was sharing some ideas about community with a friend who told me of a dream about being in a community.  She went into great detail and as I responded I told her the vision was very much like that some of us had back in the days of the Whole Life Learning Center and later that my son and I shared.  Later, as I thought about that exchange in the context of what is happening with so many persons now displaced from their homes, jobs, and security, I could not help but think that if things do not change appreciably, we could well be forced into some form of communal living.  People are finding they cannot make it on their own.  Many cannot even make it if they return to their parent’s homes.

Historically, the family and the community shared responsibility for each other.  There was always some kind of family safety net.  It may have been sparse living, but there was more of a certainty that we were secure with those we loved and who loved us.  Often the church played an important part in that place of last resort.  Our modern day food pantries are finding it difficult to meet the demand and while some help from the church still exists, even the church is more politically involved today than it is socially active.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement is to succeed, it requires even more effort than the protests of the war in Viet Nam.  What we are witnessing right now are voices rising out of the fringes of the dispossessed, those with any number of complaints.  There may not seem to be any coherence to their message.  Mark my words, friends, coherence will come.  A primary focus will be arrived at and by that time the power behind these early efforts will have mounted to a storm that cannot be diverted.  Ambivalence expressed by our politicians, interested only in perpetuating their own position long enough to retire at full pay and at the same time go to work for lobbying firms intent on further robbing the public of its voice and self-determination, clearly demonstrates a need for structural change in our political system.

You can only keep the “rabble” suppressed for so long before they must rise up in protest.  It would be better for us all if we could establish a firm basis for our cause and convince those we have given the opportunity to lead that the time has come for them to change their ways, to reflect again our concerns and aid us as we seek to make this society work again in accordance with the founding principles that made us a great nation.

Our nation has the resources to meet all our needs.  But the manner in which those resources have been wrested from the working person and placed in the hands of the “money changers” must be addressed and must be changed.  This is no longer a job for the politician.  It is a job for the public, for society as a whole.  Maybe it is time to throw the bums out and start all over.  For the first time in polling history a majority of those polled said they would even vote their representative out of office if they all would go.  We are ready for wholesale change it appears.

Besides the Occupy Wall Street movement, there are a number of opportunities beginning to present themselves.  Of course you can stay within the typical two parties or the Independent Party.  But there is also, Americans Elect 2012. [2]  This is a grass roots effort to nominate the President through the Internet by getting on the ballot in every state.  Undoubtedly there will be more organized efforts arising out of the current protests—if we hang in there and participate in whatever ways we individually are able.

Join in, write about, talk with others—communicate!  We are the 99%.  Hear our voices!


[1]  The film won four Academy Awards, in the categories of Best Actor (Finch), Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Supporting Actress (Straight), and Best Original Screenplay (Chayefsky).
In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2002, it was inducted into the Producers Guild of America Hall of Fame as a film that has "set an enduring standard for U.S. American entertainment."[1] In 2006, Chayefsky's script was voted one of the top-ten screenplays by the Writers Guild of America, East. In 2007, the film was 64th among the Top 100 Greatest U.S. American Films as chosen by the American Film Institute, a ranking slightly higher than the one AFI had given it ten years earlier. (Wikipedia)

[2]  http://www.americanselect.org/

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Reversal of Hope


By Daniel Perin

Well, my friends, it has begun.  In the two special elections held on Tuesday to fill vacant seats in Democrat Representative Anthony Wiener’s NY district and the Nevada U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican John Ensign both were filled by Republicans.  I guess it should be no surprise.  However, it is terribly disappointing.  In an atmosphere that demands we throw all the senators and representatives out and start all over, it seems we have forgotten it is not only the person we may wish to defeat, but also the party.  In our haste to get rid of the “scoundrels” we have forgotten that party planks and basic philosophy are what we should be looking at when we seek to replace our representatives.

Frankly, I have my doubts that either the Republican or Democratic parties are up to the task of saving the country from further despair.  I would eagerly examine the position of any Independent candidate for any office in the coming elections.  I am a registered Independent.  I believe in the possibility of a middle ground philosophy of government that recognizes what the Federal Government can do that is beyond the ability of the individual states.  I believe there are things better decided on the ground in local and state governments.  Getting that balance requires thinking “outside the box” of traditional party answers.

It is clear to me that Republicans think that private business can offer us better advantages in stirring the economy to success.  (Look where that got us in the 1930’s and in the 2000’s so far.)  The Democrats seem to think that only government has the right answers.  Our Big Brother can take care of us.  (That hasn’t done so well either, considering the graft, waste, cronyism, etc.)

