Posts Tagged ‘populist movement’

Why the Democrats are Losing All the Time

So much has happened since my last post that I have decided to make this one a “themed” essay. No day by day telling of my time in The Swamp. More of an overview of what I see happening.

My theme is “Why the Democrats are Losing All the Time.” By Betsy Garrold

Here are some of the reasons that the tone deaf DNC will continue to lose to the dysfunctional, horrible, racist, sexist RNC.

#1: They are tone deaf to issues they even claim to champion like LGBTQ rights. Here is my evidence. I was at a famous DC hotel a couple of weeks ago attending a dinner/training for a legislative fly-in I was participating in. Also in the hotel were the DNC. It was not a huge group and seemed to be mostly young people so I am guessing some sort of youth caucus event. Anyhow I went to use the public restrooms in the corridor we were sharing with this group and this is what I saw:

 Not a great picture but you get the idea.   Yep, it’s okay for the “girls” to share their (Gender Neutral) restrooms but don’t you dare ask the “men” to do it. Tone deaf much?

#2 My next encounter with the DNC was at the big Planned Parenthood rally on the front lawn of the Capitol building. PP had done a great job of building up to this rally against the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act. There were thousands of people there in their pink buttons and t-shirts. The speakers began……all Democrats. Which was marginally tolerable but then Nancy Pelosi introduced the head of the DNC What’s-his-name Perez and I had to walk away. I scouted the perimeters hoping to run into my own party (the Greens) but instead found this group advocating for a single party payer system:

And then, several days later, I read this interesting article which explained a lot. 

So no surprise that the PP rally turned into a DNC pep rally. Only sadness at the co-opting of an organization I used to respect. It looks like this cartoon may have some truth to it…even considering the source.


And finally #3. This meme from the book of the face.   


How terrifying is that thought? Yes, if Clinton, with her smarts and her savvy and her social graces had been elected we all could have gone back to sleep and let the oligarchs continue to run our lives. She would have been so soothing and PC as she lead us into more wars and more $$$ being funneled to the wealthiest few and more of everything that Wall Street and Big Pharma and Big Argo-business etc etc wants. As I said to many of my friends on 11/9/16 “Well, at least he will be a good organizing tool for progressives.” And he has been (tool, of course, being the operative word) his blatant racism, sexism, elitism is easy to rally against. So, yes, you could have had neo-liberal, con-artist Clinton as your President. But in many, many ways this is better.

So why has the DNC lost all the special elections since 45’s inauguration?  Because they think that being Republican-lite is the way to go. They are so far up the behinds of their moneyed masters that they cannot even see the light of day and they certainly can not see, or figure out why, the masses anger at the status quo. No justice, no peace. Know justice, know peace. Figure it out DNC. Or don’t, all the better for the truly progressive parties out there who will keep growing and fighting the good fight and winning.

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Is Populism Making a Comeback

Several years ago I started writing this blog and decided to call it The Populist Farmer in honor of a movement from over a century ago that I thought had a lot of things right.   They were against big monopolies and for the small farmer.   A stance that I spend a lot of  time in Augusta supporting.  They were among the first national movements to recognize the leadership and contributions of women.   Definitely ahead of their time.

Well it seems that the big pols have figured out that this is a good frame on which to hang all their garbage.  In an attempt to once again bamboozle the electorate.   Don’t be fooled folks,  the closest thing we have to a populist in the race for the White House right  now is Bernie Sanders.   But stay tuned, Jill Stein is about to throw her hat in the ring.

In the meantime read this nice little piece that appeared in YES! Magazine recently.

Is Populism Making a Comeback? What You Need to Know About Its History—And Its Future

  
The 19th century populists gave us co-ops and workers’ rights. Here’s how we can build on their work to solve 21st century problems.

Fran Korten posted June 02, 2015

You may have noticed. In our political discourse, suddenly the term “populism” is everywhere.

In April, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid joined 5,000 other political leaders in a call to make “big, bold, economic-populist ideas” the center of the 2016 presidential campaign. Outlets as disparate as The New York Times, The Nation, Time, and Fox News apply the label to politicians across the political spectrum.

Elizabeth Warren, known for her fiery critiques of Wall Street, is termed a populist. Hillary Clinton has a new-found interest in economic populism; Bernie Sanders has long worn the label. Even right-wing firebrand Ted Cruz gets the label, and Bobby Jindal applies it to himself. As Robert Borosage, head of the Campaign for America’s Future, put it, “We live in a populist moment.”

