This Thanksgiving, I reflect on our nation. There is reason to despair, or course. Some dire work is still undone. For example, nearly a year after the Sandy Hook horror, we still have no coherent national plan of action to restrict gun ownership. Also, our Congress is still embarrassingly dysfunctional, as the Republicans recently shut down the government in protest of millions of Americans getting access to health insurance. There is also a lack of meaningful citizen action on climate change, which could be the nullifying factor for all human endeavor a few generations out. Read more
The Senate addresses historic obstruction by dealing with dramatic filibuster dysfunction, enraging the GOP and engaging democracy to move forward on Presidential appointments.
Iran talks turn into tremendous opportunities to pause their path toward nuclear armament and to showcase the power of diligent diplomacy.
We hold our breath for the healthcare site fixes, while half-a-million Americans are already headed toward comprehensive, affordable coverage and millions more finally have more options.
The Senate surprised us with one strong choice, Iran is surprising us by choosing a new path and Americans are finally getting choices too.
From nuclear options to new, clear options, there is much to be thankful for this holiday.
There is also much more work to be done to create a just and equitable society for all so that every family can celebrate a safe, sound, sustainable Thanksgiving.
Tonight, if you're thankful for your options to share ideas while sharing a pitcher or two, come by your local, progressive social club.
DRINKING LIBERALLY Find - or start - a chapter near you.
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
Following the immeasurably unpopular government shut-down, the Tea Party is losing ground fast. Soon the movement may dissipate causing grass-root supporters to go through something like withdrawals. Formless hatred stoked by the Tea Party and its donors is a mental opiate many Americans became addicted to the last five years. How do we get millions of people to kick the bad habit of Far Right ideas? Here are six steps that could help break one's addiction to negativity:
1. Block Fox News using the Parental Controls on the cable TV- Giving up Fox News is the equivalent of flushing the dope down the toilet.
2. Take up a strict regimen of NPR- This may be boring, but it will cleanse the mind of all poisons like a grapefruit and white rice diet clean the digestive tract. Read more
The nation lost billions of dollars, the GOP lost national respect & the government lost more of the public's faith while Ted Cruz grew his email list.
The global economy held its breath, the American people threw up their hands & even Republicans of good faith rolled their eyes while we learned Boehner can't run his House.
Now the government can serve the people again, the President showed he can be resolute & the US avoided national default -- with no guarantee this won't happen again.
In the meantime, Congress is back on the job of not passing bills for jobs, immigration, climate change, food stamps or gun control while wiretapping & drones continue unimpeded.
We may have maintained our full faith and credit & seen the Tea Party's fool's faith discredited. But to win the full faith of the American public, it will take real work before DC gets any credit.
Come for a night of good faith and good company as we debate, discuss & drink to recent events at your local progressive social club.
DRINKING LIBERALLY Find - or start - a chapter near you.
Lately a memory has been haunting me a little bit. It was a television image that I noticed during the frantic, wall to wall TV coverage of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. While firefighters were scrambling through the dust and smoke of New York City, the anchor tossed to a reporter on the Beltway in Washington D.C.. The freeway was packed with federal employees. Some had provisions strapped to the top of their Range Rovers while other were furiously peddling their mountain bikes, as back packs full of canned goods swayed from their perspiration stained torsos, towards Maryland. All were abandoning the city. Lesson: These folks will cut and run.
None of them were even remotely interested in talking with reporters. Think about that for a second. The Washington elite, the people we entrust to fight for our interests, no matter how we define those interests; leaving their posts and fleeing the capitol...and refusing an opportunity to talk with the press! Read more
Free markets and college football. Deeply embedded into the sociocultural fabric of American life, these two time-honored traditions are incompatible. Why is scandalous headline after scandalous headline born from the act of receiving compensation for working hard, an act that is laudable in every other profession? The answer lies in one dogmatic, pious, hypocritical, bloated bureaucracy of a governing body: the National Collegiate Athletic Association. However, with targeted new policies, the NCAA and member schools can enjoy the best of both worlds.
An Environment of Inequity
The collegiate athletic system desperately demands reform. Young men and women are putting in 50-hour workweeks, on top of classes, and all they have to show for it is NCAA President Mark Emmert’s $1.7 million dollar salary. To put it bluntly, the NCAA’s revenues and operating budget thrive off the exploitation and suppression of “student-athletes” with nowhere else to turn for a playing field. Read more
Nearly every day since my sophomore year of high school, I have carried a U.S. Constitution in my left-hand pocket whenever I go out. People often ask me why. They’re usually fairly incredulous when they ask. It strikes many as odd, and I understand their reasoning. It strikes a few as honorable. Despite my brother’s warnings not to do so (I think the phrase he used was “social strike-out”), I’m going to tell you just one of the many reasons why I do this. Read more
Oftentimes I feel as though the views of the Republican Party are not properly characterized in campus discourse. Today I’d like to briefly summarize four oft-ignored perspectives on the Republican economic agenda, which isn’t as scary as it is usually portrayed in campus debate.
