Tag Archives: Washington DC

America Is Running Out of Patience

How Much Longer Are We Going to Tolerate This?

By Pastor Paul J. Bern

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I have always strongly believed that it’s not possible to be an effective Christian without taking a stand against social and economic injustice, and against government corruption in all its forms (such as lobbyists at the federal and state levels who give out bribe money like Halloween candy). In fact, I have been a proponent for radical change for a number of years now, and I have written and published 3 books on this very topic. Where shall I begin? In God-blessed America, the land of the free where everyone is an economic slave, our Founding Fathers’ sacred idea of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has become but a cruel joke. Former president George W. Bush has notoriously (for both Christian and secular people) called our Constitution – our supreme law of the land – “that (uses God’s name in vain) piece of paper”. The federal government is currently spending at least $60 billion per month on military excursions in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and northern and western Africa – not including operating between 800 and 1,000 (depending on who you believe) foreign military bases all over the world. Our country’s over-used flying drone aircraft kills hundreds daily overseas, many of whom are only innocent bystanders.

 

Our political and court systems are openly rigged against the best interests of the American people, particularly those of color. A massive market mechanism is securely entrenched in our political system where political influence is openly bought and sold. Tens of thousands of highly-paid middlemen called “lobbyists” facilitate the legal transfer of billions between moneyed special interests and our so-called “representatives” in Congress. This very lucrative business of buying and selling political influence has become the driving engine of our government. Our so-called “representatives” in Congress vie for millions in legalized bribes in return for delivering billions of our tax dollars to moneyed special interests. It’s pure folly to think our current political system could possibly look out for the best interests of the American people.

 

Just ponder what our government has done, not for us but to us, in the last ten years alone. It’s utterly mind boggling! The installation of Donald Trump to the US presidency is only the latest insult. Not because it’s Trump, but because he promised to “drain the swamp”! Instead, Trump bought it and is now remaking it in his own best interest. The best interests of the American people have been sacrificed to moneyed special interests time and time again. Hopefully this time the American electorate has learned their lesson. The Wall Street bankers paid millions in bribes for a legal license to steal hundreds of billions of dollars from the American people. When greed got them in trouble, our so-called “representatives” gave them billions more of our money, American tax dollars, to bail them out in October of 2008. In the last ten years, our so-called “representatives” shared nearly a billion dollars in bribes from the “defense” industry alone. In return, they doubled our (2016) defense budget to $700 billion (equal to all other countries combined!) and lied us into unnecessary, endless, expanding wars that will ultimately cost us trillions.

This is aside from the extreme human costs of war with multiple consecutive deployments. For example, 1 in 5 returning veterans from US occupations overseas have permanent psychiatric disabilities so severe that they will never work again. Speaking as a minister and lifelong peace activist, I find this to be utterly reprehensible on the part of the US military! Be all you can be? Yeah, but it’s all for them and none for us except for some vague talk about ‘battlefield honor’. I’ve got some new information for all those people. There is no honor in killing other human beings, especially for religious or ideological reasons, and particularly for financial gain, which the US military is notorious for!

 

Our so-called “representatives” are slashing social spending for senior citizens and the poor just when far too many American people need it most. Yet they continue to spend hundreds of billions on weapons of mass destruction to protect us from our “enemies”. But most of our “enemies” are purposely created by our government’s blatantly unjust foreign policies (that openly support oppressive military regimes for the most rigid internal control possible), and by our violent military operations within their homelands. Without a perpetual supply of “enemies”, ‘defense industry’ profits would plummet, and Washington’s wealthy paymasters will never have any of that! If that weren’t enough, our so-called “representatives” have worked hard to keep America the number one weapons merchant on earth. Our so-called “representatives” continue to support the sale of billions in weapons to oppressive dictatorships around the world, which creates still more “enemies”, which creates more special interests profits, etc. So we can fight wars, but we can’t have a robust space program? We can fight wars, but we can’t update and upgrade America’s dilapidated power grid? We can fight wars, but America can’t replace its crumbling infrastructure? We can fight wars, but we can’t afford to make public colleges and universities free? America can’t forgive $1.3 trillion (as of the end of the 2017 school year) in student loan debt so those of the millennial generation can get on their feet and start families and buy cars and houses? We can fight wars, but middle and lower income families can’t afford school lunches for their kids? This is utter insanity!

 

Our current political system guarantees our so-called “representatives” will continue to pass and sustain legislation that transfers billions of our hard-earned tax dollars to moneyed special interests. That’s because members of Congress who oppose moneyed special interests are promptly punished, ostracized, or replaced (if their offense is great enough). President Kennedy paid the ultimate price for opposing the elitists, but he achieved martyrdom among the American people. Because of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Rev. Dr. King, Jr., our current political system guarantees moneyed special interests and our “representatives” must participate in this influence-peddling scam against the American people. It’s mainly because they’re being coerced by the implied threat of assassination, but also because it’s so lucrative they’d be stupid not to.

