Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Sun King vs. the Tangerine Tyrant

Once again, we're treated to a historical comparison that will shed much light on our current administration's goals and actions. The more things change...?

The Sun King (Louis) vs. 
the Tangerine Tyrant (Donald)
By Coast Watcher

Seventeenth century France was an economic powerhouse. By the early years of the 18th century, it was not so much. The reason isn’t hard to find.

During his long reign, King Louis XIV of France ruled as an absolute monarch, a man who believed he answered only to God and whose will was law.
It is legal because I wish it -- Louis XIV

He pursued an aggressive foreign policy that embroiled all of Europe in wars at one time or another. Quite often the wars were motivated by Louis’ own personal vendettas and his love of conquest.

The love of glory certainly takes precedence over all others in my soul -- Louis XIV

He quarreled with the Pope and persecuted the Huguenots (French Protestants) to the extent many left the country, taking a wealth of knowledge and expertise with them. He spent lavish sums of money on his own pursuits, setting a standard of royal grandeur that earned him the sobriquet The Sun King (le soleil roi).

When Louis died in 1715, decades of war against France’s enemies had bled the country dry. The country had passed from being the most powerful in Europe to an embattled state surrounded on all sides by hostile or potentially hostile neighbors. Overseas trade had withered. Warfare had ravaged the economy. It caused a sharp decrease in the young male population whose numbers had gone to feed Louis’ voracious demand for army recruits. In the later part of his reign, a series of bad harvests led to famine. An anonymous letter written to Louis in 1695 spelled out one of the most powerful indictments of the king.

Your people are dying of hunger. All France is one great poorhouse, desolate and unprovided. -- Attributed to Archbishop Fénelon.
The poor on whose shoulders the burden mostly fell were more than ready for change. Inspired by philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau it would lead 74 years later to the bloody French Revolution that saw the execution, by guillotine, of Louis’ grandson, King Louis XVI. 

Back then, England took over as the leading power in Europe. With the wealth and overseas territories acquired in wars against France, and the previously mentioned knowledge and expertise gained from French Huguenot refugees, England went on to rule an empire that spanned the world.

Fast forward to the present day: We have a United States that is an economic powerhouse. Over the last seventy years it has embroiled the whole world in wars at one time or another. Many of these, along with their near-cousin, the eponymous regime change, have been motivated by personal vendettas and love of conquest on the part of members of the American government. The military budget was a bloated, obscene $1.6 trillion in 2015.

It’s not hard to see parallels between Trump and King Louis XIV. Trump has luxuriated in the trappings of wealth his whole life. He has a love of posturing and of grandeur in his personal abodes. You only have to look at photos of Trump’s Manhattan apartment with its tacky gold walls and overblown décor to see similarities with Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. Trump also seems to think he can rule by the Divine Right of Kings. Witness the plethora of presidential orders signed within hours of his backside hitting the chair in the Oval Office. 

Trump has certainly tapped into the love of perpetual warfare that has infused American governments over the past few decades. Much like the economy of Louis XIV’s France, military spending is paramount. Trump plans a $4.1 trillion budget over the next ten years that will cut bloody gouges out of programs to help the poor. Health care and food stamps, social security and student loans will be cut. Medicaid alone will suffer an $800 billion cut, with another $192 billion from vital nutritional assistance and $272 billion from other publicly-funded sources. Another $57 billion will come from numerous other domestic programs outside the military/homeland security sphere. 

Trump and his GOP allies claim America is surrounded by enemies on all sides. To that end, they sustain existing military campaigns in foreign countries, wars that do nothing but kill and maim thousands of innocents while generating unimaginable wealth for the military-industrial complex. If real enemies exist, and not those that live only in fabricated news stories, it’s because these never-ending wars have created such hatred for America.

The regime even hopes to launch new campaigns in Syria, Iran, North Korea and – God help us all – China and Russia. Shades of France at the peak of her glory. Much like then, I suspect when the tide sets against America it will run strong and fast.