First and foremost, the Republican Party is not a party that only cares about rich people. Republicans want everyone to have a good-paying job that provides for his or her family. Many Republicans come from humble beginnings and humble backgrounds. Many were immigrants who came to this country with nothing but a dream. They know what it is to face hard times, and are not callous to the difficult circumstances in which many impoverished people find themselves.
In short, Republicans do not differ with Democrats at all in terms of empathy. Rather, they differ in their beliefs regarding the means by which to help the poorest among us. I think it’s safe to say Republicans have more faith in the power of free markets than the Democratic Party. Republicans would argue that free markets, unencumbered by unnecessary government regulation, allow for the greatest growth in prosperity for all. Read more
The UN General Assembly meetings this week offer President Obama a chance to capitalize on recent diplomatic developments with Syria and to extend a hand to new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in the hopes of launching renewed negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. In an op-ed in the Washington Post last week, Rouhani urged other leaders “to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue.” It is critical for Obama to show that his administration is willing to answer Iranian concessions with some relief of sanctions that Rouhani can bring to the Iranian people.
Iran is Ready for Talks
A prominent adviser to the Iranian leadership, Amir Mohebbian, explains that Iran’s leaders see the next six months represent the best opportunity to reach an agreement, before campaigning for parliamentary elections begins in March. This is a window the US cannot afford to miss. It is time for the US to offer a reasonable deal that would signal to the Iranian people that the West is willing to work towards a larger agreement. Read more
With the tide of cannabis legalization reaching an all time high, so are the interests of the corporate world in California’s billion dollar cash crop. Take the infamous GMO giant Monsanto, who may someday hold a large stake in cannabis cultivation in the future. The controversial company is currently investing millions of dollars into a new technology called “RNAi” – a process that could artificially alter everything from the plant’s color to making it insect repellent. If RNAi were ever applied to marijuana, the technology could possibly create larger and more potent plants for less. While this latest development may be making ma and pa cultivators anxious, basic laws of supply and demand beg to differ. 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
What is worth reading in todays world? Naturally there are any number of books that one can find online, in a bookstore, or the library that will peak someone's interest, but I would like to talk today about political memoirs. The question I have, and would like to offer an answer to, is the question of whether or not political memoirs offer anything of substantive value to our study and knowledge of the political scene of a given period. Read more
As the director of a nonprofit 501(c)(3), I have had to quickly learn how these kinds of organizations function. I had been an employee, volunteer, and member of nonprofits in the past, but taking a leadership position in one has been an entirely new experience. Now, I understand these organizations are sophisticated endeavors meant to do nothing less than fill in for government.
Where our representative government and its bureaucracy have utterly failed to meet the needs of communities in the US, nonprofits have stepped in. The modern nonprofit is a uniquely American creation, as other developed nations utilize the power and resources of government for education, arts, environment, health care, nutritional programs, etc.
In America, these kinds of “progressive” agendas can be defunded and neglected by local, state, and national branches of government. In response to unmet needs, grassroots groups form to gather resources, provide services, educate, and empower identified populations in their communities. In short, regular people are called and chosen by their neighbors to make what is missing and to scrape together resources. Read more
In the early 1970's, a group of scientists announced that after conducting some tests, they had concluded that the compound ozone seemed to have depleted in the upper atmosphere.
Time magazine ran with the story by suggesting that scientists had discovered a "hole in the Ozone Layer". All of the science turned out to be wrong but not before the media had blamed spray-on deodorant and the U.S. government had issued a ton of grant money and passed laws that controlled people’s lives.
Science had a new hypothesis: Warnings of man-made disaster equals Big Bucks
Since the research on the ozone didn’t really work; leftists re-packaged the scare tactic and called it Global Warming. For two decades they managed to grab federal cash and gain control over people’s lives by scaring the hell out of everyone.
After twenty years and no data to back up their claims; liberal scientists did some more research. This time they conducted focus groups to find out why people didn’t care about global warming. They found that people didn’t care because the globe had not become warmer. Not to be deterred they decided to “re-brand” Global Warming by calling it “Climate Change”. Read more