What Businessman Running for President?

square782Honestly, please show me. A businessman is someone who makes a product, sells a product, keeps the economy going. He struggles with the day to day of keeping afloat so that he can keep serving consumers. That describes Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. It described Steven Jobs. But Mitt Romney? Give me a break.

Mitt is a corporate raider. He doesn’t care about making products or selling them. He seizes control of companies and sells off their assets. If anything, he is an anti-businessman.

Real businessmen know that he is bad for business and for the economy in general.

Mitt Romney and the “Politics of Envy”

square778My city consists of a variety of economic communities. In my neighborhood alone, we have one bedroom condos, two bedrooms, townhouses, regular houses, and fine mansions on the hill. What you don’t see is the condo owners griping about the better circumstances of the people with the best houses. Most of us accept our fate. We don’t necessarily feel life is unlivable without a mansion. That, I dare say, is a fault of the weathiest of the wealthy.

Yet when we complain about the way the wealthy have manipulated our Supreme Court and our Congress to serve their ends above ours, we are accused of “envying” the wealthy. Let’s evaluate this:

  • They don’t like it because we feel that everyone should have a vote. Wanting a vote for every citizen is envy. Only the rich should have a vote.
  • They don’t like it because we feel that our office holders should care most about the people they represent and serve, not some plutocrat with a huge checkbook living in a distant state. Wanting fair representation is envy. Only the rich should have audiences with these.
  • They have apoplexy when we declare that we want a say in what happens in our neighborhood. Saying that we want to control the quality of the air and the water that we breathe and that we drink is envy. Clean air and clear water is only for the rich.
  • They don’t like it because we want health insurance for everyone. Giving everyone access to a doctor when they are sick is envy. Only the rich deserve to prolong their lives.
  • They don’t like it that we can talk about our grievances and organize using the Internet. Having easy access to one’s peers is envy. The rich should control who gets to say what on the Internet.
  • They don’t like our calls for a fair tax rate for those who gain wealth by stock market manipulations or the luck of having wealthy parents rather than hard work and the production of goods made in America. Only the rich deserve to have money.

Fairness is always envy in their book. Never mind that they envy gods and do everything they can to ensure that they become like them.

Mitt Romney stands for the top 1%. He appeals to those of the 99% who think they might become part of the 1%. Look, he hints. “They want what you have. They want your house, your car, your swimming pool. They will take it away from you if you don’t vote for me.”

He is another agent of the politics of Fear, as insidious as the Tea Party who he appeases.

And this message makes him the most divisive politician in America today, more than the racialists and faux libertarians. He is at best, no better than them. He represents greed and lies.

An open letter to Ed Schultz

I wrote to ed@edschultzshow.com concerning recent events. You should, too.

Doubtless you will be all over Obama for his dealing with the Republican House. But we would not be in this place if it hadn’t been for you telling people to stay home in 2010.

I am 53 years old and disabled. For ethical reasons, my wife and I have chosen to support ourselves rather than take money away from people who might need it more. Now they will have even less. Our retirement plans include Social Security. (We are not rich.)

Because we knew so much was on the line, we made sure we voted in 2010. But I kept running into people — followers of your show — who chose to punish the Democrats for not going all the way with health care. They sat out the election per your exhortations.

This last election was decided by turnout more than any other factor. With the Congress we have, there was no other deal that Obama could make. I hold you responsible and I will hold you responsible for his loss in 2012 unless you take responsibility for what you did and tell America that you are sorry. You owe it to us.

UPDATE: The White House made it clear that there has been no change in Obama’s position on Social Security. Which means that any reforms to Social Security should not “slash benefits”. Back in January, he spoke about a bipartisan consensus that would solve the structural problems with Social Security without depriving people. This has not changed, the White House says. So exactly what are we protesting? Is this more tantrumism? Too many progressives are screaming “Obama let us down!” But what do they have to say about the Tea Party Congress they helped elect? Where are their attacks on the GOP? Don’t they remember how bad things were under GWB? (If they don’t, are they really old enough to vote?) This “my way or the highway” is what got the Tea Party in power. Use your freedom of speech to say how wrong it is.

