Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Can We Be A Real Democracy?

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  Can We Be a Real Democracy?
by C.A. Matthews

It's been a tumultuous couple of  weeks. Between back-to-back climate-change-charged natural disasters, political shenanigans and racist commentary from the current administration and another killer cop found not guilty, to the introduction of the Medicare for All Act in the Senate and the compromise on DACA, there hasn't been any let up. Americans are sitting up, taking notice and taking action. 

 

More and more are becoming awake, aware and involved in the political process. Our confidence is growing, so much  so that even some in the mainstream media are speaking out against injustices and risking their lucrative positions. ESPN host Jemele Hill (see piece below) called Trump a white supremacist, bringing down the condemnation of the administration and her sycophantic bosses.  Football star Colin Kaepernick continues his activism for Black Lives Matter, which has blossomed into an all-out boycott of the NFL by many viewers this season and his being named the "MVP of Week 1" by the players' union for his charitable work. 

 

The big money types think we're out of the game, and yet we keep on swinging. One day we'll hit a home run and knock them out of the park.

 

So, isn't it about time? Isn't it about time We the People stopped and seriously considered what Dr. Jill Stein has said repeatedly, "We are the change we've been looking for"? Could it be Americans have finally decided they want change? We want to change this oligarchy into a democracy after all?

 

Many are fighting to end gerrymandering and abolish the Electoral College so we can have truly fair elections. The Move to Amend organization is fighting for an amendment to end Citizens United and make our elections publicly funded, putting an end to billionaires buying politicians. Millions have marched, protested and rallied for universal health care--and look at the progress we've made so far. The imperfect A.C.A. is still operational, helping millions to have health care coverage, and who knows what will happen next? We might go hoarse, but our millions of voices might just be enough to shout the Medicare for All Act into law.

 

We the People have power. We have powers we've never dreamed of.  We're not afraid to tell the folks in Washington DC, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!"

 

We should use our powers--we must use them--because the future of our planet depends upon it. Denying climate change exists didn't stop the hurricanes from barreling into our country, and it won't help end the raging wildfires in the West. Only by becoming awake, aware and involved can we hope to utilize the knowledge and skills of our people to solve the climate crises we are already in the middle of.  We don't have time to waste arguing with the flat-earthers in the pockets of Big Oil. We must end the influence of Exxon, which knowingly kept their own research on climate change secret for the past 40 years.

 

I'd like to think that we're finally discovering we can be a real democracy. We can have a voice in our government. We can change things for the better for the 99%. Stay awake. Stay active. Don't give up. Have courage. Our country's founders would be proud of what all we've accomplished in the face of overwhelming odds. We should take comfort in knowing history will be on our side.

*** 

There are many great progressive organizations that need your help to amplify their message through your social media platforms, your time volunteering to further their cause, and your financial gifts. Here are a few.

 

From Move to Amend: 

 

Health, [Real] Health Care, and [Real] Democracy

The promotion of human health is among the most important single indicators of a just society. The availability and affordability of comprehensive health care to every person, regardless of income or other factors, is defined by many nations as a basic human right.

Recent polls indicate Americans feel health care is one of the nation’s biggest problems. The U.S. spends the most per person on health care than any other nation, has the worst health care system among high-income nations, and has overall poor population health. Nearly 26 million Americans remain uninsured.


3 Ways Corporations Have Captured Health Care

1. Framing health care as a commodity, not as a right. The business model of so-called “health care” corporations is to minimize coverage and treatment, while maximizing premiums, deductibles and co-pays – all of which maximize profits. Despite the rhetoric, insurance agents, not doctors or patients, increasingly determine basic health care decisions.

2. Investments in lobbying and political campaigns to gain political influence. The so-called “health care” sector was #1 in political spending in 2016. More than $500 million was raised to hire 2,700 lobbyists to influence legislation. Health Care Political Action Committees (PACs) invested $55.7 million in federal candidate campaigns (60% to Republicans, 40% to Democrats) in 2016. An additional $53.8 million in “outside” political spending (e.g. largely for advertising) was invested, led by health care-related insurance corporations ($19 million) and pharmaceuticals/health products ($15.8 million).

3. Corporate constitutional rights. Corporate constitutional rights have been used to promote corporate interests over human health and safety and/or to deny health coverage. Examples:

  • 1st Amendment religious rights. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court prohibited requiring closely held, for-profit secular corporations to provide contraceptive coverage as part of their health insurance plans if it violated the corporation’s 1st Amendment “religious rights and beliefs.” To extend and pretend that private, personal religious rights apply to business corporations is a breach of a constitutional firewall with potential widespread discriminatory implications.
     