Poverty is rising to unprecedented levels. More and more people are being forced to work longer and longer hours for less than minimum wage. Although devastatingly bad harvests may be a thing of the past, increased agribusiness use of chemicals and GMO crops are already causing a serious deficiency in the national diet. Student debt is crippling young people. Numbers of them are forced to sign up for Trump’s military adventures in the hopes of getting the benefits of the G.I Bill –- benefits which the GOP are busy cutting to shreds, along with specialist medical and psychiatric programs for those military personnel who return from action broken in mind and body.

And this man, this President Trump, has the nerve to say he’ll “Make America Great Again.” You can almost hear the ghost of King Louis XIV whispering: “I wanted to make France great!”

[Editor's update: As of  7/17/2017, the number of civilian deaths abroad attributed to American military action passed the 2,000 mark. Trump has killed more people during his short tenure as president than Obama did in eight years.]

BIO: Coast Watcher can't help but see parallels between the current administration and another one that eventually underwent the guillotine. As a Brit living abroad, he sees through a lot of the American mainstream media lies and wants to share his insights with others. Vive la revolucion!

In a strange--and slightly related story--a company that sells clothing and accessories to historical re-enactors, Townsends, came under flack recently for posting a video showing how to make an 18th century dessert. Why should a dessert recipe be considered controversial? Well... the recipe is called "Orange Fool" and some thought it was an outright taunt of Mr. Trump (which, of course, it wasn't). You can watch the recipe video below, and read about why Trump supporters took exception to this classic, colonial delight. 

Hmm, it sounds delicious, doesn't it? Perfect on a hot summer's day, right? Wonder why Trump supporters don't like custard and orange?

If they took exception to a dessert, what would they make of this Trekkie reference?
Orange Fool? How about this creative bit of name-calling by the Scots... (Warning: Adult language)
Nobody beats the Scots in inventive epithets, do they?

Tell your Congressperson to Condemn the FCC and Net Neutrality!

And now a letter and a resolution from a young activist speaking out against the tyranny of the FCC's recent ruling on Net Neutrality. Here's what Eddie has to say about his letter:

I sent letters to the leaders of both chambers by mail and fax on the twelfth for Net Neutrality. Along with a Joint Resolution to Congress for them to introduce and sponsor if they are truly for Net Neutrality and the people. I wrote this with the belief that it will actually be read and these people in the offices and the leaders themselves get to know what Net Neutrality is to someone who was born in the 21st Century, and someone who uses the internet on a daily basis and why we must push Congress to do some actions. With the FCC planning on removing these protections; and with Senate GOP planning on pushing a bill to remove these protections completely and barring restoration if they can't do it in the FCC. We must write, fax, call in whatever stories we have. And not be afraid to shame these people for who they are. They want blood. And they are willing to make the people draw it if we stop fighting back. If you haven't commented on the FCC's website you may do so at https://GoFCCYourself.com

Dear Senate Majority Leader McConnell:

Our nation is in a current state of massive division and hatred toward one another. As someone who has lived for 16 years, I have seen how the recession has hit our nation hard, especially in my family with my mother being laid off from Wells Fargo at the turn of the crisis.  I've seen the resilience and stand people have taken to help protect our nation after 9/11.  I've also seen the numerous benefits of being in the age of a free web.  

As someone who uses the internet for work every day as a fire department clerk, a free and non-obstructed web is something that helps me in my work. At home, I read and buy, and engage in the benefits of capitalism in many parts of the online buying scene.  As someone who is an activist, I use the internet to organize marches, push issues and candidates.  I've been able to do this all this time because of the Title II protections under the Telecommunications Act. 

Our Constitution guarantees people to engage in free will and free expression on whatever platform it may be. 

With the repeal of Title II Protections, with the erroneous course the Federal Communications Commission is taking, we'll very much see the freewill to engage soon gone. Our Internet Service Providers will most likely charge extra to only engage on the things they believe we should engage in. ISPs will be free to block websites if it doesn't fit their views and slow down websites if that domain is not paying enough to be put in a fast lane. 

