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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Thursday, December 22, 2011


Fundamentalists in the US, Iran and elsewhere have a point in saying that the US is the cause of the world's moral decline. As the place where modern "democracy" was born, the United States has been a testing ground for the experiment to determine whether it is possible that a free People can rule itself. Plato warned us in his Republic how easy it is to manipulate the masses, most of whom have no concern for anything but their immediate needs and wants. Democracy is not possible in a nation that cannot put the needs of the least among it above those of the elite that inevitable arises to control them if not prevented from doing so by the majority. 

America is in decline precisely because its citizens have lost faith in their ability to govern themselves. In good times it seemed enough to take advantage of America’s unique opportunities and turn a blind eye to the fact that its prosperity was the result of international corporate terrorists who had caused the World Wars and who were quietly assuming control of all the levers of power in the US government. We are now paying the price of complacency and must again engage ourselves in the messy business of electoral politics if we want the children of the world to know the blessings of freedom for which so many good men and women throughout the world have died to defend.
When an ostensibly democratic society becomes rich from the spoils of war, its people forget to protect themselves against their own government and the men who control it. In times of  prosperity as in the decades following WWII, it was easy to think of oneself as an “American” without stopping to think about what that meant. The “greatest” generation was given a reward for fighting fascism that should be the birthright of every person in a democratic society: A free education, medical care and an equal opportunity to share in the American dream of individual prosperity as the result of their own hard work. Now the survivors of that generation and their self-absorbed children of the next have given away democracy to the very fascist powers that the West mobilized to fight in WWII.

It is in adversity that Americans have traditionally come to the realization that if they are to have a government of, by and for the People, they must do so together. When the Robber Barons controlled the US government the union movement began. Workers put their lives on the line for their families and their fellow workers. In 1901 an assassin’s bullet thrust Theodore Roosevelt into the Presidency, from which he fought for the rights of the common man and recognized for the first time the right of workers to be represented in negotiations with their corporate adversaries. It is because that realtionship remained adversarial that unions became ever stronger until a degree of parity was reached such that the worker eventually earned a fair day’s wage for a fair days work. A thriving middle class created a market for the goods that used to be manufactured in America with pride.

During the Great Depression, the great mass of Americans awoke to the fact that the Roaring Twenties had been an illusion of wealth for all. With 25% of breadwinners out of work, homes foreclosed by the millions, family farms lost and Washington insisting that things would work out through the magic of the free market, people emerged from the Matrix and experienced reality one again. They responded by rejecting the lie that workers rights and a social safety net were “communist” ideas. They elected a man who would put the interests of Main Street over those of Wall Street and the greatest period of prosperity in American history followed.

While true that ultimately it was the boom in jobs created by WWII that pulled America out of its depression, the more essential truth is that deficit spending had been working until Roosevelt became nervous about the growing deficit and acceded to Republican demands to scale back government spending. This was at a critical time before the private sector was prepared to pick up the slack and keep the economy moving forward with robust job growth. The predictable result was that unemployment began moving upward while Republicans of the time claimed this was proof that stimulus spending to create jobs did not work and that therefore the nation could not afford to take care of the poor created by economic policies designed by those who were elected to make the rich richer.

America is going through much the same problems now that it experienced during the Great Depression. Once again, Republicans in Congress are claiming that the deficit is the result of the costs of the social safety net and stimulus spending that they made sure to water down with tax cuts for the wealthy. Corporations are argued to be the “job creators” and therefore deserving of keeping as much of the wealth produced by workers as possible. They defend the costs of the military-industrial complex as if the jobs it produced were worth the cost in lives and human misery of what has become endless war for corporate Empire. They continue to have faith in the free market that they have made sure will never exist will guide America back to prosperity. They argue that government must shrink small enough to be drowned in a bathtub so that it cannot get in the way of the corporate vultures that are determined to strip the bones of America’s once vibrant economy.

Each of these myths is demonstrably false, so why do Americans continue to accept that they still have the ability to pull themselves up by the bootstraps when the economy has been destroyed by international corporate terrorists not loyal to any nation or its Peoples, souless creatures that exist only to increase their power and wealth? The reasons are plain, but the corruption of the the elected representatives of both major Parties that manage our nation ensures that until the American Revolution is complete, ours will be a government of, by and for the corporations rather than We the People.