Big corporations could be at a competitive disadvantage (and would likely resort to cheating their shareholders to replace lost profits) if they refused to buy political influence. Likewise, our so-called “representatives” would be at a competitive disadvantage getting elected or staying in office if they refused to broker political influence. Another “problem” as these elites as I see it is that, if corporate influence were to decline, it would open up windows of opportunity for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, and there’s no way Wall Street will tolerate that. Anything that puts money into the hands of ordinary folks – such as owning a business no matter how small – is seen as a potential threat and gets treated as such. Just ask any of the American merchants who lost their businesses because they couldn’t compete with Wal Mart. I should know, I used to be one myself up until around the year 2000 or so.

 

The rigged national elections in 2016 were merely melodrama for the masses. Our ‘choices’ had all been chosen for us in advance by moneyed special interests pumping millions of dollars into the process. Besides, whoever “wins” will be forced to play by established political rules that guarantee moneyed special interests will always come ahead of the American people’s best interests. After all, the money special interests own the American electoral process outright, like a company owning an asset. For months before the elections, the complicit mainstream media, using colorful pundits who talk smart and know little, entertain us with political melodrama and often-intolerable rhetorical bull-crap. They arouse us by pitting one segment of the American people against another. They make millions bombarding us with empty, emotional, 15-to-30-second TV ads that are little more than name-calling or patriotic platitudes. Congressional elections have devolved into a herd of sheep fighting among themselves for their favorite wolves. Congressional elections merely determine which segment of the America people gets screwed the most by which moneyed special interests group.

 

Trying to reform our current political system using that same corrupt system is just an exercise in futility. It’s like trying to fix your broken arms using your broken arms. It’s like trying to start a car that is out of gas or has a dead battery. Our current political system is designed to be reform proof, although that’s not how it started out, as those who have read the US Constitution well know. The Constitution has well-established checks and balances to protect and maintain the country and the American people from tyranny from within and without. That’s why “campaign finance reform” and all other such efforts to “reform” our current political system from within are doomed to either fail outright or be so watered-down as to be nearly useless. All these outrageous government actions are exactly what we should expect from a government openly for sale to the highest bidder. “We the people” are just government-controlled fodder and political afterthoughts for the moneyed special interests. Moneyed special interests paid for these outrageous government actions, and they got what they paid for. How much longer are we going to tolerate this? We, the people, got screwed while corporate America and Wall St. received obscenely huge bonuses and golden parachutes! I have the solution to this problem, and it can be found in any English dictionary.

 

rev-o-lu-tion (Dictionary.com) 1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.

 

Our country’s elections amount to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We can’t vote our government back to us. It was deliberately taken away from us, so we will deliberately take it back. A peaceful, people’s revolution is the preferable way we can take back our government. But, like a now-deceased colleague of mine used to say, “Use your first amendment rights and protest! If that doesn’t work, use your second amendment rights!” The trillion dollar business of buying and selling political influence (currently the driving engine of our government) must be overthrown, repudiated and thoroughly replaced if democracy is to survive in America. This massive influence-peddling scam must become our number one political issue because it underlies and thus greatly affects all other issues. If we don’t get all the dirty money out of our politics, our democracy and our standard of living will continue to decline and surely America will take the rest of the world down with us. That doesn’t sound like the kind of legacy I’d like to leave at all. The prophet David’s son, King Solomon of Jerusalem, wrote near the end of the Book of Proverbs something which still holds true over 3,000 years later, and I quote: “Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy.” proverbs 31: 8-9) And again it is written, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14: 31)

 

We can’t afford to sit by like sheep or stand around like cattle meekly waiting to be slaughtered! We must find ways to hinder and harass the corporate state at every turn, and to control the violent tendencies of the police who protect them. Nothing will change unless we, the people, begin to organize radical acts of civil disobedience to disrupt our current political system, upping the ante until this massive influence-peddling scam is thoroughly exposed and eliminated (search: ‘overturn Citizens United’). For example, in Iceland in 2012 when the entire country went completely bust (you know, like the USA is about to) the people – not the government, but the PEOPLE!) – had arrested and jailed over 100 bankers after throwing the old government out of office – peacefully but evidently very effectively. The citizens stood in the streets and banged on pots and pans, and they didn’t stop until they got what they wanted. Nobody worked, and no children went to school for the first part of this national strike. Then they (the people, not the government!) wrote a new constitution and passed it into law. It was reported all over the European press but largely censored here in the US. Is it any wonder? If there were enough people inspired by what happened in Iceland, it could happen here next. Indeed, it well should! Well, what do the elite capitalists want? They can either allow what happened over there to happen here, in which case America will turn into another Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy or Portugal. Or maybe even another Egypt, Yemen or Syria. Or they can declare martial law and simply seize absolute control. The only way to prevent this from occurring here in America is that “we the people” must take back our government by peaceful revolution because it will never be given back voluntarily. So get your pots and pans and your biggest serving spoon ready, and brush up on the US Constitution and all 27 of the amendments! Remember what President John F. Kennedy said: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

One final thought. “Rich and poor have this in common: God is maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22: 2)

 

 

 

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Those who try to marry religion and politics are setting themselves up for failure

Christian Hypocrisy In Washington DC

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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Remember when we were kids in school? We used to recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag every day. Among other things, the pledge calls us “one nation under God”. Judging from how things are going in Washington these days we have become anything but that. We are faced with endless wars overseas with no end in sight, and these wars on multiple fronts threaten to bankrupt the country. Meanwhile here at home, it is the American people who are already faced with bankruptcy and even homelessness due to long-term unemployment, while citizens everywhere continue to lose their houses to foreclosure under circumstances that are questionable at best. The rapidly growing population of homeless people is already in the process of turning into a human tidal wave of misery and hopelessness. Here in Atlanta where I live, the homeless population on any given day averages around 7,000 or so, of which half are children. This is a gross social injustice considering that it is happening in the richest country in the world. Even the cave men lived in caves tens of thousands of years ago. So it is accurate to say that they had it better than the homeless folks do today. It is a basic human right to have a roof over your head. Shelter is not a privilege, and throwing children out into the elements is nothing short of barbaric. And yet some have the nerve to call America a Christian nation!

