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When President Barack Obama won reelection in 2012, he made a number of promises that captivated progressives and made us all hopeful once again. We all knew these were very big ideas and would not come easy at all, but when the President has the will of the people on his side and a crumbling economic structure where only a few benefit, then of course these factors would make things much easier. Ideas like gun control, marriage equality, income equality, immigration reform, health care reform etc. Under any other circumstances I’d be crazy or embarrassingly naive to think we’d get anywhere with such a lofty progressive agenda. But the more I think about it, all of those things should be easy. They should be a given really. Think about it… mandatory enhanced background checks for all gun purchases is supported by 90% of the American people. Marriage equality is supported by 60% (and rising more every day). An increase in minimum wage has 80% support. Immigration reform has the support of 55% favoring a legal pathway to citizenship. Sixty percent of the American people either fully support Obamacare (aka The Affordable Care Act) or think the bill isn’t liberal enough (those who still favor the public option which was dropped from the bill to get it through the house). Every one of those lofty progressive ideas that the President spoke about in his speech has support from a majority of the American people. Something is wrong here. Something is definitely wrong here. We’re supposed to live in a democracy where the president and elected officials are chosen by the people to carry out the wishes of the people. So if you have a situation where a majority of the people overwhelmingly support something, but that something still does not come to pass, we need to ask ourselves why the hell not. This is a question I’ve been struggling to make sense of for quite some time. How can you have the will of the people support something, and a majority of the senate support something and still it does not come to pass?
I’m a lover of politics but ultimately I’m a lover of information. I love history and science and finding out how things work. I love reading obscure historic biographies and watching every history channel special about past wars and presidents. As I began to write this blog I remembered something about World War II that helped me understand how elected officials can completely ignore the will of the people over and over again and still remain in office. I know it sounds crazy right now but let me explain. During WWII Japanese Emperor Hirohito and his military generals devised a propaganda campaign of massive proportion. They relentlessly drilled into the minds of their civilian and non civilian population that the Americans were complete savages. Every single day they were told stories of the Americans coming into villages raping women, decapitating babies, dismembering kids, drinking the blood of the people they kill after torturing them, and whatever else the regime’s sick sadistic minds could make up that would put the fear of god in them. They did this because it made their army fight till the death and it made the Emperor look like a protector. But one very unintended consequence of this type of propaganda says a lot about human nature and how what was intended to strengthen through manipulation can end up weakening and leading to a huge downfall. Ok, so the Japanese people heard and believed all these horrible stories about Americans and American soldiers. When our army finally reached the shores of Japan and started to make their way through the villages, they were not there to harm civilians. We knew about the Japanese propaganda so we printed up thousands of pamphlets in Japanese telling them that our soldiers were not there to kill or hurt them and if they surrendered peacefully no harm would come to them. But of course they did not believe us. They were bombarded with horror stories about us for two straight years so to them an American soldier was the devil incarnate. When it became clear that they were losing the war and they saw US soldiers coming to their village, the parents would slit the throats of their children and then slit their own. To them this was the only way of saving their children from the devil. They’d rather die by their own hand so they could make it quick and relatively painless than be tortured, dismembered, decapitated, raped, etc. Village after village the same thing happened over an over no matter what the soldiers tried to do to let them know we meant them no harm.
This small piece of WWII history helped me understand why the will of the people can be ignored time and time again without an all out revolt. We’re Japanese villagers. We’ve been conditioned. We’re fearful and therefore powerless. The president wants to raise the minimum wage and has the complete support of the people. Every working person in this country can agree that a person working a full time job should not be in poverty. But that’s the way it is right now. Full time job working everyday of the week and still does not make enough to feed their family. Wall Street seeing a huge upswing, major corporations making record profits, CEO’s getting millions in bonuses and instead of using all those profits and bonuses to pay the people who work for them a fair wage, they use it to buy politicians, to lobby the people we put in office so they can keep their huge profits and keep paying their workers shit. These lobbyist get political pundits and “so called” journalist to tell the electorate that a raise in minimum wage would kill jobs. And people are so afraid of losing their low paying crappy job that they start to believe the propaganda. Never mind that what these so called experts and pundits are saying does not make sense. A company making record profits can’t afford to pay their workers a living wage? If that’s true they should go out of business. If they are that close to the edge then that’s not a healthy company. We need to stop separating ourselves into republicans or democrats, or white or black, or native or immigrant… those are really just labels that help the fear machine push out more and more lies and more and more propaganda. We have the numbers, we are the majority, we have the power so it’s about time we start acting like it. We’ve all seen the gap in income disparity grow larger and larger and yet we’ve done absolutely nothing NOTHING to fix it. Our president wants to raise the minimum wage. The American people want to raise the minimum wage. Why isn’t it happening? Are we going to take responsibility and support this until it’s law or are we going to be like Japanese villagers in WWII waiting to slit our throats to avoid an even worse fate?
FACTS FOR NONBELIEVERS:
The next time someone tells you that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs and slow the economic recovery, here are some hard facts that proves those statements to be false.
