Tim McMullen's Missives and Tomes

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This One Really Did Crack Me Up (Because it's so true!)

Most political ads during this season have been disgusting for their grotesque distortions and mindless reiterations of fear-mongering; they have no wit and no style; just gutter-sniping. However, when I saw this piece from the Brown campaign in which they give the Daily Show treatment to Meg and Arnold, it cracked me up enough that I just had to pass it on.

"The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!"
Tim McMullen

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Sudden Return of HOPE!

Suddenly, I HAVE HOPE again! To see why, check out this video from the Daily Show!

As a devout liberal (from Merriam-Webster: of or befitting a man of free birth,  broad-minded, nontraditional, open-minded, progressive, radical, unconventional, unorthodox), it is impossible not to be disappointed with Obama’s performance so far. His compromises have severely handicapped his noble goals with flawed results (in each case, the result of pandering to the worst impulses of the corporate and political opposition of those both in and out of his own party). Finally, however, we have a straightforward accomplishment and a true glimmer of HOPE.
If you have not seen Jon Stewart, then you may not know Elizabeth Warren. She is the real deal. As a feminist, when I look at the Sarah Palin clones, the tea party-supported women candidates who spout meaningless and ridiculous clichés or downright ludicrous fantasies and fabrications, I am disheartened, but when I see Elizabeth Warren, I am uplifted.
She is extremely articulate, deeply passionate, terribly witty, truly knowledgeable, and thoroughly rational. None of your reality-distorting, think-tank talking points for her. Watch her video clips, and have a little hope that just maybe, with our strong and continuing support, she might just be able to bring down some real control on the wall street thieves and corporate marauders that have blighted our lives for the last thirty years.
I remain, faithfully yours, the Hopeful Cynic.
Tim McMullen
“The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Failure and Fraud of the Tax Cut Philosphy

The Bush Administration's direct tax cuts for America's wealthiest cost the government critical funds for infrastructure and other necessary government functions while heaping tons of tax breaks and deregulation on corporate America.

Our near-depression economy, decimated infrastructure, and crumbling public institutions are all part of these patently failed policies.

These tax cuts should end this year, as they were intended to do, especially since they had just the opposite effect that Cheney, Bush, and Fox News said they would have!

Nevertheless, the Republican’ts now smell Democrassic blood. Their immoral, but politically effective, plan to make everything worse and then blame it on the Democrassts appears to be working.
By opposing all solutions to America’s problems, and by sabotaging the democratic process with an archaic senate rule (filibuster) to consistently thwart the super-majority and the will of the people—remember most of those failures and flawed compromises were the work of a 59 to 41 derailment of democracy—the interests of the wealthiest 1% continue to be served and protected while the life-savings and retirement accounts of ordinary Americans are destroyed, and their homes and farms are foreclosed.

The Republican’ts have been aided and abetted by the complicity of a craven and corrupt corporate media. Now the party of ”Just Say No to the People’s Needs” threatens to destroy any small gains that have been made in the last two years, and replace them with an even more rabid anti-public, “feed the rich and starve the workers and the poor” philosophy that is further laden with anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-public servant, anti-worker, anti-government, anti-immigrant demagoguery.

Allowing the legislatively-mandated end to the tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% is the right thing to do. I encourage you to support Patrick Leahy’s petition to allow the cuts to expire.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why I am Voting in the Next Election...An Answer to a Democratic Query

Today, the "Democratic Party," in an obvious fund-raising ploy, asked me to commit to voting in the next election, and, if I wanted, to add a brief explanation as to why I was voting. Their example was: "I'm voting because I want to move America forward." My explanation, the one that follows here, may have been a bit more than they expected, but I really do think that we could all help to bring about more substantial and positive changes if we committed ourselves to a more conscious and thoughtful political life. I encourage you to contact your representatives, your party, and yes, to give money to the causes that advocate for your beliefs.

I am voting in the next election and in every election because "The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy!" I want the United States to regain a commitment to its original vision, and I want the Democratic Party to return to its own most important principles. The writers of the Declaration of Independence removed "the protection of property" and replaced it with "the pursuit of happiness" because they realized that the defense of property and the inevitable domination by wealth would trump all of the other more fundamental rights and principles.

