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Thursday, November 26, 2009

STOP THE MADNESS:

THE DIARY OF A

 SOLDIER FOR PEACE

IN THE WAR TO

 TAKE BACK AMERICA

PREFACE



This book is a series of essays laying out the case that there is a way to end war by ending the domination of the American government by corporations through a process of passing a constitutional amendment through Congress and ratifying it by the states.

I argue that it is the international corporations with the money to pay for the obscenely expensive elections of our members of Congress that ultimately create the conditions in which war appears to be inevitable. The goal I have in writing this is to convince others that together we can and must restore democracy to America and bring about the change in the human collective consciousness such that war comes to be seen not as inevitable but as unthinkable.



Stop the Madness: The Diary of a Soldier For Peace in the War to Take Back America is my effort to explain my thoughts on the real meaning of America through a look at critical moments in its history. I offer an explanation of that history through a lens of basic psychological and scientific principles. I then use this to describe how I believe America fell from its position of a leader in the advancement of mankind to a place where it is now the chief threat to human existence. 

Throughout the book I emphasize that this is part of a natural process of maturation of a democratic society that I fully expect to grow up and take responsibility for its behavior toward each other and other nations. One of the goals in writing this book is to  present ideas that may help the process accelerate, before the problems the people of the United States and the world desperately need to address become intractable.


For foreign readers who have not lived through the nightmare that has transformed the United States government from a  maturing democracy into a plutocracy, please be patient when reading the earliest essays.  They focus on day to day US political events when the essays were originally written. It was necessary to start at this point to clarify the process by which I arrived at my the conclusion that democracy in the United States and therefor the world is at imminent risk. This is after all  a diary of sorts. 


To all readers: Even if reading about the details of politics  makes your head spin, please read the somewhat lengthy introduction. I draw in part on my personal experiences to illustrate some of the general points I make in trying to make a coherent summary of the state of American democracy and politics. It is my hope that this summary will be of interest to  every reader and useful as a compass by which to see the direction sometimes seemingly disconnected essays are leading.


This book of essays is deliberately written in a nonlinear style that is intended to provide an overview of the thinking that went into my deciding that it was possible to end war in our lifetime and how we might do it. It includes concepts from a wide variety of disciplines that may be tough going to some readers despite my attempts to explain them as simply as I can.

I have added clarifying comments after the mostly short essays that I hope will help explain the more obscure concepts and how they fit into the larger themes of this book. If anyone who begins to read this has difficulty understanding some parts, I hope that they will keep reading, because the main themes are repeatedly woven throughout the book in different contexts and hyperlinks present more background reading.







After describing Soldiers For Peace International and its origins, the essays begin by arguing that the health care “reform” debate  of 2009 was a cynical bait-and-switch engineered from the beginning to bail out a failing medical insurance industry while preserving the privileged position of the pharmaceutical  and corporate health care industries. 


The dramatically escalating costs of the medical insurance industry's product are threatening the continued viability of this  inefficient and unnecessary system of profiteering from the suffering of others. This obliged these industries to approach the federal government with a request for "reform." What they really had in mind was a demand for tax money to prop up their teetering system for a few more years before it inevitably falls under its own dead weight. The cost in human suffering and economic burden is unconscionable.


I would argue that the apparent opposition of the insurance and other industries of the medical-industrial complex were more directed at deceiving the public and jockeying for control of the process than a failure to see that government subsidies and mandated insurance through private insurers were necessary to keep their ineffective and inefficient non-system of health care delivery intact.  


Most Americans on both sides of the issue seem to have been fooled until they saw the final product. Many still do not recognize it for what it is, focusing on apparent benefits of the plan or details of its many failings without getting the overall picture. I have appended my analyses of the true costs of the Democratic bill and the economic benefits of a single payer, Medicare-for-All system at the end of the book.


After reading the following introduction, the reader will understand my position that either major Party dominating our politics in what has been called the two-Party duopoly would have initiated this debate if called upon to so by the power elite that makes these decisions in our name. Either would have responded to the wealthy medical insurance corporations looking for a government bailout for its industry.  The marketing of the bailout would have looked entirely different in the hands of the Republicans, but the outcome would have been substantially the same.

Social responsibility has not been a concern of corporations since the Supreme Court declared them citizens with Constitutional rights and thus beyond the regulations that prevented them from collectively seizing power over the US government. Now that the coup has been accomplished, the question becomes one of whether it is possible to Take Back America for the People. I argue that we can. I believe that the opposition of nearly 80% of self-described conservatives and liberals means that it is inevitable if we promote all Americans coming together in common cause to end this obvious threat to democracy.

Each essay in this book advances the argument, though it is not always obvious how it does so. It may be therefore better to think of it as a nonlinear approach to solving a problem that linear thinkers regard as unsolvable. 


This book was originally written as I was fleshing out my thoughts on what problems we would have to face to unify Americans behind a single proposition that is the core of what I call The Battle Plan to Take Back America in the book. The specifics  of this plan have changed with events, but the general outline is the same. The plan depends  on  the validity of the idea that we can abolish  the Supreme Court doctrine of corporate personhood and thereby regain control of the US government. Once a representative democracy is restored (some would say created for the first time), we can assure that it places the interests of the People over corporate profit, power and control.

The steps involved in solving the problem of war involve coming to a common understanding about our personal responsibility as individuals to each other and society as a whole. I believe that this could lead naturally to a  rational public debate that would result in a more coherent and shared concept of the proper role of government, one that has a proper balance between protecting the rights of individuals and meeting other needs of a society.

I make no apology for the series of assumptions implicit in my arguments. Readers are welcome to disagree with the thoughts I have expressed in each of these essays by posting in the comments section following each essay. I only hope that the reader will be open-minded enough to consider my argument as a whole, because only by having  a dialogue about the central issues that divide citizens of the US  from each other and the rest of the world can we take back control of the American government and establish justice both for ourselves and other nations that its actions affect.

In exploring what is tearing apart the fabric of American society, I attempt to address in the following essays the major issues that perpetuate injustice of all kinds. I argue that just as we are dependent on one another, the solutions to our common problems are dependent on prioritizing and working together to get at the root of the problem, which I regard as corporate personhood. 


We must have a rational dialogue about how to solve the problems  threatening the viability of democracy in America. I argue that these problems  stem from the idea that corporations are people, with the Constitutional right to buy our Senate. The Supreme Court justifies this in the name of exercising "free" speech, which they essentially equate to money. If we can put aside the artificial distinctions which divide us, we  might conclude as a People that the key to restoring democracy to America is the abolition of corporate personhood. 

The most important of the problems caused by the wholesale corruption of government by corporate money are international. Global climate change threatens to produce mass famine, pandemic and the deaths of billions without a coordinated effort to find a way to end war and environmental devastation and to assure that health care is a human right of every citizen of the planet.

We have to look beyond the interests of individual nations  and factions within nations to find a solution that benefits all of us. Because of the universal nature of these issues, I hope that they will be of interest to English-speaking readers around the world, who are encouraged to translate any essays that they find interesting into other languages to distribute as they see fit.

We are all in this world together and our fates interdependent.  I hope that this book will enable the reader to challenge his or her assumptions about the reality of human nature, society and the Universe that we share. If enough of us understand our responsibility to consciously act in full knowledge of the interdependence of all humanity and the natural world, I am convinced that we can yet save ourselves from self-destruction.


The following introduction is my attempt to summarize what I see as the most fundamental problems we must solve to restore democracy in America. It is written in a straightforward style, unlike  many of the essays that follow. 


I hope I have written these essays in an entertaining and emotionally engaging way that will be of interest to most readers.  I have  written them in an allegorical style in an effort to appeal to the widest possible audience. This necessarily means that some concepts will seem trivial to some readers and some may be  difficult to understand to readers new to the issues. I hope that all will find something useful in their own efforts to become part of the change we must create to  save the ourselves from the threats facing human civilization.