Among the 50 largest low‐wage employers:
- 92 percent were profitable last year
- 78 percent were profitable for the past 3 years
- 75 percent are earning higher revenue now than before the recession
- 63 percent are earning higher profits now than before the recession
- 63 percent have a higher operating margin (a measure of profitability) now than before the recession
- 73 percent have higher cash holdings now than before the recession
These facts and figures were researched by the National Employment Law Project (PDF). They killed a very old Republican talking point that low wage jobs were the heart of small businesses. This study found that the majority of America’s lowest‐paid workers are employed by large corporations, not small businesses, and most of the largest low‐wage employers have recovered from the recession and are in a strong financial position.
This has not been a good week for our president… stating the obvious I know, but he’s taking heat from all sides, both left and right. Some of it is warranted but most of it only exist in the minds of republicans or manufactured within the 24 hour news cycle to raise a ratings slump that’s been stagnant and/or lagging ever since the presidential election ended in November. I hate to see the President on the ropes like that so I’m going to break it down and help him out a bit (like he’s going to read my blog or solicit my advice lol).
Late Friday evening a story leaked out accusing the IRS of unfairly targeting right-wing groups who filed for nonprofit status. After the story broke the IRS released a statement acknowledging the unfair targeting and extra scrutiny these applications were getting. President Obama held a press conference to address this issue and told the press that they were launching an investigation, and he was very emphatic about finding out who was responsible and promised to deal with them accordingly. I’m a very liberal democrat (surprise surprise) and I’m not a fan of the Tea Party (an even bigger surprise) but wrong is wrong. Anyone at the IRS who had anything at all to do with this should be fired and prosecuted in a criminal court. President Obama also said that he had no prior knowledge of this happening until the day before the story leaked, and it’s pretty obvious that he had nothing to do with the IRS placing extra scrutiny on the right-wing groups applications. Common sense would tell anyone that the White House and President Obama had absolutely nothing to gain by delaying nonprofit 501c applications. He’s extremely intelligent and pragmatic so he would never risk his presidency for something as stupid and insignificant (relatively speaking) as this . But the republicans haven’t figured this out yet. They’ve alluded to cover ups of mass proportions all week on any media outlet that will give them airtime. Normally this wouldn’t be such a huge deal. Admittedly the IRS was wrong and they should take responsibility for letting this happen and be punished. But the far right-wingers want to make this all about President Obama and they’ll continue to feed these delusional theories to their base buffet style as long as they keep eating it up. So the quicker the president resolves this situation the better. He needs to wrap the investigation up ASAP and be brutal quick and indiscriminate with the firings of some top IRS officials and do it in a very public way. When dealing with political scandals whether they are real or manufactured, perception is everything. Republicans rarely deal in reality so you have to beat them at their own game. PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING. Start demagoguing the hell out of every press conference when these guys start to come for you. So, that’s my advice on the IRS issue. On the scandal scale it gets a 2 out of 10 (10 being Watergate or the Iraq war, and 1 being Jimmy Carter lusting in his heart lol).
The second scandal is a lot more serious and actually merits even more attention than it’s already getting. Earlier in the week the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration did this without a warrant, without honoring the First Amendment, and contrary to normal procedure where they could have asked the Associated Press to cooperate and if they declined then they could take it court and let a judge decide. Prior to this incident that is the way the DOJ has handled similar situations in the past. This story troubles me the most, and it’s the most confusing issue I have with President Obama. I voted for him twice thinking he wanted to do things a lot different from his predecessor. Obama promised me and everyone who voted for him a more transparent government. Then he does a 180 and instead of walking back some of the civil liberty infringements of George Bush’s Patriot Act, he adds to it with things like warrantless phone taps on law abiding citizens, increasing the number of DRONE attacks, and assassinating secret targets without telling congress and without any due process. For most of his first term in office he wouldn’t even acknowledge that the drone attacks were coming from us. That doesn’t sound transparent to me at all. Don’t get me wrong, I think the President is doing a great job as commander in chief, and I don’t regret voting for him at all. But when it comes to foreign policy and protecting civil liberties I am extremely disappointed in that part of his administration’s agenda. So here’s my advice to the president about this. First of all he needs to do some restructuring at the Justice Department. He needs to take the DRONE attack program away from the CIA and give this responsibility to the military. The CIA is a covert organization so they really can’t be transparent about their operations, and they do not answer to Congress so that means no oversight. The Military handles these types of things best because they have to get orders, show results, and notify Congress of their actions. My second piece of advice pains me because I like Attorney General Eric Holder, but like I said before, perception is everything. President Obama needs to replace Holder with someone else, preferably someone outside of his circle of close friends and advisors. Someone who is passionate about progressive ideas and an advocate for civil liberties. Eric Holder was great at his job, but someone’s head has to roll and roll quickly.
