SWITCH THE PARADIGM! Why We Really CAN Make a Change for the Better

(Editor’s Note: This inspiring essay comes just in time for the July 4th holiday.  Enjoy the holiday but take some time to reflect on what it really honors…IA)

~~By Grail Guardian

I’ve been reading a lot of internal squabbling on various web sites lately about whether or not people can or should vote for Republicans in order to restore the political balance in Washington. I’ve “listened” to both sides of the argument and for those who have not been paying attention (or living an actual life instead of following the blogs) I offer this brief summary of each:

Pro: Voting Republicans in is the only way to offset Obama and the idiots in Congress that are bleeding the country dry. The Democratic majority is killing the American economy and Constitution and is out of control. No third party candidate will be able succeed in the current system, so we must hold our noses and vote for all Republican candidates and hope they induce a stalemate in Congress.

Con: The Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats, and we’ll just end up swing from far left to far right (then back again) if we vote them back in. I can’t vote for someone that supports everything I have fought against all my life just to stop the Democrats (i.e.: abortion rights). Replacing one form of evil with another does no good, therefore I must look for the least offensive Democrat to support despite the fact that they will likely vote along party lines (think Kirsten Gillibrand in NY).

I must confess that I can find some truth in both of these arguments, but there’s something I need to point out here: These are not the only options!

That’s right – I said it! There are other choices. To wit, we need term limits and alternative candidates that don’t belong (a totally accurate term in every sense) to either political party. But, but…Grail, you say, how could that be? No Congress critter will ever vote for their own term to be limited and everyone knows that no third party candidate can possible get elected!

Wrong! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to play Switch That Paradigm! The exciting game show where you, the American public, actually get to choose the winners! No, it’s not American Idol. Not even close. It’s a nifty concept I learned about from commenter Practical Madman over at Logistics Monster, and it’s called Get Out of Our House. Here’s the concept: If we want to stop the insanity in D.C. we must clean out the political lifers in Congress; the Obama administration (or any other administration for that matter) cannot pass legislation without the support and complicity of Congress (at least as of the writing of this piece), no matter how many mouth breathers support him. The easiest way to do this is in the House of Representatives, since the whole barrel of monkeys is up for re-election every 2 years under the Constitution (yes, all 435 members are up in 2010). Besides, the Senate isn’t exactly a cohesive majority, and if the bills can’t pass in the House they aren’t making it to the Oval Office for signature. Get Out of Our House, or GOoOH (pronounced “go”) wants to dump all 435 members at once and replace them with ordinary citizens that actually (gasp) vote for what their constituents want. That’s right – you and me for Congress!

Here’s the deal: if enough regular Americans are willing to participate, they group can raise enough money to support candidates in every district. People who wish to run for office complete a comprehensive position questionnaire that is posted on line. There are no right or wrong answers, no political philosophy you must adhere to, no liberal or conservative viewpoints required at the door. You answer the questions, and sign a legally binding pledge that if you are elected you will vote the way you answered on the questionnaire or abstain from the vote if there is fuzzy or unrelated material attached to the bill, as Congress is wont to do. (Note: there is an alternative option wherein you can change your vote if you post your intent to do so online at least 7 days in advance and a majority of your district votes that it’s OK for you to change your vote.) Once the candidates have locked in their answers, a series of Selection Sessions are held where members get the chance to vote for or against candidates that best represent how they would like their Representative to vote. Sessions are held until there is only 1 candidate per district, and that person becomes the GOoOH nominee for the district. The whole organization is based on the concept that the candidates will not follow any particular school of thought; for instance, voters in New York City would probably tend to select a candidate with more liberal viewpoints, whereas voters in Butte, MT would be more prone to select a candidate with conservative views that fit the local political consciousness.

Oh, and did I mention that all candidates agree in advance to a few interesting conditions:

· To run for no more than 2 terms (it was originally 1, but was changed due to input on the site)

· To disclose in advance of each Selection Session if you are an attorney (originally excluded, but again changed due to commenter input)

· To disclose in advance of each Selection Session if you are wealthy (a multi-millionaire)

· To resign within 72 hours and pay a fine if you vote contrary to your stated positions (per the questionnaire)

· To resign within 72 hours and pay a fine if you accept funds “other than your federal paycheck”

Are there drawbacks to the system? Yes. Some of the bigger ones are: the $100 membership fee (that is used to fund the candidates that are eventually selected, the fact that at least 500,000 members are needed to make it work, and the inability for people not on the web to participate in the upfront process (we all get to vote eventually, but you must register online).