I believe if you were a reasonable conservative, you would be furious at what Ajit Pai has done and be ready to put a Joint Resolution disapproving the FCC's action immediately. 

A real conservative wouldn't let some random people control what people want to do with their lives online.  Since the people's freedom on the internet is protected by the Constitution since it is free speech.  If the GOP Caucus is for the Constitution, they would not allow these ridiculous actions to go through.

Mr. McConnell, laws passed in the United States Senate affect my life and my nation. I pay taxes and work to ensure fires are prevented. I demand you fight for net neutrality and come to your senses about this issue and stop taking money from these companies that want to kill Title II protections. I am disappointed in how silent or how anti-Net Neutrality you and your caucus is. When more than 90% of these United States support Title II protections, it says something on how much of a hypocrite you and your caucus members are.  The GOP said they were going to support what the people support. You have done nothing and very often everything the people are against in favor of your corporate donors. Shame on you senator, shame. 

If you want the people to be on your side, I demand you and Congress disapprove of the actions of Ajit Pai and what the FCC is doing.  If you are a true servant of the people and believe in the Constitution, you will submit and pass the joint resolution below.

Do the right thing and be on the right side of history.

Eduardo Alvarado

Providing Congressional disapproval for the actions of the Federal Communications Commission in regard to their planned removal of the current Title II Protections set in place in 2015 for the internet under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

A Resolution
Whereas the Federal Communications Commission has voted in May 2017 in a very slim, 2-1 vote to begin the process of repealing protections for the internet, which prohibits Internet Service Providers from slowing down, blocking, and/or prioritizing fast lanes for websites who pay extra fees imposed if the Internet's Title II status was removed from the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Whereas an open and free internet is imperative to ensure freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.  With the press, controversial or not, posts to ensure an informed people, may be affected if Internet Service Providers control traffic and who accesses what websites.
Whereas with public opinion at near 90% support for Title II protections, it is erroneous that the Federal Communications Commission is attempting to go against the will of the people by repealing the Title II Protections provided by the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Whereas Federal Communications Commission Commissioner, Ajit Pai has deliberately made numerous attempts to supersede the will of the people of the United States of America.  It is time for the Congress to censure the commissioner for acts against the people. 
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:
Article 1: Disapproving the actions of the Federal Communications Commission
1)     The Congress of the United States disapproves the actions committed by the Federal Communications Commission.  Which is infringing the rights of the people by allowing corporate sponsors, lobbyists of the Internet Service Providers to supersede the will of the people. 
2)     With massive outcry from the people demanding the protection of Title II regulations of the internet. The Federal Communications Commission, run under the direction of Commissioner of Ajit Pai, is doing a disservice to the nation by going against the will of the people.
Article 2: Imposing formal censure of FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, for obstructing the will of the nation by attempting to enact policies which attempts to infringe the Constitution of the United States
1)     The Congress of the United States formally censures Federal Communications Commission Commissioner, Ajit Pai, for refusing to listen to the will of the nation, and for deliberately attempting to infringe the United States Constitution by attempting to censor public outcry due to the massive amounts of money received by Internet Service Providers to repeal these regulations, regulations which protect the people's access to the World Wide Web.

The following are some actions you can take this week to help further the political revolution against tyranny.

From the Move to Amend:

Have you ever attended a gathering that changed your life in wonderful and enlightening ways?

The moment you arrived, you thought, "Where have I been all my life?" You find yourself surrounded by your ideological brothers and sisters. A place where you just fit in, are safe, and can share your thoughts and ideas with others interested in hearing them, and where you can learn and hear from others. This place exists!

Come to Minneapolis, August 2 - 6, for the Democracy Convention! 

Our endeavors can be compared to the American Revolutionaries who wrestled this nation from King George and his colonial corporate overseers. While the Declaration of Independence made the case for human rights and stirred the colonists to take action, the Second Constitutional Convention delivered up a property rights document, which still governs us today. 

Register for the Democratizing the Constitution Conference at the Democracy Convention in Minneapolis, August 2 - 6!