The term populist harkens back to the movement that formed in the 1880s in response to the extremes of wealth and power in the Gilded Age. As Lawrence Goodwyn describes in his book The Populist Moment, farmers found themselves in perpetual debt at the hands of local merchants and corporate monopolies. Many lost their land. They decried the concentrated wealth of the banks and big business and advocated policies that favored working people over the elites. Millions were attracted by the idea of forming cooperatives where they could buy goods and sell their produce at fair prices.

By 1892, the movement had broadened to include urban workers and became the People’s Party. At their founding convention, they enthusiastically embraced a platform that included a progressive income tax, the secret ballot, direct election of senators, the right of citizens to create initiatives and referenda, shorter hours for workers, antitrust legislation, postal savings banks, and shifting the power to create money from bankers to government.
  
In the 1896 presidential race, the People’s Party made common cause with William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic nominee. Bryan was defeated, and it looked like the populists had lost.

In fact, their ideas were only beginning to take hold. The next three decades saw much of their 1892 platform enacted. Their hope for cooperatives flowered in much of the Midwest. But they didn’t get everything they hoped for and they didn’t break the bankers’ hold on creating money.

Since the heyday of populism, many of its policies have been watered down and the flood of money in politics has eviscerated the effects of others. Now, the concentration of wealth and power is much like that of the Gilded Age. Americans are again awash in debt.

So we should not be surprised that populist ideas are making a comeback. We hear those ideas in the Occupy movement’s demands to rein in Wall Street and rectify our country’s extreme inequality. We see them in the grassroots opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows corporations to spend at will on our political process. And they are echoed by the millions mobilizing for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The dangers of concentrated wealth and power have once again captured the public imagination.

The prospect of enacting a populist agenda is daunting. The power of Wall Street banks, giant oil companies, big pharma, and big ag seems overwhelming.

But the original populists also faced daunting challenges—cotton monopolies, Standard Oil, the railroads, and a financial system rigged against them. They came together, learned the issues, and shaped the nation. Now it is our turn to advance the populist call for economic fairness, real democracy, and a dignified life for all.

Fran Korten wrote this article for Make It Right, the Summer 2015 issue of YES! Magazine. Fran is publisher of YES! Magazine.

Merry Men

Just finished reading “Merry Men”  by Maine author Carolyn Chute.   She is definitely my new favorite populist novelist!!!!   What a great writer and a great mind.

The Author and Her Husband at Home.

The Author and Her Husband at Home.

I would like to share the dedication to the book and then urge all of you to go and read all 695 pages of this magnificent book about real life in rural Maine.

“Please let me honor here all the farmers who still work the land themselves, who are not agribusinessmen or agribusinesswomen, but farmers, who know family and community interdependence….America’s last vestiges of freedom.

And in honor to all those millions who were born to be farmers, as they have been for thousands of years, but because of modern, “education,” Big Business, and Mechanization they cannot be and will never know their true gift but are instead herded into welfare lines, prisons, or the slavery of Big Business…may they find it —the gift—in another life, another world.”

All of her novels are good but this one is an epic.   And it has a message.   Something that my creative writing teachers keep telling me you can’t/shouldn’t/mustn’t do.    This book cries Bullshit on that school of thinking,  Hurrah!!!!  Some of the world’s greatest literature has a message.    And certainly most folktales do.  The message of this  particular tale resonates with me now because I am in the midst of the new populist movement.   The one that says you have a right to feed yourself and your loved ones without getting permission from the government or any corporations.

Fight fascism.   Grow your own!!!!

Let’s have some real news, PLEASE!!!

 

From RealFarmacy.com:

“Though the controlled corporate media apparatus is suppressing the story, 40 tons of GMO crops were torched, prompting an FBI investigation. There has been a complete media blackout.  It was only reported locally live on KXL Radio and echoed by the Oregonian, where the ONLY web mention exists, hard to find because the headline wording carefully avoids the most likely keywords for a search.

 

Here’s what happened — 40 Tons of GMO Sugar Beets were set ablaze in Eastern Oregon. FORTY TONS — the entire acreage of two full fields of crops in the ground were set ablaze over a three night period of time. That means arson.

Evidence is that 6,500 plants were destroyed by hand, one plant at a time. That, in turn, implies a lot of people were involved. Would you want to stick around once a fire was going and wait to be discovered? No, someone (many someones) probably wanted to move as quickly as possible. We are talking about a movement — and this is exactly the kind of retribution that many have warned was coming; when lawmakers and corporations refuse to honor the Constitution and instead engage in ‘legalized’ criminal acts such as enabled by the ‘Monsanto Protection Act.’