  • 4th Amendment search and seizure rights. Tens of thousands of deaths annually are attributed to occupational disease while several million people report work-related injuries and tens of thousands of work place fatalities. Corporate 4th Amendment search and seizure rights, affirmed in cases like Marshall v. Barlow, prevent government inspectors from visiting corporate property to investigate health and safety violations, and threaten worker health and safety.
     
  • 14th Amendment due process rights. From 1905 until the mid-1930s the Supreme Court invalidated approximately 200 regulations protecting the health and safety of workers, consumers and children in order to affirm corporate "rights" under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

Move to Amend and We the People Amendment

Healthy individuals and a healthy democracy are inextricable connected. Ending corporate constitutional rights is the ultimate cure to our critically ill health care system and democracy. 

Move to Amend’s We the People Amendment abolishes the constitutional doctrines that give corporations “personhood” rights and that allow the spending of money in elections to be protected as “free speech.” 
We need to join together to build and sustain a powerful and authentically diverse democracy movement that will guarantee just and peaceful laws – including a universal, affordable, accessible and comprehensive health care system for every person. 

We're hopeful about the new "Medicare for All" bill in the Senate, but the reality is that until we address the legal mechanisms corporations are able to use to dominate our government, it is unfortunately unlikely that we will see changes to healthcare policy that benefit We the People instead of the corporate bottom line.

At Move to Amend we'll continue to do all we can to support Medicare for All -- but we also won't let up on the systemic struggle to get corporations out of power in politics. Please help us!

Call your House Representative and Senators Right Now!


➤➤ Let your Representative know you want them to co-sponsor House Joint Resolution 48 (the We the People Amendment)!
➤➤ Let Your Senator know you want them to introduce a companion bill to House Joint Resolution 48 in the Senate.

Onward!
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap
National Director, Move to Amend


P.S. Wouldn't it be great if all the Senators who are standing up for healthcare for all Americans were also standing up against corporate personhood? So far we have been unable to get the We the People Amendment introduced in the Senate. That's unacceptable! Call your Senator today and tell them to get onboard with the SYSTEMIC SOLUTION to corporate rule!



MOVE TO AMEND COALITION

PO BOX 188617
SACRAMENTO, CA 95818-8617
United States
(916) 318-8040 | www.MoveToAmend.org   
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. 

***

         
From Ohio Single Payer Action Network (SPAN):
Talking Points:
  • Single Payer is not government control of health care and a single payer system would  result in less government control than we currently have in the Affordable Care Act.
  • It saves money. Every other advanced democracy covers virtually all of its people at a cost relative to national income of something like 60% of what the United States pays. That's just wasted money—money that could buy other things. Estimates show that a national program would save about a half trillion dollars in its first year.*  In Ohio, a state based plan would save public employers $2-3 billion each year.**
  • It acts as an economic stimulus.   By reducing the cost of healthcare to consumers, they have more discretionary income to spend on goods and services from other sectors of the economy, thus creating the need for more jobs to produce those good and services.***
  • In addition to creating jobs, mainly in the manufacturing and retail sectors, it would create additional tax revenue to carry on existing programs and decrease the deficit. ***
  • It supports entrepreneurship by removing the burden of increasingly expensive employee benefit programs and frees up  business resources to concentrate on providing a quality product or service. 
  • Controls costs by encouraging competition and allowing a free exchange between the consumer (i.e. patients) and the service providers (i.e. doctors and hospitals) with universal access and availability especially at the mostly small business primary care level.
  • Frees up resources currently duplicated on redundant systems like Worker's Compensation or medical liability written into auto, home, and business insurances.
  • It provides support to the middle class in a time of anxiety. Globalization has thus far tended to enrich the rich and squeeze the middle, not only in the United States, but in almost every developed country.  Health security puts a floor under the middle class without radical change to the rest of the economic system.
  • Allows and encourages consumers to assume personal responsibility for their own health, with completely open access to preventive and primary services including medical screening, health education, mental health and long term care services, dental and vision, and more.
  • Reduces medical malpractice and "defensive medicine" by removing the incentive of consumers to sue the providers in an attempt to recover personal losses in the form of medical bills.
  • Restores the doctor/patient relationship by putting medical decisions in their hands rather than in the hands of insurance companies which seek to deny or limit healthcare.
  • All industrialized nations except the United States have some form of universal health care, which puts US businesses at a  competitive disadvantage.  Single Payer would level the global playing field for business.   
      *   Friedman, Gerald, PHD, July 31, 2013; Funding HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act:  How we can afford a national single payer health plan.
       **  Analysis done from school reports and reports from county auditors on health care costs by  SPAN Ohio.
      *** Single Payer/Medicare for All  An Economic Stimulus Plan for the Nation, Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, 2009

You can also participate in this action by Healthcare-NOW!