 

In the meantime, we have our nation’s leaders in Washington invoking the name of God as a justification for waging immoral and illegal wars all over the globe, with many being of the clandestine variety. Here at home, our nation’s lawmakers debate whether gay persons should serve openly in the military or not, and various individuals in our country’s leadership take a stand on whether they are pro-life or pro-choice. These side-issues are being debated while our country grapples with record deficits that threaten to swallow up what is left of the US economy, just as Nero fiddled while Rome burned. They pontificate about “family values” while the value of American real estate continues to stagnate, depriving millions of formerly middle class people of their chief source of wealth – their homes. They threaten to do away with the American social safety net at a time of record unemployment and rampant homelessness, just when it is needed the most. If these neo-conservatives succeed in taking away, or even reducing, the social safety net that millions are currently depending upon because they can’t find work (and often because they can’t even feed their kids), you can be sure there will be rioting in the streets similar to Ferguson, Mo., and let’s not forget the civil wars in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. These current events line up with much of what I have been saying on this web site since day one about what is wrong with the world in which we live, and what we should change to make it better. Anyone can be religious, but I choose to take it to the next level. I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to make a real difference.

 

Being a blend of liberal Christian, Teddy-Roosevelt-style Populist and political progressive (hence the name Progressive Christian), I particularly enjoy going after big government and main-stream denominations at all levels, taking them all to task not just for the way in which they are running things, but challenging their thinking and their values. For example, many Republicans in Washington keep talking about God and politics as if they are interchangeable. They like to make it look like they are on the side of God, as if God were a political conservative. And they like to make it seem like the Democrats and “liberals” are a party of loose morality, favoring abortion, gay marriage, and hanging around with terrorists. They are experts at crafting and delivering their message – good enough to inspire many middle-class folks to vote against their own financial interests in the 2010 mid-term elections. Their message works because it appeals to people’s base emotions, not their intellects. And reacting is so much easier than critical thinking, especially when we’re so emotionally drained from these years of unemployment, or working multiple part time jobs, or home foreclosures. They are so effective with their message that they don’t think twice before selling the idea that God wanted George W. Bush to attack Iraq, God favors the Tea Party, and God wants Sarah Palin to be President. Or maybe Mike Huckabee.

 

They completely ignore the First Amendment’s separation of Church and State. The first amendment to the US Constitution begins by saying, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…….” To me, this means anyone who wishes to engineer a merger of government and organized religion either knows nothing about the Constitution or they openly wish to break it. Either way, that means they would be committing treason if the neo-cons were to actually pull off such a thing as that.

 

They publicly thump the bibles on which they were sworn into office. They brag about giving 10% of their incomes to the church, even though many don’t. And they make sure they’re seen praying, whether it be in church, in public, or on TV. Jesus had something to say about that, and those words of wisdom are just as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago when they were first spoken. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go to your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew chapter 6, verses 5-6, NIV)

 

But if you set aside the hysteria and look at the facts, Jesus was part liberal and part socialist by today’s standards, and much of the New Testament condemns the attitude of the so-called religious right (which is neither as far as I am concerned). For example, Jesus condemned the greedy rich, saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” [Matthew 19:24] He denounced the moneychangers in the temple at Jerusalem as He threw them out, saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.” [Matthew 21:13] And Jesus stood up for the poor and underprivileged, saying, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:40] So then, how can the nation’s leadership, especially the conservative right-wingers, call themselves Christian – followers of Jesus Christ and He alone – as they hold the unemployed and retired pensioners hostage while fighting for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires? They don’t care about us, and they don’t care if we know that or not. We the people, America’s middle and working classes, need not tolerate what amounts to being openly insulted. We can and should fight back! Who is with me today?

 

Jesus acknowledged the need for both government and tax-supported government services, saying, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.” [Matthew 22:21] So then how can the conservatives call themselves Christian as they rail against taxes and their definition of “big government”? Never mind the fact that it is the same bunch of people railing against big government who are voting in favor of the continued funding of the largest and most formidable military in world history. Last year the US government spent more money on military expenditures than all the rest of the world combined. Then again, there is the fact that the United States has more people in prison than all the rest of the world’s countries – again, combined. There is something very wrong with this picture, that’s for sure. When faced with these facts, I am forced to come to the conclusion that America isn’t the world’s greatest country anymore. It’s up to us, the American people, to turn this around.

