Extremists in state governments

Here’s an article by Jim Hightower, one of the US’s foremost populist writers, published in AlterNet, well worth a read.

Jim Hightower: Don’t Let Right-Wing Nut Jobs Take Over State Government

Trump may make better television, but state and local government races will define our country’s future.

By Jim Hightower / AlterNet
September 30, 2016

In a 1932 dissenting opinion, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted that the benefit of America’s federal structure is that “a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

During my two terms as Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I was lucky enough to get the chance to put the Brandeis proposition into practice. There, we succeeded in establishing a broad network of farmers markets, providing state certification and labeling for organic products, promulgating comprehensive pesticide protections, creating food marketing co-ops, encouraging farmers to grow high-value nonconventional crops (from apples to wine grapes), financing and developing locally-owned ag processing facilities, opening the doors of corporate-controlled commerce so small farmers and food artisans could sell their products in supermarkets and even in international markets, and promoting both water conservation and the use of renewable energy sources, Brandeis’ “laboratory” realized!

But—oops—meet unintended consequences of Brandeisian theory: The gaggle of small-minded, far-right extremists who’ve grabbed the levers of gubernatorial power and established notoriously regressive regimes in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Arizona, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Texas. These governors share an uncanny uniformity in the policies (written by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC) they push and the political language they use—as if operating from a common plan, advancing the same duo of governmental goals:

To increase the power and profits of the corporate interests that put up the campaign cash that keep the governors in office by delivering subsidies, no-bid contracts, special tax breaks, regulatory benefits, etc.

To knock down working-class and poor people by such despotic actions as suppressing voter turnout, destroying unions, bashing immigrants, militarizing police forces, slashing education budgets, corporatizing government programs, cutting human services for the needy, holding down wages, using theocratic piety to invade women’s bodies and rights, and autocratically pre-empting the democratic authority of activist citizens and local governments.

So while state (and local) offices offer myriad opportunities to create progressive democratic change, those laboratories of democracy are equally available to Dr. Frankenstein right-wingers (funded by the Koch Brothers and their cartel) who seek to engineer regressive plutocratic changes. And in recent years the forces of corporate rule have been building a national political structure that—brick by brick—locks in plutocratic power. Key to this scheme is systemically investing in the takeover of such state posts as governorships, legislatures, judges, redistricting boards, and regulatory agencies. Meanwhile, liberal strategists, funders and political operatives have largely avoided the gritty work of building democratic power through state campaigns. Instead, they have focused almost exclusively on the more glamorous, high-dollar races for President and Congress.

The right wing has recognized that while the media and both major parties are riveted on this year’s macabre (thanks to The Donald) contest for the White House, that’s hardly the only race that matters—and at least one progressive leader agrees: “Trump and Hillary are taking up all the oxygen,” says Nick Rathod, head of State Innovation Exchange, a policy consortium. “But, really, he explains, “where policy making is getting done is the states.” Having lost 913 state legislative seats since 2010, Democrats should be crying Mayday, for Republicans now control 68 of America’s 99 state legislative chambers—more than any time in our history. This includes 23 “trifecta” states where the GOP controls the governor’s office and both legislative chambers. In case the Democratic Party needs a Civics 101 refresher course, these state chambers will be redrawing—ie, gerrymandering—congressional districts following the 2020 census.

So, perhaps it’s time for the Democrats’ strategic geniuses and the rest of us to pay a bit more attention to state rep/senate races.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author of the book Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow (Wiley, March 2008). He publishes the monthly Hightower Lowdown, co-edited by Phillip Frazer.

Another great essay by one of the greatest essayists of our time

America deserves better, but even more importantly, the world deserves better

By John Chuckman
Posted on September 30, 2016

Published by the Intrepid Report

Read in full at

the Intrepid Report by clicking here.

John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He has many interests and is a lifelong student of history. He writes with a passionate desire for honesty, the rule of reason, and concern for human decency. John regards it as a badge of honor to have left the United States as a poor young man from the South Side of Chicago when the country embarked on the pointless murder of something like 3 million Vietnamese in their own land because they happened to embrace the wrong economic loyalties. He lives in Canada, which he is fond of calling “the peaceable kingdom.” John’s columns appear regularly on Intrepid Report, CounterPunch, Media Monitors, Politics Canada, Baltimore Chronicle, Intrepid Report, Scoop (New Zealand), Asian Tribune, Aljazeerah.info, Smirking Chimp, Dissident Voice, and many other Internet sites. He has been translated into at least ten languages and is regularly translated into Italian and Spanish. Several of his essays have been published in book collections, including two college texts. His first book has just been published, “The Decline of the American Empire and the Rise of China as a Global Power,” published by Constable and Robinson, London. Contact him at jc60649@yahoo.com.

 

An interesting overview of recent US history

Following is a fascinating comprehensive well-written overview of US history from JFK to now that paints a non-mainstream media picture of major causes leading to the depressing choice US voters must make in the November 2016 presidential election.

Some of the article borders on conspiracy theory sensationalism such as you see in tabloid newspaper headlines at the checkout counter at grocery stores, but overall the article rings true. Give it a read. This article is not for children and the mentally impaired.  It took courage for the author and the Intrepid Report to publish this.

The Bush-Clinton empire and criminal succession

By Larry Chin
Posted on September 26, 2016

Published in the Intrepid Report

Larry Chin is an associate editor at the Intrepid Report.

Read the article in full by clicking here.

 

 

So You’re Thinking of Voting for Trump?

 

Read this article by Nomi Prins, published in the Truth-Out internet journal, for a detailed understanding of just how disastrous and “evil” a Trump presidency could be.

Madoff in the White House? How Trump’s Conflicts of Interest Could Become Ours

Thursday, 29 September 2016 10:39

By Nomi Prins, TomDispatch | News Analysis

published in the Internet journal Truth-Out.  To read this outstanding article in full, click here.

 

 

 

Dr. Jill Stein enters the debate

September 28, 2016

Here is the best interview, video, excepts about the debate Monday night I have seen, except here Dr. Jill Stein has been given her say, which the rigged two party system denied Monday night. Enjoy.

Expanding the Debate: Jill Stein Spars With Clinton and Trump (Part 2)

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Interview.

Published in the Internet journal Truth-Out.

To hear the full video and read the transcript click here .

 

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As I alluded to in my Stapleton Gallery post on my Facebook page most of the United States’s economic troubles in recent years have been caused by dysfunctional political systems. In order to get elected politicians have to raise money from the rich who demand lower taxes in return. Lower taxes for the rich have prevented using fiscal policies such as infrastructure projects to create good jobs and stimulate economies, forcing the Federal Reserve system to use monetary policies attempting to stimulate economies and create good jobs, which has not worked very well.

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The bottom line: the United States needs better voters who will elect better politicians who will vote in the interests of all voters and citizens. Unfortunately there are scant signs this will happen any time soon.