This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014



Reading the opinions of so-called experts in the corporate media about what is going on in Ukraine guarantees you won’t have a clue as to what is really happening. Just as they did with the trumped-up case for war with Iraq, they are dutifully repeating the lies about the conflict long after the truth has been exposed. It is important to set the record straight. Until Americans realize that they are living in a nation that is building an empire through war, proxy wars, assassinations and engineered regime change such as in Ukraine, they will not understand why they have to demand an end to it. 

To recap: The US spent $5 billion laying the groundwork for “democratic” change in Ukraine that has resulted in self-proclaimed fascists violently overthrowing its elected government. We know this because of an intercepted phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and a subordinate. Nuland is the wife of a chief architect of the neocon agenda to remake the Mideast through violence, all for the benefit of the international corporations who profit from controlling other nations’ resources and from the military-industrial complex necessary to carry out their plans for global corporate empire.

The regime has been exceedingly violent, creating mobs of Brown shirts to enforce the rule of the coup government. It has used the military to attack and slaughter its own citizens in the east, where the majority are ethnically Russian. This is the same crime that the US condemned Assad for committing in Syria. Though Assad is defending Syria’s national sovereignty against hordes of US and Saudi-backed terrorists, the US casts the finger of blame on him while ignoring the same crimes of the illegitimate government of Ukraine, one that seized power by force with US assistance.

Citizens of nations whose media do not follow the agenda of the corporate empire builders are aghast at the willingness of Americans to accept whatever justification their government gives them for supporting violence from Libya to Syria to Ukraine and beyond. Having been told the truth at last about Hussein’s fictitious weapons of mass destruction, they nonetheless swallowed whole the since-disproven contention that the US “knew” that Syria had used chemical weapons on its own people. The claim made no sense, since Assad himself had called for a UN investigation of a previous claim of chemical weapons attack that almost certainly came from the “rebels.” As Seymour Hersh described in detail, the August attack was clearly a false flag intended to drag the US into attacking Syria directly. Thankfully, General Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, convinced Obama not to fall for the ruse.

Now we have another neocon call for war, joined by so-called liberal pundits. The claim this time is that Russia or Russian-supported rebels shot down a civilian airliner. Just as in Syria, the government expects us to believe that Russia would invite a war even after showing remarkable restraint in failing to invade to protect ethnic Russians on its border. While our nation’s paper of record The New York Times continues to print without challenge the government’s claims, the truth is already out in foreign sources. The coup government had weapons in place that could have launched the attack, and tweets by an air traffic controller in Ukraine strongly suggest that the attack was ordered by the Minister of the Interior.  Apparently, the NYT does not consider that news fit to print.

We have to step back and look at the pattern of misinformation we are being fed. It helps to realize that as documented in The Irregulars, a history of WWII collaboration between British intelligence and the OSS (predecessor of the CIA), US intelligence has long used its influence with major news sources and columnists to purvey its version of the “facts” on foreign affairs. Once you realize that this is still a sanctioned activity of the CIA, it is easy to see how the system of propaganda works. It is currently being used to whip up hysteria about Putin’s alleged plans for Russian world domination. This is an assertion that is preposterous on its face. Anyone who follows foreign affairs knows that the former Russian satellites are almost all working with some EU countries and the US to undermine Russian economically and militarily. Ukraine is the final prize that would allow NATO to place nuclear missiles on Russia’s doorstep.

Prior to WWII, Americans remembered the warning of Washington to “avoid foreign entanglements.” The price for forgetting that is that we too will become subjects of a global elite who are building an empire using our military and economic power. In the words of George Bush, “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice….we won’t get fooled again.” Let’s hope for once he was right.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
-Alice Walker

In his seminal work The Populist Moment, Lawrence Goodwyn outlines what it takes to build a genuine grassroots movement for democracy. The Populist movement began shortly after the Civil War, when farmers realized that they were doomed to enslavement by the corporate powers that arose in the aftermath of the war unless they united to use their collective power to defend their interests. After being rebuffed by the overlords of America and the merchants who defended the system for their own gain, they realized that the movement could only gain steam by creating a new political consciousness through educating Americans about how they had been systematically brainwashed into believing that the feudal system that had developed was democratic.