Not all the original framers were oligarchs. Thomas Paine wrote:

"When it can be said by any country in the world, my poor are happy, neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them, my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars, the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive, the rational world is my friend because I am the friend of happiness. When these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and government. Independence is my happiness, the world is my country and my religion is to do good." 
​The American Revolutionaries are long dead, but their DNA still courses through the body politic. How do we connect to those powerful little molecules, so we can wrest the democracy we should have from the fists of the elite -- and the large corporations -- currently running government? 

What needs to be done, can't be done, if we don't come together in solidarity with oppressed communities and across issue silos, to check-in with each other, commune with each other, learn from each other, and plan for the future with each other... That time is now!

Come to Minneapolis, August 2 - 6, for the Democracy Convention! 

George Mason, another of the framers, wrote:

"Our All is at Stake, and the little Conveniencys and Comforts of Life, when set in Competition with our Liberty, ought to be rejected not with Reluctance but with Pleasure."
The Democracy Convention is extremely affordable. It isn’t fancy or luxury laden. It is focused on achieving real and transformative democracy from the grassroots up. This is exactly the arena in which Move to Amend should have a big presence, and the price is right!

The Democrcy Convention is coming up quickly. Spaces are still available. Please register today!

While Disney's drunken pirate Jack Sparrow is no role model for democracy movement organizers, the quote below rings incredibly true when it comes to the upcoming Democracy Convention, August 2 - 6, in Minneapolis: 

"If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it."
Please don't miss it! Register here.

See you there,
Laura Bonham, Daniel Lee, Leila Roberts, George Friday, Jerome Scott, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap
National Leadership Team

P.S. If you absolutely can't find a way to attend the Democracy Convention, please contribute so others can attend in your place. 

From Public Citizen:

Update from Public Citizen

Next week, the Trump administration is expected to release its detailed list of objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

These are essentially the starting bid for what the administration hopes to achieve in NAFTA renegotiation.

Will they be the high-standard objectives we desperately need to fix the disastrous deal?

Or will they give even more power to multinational corporations at the expense of our jobs, wages and environment?

Stand by. We’ll send an analysis of the new negotiating objectives as soon as they’re released next week.

In the meantime, take advantage of this last chance to influence the administration’s NAFTA negotiating objectives before they become final.

Sign the petition telling Trump’s top trade negotiator to replace NAFTA with a deal that actually benefits working people in all three NAFTA countries, not just multinational corporations.

Add your name now.

Thanks for all you do.

In solidarity,

Melanie Foley
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Summer of Love 2.0

Our Earth...It's worth saving, isn't it?


By Sean Nestor
When I first started getting involved with activism, I felt at a disadvantage. I never went to school for this stuff; I didn't know how to organize people, or how to analyze public policy, or how everything in our legal system worked. I wanted to show up, hold a sign, and support the professionals.

But there was a problem - there weren't any professionals to support. Most were stuck in cubicles doing busy work, while others were looking for citizens like me to stand up and take the lead. It turns out that the pros can only sharp-shoot certain aspects of social change, and that active citizens are an essential (but nearly extinct) ingredient in that process.

So I started on the path of becoming a better citizen. I learned as I went, figuring things out as I needed to through my own trial and error and conversations with the experienced. I never would have guessed how much this process would change me for the better. Things that would have given me crippling anxiety to contemplate years ago now seem second nature.

The zen of democracy is that it ties our personal improvement to the improvement of our society. When we challenge ourselves and accept our role as self-advocates--when we better ourselves in the pursuit of bettering others--we transform not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us. This process cannot be engineered in a classroom, a legislative chamber, or a board room; it must arise organically from the felt needs and moral compass of every day citizens.
Sean Nestor is an educator and activist from Toledo, Ohio. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Single Payer Action Network and Co-Chair of the Lucas County Green Party.