We all, or at least any of us who still believe in hope, have a great deal of work to do to educate ourselves about the original, constitutional role of government and the current demographic and economical issues that we must adapt to if we are to continue to be the world leader as a caring and competent political, social system.  The answer does NOT lie within the principles of the Religious Right or the Tea Party, both of which have serious agendas to usurp the constitutional rights of the individual and seek to establish a theocracy based solely on supposed “Christian” ideals.

The Constitution provides for the separation of church and state for a reason.  As a country that is NOT a “homeland” but rather an assumed country “taken” from the original occupants, it was recognized that we were, in fact, a melting pot that consisted of people from all over the world.  First from European countries, followed by people from every other ethnic and religious heritage.  We often resisted each new group.  They came seeking the freedoms we offered and the belief that anyone who works hard and contributes to our society could achieve their dreams.  But as each group became a part of our society we realized that we have become richer culturally, economically and socially.

Somewhere along our journey we have forgotten the potential contribution or become threatened by “foreigners” who we fear will take over our county.  For heaven’s sake, folks, we are ALL foreigners and to forget that is to build a class society restricting the freedoms of those we believe will weaken us if we don’t watch out.  Nowhere is this more evident to me than the vitriol expressed personally against Barack Obama.  Never in our history has there been such contempt and obvious disrespect for the office of the President of our country and for the man personally.  I am saddened, angry and frustrated by this.  I see the roots of this negativity in the fear that a “foreigner,” a “slave” somehow tricked his way into being elected, because certainly no black man could possibly deserve or earn such a coveted position.

Today there is a strong movement that has as its agenda to remove most of the constructive changes we have made to become a more inclusive society that gives all of its members a greater sense of equality and hope for their future.  Religious fundamentalism would put a Christian God in charge of the country and demand all come to their knees in obedience to the exclusion of other religious belief systems, including those with no religious belief at all.  This agenda includes a return to second-class citizenship for the black community (putting them back in their “place”). Additionally, it wants to return women to the sub-class of obedient homemaker subject to the will of their husbands.  Of course, this also means no freedom for women over their own bodies.

When people in a society give the most exercised response of shouting and clapping because Governor Perry has executed more people than any other governor, or yells out support for letting a person die if he doesn’t have insurance to cover his hospital and medical needs, there is something terribly wrong with that society, or at least those in the group that has lost their sense of decency and compassion.  This is NOT the country I want to live in.  Well, I’m NOT leaving.  I am going to stay right here and continue to speak out.  I am going to continue reading and listening to a variety of sources in an effort to understand what is really going on behind the media scenes.  We are all subject to selective information.  You have to really dig to get closer to the truth of what is going on.  I hope I am not alone in this effort.  I don’t care what your particular philosophy or religious or political position is, if you have not examined the basis of your beliefs lately, you are out of touch and need a refresher course.  Things have changed.  They are continuing to radically change.  We can be a constructive part of that change or we can wait and see what happens  (as we are carted off to some isolation camp because we are a threat to the status quo).

No single source of information will give us all the answers.  That is why we need to examine many sources of information, and not just settle down with what seems comfortable at the time.  I have come upon a book that has offered me another look into the machinations behind the scenes that is causing the social unrest and frustrating efforts of those with different ideas of what can be done to improve this country.  It is, Republican Gomorrah:  Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, by Max Blumenthal.  It is one view, but by no means the only view of how people gain power and use that power to destroy the rights of others.

There has been a reversal of hope for many of us who were excited by the “I can” chants supporting Obama’s run for the Presidency.  There is still reason to hope, but nothing will come of it if we just sit on our hands and fail to get busy in whatever way each of us can to discover, support and vote for responsible representatives.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I AM 9-11 WEARY

By Daniel Perin
In the ten years since the terrible, senseless attack on the World Trade Center in New York I have become weary of the repeated stories of loss, revenge, hatred and victim-hood that seems to never end.  Somehow since the Oklahoma City bombing of the Federal Building and the effort to salve the heartbreak and sense of personal loss, we decided that the families of those who lost their lives in these tragic events deserved compensation from their government.  Certainly, their loss is unfortunate.  It is personally devastating in every way imaginable.  I get that.  I support doing whatever we can as a society to help mend the broken lives and irreversible loss these families have experienced.

That being said, I admit that I have become disheartened by the actions of some who have pressed for “damages” as though it was the government’s fault that they lost a loved one.  Our government offered what amounted to a generous “life insurance” payout and gave assistance in many other ways.  For the most part this was what needed to be done, even though no assistance or amount of money could replace the loss these folks experienced.  Some who chose not to accept the government assistance because they felt they might do better in the courts have left me appalled.  It was, in my opinion, another example of, “Somebody owes me for this loss,” kind of attitude that has weakened the fabric of our society.

