It’s Friday November 8th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen became the first person to observe X-rays. X-rays are electromagnetic energy waves that act like light rays, but at wavelengths almost 1,000 times shorter. Upon their discovery, X-rays allowed doctors to see inside the human body for the first time without surgery. We here at Upside Downtrodden feel a special kinship with X-rays. We, too, possess the ability to see through humans. Read more
Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times). Read more
It’s Monday April 8th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1935, Congress established the Works Progress Administration program, and FDR signed the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act. Not too shabby considering they were in the depths of The Great Depression, eh? It makes you wonder. We were able to find money to help people during the time in America’s history when we were as broke as broke can be. We were able to create jobs, invest in the country, and work together towards what would become America’s golden age. We were able to pass The Social Security Act and form unemployment insurance delivering a New Deal for Americans. This only happened because enough people decided that helping people was the right thing to do. They realized we were stronger together. They were right. Read more
Labor Day Demonstration against child labor - 1909
So if "class warfare" actually breaks out (we’re not talking about beheading rich folks .... yet!) with what "class" do you identify?
Are you "middle class, upper middle-class, lower class?" These are categories we love to use and always see in the corporate media.
These categories are based on how much you make and how much you consume. They assume you work. You have a job. If if are "lower" or "middle" class you cannot stay home and live on accumulated wealth or on income generated by others working for you. Yet rarely are such folks characterized as "workers".
The broad categories of class are better defined by your relationship to the process of the production of wealth.
You are either a worker, selling your labor because you have no other adequate source of income or you are an owner, a capitalist whose income is generated by others - i.e workers in your factory/corporation or your investments, or your accumulated wealth. Read more
It’s Thursday February 28th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1861, the U.S. Congress created Colorado Territory. They didn’t actually create anything. They just wrote and signed some pieces of paper that claimed the land that would come to be known as Colorado Territory was now officially Colorado Territory. The land wasn’t aware of its new name. Until that time, the land had always been the land on which the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe people lived. What’s most surprising about this decree to those of us alive today is not how the U.S. Government had taken yet another brutal step in annihilating the indigenous peoples of North America (that’s old hat – and we’re still going to write about it until the day we die), but that the U.S. Congress somehow managed to get something done. Times have changed. Read more
Barely a year after the defeat of SOPA, Congress is back to testing the waters for legislation that many internet users believe to be in violation of their fundamental rights to privacy and free expression.
CISPA, a bill that would make it easier for corporations and the government to share internet users’ personal data, was officially re-introduced in the House on Wednesday. It’s already being rushed forward in the legislative process. The House Intelligence Committee is holding a full hearing on the bill today at 10 am. They will hear from four witnesses — all from the business sector and all known supporters of CISPA. No experts with concerns about privacy issues in the bill were invited to address the committee. Read more
I thought I would start by listing a group of ideas that are held by the majority of educated Americans. If after you read them you think that no, these are “liberal” ideas, think again. In fact, if you were a Nixon voter, you probably agreed to all of them but the one on climate change, which was unknown at the time. In fact, these are not political ideas at all.
Noah’s Ark is just a fable
Evolution is the founding principal of modern biology (and so modern medicine).
The science is strong that the burning of fossil fuels has started climate change.
Tax rate changes within a narrow range have little to do with the rate of growth in our economy.
Cutting tax rates does not pay for itself through growth.
Gasoline prices are set on the world market and will not be influenced significantly by US oil production.
The free market leads to the fairest price. It does nothing else. Read more
Public polling shows that a majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, but will Congress even consider taking pot off the banned substances list?
Today, two members of the House — Rep. Jared Polis [D, CO] and Rep. Earl Blumenauer [D, OR] — are introducing legislation to change the federal marijuana laws. Polis’ “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act” would regulate marijuana like alcohol, and Blumenauer’s “Marijuana Tax Equity Act” would establish a federal marijuana taxation structure. The introduction of the bills is a first step, but it doesn’t mean that there is broader institutional interest in Congress for taking up the issue of legalizing pot. Read more
As required class reading, I am tempted to assign to George F. Will an essay in December's American Conservative written by former Reagan economic adviser and Republican apostate Bruce Bartlett, called "Revenge of the Reality-based Community." In it, Bartlett chronicles his excommunication from the conservative movement for the unpardonable offense of thinking for himself.