 From January to July, 2017 has been a year of citizens speaking out and taking action to protect each other and the environment.
All Hands on Deck event at Maumee Bay State Park, Lake Erie
2017: The Summer of Love 2.0
by C.A. Matthews

For those who weren't alive in 1967, the above title might not ring a bell for you. But for those of us who have some memories of the 60s, the Summer of Love was the year of the hippies and a year that marked a seismic shift of consciousness in America. As a child, I couldn't quite grasp what all the young adults wearing love beads, long hair, peace signs and tie-dye were going on about in that summer and in the proceeding ones, but their protest signs and songs indicated their intentions. 

It was a time to speak out against the war in Vietnam; a time to speak out against nuclear proliferation and war; a time to speak out in favor of women's rights; a time to speak out for civil rights for all Americans, in particular African-Americans and Native Americans; a time to cry out about the destruction of the environment; a time to tell the establishment, "Hell no! The status quo has got to go!" And it needed to go now.

I could draw many parallels between this summer of activism and that summer of activism fifty years ago. I see one of the biggest parallels as being the willingness of ordinary people to crawl out of their comfort zones and take their righteous anger to the  streets. But it's not enough to "resist" a bad president, as some are doing with anti-Trump demonstrations. We have to take action for something and not simply act out against some person, like a child throwing a temper tantrum over having to eat broccoli. The hippies' signs and banners may have declared they were against the war in Southeast Asia, but essentially they were speaking out for world peace and for an end to poverty, hunger, and human rights abuses. 

Perhaps the reason the Summer of Love and the hippies live on in our memories is that those who became involved in the movement were for positive change for all mankind. They weren't on a self-serving "vengeance kick" to get rid of a buffoon of a president they didn't personally like. The hippies' motives and actions were noble and for the good of society, and not simply a cover for a disgraced political faction who fielded the wrong candidate and rigged primaries to do so.

This summer so far we've participated in several actions to draw attention to
health care (or rather, the lack of it) in America and the fragility of our environment (our Great Lakes and our dying pollinators). We feel the need to protect our world against corporate greed that is destroying nature and humankind alike. The reason we chose to participate in these actions is that they are in dire need of immediate attention. The status quo of the oligarchs' desire for ever-increasing corporate profits has got to go--and go now

Time is of the essence. It's not a personal thing--although, if our health care is taken away, it will possibly shorten our lives--but it's a necessary thing to take action if we want our world to exist in the future. Our personal struggles pale in comparison to the struggles of the whole of humanity.

It's time we follow the hippies' lead and don our peace signs and love beads and show our compassion for our fellow human beings and our planet. Only by acting out of love and compassion can we ever hope to achieve a new status quo, one where everyone is assured of a life free from discrimination and homelessness, hunger and suffering. We'll need more than a shift--we'll need a revolution in consciousness to get there. 

Let the revolution begin today with us.

Enjoy some memories from the Summer of Love with this video.

Here's one way to take action this summer. A very clever way from 314 Action.
314 Action

Trump and his allies have been purging his administration of scientific voices from day one, and the latest news out of Washington makes it clear they aren't slowing down. The science division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy apparently has zero remaining staffers.

We know all too well that without scientific input in government, things can get pretty dicey -- so we thought we’d help them out a bit by sending a clear message: If you’re not going to seek out science, we’ll bring science to your front door instead.

We want to deliver copies of “Environmental Science for Dummies” to some of the most anti-science voices in Trump's administration, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Can you help?

Enter your info and we’ll ship this book in your name to either the EPA or the Department of Energy -- along with a note reminding them that you (and the American people) stand with science >>

Environmental Science for Dummies
Since January, the scientific community has been under constant attack. Trump has announced that he’s pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement. Scott Pruitt has fired key scientists at the EPA, and plans to replace them with fossil fuel executives. Rick Perry continues to deny human impact on climate change.

It’s critical that we keep exposing these climate change deniers and anti-science voices. We need to show them that they’re not going to get away with this. These aren’t the Dark Ages -- the American people believe in science.

It’s on us to teach the Trump administration a science lesson: Help us send “Environmental Science for Dummies” textbooks to two of the most anti-science voices in Washington, D.C. >>

Thanks for helping us send a message.
Harmony Knutson
Director of Advocacy
314 Action

More ways to take action on health care from the Movement for the 99%.
National Week of Action: July 8 -15
Mass Action Needed to Ensure Defeat of Trumpcare!