 

Jesus healed the sick – even lepers – for free. He didn’t ask them for an insurance card first, he just healed them because it was the right thing to do, but more importantly because that’s what he was called to do. Jesus was the original “socialized medicine” machine. So then, how can the Republicans call themselves Christian (that is, followers of Jesus Christ in Spirit and in truth) as they condemn the much less socialistic (and woefully insufficient) “Obamacare”? The truth of the matter is that much of the effectiveness of any government is directly proportional to how well it cares for its people. (By the way, it was Thomas Jefferson who first said that.) The United States is the last developed country in the world that does not have national health insurance for its citizens. Every other developed country – and many developing ones – has national health insurance except for us. As I said above about shelter being a basic human right, so it is with health care. Proper medical care is not a privilege available only to those who can afford to pay. Good quality health care is a basic human right that must be available to everyone without qualification, including preexisting conditions. The money to implement such a plan as this is already available with plenty to spare. All the government has to do is call off all the wars and occupations overseas and bring the troops home. Whatever money is left over can be used for a giant public works project to put all the long-term unemployed back to work, or to send them back to school to learn a trade. Is there sufficient money to accomplish and finance this worthy goal? Absolutely, and all without adding to the federal deficit. Here’s an example: If the US military set aside one day’s expenses for the twin occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq (Again! Wasn’t twice enough?) and put those funds in an interest-bearing account, there would be enough money to send every single American school kid to four years of college education – fully paid for. We’d get all that from just one days military expenditures! So don’t tell me we can’t afford quality education without qualification! Oh yes we can!!

 

As he stood there on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of the living God.” [Matthew 5:9] Still, the conservatives call themselves Christian as they continue to call for endless war, be it legally and morally justified or not. At the same time, they expound on how pro-life or anti-abortion they are. So, let me get this straight. In order to be a good Christian, one must be pro-war and pro-life simultaneously? Sorry, Reverend, but you’re going have to explain that one to me. And then they try to justify torture. So I ask them, in the words of the popular button and bumper sticker: Who would Jesus torture?

 

In the end, I see many conservatives paying much homage to the Bible while ignoring what is inside it. As for myself, I could not stand to live like that, being a Washington hypocrite. Let’s vote these right wing-nuts out of office this November and start all over again on a clean sheet of paper. It’s the only way we can peacefully force things in Washington to change. But if things don’t start changing, and soon, the unrest of Egypt, Syria and Greece will be arriving on American shores with a vengeance. If governing power cannot be returned to the American people peacefully, then things will deteriorate to the point where we will simply have to retake it by force.

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Remembering the speech that changed the world for the better

I Dare To Dream

(excerpt from “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto 2nd Edition” by Rev. Paul J. Bern)

The march of economic inequality, from which springs the source of racism, poverty, crime, violence, and lack of access to healthcare and higher education, has become the new civil rights issue of the 21st century. (I like to call it Rev. Dr. MLK, Jr. 2.0.) King’s dream of unconditional equality throughout the country can finish becoming a reality when the economic barriers that we all face on a daily basis finally come down for good, like an economic Berlin Wall circa 1989. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to the masses during the 1963 civil rights march on Washington and said, “I have a dream…”. By writing and publishing these words it is my intent to help take up where King’s Dream left off, and to do anything I can to help finish the job that he started. And so let me slightly change that to, “I dare to dream”.

I dare to dream of a world in which the gap between rich and poor is gone forever. We all deserve to live in a world where wealth has been redistributed in a peaceful and orderly manner and not by the barrel of a gun. I dare to dream of a country where wealth has been redistributed in 4 ways. First, every worker earns a living wage so poverty can be eliminated. Second, free higher education and vocational retraining must be available to every worker for life, including daycare available to all, that would be based on the worker’s or student’s ability to pay on a sliding scale, because everyone has the right to better themselves at will. Third, I envision an America where quality health care is available to every worker at nominal cost for life. Single-payer healthcare based on the current Medicare model must not be reserved only for those who can afford it, but it must be a fundamental human right for all ages. I dare to dream of an America where there will be no such thing as someone without health insurance, where every citizen will have lifetime healthcare and prescription drug coverage without qualification, and where there will be the fewest sick days for American workers and their children of any country in the developed world. Fourth, “we the people” demand the abolition of the federal tax code, including elimination of the despised federal withholding tax, which would give every American worker or business owner an immediate 18% pay raise.

I dare to dream of a new America with a robust and viable economy. That is why I have been insisting on a $12.00 per hour minimum wage since 2010. I dare to dream of a new America where education will be subsidized from the cradle to the grave so that the US develops the most formidable work force the world has ever seen. I dare to dream of an America where all workers have the right to organize, to a flexible work week and to paid family or maternity leave. Most other developed countries already do this. The US is the only exception and that has got to change. The only remaining question in my mind is whether we can accomplish this peacefully or otherwise, and it looks more and more to me like it will be the latter.

I dare to dream of an America where affordable housing is the law of the land, where home ownership becomes a right and not a privilege so we can wipe out homelessness, and where the price of a house is limited to the sum total of ten years income of any given individual or household purchasers. I insist on a country where home ownership isn’t part of an exclusive club with the highest “credit scores”. It is, and must become, a basic human right. Even the cave men lived in caves of their own!

I dare to dream of a country with new public works programs that put an end to unemployment forever so the USA can have full employment all the time. America’s infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, and its inner cities are in dire need of an overhaul. What a better way to accomplish this!

