I saw them live once. You should, too.
This post is in honor of Seeing the Forest’s 20th Anniversary.
As the country dissolves into fascist turmoil, it’s useful to look back at How We Got Here. 2009 was The Year Democrats Could Have Done Something, but chose not to.
The W Bush Years
‘W’ Bush lost the 2000 election but was appointed president by the Republican Supreme Court. The Bush years were terrible for the country and ended in absolute disaster. He oversaw an administration of lies, corruption, enrichment of the rich, scams targeting the poor… The Bush administration ignored warnings so we were attacked on 9/11 Republicans used the attack to polarize the public into an illegal war for oil.
“People like you are still living in what we call the reality-based community. You believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you are studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
THAT was how the nation was “governed.” The Bush response to Hurricane Katrina and the financial collapse showed the public how that sort of “governance” works out for them.
And the voters knew it.
2008 Election – The Public DEMANDED Change
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
First post, July 16, 2002, Ralph Nader is a Scab:
In the union movement we learned the hard way that the only way to fight the moneyed interests is to stick together. It’s called SOLIDARITY. It’s what “union” MEANS.
When unions are in a fight the members stick together, and those crossing the lines are called “scabs”.
In the 2000 election it was the usual fragile Democratic coalition fighting the usual moneyed interests. Ralph Nader broke the solidarity, divided the coalition, and lost us the election. Ralph Nader is a scab.
No one was “taught a lesson” by people voting for a 3rd party to “teach the Democrats a lesson.” We got Bush and death and corruption and destruction. OBVIOUSLY “the Democrats” did not learn the lesson.
Vote for the right person in primaries! Get the bad Democrats out. Then show up and vote for the Democrat in the general. No matter what. Otherwise the fascists win.
How many of you have heard about “MMT” – Modern Monetary Theory?
MMT says federal budgeting should look ahead to whether spending will cause inflation instead of just worrying that it will. After analyzing whether spending might cause inflationary pressures, address those causes of inflation – resource & capacity shortages – in advance. Then spend.
That way government can do what it needs to do to meet the needs and wants of We the People.
Example, of you want a high-speed rail system make sure to set up steel & train car manufacturing etc. first, then build the rail systems. If you approach it that way, capacity and resource shortages – steel, labor & other resources – don’t cause inflation.
Address the causes of inflation first instead of trying to “fight inflation” later by forcing people out of work, etc.
Superstitious Fear of Deficits
We have a superstitious fear that we might “run out of money.” We used to use gold (or shells) as money. Kings used to have to round up gold. People still think this is what money is. People think taxes round up gold – “revenue” – and the government that makes money – “dollars” – can somehow run out of the money it makes.
But that is not what money is, and not how a modern economy works. Money is created by government. (We “make” dollars and license banks to “create” money.) Taxes help regulate the money in the economy and (used to) balance its distribution. Dollars are like points on a scoreboard. A baseball game can’t “run out” runs. Our government can’t “run out” of dollars. Dollars are just an instrument of keeping score of how government has allocated our resources.
Unfortunately, the way government budgeting still works now – worrying about “deficits” and inflation instead of addressing problems that deficits might cause – we end up with austerity. We don’t spend enough. We don’t address the needs and wants of We the People. And if we see inflation we do terrible things to fight it. We CAUSE unemployment. We CAUSE poverty. Etc. We try to fight inflation after it begins instead of not causing inflation in the first place.
Austerity Breeds Fascism
Our medieval monetary superstitions and the resulting practices cause us to refuse to allocate resources to address our societal problems. This austerity keeps us from doing things to make our lives better. We don’t fix and certainly don’t modernize infrastructure, don’t provide healthcare or childcare or good education (through college), etc., so people feel government doesn’t work. As we saw in the 1930s and are seeing again now, austerity breeds fascism.
This is a great book to help understand MMT:
Also this April, 2021 NYT Op-ed by Stephanie Kelton, warning that our Covid relief budget process could boost inflation:
Biden Can Go Bigger and Not ‘Pay for It’ the Old Way
We CAN Have Nice Things
Take a look at this website keeping track of and teaching about MMT: We CAN Have Nice Things
I have come to believe it is a waste of time to discuss “policy” anymore. Billionaires and corporations control the legislative and administrative branches. And that’s that. Period.
We can’t get anything through the Congress, no matter what. The Executive branch lives in a neoliberal mindset. The agencies are controlled by lobbyists. (Once in a while something can happen, but if we fix corruption, we fix all of it.)