Beyond Stigma Education: Life or Death Politics for the Bipolar

square755Ask most people living with bipolar what threatens them most from society and they will say stigma. This past year, that answer should have changed. After the disease itself, we are most threatened by the same things that affect other Americans: The playing field has been tilted for all and we are sliding into a boiling pot of poverty and lack of treatment.

Yesterday, I was saddened by the news that my state legislature — that of California — cravenly chose to avoid raising taxes and made drastic cuts to social spending beginning, as they always do, with cuts for programs supporting the recovery of the mentally ill. It was not as if we have raised taxes to the maximum level and still are wanting for enough. America’s taxes are the second lowest in the developed world and, for some, the economy is paying them off well. AHnold Schwarzeneggar produced a generous tax cut for millionaires. In Minnesota, Republicans are staging a government shutdown because they don’t want to raise taxes back to levels where we could support these programs. Again, let me say America is not broke. We are the richest country in the world thanks to what has been a generous economy in our past. But the money has flowed straight to the wealthy and less than 1% has gone to people like you and me.

A video celebrating patriotic millionaires who are calling for their taxes to be raised says “Millionaires are the result of a healthy economy, not its cause.” And our economic tenets are twisted. To say that our values are crazy at this time is an insult to those of us with serious mental health problems. But this is a matter of stigma that I have dealt with before on this blog and right now it is not what I think should be the chief concern of people with bipolar disorder. The Republicans are out to destroy our ability to find and hold jobs, to receive appropriate treatment. If you are not lucky like me, you may find yourself on the street in the next few years. And that is a kind of disenfranchisement that we should not tolerate.

The issue is taxes, taxes that could give us a life but aren’t being raised because of an insane addiction on the part of the GOP to lowering them ever lower. We must reject the Republicans and vote — if not for ourselves, then for our peers — to put them out of office. Of course, we must avoid grandiosity, but this is holy war. If the Republicans succeed people like us will be put out on the streets to die. Higher taxes for the wealthy can save us and our friends. We fought against suicide, hallucinations, and paranoia. This challenge lies in the real world. The Republicans of old are dead and in the thrall of people who want you homeless or dead. Stand up for your right to be human and to contribute to this society of ours.

Amazon Affiliate Program Discontinued

square752The Amazon affiliate program that you never bothered to buy from here at Pax Nortona has been discontinued due to the fact that I am a California resident. Once again, the effort to punish the small businessman to protect the big businessman has been successful. If things go as they have been, trust that this site will be prevented from publishing at all due to the defunding of net neutrality.

This class warfare against you and me has got to stop.

The Man Wearing Paisley and Denim

square743He came in wrapped in blue and yellow cotton paisley cloth around his chest and over his head, faded denims around his legs. He carried a pink paisley bag. Sat down near us. When Lynn said something to me, he said “You can stop talking now.” He got up and moved to the table behind us.

“Are you all right?” I asked him.

“I’m fine,” he said. The waitress took his order from the senior menu. Lynn started telling me about an article she had read about Weinergate.

“You can stop talking now!” he said as Lynn continued her story.

Our food arrived. I heard him drop a salt shaker on the table. “You can stop talking now.”

“Can we move?” I asked the waitress. She showed us to a table on the opposite side of the restaurant.

The man stood up after she went into the kitchen, grabbed his bag, and rushed from the cafe.

I could not but think that if the Republicans get their way, there will be more like him. He might be unwilling to take his meds. But what about those who do take their meds and won’t be able to afford them when Medicaid is wrecked? What will they say when the streets are filled with such people?

What have they said in all the years since they first closed down the asylums? What have they done to create the infrastructure to support these people?

It saves a few hundred dollars to not give people like the man in paisley the medications they need. It wrecks thousands of lives to save those dollars.