Plato’s warned that self-interested men by their nature would seek power and influence in a democratic society. This assumption is directly contrary to the assumption that a free People are good enough to govern themselves. As he predicted, Sophists have twisted language so that free men and women have chosen to live in the Matrix of this false reality instead of the realworld, where the only way a nation can survive is to assure that the rights of all are ensured. This then is the crux of the problem: Can citizens of the US achieve the Tectonic Paradigm Shift in American consciousness that will be necessary to end fascism in America for good, or will they miss the historic opportunity to free themselves and the world from economic slavery forever?

The answer lies in whether Americans can learn to think of themselves as each a part of a seamless whole that is the world society. If we can first learn to abandon false distinctions among ourselves, we will inevitable come to see that the best interests of every person on the planet are best served by assuring liberty and justice for every inhabitant of the planet, an Earth whose fate hangs in the balance. Only when we achieve this will we have proven ourselves worthy of self rule.

Let us consider the major obstacles that must be overcome to reach this state of transformation of human civilization into one that will be able to guarantee our posterity wil live in a free world, secure in the belief that they need never fear war or poverty again:

Americans must start by recognizing that our so-called leaders in Congress and the White House are Puppets of the international corporate terrorists that control them by choosing who will represent them in Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court that gave them personal rights that were endowed only to humans by their Creator. We the People are the creators of corporations and it is our God-given right to control them. It will take a constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood to establish for the first time a true democracy in the United States.

Next, partisan supporters of both corporate Parties in the Duopoly that rules America in the interests of the economic elite must abandon the delusion that any candidate with a D or R after their name will best serve their interests. In some cases this may be true, but in the vast majority of cases they will succumb to the lure of power offered to them by their corporate masters. The only way to end this system of fascism is to abandon party distinctions and put aside ideological differences in order to elect members of Congress willing to support a constitutional amendment that will end corporate power over the US government and create a new one that will truly be of, by and for the People.

In order to achieve such a coming together of the Left and Right to close circle around the economic aristocrats who would make us economic slaves in a permanent fascist New World Order, we must learn to speak to those with whom we differ politcically. We must recognize that we are all in this together and each of us shares blame for letting democracy nearly slip from our hands. Only when we begin to regard each other as fellow Americans and citizens of the world will we reclaim the power of a People united to determine their individual and collective destinies.

A key piece of the strategy must be to create a worldwide ecumenical movement dedicated to the twin causes of justice and peace for every man, woman and child on Earth. With over 80% of Americans and the vast majority of the rest of the world professing to believe in God, we simply cannot ignore the obvious fact that we must have these believers on our side. We must convince them that in each of us there is a spiritual side that compels us to seek liberty and justice for all, even when it conflicts with our selfish animal nature. If we achieve this, the message of all the great prophets will be clear and the hate-filled fundamentalists will have no sway over the sheep they have led willingly toward slaughter.

Fundamentalists in every religion have always used the pulpit to advance whatever ideas serve them. The Bible can be interpreted in many ways and has been used to justify capital punishment, war and other acts that Christ and other revered spiritual leaders throughout history would clearly have condemned. The basic message of all religions is the same: We are all one People under God and our individual and collective fates are interdendent. Only by recognizing that each of us has inherent value and a duty to serve the interests of all can the worldwide Revolution succeed and the destruction of human civilization averted.

We know that the corporate media and politicians manufactures crises to deflect blame from their own corruption. Wars are said to be fought for the freedoms our so-called “enemies” hate and our children are sent to war to expand and defend the corporate Empire that will eslave us all if we cannot unite now. The Puppets in Congress and the White House each blame "the other side," pitting American against American and delaying the inevitable: the culmination of the Revolution and the dawning of true democracy in the United States and the world. If we can learn to see beyond the self-imposed artificial distinctions that we allow to divide us, we can ensure that liberty and justice for all will be preserves for the rest of human history.

Monday, December 12, 2011



Most discussions of how to pass a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood dismiss what is likely to be the only possible solution. Instead of calling for a constitutional convention as argued by Lawrence Lessig, the Young Turks and others, we should be focusing our efforts on getting an amendment introduced into Congress. While a number of prominent amendment advocates regard this as impossible, the idea of calling for a constitutional convention is far less plausible and much more complicated. With the rapid expansion of corporate power in the politics of the United States, we simply do not have the time to spend focusing exclusively on the unlikely goal of getting a constitutional convention.

The assumption behind the skepticism of those who reject the idea of getting an amendment introduced into Congress is that it won’t pass because Congress as a body is too corrupt. This is clearly true, but recent events belie that argument. There are now some half dozen amendment proposals introduced in Congress. While the initial timid attempts were worse than useless, public and private pressure has led to several that are worth considering as each has elements that could be incorporated  into an even better amendment. As more come out in favor of such an amendment, support for it can become a prominent campaign issue. This will enable the public to easily discern between candidates wishing to be elected to serve corporate interests and those who intend to work for the citizens who actually elect them.