Will might benefit from the outside reading considering that in the Washington Post he once again delivers a broadside against one of his favorite bugaboos - rampant "political correctness" in American academia.
Will has two obsessions in life: Campaign finance laws that restrict the ability of corporations and billionaires to buy America's democracy; and "PC" speech codes that promote multi-culturalism on American college campuses and so constrict the freedom of conservative white guys to say offensive things about racial, ethnic, religious and other "protected" minorities. Read more
It’s Saturday December 8th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1980, John Lennon was shot and killed in New York City. The late great playwright, James McLure, even wrote a play about it called "The Day They Shot John Lennon". Hmm. John Lennon gets killed, and Dick Cheney gets another heart. Ain’t that some shit?
Of course the day John Lennon was killed is a day worth remembering. But worth even more than the day he was killed, was the day he was born. If that day hadn’t happened, we never would have been blessed with all he had to share with us. It’s the day John Lennon was born that matters most. All too often, our culture chooses to define itself with death by its wars, atrocities, disasters, incidents, events, etc. Seems like most our history is marked by the days and ways we’ve died. We have a macabre fascination with death, and more specifically, killing. This should come as no real surprise to any of us considering that death is a virtue we hold in high regard. We find it “Simply Irresistible” (thank you, Robert Palmer…who is dead). Read more
We have just stepped away from three days of an Obama-bashing convention, put on by the RNC (Republican National Convention). There weren’t many specifics to what the GOP and their candidate for president were going to do if they were given the reins of the government again, only that they were going to do better than Obama.
Now it’s time to switch gears and find out where the DNC (Democratic National Convention) wants to take us for another four years. Read more
The Republican National Convention is meeting this week to, I suppose, confirm their support for the Republican candidate for president, and set their agenda.
Let me point out that the Republican agenda is usually the same, except this time it has moved even further to the right, especially when it comes to abortion. We Democrats look forward to Republicans making abortion an important subject for the 2012 Election season.
However, let us take a walk down fantasy lane with the RNC platform and see where it takes us:
Abortion Ban Read more
March 6, 1930 - thousands demonstrate for unemployment insurance in Union Square and nationwide - led by the communists. Did you think government just gave it to you? Wake up and smell the coffee.
It’s Labor Day!
End of Summer, back to school, put away the barbecue in New England, last day for white shoes, three day shopping weekend!
Honoring labor!! Yaay!
Huh? Read more
The Trickle-Down effect (Reaganomics)
Many Americans bought into the idea presented to them back in the 80′s that cutting taxes for businesses, corporations and those who invest in those corporations would somehow stimulate the economy and create jobs. We were told our economy would be better because the better off business was, the better off all of us would be. That really just did not happen.
What really transpired from that moment on and even until today was that, a small percentage of Americans grew much wealthier at a faster rate but many Americans began to lose out, even before they knew they were losing out. Read more
And so we have our Republican Vice Presidential candidate, the Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan; the young gun star of the radical right. The new John Galt, feeling put upon by the "takers" in society.
Ryan is now less comfortable being associated with Randian Objectivism than he was several years ago. After all, Rand represents the epitome of atheism and social Darwinism. It was not too long ago however that Ryan said "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism."
Ryan gave his staff copies of "Atlas Shrugged" as Christmas gifts in 2003.
Ryan is not going to be able to slough off his philosophical mentor so easily. Ryan has frequently invoked Rand’s idea of "makers" subsidizing society’s "takers.", his libertarian philosophy a defense of capitalism in general and a conception of politics as a class war pitting virtuous producers against parasites who illegitimately use the power of the state to seize their wealth. Read more