The 31 Senate Democrats who haven't yet signed onto Sanders's Medicare for All bill are already feeling the heat - but it's time to turn it up even more. Healthcare-NOW teamed up with some big national organizations like Daily Kos, Public Citizen, People Demanding Action, Center for Popular Democracy, and many others and launched an online petition to ALL our Senators with a message they will be hearing loud and clear over the next months: Cosponsor the Medicare for All Act!

Sign the petition demanding your Senators sign onto the Medicare for All Act!
 
This is the moment we're in: "Medicare for All" is trending on Facebook. Establishment superstars like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker falling over themselves to rally for single payer. A third of Senate Democrats have put their name on a bill that would establish a single payer system in the U.S. with no copays, deductibles for all care including dental, vision, and mental healthcare. THIS is the moment to act!

Sign & Share the petition to All our Senators Demanding Medicare for All!

The petition is only one prong of a pressure campaign that we'll be leading over the next couple months; we'll also be calling, organizing district visits, holding public hearings on single payer, and doing in-person signature gathering for the petition. Let's kick it off strong!

Yours in solidarity,
Ben and Stephanie
Healthcare-NOW! National Staff
 
***
From Color of Change:
Monday night on Twitter, ESPN SportsCenter host Jemele Hill called Donald Trump “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists.” Because of this, ESPN has publicly reprimanded her and the White House has taken the unprecedented step of calling for her to be fired - a clear assault on the First Amendment. 1 2

What Hill said wasn’t a partisan statement, it is an inescapable truth that has been acknowledged and written about extensively by countless other journalists. Trump is a man that pals around with avowed White Nationalists, even employing them in the White House. A man who outright refuses to condemn the actions of neo-nazis in Charlottesville and has retweeted graphics from White nationalists accounts. A man whose real estate company was sued multiple times by the Department of Justice for refusing to rent to Black people.

ESPN has shown that above all else that they desperately want to "stick to sports" and keep hard truths out of sight. But this is naive. Politics have always been in sports: from Jesse Owens to Jackie Robinson to John Carlos and Tommie Smith to the US and Soviet boycotts of the Olympics. This has been particularly true about race because sports in this country disproportionately rely on the labor of young black men. Labor that often leaves them disfigured, in chronic pain, or with life altering brain injuries.

ESPN’s efforts to silence Jemele Hill for making a political statement are also extremely hypocritical. This year, they re-hired Hank Williams, Jr., to sing their Monday Night Football theme song.3 Williams’ return comes six years after ESPN fired him from the job for comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler.4 Williams has also written songs like “If the South woulda won,” glorifying the Confederacy and waxing poetic about a return to lynchings. How is it possible that a man like Hank Williams Jr, who sings about “taking back Miami” from immigrants, is not politically problematic, but a Black woman pointing out clear and present white supremacy is? 

Race is an issue that ESPN has never been comfortable with and it shows with their tone deaf coverage of Colin Kaepernick, their ridiculous decision to remove Asian broadcaster Robert Lee from the UVA football game, and now their silencing of Jemele Hill.5

Since Trump’s election, many news outlets have embraced their status as arbiters of truth in the face of Trump’s reliance on “alternative facts” to cultivate a climate of fear. But not ESPN. Instead, they have doubled down on normalizing the type of environment that brought Trump to power. In recent weeks, “the Worldwide Leader in Sports” pushed the false narrative that the NFL’s declining ratings are due to players protesting police violence in their communities, regurgitated NFL owner’s talking points about why Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed, and even ran a fantasy football segment after Charlottesville that looked like a pre-Civil War slave auction.6

But this not a time for craven attempts to “stick to sports” or be "neutral" because "unity" doesn't work when one group is denying another's right to exist. The need for Black voices in journalism that take on racism and openly talk about it is more urgent than ever.