Since the 80's, the Democratic Party has been complicit in elevating the interests of corporations and the wealthy while decimating the interests of workers. Milton Friedman's proudly immoral stance on the lack of corporate responsibility, and the fact that his philosophy has been ruthlessly championed by both parties, has lead us to our present precipice. Recent and repeated capitulation by Democrats has gutted each piece of legislation intended to help the people.

Capitulation on principles over the last forty years has ultimately led us to the bald-faced absurdity, though perfectly Friedmanesque decision, of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Democrats and the American people have allowed unfettered media deregulation and general political discourse to be dragged so far to the right that it is no longer about evening the playing field; it's about allowing workers and the common man to even be in the game.

Corporate tax breaks, tax shelters, deregulation, unchecked fraud and corporate handouts have allowed trillions of dollars to be taken from the working class in the form of unprotected job loss created by outsourcing and so-called "improved efficiency"; by the elimination of pensions and reduction or elimination of healthcare; by laws designed to allow and encourage union busting; by the creative use of "bankruptcy" to break union contracts and to reduce workers' rights and benefits; by unconscionable CEO compensation; and by reductions to basic governmental protections and services, ad infinitum, while putting these trillions in the hands of a miniscule percentage of the wealthiest.

It is important to vote and to speak out on these issues in order to allow America to regain its moral integrity and reclaim its international stature.

I reiterate my motto, “The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!”
Tim McMullen

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stop the Unscrupulous Corporate Power Grab! NO on 16!

Help defeat the liars! Tell everyone you know in California to VOTE NO on Prop 16!

Right there on the unsolicited "ad section" of my own homepage on Facebook is evidence of one of the most scurrilous, cynical, and corrupt corporate power grabs in years. The Headline is "Taxpayers Right to Vote" on top of a cute little picture of a red, white and blue "VOTE" button, followed by the words "Join us to protect your right to vote on projects that put your money at risk. Yes on 16." PG &E has spent an astounding amount of money on this ad campaign (their customers' money—customers who have no say in how their increases in utility costs are used to undermine their own public interests while protecting the private, deregulated industry giants).

In fact, this reprehensible anti-democratic proposition would do just the opposite of what it claims. For years Californians have witnessed the crippling effect that such an anti-democratic approach has had on our state budget: A small minority can thwart the will of the vast majority. As a result, our schools, fire departments, police departments, health services, libraries, all public services have been decimated by an entrenched and recalcitrant minority.

Proposition 16 is an absolute fraud perpetrated on the cash-strapped public by a predatory and often criminal corporation (remember the true story of Erin Brokovich? Remember Enron, deregulation and the PG& E public bailout?)

We should not only oppose this scurrilous abuse of the initiative process, but we should be actively working to break up the stranglehold that this private corporation has on more than half of the State of California!

Voters are sometimes convinced to do themselves irreparable harm in this era of partisan, unanalyzed sound bites. "It's your money" almost always works. "You have a right to vote" sounds appealing, but when it is used to perpetrate a fraud, those of us who know better, should be saying loud and clear to everyone with whom we come in contact:

"NO to corporate misdirection!"
"NO to the abuse of the initiative process for private gain!"
"NO to PROP 16!"

"The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!"
Tim McMullen

Saturday, May 29, 2010

To the FCC: Stop Media Giants & Corrupt Politicians from Hijacking the Internet

The FCC has recently made several important and courageous decisions that have begun to reassert the right of the American people to protect their access to information and to end the unregulated abdication of the people's authority in deference to the whims and greed of corporate control.

A blatantly hypocritical, actively reactionary, politically motivated, and newly-emboldened Supreme Court recently handed down a bizarre and logic-twisting decision taking away a fundamental right of the citizenry to control their own political process as well as their right to regulate corporations while handing corporate America the ability to completely subvert the democratic process and dominate, if not destroy, free and open elections in America.

Not being satisfied with having spent forty years purchasing this morally and intellectually corrupt Supreme Court, these ever more rapacious corporations and ruthless ideologues have taken their game plan one step further.