The introduction is largely political, in contrast to most of the essays, which are focused on my view of the central problems of individuals, groups and nations that we must consider in building a movement to end war. If the introduction seems pedantic, the casual reader may want to skip it and proceed to the essays at the risk of missing the general scheme of the presentation of  concepts in the book. Reading the introduction may help understanding the book more fully.


  

INTRODUCTION

 
This book is the record of the thoughts that have led me to devote my life to the restoration of genuine democracy in America. I believe that if Americans reclaim their government that the United States may again become a force for peace in the world. This book traces the evolution in the thinking behind Soldiers For Peace International and its potential role in furthering these goals.


My work in trying to help build the single payer movement in America led me to confront head-on the wall in Congress spanning both sides of the aisle that blocks real reform. I became acutely aware of the problem when with a group of representatives of Physicians for a National Health Program we encountered a shockingly dismissive attitude from the office of our Congressional Representative, who is generally a true voice of the People in Congress. 

After the 2010 elections, Congressman Peter DeFazio found himself recovering from a bruising battle with corporate forces who had thrown millions into the race to support Art Robinson, a wealthy Republican who presented himself as a representative of the Tea Party. During the election Robinson dutifully railed against the "socialism" he claimed that his Democratic opponent represents. 


Interestingly, when I asked Robinson why he refers to the giving of our tax revenue to private corporations as "socialism," he had a momentary lapse of into reason when he responded "You're right. It's fascism!" He went on to expand on this for several minutes to the several hundred people present. Of course, he went back to the script for the rest of his well-funded "town hall" series.

Robinson challenged DeFazio with some success not only because he had received enough out-of-state corporate money to present himself as a credible challenger, but because the Democratic Party has itself become increasingly incredible as it has become ever more dependent on the same sources of campaign financing as its Republican counterparts.

It was clear from the beginning of the debate on health care reform that the Democratic leadership had decided to follow its usual failed strategy of reaching for the brass ring instead of going for the gold. Even though many in Congress claimed to really want a single payer solution to the crisis in health care access and affordability that kills 45.000 Americans per year, they almost unanimously bought the conventional “wisdom” that one does not bite the corporate hand that feeds the leaders of both Parties.  As has become a pattern, the Democratic leadership opened negotiations by asking for half a loaf fully expecting to end settling for moldy crumbs.

When President Obama declined to invite any single payer supporter to the first summit on health care reform, the extent of the collusion to stifle discussion of single payer in the debate became clear. I was among the thousands who protested this exclusion and got Congressman Conyers and Ollie Fein, the President of Physicians for a National Health Program invited at the eleventh hour. They were able to observe but not to influence the discussion. Neither was invited back to the second summit in February.

Supporters of a single payer health care system were not invited to join the dozens of corporate representatives asked to participate in the Senate Finance Committee health care “reform” hearings chaired by Max Baucus. This corporate tool instead had thirteen single payer advocates arrested in the first two days of hearings for having the temerity to speak on camera about the logical answer to the question before the committee. Among them were doctors, nurses and lawyers who were there to represent the People when the government was doing the business of its corporate patrons in the medical-industrial complex.

I was angered by the fact that the leadership of Democracy for America, MoveOn, Health Care for America Now and other groups told their members and the public from the outset of the debate that they supported a public option plan. They never held a vote, as would be expected of democratic institutions. 


As a member of DFA, I was forced to ask the question "Does Democracy for America support Democracy in America?" The strategy of the Democratic leadership seemed to be working, as some of the brightest and most energetic progressives got behind this phony "reform" effort, accepting the self-fulfilling prophecy that "It's the best that we can get." 

The circular logic of this argument eerily echoed the words of Senator Ron Wyden in 2003 when he "explained" why he crossed party lines to cast the deciding vote for the financially ruinous Republican Medicare Modernization Act. This was the "reform" that brought us Part D, with its endorsement of the privilege of the pharmaceutical industry to extort the American taxpayer by banning price negotiations for drugs purchased by the government. It was widely regarded as an indirect assault on the popular program and as part of a strategy to dismantle Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The Medicare Modernization Act also gifted the medical insurance industry with a largely privatized Medicare through the "Advantage" plans that Bush later advertised with public money. Part D is the reason so many single payer advocates have been reluctant to use the term "Medicare For All" to describe the type of a single payer system that is favored by most Americans because it opens us up to charges that such a system is unaffordable. 


Peter DeFazio was one who argued that it was implausible to extend Medicare to everyone because it was economically troubled. He neglected to mention that it was his fellow Oregonian Senator Ron Wyden who created the mess that he and DeFazio declined to address in a responsible manner, along with the Democratic Party as a whole.

It takes more than a sound bite to explain to citizens with short attention spans and shorter memories why we can have "Improved Medicare For All" if we understand why we must have a single payer system and how we can if we demand it.  The details of the argument are presented in the Appendix along with a critique of the CBO report by which the Democrats claim their "reform" bill will save billions. 


The task of explaining why America must adopt a single payer system like every other industrialized nation with universal health care is difficult. The principle reason is that the interests of the corporate media coincide with those dishonest politicians who either leave out the downside of their “accomplishments” or lie outright. When honest politicians are fooled by their Party leadership into working for cynical political goals that are bankrupting the country, the problem is truly concerning. 

The truth is that the Medicare system was deliberately broken by those who have been fighting the New Deal just as their fathers and grandfathers fought the Square Deal of Theodore Roosevelt, as I explain in the following essays.  They could not have succeeded without the complicity of corporate Democrats like Wyden, who like most of our “leaders” assumes that a sick non-system of for-profit healthcare that claims the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year is “the best we can do.” The truth is, it is only the best that a bunch of pampered career politicians can do. America can do better if those who understand this can work together to educate the rest to demand more.

If current trends continue and both Parties continue to move the US to an economically unsustainable system of corporate welfare, the American economy may never recover. As it is, the devastation has been going on for years, masked by GDP growth based on bubble after bubble which produced the jobless “recovery” of the Bush years, where the stock market rallied while joblessness rose. 


The wealthy prospered by trading on the false hope that housing prices would always go up. Managers of pension funds felt obligated to invest in the derivatives market, putting the retirement funds of millions into a Goldmann Sachs-built casino that was rigged by the financial house. Working people were largely fooled until they fell into the ranks of the unemployed and often homeless during the ongoing financial crisis that began in late 2008 when the first Wall Street bailout took place. In their anger, they blame whoever the corporate media tells them to. In their minds, they have met the enemy and it is us.

The doctrine of free trade played a major role in the tanking of the US economy by taking jobs away from Americans. As I write this our President is negotiating yet another free trade agreement with Korea while some in Congress continue to push for such an agreement with Columbia, a nation that allows Coca-Cola and other corporations to pay right wing hit squads to assassinate union leaders for a relatively small consideration.

When the cost to private interests of buying dictators is too high, the US government sends its errand boys in the CIA to up the ante with our tax dollars. This is done through a thriving industry of private corporations with exclusive government contracts. This arrangement has the advantage of providing a cover of plausible deniability to those in government responsible for aiding the anti-democratic efforts at Empire of the international corporate interests who act not in the interest of the US but of their only God, profit. 

Of course, if a nation’s leader doesn’t play along with the plans of the Puppetmasters of our government, the CIA takes matters more directly into hand, toppling governments when possible and assassinating charismatic leaders when not. 


When the target proves too elusive, arrangements are made to demonize leaders in countries that won’t submit to the Empire. This is the first step to wars planned years before, as the Iraq fiasco has been proven to have been. War is no longer the failure of diplomacy. It is the success of international corporate terrorists in marketing war as a means to fight whatever enemies they convince us threaten our common interests. In reality, the only interest threatened in modern times is corporate profit.

