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Power to the People

category_bug_politics.gif There have been previous presidents and administrations whose policies I disliked, but none before has scared the bejesus out me. The vice president, Defense secretary and others have assured us the war on terror will go on for decades, so when Mr. Bush said...

"Anything we do to that end in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law"

…the imperial presidency was openly declared.

The operative word in that quote is anything. What worries me now is what other of our once-guaranteed liberties have already been made null and void in secret, like warrantless wiretapping until its existence was leaked late last year. What I then considered was the wingnut fringe of leftie politics warned, in 2004, that the administration might suspend the election that year by invoking a potential terror attack. I don't believe they are such wingnuts anymore.

In this system of government under which we now live, there is no control on the executive branch. But there is a way - two of them, in fact - assigned to Congress: it can withhold funds from a president and it can impeach a president.

The second, if successful in removing this president from office, as quite a number in the blogosphere are calling for, is not the best idea when you consider who is second in line of succession.

And the first has been ineffective for the past five years because the rubber-stamp Congress is busy enacting laws written by lobbyists for the benefit of global corporations which owe allegiance to no country and hire Congress people at mega-salaries when they leave public office in time to amass fortunes for their extravagant old age. This is not how the founding fathers envisioned Congress to operate.

But there is still one little hitch in this inexorable march toward your and my enslavement to tyranny and penury. Assuming those proliferating electronic voting machines are not all rigged yet, we can throw the bastards out.

There is a Congressional election this year. All 435 Representative seats are up for grabs along with one-third of the Senate. Between now and 7 November, we - each of us in each of our states - can warn those who are running for re-election that we will vote for the other guy, whoever he or she is, if they do not begin today and from this day forward to serve only the public good - and not the imperial president.

[For a useful rendition of the greed, stupidity and failures of our government in the past five years, read this from Stephen Pizzo.]

Last year, during the aftermath of Katrina, I was so enraged that I suspended for a week normal publication on what it’s really like to get older to rail against the government. I offered a solution in one entry which requires that we awaken ourselves from our weariness and do something every day. Please go read it again because we - you and I and every person whose arm we can twist to join us - need to do these things no matter how tired we are. We need to do them today and tomorrow and next day and every day until 7 November no matter how old and tired we feel.

Elder numbers are growing and we have always voted in larger numbers than other people. We can use this numerical advantage to help save our nation.

I believe we are on the brink of national political disaster that only we the people can stop. I have no experience in creating a national movement to take back the federal government, nor do I have the credentials or the personal appeal required.

And so, as a small contribution, I've added this political component to Time Goes By and fervently pray that somewhere, someone with the unassailable stature and character of a Martin Luther King, Jr. will emerge and quickly pull the country together against the enormous force of this presidency which only a strong Congress can thwart now. It is a small hope - I see no one on the horizon who can do this - and so we must each keep trying in every small way we can, and hope it adds up to something larger.

It is no longer just the war in Iraq or treaty nullification or fiscal insanity or intrusion into our private lives or torture or every other outrage. Our democratic way of life is at stake. And Steve Sherlock: I agree with you one hundred percent that none of this matters if global warming is not addressed immediately. But that will not happen until we either change the trajectory of Congress 180 degrees or replace them all. ALL.

In a variety of polls in the past two or three months, majorities of the people of the United States have said that Iraq is a mistake. They also said they want:

  • A single-payer (universal) healthcare system
  • To raise the minimum wage, which has been stuck for a decade
  • To repeal tax cuts for the rich
  • To reduce the deficit by cutting Pentagon spending
  • To protect the environment whatever it costs

A majority said these things and no one in Washington can hear. The only conclusion a sane person can draw is that the sycophants in Congress support the imperial presidency.

A tiny crack in that sycophancy appeared yesterday when even Tennessee Senator Bill Frist, a consummate Republican, called for a hold to be put on the sale of U.S. port security to a Dubai company after the president flexed his imperial muscles about the controversy:

"[Congress] ought to listen to what I have to say about this," said Mr. Bush. "They'll look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do. But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it with a veto."
- Yahoo! News, 21 February 2006

At last, on this one issue, Congress is showing some backbone, but that's not enough and there is still no guarantee that if they succeed in stopping this move they will also override the president's veto. Nor is there any guarantee they will stand up to other, less obvious, insanities.

(By the way, in all the discussionon cable news of outsourcing port security to Dubai or to a close ally like Great Britain, why hasn't the obvious solution of hiring an American company or creating a government agency to do it been explored?)

In his nasty threat to veto any Congressional bill to sink the port security deal, the president is in open defiance of the largest (and bipartisan) public outcry against his administration since the first election. Please email your representative and senators today to keep up the pressure. You can do that here.

During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Black Panther Party adopted a slogan they used together with a raised-fist salute. We need to resurrect it, for all of us this time and rage against the imperium - and you might want to append it at the end of your letters to Congress: POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

Comments

I'm inspired. Yes, I want to stop feeling like I'm going to lose my breakfast or have an apoplectic fit when I think that dangerous moron passing as our chief executive. But just being upset and angry won't cut it. We all have people in out lives with arms to twist and ears to bend. Let's go 'em!

I doubt that GWB will ever be impeached-if they couldn't get Bill Clinton out of office I do not see them ousting GWB.

The thought of Cheney becoming president scares the hell out of me! At least with GW, you have his ego to check Cheney a little. I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to vote again!!