On the other hand, I recognize that the government has been slow, if not essentially halted all together when it comes to taking care of the long term consequences of damage to the health and well being of rescue workers due to struggling in the dust and grit of the Trade Center debris for days and weeks.

Somewhere there has to be a middle ground of common sense, personal responsibility and government responsibility when it comes to what is done to recover from such horrible events.  Some may see no difference here between natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes and the acts of war.  Perhaps there is no difference, but for me there is.  I am sure I have come to this feeling because I see some taking advantage of the disaster to get someone to pay for their loss.  I know it is too simplistic to advise people to “just get insurance.”  Insurance doesn’t cover acts of war or weather disasters unless expensive special coverage is acquired.

Finally, let me share something that caused me to wonder about all of these questions and my personal feelings.  I just read the special issue of Time Magazine on “Beyond 9/11.”  The reports brought tears to my eyes again, just as the event did in 2001.  I do feel for the many whose losses are tragic.  The sense of desolation, fear and anger is still palpable for many of us.  And though I have experienced burnout about 9/11, I do, in fact, join the survivors in their efforts to reconcile, each in his/her own way, the loss they have experienced.  I pray for them and for us all so we can get beyond the fear and anger and open our hearts and minds to a future that is secure and fulfilling in new and wonderful ways.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Great Flabbergasting

By Daniel Perin

A summary of the list of Republican ideas they originally proposed but voted against as soon as President Obama agreed with and promoted such legislation. Presented by The Rachel Maddow show on August 19, 2011 on MSNBC.  You can find the whole segment here:


1.             A bi-partisan debt commission
2.             “Pay As You Go” rules in Congress
3.             Cap & Trade legislation (Even supported by Sarah Palin and McCain)
4.             Individual mandate in health care (as early as the 1990s & by Romney in Massachusetts)
5.             Immigration and border security proposals (McCain proposal in 2006 that he won’t support now even though all Republican conditions have been met)
6.             The DREAM Act originally proposed by Senator Orin Hatch and eventually co-sponsored by McCain and thirteen other Republicans)

Regarding the border security proposal conditions by Republicans:  a) need more deportations; b) increase security forces.  Actual deportation history:
1892     - 2801 deported
2008     - 359,795 (under Bush)
2009     - 395,165 (under Obama)
When Rick Perry entered the Presidential race he said we needed drones patrolling the border.  Texas with the longest border with Mexico of any state, yet Perry apparently didn’t realize that drones had been patrolling the border since 2009.

Finally, exasperated at Republican “flabbergasting,” President Obama issued an Executive Order suspending deportations and requiring a review of 300,000 deportations awaiting resolution.

ONE POINT IS VERY CLEAR from this review, and various Republican leaders have stated it directly and indirectly:  Nothing is more important than making Barack Obama a “one term President.”  What kind of representation is this?

No bones about it.  We have a broken government and both parties have played their inept and shortsighted roles, but clearly the Republican policy of personal attack and legislative road blocking is the primary reason so little has been done about our economic challenges.  Oh, and WHERE IS YOUR JOB PLAN, Rep. Boehner and Sen. McConnell?

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Debt Ceiling

By Daniel Perin

I am just too friggen mad to even write any more about the stupidity and economical ignorance of the Tea Party.  I wish they would take their damn tea bags and go home.  If the rest of us are lucky, they WILL be voted out of office in 2012 (probably along with Obama).  God help us given the “choices” we have as alternatives.  It is completely clear now that there are no moderates left in either the Democratic or Republican parties.  When faced with serious problems nothing great was ever accomplished in this country without the help of the moderates who remained poised in the midst of the chaotic ranting of the extremists.

Even if there is an eleventh hour agreement on the debt ceiling, it is too late.  The markets, which are the backbone of our economic structure, are already taking steps to steel themselves against the nearly certain recession that will be the result of not paying the bills we have ALREADY created, but now some think we shouldn’t pay.  REMEMBER, the debt ceiling has nothing to do with new expenditures.  It is strictly to pay for the expenses created mainly in the last ten years, and more specifically, in the eight years of President Bush’s terms in office.  (Two wars, Tax cuts for the rich, and a Medicare drug program—none of which did the Republicans raise money to pay for!)

I sincerely hope that if the economy falls the first to go are the sixty or so Tea Party Republicans who are bringing this default about.  They aren’t on Social Security (probably) and they will continue to get their Federal salaries as representatives, so I guess they have nothing to lose.  On the other hand, I DO have something to lose.  When the Bush economy tanked in 2008 I lost more than 20% of the small retirement funds I had been able to gather the last eleven years of my working life.  That was on top of another 20% lost in an earlier downturn.  Even though I have restructured my retirement, it is my Social Security check that pays my bills.  My retirement allows me a few “extras” like gasoline for short trips, basic television and Internet service.  I do not feel poor, but I do feel threatened by ignorance, because it will affect me and already has.