Lacking modern means of communication, Populist leaders began to organize at the local level, empowering lecturers to represent the movement at the local, state and national level. They created an alternative media of newspapers and periodicals to spread their message. Eventually they succeeded at awakening a vast swath of America to the fact that true democracy starts at the grassroots level. It cannot be entrusted to elected representatives beholden to corporate interests who choose who the People get to vote for. The vote only matters when people are willing to abandon the notion that either of the corporate parties represent them and work to elect their own champions. The system cannot be overthrown. It must be changed from within by a People who have learned to question a system that has no resemblance to what they have been taught to believe it is.

Despite stunning success in recruiting farmers tired of being abused for the benefit of the economic elite of their day, creating a cooperative economy proved a daunting task for Populists. Their first goal was to establish a cooperative to sell goods to farmers at a fair rate of interest and to help them sell their products at market rate without extortionate middle men were resisted by the moneyed class. They were stymied when those who controlled the limited money supply refused to accept their collateral for credit necessary to establish their venture. This was when the prevailing political consciousness began to awaken to the degree to which America was in the grip of the bankers and the industries they increasingly controlled. The banksters of the day wielded that power through their control of the supply of both money and credit, just as they do now. This power was more complete than today because under the gold standard, the amount of money available was limited by the amount of gold held by the economic elite.

Today, most spokesmen for change on both the left and right content themselves with complaining about the problems millions of people elsewhere around the world are fighting. There are many more effective ways they could help promote efforts to effectively organize to form a united movement for peace, environmental and economic justice. Fortunately, there are some who are putting more of their efforts into solutions than complaining.

Adam Klugman directed publicity for the Mad As Hell Doctors national tour for single payer in 2009. In 2010, he became the host of Mad as Hell in America. It was perhaps the most radical show on the now-defunct Portland radio station KPOJ, which fell victim to the conservative scheme to take control of the corporate media. The difference between Klugman’s approach and that of more well-known media figures was that when a caller complained about a problem, he demanded that they propose a solution. While most ideas this offered were unrealistic, they did help focus listeners on how to prioritize and strategize for a real democratic revolution.

Most liberal spokespersons lack the vision to offer the truly radical ideas that became part of the Populist manifesto in the late 1880s. Populists realized that they could not escape economic bondage until the government controlled both banks and railroads, the industries that at that time extorted most of what little cash was available to farmers. They proposed that the government nationalize the banks and the railroads and take back the power to create fiat money that would provide the means for a growing population to prosper as America grew.

In the modern era, one of the chief economic spokesmen for the left proposed just this in the wake of the collapse of the American and world economies by the banksters. In little-remembered articles in Rolling Stone and his New York Times column, Paul Krugman called for nationalizing banks. Of course, just as he stopped advocating for single payer when the Democrats made it clear they would not challenge the interests of the Wall Street-controlled medical insurance industry, he retreated to a position supporting Democratic half-measures. There is little doubt that he feared stepping too far from the corporate line might further marginalize his limited influence on economic policy discussions.

The root of the problems we face is corruption of the US government. The most powerful of those who control it are those who control the money supply today. Wall Street criminals have been given a pass by the Department of Justice. The Attorney General is a former partner in the infamous corporate defense firm Covington and Burling, which represented many of the Wall Street types he is in charge of holdling responsible to the law. His priority remains protecting bankster interests while making a show of enforcing the law, levying fines that are considered a cost of doing business and prosecuting corporations instead of their CEOs. Banks and other financial institutions control essentially all the only industries that generate profits and are busy trying to privatize government and the commons. To deal with the problems their depredations have caused, Americans must end the corruption. That should be the focus of the efforts of both conservatives and liberals.  For every problem they bitch about, they should point out the solution: ending the power of corporations and the wealthy to determine who Americans can choose from to represent them.