Having decimated our public media and turned it into patently partisan infotainment through the thoroughly discredited process of deregulation and consolidation, they now have their eyes set on the latest and last bastion of open information and communication, the internet.

Dozens of elected politicians who have been further terrified or emboldened by this crass carte blanche handed to some of America's most morally corrupt corporations, have been cajoled, as a result of the peddling of influence, into supporting the further erosion, decimation, and perhaps elimination of this last venue for honest intellectual and political discourse.

These politicians, whose campaigns and loyalty have been purchased by corporate spending, due to our perverted system of campaign finance now further distorted by the most recent judicial fiat of the Supreme Court, do not speak for the people of the United States. They clearly represent only the interests of their financial backers.

No reasonable, fair-minded person purporting to represent the interests of their constituents or the American people could pretend that the complete control of the internet by media giants and communication conglomerates serves the needs of the populace or of a democracy. Perhaps it does meet the needs of the "constitutional republic," as the Texas State School Board now insists it be called in order to overtly denigrate "democrat" in favor of "republic-an" in another example of the flagrant distortion and politicization that can be wrought through the control of information and the power of publishing.

As you well know, this tiny minority of Congressional shills does not speak for the millions of Americans who have participated in a lengthy, hard-fought, uphill battle to convince the FCC and Congress to protect an open Internet and to facilitate universal access.

Once again, the FCC must stand up to these crass and corrupting commercial interests, assert its Title II authority, and fulfill its duty by protecting the right of the American people to an open and democracy-empowering Internet.

“The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!”

Tim McMullen

Consider adding your voice to the campaign at http://www.savetheinternet.com/

Thursday, April 1, 2010

We Have Been Two April Fools

This song is from my CD, I Could Write You A Song.
It was written for our 10th anniversary. We are now
celebrating our 35th year together and our 27th wedding anniversary.

April Fool by Tim McMullen

April Fool

Although this is a simple song—

A song of love I wrote for you—

I do not fail to comprehend

Complexity in all we do,

For I would be an April Fool

On this our anniversary:

I offer more than flower or jewel

To show how much you are to me.

I’ve loved you more than half my life;

I loved you long before you knew,

And when you promised to be my wife,

I felt no doubt in my own “I do.”

For I would be an April Fool

On this our anniversary:

I offer more than flower or jewel

To show how much you are to me.

Although this is a simple song—

A song of love I wrote for you—

I offer more than flower or jewel:

I said it all when I said, “I do!”

For we would be two April Fools

On this our anniversary:

We offer more than flowers or jewels

We said it all when we said, “I do.”

©1995 Tim McMullen All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"If God Wanted Gay Marriage...": A Response

In the Democratic Party “partybuilder Blog,” James Ryan said, “I am totally against Gay marriage in this country. My feeling is if God wanted Gay Marriage than [sic] majority of married couples would be gay and not staright [sic]. Instead God made us to be anything but Gay. I can't not [sic] see why someone would want to support Gay Marriage. As it is only 5 States legalizes [sic] Gay Marriage. California, Florida, NY, NJ, AZ Governors have vetoed Gay marriage at least twice.”

What follows is my answer:

James—I am assuming that you are not being ironic with this post, that you really are against gay marriage and that you are baffled by people who support it; therefore, I am going to attempt to answer you seriously.

First of all, the "if God meant us to" premise is an intellectual dead end. It has been used to justify every kind of injustice perpetrated by man and to condemn every form of progress, but it just doesn't work logically, even on its own terms. If you actually believe in Divine Providence, then ask yourself some simple questions. Does God want us to drive cars, fly in airplanes, cure diseases? If so, then why did it take mankind hundreds of thousands of years to develop these things? Why didn't He/She just give them to "Adam and Eve"?

