We the people of the United States...
[Preamble, U.S. Constitution]
... government of the people, by the people, for the people...
[Lincoln's Gettysburg Address]
If these are our guiding tenets, why are we (the people) being pushed
around by big business, big religion, big government, lobbiests,
organized crime (including, again, big business) and "the best
Congress money can buy"?
It happens because most of us are not doing our share. Sure, politics
is messy. But each honest citizen has to get in there and mix it up,
or all the rules will be made of, by, and for special interests.
Family and career usually narrow our focus, until some event
retriggers interest in the polity. For some it is a local toxic waste
dump. For others, the loss of a child to unsafe products. For me it
was three events over a period of a year:
- The December 1999 Seattle WTO police riot. That was my old
neighborhood (and neighbors) being beaten and gassed by unidentified
LEO's (law enforcement officers) in riot gear. Yet the LEO's I've
known personally wouldn't have let it happen, much less participated.
What the heck was going on? Notice that I have no beef with the
police locking up window smashers. I'm talking about police gassing,
kicking, and clubbing peaceful protesters and local residents who had
nothing to do with the protests. And while I'm not happy with the
assaults themselves, I am far more concerned by the "code of silence"
aftermath, the chest thumping by the King County Sheriff's Department,
and the total lack of judicial response.
December, 2000 . The police and judicial response to the WTO
anniversary march went along the same lines: peaceful protesters,
police surround them, then claim failure to disperse (but do not allow
it to happen), and make mass arrests (including journalists and
passers-by). The charade was make complete by first arresting and
then dismissing charges against the labor leaders who were there
expressly to coordinate peaceful and lawful assembly. The whole
process is pure intimidation. New police chief, same results.
April 2006 I've now learned that imprisioning in situ is apparently
a specific police tactic for protestors who are non-violent and too
honorable to be attacked outright, but still considered inconvenient
in the eyes of the powerful. Funny, I thought that holding people
against their will and without court order was called kidnapping.
- My daughter was charged with skipping class. Skipping so many
in fact that we were threatened with jail time for both parents and
child. The county court personnel made it emphatically clear our best
course was to plead guilty, sign a consent form, and thereby accept
jail time if it happened again. We knew the charges were false, so we
stood our ground. As we investigated, we found the school's records
were at least 40% in error, and that the bookkeeping process for
excuse slips was a comical disaster. We eventually got the case
dropped, but not after many threatening calls and letters from the
school, and many an anxious moment. That wasn't the civics lesson I
wanted my daughter to learn.
- The US Supreme Court-mandated coup d'etat of 2000, naming George
W. Bush president. The gloves are off -- power has never been more
nakedly used to usurp democracy. [Unless you believe there was
something fishy about a string of assassinations in 1963 and 1968.]
All politics are local
This is where real politics begins -- helping shape the issues and
choose the candidates which go onto the ballot. You have to make some
tough choices here. (Sitting on the sidelines is a choice -- but not
an honorable one.) This generally means you join an existing
political party. See:
For example, I am fiscally conservative, socially tolerant,
environmentally committed, and determined to protect liberty and the
processes necessary for liberty. This translates into a mixture of
Green Party, Libertarian Party, and Democratic Party. (The
Republicans used to be fiscally conservative but went haywire under
Reagan and haven't recovered. They haven't been environmentally
committed since Teddy Roosevelt.)
I've thrown my lot in with the Democrats. I figure the State Platform
looks pretty good, the candidates tend to be sane, and any differences
of opinion can be worked on a case by case basis. To learn more,
Robert Allen Rutland. "The Democrats, From Jefferson to Clinton".
Louisiana State University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8262-1034-1.
Then I joined various meetups, MoveOn, etc. and finally made my way
to the official party organizations:
Each party is trying to convince impressionable voters that its
positions are the best. Madison Avenue-based "persuasion science"
dominates this process, with focus groups, carefully tuned ads, polls,
spinmeisters, and astroturf "grassroots" campaigns.