Well, I guess I did still have a few words about the Tea Party!  I am sure it is clear that I hold strong resentment to what their naiveté is creating.  I personally know some Tea Party followers and am constantly dismayed about their apparent lack of awareness of the broader picture of the problems of our country.  Yes, we spend too much.  Yes, it needs to be fixed.  Yes, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid need restructuring.  And yes, let’s get the hell out of all the wars and special military bases all over the world, and continue closing extraneous military installations all over this country.  Yes, that means even in YOUR Congressional district just like mine.

But to not honor the debt we already created?  That is NOT an option.  Try not paying your credit card bill, just once.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Misreading History

By Daniel Perin

As I read the Sunday Oregonian Commentary page on this subject [1] I wanted to share it with others who don’t have access to the article, or did not read it.  It so clearly stated the obvious in terms of what is going on in our current debate on economic principles.

By this morning, as I reviewed the article, I thought, “What’s the use?”  It seems to me that the folks in Washington who are supposed to be representing their constituents back home simply are unwilling to LISTEN to what we are trying to say.  Congress and politics in general have become so rigid in positioning themselves that the two sides are like the proverbial immovable object meeting and irresistible force! 

Mr. McElvaine leads his article with these words:
What excuse do we have when we follow people who, guided by a different economic faith, see the past as they want it to have been not as it was?  Today, under the influence of leaders blinded to facts by certain faith, we are careening toward a repetition of mistakes that led to catastrophe.
He is referring to politicians who either have forgotten what the Great Depression was like, or were not present during those horrendous times.  Having forgotten that the principles of the Republican Party that brought on the financial ruin for millions of people they are now “misreading history” and implementing policies similar to those that led to the collapses of 1929 and 2008.  There is a well-known saying that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  McElvaine continues:
With the economy in a precarious position, slashing spending, concentrating ever more wealth and income at the top, and blocking effective regulation is a prescription for disaster.
Conservatives appear to be united behind a set of beliefs that are dangerously wrong.  Theirs is a faith-based economics that contrast with fact-based economics; their god is named the Market.  Their economics is as immune to facts as its opposite, Marxism.  Call it Marketism.  A devout Marketist believes that the Market is always right and any government intervention is, well, sinful.
The sad reality of this interminable roadblock is that the public has a better sense of what is wrong and what is really important to them than their representatives.  It is time to get REAL, to get past the thinking that “my representative is okay, but the rest of them should be voted out of office.”  This is not good enough.  I believe we are close to a time when a total house cleaning is in order.  If we were to elect 100 brand new Senators and 535 brand new Representatives, there is NO WAY they could do worse than the ones in office now.  I know this is such a radical thought that it could never happen.  But there are things we could do as a nation that would bring about change more quickly.

This morning I received an email making the rounds, which in short advocated making our Congressional representatives subject to the same realities we all face.  I don’t often forward such emails, but I did this time.  It may be too much to hope that we can bring about a re-direction in our politics, but I have to keep trying.  I am dismayed to realize that people I would have believed had more sense than to blindly follow factually illiterate leaders, do not realize the consequences of such action.   What I DO realize is that more of us are beginning to raise our voices and to take actions in some way.  Already a majority of the public, including Republicans, disagree with the insane positions taken by Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor, all of whom are scared to death by the Tea Party representatives elected in 2010, no attention is paid to our voices.

 There are moments—after saying “a plague on both their houses,” I am ready to say let the default occur.  Let the economy collapse.  Let our house of cards crumble.  Then, using our indomitable American Spirit, let us rise again to rebuild this great nation!  It is time to quit misreading history and learn from what actually happened  when faulty economic policies were followed.

Here is a copy of the email I mentioned earlier.

HOW TO FIX CONGRESS

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it.. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011
1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!!




[1]  By Robert S. McElvaine, Oregonian, Sunday, July 17, 2011.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Last Stand (or Fall)

By Daniel Perin

Well, here we are again.  Thanks to the Tea Party crazies who believe the government can fail to pay its obligations and still survive.  Listen!  Try not paying your rent and see what it gets you.  Tell your bank you aren’t going to make the car payment this month because the auto manufacturer wastes materials in building them or the car doesn’t get good mileage.  Quit paying for your health insurance. (You can then depend on the hospital emergency room, which is required by law to take care of you whether you can pay or not.)  Of course, if you go that route the hospital will soon close and the doctors will be out of work.