More than a decade ago, environmental saboteurs vandalized experimental crops across the country in a revolt against high-tech agriculture. Foes of genetic engineering also struck in 2000, when members of the Earth Liberation Front, with roots in Oregon, set fire to agriculture offices at Michigan State University. ELF’s position was that genetic engineering was “one of the many threats to the natural world as we know it.”

 

But ELF cells normally come forward immediately to claim responsibility, because to them, its all about publicity to educate the public. Since there has been no statement about the recent arson this may have simply been Oregon farmers who have said, ‘Enough!’ Another clue that this may be the case is that this comes on the heels (two weeks) of Japan’s rejection of the entire Oregon wheat crop for the year (a tremendous financial blow because over 80% of Oregon Wheat is exported) because one report said one field was contaminated with at least ONE GMO plant.”

Am I advocating these kinds of acts?  What do you think?   Am I pissed off at the lamestream media for not picking this up?  You bet I am.   Let’s have some real news, PLEASE!!!

 

Control the Food

This is happening in Europe now but it is only a very short hope “across the pond” as they say.   Remember what the war criminal Henry Kissinger said:

Kissinger: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

http://www.naturalnews.com/040214_seeds_European_Commission_registration.html

Virtually all plants, vegetable seeds and gardeners to eventually be registered by government    

Most heirloom seeds to be criminalized

A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.”
It’s called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.
“This law will immediately stop the professional development of vegetable varieties for home gardeners, organic growers, and small-scale market farmers,” said Ben Gabel, vegetable breeder and director of The Real Seed Catalogue. “Home gardeners have really different needs – for example they grow by hand, not machine, and can’t or don’t want to use such powerful chemical sprays. There’s no way to register the varieties suitable for home use as they don’t meet the strict criteria of the Plant Variety Agency, which is only concerned about approving the sort of seed used by industrial farmers.”

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/040214_seeds_European_Commission_registration.html#ixzz2U68NnkhQ

LD 718: Labeling GMOs

Yesterday I went down to Augusta, again, to testify before the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in favor of LD 718 “An Act to Protect Maine Food Consumers’ Right to Know About Genetically Engineered Food and Seed Stock.”   Well, that was the old name of the bill.   On Monday the “and Seed Stock” was stricken from the bill because of a federal preemption on seed labeling, a fact about which I am not happy.   But be that as it may (good old sausage making) here is my testimony:

Senator Jackson, Representative Dill, distinguished members of the committee.   My name is Betsy Garrold and I am here today testifying on behalf of Food for Maine’s Future in support of LD 718. Food for Maine’s Future is a member-based organization of advocates and activists for small farmers, farm workers, and their patrons who are standing together against corporate monopolies. Just as the Grange set out to do when it began over a hundred and forty years ago, Food for Maine’s Future is helping Maine communities protect and preserve their interests against the interests of agribusiness corporations.

There is a “good” reason why genetically modified foods are not labeled.  Although good is not exactly the right word, it is because of the FDA’s ruling/actions that GMOs are no different than any other food. This ruling contradicts the findings of the US Patent Office, which has granted numerous patents for this “novel invention”.  Don’t you wish the Washington bureaucrats would get there stories straight?  No corporation has benefited more from this paradox than the Monsanto Company.  This monolithic company has used its patents on GMO technologies to sue US farmers and farm businesses[1].  They have worked hard to consolidate the global seed industry[2].   All in order to increase sales of Round Up and other chemicals for which these GMO seeds are specifically designed[3].

Last November, the Friday before Thanksgiving, in one of their infamous Friday afternoon news dumps, the US Department of Justice announced it had closed its two-year anti-trust investigation into Monsanto’s seed business.  No charges were brought in this case. There was no press release. No public records are available of the investigation or of the findings.

Monsanto controls or has a financial interest in 80% of the corn and 93% of soybeans produced in this country.  They sell the hundreds of millions of pounds of herbicides used on these crops. For millions and millions of people in this country these foods are the basis of their diet.  They depend on these staple foods for survival. That, by definition, makes this monopoly an anti-trust violation.

This committee will hear many reasons today why Mainer’s deserve the right to know what is in their food, how it is grown and processed.  All are valid and worthy of support. Food for Maine’s Future asks that you also consider whether the interests of corporations such as Monsanto supercede the request of the people before you today. Who and what is government truly protecting when they exempt this novel invention from a simple label?

We would like to leave you with two documents in addition to our testimony. One is a list of high-level political appointees with ties to Monsanto. The second is a chart showing Monsanto’s control over the seed industry and profits from its chemical sales since 1996. Both have citations and additional references.

And one last thought.  Vandana Shiva, noted feminist, ecologist and author said, “Without seed sovereignty there is no food sovereignty.”

Thank you for your time and patience.