The corporate media does its best to cover up these crimes and when they are revealed, they are met with the complacency of a public raised to believe it has always been this way and nothing they can do can change it. In these essays I argue that we can and must seize control of our government by a massive, coordinated educational effort and grassroots actions in the streets of America. With the mutual support of other Peoples of the world our ultimate goal should be the passage of a constitutional amendment that will strip all "rights" granted to corporations by a series of fascist Supreme Court decisions. 

When a government of, by and for the People and not corporations is restored in the United States, we can end war and all of its attendant injustices.  These include growing efforts to shred the social safety net that has protected Americans from the worst of the consequences of the drive to Empire. Until now, this safety net has enabled Americans to continue to accept as given the conceit of American exceptionalism. 

The selfish and self-centered belief that Americans have the natural right to control the world’s natural resources has allowed those who subscribe to it to accept an increasingly sociopathic view of humanity. The average citizen who believes that the United States has a Manifest Destiny to rule the world willingly suspends reason and joins Big Oil in denying the reality of global climate change even after Bush admitted that it was real. 


This is only one of the myths that suspend the Empire, of course. Our task is to show the Peoples of the world that increasingly, the Empire has no clothes. As the People of the United States become more aware of their complicity in fostering terrorism as an excuse for endless war, they will demand that the effort to impose a fascist New World Order be brought to an end.

Now that the true costs of war are becoming apparent to Americans, the opportunity to educate them about a different model of social, economic and political reality has never been more promising. The average citizen of the United States is frightened, angry and looking for answers in all the wrong places. 


Citizens of the US who understand that life is not a zero-sum game must reach out to them as fellow Americans and show others how it is possible to Take Back America for the People. Only by breaking down the artificial barriers between one People from whom their government derives all of its just powers can democracy succeed and the threat of eternal war averted. 

Establishing a society unified in the belief that what is best for the individual is what is best for all requires abandoning a conflict model of the struggle for social justice. We must replace it with one that presupposes that most of us are good enough to govern ourselves. Ours must become a message of enlightened self-interest so compelling that even those who have been hypnotized into believing that selfishness is a virtue can understand that such thinking has no place in a nation in which more than 80 percent of its citizens claim belief in a God that most assume Christ understood best.

If we are to teach the people of the United States how to assume control of their own destiny from the authoritarians who have usurped that power, we must build on natural alliances between those who would describe themselves as on the right or on the left, as conservatives or liberals. Our message must be that we can only solve our problems by putting the needs of the people over ideologies manufactured by the corporate media or other special interest groups.

As an example, everyone knows that American jobs are being shipped overseas, though most forget that this is due to President Clinton’s pushing the ratification of the global agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT). This was done with widespread Republican support and over the protests of labor, which in general continues to reflexively support Democrats over Republicans in elections. 


Our message should be that both Parties have sold out to the corporate interests who own them, putting their interests over those of us who actually elect them.  Both progressives and the rank and file Tea party supporters reject top-down authority over their lives. We must use this to unify our efforts.

Only through such a unified effort can we hope to challenge the corporatocracy that has seized control of the American government. There are many more of us than there are corporate war profiteers. If we unite to fight for our common interests, we can change the politics of division that have paralyzed Congress and imperil the survival of the United States itself the sovereign of its citizens.


Ours is not a right-left divide but a divide between those who understand and respect that democracy is a means to provide equal opportunity for individual success versus those who think of it as a means to cynically claim support for their dreams of corporate Empire. 


Corporatists dangle this dream in front of a citizenry raised to believe that democracy automatically guarantees the right  to advance ones station in life but who often don’t realize how far from democracy our government has strayed. Those who do and accept it as a fact of life do not understand the nature of a true democracy. It is our job to teach them that an egalitarian society does not have to be socialist. Conversely, if a “socialist” society is egalitarian, it cannot be the type of authoritarian communist society most Americans imagine when they hear the term.

The effects of free trade are to ship jobs overseas where products can be produced by slave laborers working under unimaginable conditions in countries that are actually punished by the World Trade Organization if they try to impose environmental regulations on these corporations.  The WTO is a non-governmental agency that dictates trade policies to nations. How can this message not be of concern to both conservatives and progressives if it is understood?

Of course, people can always get goods cheaper at Walmart as a result, but it is often the only place they can shop after it drives small businesses out of communities. Besides, who can afford to pay prices of smaller shops or even corporate stores when wages are steadily falling? 

Thus do the interests of those who believe that supporting small business is the key to a healthy economy converge with those who believe the key is to assure that workers have a living wage. We need to work together to advance both causes and build a locally based, environmentally sustainable economy that will deliver us from the consequences of globalization. 


Jefferson is cited as an expert at governmental theory by both those who consider themselves conservatives and those who consider themselves liberal. He wrote of the virtues such an economy, pointing out that the size of government can be much more easily controlled in a locally based economy of farmers, artisans and shopkeepers than in an industrialized economy where bankers would have inordinate power to influence government policy. 


The idea of limiting government's  role may seem frightening to progressives worried about the power of individuals to oppress the less powerful. However, if we succeed in building such a society it will be seen as in the interests of all to provide such protection without excessive government intrusion on our personal lives or our businesses.

If a One World government is established, the WTO and the International Monetary Fund will run it. It is ridiculous to argue that the UN will lead the way when it is controlled by the Security Council, the nations of whose self-perceived interests rarely coincide. Only if Russia and China stop triangulating against each other and the Anglo-American Empire and its allies in “democratic” nations will a One World order based on nations rather than corporations emerge. That seems unlikely without a radical shift in human consciousness since the history of nations is the history of war, both military and now economic.


To return to my original example of corruption of government by corporate money, I have to ask why Wyden felt the act that created Medicare Part D was "the best we can do." All I know is that it was heavily pushed by AARP, the "advocacy" group for seniors who along with unions put Wyden into Congress 30 years earlier. AARP in fact exists primarily to sell health insurance supplements to the very seniors they claim to represent. Since they don't actually offer coverage but only serve as a middleman adding cost without value to these plans, their motives are suspect at best, as are those of Senator Wyden. 

I ran for the US Senate to get a forum to educate Oregon voters that it is corporate personhood that is preventing Congress from addressing the problems that are threatening the middle class, the economy as a whole and democracy itself. Only a Constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood will address the problem of corporations buying Congress and using it for their selfish ends at the expense of the American people. 

If we had a reasonably professional press or had those organizing the dog-and-pony show "debates" between Wyden and his even more corporatist Republican opponent, I would have been happy to ask him to explain why the Part D plan for Medicare was "the best we can do," since they did not. I was  also surprised at the disinterest of many local newspapers in my campaign. They  are a key source of news and opinion in most communities in Oregon, yet they showed little interest in letting their readers know that there were alternatives to choosing between the lesser of two evils yet again.

In follow up to my first  question in a hypothetical debate where I had the opportunity to speak directly to my opponent, I would have asked Wyden why he tried to shift the costs of medical insurance even further onto the backs of workers and when unions protested, why he used corporate money to finance a campaign vilifying them as un-American for being unwilling to give in to their corporate masters once again, even while average wages fell. 

I would also have wanted to ask Wyden why he takes money from AIPAC in exchange for supporting the Israeli government in its illegal ongoing war on Palestine, its apartheid policies in Israel itself and its suppression of the rights of the minority of Israelis who are courageously fighting for justice for Palestinians Although this is not a matter of corporations buying Congress, it is another example of how easily special interests can buy the loyalty of craven senators like Wyden, men and women more interested in power for its own sake than as a means to serve the People who elected them.

Finally, I would have asked Wyden what he has against the unions that put him in office. He continues to support failed free trade policies that have sold out the American worker and contributed to repeated economic meltdowns across the world. The current economic crisis that almost brought the United States to its knees is just the most recent global financial catastrophe that has set nation against nation and American against American as they search for an explanation that the corporate media does not want us to find.