Here’s a thought.  You could quit adding debt to YOUR credit card and begin paying down the balance until your finances are under control again.  (Personally, I learned this lesson years ago.  I have no debt and do not incur it if I do not have the means to pay it off.)  Sure, it would be nice if government acted this way and the issue must be addressed.  But this game of mutual Russian Roulette that our politicians are playing can have only one consequence—the gun will eventually fire the fatal bullet.  The way it looks right now the bullet is aimed at me and all the other Social Security recipients, the men and women in the military, and all others dues to receive a check from the government after August 2.  Shall I tell my landlord that there will be no rent payment until my check arrives? 

I have absolutely no use for the Republicans (and many weak fish Democrats) especially now that they are controlled by the Tea Party element.  It is sheer folly to believe that we must utterly destroy our country and raze it to its foundation in order to bring order.  The problem is way too big for such simplistic remedies.

BREAKING NEWS!
You guessed it.  The self-serving political hacks that are Republicans raised the white flag of surrender on raising the debt ceiling.  Now for the small print: 

To shirk their open responsibility, they are proposing to simply let President Obama raise the debt limit on his own, while they present a plan in Congress to vote to “disapprove” of his action.

There you have it!  The catastrophe is averted, but not resolved.  Perhaps we could hope for some real action on resolving our economic policy problems now that the fire is turned down a bit.  Take a deep breath and forget about it.  Frankly, I think the only way we will be brought to our senses is to be brought to our knees in economic collapse.  I hold no hope for effective legislation as long as there are enough Republicans in office to thwart any meaningful effort to have an intelligent conversation about the needs of our society.

Okay, you can resume breathing for now, but keep the oxygen handy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

American Reaffirmation


By Daniel Perin

Last evening I again watched The Capital Fourth of July Celebration on PBS along with millions of others across this nation.  The display of wonderful talent, great music and lively dancing by many in the crowds spread across the nation’s capital parks aroused my own sense of patriotism—AGAIN!  And, of course, the fireworks that so brilliantly lit up the skies reminding us of the beauty of a substance far too often used as a destructive force against our fellow humans.

Those who follow my writing, especially on this Insight and Outsight blog know that more than once I have cast myself among the many frustrated, angry and dissatisfied citizens raising their voices in protest about the seeming lack of responsibility among our political representatives.  But last night that all faded temporarily as I realized how grateful I am to be a citizen of the United States of America.  With all our faults we are THE nation where citizens have the freedoms to believe or not believe in Divine Providence; where we can form our opinions openly and test them on the waters of sometime stormy seas of opposition.  We still have the vote, our unique opportunity to participate in determining our continuing destiny.  We can gather freely in groups to discuss our priorities, plan our course of action in response to the actions of our government, and generally add to the strength of our nation through our participation.

Where else could a young girl of a minority background dream of success and work her way to the top of the ladder, become the American Idol, gain an Oscar, an Emmy and other honors—and open the show singing our national anthem?  Jordan Sparks honored us all with her spirit and her talent.  I remember first seeing Josh Groban on the Ally McBeal television show in simple nightclub bit.  I was stunned by his remarkable voice.  Now he is a world famous performer fulfilling his dream.  And Steve Martin!  This guy has done so many things to entertain us through the years.  Last night with his band he treated us to some of America’s original music with his brilliant blue-grass banjo playing.  There were so many more, all of whom, to me represented the best we have to offer.  We were privileged to hear them because they were free to follow their dreams and we were free to gather together and enjoy them.

I will probably find it necessary to express my frustration with the folly I see in the actions (inactions) of our government again as I continue to participate in my own way.  But last night, and lingering on through this day, I am basking in the joy and satisfaction of living free!

God Bless America, the land of the Free!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hail Caesar, Hail Netanyahu!

By Lloyd Agte

It has to go down as one of the most shameful events in Congressional History:  Congressmen and women leaping to their feet in standing ovation at the warmed-over hate-speech spewing from the mouth of Benjamin Netanyahu before the assembled Congress of the United States.  As he stood at the podium basking in the standing ovation even before he began, smiling smugly with that "I've-got -you-now, Obama, right-by-the-Balls " look, I shut off the TV.  Why ruin a perfectly good morning with a depressing show I had already seen before, too many times.

Ten minutes later I turned the television back on to catch the last five minutes.  I was right--same old lying tune: Hamas  (the democratically elected party chosen by the Palestinians to represent them) is an evil terrorist organization, a Palestinian al Qaeda, the phony "we don't have a partner for peace" (an old worn-out tune from the 'seventies that like bad disco, keeps on getting recycled), poor little victim Israel has to protect its borders, they refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist, and now a new Israeli roadblock to peace is thrown out: Palestine must recognize Israel as "the Jewish State." This, of course, would boot the million and a half Arabs living as third class citizens in Israel now into some Bantustan or concentration camp, end hopes of right of return of 5 million refugees and doom peace prospects forever. But of course the Israelis do not want peace or Netanyahu would not have thrown that last roadblock on the table.