I dare to dream of a new America with an all-new public school and university system that has an Internet-based curriculum that can be updated at will, and that is second to none in the developed world, with a new and more intensive school year, and that has viable replacements for standardized testing, and where class size is limited by law. I dare to dream of a country where teachers make what their Congressional representatives make, and vice versa.

I dare to dream of a new nation where unconditional equality is the law of the land for every citizen without exception, and this will include economic equality. I dare to dream of a new America where there is no more income tax, no capital gains tax, no alternative minimum tax, no estate tax, no self-employment tax, and where families and businesses can have a tax free income unless they are very wealthy. In its place would be a national sales tax, such as a Consumption Tax, where everyone pays proportionately the same tax rate on only what they consume, plus an “excess wealth tax” for persons with annual incomes exceeding $3 million, and for businesses with annual proceeds exceeding $300 million, so America’s budget can be balanced and fair.

I dare to dream of a better USA where personal privacy is the law of the land, where identity theft is a thing of the past, and where it will be illegal for employers to obtain the credit files or credit scores of any job applicant.

I dare to dream of a more compassionate America where children have the right to a challenging and progressive learning environment, and where kids will be legally guaranteed freedom from hunger, sickness and violence, and where all God’s children will have the right to safe adoption, foster care and day care.

I dare to dream of an all-new voting system, including the abolition of the elitist Electoral College, that is Internet-based, paperless, and that can be accessed from any location using any computer or wireless device, instead of wasting our time and fuel and losing work time going to polling stations, and instead of using unreliable and unsecured voting machines.

I dare to dream of an America of integrity where all of the dirty corporate money and all the filthy lucre is abolished from our political process. I dare to dream of an America where the Wall Street shysters who crashed the US economy are brought to justice, and where the keys to all of the fraudulently foreclosed homes are returned to their rightful owners.

I dare to dream of the end to America’s sinister war on drugs, where all convicted nonviolent drug offenders can qualify for alternative sentences for their offenses so they may obtain early release, and where all the currently illegal drugs are legalized, regulated and taxed by appropriate legislation.

Finally, I dare to dream of a world in which all this is easily financially achievable because all the money that is being wasted currently on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and to a lesser extent in Pakistan, Libya and elsewhere will be redirected towards all these dreams that I have just mentioned. The money is already there, its just being budgeted in all the wrong places. Let me tell you why.

If the US military took all the money it spends occupying Afghanistan for just one day and put it into an interest-bearing account, there would be enough money available to send every American school kid from the first grade up to senior year in high school through 4 years of college fully paid for, including tuition, dorms, books, food, access to the Internet and to public transportation. Here’s another example: If the US government took all that money set aside from one days worth of military expenditures in Afghanistan alone, there would be enough money to build a 2,500 square feet house, fully furnished and stocked with groceries, with all the utilities already turned on, for every homeless person in the US including all the homeless kids. That’s how easily we can end homelessness in the richest country in the world.

Just as surely as there was an Arab Spring beginning in 2011 that is still ongoing in Egypt, Algeria, Yemen and Syria, to name a few, uprisings of the people throughout North Africa and the Middle East that toppled one dictator after another, so I am telling you that there will be an American Spring no later than 2014. Beginning in 2011 with the start-up of the “Occupy” and “99%” Movements, of which I am proud to be a part, this uprising of the American people against the top 1% will explode like an atomic mushroom cloud over the American political and economic elite, obliterating them all without anyone having fired a single shot so that the remaining 99% of us can peacefully take back what has been stolen from us over the last 100 years. We can only accomplish this by uniting together as one and acting as one body to break free from the shackles of oppression that have us all enslaved.

You have just read the end of chapter 9 of my book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto” (Salt of the Earth Publishing, 470 pages, $14.95) To order your copy, go to www.sotepublishing.com. Thanks so much. Shalom!

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The King Holiday Is Nearly Upon Us, Part 1

The Hijacking of a Dream: Reclaiming Dr. King’s Legacy

 

 

As we approach the Martin Luther King holiday, America needs to perform a re-assessment of what this memorial holiday means to all of us. On August 28, 2011, the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial took place on the National Mall in Washington DC. Having the dedication of this memorial on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington, was clearly a symbolic gesture — paying homage to one of the many defining moments in the great civil rights leader’s life. However, the corporate contributors of this event, along with many of the politicians that were in attendance, were and are symbolic themselves. They are symbols of everything Dr. King was, and would be opposed to, if he were alive today. These charlatans and hucksters know very well of this fact, which is exactly why they, the mainstream media in America, and an ever-shrinking segment of prejudiced Americans of all colors and races continue to desperately try to reshape the image of Dr. King. If these people have their way, Dr. King and his legacy will stand for nothing more than what I regard as a superficial image. They fervently wish to recreate him into someone they can feel more comfortable with. This is why most children, and adults, can only recite one quote in relationship to Dr. King —“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

 

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for much more than what mainstream America has methodically reduced him to. In fact, if he were alive today, many of the corporate war mongering politicians, including President Obama, would be vilifying Dr. King as if he were some crazed angry black man. This is why we will never hear the likes of Barack Obama quote Dr. King when he referred to the US government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. Dr. King said those powerful and honest words on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City (exactly a year before he was assassinated). Over four decades later—the US government is still the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. You can bet that the following quote with not be read at the dedication of the King memorial:

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

After reading Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” speech, anyone still thinking that he would be in approval of what this current administration is doing in places like Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, need to have their heads examined. Dr. King was much more than simply a man who was anti-war; he was a man who stood for peace and social justice. He was truly a man of principles and convictions, which is why he was unafraid of speaking truth to so-called power. Remaining silent, as so many gutless politicians and celebrities do today, was not an option within Dr. King’s conscience. And because of this, he was routinely targeted by the US government, by way of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and devils minions such as FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover.