There are many ways to approach the problem of cleaning up corruption. There is a movement coalescing around these ideas. Americans need to understand that fighting corruption is not just another issue on a list of thousands. It needs to be highlighted on every talk show and “alternative” news outlet remaining. We need a constitutional amendment establishing that money spent to influence politics is not speech and that corporations do not have constitutional rights of people. Such an amendment is favored by roughly 80% of both liberals and conservatives. This is only one of two essential steps. We also need a slate of reform legislation like that proposed in the American Anti-Corruption Act. To get them, Americans must make support for fighting bankster control of government a campaign issue in 2014 and beyond until they elect a Congress that will pass both.

This is the core of the global democratic revolution that is the only hope for liberty and justice for our children and their posterity. Let’s quit bitching and start the revolution.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
-Henry David Thoreau

Trapped by the inexorable logic of the Cold War into taking the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation during the Cuban missile crisis, John F Kennedy was transformed from Cold Warrior  to Soldier For Peace.  His journey started when Kruschev reached out to him in the aftermath of the crisis, seeking to find common ground through a personal relationship.  The two men came to understand that both were pawns in a deadly game whose rules were such that neither was able to dictate the moves.  Kruschev was under constant pressure from the hardliners in the military and the Politburo, while JFK was following a foreign policy that was dictated by his predecessors and the corporate interests they ultimately served. Kennedy came to realize that only by changing the rules of the game would peace ever become possible.

In JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters, James Douglass describes in detail the course of his transformation. Kennedy publically attacked the CIA after being lured into the Bay of Pigsfiasco, firing its Director and decreasing funding. He took on the banks by issuing an Executive Order authorizing the government to create money at no interest. He angered the barons of the steel industry by cutting them out oflucrative contracts when they reneged on a deal on price limits. Defense contractors and the hawks in government and the military were aghast at his unilateral atmospheric test ban treaty and his order to withdraw from Vietnam. All of these actions put him in direct conflict with the military-industrial complex. The empire builders and war profiteers saw danger in the growing sense of hope in America that world peace was possible.

During his successful campaign to get Senate ratification of a test ban treatywith Russia, he gave a speech that every American schoolchild should learn. On June 10, 1963 at American University, he directly challenged the military-industrial complex by declaring his intention of ending the Cold War. This was no doubt a key factor in the decision by power brokers in the US that he was a threat to “national security,” which they define as the interests of international corporations that profit from war and which dictate foreign policy to this day. In a key passage in the address, he said:

“…let us not be blind to our differences-but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

Though the speech received relatively little attention in the US media, it was broadcast endlessly in Russia. As Kennedy noted in the speech, having lost over 30 million soldiers and civilians in WWII, Russians had a keen appreciation of the true costs of all-out war.  Although no living American had experienced war on their own soil, both sides had lived under a nuclear cloud so long that they shared a common relief in the prospect of calling a halt to the insanity of the arms race.  This was in all likelihood why Kennedy was silenced in what the House Select Committee on Assassinations would later determine was “most probably” a conspiracy, one that has never been fully investigated. To this day, thousands of documents in the Kennedy files remain classified. Meanwhile, the CIA continued its efforts to rewrite the history of JFK's attempts to end the Cold War that began shortly after his assassination. Following the House committee's report, the New York Times forced the CIA to reveal a document outlining its strategy to marginalize anyone who challenged the official theory of his murder by labeling them "conspiracy nuts," an effective tactic that is used today with anyone who challenges the government's official conspiracy theory of 9/11.