It takes a pretty sophisticated citizen to even detect the
gamesmanship, much less see through it to the reality. This is
especially tough when the TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, movies,
and major ad buyers are all owned by a relatively small set of people.
(People whose interests don't coincide very well with those of the USA.)
First, you need a practical lesson in politics:
Loft, Bill (ed). "Politics the Wellstone Way" Wellstone Action,
University of Minnesota Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8166-4665-1
Next, you need alternative points of view. See:
There is no substitute for doing your own homework. Meet people,
research issues, and report your findings. Democracy is a
roll-up-your-sleeves, hands-on process.
2004-11-04: Immediately after the Nov 2 2004 election a lot of folks
were talking about being depressed. Personally, I was outraged, and
wrote it up in a note about the future of US
2005-01-16: Congress accepted the Ohio electors. Habeas corpus is a
distant memory. Torture is admissable in court. Peak Oil is on its
way. Oil producers and central banks are shifting from dollars to
Euros. Multi-millionaires are forming a compound in Montana protected
by Secret Service and helicopters.
Looks like we've gone to hell. Time to get the
homesteading equipment ready for service, and brush up on hunting and
2006-12-09: Despite yet more HAVA-induced vote fraud, Dean's
Democratic Party 50-state strategy and a potent grassroots internet
effort brought home the House and Senate. Next problem is that the
Wealth Party (Republican and Democratic) is already working backroom
deals to keep the Peoples Party (mostly Progressives) at bay. The
trick is to get the facts on the table. The American people are not
dumb, even if they are badly misinformed at the moment.
- Groklaw http://www.groklaw.net/
- United States Code
- Search Executive Orders
The 2nd Amendment is the "reset button on the Constitution". Every
voting citizen should own one or more guns. But anyone attempting to
fight the local police, local SWAT teams, National Guard, Delta Force,
US Marines, and the full might of the Armed Services is a (dangerous,
By the time you have sufficient dedicated soldiers and support in the
citizenry to carryout and win a full scale revolution, you have more
than enough influence to win any election anywhere in the nation. So
far, even the power brokers feel they must abide by the outcome of
elections. Or at least lopsided victories.
The hard part is getting the citizenry informed at all, in the face of
orchestrated mass media pabulum. For now, video cameras, Freedom of
Information suits, and web sites are more powerful than guns.
2004-08-06 I wrote the above in 2000. At the time I was hoping
elections would work. I was very worried the military would step in
and enforce the coup d'etat. Well, by now even the career military is
seeing the GOP may not be the best friend of either itself or the USA.
Further, I'm seeing an explosion in grassroots politics. People are
coming out of their insular lives, ready to meet up, join up, speak
up, and act up.
There has also been an explosion in alternative media.
Democracy may have been in a drugged stupor, but it wasn't quite dead.
GW Bush and his neocon cronies have lit a fire they cannot quench.
- U.S. Federal Census
A census is needed to establish congressional representation, and to
plan for a citizen draft in time of war. Anything else is a market
survey on behalf of corporations.
2004-08-06 Hmmm, not just market surveys. Also used to find
muslims, for yet more FBI ethnic profiling. Can you say "Richard
- Emerging Law on the Electronic Frontier
- What's Wrong With Content Protection
I've had several different careers, each associated with professional
organizations. Interestingly, all those organization think the US
Law on digital content is corrupt.
- Police Brutality
Nothing new here, folks. The US does it just like all the other bad
guys. It is deliberate and it is systematic, not isolated incidences.
However, I blame the power brokers who put the LEO's in the line of
fire more than the LEO's themselves. Sure, there are some nasty,
cruel bullies wearing badges. But what scares me are the decent people
wearing badges who feel they must protect the bullies. The War on
Drugs and the resulting SWAT-ification has had a devastating effect on
- THOMAS -- U.S. Congress on the Internet
- Do It Yourself Congressional Investigation