Koch Brothers Buy Elections! Too Few Regular Americans VOTE!

In her excellent book, “Dark Money” Jane Mayer, a staff writer for The New Yorker, documents the rise of the ultra-conservatives (led by the wealthy Koch brothers) and how they have hijacked American democracy. Her book has been well vetted; those in the know say it’s a careful and responsible documentation of what is happening in American politics today — 2016. A link to the New York Times review of Dark Money is at the end of this blog. 

Jane Mayer Credit Stephen Voss

 “Mayer believes that the Koch brothers and a small number of allied plutocrats have essentially hijacked American democracy, using their money not just to compete with their political adversaries, but to drown them out.”

We ask readers to reflect on the following questions and read excerpts from the book, see comments from other media and read the NY Times book review.
 1) Why is it that the Republicans can get so many people to go to the voting booth on Election Day and vote for their candidates? Is it because the base of the GOP are made up of people who are more committed?
 2) Why were the Republicans able to take over the House of Representatives in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, when in 2009 the Democrats controlled both houses  of Congress and the White House?
3) What will it take to get and hold the attention of those who claim to want progressive and positive changes in America?

  • 3a) What is needed to help more Americans to understand the long view in politics, and also understand that everything these politicians do affect our lives in significant ways?
  • 3b) What will it take for us to even partially understand how the GOP’s control of the Congress since 2014 is having, and will continue to have, a very negative long-term effect on average Americans, and in particular on those who are black, brown and poor?
  • 3c) Have we given serious thought to what America will be like if the GOP wins the White House in 2016?
  • 3d) It’s baffling how many immigrants who want immigration reform are blaming President Obama because that reform did not go through. How many of these people mobilized their communtities to contact and make demands of their congressional reps? That is democracy!

4) What will it take for more of us who will be  negatively affected by a GOP win, to be more involved and take democracy more seriously before it’s too late?
5) What will it take for us to understand that the changes we want will only come if we vote for candidates who are progressive and who will fight in Congress for positive changes that will benefit average Americans? The rich use their money to buy influence.
6) How many of us are paying attention to what is happening on the campaign trail in 2016?

Millions of us are frightened, and even more claim to be frightened by what many GOP leaders, radio hosts, elected representatives and paid pundits say; yet, on Election Day the Republican party can rack up multiple victories. Why is that? Can we stop Donald Trump by staying home in the false belief that he will not get elected?  How many Americans believe that President Obama is responsible for Palin’s son having PTSD, and that this resulted in his beating up his girlfriend? It doesn’t matter; the only votes that count will be of those who go to the voting booth Election Day.  In real democracies the regular people participate.  If those of us who want positive changes stay home on Election Day (starting with the primaries), the zealots, the plutocrats and the “Dark Money” manipulators will win.  Is that what we want?  Think about it.

According to information provided in Ms. Mayer’s book Dark Money, “Charles and David Koch, the enormously rich proprietors of an oil company based in Kansas, decided years ago that they would spend huge amounts of money to elect conservatives at all levels of American government.

“David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980, but when the campaign was over, he resolved never to seek public office again. That wouldn’t be necessary, he and his brother concluded; they could invest in the campaigns of others, and essentially buy their way to political power.” (Color & emphasis added by OneWorld)

Since 2010 Republicans have dominated state legislatures; they now control a clear majority of the governorships; they took one chamber of Congress in 2010, and in 2014 they took the other.  They invest in both state and federal elections.
“They helped to finance and organize an interlocking network of think tanks, academic programs and news media outlets that far exceeded anything the liberal opposition could put together.” 

In 2008 Americans of all voting ages got out to the voting booth and elected Barack Obama; we know that it can be done.  Question is — why can’t the Democrats maintain that type of momentum? Here are some current facts:
All-GOP controlled states outnumber all-Democratic states 24-7
The GOP now controls 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers –
This is the highest number in the history of the party.
• There are currently 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats, and one independent that hold the office of governor in the states. Remember, there are 50 states!