The Cold War raged on for years, ending only when the Soviet Union collapsed from the burden of supporting a military necessary to defend itself from aggression by its former allies and other costs imposed by the expanding Anglo-American empire and its compliant partners, including former enemies Germany and Japan. Once the communist government was surrendered by Yeltsin, American crony capitalists moved in to split its assets with Russian oligarchs, expanding the Mafia-like organization of “democratic” states. Unbeknownst to most of the world at the time, Russia remained the implacable enemy of the Empire, which sought to surround it with NATO bases and missiles until the time was right to attack. That time appears to be coming, as the Anglo-American empire moves to Russia’s doorstep, having bought the loyalty of the leaders of the great majority of former Soviet republics.

America has become the sole military superpower, with the greatest concentration of wealth, weaponry and political influence in human history. It is carefully preparing the American public to accept an attack on Russia by staging provocations in Syria, Iraq, Ian and Lebanon while demonizing Putin for acting as any responsible leader would. When he refuses to take the bait, as in Ukraine and Syria, the CIA and its partner in the State Department manufactures stories of its aggression and imperial ambitions.  Meanwhile, they use Saudi Arabia and its network of terrorists to undermine any nation that dares stand up to the Empire. As anyone who has been paying attention knows, the neocons and Israel are carrying out a longstanding plan to destabilize these nations. Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan have fallen and Lebanon has been dangerously destabilized. The sights of the Empire are now fixed on Iran, the greatest remaining Soviet ally that is not already destabilized or under military siege.

China, whose economic rise has become dependent largely on investments by crony capitalists of the US and the West, has mostly stood on the sidelines as the Empire prepares to end the Russian threat to its hegemony once and for all. In its haste and hubris, the Empire has succeeded in making the oligarchy of the Chinese Communist Party finally awaken to the threat posed by the vipers who it has allowed to share their nest. The military buildup around China, the challenge to its interests in Africa and Asia and its increasing identification as the greatest threat to “American security interests” have made its leaders recognize at the 11th hour that it will be the next to fall if it does not stand with Russia to stem the expansion of the global empire of the international banking cartel. It has taken the first small steps toward weaning itself from Western capitalists by investing in the BRICS bank and making a massive deal for Russian natural gas that will help that nation weather the economic isolation of the West. It is a hopeful sign that Germany recognizes its interest in maintaining a trade relationship with Russia, despite the perfunctory protests of Angela Merkel against Russian “imperialism.”

It is far past time to finish the work that Kennedy began at the cost of his life. Americans, who are increasingly falling victim to the depredations of the banksters that control its government, must recognize that their interests are inextricably tied to those of the Russian people. The same is true for those around the world aspiring to economic justice and democracy. Every human at risk of being enslaved in a permanent fascist New World Order shares the same needs and aspirations. They can and must build a united international front against fascism and war if any of our children are to live free.

We are one People. We are all Russians now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014



Jewish American reporter Max Blumenthal’s latest book is a must-read for anyone struggling to understand why Jewish Israelis support ultimately self-destructive policies of their government. While expressing understanding of the sociological roots of its endemic racism, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is a searing indictment of Israeli policies and society. Through exhaustive research and countless interviews over a four year period spent mostly in Israel following Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, Blumenthal has produced a vivid portrait of a society experiencing what he argues is the logical result of being based on an ideology of exclusion and exceptionalism. He weaves history with anecdotes, poll data and contemporary Israeli news sources in producing a rich tapestry that depicts modern Israel in all its ugliness; a racist, fearful, imperialist and anti-democratic nation ruled by an economic elite whose aim is to consolidate its power by sacrificing the soul of the nation and endangering its future.

Far from being the democracy it is made out to be by Israeli and American media, Goliath makes clear that Israel is an apartheid state whose ruthless policies toward Palestinians in occupied Palestine and Israel are justified by the argument that the survival of the Jewish state depends on oppression. The government indoctrinates youth to accept militarism from the age of five by constantly evoking images of the Holocaust, while distorting its own history of ethnic cleansing that continues to this day. In schools, the media and all its institutions, children are taught to support endless war by ignoring the humanity of their Semitic relatives and portraying them all as terrorists or more fundamentally, “the other.” The cost of such indoctrination is a nation of citizens who accept a distorted history of Israel that blinds them to the injustice that the rest of the world sees.