Those who have benefited most from the currently-failing American experiment in democracy seem to consider themselves to be an elite ordained by God to reign over the less fortunate. This includes the millionaires' club in the Senate and their friends who chose to put them there. Perhaps if more of them believed in God as most Christians understand it, they would pause in their self-centered efforts to preserve their seats at any cost to their constituents. A majority of Americans disagree that their primary job is to get themselves re-elected but feel helpless to do anything to change this cozy arrangement. 

Americans see the self-appointed corporate Puppetmasters and their Puppets in our Congress as too powerful to fight, as if money could buy votes directly. The result is that they drop out of the political process or hold their nose and vote for whoever they feel is lying the least, since "everyone knows" that voting for a third-Party candidate is wasting your vote. It will be interesting to see how many people challenge this self-fulfilling prophecy in 2012. 

A third party movement may be building, as voters increasingly rejected both Parties in 2010. Many Democrats stayed home while independents voted for Republicans and independent Tea Party nut jobs with no new answers but who promoted a declaration of independence from both mainstream Americans and the government they claimed to loathe. Some like Rand Paul immediately revealed themselves to be Republicans as soon as their victories were announced. 


The result is that Democratic power decreased as a result of their sacrifice of their own stated principles. The damage to Democrats was almost indiscriminate in that some of the most effective progressive voices were removed from office along with some who deserved to be handed walking papers.

I would argue that their fall is a direct result of party leadership believing that they could fool all of their base all of the time in pretending to champion progressive causes while catering to the same corporations that had bought their Republican counterparts. The medical insurance reform bill was neither the first nor the last of these betrayals.


A third Party movement will only succeed if three things happen: Voters have to abandon the self-fulfilling prophecy that voting third Party is wasting their votes, they will have to admit that both major parties are as crippled by corporate corruption of too many of their politicians and third Parties that share the same goals have to quit competing for votes.

As none of these things seem likely in the short run, the solution for now may be to push for reform within the major parties at the local and state levels by nominating and supporting  members who will take the pledge to amend. If the choice is between a corporate Democrat or Republican who refuses to take the pledge, voting for a third Party candidate who agrees to do so will take on a new appeal.



Anything less than a grassroots revolt within the major parties will be unlikely to lead to reform of a party whose candidates are dependent less on the will of its members than on corporate money to win elections. The only other way it could occur is if Democratic leadership were to realize that the number of their supporters who stayed home in 2010 will only increase if they continue betraying the stated core values of the party. Only time will tell which occurs, but it is clear that we cannot allow the present corporate control of government to continue and we must challenge both parties if we are to Take Back America for the People.

A multi-Party system would be great, but first we must prove that a third-Party candidate can win or at least push the debate back to the middle, which is consistently being misleadingly defined as the goal posts representing progress are continuously moved further back. We cannot afford continuing incremental political progress when it has slowed to a virtual halt while the corporate agenda scores major gains in virtually every Senate vote. We must demand accountability now.

The truth is that there are many thousands of good Americans to every corporate war profiteer who is willing to systematically undermine our government for personal profit. If we put aside the self-imposed distinctions between ourselves and fight together as Americans for the survival of democracy in these United States ,we cannot lose. The alternative of simply accepting that we cannot prevent corporations from economically enslaving us is a betrayal of those who gave their lives so that may be free. More importantly, it is a betrayal of the debt we owe our children for having brought them into this world.

The uncomfortable fact of which most Americans are becoming dimly aware but have not confronted is that we have allowed corporations to seize control of our government, our media and our national destiny. Corporate money pays for the propaganda blitzes that get our Senators elected in obscenely expensive races, particularly in large states. Corporate lobbyists dictate legislation to Congress and domestic and international policy to the White House. 


An arrangement such as this is more typical of fascist governments than democratic ones. The difference is that instead of being ruled by a dictator, we have allowed this to happen ourselves. We came dangerously close to this form of government when Congress ceded its war powers to a President who was all too happy to serve corporate interests over those of the People. 

At the same time, a partisan Congress blindly followed the lead of President Bush in attacking the social safety net while lowering taxes for the rich, refusing to challenge his most outrageous ideas for purely partisan reasons. No one in the Bush-Cheney regime has taken responsibility for the resulting crises that our paralyzed Congress refuses to deal with.

Many Americans have been dismayed at how little their hope for change has been rewarded by the Obama administration. The wars have escalated and expanded, Guantanamo remains open, the banksters are back at their old gains with trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to play in the Wall Street casinos, health care reform is proving to be an illusion, the numbers of jobless Americans remains unacceptable and home foreclosures are growing. Meanwhile, the tax breaks for the rich take precedence over the needs of ordinary Americans.

The government continues to abridge civil liberties in the name of fighting what is largely a US-manufactured war on terror while other manufacturing is shipped overseas for the profits of CEOs who stash their corporate earnings in offshore accounts, safe from the government Treasury where it might help shore up the social safety net and begin to reign in a deficit that threatens its solvency. President Obama has done little but pay lip service to the need to address these and many other problems.

While I am not going to apologize for the many failures of the President to show leadership in this onslaught against the American worker and traditional American values, I argue that the focus on the President's failings is a useful distraction from the real problem: The failure of ordinary citizens to carry out the basic duties of being well-educated voters and demanding the change that he warned us we must create for him to have any chance of moving America forward.

The real power of government is vested in Congress by the constitution. It is the Senate that is the chief roadblock to democracy in America. This privileged millionaires club is so deeply in the pockets of corporate interests that even Teddy Roosevelt would have trouble getting any useful legislation out of it. Congress handed over its war powers to George Bush and seems disinterested in taking them back from Obama, who is pressured on all sides by the corporate interests who could just as easily fund the propaganda campaigns of a Republican in 2012 if he were to challenge them. Worse, if he were to challenge certain interests of the military-industrial complex and the international corporate terrorists who profit from war, he might find himself in a situation very similar to JFK in 1963.


It is hard to place all the blame on the American people for the gradual decline of democracy in the United States. The takeover of the government by the corporatocracy has been so gradual as to have been imperceptible to the average American trying to make a living and raise a family under increasingly difficult conditions. Younger Americans do not know a different style of government. It is critical that they come to this understanding because many of their elders are willing to rob them of a decent future. 


Clinging to an outmoded view of economic reality, elderly Americans are desperately attempting to hold on to what they have earned during an era of responsible government while the corporate vultures that they helped seize power systematically tear at the carcass of what once was a thriving American economy.  The American system of corporate welfare and crony capitalism is inherently unsustainable and their assets will be lost with the crash of the American economy but they are too busy protesting "socialism" in government and the media to recognize that both serve fascists.


Many seniors were comfortable enough in their retirement due to having had the advantages of spending their working years in more secure economic circumstances that they were aroused only when the global economic meltdown touched them directly. The majority of these retirees do not realize the profound changes that have occurred in our society that make it difficult for ordinary Americans to succeed despite their best efforts. The wage earner has been hardest hit, but the collapse of the economy is felt by anyone who has to work for a living and increasingly, those who live off the labor of others. 


Unions have been demonized since President Reagan took office, even though all advantages in the class war started by the rich and selfish belong to the corporations that are only too eager to increase profits by outsourcing jobs. This not coincidentally has the additional benefit to them of minimizing taxes by placing profits out of the reach of our government. 


Unions are not perfect, since anyone given power over others is subject to confusing their interests with those who they represent.  It is fortunate that this is not universally true of union leadership. However, there is an unfortunate trend for union leaders to value access to the corporate Democrats over the increasingly ignored needs of the workers themselves. The big lie is that unions are self-interested groups that would destroy their own industries for short term gain, a description far more fitting to CEOs. Unions represent a balancing force between corporate power and the power of the worker. We must advocate for democratizing unions, not work to destroy them. 