In addition to the various media outlets (and in some network media) read Jane Mayer’s book “Dark Money” and read the NY Times review.  Ms. Mayer has carefully documented the rise of the ultra-conservatives (led by the wealthy Koch brothers) joined by many others. Together they have hijacked America’s democracy.  That hijacking is negatively affecting our children and our economy at the most fundamental levels. 

  • a) It will greatly affect our health care system.
  • b) Keep in mind that the GOP wants to dismantle the Affordable Care. 
  • c) Prior to the implementation of the ACA there were 46 million Americans with no health care coverage and millions more who were denied access due to pre-existing conditions. 
  • d) Many Americans had to cross the Canadian border to get affordable health care. 
  • e) Many in the GOP and elsewhere decrie the Cuban system; however, in Cuba, all Cubans have access to health care services; shouldn’t America offer as much? 
  • f)  The GOP wants to spend less on education; this is at a time when the global ecnomy demand a more highly skilled workforce with solid fundamental education.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/books/review/dark-money-by-jane-mayer.html?

Other related links for Dark Money: How the Kochtopus Went After a Reporter Mother Jones

Dark Money: Jane Mayer on How the Koch Bros. & Billionaire Allies Funded the Rise of the Far Right: http://www.democracynow.org/2016/1/20/dark_money_jane_mayer_on_how “…..the right-wing political network backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, expected to spend nearly $900 million in 2016.” Must Read: Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money” – Mayer Drags the Kochs into the Light 

2016 is the year to read Jane Mayer’s latest book: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. (Amazon is featuring it as a Book of the Month.) Published by Knopf-Doubleday, the book is a detailed dissection of the network of money the Kochs and their allies have used to convert America’s democracy into an oligarchy. Per the NY Times review,

“Mayer makes the point that the Kochs are in this for the long haul. Win, lose — they just keep pushing their agenda. This should become one of the most talked-about books this year. If it doesn’t, well… http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/1/19/1471807/-Must-Read-Jane-Mayer-s-Dark-Money

Let us PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to what is happening in this political season.  Let us commit to voting and to getting friends and family members to vote.  Let us hold our elected officials accountable; they need to hear from us.  Let’s NOT go quietly into  the GOP abyss of more riches for the wealthy. Are these the people you want to dictate the future for you and your children?   

KochBrothers.jpg

“Charles and David Koch are at the center of a huge interconnected web of dark money remaking America to their heart’s desire. Jane Mayer has dragged this hidden empire into the light.”

OneWorld, Inc  OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc., is a small group of committed volunteers who produce community information and education television programs on health literacy, education and civic engagement.  We also find good information and post informative blogs about issues we believe shine light and are beneficial to many in our communities.  Learn more about us at our web site: www.oneworldpi.org/  Click the YouTube icon to see some of our programs; visit our web health section at: http://www.oneworldpi.org/health/index.html  Please share our information with others.  Watch our informative television programs on your public access channels: Frontier (formerly AT&T), Channel 99, drop down; Charter Communications Chan. 21, and Comcast (Xfinity) Channels 10, 15, 18 & 26. Like OneWorld on Face Book http://goo.gl/k17xvx

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Pre-K Exposure and Education Critical to Academic Success

Let Rich and Poor Learn Together

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Leonard Strickland, Black, Disabled Prisoner, Murdered!

Leonard Strickland in 2009. Credit New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

To the almost “unconscious” Black Prison Inmate, Leonard Strickland, who was on the ground and handcuffed, a prisoner at the notorious Clinton Prison, the guard can be heard shouting ‘STOP RESISTING!’ Of course, it was a set-up. He was being murdered and the guards were putting their defense on audio video. In a security video obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Strickland is seen in handcuffs, barely conscious and being dragged along the floor by officers, while a prison nurse standing close by does nothing. Even as he lies face down on the floor, near death, guards can be heard shouting, “Stop resisting.”