Until justice is real, 
-- Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Evan, Jade, Anika, Corina, the rest of the Color Of Change team.

References:
1. "Black Public Figures Are Being Silenced for Calling Out White Supremacy," The Root, 13 September 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/8848?t=9&akid=7899%2E3399430%2EC-f_sK 
2. “ESPN Host Committed ‘Fireable Offense’ With Trump ‘White Supremacist’ Tweet: White House Aide,” Huffington Post, 13 September 2017. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/8849?t=11&akid=7899%2E3399430%2EC-f_sK 
3. “ESPN is bringing back Hank Williams Jr. to ‘Monday Night Football,’ for some reason,” SB Nation, 5 June 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/8850?t=13&akid=7899%2E3399430%2EC-f_sK 
4. “ESPN Permanently Drops Football Pregame Song,” New York Times, 6 October 2011. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/8851?t=15&akid=7899%2E3399430%2EC-f_sK 
5. “ESPN Pulls Announcer Robert Lee From Virginia Game Because of His Name,” New York Times, 23 August 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/8852?t=17&akid=7899%2E3399430%2EC-f_sK 
6. “ESPN apologizes for fantasy football segment compared to slave auction,” CNN, 15 August 2015. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/8853?t=19&akid=7899%2E3399430%2EC-f_sK

***

Climate Hawks Vote

Hurricanes and wildfires are ravaging communities and uprooting millions of people across North America and the Atlantic. But EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, under investigation for covering up secret communications with the oil industry, said it’s “insensitive” to talk about climate change now. To “have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm,” he said, “is misplaced.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.




Your fellow climate hawk,

Brad Johnson


***
From Greenpeace:
Right before Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida, and while Texas was still assessing the damage from Harvey, EPA chief Scott Pruitt used his national stage to deny climate change yet again. He said it’s "insensitive" to talk about climate during a hurricane!

I disagree, and I won’t sit back and make Pruitt’s fossil fuel industry backers happy. I owe it to my friends and family in Puerto Rico and Florida — who are busy rebuilding — to seize this moment and call out the fossil fuel industry in the strongest way possible: demanding it pays for climate-induced destruction.

Join me in calling for justice. Demand that fossil fuel companies pay for a swift and equitable hurricane recovery. And demand that recovery effort puts the most impacted communities first and paves the way for a just transition to 100% renewable energy.

Right now the nation is talking about extreme weather. Our movement needs to push the needle beyond just talking and strike at root causes — fossil fuel industry pollution that makes storms worse and climate denial that leaves us less prepared.1


The first step is adding your name to thousands of others. Over the next weeks and months we’ll organize the resistance in Florida and across the nation to shift the national debate from merely talking about climate change and stronger storms to holding polluters accountable.

We can’t wait. Climate denial puts our friends and family in danger. Florida Governor Rick Scott banned environmental officials from using the words ‘climate change,’ making it harder for Florida to prepare infrastructure and emergency plans for stronger storms.2

But the fossil fuel industry’s grip on politicians is slipping. The Republican mayor of Miami, Tom├ís Regalado, slammed Scott Pruitt this week: “This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change… If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”3

Now is the time for big, bold voices like yours. Demand the fossil fuel industry pay for hurricane destruction instead of making the next storm worse!

Thanks for all you do,

Naomi Ages
Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace USA


P.S. Fossil fuel-fueled climate change made Harvey and Irma stronger. While the nation talks about climate and extreme weather we need to go big. Demand fossil fuel companies pay for hurricane destruction!
[1] https://grist.org/article/harvey-and-irma-arent-natural-disasters-theyre-climate-change-disasters/
[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/irma-florida-latest-hurricane-news-climate-denial-governor-infrastructure-a7937356.html
[3] https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/350594-miami-mayor-rips-pruitt-climate-change-criticism-in-light-of-irma

2 comments:

  1. I don't believe America has been a democracy for at least thirty years. When will the majority of the population wake up and realize our world is being stolen from us by the 1%?

    ReplyDelete
  2. One would think the health care issue would reach the majority of American and keep them awake, but it doesn't seem to be it. In the end, our damaged climate and the effects it will have on our day-to-day existence (trying to get adequate food, water and shelter) might be the only way to reach many. Keep sharing this blog link and other progressive articles/videos with others. The information needs to get out there and repeated over and over again to make its impact. Power to the people!

    ReplyDelete

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