Goliath has something new for everyone, from those who know little of the truth about Israel to those who have made a study of it save those who have researched every aspect of the situation. The neophyte will be exposed to the rudiments of Israeli history, from its roots in terrorism prior to its creation to the Nakba, or Palestinian holocaust, which was marked by massacres and masked expulsions, to its long history of flouting international law and standards of human decency. It challenges all of the lies about the Arab-Israeli “War” of 1948 and the contradictory claim that Palestinians left voluntarily, selling land that had been in their families for countless generations. For those familiar with the basics, the details of how the government has turned from right wing to fascist (according to many interviewed for the book) prove enlightening.

Quotations from members of the Israeli government are particularly revealing. They show the extent to which the public accepts antidemocratic and blatantly apartheid messages, highlighting the growing power of the hard right in the Knesset. Blumenthal explains how the public has been seduced into accepting laws and policies that undermine the claim that a Jewish democracy is possible. He argues that the indoctrination from childhood of Jewish Israelis to regard Palestinians as inherently violent and dangerous leads them to conclude that they must be dealth with by any means possible.  

Particularly interesting are the poll data that indicate that a majority of Israeli youth and a growing number of older Israelis value a Jewish state over a democratic one. There is widespread acceptance of discriminatory laws designed to meet the demographic imperative that Jews must always outnumber non-Jews to retain Jewish dominance over the government, non-Jewish Israelis and policies toward Palestine and other Arab states. There are few protests over a series of recent anti-democratic laws that not only undermine the principle of equality of all Israelis but that restrict the rights of Jews who dare to dissent from the right wing policies of the government.

Contrary to the predictable argument that Blumenthal is what Zionists call a “self-hating Jew,” he interviews a number of Jewish Israeli activists who express anger and frustration at having their voices suppressed and their views demonized. The problem is so bad that most Jewish Israelis who want to resist the “liberal” orthodoxy that accepts Zionism as a given choose to do so from outside the country, where 13% of Israelis now reside. The continuing immigration of fanatic Zionists, many of them religious radicals who populate the settlements and form the backbone of the government’s supporters, is intensifying the drift toward fascism resulting from the suppression of real liberal dissent.

Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is a jarring challenge to the mythology spun by the Zionist propaganda machine in both Israel and the US. It provides a compelling argument for divestment of private capital and an end to the billions of dollars in unconditional aid from US taxpayers each year. As such, it is an important addition to the growing chorus of voices of Jews of conscience around the world who are saying “Not in my name.” US support of Israel does not serve the interests of America, Palestine or even Israel. The prospects for peace in the Mideast and the world depend on justice for Palestine. We are all Palestinians now.


Sunday, June 1, 2014


Every June 6th, we honor those who gave their lives on the beaches of Normandy so that freedom would not die. It is only fitting that we put their sacrifice in perspective if we want to avoid condemning another generation to world war, one that could destroy human civilization as we know it.  With the expansion of the global corporate Empire that threatens to impose a one-world government of, by and for the Masters of the Universe, that is a very real threat. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Ukraine are just the tip of the iceberg. Unnoticed by most Americans, the US military footprint is in nearly every country around the world that has yet to submit to the Empire.

The Western world sees WWII as a fight to defeat global fascism. In the victorious Allied nations they are taught that we made the world safe for democracy. That claim rings as hollow as the lie that WWI was the “war to end all war.” All wars are banker’s wars, fought primarily by the children of the poor and the middle class. WWII was the inevitable result of the brutal economic conditions imposed on Germans in the Treaty of Versailles. An oppressed people will always turn to fascism when they have no democratic alternative. When the Germans chose Hitler as Chancellor, they condemned themselves and the rest of the world to a bloody period of struggle for dominance as the fascist government showed the world its full implications.