“By the time an ambulance arrived, medical records described Mr. Strickland’s body as cold to the touch and covered in cuts and bruises, with blood flowing from his ears.”

“The 2010 case fits a troubling pattern of savage beatings by corrections officers at prisons across New York State and a department that rarely holds anyone accountable, issues that have been highlighted in a series of articles over the past year by The Times and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization.

Mr. Strickland’s death was only briefly noted in local newspapers, and probably would have been forgotten by all but the officers and inmates. But the escape of two murderers from Clinton in June attracted extraordinary attention to the maximum-security prison, and details about its inner workings, long held secret, have started to reach outsiders.

“Inmates who have served time at the Clinton Correctional Facility here tell of being taken aside by a sergeant soon after they arrive and given a warning: Cross the guards, and bad things can happen. And they do. Inmates describe being ambushed by guards and beaten, taunted with racial slurs, and kept out of sight, in solitary confinement, until the injuries inflicted on them have healed enough to avoid arousing suspicion.

One story in particular has been passed along over the last few years as a kind of parable of brutality and injustice on the cellblocks. Leonard Strickland was a prisoner with schizophrenia who got into an argument with guards, and ended up dead.

In the inmates’ telling, the guards got away with murder, ganging up on Mr. Strickland and beating him so viciously that he could barely move. The guards deny this, saying they acted only in self-defense and did what was necessary to subdue an out-of-control prisoner. ”

This is nothing new; what is frightening is the New York’s Governor Cuomo would appear to be complicit in the murder of black prisoners. It’s as if nothing out of the ordinary happened to Mr. Strickland. Of course, nothing did. Prisoners are murdered quite often; black prisoners are murdered as a matter of course.  Black lives have little value in a large percentage of the broader American society.  Black lives have less than ZERO value in prisons. Maybe this is why so little is done to keep black kids out of the prison pathway, and so much is done to lead them there.

Black parents, grandparents, churches, schools, community leaders and all of us who care about human life MUST do more to prevent Black and Hispanic children from getting into trouble. WE MUST DO MORE TO DIVERT POOR CHILDREN OF COLOR FROM THE PRISON PIPELINE.  Sometimes we think that to hold our children accountable at every stage of life is to be too strict.  Some of us believe that to overly cuddle our children is a good way to show them our love.  In fact, in addition to assuring our children daily that we love and support them, we must teach our children how to think critically, make good decisions and act responsibly as additional ways of demonstrating our love and support.  This is the way to SAVE our children from a brutal society.  This is particularly true for children of color.

“The Bottom of the Stairs”

“Among the state’s 17 maximum security prisons, Clinton has a reputation for being particularly violent. While racial tension is a fact of life in many prisons, inmates say it is especially bad at Clinton, located in this rural area not far from the Canadian border. The prison is the biggest local employer and pays a good wage by regional standards. All but a few of the 950 guards, including those involved in the altercation with Mr. Strickland, are white.

Instead of using a nearby gurney, prison guards dragged Mr. Strickland by his handcuffed arms out of an elevator at the prison hospital and then dropped him on the floor of the mental health clinic, where he lay near death.

A majority of the inmates, like Mr. Strickland, are black and come from New York City, 300 miles to the south; they say they face a constant barrage of racial slurs. Two years before Mr. Strickland’s death, another black inmate, Bradley Ceasar, died under similar circumstances.

Mr. Ceasar, 52, who was developmentally disabled, got into a confrontation with guards on Aug. 11, 2008, and within hours was dead. Officers and a nurse ignored his repeated pleas for help and provided no medical care, investigators said. An autopsy later determined that his ribs had been so badly broken that his lungs could not inflate properly, and he suffocated.Bradley Ceasar in 2005. Credit New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

“State investigators were scathing in their assessment of the medical response by the prison nurse, Robert Fitzgerald. A report by the State Commission of Correction said Mr. Fitzgerald “showed complete disregard of the obvious signs of a nonresponsive inmate.”