Ronni - "nor do I have the credentials or the personal appeal required" - some might disagree with you there. You do yourself an enormous disservice with those words - fortunately, you belie them with everything else you wrote in this post (and with so many of your previous posts).

Congress may not quake in fear at what you write - but they *would* if a significant proportion of the population thought as you do. And I rather imagine that such a proportion exists. They just need to speak up.

As ever, I hesitate before commenting on the political machinations of other countries - I am a UK citizen, I have no mandate to comment on what goes on in the US (or, indeed, in any other country). I'm *affected* by it, for sure - every citizen of the world is affected by the actions of POTUS. However - look to your own history. When colonial rule became intolerable, it was overthrown. If this rule is intolerable - overthrow it. The ballot need be the only weapon used - the only blood that need be shed are the retirement dreams of self-aggrandising "public servants".

Here's a thought experiment - what if anyone who sought public office signed a legal agreement that, if elected, they would (until death) receive their wages and benefits from public office - and the benefits of any other citizen, once they leave public office, *but no other*. That is, once voted out (or on retiring) they would only be eligible for the pension of any other citizen, and the state healthcare of any other citizen. They would *not* be able to take a fat-cat position in private industry - they would *not* be allowed to profit from memoirs, speaking tours, or the like. Two questions - given that so many of the current crop would never seek elected office on those terms, could a workable Government be elected from those who *would* be prepared to stand? And, how much attention do you think such a Government would pay to, oh, the healthcare system, and the social security system?

I'd vote for someone on those terms. Hell, I'd *stand* on those terms. And be proud and honoured to *serve* on those terms. Ask any of the current crop of incumbents if *they* would. Ask any prospective candidate if *they* would.

Unthinkable?

Ronni...(slightly off topic here)
Have you ever considered running for public office or working as a consultant or speech writer for a candidate? You could represent all of us elders who perhaps are not as eloquent as you. Your writing is in a sense wasted here on "Time Goes By" because you need to reach a much bigger audience to have a real impact for change. Brainstorming here, but what about a regular column in several neighborhood newspapers or an article in "Readers Digest" for example. I realize you want to receive payment for your writing and you surely deserve it. Spread your wings and start sending in some of your writings to various publications.Perhaps AARP? Christian Science Monitor and others.

Thank you for expressing what many people in our country think, but don't put into action. I recently heard John Edwards speak and I believe him to be the voice of the people. Check out John Edwards and see what you think.
Kaye

I really rag on my representatives, both state and federal. They all took an oath to protect the constitution which none of them are doing and I let them know it in street language. I also vote for newbies, rarely for incumbents. I really chew on them at least 3 times a month about something. They all know I will not be voting for them .

when you posted about grandmothers against the war activity on valentine's day that was very, very important. i pointed out to some grannies that appearing on timegoesby is more important than appearing on a political blog.

why? 'cause with the latter we're talking to ourselves and a mention on your blog reaches many who seem less aware that elders can act up for their causes. we need all of you NOW, before the election. to vote is crucial but there are so many purposeful things to do before then...
visit wounded soldiers in hospitals, knit something for Afghans for Afghans,find a better-than-usual candidate who needs people to phone, etcetera. back on the soapbox, naomi

Thanks for expressing my outrage, and my fear. I wonder how many other ways is the Bush cabal going to get Americans killed. And can I clench my teeth in fear for three more years? I guess I have to, coz there's no way this Congress is going to impeach the asshole.
And as a reader of some left-wing political blogs I'll add that you're not alone in wondering where's the leader on the left who'll voice public outrage about all this?
Ultimately, I don't think much will change until we have public financing of campaigns because the very system requires that officeholders be beholden to monied interests. As a former Common Cause staffer maybe I'm biased but in my 35 years in the political world of D.C. nothing's convinced me otherwise about the corrupting and anti-democratic influence of $$. Susan

Yes, Ronni, I have seen the light. I posted just the other day on the education side of the budget http://p4tgce.blogspot.com/2006/02/education-budget.html

and will join you in calling out the vote for November. The time is now.

Very nice piece, Ronni. I think a lot of people are scared - this was part of the plan, to keep us off balance and generally fearful. I don't believe in heroes anymore, but we sure could use someone or something to focus on together. I'm hoping the progressive 'left' will come up with a simple but strong agenda that will speak to all the people, presented in a non-partisan and sincere manner. It would be like your list of polled preferences:
*Reduced defense spending
*Improved education for all
*Health care for all
*Fair taxation
*Honesty in government
*Environmental protections
*Open dialogue on everything
*(Everybody add something here)

Glad to see you expounding on Steve Sherlock's post from 2/21 which I, too, found distressing to read, to put it mildly.

As you say, we don't dare impeach this prez, 'cause the next in line would be worse than what we have.

Am sending links to Sherlock's and your post(s) to my correspondents with computers, printed copies to others.

Will be writing those people who are supposed to be representing me in Wash. Thanx for the link for any of us who want to connect easily and quickly.

Wish we could line up some radio stations i.e. drive time types to get on the band wagon. Some local ones really shook up an incumbent last election on illegal immigration issue -- his winning vote margin was significantly reduced.

Hope a large segment from all the generations recognize the issues at stake and we can all join together with our votes for change.

By way of clarification, that 2/21 post was another web site to which I was referring, not Steve Sherlock's, though global warming is an issue of concern, too. Sorry for the error.

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