It will be interesting to see how the President will handle all of these situations being thrown at him all at once. I have complete faith in him as a leader because he’s been overcoming major obstacles all his life. So far he’s risen to meet every set back head on and always comes out unscaved as the victor. I’m not even going to talk about Benghazi because he’s already won that argument. The republicans just don’t know yet. When will they learn that It’s going to take more than the GOP to tarnish this man.
If I were president here are 50 things I’d want to accomplish.
1. Legalize gay marriage and end all policies that were born out of discrimination.
2. Abolish the death penalty (state and federal).
3. Reverse “Citizens United” that gives corporations permission to anonymously funnel unlimited amounts of money into the election process.
4. Create a nonpartisan federal commission to construct and implement guidelines to standardize all elections. No matter what state you live in, your voting process will be identical.
5. Disallow private money in presidential elections. Each candidate will have a federally funded campaign budget. This can be funded by a small tax added to everyone’s driver’s license fees (2 or 3 percent should be enough).
6. Attach the federal minimum wage to the fluctuation of the living wage. (Minimum wage = living wage + 20%)
7. Free health care for all Americans.
8. Create new restrictive regulation on Wall Street to protect our financial system.
a. 2% tax on every stock trade
b. Reinstate the capital gains tax
c. Sever the ties between banks brokerages and hedge funds
d. Limit high speed stock transactions (add another 1% tax for these types of trades)
e. Reinstate the “Glass Stiegel” act and the good parts of “Dodd Frank”
9. Legalize marijuana
10. Limit prison sentences for non-violent offenders and offer rehabilitation programs for first-time offenders instead of prison.
11. End elections for district attorneys and county sheriffs. These positions will be appointed by county commission boards with input from the town’s mayor and the state Attorney General.
12. Close all privately owned prisons.
13. Divert a majority of resources away from the failed war on drugs and use it to improve low income neighborhoods.
14. Make it easier to achieve and maintain a decent credit score.
15. End district attorney job promotions that are based solely on conviction rates.
16. Create legislation that says the government cannot regulate the internet in any way under any circumstances. 100% off limits for the FCC
17. Create a program that offers zero percent interest for student loans.
18. Increase salaries for all teachers and give them performance based bonuses.
19. Legalize work unions in all states.
20. Corporate CEO’s cannot give themselves bonuses if the company did not meet projected earnings for that year. (every time the CEO gets a bonus all workers get one as well)
21. End all drone attacks and reduce the number of American military bases in other countries.
22. Fund a huge government program to encourage organic farming.
23. Heavily invest government funds into legitimate energy alternative research and implementation.
24. Create a program that gives unemployed workers an opportunity to get their unemployment benefits in a lump-sum to start a cooperative with 9 other unemployed workers to start their own company.
25. Ban former senators, legislators, and congressmen from becoming lobbyist after they leave public office.
26. Rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure which will create a lot of jobs in every state.
27. Make it easier for the poor to get low income housing in nice neighborhoods.
28. Undo tort reform laws and remove judgment compensation limits.
29. Allow illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship after completing and meeting certain criteria.
30. Ban all assault weapons and extended clip ammunition and require extensive background checks for every weapon sold, given, or traded.
31. Abolish ALL stand your ground laws in every state.
32. Give employers tax incentives for implementing a pension plan for their employees instead of a 401k plan.
33. End the anonymous silent filibuster in the senate.
34. Close tax avoidance loopholes for corporations.
35. End predatory lending in poor neighborhoods (pay-day loans, pawn shop check cashing, & title loans).
36. Fund a program that gives start-up capital to entrepreneur who wants to open a business in their neighborhood (to lessen the amount of outside people who have no ties to the community from owning every store and restaurant.)
37. Make all textbooks digital and give the students a free ipad or laptop in the 9th grade.
38. Offer free high-speed internet for low-income families.
39. Legalize gay adoption in ever state. Gay couples will have to meet the same requirements as straight couples.
40. Implement a 10 year term limit for Supreme Court appointees.
41. Make contraceptives available for all high school students who ask for it (from a guidance counselor who will also give them information about and talk one on one with them about pregnancy, sex and STD’s.)
42. Every public high school must have a gay straight student alliance club.
43. Give tax break incentives for those who register as an organ donor.
44. Break up huge media conglomerates into smaller companies to create a less bias corporate driven media industry.
45. Create a new government office under the FEC whose sole purpose is to monitor the fluctuation in income disparity, and report their findings once a year along with suggested courses of action to return it to a reasonable position.
46. Remove the legislation that protects gun manufactures from being sued for wrongdoing.
47. Ban lobbyist from writing bills and legislation.
48. Close ALL American prisons and detention centers in other countries.
49. Lessen time limits for drug patents and make life-saving drugs obtainable for 3rd world countries.
50. Take a much firmer stance with Israel and strongly push for a two state deal giving Palestinians the land they were forced away from.
I’d have to do all of this in my first term because I’d never win reelection with such a progressive agenda. Although ideas that seemed far left ten years ago have become centrist. Especially social issues like marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights. This shift in public conciseness is evident by the colossal failure of the republican party in last years presidential election.