With nearly 80 percent of both self-identified liberals and conservatives opposed to Citizens United, we can make support for such an amendment a litmus test in every subsequent congressional election where we can find candidates willing to take a pledge to amend, as dozens did in 2010. On May 22 at the Green Festival in Seattle, Kucinich publicly pledged to actively work to get cosponsors in Congress. We can hope that it is in part his work behind the scenes that is in part responsible for the flurry of amendments that have been introduced in the last few weeks, but certainly some of the credit goes to those who are posing this question publicly to candidates and incumbents. Others are working directly with members of Congress. Free Speech for People's John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements deserve credit for first encouraging Barbara Lee to introduce a toothless amendment and then getting Congressman McGovern to put a much better version on the floor.

Average Americans can help get an even stronger amendment on the floor by making their members of Congress know that we will support them if they do. One way to do this is by gathering petition signatures and passing resolutions at local and state levels calling on their members of Congress to introduce and champion the amendment. In the Arizona House District of Raul Grajalva, the Executive Director of Abolish Corporate Personhood Now has single-handedly gathered nearly 3,000 signatures for a petition in favor of the introduction of an amendment abolishing corporate personhood. Paul Winger reports that over 95 percent of those he has approached in his door-to-door effort have been eager to sign the petition. As a member of the National Council of Alliance for Democracy, I have proposed a campaign to solicit endorsements to a pledge to amend from 2012 candidates for Congress. The campaign will be very similar to the one carried out by Public Citizen in 2010, though the wording of the pledge will be different. The Public Citizen campaign resulted in dozens of candidates declaring their support for an amendment that would strip corporations of the “right” to pay for the election campaigns of their favored candidates.

Imagine the difficulty a contender for national office would have convincing voters that they will represent their interests if they oppose the one measure that would assure that they cannot win election by soliciting corporate money. Once the amendment is passed, members of Congress would have no choice but to serve the people because they won’t be able to depend on propaganda campaigns financed by the corporate interests who put our current crop of legislators in office. Thus, a strategy designed to get an amendment introduced and passed in Congress is feasible because it should gain wide support of voters across the political spectrum who recognize that this is not a partisan issue, regardless of how the corporate media spins it. This is the essential strategy of the Pledge to Amend campaign.

In contrast, the idea of a constitutional convention is widely opposed by both liberals and conservatives. Both are justly concerned about the results of a convention where a fundamental restructuring of the constitution could conceivably take place.  Coming from fundamentally different perspectives, neither camp would be willing to take the risk that the other side would hold the day in an open convention. The process would also run the risk of being subverted by the same corporate interests that we are trying to challenge. It is hard to imagine that we would do any better selecting representatives for the convention than we do when we select our representatives in Congress. It seems unlikely that in the end there would be many who would want to take that chance. 

The idea of calling for a constitutional convention has one merit, however. It is a way to get students, union members and others who understand the threat to democracy posed by corporate personhood involved in the grassroots educational movement needed to convince our legislators that they have no real choice but to support the amendment if they wish to keep their privileged positions. With tens of thousands of students and union activists on the streets, going door to door and speaking to groups and individuals about the idea of a constitutional convention, the level of public understanding of the need for an amendment could grow exponentially. Members of the Occupy movement have passed resolutions both in General Assemblies and in city councils, most recently in Los Angeles.

There are members of Congress who have shown that they are passionately committed to democracy and to addressing the many critical needs of the nation that their less idealistic colleagues seem willing to ignore or to treat with half-solutions that always seem to benefit their corporate patrons. It is our job to convince them that the only path forward is to challenge their colleagues to choose between the people of the United States and the corporate plutocracy on which both major parties have come to depend for campaign cash.  With the recent spate of amendments, they know now that they will not be alone in challenging the corruption of Congress by corporate money.

Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley are two senators who clearly understand the problem. Sanders recently introduced an amendment in the Senate that is virtually identical to the Deutsch amendment previously introduced in the House. While it explicitly bans most corporate money in politics and authorizes Congress and the states to limit individual contributions to campaigns, it has the fatal flaw of exempting unions and nonprofit corporations. What is to stop a nonprofit like Citizens United from using this exemption to continue lobbying as if nothing had changed? For Merkley's part, he became a co-sponsor of the far worse Udall bill that would merely give Congress the authority to regulate corporate money, a power our corrupt Congress would clearly never use if by some miracle it passed.