As Fred Boyle, law professor at Illinois University has pointed out, if Israel really wants to be called "The Jewish State," all it has to do to receive international recognition as such, is to change its name to something like "Jewistan--The State of the Jews."  Then any state doing business with it would have to recognize its status through its name.
For analyzing Israel's constant narrative line, which sells so well in the U.S., of there being a constant "existential threat," an imminent danger of being attacked (with Israel having 200 nukes? Get real!), read Ira Chernus' "The Great Israeli Security Scam," wherein he exposes the myths about Israel being under threat from outside military attack, from personal attack in Israel, and from a world-wide effort to deligitimize the Jewish state.

See also Gilad Atzmon's "Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder--A Glimpse into Israeli Collective Psychosis," wherein he writes:  "Within the Pre-TSD, an illusion pre-empts reality and the condition in which the fantasy of terror is focussed [sic] is itself becoming grave reality. If it is taken to extremes, even an agenda of total war against the rest of the world is not an unthinkable reaction."  One could argue that the U.S. suffers from the same disorder, though in a milder form.

Still another take on what is behind Israel's belligerence is voiced in Carlo Strenger's April 3 piece in Haaeretz, "Decline and Fall of Israel's Messianic Politics." "What happens to Millenarian movements? Their prophecies are at some point falsified by history: the second coming of Christ does not occur when predicted; no Mahdi re-establishes the Caliphate. The national-religious movement will have to face the failure of its prophecy that the founding of the State of Israel and the conquest of the West Bank is the onset of the Messianic period. It will have to realize that Israel is part of an international system that has standards of legitimacy that can and must not be disregarded."

But back in the U.S. of A., the shameless Congress kept leaping to its collective feet, clapping and bellowing at every insult to the Palestinians, cheering every lying, worn-out Zionist cliché.  It was like Julius Caesar coming to the provinces and all the provincial rulers shouting "Hail Caesar" and bellowing their enthusiasm--all to keep those golden coins of the Roman Empire coming their way.  Was AIPAC filming it all? Did they then reward the first ten to leap to their feet with a thousand dollars each?  And did they time each congressman's length of applause, ten dollars for each second of clapping?  Something like that was surely happening.

The over-enthusiastic reaction of the Republicans was, of course, public exhibition of support for a foreign leader over their own elected President, who was in England at the time.  After all, it was Republican leadership who set up Netanyahu's Congressional address in order to embarrass the President. This foreign leader received four more rounds of applause than Obama received in his State of the Union address.  (Reported as 59 by Dana Milbank in the Spokane Spokesman Review)   Why?  Because Obama, in a recent speech, had dared to state publicly what the previous two presidents had suggested in peace negotiations--that peace negotiations begin with the 1967 borders, an item that has been a part of all the so-called peace negotiations since the 1980s. But things have changed. Israel and the U.S. Congress have moved significantly to the right. 

Obama had the temerity to publicly announce that borders matter. Immediately, Netanyahu and all the other Zionists started bellowing like a bull with his balls caught in a barb-wire fence, and the Republicans saw this as a chance to side with the Zionists and brand Obama as an anti-Semite, thus drying up his AIPAC funds (and getting them for themselves of course) and relegating both Obama and Obama's peace efforts to the ash-bin of history.  It remains to be seen whether this anti-patriotic action on the part of the Republicans will come back to haunt them.

The changed political scene we have today is pointed out by Justin Raimondo in his article "US Politicians Kowtow to a Foreign Leader: The Lobby Takes the Offensive." In America, the power of the Israel lobby is much greater than at any time in the past, and certainly since the 1967 war. We are faced, here in this country, with the extraordinary spectacle of a US President confronting a foreign leader with a list of reasonable requests – negotiation in good faith, the abandonment of encroaching ‘settlements,’ an end to the arbitrary humiliations endured by a people under occupation – and the leaders of the opposition are taking the side of the foreign leader. This from a party that revels in its alleged super-'patriotism'! Romney, Huckabee, and the whole Fox network team went into overdrive, following the President’s Mideast speech, flaying him for 'betraying' Israel. Fox News even ran a story warning that 'Jewish donors' would not back the President's reelection campaign on account of his supposedly 'new' stance."  And the Democrats?  Shameful cowardice, a sycophantic clapping contest, and lust for the AIPAC financial and media support.  Both sides greedily feed from the same AIPAC trough, Obama especially being no exception.
 