The average anti-union worker is fighting against his or her own interest in cheering the decline of the labor movement because he or she does not know the proud history of the labor movement in America. It was unions who fought for the advantages the now retired enjoyed and would deny their grandchildren. It reached its greatest success to date during another period of sustained assault on basic democratic values, before and during the Great Depression. 

In the period leading to the first Great Depression, it was said that what is good for business is good for America. What has been missed or ignored by most Americans is the fact that the corporations that control our government are owned by foreign interests and citizens of the US with no loyalty to the nation or its people. What they see as being good for them is entirely inconsistent with the interests of the people of, by and for whom our government was created. 


The backbone of America is the small business owner who finds it increasingly difficult to compete against corporate behemoths who can afford to buy the Senators who tilt the playing field to their advantage in return. As a result, small business owners suffer and the average worker grows poorer as the wealthy accumulate an ever larger piece of the American pie.

We have a new opportunity to regain the power the People once held before the majority of voters bought Reagan’s argument that government should be run like a corporation. Those opposed to big government need to realize that it came from allowing our tax money to go to for-profit institutions in an expensive system of privatized government that amounts to corporate welfare. 

The supposed benefits of privatization were lower costs, smaller government and improved services to the taxpayer, none of which have occurred. We are in a jobs crisis, government has grown under Republican and Democratic majorities and the quality of services has worsened as corporations seek to maximize profit from government contracts for services such as Medicare, which used to be fully funded for all services and still runs with a three percent overhead. 

Extending Medicare benefits to all would have economic benefits to the worker, small business owner and corporate employer alike.   What is really bankrupting Medicare and decreasing its quality and value is not bureaucratic inefficiency but its increasing reliance on for-profit insurance and giveaways to the pharmaceutical industry. Large corporations depend on letting such economic insanity continue rather than risk a feeding frenzy among the sometimes competing special interests they represent. 


The Democratic medical insurance “reform” bill only makes matters worse by mandating increased for-profit insurance to truly ill patients who were previously denied it, often even when insured. This new mandate is of course paid for by you and me. The rich are crying about paying for health care for others and are backed by many middle class voters who don’t understand the economics of the issues.

Anyone who wants to argue that government is inherently less efficient than private industry needs have an answer to the question of why a single payer or “socialist” system has been adopted in every other industrialized country. It is not because these countries are all “socialist,” as the corporate media and right-wing politicians might lead you to believe but because their People demand fiscal and social responsibility from their leaders. They have learned the lesson the United States taught the world about how to maintain a democracy while Americans seem to have forgotten it.

Single payer systems of health care are government regulated systems funded from general federal tax revenues. They are by their nature universal health care systems. Single payer systems come in a variety of forms but collectively comprise the only model of health care systems that are both affordable now and sustainable in the future. 


These well-functioning systems would not have been created in many of these countries if the only benefit was to provide care to all of their citizens at increased cost to the taxpayers. To the people of these countries, for-profit health care is another form of corporate welfare in which the well-connected profit while the rest of us receive only empty promises. 

The only reasons to oppose a single payer system in some form are blind ideology, ignorance or greed. No one but the very rich will be able to afford insurance in a few years unless all medical insurance is paid for with money borrowed from China, Saudi Arabia and other financiers of American extravagance. That is fine with the insurance industry, as long as profits made from other people’s misery continue to roll in. 

Of course, when the bill comes due the American taxpayer will be unable to pay it due to the devastation of our economy by the system of corporate welfare. We can limp along as a nation by continuing to sell our assets to other governments and international corporations but just as with the strapped and desperate worker is discovering, when that is gone we will be dependent on the charity of others. After the way we have allowed our government to treat other nations, we will have to hope that they are more charitable than we have been.

At eighteen percent of GDP even before the boondoggle that is the Democratic health care reform bill, health care costs alone could destroy any chance of a real recovery from our near-Depression. With the costs of endless war and all of the other problems addressed in this book, the American economy will decline to a state where armed revolution seems sensible unless we can get past our differences and stage a peaceful, democratic Revolution. If violence becomes endemic, the government will certainly respond with increasing curtailment of personal liberties. A fascist police state would be the logical result.

The mass media are controlled by corporations that exploit divisions in US society deliberately created to further the ambitions of corporatists in the Senate and the corporatocracy as a whole. Controlled by the same corporate powers that run the government, it is to the advantage of their CEOs and stockholders to perpetuate myths such as that the imaginary burden of taxes costs jobs. The truth is an increasing number of these international corporations pay no tax at all, including 50 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in a recent year. 

The press promiscuously uses the language of "conservatives" who have radically changed the nature of government and society through their Orwellian manipulation of emotionally laden words that they have redefined to suit their own purposes. Incredibly, the so-called progressives in government register little protest and meekly adopt much of this perverted political language themselves. We must take back our language and speak plainly about the corruption in government if we are to make it work for us again.

A good example of political doublespeak is the practice of referring to the estate tax as the "death tax." Jefferson, ostensibly the hero of the Right for his advocacy of limited government, warned that we need a "confiscatory" estate tax to prevent the rise of the very aristocracy that now sets the terms of all debate in the media and in Congress. This has resulted in the rank and file conservatives increasingly voting against their own interests in the faith that hard work will be rewarded, despite the evidence of our recent history.

The media have largely become stenographers for whoever is in power, in part to maintain access to them. They dutifully report whatever they are told and ignore the truth that civic minded groups and individuals vainly try to get out through this media blockade. It goes without saying that we have seen the prediction of Robert F. Murrow that corporate control of mass media is a threat to democracy itself. Thank God that younger Americans increasingly rely on alternative media of the Internet, progressive magazines and other more objective sources of information. 
 
The problem with relying on Internet-based media is that higher education is increasingly inaccessible to the young due to a decreased investment in education, rising costs of college and the dumbing down of the curriculum in our schools. Thus, it is a larger challenge for our young to sort information from misinformation available on the internet than it is for us who have watched the decay of democracy for decades and listened to the lies of our leaders long enough to recognize the truth when we see it.

More ominously, even educated young Americans are increasingly following their parents in cynically rejecting hope for restoration of democracy through the electoral process. Having seen the promise of change in 2008 to be an illusion, they are again dropping out of the process instead of joining efforts to reject the two-Party corporate duopoly and to elect men and women willing to fight for the rights of all Americans. This leaves the power of the vote in the hands of more financially invested Americans who do not see the self-destructive nature of continuing to follow emotionally appealing ideologies that have been proven to fail. 

It is somewhat understandable that President Obama listens to the corporate interests that put the Presidency within his grasp, given the price that men like the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr. paid for standing up to the corporate powers who direct America's shadow government. Obama would not be President without corporate money and it is clear we would have been worse off with the only alternative presented to us in 2008. This will likely be true in 2012 as well, given the degradation of the Republican Party with the rise of neoconservatism and the purging of moderates over the last three decades. 


Given the likelihood that Obama will retain the presidency, his lack of progress in fostering a more transparent government is extremely concerning. The danger of this failure is most apparent when he insists on carrying the Bush policies on the “war” on terror forward without major revisions.

We can and should insist that President Obama display more courage than he has to date, but only he can decide among the various interests that he has to balance in order to accomplish the greatest good that he can for the greatest number of people. In my opinion  he  underestimates what he could do if he used all of his considerable powers of persuasion. As a traditionalist, I have tried to assume that the President was doing his best given how he sees his situation, but the failure of his administration to address the major threats to democracy posed by Bush and his predecessors is of serious concern to any objective observer.

Senator Obama was able to convince a substantial number of conservative-leaning voters to take a chance on him in the 2008 election. He was right to try to reach out to rank and file conservatives who have become disillusioned and disgusted by the constant deception and emotional manipulation that has become the hallmark of the modern Republican Party. However, he has made his point and must now spend some of his political capital to fight for fundamental change in government, as he promised. 