Senator Merkley is listening. He has privately withdrawn his support for the Udall amendment and his staff is looking at alternatives such as the recently released Move to Amend version. It can fairly be said that this amendment combines the best of the McGovern and Deutsch amendments, clearly stating that corporations are not people, money is not free speech and Congress, the states and local governments have the authority to regulate corporate activities. We are hoping that Merkley will talk to Sanders and both will talk to the other supporters of the Udall amendment in the Senate and together introduce an amendment containing the elements of the Move to Amend version.

If such a coalition of reformers in the Senate were to convince other senators and House members to work with them, they could get a bipartisan coalition to introduce the amendment. There is already one Republican House member who has cosponsored the McGovern amendment, Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina. Imagine the effect if Ron Paul were to cosponsor a Move to Amend style amendment: Millions of his adoring supporters would immediately grasp the importance of the issue. Working as a group to jointly introduce the amendment would make such a band of renegades less easily targeted by corporate-funded attack ads. More importantly it would demonstrate to voters that this is not a partisan issue but the one problem that needs to be addressed for Americans to move forward together. All it would take to succeed is for these members of Congress to have the political courage to put into motion a process that would cost the careers of those of their colleagues who are unwilling to stand up for the people in challenging their corporate patrons.

The problem of course is that even these stalwarts of democracy might balk at the idea of making themselves targets of corporate-funded groups that would surely pour millions into targeted campaigns to defeat them when they run for re-election. That is where the growing coalition of Move to Amend and others trying to get corporate cash out of politics come in. It is the job of these organizations to work together to educate voters that not only is corporate personhood the problem, but that there is a realistic way to end it through the electoral process. It is my hope that Alliance for Democracy will take the next step toward getting the amendment they favor on the floor of Congress by endorsing and promoting the Pledge to Amend campaign.

If Move to Amend decides to adopt the strategy, the idea of abolition supporters lobbying their members of Congress should gain widespread traction nationally. They are a coalition of groups championing causes ranging from ending war to establishing environmental and health care justice. The common thread is that each recognizes that the only way to advance the people’s agenda is to end corporate control of government by a constitutional amendment that would end all corporate "rights". 

Only human beings have rights. Corporations exist to confer the privilege of limited liability to investors. personal rights for corporations have been granted by activist Supreme Courts that have consistently favored the interests of corporate power over the needs and desires of the American public. The groups in the Move to Amend coalition know that only way to overrule the Supreme Court is by constitutional amendment.

The differences between the coalition of Move to Amend, which wants to abolish corporate “rights” entirely and groups like Public Citizen which are focusing solely on corporate money in elections are in the end irrelevant. It is Congress that will decide the form any amendment takes. If we succeed at forcing the issue, at that point these groups can lobby for whichever type of amendment they favor. By working together these groups and coalitions can raise awareness that this is not just another issue but the only issue on which the people have a fighting chance of being heard.

The Occupy movement graphically demonstrates that we are at a tipping point where our congressional representatives will have to realize that citizens of the United States are going to hold them accountable for their acquiescence to corporate control of our government. Those who fail to heed the warning will suffer the consequences at the polls.  If progressives and conservatives can work together on the common cause of restoring democracy to America, there is a real chance that we can remove the corporate puppets from Congress. An important goal of the abolition movement must be ending the partisan politics that masks the fact that both major parties have become corrupted by corporate money.

The coup de grace for corporate rule would be to co-opt the Tea Party by convincing these angry voters that they should be focusing their wrath on corporate control of Congress and not on the illusory “socialist” government they have been trained to fear.   When the issue of what has gone wrong in government is phrased as “corporate welfare” it is possible to persuade those who are looking for real solutions that they have simply misidentified the problem. A unified Right and Left speaking as one on this issue could launch the new American Revolution and end the threat of fascism in the United States once and for all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


To assure an American Spring, we must first assure that the American Revolution outlasts this, the winter of our despair. Summer soldiers and sunshine patriots must continue to press the cause of liberty and justice for all through the cold months ahead. Our youth will man the front lines where they can find refuge from the assault by the growing police state that America is becoming.

The senate bill to allow violations of posse comitatus and the violent suppression of dissidents in the US is a direct threat to the democracy we are fighting for. The internet is under a concerted attack, our young are becoming economic conscripts in wars for corporate Empire, our economy is devastated and too many of the 99% support policies designed to benefit only the 1%.