So here we have on the one hand the Arab Spring and the emergence of democracy and individual rights breaking out across the Middle East, and on the other hand these same millions of Arabs get to watch our Congress backing the racist policies of vicious, illegal occupiers and cheering at every insult to the Palestinians.  This blind support for the racist, exclusionist, apartheid Zionist policies of the Israeli government will cost us dearly in the future.

Mike Gravel, former Democratic U.S. Senator from Alaska (1969 to 1981) writes on the May 21 Counterpunch blog with sadness at the deteriorating state of Israeli political affairs: "When I left office in 1981, Israeli leaders were increasingly succumbing to a bunker mentality, sustained by fear and a history of oppression that has long since changed. The Israel I admired is difficult to recognize, save in the actions of young Jewish demonstrators helping Palestinians to protest Israel's expansionist West Bank barrier. Israel has been captured by the religious right with its sense of entitlement to Palestinian land.

"The dangerous political leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his oppressive domination of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank must be opposed. He does not want peace. Instead, Israel continues to build on the ethnic cleansing it perpetrated in 1948. The colonization effort in occupied Palestinian territory is thriving under Netanyahu."   

David Remnick (and he's Jewish, but hey, some of my best friends are Jewish), the editor of The New Yorker magazine, writes in the March 21 edition ("A Man, A Plan") it is time to give up on Netanyahu: he is under the spell of his 101 year old father and he lacks the capacity for change.  Of a meeting with Benjamin's father, Benzion, in the late 1990's, when Remnick was invited to his house for lunch, Remnick writes: "I am not sure that I have ever heard more outrageously reactionary table talk.  The disdain for Arabs, for Israeli liberals, for any Americans to the left of the neoconservatives was chilling. . . . Benjamin Netanyahu has proved himself his father's son." Remnick appeals to Obama to do the right thing and in the United State's interest and get the peace process moving. "The old, wishful habit of waiting for Netanyahu is an abdication of American influence and interests."

Yet here was the U.S. Congress, waiting for Netanyahu to speak, like believers at end-of-days rapture, waiting for Jesus to whisk them away to eternal life in heaven.  (Is it just me, or did it really look like a halo had been electronically dubbed in behind the head of Benjamin Netanyahu? If so, that might explain some of the unreasoning enthusiasm Congress expressed for Israel's current construction boss on the roadblocks to peace.)

Which brings up another Netanyahu idiotic claim:  that Israel is not occupying Palestinian territory.  Rather they are reclaiming their historic lands.  Well and good, except there are about a dozen and a half other countries/races/religions that can claim the same, from Egypt who occupied the Mid East from 3000 BCE to the rise of the Hittite Empire in 1340 to Israel in 1050 BCE, to the Assyrian 720 BCE, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian all BCE, and finally to the Roman Empire, the latter from just before the birth of Christ to 570 CE. 

After the fall of Rome, the Byzantine Empire was established followed by the Sassanid, the Caliphate (that era that the fundamentalist Bin Laden was trying to recreate) that ruled until the Seljuk Empire in 1100. The Crusader Kingdoms were rather short-lived--from 1140 to 1187, a mere 47 years--after which they were swept away by Saladin's Empire. Should not this give the West pause over its current adventures into the Mid East? 

Then the Mongols ruled for over 400 years, followed by the Ottomans who ruled from 1700 up to when a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the Archduke of Austria because he was going to make concessions in the Balkans which Phillip and his ilk feared would defuse the drive for nationalism, and thus was WWI started. 

After the war, the Mid East was chopped up primarily by England into today's countries, utilizing a divide-and- conquer plan, splitting powerful tribes into two different countries (Pashtuns spanning Afghan and Pakistan border areas, for example) such divisions being a source of much of the Mid East instability and border paranoia on the part of the West today.  Throw in Israel's founding in 1948 and Israel's continuing land grab and illegal occupation of Palestine and you have today's stirred hornet's nest from which we hear buzzings and from which we feel the stings daily. (Maps of War here)

MJ Rosenberg, writing on Al Jazeera's web site two months ago (Mar 15 2011), "AIPAC's Newest Strategy," predicted well what actually happened at the annual AIPAC Conference (May 22-24).  He foresaw that they would be warming up the old "no partner for peace" roadblock.  AIPAC, he noted, publishes a policy book each year, and rest assured members of Congress, will each be receiving a free copy.  They will study it well to know what line to take on various policies affecting Israel to insure their election donations start or keep flowing in.  That should be available now, so pick up a copy if you want to know what your Congressman's official line will be regarding Mid Eastern foreign policy until this time next year next year when the  2012 Annual AIPAC Conference convenes.

As to the long-range consequences of Netanyahu's address, only the future will tell.  But as Ira Chernus reports on his news-flash blog, "'It was a war speech, not a peace speech,' an Israeli diplomat said of Netanyahu’s warmly received appearance before a joint session of Congress."