The American empire’s military-industrial complex has been a prominent issue dating back decades. The military industrial complex is a vastly profitable behemoth that must be fed a steady diet of wars in order to maintain its existence. Those who threaten the existence of this killing machine become expendable. Dr. King’s outspokenness against not only the Vietnam War, but also the military industrial complex, secured his status as a target. Dr. King’s “crime” was that he dared to challenge the conscience of a nation entangled within the web of an imperialist war throughout Southeast Asia. Among other things he said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Which one of the political frauds, or entertainers, in attendance at the dedication to Dr. King’s memorial took such a courageous stance in solidarity with Martin Luther King, Jr.? None, that’s how many. Zero, nada, zip, or zilch, take your pick.

In 2013 the US government has methodically found a way to direct itself into multiple military campaigns of aggression, including dropping missiles indiscriminately upon Libya and arbitrarily using drones to bomb villages in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over a trillion dollars have been used on these campaigns, including Iraq, since 2001—- all the while people in the US are losing their homes to foreclosures, school systems are being de-funded, and 40,000 Americans die each year due to a lack health insurance. That’s more people than all who died in auto accidents last year. If Dr. King’s statement is true then America’s spirit must be on life support — needing an end to its defense spending as part of a multi-tiered remedy for rehabilitation.

 

Dr. King knew very well about the US government’s record of going into countries, whose governments refused to be obsequious to their addiction to other nation’s resources, and then destabilizing them by waging war, by assassination of leaders, or both. Dr. King knew that the US played a role in the removal and murder of people like Congo’s Patrice Lumumba in 1961. Today in 2013, very little has changed at all. The US and its gang of European minions (NATO) are currently bombing Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia into the stone age. This is, in fact, the kind of immoral act of war that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be completely opposed to, along with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before that. His life should give us ample reason to come to this conclusion, and only this conclusion. However, how many children in America know this, especially children of color? Dr. King’s image has been reshaped by some amoral adults as well as by adults who have been purposely mis-educated. When we see ridiculous t-shirts with the face of Dr. King juxtaposed next to that of President Obama we should see this as a blatant assault on the civil rights leader’s work, as well as on his character. These kinds of comparisons further confuse the masses, and not by accident, especially those who have purposely been given little to no historical point of reference in regard to Dr. King and his complete body of work.

The night before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated he was giving a speech in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. He understood the need for unions and supported their struggle. He passionately supported the economically disenfranchised as evidenced with his organizational work around the Poor People’s Campaign. When we study his work on these issues it should be clearly evident that this man would be completely opposed to the current vicious attacks on labor unions and the poor. The fork tongued Barack Obama campaigned in support of labor unions, saying whatever he needed to, in order to curry favor from them — as a means of gobbling up their valuable votes. However now that he won his second term, he has deliberately distanced himself far away from their struggle, all the while bending over backwards for their nemesis — Wall Street and the gangs of mega-corporations that lurk there. Are we really that foolish to believe that Dr. King would have been in favor of Barack Obama’s multi-trillion dollar bailout for the same “banksters” that are largely responsible for the current economic crisis plaguing the US, and the world?

 

 Dr. King made it quite obvious which side of history he stood on with his actions. He made it even clearer that he stood with the masses of oppressed and poor people riddled throughout the unequal social fabric sewn throughout America, exactly what my own ministry stands for. Serving as the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. King supported SCLC initiated programs like Operation Breadbasket which was aimed at economically empowering black communities. In 1967 Dr. King said, ‘‘Many retail businesses and consumer-goods industries deplete the ghetto by selling to Negroes without returning to the community any of the profits through fair hiring practices.’’ Today numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as President Barack Obama, appear to have no problem selling out the interests of black communities to the benefit of vulture-like corporations. Whether it is the privatization of public schools, gentrification, or the growing economic disparity between whites and blacks; politicians like Barack Obama could care less about their policies overall negative impact on the very African-Americans who helped vote him into office. It remains perplexing as to why so many black people remain in support of Barack Obama — the absence of historical perspective and critical analysis can have this effect on people. Obama’s actions regarding Black America, including the rapidly vanishing US middle class, are antithetical to those of the late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Obama has become rather skilled at blaming black people for their plight, whenever he decides to acknowledge their existence at all. He even had the audacity to do this at the NAACP’s 100th anniversary meeting when he said, “We’ve got to say to our children, yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades — that’s not a reason to cut class — that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands — never forget that! That’s what we have to teach all of our children. No excuses. No excuses. You get that education; all those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes we can.”