Fascism was very popular in the US during WWII prior to the entry to the war. Americans have never been taught in school that there was an attempt to stage a military coup against the Roosevelt government by the corporate elite of the time. This plot was revealed openly in Congress by a highly decorated Marine Major General. Congress did not press for the names of the plotters, who were never brought to justice. They almost certainly included Senator Prescott Bush, who profited from dealings with the Nazis even as his son risked his life over the skies of Germany. That son went on to become Director of the CIA, US President and son of the author of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive warfare, the very policy that made Hitler synonymous with evil in the eyes of the world. The Bush Doctrine had not been repudiated under a Democratic administration. It has only morphed into the Obama Doctrine of proxy wars fought under the pretext of “humanitarian” intervention and the promotion of “democracy.”

Far from being a war for freedom, WWII was a war for who would become the winner of the global game of Risk that would leave only one power standing. The Anglo-American alliance became a tool to defend capitalism against the threat of the communist alternative, one which had it been allowed to proceed unchallenged by the military power of the Empire could have become a model of democracy and economic justice for the world. The USSR squared off with China and the NATO Empire, only to collapse from the strain of its economic inefficiencies and the need to expend vast resources to defend itself from Western imperialism and the advance of corporate Empire.

The CIA was created to serve the interests of the war profiteers who sought to colonize the planet, dominating it with the creation of what they still hope will become a permanent fascist New World Order.  When Kennedy tried to end the Cold war, the national security state determined that he was a threat to “American interests,” defined as the interests of the international corporate terrorists who dictate US foreign and domestic policies to increase their power and wealth. As such, he became a target for elimination. With the murder of JFK, RFK, MLK and Malcolm X, America lost its way. The Vietnam war continued until the political costs outweighed the political benefits and the movement they helped build largely ended, its task of securing human freedom unfinished.

Let the gruesome images of the bodies littered on the beaches of Normandy serve as a graphic reminder that allowing injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. As such, it is the the sine qua non that enables all wars.  If we want to honor the millions who died in the war to defeat fascism, we will join together in a united international front against fascism and war. It is the only hope for us to prevent our children from becoming the tokens in the global game of Monopoly, a zero-sum game where the winner can only succeed at the expense not only of the vanquished, but those who are forced to fight war for corporate Empire.

Monday, May 26, 2014




The best way to honor those who have died in the belief that they were defending freedom is to work to end war. If ending war is Mankind’s greatest dream, why have we come so far from realizing it?  I can remember thinking how cute I thought it was when young women competing for beauty prizes would say that there greatest wish was for world peace. It was so common that it was a cliché. I knew that for most, they were saying what people wanted to hear. Few would go on to work to make the thing they claimed to work for a reality. So it is with most of us.

The greatest challenge to peace is the widespread belief in the self-fulfilling prophecy that it is not possible. If enough people rejected the belief that peace is impossible and worked for it, war would become unthinkable. If we want to assure that those who died for noble beliefs did not do so in vain, we must start by taking an honest and unflinching look at some of our beliefs and attitudes that are incompatible with being true Soldiers For Peace. It begins by making sure that we really believe that peace is possible. Otherwise, we are just going through the motions and cannot possibly see how it is possible.

Paul Chappell has written stirringly in Will War Ever End? how most soldiers do not fight out of hatred of their enemies but from love of their families, nations, ideals and most of all, for the sake of those who face death fighting beside them. Those who are motivated by hatred are those who suffer most from the psychological wounds of war. It is unnatural to regard other human beings as nothing more than threats, deserving only of death. Only through careful indoctrination their commanders compel a human to kill another without hesitation. As Dr Ed Tick has written in War as a Soul Wound, it is the unconscious or conscious recognition after the heat of battle of the humanity of those they have killed that tortures their souls.

Soldiers For Peace must learn from the insights that combat veterans learn at such cost. We must avoid the reflexive urge to regard those who actively promote war as our enemies, proper targets of our hate. The war to end war must be fought with love, not hate. From a place of peace within, not anger. In the end, our task is to bring about reconciliation between enemies. We must learn to see them not as “the other” but as brothers and sisters who have been led astray. It is up to us to bring them back into the fold, welcoming them as fellow member of our common human family.