Republican Christmas

square689As rain mists on the street outside my Southern California condo, I reflect on the blinders pulled over the eyes of the American people by the Republicans in Congress. While many blame Obama for the mess we are in legislatively, I put the burden on Harry Reid and the authors of the current filibuster rule in the Senate. If it had not been for this, we would have a Public Option, the Dream Act, and who knows what else? But Harry got cocky with his 60 senator majority, never remembering that while the Republicans can hold together a bloc, the Party of the Big Tent has many philosophical rifts. Too often we saw Democrats such as [[Max Baucus]], [[Ben Nelson]], [[Blanche Lincoln]], and [[Christopher Lieberman]] join the filibuster to defeat progress. If there had not been so much maneuvering, Congress might have pushed through middle class tax relief without giving in to the Republicans’ demand for millionaire welfare.

And can you believe it? In the last days of this Congress, the Republicans cried that they did not want to decide matters any further “out of respect for Christmas”. What kind of Christ is this? A Christ who won’t pay his taxes, who hates the poor, wants the rich to hold onto all their money, and holds aloft the spear of war. Fundamentalists have prepared this field for many years with their adroit cafeteria Christianity which finds every possible exemption — in their eyes — to living the life of Christ. Bah humbug if Christmas is about denying the unemployed benefits, increasing taxes on the poorest among us, and giving more to those who have no want except power and greed.

Respect for the vestiges of the Saturnalia in Christmas is what the Republicans are on about — the big stuffed turkeys and the cushy firesides inside glowing mansions. If Christ was born among us today and they got wind of it, they’d be at the manger to deny the validity of his birth certificate. What they most fear is a reversal of their legitimacy — they use Christ to make greed a sacrament. They can’t stand a world in which his actual words define what it means to be good.

Obama’s Blunder

square686Obama has been a disappointment lately. He has not yet figured out the importance of not alienating his progressive base. California governor Jerry Brown understood this when he faced defeat after the passage of Proposition 13. But instead of calling his true followers idiots as the President seems inclined to do, he appealed to a populist notion: the voters have said that they want a change in how property taxes are assessed.

He won the election handily that fall despite the fact that he was up against the “unbeatable” Everelle Younger. His followers stayed behind him and many who supported 13 joined the procession. Never once did Brown belittle those who had knocked on doors to put him in office. Here is Obama’s big mistake.

How might he better handle things? He might simply say this: The voters want to give the Bush tax cuts another try. So in exchange for unemployment benefits, we’re going to give it to them. Then when things fall apart, he can say “We went the Republican way and the Republican Way has failed. It is time to apply some real economics to pull our country out of debt and to put people back to work.”

But for some reason, his advisers are adverse to giving progressives a little credit for understanding the complexities of economics or clout in determining who gets to be president.

My only question is “Jerry Brown? Won’t you run?”

Twain, Gould, and Mammonism; Strickland

square685I’m deep in Mark Twain’s Autobiography, a curious document which consists of his dictated remembrances, newspaper clippings, and a biography written by his second child, Susy. It does not follow any sort of neat line, but jumps about like a carnival ride landing here in his lecture circuit days, there in his boyhood, and here in his opinions of the current day. One passage that I have just read speaks to our time:

Jay Gould had just then reversed the commercial morals of the United States. He put a blight upon them from which they have never recovered, and from which they will not recover for as much as a century to come. Jay Gould was the mightiest disaster which has ever befallen this country. The people had desired money before his day, but he taught them to fall down and worship it. They had respected men of means before his day, but along with this respect was joined the respect due to the character and industry which had accumulated it. But Jay Gould taught the entire nation to make a god of money and the man, no matter how the money might have been acquired. In my youth there was nothing resembling a worship of money or of its possessor, in our region. And in our region no well-to-do man was ever charged with having acquired his money by shady methods.

The gospel left behind by Jay Gould is doing giant work in our days. Its message is “Get money. Get it quickly. Get it in abundance. Get it in prodigious abundance. Get ir dishonestly if you can, honestly if you must.”