If, on the other hand, He (I will use the politically-inspired grammatical convention of adopting the male pronoun when the gender is unknown) meant for these things to develop naturally through man's righteousness, ingenuity and quest for knowledge, then why do you assume that he condemns the variety of ways that man has contrived to live in social settings? Did he mean for us to live in gigantic metropolises? There certainly aren’t any of these in the Bible. So, do we do wrong by building these cities? Is the telephone evil? Or the computer? Or modern medicine? None of these things were even imagined, let alone discussed, by the men who wrote the holy books of any of the great religions, so they give no guidance on these subjects. This fallacy of “the unmentioned” can also be seen in the hypocrisy and intellectual absurdity of Justice Scalia’s “original intent” doctrine to which he adheres when it is convenient to his ideology.

If you believe that God created love, then why don't you accept that he created various kinds of love, including self love, erotic love, platonic love, filial love, parental love, divine love, and yes, even homosexual love? Homosexual love is not a recent invention!

If you base your prohibition on the Bible, then you are stuck with only a few passages, most of which come from the Old Testament, many of the tenets of which I guarantee you do not actually follow. Read “Leviticus” and tell me that you accept all those admonitions and rules.

If you look to the New Testament, then you have only Paul's letters; and although Paul’s letters are, in some cases, given equal status to the Gospels, his lectures and doctrinal edicts must be seen as personal opinions that do not necessarily reflect views found elsewhere. Many scholars argue that they directly contradict the message and teachings of Jesus. They certainly do not reflect the views of Jesus as articulated anywhere in the New Testament.  They could not, of course, because Paul was not witness to any of Jesus’s utterances, except in his self-proclaimed discussion with a light from heaven. Jefferson, as documented in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, called Paul the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."

Nevertheless, in most cases, when reading the Old or the New Testaments in English, we often face grotesque mistranslations and sometimes flagrant misrepresentations of the original Greek. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus speak of homosexuality. If Jerry Falwell could identify and condemn a Teletubby as gay, then what would our modern day Pauls, such as Falwell, Robertson, or Dobson, honestly say of a group of men in today’s society who were as close and insular as Jesus and the Apostles, men who generally shunned the companionship of women and kept only to themselves? (I certainly acknowledge that a line of research goes well beyond Mary Magdalene to refute this male exclusivity, and I applaud that scholarship; I only point out that today’s homophobes would certainly have found Jesus’s “men’s club” suspicious and probably worthy of condemnation).

Catholic doctrine is adamantly anti-homosexual in its public declarations, yet most Catholic school boys and school girls and all adult parishioners know that many of their priests are homosexual. I am not talking about the alarming number that are sexual predators; I just refer to the hypocrisy of decrying homosexuality while being fully aware that many of their priests, their monks, and their leaders are gay. Homosexuality in the priesthood is tacitly accepted while being “publicly” condemned. The hypocrisy of the church during the recent sex scandals all across the US was clearly evident in the innumerable examples of predatory priests who were shuttled from diocese to diocese because of their flagrant behavior and because of the incredible number of complaints. More importantly, the anti-homosexual agenda of the Vatican, like its anti-contraception dogma, is not even supported by a majority of Catholics.

The same hypocrisy is obvious in the never-ending string of Evangelical preachers and “Christian” politicians caught with their pants down in both straight and gay liaisons.

Let me come back to your original reasoning. By your analysis, no one should be left handed because if God had wanted us to be left handed, a majority of us would be left handed. Surely you can see that this view is not reasonable. This handed-ness, including ambidexterity, is a natural proclivity. Yes, the individual can be forced to subdue and hide this proclivity, but it takes a great deal of denial (often accompanied by physical abuse) to counteract this natural inclination, and usually the individual is damaged by the effort.

Left or right handed-ness and sexual orientation are natural inclinations, but marriage laws and prejudice are not. They are man-made. Two hundred years ago, a majority of Americans were blatantly racist towards blacks. Are you willing to suggest that they were racists because God wanted them to be? Or would you rather assume that due to the battle that was begun by a few stalwarts who were willing to decry and condemn the hypocritical and ignorant injustice of the majority, the majority opinion was finally changed. If you think that God makes things happen, then don’t you attribute this shift in the majority opinion and this extension of justice to God’s will?