As a member of Veterans for Peace, I often encounter fellow veterans who think they are waging peace but who regularly succumb to the impulse to identify which side is responsible for any given conflict. They feel to recognize that it is our desire to establish blame that promotes the idea of “the other.” This is the root of the problem of our failure to teach our countrymen that it is our indoctrination to regard our fellow men and women as members of an alien tribe that allows us to accept the unacceptable reality of war. To combat this, we must train ourselves to forgive the aggressors even as we work to stop them. They are like our children. Our job is to provide boundaries and make sure that they do not hurt themselves or others in their ignorance, driven by base compulsions toward anger and aggression.  If they must be punished, it must be done so that the lesson learned is that all humans are deserving of the same respect that we would expect from others, even if their actions anger us. Violence in any form is unacceptable, for unchecked it only leads to an endless cycle of hatred and violence.

In my experience as a family therapist, I do not look for who is at fault in a family conflict. It is my job to study the family system to see how it promotes the conflict, then work with each member and the family as a whole to help each of them understand their role in the family drama that maintains an unhealthy pattern of interactions. I do not have to succeed with all of them. I merely have to reach one, motivate her to change her behavior. My job then is to help the family change the script so that harmony can be achieved and love becomes the driving force that guides their actions. On the scale of the human family, this is the only path to peace.

We must learn to forgive our enemies before going into battle for their hearts and minds. A general, I believe it was Eisenhower, once said that he considered it a victory if he goes to bed with fewer enemies than he woke up with. He was not referring to how many enemies had been killed, but how many allies he had made. A general has to keep in mind that the ultimate objective is not to kill as many as possible but to achieve a just peace in the end. That minimizes casualties among both those in his charge and those they face on the battlefield. He knows that in the end, if peace is to last, our children must live with theirs.

If our politicians shared this goal, they would never send our children to kill and die in war. Their objective is not peace through justice but to conquer and subjugate the enemies that they have created in the service of their Puppetmasters, the war profiteers who are ultimately responsible for creating our current global conflict. As citizens, it is the duty of each of us to let them know in no uncertain terms that they do not have permission to wage war in our names. To truly honor the victims of war on both sides, the soldiers and civilians, we must all become Soldiers For Peace.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014



Occupy showed that the desire for real democracy runs deep in the US, uniting people across the political spectrum. From communists to libertarian conservatives, all who took part recognized that the US government is not one of, by and for the People. Occupy’s emphasis on the crimes of the banksters responsible for the economic crisis that sparked the protest brought attention to the fact that a tiny group of the economic elite control the fate of millions through their control over the US government.  However, the failure to organize action around an agenda for change left some observers wondering whether We the People could effectively govern ourselves. For many, it merely highlighted what they see as the drawbacks to popular rule. When everyone is pursuing their own agenda, chaos seems to result.

Ask a conservative about the state of democracy in America and you are likely to be reminded that the constitution established a republic, not a democracy. The importance that many people attach to this distinction may seem puzzling at first. After all, Americans are taught that another name for their form of government is “democratic republic.” Most of us fail to realize that democracy and republicanism are distinctly different things. However you want to dress it up, a republic is not a democracy. Democratic republicanism is a contradiction in terms. Having the right to vote for representatives who may or may not represent your interests is not the same as being part of the decision-making process of government. The irony is that somehow, those who are most aware of the difference seem most uncomfortable with democracy.

Many libertarians I have met define democracy as “mob rule,” where a tyrannical majority can and will demand that the state take care of them, regardless of their willingness to work. This is a variation on the fear of some of America’s founders that the majority would always trample on the rights of minorities, especially the right to amass wealth. It is unsurprising that the prospect of democracy would frighten those who identify wealth with virtue. Since the liberty to enrich oneself without government interference such as regulations on corporations has become synonymous with “liberty,” democracy is paradoxically regarded as a threat to freedom.