President Obama needs to stop talking as if the Democratic Party is working only in the interests of the People. Like the Republican Party, its primary purpose has become the preservation of the tenuous grip on power of the Party and its members. His oratorical skills might be more useful making this point than in trying to gloss over the failings of his Party. In attributing all of its problems in accomplishing the change necessary for America to recover from the effects of unrestrained greed, he risks losing all credibility.  

It is always easier to convince the People of the truth than it is to convince them of obvious half-truths. His statement that he would rather be a great one-term President than a poor two-term President rings hollow in the face of the administration’s continual capitulation to the other side of the duopoly that puts the interests of the corporatocracy over that of the People. 


What America needs to restore democracy, end wars of choice and recover economically from the devastation of predatory capitalism is honesty from politicians and the willingness of partisan voters to accept the hard truth that leaders of both major parties have failed to work in their interests. We cannot continue to accept as inevitable that we almost always have to choose between the lesser of two evils presented by the corporate parties.

This being said, the continuing effort to hold Obama solely responsible for the failure of Democratic leadership is profoundly misinformed. Congress, and particularly the Senate, cannot be excused so easily. The time has not come when a President can challenge the corporate influences that dictate our choices for President, but it is possible for true representatives of the People to win Senate races as Bernie Sanders, Paul Wellstone and Bob LaFollette have proven. 


It is time that the Democratic Party lived up to its stated ideals and supported candidates willing to challenge corporate interests. The Republican Party must live up to the true ideals of conservatism by rejecting the neoconservative redefinition of what it means to be conservative. If party leaders do not understand this message we have little to lose by voting for third party candidates, if only to force both parties to understand that we will not support either of them blindly as they continue to betray the American people.

Democratic Party leaders including Presidents Obama and Clinton have opposed progressive challengers to pseudo-Democrats like Blanche Lincoln. Using the assumed power of the corporations and the rich to determine whether she will continue to be the Democratic Senator from Arkansas, she justifies being a blatant tool of the wealthy individuals and corporations that have historically run the state.

People like Lincoln are the reason Democrats did not produce any real change in the 2010 Congress, yet Obama stumped for her and Clinton chastised unions that dared support her primary opponent over their handpicked choice. In explicitly favoring Lincoln over Bill Halter in the 2010 primary the Democratic Party leadership has proven that it is more interested in power itself than in using it to heal America. No Party has the right to dictate who its members should vote for in a primary. 


It is understandable for candidates to seek endorsements from within a Party but when two Presidents appear to help save a failing campaign of a Senator who worked to abolish the estate tax, something is seriously wrong.  Undermining the estate tax ignores  Jefferson's warning that a “confiscatory” estate tax is necessary to prevent the rise of an economic aristocracy. That aristocracy already exists and is waging a winning battle in the class war that it denies claims it deplores.

Democrats cannot pose as the Party of the People when its leadership puts the interests of corporations and the rich over those of the people who actually elected them. Our taxes go to corporate welfare and increasing the wealth of the already wealthy regardless of which party of the duopoly is in charge. The rich cry that they pay a larger proportion of total taxes than the middle class, but it is an investment for them. This gives them the power to accumulate ever greater amounts of the total wealth produced by the workers of the United States. The investment produces hundreds to thousands of dollars for every dollar spent on lobbying.

At the time of this writing the media had recently reported that Democrats reluctantly gave in to Republicans in extending the Bush tax cuts to the rich just to preserve for a short time the jobless benefits for millions put out of work by the unchecked greed of wealthy benefactors of the Party. These contributors make no secret that they are in the business of working for powerful corporations and individuals at great cost to the rest of us in dollars and human misery.

Democratic Party leadership does not seem to care to run the government any more responsibly today than did the Republicans when they ran the show that American politics has become. They have been complicit in tightening bankruptcy laws that were a safety net for entrepreneurs and victims of economic forces beyond their control. They have been as willing to cut the marginal tax rate on the wealthy as Republicans. 


As noted above, Democrats also made the difference in the passage of Medicare Part D, banking deregulation and the unprecedented series of bailouts of private corporations. This was argued to be necessary but it is little noted the crash resulted from unleashing the greed of the bankers by the repeal of Glass-Steagall approved by Clinton and a bipartisan majority in Congress. The consequences were magnified by failing to regulate the derivative market even after the creator of derivatives warned the government that they must be regulated to avoid the very abuses that have now devastated the American and world economies.  


This repeal of Glass-Steagall broke down the wall between banks and investment houses, allowing them to use increasingly worthless mortgages as collateral to bet 30 dollars in the Wall Street casino for every dollar of value they claimed to hold. The investments were said to be backed up by AIG with what amounted to default insurance that proved woefully inadequate to cover the losses in the housing market collapse.

The  shock waves of the collapse of this massive Ponzi scheme are still resonating throughout the economy.  The failure to regulate derivatives gave Goldman-Sachs and Citicorp the means to destroy competitors and consolidate their market position at tremendous cost to the taxpayers of  American who footed the bill in the banking bailouts. The list of the failures of Congress goes on ad nauseum. In the process, Goldmann Sachs and Citicorp made record profits and distributed record bonuses to the engineers of this economic destruction.


Of course there are Democrats who fight this trend but once they are in power, most timidly go along with a leadership that does not. They are afraid of being even more marginalized and forgotten by leadership when re-election time rolls around and they become the targets of corporations who prefer more compliant representatives in the Congress to whom they dictate legislation and policy. This problem is even more entrenched in the Republican Party and was the means by which it was purged of moderate voices willing to negotiate to solve problems.


This trend is of the Democratic Party to devolve into the evil twin of the Republicans is reinforced by so-called progressives prominent in the blogosphere. They are in reality Party hacks like Markos Moulitsas, who earns his access to Democratic Party leaders by ridiculing Democrats like Dennis Kucinich when they speak up for the People in opposition to the Party line as formulated by the Democratic "Leadership" Committee. 


The politics of the possible has become what corporations dictate is possible thanks to the brainwashing of too many people  by those who speak for the echo chamber of the Left and think only within the two-Party box. Until enough Democratic voters recognize this harsh reality and either fight for reform within the party or join independents in building a third Party movement, the task of reforming our government would likely remain insurmountable if there were not a single that has the potential to not only unite the Left but the Left and Right. That issue is the abolition of corporate personhood

Most people think that it is too hard to amend the constitution. With with all the other problems we are organizing to fight and no help from the corporate media, they argue that the will and spare energy to build a movement sufficient to achieve this goal is not there. What the naysayers miss is that this is not simply another issue to be fought over but the single issue that is central to ending the influence of corporate money in elections.
 

As importantly, the abolition of corporate personhood is an issue that will determine the outcome of elections even before it passes. By making support for such and amendment a litmus test in all congressional races, we would have the tool we need to remove the corporate Puppets in Congress when they run for re-election against candidates who have taken the pledge to amend. Within two to three election cycles it would be possible to pass the amendment in Congress, by which time state legislators will surely see the writing on the wall and ratify the amendment at the state level.

It is the responsibility of each of us not just to vote, but to educate ourselves about the candidates from among whom we are choosing. If we are unwilling to do so, it is our duty to not vote. If both Democratic and Republican candidates seem willing to put the interests of their corporate sponsors above the interests of the American people, we cannot simply shrug our shoulders and vote for the "home team." If there is a third party or independent candidate who will represent us, we must give that candidate our support. Given that the others are usually the corporate choices, there is little to lose and much to be gained.