Obama would never have gone into a poor white community and told the parents of a vastly underfunded school system and marginalized community that they should, in essence, accept those conditions without protesting or fighting to hold the government accountable. However, Obama knows he can slap around the black community in that manner because far too many African-Americans continue to pledge blind obedience him in what I see as a most pathetic manner. Unfortunately, Obama, like many other Democrats, will continue to disrespect the black community until they completely divorce themselves from that party and form/support a truly independent party that actually advocates for their collective interests. In my view as a Caucasian American, it underscores the urgent need for a viable third political party in America that speaks for and addresses the needs of all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, economic status and sexual orientation. On further thought, I could end this week’s commentary right here and still have a pretty good article, but I want to go deeper so everyone please stay with me on this, okay?

In regards to people of color, especially poor black people; Dr. King had a knack for placing their living conditions within the context of institutional racism and its impact on their communities. In 1968, just months before his assassination, Dr. King said, “It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.” The great civil rights leader said those words within a speech he gave to his staff at a SCLC meeting in Frogmore, South Carolina as he was preparing them for the Poor People’s Campaign. His commitment to black people, and poor people in general, was the polar opposite of a man like Barack Obama who seems to thrive at marginalizing those demographics while catering to his corporate and military bosses.

In the same Beyond Vietnam speech, Dr. King gave a prescient warning when he said, “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” Today in 2013 much of the world is suffering from the impact of America’s insatiable hunger for global domination. The US’s runaway military industrial complex continues to take lives away from innocent civilians in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, to name just a few. The American military industrial complex creates carnage abroad, all the while preventing Americans from having things like a single-payer healthcare system. In 2013 institutional racism remains a disease that destroys the lives of people of color in America by way of ruthless police brutality, enforced economic inequality and intentionally unequal school systems — to name a few. Also in 2013 runaway capitalism is imposing economic terrorism on countless people and their rapidly disintegrating communities. Dr. King’s words are surely more relevant now than ever before.

 

 The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was assured to be a most superficial event replete with superficial politicians and luminaries when it was held nearly 18 months ago. The organizers of this event and their corporate cronies were promoting and selling everything from expensive hotel rooms, sponsorship opportunities, to high priced exhibitor space. In essence, they will be “honoring” Dr. King by not embracing his legacy of social justice, but by financially capitalizing on his name. There will be no speeches of ending America’s imperialist wars, like Dr. King did. Anyone with that message trying to get on stage will be swiftly removed by security. There will be no speeches about destroying institutional racism in America. Instead, the lie of America being a post racist country will be bandied about. Don’t expect any talk about waging a war on poverty — after all, some of the sponsors of this event are in fact large multinational corporations (such as Wal-Mart and numerous others) that benefit from destroying local businesses while dissuading their workers from unionizing.

However, what you are sure to see is cameras on disingenuous politicians crying crocodile tears, as if they give a damn about Dr. King’s legacy. Many of these political actors will be men and women who have, at one time or another, voted to finance one or more of America’s current military campaigns. Unfortunately, some of these frauds will even be members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but I will decline to name names for now. Far too many members of the CBC have become quite comfortable with taking the easy way out and remaining silent about things that matter. The same goes for countless black entertainers riddled throughout Hollywood. They have lost their spine and made the conscious decision to protect their political interests and/or their potential sponsorship from white corporations that could not give a damn about social justice or the well-being of the communities from which many of these black politicians and entertainers come from.

Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” He also famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Ending institutional racism in America, eradicating poverty and homelessness, tearing down the US prison-industrial complex, and stopping the US’s destructive wars – these are the things that really matter. They matter so much that life and death hinge upon each injustice. It is obvious that we cannot expect Democrats or Republicans to vociferously break their collective silence about the cauldron of social injustices that have been brewing in America for quite some time — that job must be ours, starting with the clergy like myself, since Congress and the President refuse to do any such thing. We must raise our collective voices and speak out against them and stand up for justice. As the 2013 King Holiday approaches, this is the greatest way we can honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

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United We stand, Divided We Fall

Down With The Status Quo, Up With Change

For the last year I have been watching as political dissent has unfolded in form of the Arab Spring, more recently in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, not to mention the Occupy and 99% Movements, with the greatest of interest. I have written and published two books about this worldwide political and social movement (my newest title, “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome”, was just published in March 2012). It is captivating to watch all of the peaceful demonstrators stand up and make their voices heard, and it is inspiring to see thousands of little Davids going to battle with Goliath, especially knowing that “we the people” will win again just like David did. One by one, the big, mean dictators are falling, and it all started with one man committing suicide by setting himself on fire. And now the civil unrest over what amounts to the abuse of authority has spread to the US, as I pointed out above. Today as I write this there are organized demonstrations in all 50 states and in Washington DC. The kickoff of the “99% Spring”, of which I am proud to be a part, is slated to begin next weekend with seminars on peaceful protest and nonviolent resistance. I’ll be going to one in Atlanta next Sunday, and others who wish to participate should check on the Internet for “99% Spring” seminars and assemblies in your area. All these protests highlight the need for more economic opportunity, the right to housing and to a living wage, the right to access to healthcare and higher education, the right for workers to organize, and for the elimination of poverty, hunger, crime, disease, and for an end to all wars. This, my dear readers, is the stuff that really matters to real people, the ones who are caring and compassionate and who show empathy and mercy towards others by putting aside personal differences.