Those who believe that most people are lazy and willing to live off the fruits of their labor if they can seem to prefer to place their trust in the hands of people of wealth, which they associate with hard work. They see themselves as virtuous for supporting the slashing of the social safety net because they believe that  forcing the unemployed to work at whatever menial labor they may be lucky enough to find.saves them from a life of sinful sloth and indulgence. However, failing to take social responsibility for ensuring the ability of people to succeed in America’s economic system leads to the very scourge they seek to eliminate. As more people fail to find work at a living wage, the middle class collapses and the economy worsens. This has led to increasing reliance of individuals on government that so troubles them.

Instead of focusing on the root causes of the collapse of America's middle class, those who fear big government more than those who control it accuse those concerned about economic inequality of waging class warfare. Not only are they blind to the fact that the economic elite have made war on the rest of us, but they identify with the aggressor. If we are ever going to realize democracy in the US or the world, we have to make such people understand that they are part of the 99%. Regardless of any ideological differences betweeen us, we can agree that the government is being administered by politicians who are thoroughly corrupted by special interest money. We must unite to demand an end to the corruption, or our differences will mean nothing because politicians will use our division to advance the interests of their patrons over those of We the People.

For the first time since the ancient Greeks, America’s founders faced the issue of whether a People could rule itself. The debate focused around the question of whether Americans were good enough to consider the best interests of all when making decisions for the nation. On one side were those who believed in the essential goodness of men. Statesmen like Jefferson argued that an enlightened and educated society could rule itself justly, with due respect for individual rights. Others like John Adams were raised to believe in the religious doctrine that men were inherently evil. Such men cowered at the prospect of allowing average men to participate in the decisions that affected their ability to profit from the riches that America offered at that time. In the end, those who had economic power in the colonies made the decision for all Americans of that time and ever since. They chose to elevate property rights above the well-being of average citizens, especially the disenfranchised who were treated as chattel in fact, if not law.

It is obvious that the rich have no inherent right to rule, but that is the inevitable consequence of republican government. Instead of government of, by and for the People, Americans are living in an oligarchy. The idea that there is a natural aristocracy based on merit has been perverted. Raised to believe that the American form of self-government eliminated the hereditary class system of England, it has arisen in the New World. The progress made toward democracy in the course of American history has been largely forgotten. The willingness of modern Americans to submit to the rule of corporations and the wealthy has allowed them to seize power in Congress and the White House. Thus, those who believe that men are inherently evil have turned over the power of government to crass politicians who have shown that their primary purpose in life is to promote the interest of the ruling class. One wonders how they can imagine that this is better than democracy, where all stakeholders are represented.

The belief that we are not good enough to rule ourselves is not confined to conservatives. Liberals, seeing that most of those in power are self-serving, largely accept the belief that this is inevitable. The belief that “all politicians are corrupt” is perhaps as widespread among liberals as conservatives. This has led to a mass exodus from the political process, leaving those who seek power for its own sake more firmly entrenched than ever. This political class is convinced that it alone possesses the collective wisdom to rule over the rest of us. In fact, its members are devoid of the vision that would save us from the consequences of their greed and short-sightedness. As members of the economic elite, they are blind to the ways in which their efforts to mold the world in their image is leading to the demise of freedom. They cannot see any way forward that does not serve to perpetuate their privileges. In accepting the Randian view of the universe, they have become prisoners of the dystopian reality they have created.

The only way to save ourselves from being led to self-destruction by blind leaders is to create real democracy in the US and the world. It starts with electing members of Congress who will support a constitutional amendment declaring that money used to influence political campaigns is not speech and that corporations do not have constitutional rights. Americans must learn to see beyond the artificial right-left divide and work together in this common cause. It is up to them to ensure that the hope of government of, by and for the People does not perish from the Earth.  Only together can they make that dream real. It starts by recognizing that democracy is the only way by which to avoid plutocracy.

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