Pick out any other majority behavior you want. The “Divine right of Kings” was used to justify the wickedness, debauchery, cruelty, and injustice of tyrants. In other words kings ruled because God wanted it that way. We have devised more humane, more just, more rational systems of governing ourselves over the past centuries although we still have a number of issues to work out. “The Divine right of Kings” was superseded by the assumption “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence doesn’t say “heterosexual men.” Can anyone doubt that marriage, whether it actually procures it or not, is certainly one of the means of “pursuing happiness”?

True love is a fairly rare commodity. Certainly, participating in sex (whether heterosexual or homosexual) neither proves nor guarantees love. Neither does marriage. However, the ability of individuals to have a committed, loving relationship with a same sex partner has existed since the beginning of time. Check out David and Jonathan in the book of Samuel, especially in a faithful translation. In that book, God certainly did not condemn them.

As for marriage, in our society marriage confers specific legal rights—rights of custody, visitation, inheritance, etc.—that are not granted to the unwed. To deny these rights to individuals who love and cherish their "homosexual" partners just as much as "heterosexuals" do theirs is a gross miscarriage of justice. These rights are not predicated on whether one has sex or not, nor with whom. In fact, the rights conferred by the marriage rites are not accompanied by any guarantee of fidelity or love or longevity. Marriage simply acknowledges that the two people have consented to be wed. That’s it. The fact that homosexual males or females can find partners in whom they hope to find love, commitment, and longevity of a relationship should be rewarded for the same reasons that anyone else is allowed to marry.

Let’s face it, the “one man-one woman, till death do us part” premise has been a hypocrisy since its medieval conception. Witness the sanctioned, extramarital proclivities of males since time immemorial. Read Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth” for an alternative version of marriage—one that is devastating to the woman—but one that had (and in some circles still has) wide acceptance. In “Ist Chronicles 3” and beyond, David’s many wives (at least 8) are enumerated. Marriage for Solomon and his hundreds of wives was purportedly for political convenience; in other words, the women were given (sold) to him to consummate political alliances.

Clearly, in most societies, certainly in this society, we have “evolved” beyond these archaic conceptions of marriage. Now we embrace a pledge of mutual love and devotion as criteria for marriage, not political plunder or male prerogative. Certainly these criteria of love and devotion can be met through both opposite-sex and same-sex marriage.

How individual churches choose to address the issue of same-sex marriage is a matter of religion. Those religions that are openly hostile to gays will clearly begin to lose members as gay marriage proves to be identical to non-gay marriage. Those churches who embrace gays will not only earn gay devotees, but they will also gain converts who turn from those bigoted and backward, exclusionary, patriarchal denominations.

Superstition, groundless and spurious fears, and meaningless prejudice should not be allowed to forbid gays the basic legal rights and protections given to other consenting adults. Neither should illogical or irrational arguments be allowed to hold sway in the arena of public opinion.

Jonathan, I encourage you to read the Bible and the other holy books of the great religions with a careful and thoughtful eye and ear and heart. I encourage you to keep questioning the things that confuse you about the position of those with whom you disagree, and I encourage you to truly try to seek out the answers to your questions. If your question was, in fact, sincere, perhaps, as you examine the issue further, you may eventually arrive at a conclusion different from the one that you now hold. Rest assured, a majority of this country and the world will soon look back on the systematic persecution of gays and the denial of their civil rights as a gross and unconscionable miscarriage of justice.

The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!
Tim McMullen

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Time to Start Putting the "Corporate Person" Behind Bars

Consider signing this petition which endorses 5 new laws, suggested by Representative Alan Grayson, that would help to bring some sanity back to our political system and reign in the corporate criminals and their political graft that have nearly destroyed our system.


The only difference between Bernie Madoff and hundreds of other corporate criminals is that after years of hearing about his abuses, they had incontrovertible evidence, so the Justice department chose to act. Remember the mantra, "Too Big to Fail." The addendum is "Too Big to Prosecute."

As many of you know, I have been ranting for some years about the travesties of corporate deregulation and the devastating hoax of the anti-tax, "free market" fraud that has eroded the efficacy of our fundamental institutions and transferred a huge portion of our national and international wealth to an immoral, multi-national, corporate elite while shifting most of the financial burdens to the middle and lower classes.