In order for workers throughout the world to make the case for their right to organize without fear of reprisal, it is essential that they be completely unified. To live and work in unity means that relatively large groups can organize and demonstrate for their common good, particularly in matters regarding basic human rights. United we stand and divided we fall, so it is always best to stand united with a common purpose. Unity is what enabled the early 13 colonies to throw Great Britain off the North American continent and back home to England. Unity is what repaired the United States after the American Civil War and paved the way for a United America that formed and colonized the remainder of the 48 contiguous states by the turn of the twentieth century. Unity is what allowed America to win 2 world wars. We have since lost some of that unity, partly due to apathy, ignorance and fear, but largely due to being intimidated by abusive authoritarians of the US military-industrial-incarceration complex. People have become tired of getting pushed around and being told what to do by cold, uncaring political and economic systems whose sole purpose for existence is profit.

However, I have observed that people everywhere are beginning to wake up, and they’re figuring out that we can get our country back from the crooked Wall Street bankers that robbed the US Treasury via the 2008 government bailout, but only after cleaning out the retirement savings of millions of innocent Americans beforehand. God has already given us the power to resist evil, and so has the US Constitution and its predecessor, the Declaration of Independence. If we pray to God for this Holy Spirit power of resistance to evil, and do so believing that we will receive it while maintaining a thankful heart, He will give it to us freely. That means without limits, people. Just as surely as people have united in the Arab world against tyranny, and as Labor Unions and affiliated workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana stood up against the attempted liquidation of their political and economic clout, so will there be unrest right here in the United States because of the tyranny of capitalism of, by and for the very rich, and because of the tyranny of consumerism and materialism that has us all completely surrounded.

I find myself disturbed by the apparent lack of unity that still remains in certain parts of the US, particularly regarding the negative slant that the mainstream media is showing on cable TV. It makes me wonder what is happening to America? Why are we yelling and screaming at each other in town hall meetings? Why have television and radio talk shows degenerated into shouting matches? Why do hate-filled messages permeate the Internet on all sides? What has happened to us? There is a poison flowing through the body politic of America and it will cripple our democracy unless each of us acts as an antidote. Those on the far-left accuse the far-right of being fascist Neanderthals while those on the far-right accuse the far-left of being heathen communists. This kind of infantile stereotyping threatens to tear the fabric of America apart. Actually, the far-left and the far-right have more in common then they would want to admit. Both sides are absolutist in their ideology and uncompromising in their politics. They see no shades of gray, only black and white. Each side believes that they possess absolute truth and each side refuses to compromise on its beliefs. That’s why I identify with neither, and that’s why I’m a political independent. I refuse to identify my Internet church with any denominations for similar reasons.

 

 What particularly troubles me in today’s political environment is the level of anger and even outright hatred that is being displayed. I have been trying to figure out the source of this anger and hatred for some time now. Some of today’s rabid emotionalism can be traced to old-fashioned racism but I think for many people it goes deeper than that. I would suggest that this anger and hatefulness is really a response to the fear of change. Fear is an emotion we don’t like in ourselves and anger is a way of covering up our fears with an emotion that makes us feel more powerful. Anger, then, is like a drug, and like a drug it can be habit-forming.

The antidote, then, is to face our fears and see them for what they are: being afraid of negative outcomes that usually never happen. We live in a world where society, technology, the economy and demographics are rapidly changing and this change is deeply threatening to many people. They are frightened that the world they have known is disappearing. This deep internal fear of change produces an anger response that is directed toward an outward target such as Wall Street bankers or immigrants. We repress our fear by directing our anger toward someone or something outside of ourselves. If we want American democracy to survive, we need to grow up. We need to stop projecting our fears onto other people. We need to stop yelling at each other and learn to start listening to each other. We need to accept the reality of change and begin working together to find productive ways of dealing with a world that is constantly changing, and doing so for the mutual benefit of all. The needs of the many, Mr. Spock said, outweigh the needs of the few. You see, the future in which this idyllic truism exists has already arrived.

 

 The fact is that America has been and is built upon compromise. Our great experiment in democracy is founded upon the belief that each issue has many sides and that the most workable solution comes from a compromise that blends together many disparate views. Compromise is the glue that holds America together. Change is inevitable. It’s the way the universe is constructed. The fact that time exists means that change must occur. Rather than fear change, we need to make it work for our benefit. Rather than trying to go back and fix the past, we need to work together to create a better future, to literally manufacture an entirely new world. If the American experiment is going to grow and mature, we the people have to grow and mature. We have to put our irrational fears behind us and start working together as mature adults in order to deal successfully with the challenges that change presents to us, such as conquering outer space.

 

 It’s time to stop the name-calling and to start having rational discussions about the issues before us. It’s time to turn away from those in the media and on the Internet who feed our fears and fuel our hatred. It’s time to start respecting each other as fellow Americans regardless of our differences. Each of us must stand up for a fundamental American truth – united we stand, divided we fall. As Americans we must stand together. We must reject the anger and hatefulness that is dividing us and start using our common sense to work together for the common good. Living in competition only grinds us down, but achieving through mutual cooperation lifts everyone up. Competition may be a good thing in the business world, but it is counterproductive for human relationships. We must either learn to live in harmony or perish. The choice is ours.

 

 

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