How true! A new American feudalism arises before our eyes and it has bought the traditional check against its progress, the media. Ted Strickland, who was recently narrowly defeated as Ohio’s governor, thinks part of the problem is that the Democrats have failed to speak about these conditions in language which voters understand.

Instead of embracing populism, they have retreated into intellectual elitism.

Strickland says:

“I think it has to do with a sort of intellectual elitism that considers that kind of talk is somehow lacking in sophistication. I’m not sure where it comes from. But I think it’s there. There’s an unwillingness to draw a line in the sand.”

This intellectual elitist concurs with Strickland’s assessment. As the governor asks “How many times do you have to be, you know, slapped in the face?”

It’s class warfare and my class needs better generals.

Democrats, Take Notice

square585The Democrats must understand this: if you do not provide meaningful healthcare reform, you will lose the 2010 elections. Especially the centrists who are holding out for their contributors because progressive democrats will stay home and let Republican challengers take your seats.

This is not a threat. This is reality. I am not one who can afford to keep voting for candidates who do not deliver on health care. One job can mean the difference between whether I receive the health care I need to manage my heart and mental health conditions or not. I cannot afford you if you do not realize the precariousness of my position.

Do you want me dead to preserve the ridiculous profits of an institution that should be founded on service rather than profits?

This is not a matter of loyalty to your party and it’s progressive wing or to the president. It’s about loyalty to your constituents. They will not tolerate your selling them out. Listen to people like me. We are not being helped.

Steps and Leaps

square584The left has racked up a few disappointments lately and is ready to jump the ship if some voices are to be believed. Pulling out the blender of metaphors, I think we need to hold our horses and stay in the game. Too many leftists elect officials and then do nothing other than express their views in opinion polls and fail to show up for elections to remind them that their issues, their power is important. This strategy always fails. One tweeter I know feels that the left has failed to build serious infrastructure, meaning “policy/advocacy machinery that can use majorities to advance policy and govern.” I agree. And I also believe that members of the left discount the value of steps as opposed to leaps. The Left only seems to want leaps.

Two issues: health care and gay rights. I am for both of these. I believe that health care is the principal issue that the Left needs to push today. The public option is supported by 72% of Americans. We need to push our representatives and Senators to use our majority to establish this. Americans have wanted this for years. A leap is demanded by the public. Screw the AMA. Screw the Republicans. No compromises and no prisoners on this one. We have established the consensus, so we need to take advantage of political reality to demand that what we voted for be enacted. End of story.

Gay rights. We have not yet established political hegemony on this issue. Many are upset that “don’t ask, don’t tell” hasn’t fallen with the breath of our words. There are signals of change, but we need to build on them more. I suggest that the issue of the day be same sex marriage. When we have enough states allowing same sex marriage, we can take the next step: putting pressure on the military to drop “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Or otherwise forbidding soldiers/sailors/airmen from talking about their married lives — even mentioning that they have wives and girlfriends. The key word is fairness, a key moral value for the Left. The military should do one or the other. The second option that I have proposed is more likely at this moment. In the meantime, focus on same-sex marriage.

Consensus is what we must build. Twenty years ago, when the Quaker meeting I attended considered same-sex marriage, it was realized that we were well ahead of the curve. We did this small thing in the hope that our state would one day invite same-sex couples to receive the same protection as the rest of us. It was a small step and we should not kid ourselves that we need take no more small steps on the issue. On the matter of health care, the last small step was mental health parity, the idea that insurers had to treat mental illness on the same par as other syndromes. Now we must challenge the insurers themselves. They are spending $1.4 million a day to defeat a public option for health insurance. This indicates to me that they have far too much money to play with.

In the meantime, we should also consider what we can do to change the way lobbyists operate on Capitol Hill. I believe in One Person, One Voice. But the idea backed by courts and Congress is that money equals free speech. Defeating this notion will be key in our struggles ahead.