The work I have done to try and help organizations advocating single payer health care and other progressive causes has been rewarding but at times frustrating. All the people I have work with are passionately committed to whatever cause they seek to advance and many are working on many causes at once, as I have come to do. The problem is that they suffer from the same ideological barriers of any group of voters. They must learn that with representative democracy itself at stake, ego and narrow ideological differences must be put aside until the Republic is restored.


Extremists on the Left are as divisive as extremists on the Right. We must find a way  to get past mutual animosity and begin to work together for the good of all. Thinking in absolute terms of black and white is inherently destructive to any effort to build a democratic movement. We must begin with open minds to engage in productive discussion with our self-chosen enemies about how to unite and demand a government that puts the interests of the People over those of corporations.  Only if we put ideology and ego aside can we find the common ground on which to take a stand against the corporate plutocracy that our government has come to serve to the virtual exclusion of the rights and needs of the American people. 

Building a real coalition of a plurality of Americans is a Herculean task. We no longer have a common language with which to approach the discussion of politics, society and the relative role of government. Emotional language obscures the reality that personal responsibility is not enough to survive economically in our increasingly complex and endangered world. The solution may lie in using language that stirs positive emotions and a sense of pride in accepting social responsibility. It is critical that language be used to tell the truth rather than to mislead. Fortunately, the truth is inherently more compelling than self-serving fictions.

Libertarians fall into the trap of thinking that any of us can succeed if we work hard enough, not recognizing that the current dearth of living wage jobs was predictable long before the current crisis and is unlikely to disappear soon, if ever. The only way to level the playing field is to admit this truth and work together to fight for every American, not just those lucky enough to be in a position to succeed. 


The media openly conspire with the power elite to unquestioningly use the Libertarian language that corporate politicians choose to justify their betrayal of the average American. They have spun a carefully constructed web of lies that has caused the average unsuspecting American to betray our tradition of socially responsible government answerable to the needs of all the People.

Politicians since Nixon have increasingly used anger and fear to divide us by means of perverting everyday words to signify the opposite of their true meaning. If being liberal is bad, why did the Father of our Country state that he hoped that “America will become the most liberal of nations”? If being conservative is bad, why do liberals want to restore the democracy they feel we have lost? 


If self-described conservatives and liberals want to follow the ideas of our Founders, they cannot pick and choose what quotes they like and interpret then in a way that fits their prejudices. The same is true of increasingly political Christian and other fundamentalists who choose passages from their holy texts to justify antisocial, anti-human acts against individuals and society as a whole. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, but our freedom do not belong to the government and can only be taken away if we persist in fighting each other rather than the corporatocracy our government now seems to exist to serve.

Whether we consider ourselves liberal, conservative or independent, we must not allow the corporatists of the media and the two-Party duopoly to define our language for us. If we are going to Take Back America for the People we must take back our language. We need to say what we mean and use our common language to communicate, not to argue about semantic differences that obscure the truth in our respective positions.  


By our example we can teach others to talk to each other. Eventually, I hope to see a consensus reality merge that is held  even by those who have been brainwashed into accepting the Orwellian redefinitions  of commonly understood terms. Until we help these angry, deluded souls to come out of their hypnotic state,  they will continue to forget that we are all Americans who share many common values.

As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has spent years navigating the Byzantine structure of the VA in an effort to better serve our veterans, I have seen the problems in government programs firsthand that have been part of the reason Americans are willing to reject government as a whole. As a result, I believe that I understand all too well how easy it is to deliberately convince the public of the inherent flaws in government and make more difficult the task of restoring democracy in America. 


Most of us understand that government is necessary to restrain those who would strip from us our rights and our liberty.  We must come to a common understanding of what the proper role of government is in guaranteeing these rights if the nation is to get through this time of crisis and show by its example that freedom is possible only in a democracy. Only then will we have regained the moral authority to join the effort to lead the world to a rational, sustainable and just future where the threat of war is but a distant memory.

It is my hope that we can learn to talk about the issues dividing Americans in a spirit of common purpose and mutual respect. This may be the only way that we will see a peaceful Revolution rather than a violent one. The most extremely corporatist politicians seem to be willing to promote violence as the only way to maintain undemocratic privilege for themselves and their corporate benefactors.

Progressive conservatives and liberals will begin to make progress in using government to serve the interests of the People only when they talk to each other.  We can end the corporate dominance of the American government if we join in a new abolition movement, one that will end our economic enslavement by abolishing corporate personhood.


The key to effective communication is to understand how emotions affect reasoning and to capitalize on this to communicate the truth to the average citizen. This will have a greater impact than the lies of the corporate owned media and politicians who have become willing Puppets in a thoroughly corrupt political system. 


Fortunately, Americans showed when they elected Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama that they prefer to hear a pleasant view of an imaginary America. We must talk to each other to develop a shared vision of what that America can and should be. If we calmly discuss with each other about the America we can create by working together, we can become the shining city on the hill that Reagan saw before starting the process of giving away our government to corporate interests.

I hope that through this book I can in some small way contribute to the opening of a more meaningful dialogue between the American people, so that we can clearly communicate our expectations to our ostensible leaders and more importantly, to the amoral corporatists who would sacrifice us all on the altar of the cult of greed.


I see the job of the Soldier For Peace as being to promote social justice and the highest ideals of the Founders of the American experiment in democracy. In an army, we depend on each other for our survival. When everyone is a Soldier For Peace, we cannot lose because the battle will be over and all will have won.



Notes: 


Most of these essays were first published on the Democracy for America website and some have appeared on the Progressive Democrats of America website and elsewhere.  


I release all rights to reproduction of all or part of this work, except if any renumeration is asked for said reproductions.

The essays in this book have been edited from the original postings for clarity and in some instances to reflect events subsequent to the original posting that make the significance of certain points clearer. 


Dates of publication listed in the body of the essays are the dates they were published on the DFA blog or on the date they were first posted in this book.  They were posted here in reverse order (often much later) to follow a standard book format. 

I welcome constructive criticism from readers, and especially correction of any factual errors, particularly in the attribution of the writers of songs whose lyrics are found in these pages. 

Rick Staggenborg, MD

Founder, Soldiers For Peace International
Captain, U.S. Army (retired)
Coos Bay, Oregon

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SOLDIERS FOR PEACE-WHO WE ARE








To answer the question "What is Soldiers For Peace?" you must understand who a Soldier For Peace is. A Soldier For Peace is any one of the millions of people around the world who struggle nonviolently for social justice in their communities, nations and the world at large.

Soldiers For Peace International is an all-volunteer virtual "Army" of a radical new kind. Rather than being an organization, it is a network of individuals working each in their own way to help build a united international front against fascism and war. Most of us have never met each other and the vast majority of Soldiers For Peace have never heard the term we use to describe our network. Nonetheless, it is our collective efforts that give humanity its last hope for peace, freedom and a future for our children worth passing on.

We are anarchical in that we have no command structure. There is no decision making body. There are no orders issued.  Each of us is effectively an “Army of one,” acting individually and as members of organizations to wage a nonviolent "war" against injustice that we believe will lead to the end of war between nations.  No one speaks for the all Soldiers For Peace. We follow our consciences and use our own initiative to further our common objectives in the field of battle. What follows is thus not a definition of Soldiers For Peace but my vision of what we can collectively become.

Our goal must be to convince a critical mass of humanity that we can end war. Only if we believe it is possible and absolutely necessary for the survival of human civilization will enough people engage in the work necessary to succeed. War is the ultimate example of injustice. All efforts to fight injustice peacefully further our ultimate goal.

Failure is not an option, because war is the ultimate tool of oppression and leaves no winners in its wake. At a time when war has become an accepted means of expanding and consolidating the power of a small group of international elite with no allegiance to nations or their peoples, none of us will escape the consequences if we fail to act now.

Given that the every decent human wants to see the end of war, the problem is one of overcoming the self-fulfilling  prophecy that war is inevitable. This is a struggle each of us must ultimately wage alone. As founder of Soldiers For Peace International I only ask that you consider whether choosing to accept the idea of war is still necessary is in itself a betrayal of humanity and most especially, the children who will reap what we have sown.