On the video, Mr. Fitzgerald is seen standing nearby and doing nothing as Mr. Strickland collapses onto the emergency room floor, and is dragged to the elevator.

“Instead of riding in the elevator along with the officers to provide care for Mr. Strickland, Mr. Fitzgerald took the stairs. Again he is seen on the video off to the side, watching for nearly three minutes while Mr. Strickland lies motionless in the hallway of the mental health clinic, near death.

When asked during a deposition why he did not intervene sooner, Mr. Fitzgerald said he had to wait for Sergeant Sweeney to determine that the inmate was no longer a safety risk.

But when Sergeant Sweeney was asked during the trial why it had taken him so long to give Mr. Fitzgerald permission to treat the inmate, he said that the decision on when to intervene was Mr. Fitzgerald’s.

Read more about the death of Bradley Ceasar and Leonard Strickland in the NY Times article linked below.  Understand why it’s important to have a vigorous BLACK LIVES MATTER civic engagement group across the United States.  Please understand, this is not about whether someone did something wrong and deserves to be in prison; although, in the case of black men (in particular) at least 5 out of 10 times they are imprisoned due to a racist legal system.  However, prisoners of every color are to be treated fairly and humanely; they are not to be murdered by prison employees.   http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/14/nyregion/clinton-correctional-facility-inmate-brutality.html?

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Civic Engagement: Informed Discussions About Transgender

When it comes to talking about, dealing with, and understanding transgender issues it is important that we work at it.  In learning I found that civic engagement and informed discussions about various aspects of the topic are very helpful.  It’s important that we are patient, open-minded and understanding. Ask questions. Learn all that we can about that which we know very little if any at all. It can be challenging to understand new or different phenomena.

In today’s society we are bombarded with various types of information that are literally foreign. To many, especially those who believe in the Old Testament Bible, these are frightening times. People need time and informed discussions to understand what they are hearing, seeing, learning.  They need time to make the appropriate adjustments to how they react. We all need time to learn what’s the new norms around some of these societal issues and concerns.  Someone just said to me “when I hear or see these things, I don’t know how to react to them.  I think I am better off not knowing anything.”

The NY Times article linked to this post might be one such instance. Civic Engagement and informed discussions are very important. After a discussion with an acquaintance  about this particular case (Kricket Nimmons), and after reading the article, I realized that we take a great deal for granted.  Seldom do we stop to think that while we might be open-minded about some issues in our society, others are disconcerted, disturbed and even frightened by these very issues. Acceptance across the board of situations about which we know little or nothing can be a tall order.  We need to give people time to adjust to our new world order on many and varying levels and on various topics.

The NY Times article is titled: “A Whole New Being- How Kricket Nimmons Seized the Transgender Moment” Photographs by TODD HEISLER – Video by KASSIE BRACKEN –                             

This is a picture of the former Jerome (2 days ago) She now goes by the name Kricket Nimmons. She will undergo transgender surgery at the expense of tax-payers. That is an issue for many. How about you? Many who know her says she is not mentally stable. Exactly how do we determine mental stability in a situation such as this? What barometers do we have to make an accurate diagnosis?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Seizing the opportunity, Ms. Nimmons was about to become one of the first low-income New Yorkers to undergo a genital reconstruction paid for by Medicaid. In a few hours, if all went well, her body would be aligned with her identity for the first time, and she would no longer be “a chick with a wiener,” in her words, but “a woman in mind, body and soul, before the Lord and before the law.”

“When I lay down and when I wake up, I’ll be a whole new creature, a whole new being,” Ms. Nimmons declared. “Out with the old, in with the new.” (Is it really that simple or easy? What are some of the mental gyrations involved in coping with one’s everyday existence as a transgender person? How different is it for a black versus a white transgender?)