[1] Monsanto vs. US Farmers, 2010 Update, Center for Food Safety

[2] Global Seed Industry Concentration, 2005, ETC Group

[3] SEC investigates Monsanto’s Roundup Biz, Mother Jones, July 19, 2011

This testimony, written with enormous help from my friend and co-conspirator Bob St. Peter, was the hit of the afternoon.    I always hope, when I testify, that  the committee members will not ask any difficult questions.   In fact, I hope for no questions at all, but yesterday something in this testimony really caught the committee’s imagination.   I was kind of surprised because it was late, late in the afternoon and there were still about 40 people on the list to testify.   They were going to be there all night but they seemed to want someone to talk about the elephant in the room.   I don’t remember the exact question (I don’t mind public speaking but I do get a bit nervous) but it gave me the opportunity to say that what the real impact of this bill will be is to decrease Monsanto’s bottom line and that is why the bio-tech industry is fighting this issue so forcefully across the country.   Then my representative, Brian Jones, asked if I thought this was a political issue.   And I said that since the Supreme Court has said money=speech and since we hope the impact of this bill will be to make people “vote with their food dollars” that, yes, this is a political issue.   There was a question about setting food policy that I don’t recall now.   I will try to get a transcript of the hearings and post the really questions and my full answers.

Anyhow, more fun at the sausage factory.   MOFGA organized a presser and rally before the hearing that was VERY well attended.   There were easily 150 people there on a Tuesday afternoon.  It turned into quite a party.    They had to open up two overflow rooms for people to listen to the testimony.   At one point an opponent of the bill called all the proponents there a “special interest group.”   It was one of the many less than truthful pieces of testimony the opponents entered into the record during the hearing.    If 90%+ of the population in Maine is a “special interest group”  then I guess I just do not understand the meaning of the term.

Editors Note:  LD 718 passed the House of Representatives with only 4 Reps voting against it and passed in the Senate unanimously on the second vote. (June 14, 2013)

Another World is Possible

From “Tidal” September 2012.  the Occupy magazine of theory and strategy.  Remember, just walk away!

First Communiqué

INVISIBlE aRmY

We are the 99%

We are the Invisible army of Defaulters.

We are millions. We are everywhere.

We are your neighbors. We are your family. Your friends.

We are going to bring this system to its knees.

We can, because we wield the one power that all the armies of the world can never defeat: the power of refusal.

This power has destroyed the mightiest empires the world has ever seen. All crumble and dissolve the moment enough

 

people simply withdraw their consent.

Not loudly. but quietly, covertly. The Roman

 

empire was destroyed not by barbarians,

but by draft evasion, tax evasion, and deser-

tion. Alexander and Napoleon’s armies

were stopped only when their own soldiers

refused to continue, or simply went home.

It wasn’t the Abolitionists who put an end to

slavery in America: it was the dogged and

ingenious resistance of millions of slaves,

from foot-dragging and flight to endless

acts of sabotage, that made the entire eco-

nomic system based on slavery untenable.

It was millions of acts of quiet refusal that

rendered all the Soviet Union’s tanks and

missiles and secret police powerless.

The same fate awaits the current system of

mafia capitalism in America, an economic

system driven by Wall Street CEOs who

produce nothing, contribute nothing, who

have bought our government and reduced

it into a criminal enterprise whose main pur-

pose is to support loan-sharking, gambling,

extortion, and the slow reduction of every

one of us into debt peons. We cannot stop

them through elections when both parties

are bought and paid for. One thing we can

do is to quietly withdraw our consent.

And so we have done. by refusing to pay the

money they claim we owe them.

We may be doing so covertly, we may not

yet dare to reveal our names and show our

faces, but do not doubt for a moment that

these millions of acts of refusal are, each

and every one of them, acts of profound

moral courage. All our lives we’ve been

told to pay our debts. That it doesn’t mat-

ter that the game is rigged and that it was

set up by liars and criminals. We are well

aware of the shame, the harassment, the

legal threats, humiliation, the sheer physi-

cal violence they will unleash on us. We are

willing to defy these threats, because in

the end, we know there’s something more

powerful than fear: and that is the love we

have for others. To be able to take care of

our children, our friends, our families, the

people that matter most to us, to learn, to

teach, to foster, to give to our communities,

is a value that no accountant can ever meas-

ure, that no government loan administrator

or hedge fund manager can ever have the

right to take away from us. every dollar we

take from a fraudulent subprime mortgage

speculator, every dollar we save from the

collection agency, is a tiny piece of our own

lives and freedom that we can give back

to our communities, to those we love and

we respect.

We are an army of lovers who cannot be defeated.

We are laying the groundwork for another world. §