Now, in the wake of the most recent economic meltdown of the banking and insurance industries and other financial institutions—a crash that has decimated the life savings and retirement accounts of most in the middle class—the Supreme Court of the United States (a 5-4 majority of political ideologues bought and paid for by corporate money) has now changed the rules completely. They have basically declared that the American people have no right to regulate the control that Big Business has over our political process nor the politicians that they buy and the self-serving laws that the corporate lobbyists push through.

Remember, this configuration of the Supreme Court would not exist if the Supreme Court itself, under the leadership of the most hypocritical "injustice" of the past 100 years, Justice Antonin Scalia, had not stolen the election from Al Gore and handed it to George Bush. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito (That's not true!), two of the gang of five, would not be on this court! In Bush v. Gore, Justice Stevens, in a stinging rebuke to the majority said, "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." How prophetic are those words now as we see these two help to finalize a corporate hijacking of our entire political system.

Chief Justice Rose Bird of the California Supreme Court was impeached and driven from office, ostensibly because she did not support the death penalty; ironically, her successors on the court did not uphold it any more than she did, but they were not impeached. No, she was really taken down by national corporate interests because they were unhappy with a series of opinions over which she presided that supported the liberties and rights of the individual over the criminal machinations of the corporations. Since then, these corporate interests have continued to run roughshod over the rights and interests of workers and citizens in this country.

Why was Governor Gray Davis of California impeached for a comparatively small economic glitch brought on by the malfeasance of Enron and other energy companies which the Bush administration had refused to regulate, especially after the mechanisms that Davis put into play had actually staunched the bleeding, whereas Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has overseen a financial debacle ten times worse, has faced no impeachment furor? It's simple. He supports the rights of corporations to pillage and plunder with impunity.

This recent Supreme Court decision must be fought by every means possible. One of the fundamental findings in Bush v. Gore was that the Florida court had overruled the intentions of the duly elected legislature. That finding by the Supreme Court was very debatable, but it is certainly not debatable in Citizens United v. FEC. For 100 years the American people, through their legislators, have sought to thwart the undue influence of corporations in the political process. This most recent court decision has patently disregarded the interests and intentions of that 100-year effort of the American people by creating a bizarre distortion of personhood and conveying it to corporations. [More to come on this "corporate person." When the first board of directors of a company that knowingly sold a defective product is found guilty of manslaughter or conspiracy to commit pre-meditated murder, a legal theory that I think we should now pursue with all due speed—here we come Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito—they may want to begin to rethink this "corporate person" fiction.]

I urge you to consider signing the petition sponsored by Credo to stop the corporate hijacking of our government.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

This Little Light...

It has been slightly more than a year since I posted this on our "Extended Family Blog," but with the victory of the Republican's "41st" senator in the same week that the Supreme Court of the United States handed down the most egregiously game-changing political decision in a century, this little observation seems alarmingly prophetic. Check it out to see how far we haven't come!

Carolyn is so excited about the inauguration: we have a little shrine to Obama where our regular seasonal displays go. We not only do Christmas and New Years, but we do Valentines Day, St. Patrick's, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year (our niece was adopted from China), etc. Right now the display is one half Aunt Pearl and Bijou (they both passed on two years ago—AP at 102 and Bijou at nearly 18) and we have a great decoupage Christmas plate that has a photo of Aunt Pearl holding Bijou in her lap. To counterbalance that display is a photoshop photo that Carolyn found on the internet of MLK and Barack Obama together. Finally, she has an 8-10 photo of Obama in a frame. At night it has a little battery-powered light turned on it so that it glows brightly in the dark. It is the same kind of light that we have lighting up the Buddha. So we have Buddha and Obama and Aunt Pearl and Bijou all shining in the dark.

