This is Part 2 of the August 11, 2006 BuzzFlash Mailbag. Click here for Part 1.
Subject: The Crazy V.P.
If it wasn’t bad enough that this nation has a President with the I.Q. of a fruit fly we are also burdened with a crazy Vice President!
Unable to change channels fast enough there have been times when I was forced to listen to Dick Cheney. (Don’t you just hate it when you’re sitting on the remote?)
Subject: Airplane Plot
Hi, Buzz --
Isn't it a good thing Britain wasn't waiting for Chertoff and the security boys here to sound the airline plot alarm? On Wednesday Bush is out on his bike in Crawford, Texas circling around the U.S.A. press idiots. Urging them on in 100 degree heat to run three miles. For a tee shirt and a photo with him. Offering "playful taunts and encouragement" according to the L.A. Times. Isn't Bush known to diddle around in August? Funny. If anything big were to happen the press boys would be in the throes of heat stroke.
News from the DNC:
Dusting Off The GOP Playbook: Fear-Mongering And Desperate Tactics
Washington, DC - In the wake of an unfolding terror plot and their own plummeting poll numbers, Republicans in Washington have once again dusted off their tired campaign playbook in a desperate attempt to stay alive politically. Party leaders and even White House officials have again begun engaging in fear-mongering to distract from their failed record and salvage their dwindling campaign prospects in November.
BARBARA'S DAILY BUZZFLASH MINUTE
Seems to me the “establishment” is whining, complaining, and offering advice to internet bloggers because they fear the bloggers may get the truth out and thus inhibit mainstream corporate media’s chances of spinning the dark fantastic!
TABOR and Direct Democracy: An Essay on the End of the Republic - Thom Hartmann's "Independent Thinker" Book of the Month ReviewWritten by BuzzFlash
TABOR and Direct Democracy: An Essay on the End of the Republic
by Bradley J. Young
THOM HARTMANN'S "INDEPENDENT THINKER" BOOK OF THE MONTH REVIEW
There is a group of people -- who often refer to themselves as "conservatives" -- who are not only committed to the destruction of our republic, but actively (and successfully) crippling governments all over this nation. Their main weapon is "direct democracy" -- the initiative system by which citizens can get measures on a ballot and bypass legislators -- and a series of seemingly commonsense citizen-promoted limitations on the growth of government.
The initiative process was mostly written into the constitutions of several dozen states largely as part of the progressive and populist backlash against entrenched and corrupt political machines in the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. The idea was that if legislators refused to follow the will of the public because they'd been bought off or co-opted by the Robber Barons or other "special interests," citizens could take things into their own hands. In some recent cases -- most notably medical marijuana and Oregon's "right to die with dignity" -- the system has worked pretty well in the face of spineless legislators.
But with the so-called "taxpayers bill of rights" or TABOR, the Grover Norquist-types of the world who think government should be destroyed, in large part, and replaced by a corporate aristocracy running everything from our schools to our power systems, have found a tool to fool citizens into building self-destruct mechanisms into representative democracy.
The main means by which this is done is a "ratchet" system that requires government to return budget surpluses to taxpayers annually, wiping out rainy day funds and other ways for government to deal with economic downturns, and limits the growth of government revenues to the sum of population growth and inflation.
Population growth plus inflation sounds reasonable, right? But GDP almost always (other than during severe recessions) increases more than the simplistic formula of population plus inflation. There's also the fact that productivity increases -- the very core of business growth -- and so the size of economies grow in real terms significantly faster than population plus inflation. Along with them, come the added needs for government -- roads, police, schools, etc.
But TABOR and other "tax limiting" measures prevent government from growing to meet the needs of it citizens -- instead actually shrinking government, and, because of the "ratchet" system, not letting it catch up when times are good. Schools deteriorate, roads disintegrate, and the social safety net goes from frayed to moth-eaten to gossamer. Eventually, conservatives will be able to say, "See? The schools are broken and should be replaced by a corporate system! Same for our roads -- let's sell them off to French toll-road companies! And private charity, through faith-based systems administered by Bush, will replace our secular social services systems!"