“As a black transgender woman from the rural South, she had traversed a rocky path. She endured sexual abuse as a child, an H.I.V.-positive diagnosis and eviction from her family’s home as a teenager. She made her living by hustling, went to prison for fraud and theft, and suffered sexual assault by guards. She survived botched black-market medical procedures, suicide attempts and AIDS-related illnesses.

“And her experience echoed a harsh reality. The rates of extreme poverty, homelessness, H.I.V. infection, attempted suicide, assault and incarceration, which are high for transgender people as a whole, are extraordinarily high for black transgender women.”

The article is a real eye-opener and certainly worth the time it will take to read it. Of course, it’s not only transgender issues that confront us; there are a range of issues in our society today that require us to be patient, thoughtful and willing to learn.  That’s particularly if we want to be informed and enlightened as well as be constructive and contributing members of our community, state and the broader American society. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/us/kricket-nimmons-transgender-surgery.html?

OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc., is a small group of committed volunteers in CT who produce community information and education television programs on public access. See Health Literacy at: http://www.oneworldpi.org/health/index.html    

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America & Guns: A Moral Outrage and A National Disgrace

What is America’s message to the rest of the civilized world? Where does America get off criticizing other countries for some of their barbaric conduct when America makes it so easy for crazies, haters, terrorists and sundry killers to actualize their nightmares on vulnerable Americans? How many more Americans need to die is mass shootings and bombings before those we elect to Congress start thinking about the safety of the regular American people rather than about the wishes and dictates of the NRA?

Why does the National Riffle Association (NRA) and its supporters have such control over the United States Congress?

  • How is it that  once elected to Congress so many representatives answer to the NRA rather than to the electorate?
  • What does the NRA know that we the American people do not know?
  • Is our Congress essentially a cartel of the NRA?
  • How can the NRA so totally control the United States Congress that regardless of how many people oppose America’s laxed gun laws, sensible laws cannot get passed?
  • How many Americans have to be slaughtered before the American people RISE UP for freedom from the NRA, and hold the elected accountable?
  • Given the role that the NRA plays in our society, isn’t the NRA as frightening as the terrorists?!!

On Oct. 2, 2015, the NY Times Editorial Board wrote a powerful op-ed with the traumatic images.  We suggest that you read that below. What is so disturbing about that editorial is that it is factual. The editorial was titled: The Political Ritual After Mass Shootings. 

The editorial said: “The Republican presidential candidates were quick to offer sympathy but little else to the nation, to the grieving families and to the terrified town where the latest in American gun carnage took 10 lives on Thursday at an Oregon community college.

“We have to really get to the bottom of it,” Donald Trump, usually the most voluble candidate in offering quick-fix certainty about national challenges, told The Washington Post. “It’s so hard to even talk about these things.”

How very moving! How hypocritical and dishonest of Mr. Trump, the candidate who changes positions regularly to fit the polls or boost his numbers. Is this who we want as president of the United States in 2016!?  In this editorial the NYT editorial board wrote:  “The contrast could not be greater between the bromide-driven slate of Republican candidates promising thoughts and prayers after “this senseless tragedy” and President Obama in his understandable fury and near despair over the political cowering to the gun industry and its lobbyists. Mass shootings have become an unsurprising part of American life, with lame public rituals in which politicians express grief and then retreat quickly into denial about this scourge.” Please read the entire editorial here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/03/opinion/the-political-ritual-after-mass-shootings.html

In Dec. 4, editorial the NY Times Board wrote:  “The United States is not (trying to make it harder for those who want to kill Americans to have access to guns and ammunitions). Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.” (Emphasis and color added by OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc.)

End the Gun Epidemic in America

​ “It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.

Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.

It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

What better time than during a presidential election to show, at long last, that our nation has retained its sense of decency?  (All bold and italic highlights were inserted by OneWorld) http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/opinion/end-the-gun-epidemic-in-america.html?

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