I am a hopeful cynic. He is, after all, just a politician, and even if his heart and his mind are in the right place—which, I believe, they are—the irrational ideologies that have replaced reason and human feeling are so deeply entrenched that it may take several generations to change our course. Obviously, it is much easier to decimate and destroy than to repair and restore. The last 8 years (and much of the last 30) have been bent on destroying principles of fairness, justice, equality, peace, and individual freedom while championing greed, corruption, violence, and a gleeful dismantling of the social safety net. It seems to be a complete perversion of Emerson's "Self Reliance": privilege and power rig the system ("pay to play" legislatures and courts defend corporate machinations at the expense of workers and consumers); then the privileged and the powerful demand to be left alone to plunder (aka deregulation and "free markets"); at the same time, those who work hard their whole lives to earn what some CEO makes in a month can have it squeezed away from them by increased health and energy costs, corporate reneging on pensions and benefits, and market manipulation and fraud. What is worse, media consolidation and deregulation has allowed this "bill of goods" to be sold as"Gospel" and to become established wisdom.

I remain skeptically hopeful that we can slowly move to a renewed vision of social progress and freedom and a new definition of Americanism that replaces "Because we can" with "Because it's right." As Thoreau said, "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government." He also said, "It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience." By the same token, a society of conscientious people is a society with a conscience. I still believe that such a vision can be accomplished, but it will be a long, hard road. Perhaps President Obama can help us begin the journey. We will leave our little lights on for a while yet.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Question to Democratic Leaders: How Can We Make Ourselves Look More Stupid, Ineffectual, and Unprincipled?

From my page on the Democratic Blog: http://my.democrats.org/page/community/blog/timmcmullen

Political cowardice and unprincipled capitulation in the name of pragmatism are impulses that have often caused the Democratic Party to implode. The leaders of the Democratic Party and the grass root supporters of progressive principles need to use the tools at our disposal to pass the most progressive legislation possible.

Horribly compromised or eviscerated legislation is doomed to failure, which is precisely the Republican tactic. Get the Democrats to gut their own proposals and adopt some of the worst of the Republican and Republicrat proposals in the name of consensus building and bipartisanship; then, to a person, Republicans vote against these very compromises. In this way Democrats are coerced and conned into voting for debauched legislation that will ultimately fail, whereas the Republicans can point to the garbage and say, "We were against it!" Pathetically, you Democratic lawmakers fall for it every time.

So stop capitulating! Stop wringing your hands and saying you don't have enough votes. Use the tools at your command to live up to your principles and do what's right. Your battle cry has got to be, "LET THEM TRY TO STOP US!" instead of what appears to be our current motto, "How can we help them make us look stupid, ineffectual, and unprincipled while allowing the United States of Amnesia to perpetually and instantly forget or ignore the fact that it was and is the failed principles and policies of the Republicans and their corporate sponsors that have gotten us into all the messes that we are in!"

Our current grotesquely skewed and unnatural "Supreme" Court, a 5-4 fiasco that was carefully manufactured and purchased by the Republicans over the past forty years, has just handed the criminal corporations one of the most absurd and indefensible decisions in memory. In the future it will be held in as much contempt as the Taney decision: a piece of unprincipled partisan political hokum that is absurd on its face. Nevertheless, corporations will now be able to buy elections like they never have before. Just imagine how much harder it will be in the future to pass any legislation that protects the individual from the corporate criminal. WE MUST ACT NOW!

You Democratic leaders have held back long enough! Haul out the steamroller like they did after 9/11! You had a mandate, but you are losing it daily by letting the Nelsons and the Liebermans and the Limbaughs and the Snowes make you look like ineffectual nincompoops.

Look, you've lost your precious sixty votes, so now do it right. Strip Joe Lieberman of any influence he has. Take away every chairmanship. Demote him NOW—today; do the same to anyone who stood in the way of this legislation in either house. Let them take on their true colors and admit that they are Republicans if they dare. For at least ten months, you will still have a majority. Consider how a public drubbing of the turncoat Lieberman and his ilk would energize the Democratic and progressive base. You might actually have an answer to the manufactured "tea bag" bull.

Get healthcare done immediately by every legal means possible and move on to other important issues like truly regulating the banking and insurance industries, and passing a constitutional amendment to curb corporate power and to counter the most scurrilously activist supreme court in history. This advice is not impractical—it is eminently pragmatic, certainly more pragmatic than the systematic failure we have pursued up to now.
Tim McMullen