 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yet Another Ethical Question.

By Dan Perin

Even though Meredith Attwell Baker, former board member of the Federal Communications Commission, says she followed all rules as she resigned to become Comcast’s senior vice-president for government affairs, the appearance of the move is foggy at the very least.  http://blogs.marketwatch.com/election/2011/05/16/outgoing-fcc-regulator-defends-move-to-comcast/

The move of government employees to private businesses engaged in lobbying for government attention is generally regulated, but it seems there are always loopholes for those who decide they want the more lucrative private industry jobs after they have built a number of connections and alliances during their government employment.

I, for one, am disappointed and discouraged that this practice continues as it is.  It would appear that having a government job at almost any level is simply an apprenticeship for moving into a private sector job where your government “training” can be of benefit to your new employer.  Lobbying has become one of the most prolific industries, particularly in Washington, DC, but also in all of the various state capitols.  Millions of dollars are spent every year attempting to influence legislation, often at a disadvantage to the average taxpayer.  Of course, increasingly, it is the very rich and big businesses that have the money to buy the votes that produce our laws and regulatory rules.  (Or in our current situation, to deregulate industry so it is even more able to milk the economy dry at the expense of the middle class.)

To be honest, I realize that there are many citizen groups with legitimate concerns that urge their representatives in Congress to enact preferred legislation.  That is part of the democratic process.  However, I think we all know the difference between such grass roots groups and the huge lobby groups with their virtually unlimited funds when it comes to whose voice is most apt to be heard.

Just sayin . . .

I Was Just Minding My Own Business When . . .

By Dan Perin

I was experiencing a “funky” state of mind when one of my good friends, whom I can always count on to try and keep me honest and on track, wondered what insights led me to develop my Insight & Outsight blog, co-authored with Lloyd Agte.  Below is my response, edited slightly for publication sake.

In response to your question as to what inspired my "project," here is my story.  I'm still in funkitus, but want to respond now.  I assume you are referring to the Insight & Outsight Blog.

I have been increasingly disturbed by the direction in which our so-called "society" is moving.  Partly this is due to being retired with too much time on my hands and a slow, sometimes more quickly, decline in good judgment in terms of keeping my mouth shut (or in the case of the blog, my opinions to myself).  I know I will have difficulty explaining this to you because I think I know what your reaction would be if you were counseling me.  Never the less, I'll take stab at it and hope I don't come off entirely self-righteous.

It is almost inconceivable to me that people can be so angry that they become totally deaf, dumb and blind to ANY degree of common sense.  Even accepting my inclination to believe my opinions are more clear-headed than many, I am left with a conclusion that people do not choose to investigate the roots of their discontent with government.  Instead, they glom onto the faux policy portents of people like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party in general, believing those policies to be the solution to all their problems.  In fact, Republican policies historically have led to the primary reasons for economic decline of the middle class.

Those policies consist of more than a difference between basic philosophies (Republicans for big business, Democrats for the laborer), but that is a big part of the problem.  That this continuing shift in policy goes almost entirely unabated is incredulous.  I kept hoping that society would wake up, but those who are on the fringes of the debate, like many of the Tea Partiers, are actually carrying the water for those who end up making the decisions that affect all of us.

The other day I heard of a current poll that suggests the Republicans will gain enough Senate seats in 2012 to gain full control of Congress.  What?  Isn't anybody listening to what these jokers are suggesting?  I am damn mad at what I consider to be misdirected anger at the economy that fails to see where the problems started--two wars that are unpaid for, tax breaks for the rich that are unpaid for, (primarily Republican policies), deference to big business because that is the money that buys politicians, etc., etc.  The answer--take away programs that are working like Social Security, Medicare (except for the stupid drug program, also unpaid for), educational support programs, science research, and on and on!

I may be totally deranged by my anger.  I may be wrong in my conclusions.  My opinion may not count for squat, but expressing them is what I can do and will for now.  I am, however, at a point where if the citizens of this country do indeed elect enough Republicans to control Congress at this most critical economic period since the Great Depression (at the end of which I was born and have first hand family experience), I will be severely tempted to give up the effort to make any difference at all by discontinuing my participation in the blog that I started in order to call attention to the defects in government and the democratic processes that I see.

So you can call me a quitter, a complainer who does nothing, or whatever.  The fact is that I do care about this country and I can write about my feelings and opinions.  That was the reason for the blog.  Time will tell what the priorities of my fellow citizens turn out to be.  Stay tuned.

Oh, by the way, if you are interested enough in the basis of the right-wing policies, you will find this page puts all in a convenient nutshell.  (You don’t even have to read the whole article.  As the author says, it will only take three minutes.)