Soldiers For Peace began in the US in 1990 in response to the threat of the first Persian Gulf war, now largely forgotten except by those who fought it and by others who saw it as a great American victory rather than the wholesale slaughter it was. Few Americans realize that after the defeat of the vicious Republican Guard that terrorized  Kuwaiti civilians, the war degenerated into a massacre of Iraqi draftees who had been coerced into serving as cannon fodder in Hussein’s insane dream of restoring Iraqi greatness through another disastrous war.

Those of us who responded with alarm in 1990 to yet another war for corporate Empire so soon after Vietnam had already concluded what most people have yet to consider: War is not inevitable, it is always a choice. It is a choice made by people who are unaccountable to We the People and who act through the systematic manipulation of elected government officials. When the war was seemingly over, most of us went back to our day jobs. Only a few sensed that this was a harbinger of worse things to come.




The first Bush went on to punish the Iraqi populace for the sins of their dictator, who he apparently still found to be useful. The corrupt oil-for-food program caused the suffering of millions of poor Iraqis while doing little to curb income to Hussein. He was therefore not only able to continue his lavish spending on himself and his supporters but to allegedly acquire weapons of mass destruction, the first of many reasons offered to justify the second invasion.

Bin Laden and Hussein were in turn useful covers for the role of the corporatocracy's agents within and outside of the US government who allowed the massacre of 3,000 Americans in a plot they had been apprised of well in time to have stopped it. Unfortunately, the plot was much too convenient for the international corporate terrorists as a pretext to invade Iraq, as called for in a report by the Project for a New American Century released one year prior to 9/11.

As the initial conspirator presented to the American people as terrorism personified accused Saudi mastermind, the specter of bin Ladin proved useful only until the game plan called for the invasion of Iraq.  Saddam Hussein was deliberately and cynically substituted as the face of terror. The threat he was said to represent was the only justification given for continuing on the path to a New World Order that promised security at the cost of individual freedoms and loss of national sovereignty around the world.
  
Hussein was again used as a target toward which to direct the hatred of the American citizenry when it served the government’s purposes after America launched its War of Terror following the 9/11 attacks. US interests having long been assumed by most Americans to be synonymous with corporate interests, too few questioned the push to war by an oilman who was the son of former a CIA director turned President and the grandson of Nazi collaborator Senator Prescott Bush.

The campaign of "Shock and Awe" made for spectacular television, with nighttime shots of smart bombs raining down on Baghdad. The citizens who were thus murdered could not be seen from the vantage point of cameras in the bombers and on the bombs so did not detract from the thrill patriotic Americans felt at this aggressive "defense of freedom." These attacks were often staged for prime time and put CNN front and center of the media cheerleading the Iraq war. 

That President Obama has continued to follow the game plan of PNAC clearly indicates the extent to which the corporatocracy's reach has extended throughout the US government. It seems clear to me that he was warning us when he said repeatedly throughout the 2008 campaign “I can’t be the change, YOU have to be the change that we need.” Regardless of the meaning behind that sound bite, it is up to the people of the United States and the world to respond to that call.





1990 was another time and events proved that Americans were not yet ready to face reality. Without the aid of the internet, Soldiers For Peace never really caught on. After the Persian Gulf War ended the American dream at first slowly and then with precipitous speed transformed into the long national nightmare from which the nation and the western world are just beginning to awaken.

In 2009, the time had come to consider anew whether it was possible to launch a movement based on a simple idea: War is not inevitable. If enough people can be made to recognize that we have the collective power to end it if they understand why failing to do so will spell the end of civilization as we know it, we can together create a tectonic paradigm shift in human consciousness in which war will become unthinkable.

Soldiers for Peace started as many things do as just a good idea. What it lacked was the means to build the virtual Army that was needed to wrest control of the US government from corporate rule on behalf of the American people and ultimately, all the Peoples of a world civilization poised on the brink of self-destruction. The internet provided that means. 

Soldiers For Peace would have remained nothing but a good idea but for the fact that it is an idea whose time has now come. If you understand how the extension of the corporate power over the US government has made critical the state of America and the world and if you have pledged yourself to the nonviolent struggle for the survival of civilization as we understand it, then you already a member of our virtual Army, wherever you are.

We no longer have the luxury of waiting. America and the world stand poised on a precipice, reeling from the disorienting effects of 30 years of misuse of the power of the US government. With the support of citizens around the world, the American people must seize the reins of their own government to keep it from driving all of us relentlessly toward certain destruction through endless war and its effects on the environment, economy and collective psyche of Mankind.

Soldiers For Peace are compassionate realists. We are not “passionate idealists,” because passion blinds reason and idealism does not recognize the limits of reality. Compassion compels us to accept our duty despite the cynic within who tells us that victory is not possible against the power of the psychopaths who are the world’s economic elite. They are at war with us. We have no choice but to resist if we wish our children to live free.

True warriors will understand the importance of the mission know that surrender is not possible in this war. Though the odds against victory may seem insurmountable, every Empire has fallen before an implacable foe. Our goal is realistic if we realize and can convince enough of our fellow citizens that by acting according to our common ideals, we can demand and secure the right of self-determination of our nations and their peoples. The realist is after all in the end the one whose vision is realized. The cynic will be right only if his view prevails and we fail to try. It is our duty to those who have died in the belief that they were fighting for freedom to assure that the last, best hope for Mankind does not perish from the Earth and with it, our hopes for our children.

Freedom of thought is the one liberty that cannot be taken away. In freeing our minds from the trap of unquestioned assumptions we free ourselves. In sharing information and mutually supporting ideas for action, we can free each other from the Matrix of lies within which most of humanity is bound. This is how we build a united international front against fascism and war that will assure that our children thrive in a world free from want and war.   

There is a place in our Army for anyone dedicated to the ideal that free Peoples can and should rule themselves. We must learn to think of ourselves first as citizens of the planet, abandoning the idea that we can identify ourselves first as citizens of a nation, members of a political faction or even of a religion. Such ultimately artificial distinctions obscure the fact that it is what we share in common that makes us human. At this time in history, we must fight together for the survival of human civilization.

If you find yourself subject to doubt and cynicism, know that you are not alone but do not submit to these demons. It is often said there are no atheists in foxholes. Desperation is sometimes the only way to inspire faith in the frightened and hopeless. We must find that faith in ourselves that allows us to believe that together, we can accomplish what faith alone cannot. We must pledge our lives and sacred honor to this cause. Together we will advance to victory, leaving no man, woman or child behind.





Soldiers For Peace International was first established by veterans of the US military. However, our intent was never to reject any supporter of our efforts who did not choose to serve in the military. We honor those who have made that choice. All who agree with our mission and understand the importance of working for unity among those striving for peace, freedom and democracy in the world are by definition Soldiers For Peace and are invited to join our  group on Facebook. The more we achieve a common identity, the louder our collective voice will become.


Although military service is not a prerequisite to service in our virtual Army, we remain interested in recruiting within the ranks of current and former active duty service members. Their knowledge, skill sets and contacts within the military community will prove indispensable in the Revolution that is surely coming, whether or not we realize our goal of keeping it nonviolent.

If  you  are  a veteran  or  active  duty  service member in the military of any nation, find out  more about  how you can uniquely contribute to our efforts by emailing me at: staggenborg4senate@hotmail.com.


Rick Staggenborg, MD
Founder, Soldiers For Peace International
Captain, U.S. Army (retired)
Coos Bay, Oregon

Note: This essay was extensively rewritten in 2012 for clarity to those who are reading it out of the context of the rest of the online book of essays Stop the Madness: The Diary of a Soldier For Peace in the War to Take Back America.