Activists should put 100% of effort into fixing this. Fix money in politics and corruption. Nothing we advocate can happen otherwise. Everything we fight for will happen if these are fixed – because the public wants the same things. (That’s why we do what we do.)
There really is no other fight.
Advocating for government to do things that make people’s lives better means you are on the “far left.”
Do what scientists say is necessary to fight the climate catastrophe. “Far left.”
Teach about and fight systemic racism. “Far left.”
Raise the minimum wage. “Far left.”
Provide healthcare for all. “Far left.”
Restore democracy. “Far left.”
Fight corporate and billionaire influence over democracy. “Far left.”
I think we should all be aware that confirmation bias is a real thing.
The US has done terrible things. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was illegal aggressive warfare, with its “run up” of propaganda lies to justify what Bush did. Vietnam, wow … CIA overthrowing elected governments and installing horrific, murderous dictatorships.
And what we did with Russia after the Soviet Union fell led to Putin and the oligarchs running things.
So a lot of us trained ourselves to see through the propaganda lies that come from the DC/military/corporate-rule crowd. There really is no reason to trust anything they say
Now, remember when Russia had troops massed on Ukraine’s border, and many of us saw the US warnings about an impending invasion as the US engaging in another drumbeat for war? A lot of people were talking about this almost as if the US had troops there and was lying about it. Meanwhile Russia was assisting this view by saying they were only conducting exercises and would be pulling back soon, the US was lying to stir things up, etc, etc.
It turned out that was all wrong. Russia really was massing troops for an invasion of Ukraine.
So Be Careful
So let’s be careful and try to apply logic to what we’re seeing instead of looking for things that confirm our own US-centric view of the world. Past performance is not an indicator of future returns. Those were not US troops on Ukraine’s border and the warnings about impending invasion were correct, not US military/industrial propaganda this time. (For once.) This time it wasn’t about US politics or actions at all, even though we are so used to seeing things that way.
For all the past bad acts by Western countries, is it logical to think of NATO as “aggressive” or “expanding” when the countries joining are all applying to join? Is it logical to think of NATO as “threatening” Russia? NATO has not invaded any of these countries to force them in. It is an organization that exists for the member countries to protect each other from aggression by other countries.
And we all know that the West is not going to invade Russia. So where is the logic of thinking of NATO as threatening, or encircling, or expanding? Those are propaganda words, intending to evoke images in the brain instead of logic. Encircling? I mean, look at a map of Russia! Again, no one is going to be sending tanks into Russia. Get real.
Many of the countries -IN- NATO have done terrible things. NATO itself, as an organization, has not. Meanwhile today’s Russia is the kind of country we all despise and fear the US is becoming – a fascist, white nationalist kleptocracy subjecting its people to constant Fox-News-like nonsense distracting the public from reality and justifying how the few at the top are siphoning off all the wealth. Russia has been invading, bombing countries, Syria, Chechnya, Georgia, attacking civilians and destroying their cities. Not NATO.
I’m saying we should look at every situation fresh, and apply logic and reason. Fighting past battles can make us blind to what is happening.
Especially as US/Wall Street domination of the world recedes.
Sanctions on Russia’s oligarchs won’t work. The idea is that imposing sanctions of Putin’s oligarchs will cause them feel pain and do something about Putin. This is a US-centric view of how it works:
– In the US the oligarchs tell the government what to do. In Russia it’s the other way around. Putin tells the oligarchs what to do.
– BECAUSE this is how it works here, the US continues to allow oligarchs to hide their wealth behind anonymous “shell” corporations. So oligarch assets remain safe. Shell corporations owned by oligarchs can continue to buy real estate, art, etc.
– Also hidden assets of politicians, collected from oligarchs, remain safe.
President-elect Donald Trump owns a helicopter in Scotland.
To be more precise, he has a revocable trust that owns 99% of a Delaware limited liability company that owns 99% of another Delaware LLC that owns a Scottish limited company that owns another Scottish company that owns the 26-year-old Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, emblazoned with a red “TRUMP” on the side of its fuselage.
Sanctions on Russia’s economy are another matter.
I hope everyone has seen this. I haven’t given a “Blog Hero Award” for a while, but…
If you hear about a single tactical nuclear strike, this is what happens next:
This is just about my favorite song, and then I came across this version.