Trumpcare isn’t dead, and we need to do everything we can to stop it. The Republicans in Congress are going to come back from the July 4th recess determined to try to get this reactionary legislation passed.

Trumpcare is a savage attack on working people and the poor. If passed, it will deny tens of millions access to healthcare and represent one of the greatest transfers of wealth from the working class to the 1% in U.S. history through massive tax cuts for the super-rich and corporations.

We need a full mobilization of the opposition to Trumpcare through rallies, protests, and occupations of Republican Senators’ offices. The Republicans are struggling to overcome internal divisions, but we need to keep the pressure up to ensure defeat of Trumpcare.

Our Revolution, the Democratic Socialists of America and others are calling for non-violent sit-ins across the country on Thursday, July 6th against Trumpcare. These are exactly the type of determined actions we need to build a movement from below to defeat Trump’s agenda.

Movement for the 99% and our partners in Socialist Alternative also feel we need to keep that movement going when Congress returns to session. That’s why we’re helping to initiate a week of action from July 8th to July 15th to #OccupyTrumpcare. Please join us at the protests, occupations and speak-outs that we’ll be initiating. 

Please chip in $15, $27, or $100 to build mass actions against Trumpcare this coming week! We need to print thousands of picket signs and to make sure we have a legal fund for any arrests.

There is mass opposition across the country, we need all opponents of Trumpcare to unite behind a strategy of mobilizing the full breadth of that opposition, similar to the mass rallies around Trump’s inauguration when millions marched in the streets. With a well-organized mobilization and an escalating series of mass actions we can help ensure the Republican bill fails. A victory on this issue could help give confidence to the fight for Medicare for all. We could build upon our momentum to organize to ensure guaranteed, quality healthcare for everyone at the state level and nationally. To achieve these goals, we have to rely on our own strength, not the corporate-controlled leadership of the Democratic Party.

The first step in winning our demands, defeating the Republican agenda and bringing down Trump is to defeat this reactionary legislation once and for all.

We need all hands on deck to #OccupyTrumpcare!  We are organizing rallies and occupations across the country. We will send out more information in the coming days of where and when you can join an action!


A Summer of Love, a Summer of Resistance with Greenpeace...

Trump received a message that he couldn't ignore. We will RESIST and DEFEND our planet and communities!
Are you ready to join the Summer of Resistance?

The Summer of Resistance is heating up. Now we need YOU to join in!

All summer long, Greenpeace will be turning up the heat on Trump and his fossil fuel cronies through creative resistance and non-violent direct action. Now it’s time for YOU to join in to create change where you live. Sign up today for our Summer of Resistance!

There’s never been a more important time to resist the Trump administration’s pro-polluter agenda and DEFEND our planet and communities. In rapid-fire succession, Trump has already unleashed multiple attacks on our water, air, climate, and health. This is an administration that sees American lives and the health of the planet as disposable, and it is using all its power to execute that vision. And often, poor, immigrant and communities of color — like the one I grew up in here in Chicago — will be the ones who feel the harshest effects.

There’s never been a more important time for action. That’s why I’ve joined Greenpeace’s Summer of Resistance, where people from all over the country — people just like you and me — can gain the tools they need to stand up against injustice in their own communities. Will you join me and thousands of others to make your summer a Summer of Resistance? When you sign up, we’ll show you how to join free local trainings and creative, non-violent resistance actions — or show you how to host your own creative resistance event!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never marched, joined a peaceful protest, or done any sort of direct action before. Greenpeace’s Summer of Resistance is for anyone who wants to make a difference. Whatever issue you’re most passionate about — climate change, clean air and water, social justice — this is the moment to take the next step and give your all. Join the Summer of Resistance now!

For our climate, health and communities,
Dario Parra
RESIST team, Greenpeace USA

And action to take to save Net Neutrality.
Battle For The Net Video Bumper from FFTF on Vimeo.