The mechanics of all this are brilliantly laid out in this handy, readable, accessible little booklet -- "TABOR and Direct Democracy." It also shows how direct democracy is a far more vulnerable system to wealthy and powerful special interests who can buy campaign advertisements to fool the average voter in ways that professional politicians would see through in a moment.
The Republic of The United States is very much under assault, mostly at a state-by-state level. This shock, informative, and powerful book is an absolute must-read for every citizen and -- more importantly -- every voter. You'll find it a critical addition to your library, and will probably want to get several copies (they're cheap and pocket-sized) to share with others. Mostly under the radar-screen, TABOR and its variations may well accomplish what the Robber Barons only dreamed of -- the final and ultimate destruction of representative democracy in the USA, replaced by a corporate elite in all parts of our lives.
THOM HARTMANN'S "INDEPENDENT THINKER" BOOK OF THE MONTH REVIEW
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Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show and a morning progressive talk show on KPOJ in Portland, Oregon. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," "The Edison Gene", and "What Would Jefferson Do?
It's my duty as a patriotic American to send up this warning flare to the Republican Congress. Their very lives are in peril. THIS IS NOT A TEST! Unknowingly they have stumbled into a dangerous situation that threatens them to a degree they are blissfully unaware. The fact that none of them will heed my advice saddens me a little but not as much as it makes me giggle. Let me explain. They just barely missed pushing through a bogus minimum wage bill that also would finally accomplish their thick-headed goal of eliminating the estate tax making sure that Paris Hilton gets every damn penny she deserves. Well, perhaps that's imprecise phrasing.
WORLD MEDIA WATCH
1//Azzaman in English, Iraq--SECURITY WORSENS IN BASRA AS COUNCIL REJECTS PM'S DECISION (The provincial council in the southern city of Basra has turned down an order by Prime Minister Noouri al-Maliki to dissolve and pass its responsibilities to an emergency committee. Following a meeting, the council issued a defiant statement saying it would not abide by Maliki's order. The council is backed by powerful militias who wield immense power in the province. The province's security forces and the 10th army division deployed in Basra have declared allegiance to Maliki. However, it is not clear whether the city's police forces and army would move against the council if asked by Maliki, who is also the commander-in-chief. ... Militias of religious parties control the city and government offices in it. They are reported to have most of the 18,000 workers at the Southern Oil Company on their side and they frequently have threatened to halt oil production and exports if the government tries to limit their influence.)
JEFFREY FELDMAN'S FRAMESHOP
Today, when I turned on the television, I heard Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, explain that a terror plot had been foiled in Britain -- which would have involved the use of liquid explosives carried onto planes. In response, Chertoff passed a new regulation banning certain liquid and gel items in airplane carry-on luggage on all U.S. flights. The video shown repeatedly in the background featured a woman at airport security tossing a tube of toothpaste into a garbage can.
More Tough News For The President
by Tony Peyser
His poll numbers are so bad
I insist that you all shush:
Americans now don't even
Like the way he clears brush.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
We will again be delaying a day or two our commentary about the foolhardiness of progressive advocacy groups supporting any Republican senator, particularly Lincoln Chafee (where there is a good chance of picking up a Democratic Senate seat this year).
As usual, the Busheviks are tossing so much shi* at all of us, we need to tend to some more pressing issues.
And one of them is the perennial question of how do Democrats respond to the use of well-timed "terrorist arrests" (and this one appears to be more substantive than the last two, but we don't really know) that suddenly emerge around elections, or when Bush is in a political corner. (It should be noted that Bush and Cheney are currently trying to pass a law that would retroactively absolve them and other administration officials of war crimes. Good timing for a diversionary terrorist scare – not to mention getting our minds off the fiasco in Iraq and failure of leadership in Lebanon, right?)