We must take heart in the fact that as fascism in America affects a growing number of the complacent and those fighting for corporate privilege through the Tea Party are awakening to the fact that we are all in this together. As we gather around the fire to stay warm in the winter, let us remember to let into our hearts and our homes those who have forgotten the true meaning of America, the shared sense of responsibility and destiny to be a beacon of democracy for the rest of the world. It is this that has enabled us to overcome adversity throughout our history.

Despite a growing awareness that the people of the United States must demand a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood, most people seem to think that the abolition movement has about as much chance of victory as a snowball has of surviving the fires of Hell. I believe that these skeptics need a lesson on the physics of snowballs. After all, we cannot win if the members of the resistance give up hope of achieving the first and most important objective in the war against fascism in America.
The abolition movement can grow as easily and rapidly as a snowball rolling downhill if only enough people start pushing. The movement is on a downhill path and can only gain momentum now that we have gotten the ball rolling. Like a snowball, as the movement grows the rate of growth will increase. Just as the area of a snowball grows by the square of its diameter, so does a movement grow faster and faster as people see that it is building enough momentum to sweep any obstacle from its path.
The corruption of Congress has led many people to think that it will be a cold day in Hell before Congress will pass a constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood. They have written off the prospect of democracy in America as doomed. If democracy is dead then I say bundle up its coffin ‘cause its crazy cold way down there! Believing is seeing in that until we believe that victory is possible we cannot see how to achieve it. In the end, the difference between the optimist and the realist is whose vision prevails.

Those who lack faith in our collective ability to Take Back America must open their eyes to the progress we have made recently. If they open their hearts to the idea that the last, greatest hope for Mankind depends on their decision to join or sit out the coming struggle then they can be a part of the solution. It is an essential assumption that democracy depends on a People good enough and wise enough to rule itself. Each of us has a duty to our children and to generations yet unborn throughout the world. When we awaken to our collective power, victory over the oppressor is guaranteed. A People of the world united shall never be divided. This is the hour of our liberation and we hold the key to freedom in our hands.
Last week, Democratic members of Congress who have taken a stand to end the madness of corporate control of elections were joined by the first Republican cosponsor of the McGovern constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood. In typical fashion, some in the abolition movement have downplayed the importance of this accomplishment They correctly point out that it is less than ideal but fail to acknowledge publicly that this is a breakthrough in raising public awareness that there is a solution in sight.

So many have given up on Congress that they are missing the fact that some members of Congress actually represent the interests of We the People over those of the international corporate terrorists so many of their colleagues depend on to maintain their personal wealth and power. They are not alone in their cynicism, however. This is a fundamental challenge to the creation of a unified international front against fascism and war that is necessary to unify the Left in the United States who are competing to be the leaders in the New World Order all are trying to create.

The anarchical Occupy movement is faced with a dilemma. How does it move forward with a democratic structure that empowers each member to be a leader? The answer is to be found in studying the anarchical network that is Soldiers For Peace International. We are activists around the world each working on what we feel is most important to further the cause of liberty and justice for all. We choose our own missions and work together as individuals and members of groups to support the efforts of all our comrades worldwide to promote justice and peace in their communities, their nations and the world at large.

The American front of the war against fascism is the critical one upon which the success of the worldwide Revolution depends. The international corporate terrorists that control its government use its legislature, judiciary, military, intelligence agencies and the power of the President to wage war on the poor and middle class of the world. Only the citizens of the US can Take Back America through the electoral process and establish a government of, by and for the People. The key to success is to overcome the artificial Left-Right divide that keeps us fighting each other instead of the real enemy: fascism in America and the world.

Winning the war against the 99% in America will require a coalition of the willing to make support for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood a campaign issue. If leaders in the abolition movement can overcome ego and the desire to compete for the limited money our supporters have to offer, together we can build the grassroots movement that will end corporate rule in America.

Those of us fighting for universal health care, environmental responsibility, the end of war, government accountability and economic justice are beginning to understand that success in any of these efforts depends on getting the corporate tools out of government. The only practical way to do this is to force every candidate to publicly declare whether they will support an amendment to abolish corporate personhood. Those who are with us will replace those who stand with the corporations only when we use the Pledge to Amend campaign to sort them out.

There was a day when Americans thought of themselves as having a common interest despite political, religious and cultural differences. We who are fighting for social justice in America and the world must help our fellow Americans understand that in order to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, we must all learn to think of ourselves as Americans and citizens of the world before all else.