Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rattling the Underpinnings of Democracy: What Have We Become?

How can it be that our governmental processes have degenerated to the point where it is considered okay by a large portion of the public and political leadership to deny funding for needed health care services to children, old people, poor people and the sickest among us, and at the same time give huge tax rewards to the richest among us? With nearly a trillion dollars involved, this is not an incidental action; but, a massive transfer of necessary human survival services for unnecessary individual enrichment.

Tax breaks for the rich and "trickle down" economics have been a part of the political landscape for years, but the direct taking of money for lifesaving services to provide windfalls to the wealthiest has reached a new level of cold-heartedness.

Let's pause and take stock. It's 2017. The Presidency is a national and international embarrassment led by a man who is supported by about a third of the public. His actions scoff traditional norms of decency, undermine the basic foundation of American government, and threaten national security. He has established a new normal where facts can no longer be distinguished from lies. Hard to believe, but the good old U.S.A. is being led by a man so in love with himself, that he prints a fake Time magazine cover "trump"eting his phony accomplishments and resides in a constant state of alternate reality. 

Congress is non-functional because of intense political polarization that has reached a point of frantic implausibility. The two major political parties have morphed into factionalized tribes, trading patriotism for partisanship, to the point that they can no longer define or articulate what they stand for and being led by the extreme elements of their ranks.

We can't blame the current state of affairs solely on our bungling President. There are two prominent and skilled GOP leaders -- Mitch McConnell & Paul Ryan -- who could stop this madness in a New York minute if they chose to elevate reverence for country over their dogmatic passion for Party supremacy.

The breakdown of the major political parties and their growing dysfunction has led to their inability to provide the required "check" on the executive branch. Congressional paralysis in recent years provided the underpinnings for the movement that led to the election of Donald Trump and its persistence now allows the continuation of this national and international insult to the American brand.

The more extreme ends of each party remain active and continue to fan the rhetorical fires that further divide the electorate. The mainstream media continues to report the constant drumbeat of lies, dumbfounding tweets and statements, and unimaginable political faux pas. The alternative media distorts reality and rationalizes the GOP and White House shenanigans and demonizes the mainstream media.

At the same time, much of the public have allowed their eyes to glaze over and begun to tune out the constant frenzy of insanity. Many are in search of distractions to avoid the insults to their intelligence. Many have run out of adjectives to describe what is happening. Many avoid discussions with family and friends because the circumstances are so sensitive and confrontational.

The vehement debate over health care is indicative of what is to come as the country faces other major policy directives and issues. The political leadership of both parties is pushing the framework of democracy dangerously close to its breaking point. The tolerance of the American public for this continued malfeasance and incompetence is not sacrosanct -- it will reach a point of eruption.

Within the next few days the GOP leadership and Presidency have a choice: to either stop the current intolerable proceedings and start anew with a bipartisan approach; or, they can continue to ram through a one-sided solution constructed with no public hearing or scrutiny that is doomed to failure and will push the public to the brink. The choice is theirs.

From my perspective, the desired process would be to develop legislation via the shared committee power process which I have continually advocated in this blog. See more on shared committee power and links to further information:

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Heart Died A Little Bit Today

Editor’s Note: I wrote this poem back in December 2016. It still seems timely six months later.
My heart died a little bit today
I watched the news and felt it skip a beat
Seeing the death and destruction on the streets
I remembered back when things seemed right
And tried to figure out when I first noticed the slide
Where was I when my country cried?

My heart died a little bit today
It didn’t seem that long ago
But I’m getting confused and not sure I know
There were other times, I’m now remembering
I was lost in my mind and not able to cope
But this seems different – like there is no hope.

My heart died a little bit today
How could this have happened while we just lived our life.
We’ve lost our way and can’t see the strife
Yet it’s all around and hard to miss
But we’re all going on doing the stuff we must
While our leaders have stumbled and lost our trust.

My heart died a little bit today
It’s like we’re drifting in a sea of hate and divide
While serious things keep slipping aside
Simple decisions are hard to make without a fight
Working together seems not an option any more
People are thinking and talking about a civil war.

My heart died a little bit today
We can now see our globe from afar
And know that all our life depends on a little star
We’ve lost respect for land and water
The air we breathe -- the animals and seed
Have lost their value and been replaced with greed.

My heart died a little bit today
It’s becoming hard to find the truth
And I fear what will become of the world’s youth
It is now okay to ignore the facts and make things up
Education and learning may fail to meet the test
As officials and leaders claim they know best.

My heart died a little bit today
We see the oceans rise, the ice melt and the sun beat down
Yet some in power simply reply with a silly frown
They claim it’s a hoax, an international trick and a university scam
Their goals are uncertain but they confuse the masses and increase the gasses
Now with victory at hand they smile with glee and hoist their glasses

My heart died a little bit today
I try to imagine what the rest of the world perceives.
What happened to the global leader of the free world they believed?
Disrupting partnerships, breaking agreements and doing deals
Some countries and individuals may see opportunity and financial gain
But many I suspect may think we’ve gone insane

My heart died a little bit today
We have a new style that seems to be catching on
Civility, statesmanship, politeness and respect are all but gone
Bullying, bigotry, name calling, lying without guilt are now accepted
There’s no excuse; it seems senseless and cruel
But with leadership’s endorsement it is becoming the rule.

My heart died a little bit today
By hook or crook they’re now in control and arrogant in style
Previous enemies shed hate and disgust as they fall into single file
The rest of us wait with our fate in the balance as suspicion abounds
They insist they will act with our best interest in mind
But the actions we witness seem counter to promises and more mastermind.

My heart died a little bit today
I now feel a little hollow, sad and confused – extremely perplexed
Not knowing quite how to react or what to say – seriously vexed
It’s unfamiliar, strange, odd, weird, baffling and inexplicable
My faith and trust is now buried deep in the past
As I hope the Founders’ wisdom and written structures will last.

My heart died a little bit today. . .