Some of the other advantages are: the ability to join an existing organization that is prepared for the political process, regardless of your political views, the ability of average Americans to have a “hands on” role in actually choosing the nominee from a large pool of candidates (rather than just the guy who has lost the last 3 times in your area), and the inability of political interest groups (lobbyists, PACs, unions, or even religious groups) to influence the candidates. I personally believe that America is at a “do or die” juncture as a free Republic, and GOoOH may just provide a way back to the basics. We are at a crossroads that our Founders predicted and feared:

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” –Samuel Adams

“A government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have… The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.” –Thomas Jefferson

Now is the time for all good PUMAs to put up or shut up. We all agree we want change. We all agree that the current system is not working. We all agree that the time to stop the juggernaut poised to crush our nation is extremely limited. We call agree that 2008 ended the political process as we knew it forever. And who better to change things than us? And who are we? Simply average Americans that have seen the road the political corruption and corporate greed of the current government is leading us down and wish to return to the Constitution as it was written. For those of you that need a bit more background, I offer this excellent video courtesy of Diamond Tiger at Logistics Monster that explains the current political situation in concise and frightening terms. Take 10 minutes and watch it all the way through; if you are not scared at the similarities between circumstances preceding the fall of Rome and the current fall of America at the end, then go in peace and enjoy your final moments of freedom. If you are disturbed and unwilling to take any more, take a serious look at the GOoOH site and see what you think. I know it is not the ideal solution, but if we wait for perfection our economy will be collapsed, there will be record inflation not seen since 1920’s Germany, government will have taken an extraordinary amount of power away from We the People, and our country as we know it will be gone.

Change is inevitable. The only question is: which side of it do you want to be on?

This:

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Or this:

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These images should remind us of a few very simple concepts:

· Ordinary people can make a difference if they believe enough to fight against tyranny

· You can speak truth to power, no matter how well ensconced it may appear

· Women can and do lead the way

· We have what everyone else in the world wants, and we are letting it slip away with little more than a whimper

· “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (This quote is generally attributed to Edmund Burke but the true source appears to be unknown.)

The truth of the matter is simple: the concept that we, the people of the greatest nation in the world, cannot alter our destiny or stop The Powers That Be from destroying our Republic is nothing more or less than the same mass-marketing advertising scam that has been used to brainwash the masses into thinking we need the latest bright, shiny object on the market to distract ourselves from reality. It’s a sales job – that’s all! If enough of us are disgusted and use our votes, any candidate can be elected and any party can be successful. When you get right down to it, isn’t that all political campaigns have evolved into? Never-ending infomercials! And now the very office of the President of the United States of America has been turned into the world’s largest infomercial. (I’m surprised he doesn’t have a Guthy-Renker logo on his backside!) But that’s really good news, because that means that we don’t have to buy it! We can shop around for what we really want, no matter what they tell us on the tee vee! For cryin’ out loud, when have they ever told us the truth? Isn’t that the whole concept of Madison Avenue (and K Street)? Lie big, lie often, and then lie some more and eventually people will buy what you tell them because that’s what Charlie and Katie and Brian tell them to do!

Well, I’m here to tell you the sad news: Edward R. Murrow is dead and so is the “fourth estate”; John F. Kennedy was barely elected (and probably only then because of “creative” voting in Daley’s Chicago) and there was no “magic bullet” (no matter what Arlen “Which party am I in again?” Specter wants you to believe); aspartame and fluoride are actually toxins sold to us to make profit off of useless chemicals; and the United States Constitution does not grant the government the right to tax income or sales, no matter what the IRS says. They are all advertising scams designed to persuade compliant Americans to buy the “official” version of a convenient fabrication. The idea that no third party candidate could ever win a national election is another such ad campaign, and we have bought it lock, stock and barrel. We even preach it to each other. So the time has come to shift our paradigm and alter our vision of “reality” (whatever that is). Dorothy eventually looked behind the curtain and discovered that Oz was nothing more than a two-bit carnie hustler, and that the ability to return to where she wanted to be was always within her own power. We, too, must accept that we’re not in Kansas anymore and take a good hard look at what’s behind that curtain.

You can save this nation. You can be a US Representative. If you believe in the Constitution of this Republic, I propose you owe it to America to step up to the plate and either be a candidate or at a minimum support the system that may just be capable of returning every day, common sense Americans to the business of running this country.

The choice is yours; what will you choose?

The Scanner-Politics 11/20/08 (CHANGE?? Daschle at HHS, His Wife and Lobbying; Organic Consumers Org. So Ticked at the Thought of Vilsack at Agriculture That Their Petition is Already Going Strong; Froma Harrop on “Palin’s Next Career Move” Will Raise Your Blood Pressure) (Updated 1X)

So, Tom Daschle is back as the presumed nominee for Health and Human Services. Oh, boy, I wonder if HIS spouse, Linda Hall Daschle will be publicly vetted a la Bill Clinton? If you read the article up at MSNBC, there’s some scurrying around already…

In fact, Daschle stayed in the capital city after his defeat, becoming a public policy adviser and member of the legislative and public policy group at the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird. Daschle isn’t registered as a lobbyist. He advises clients on such issues as health care, financial services, taxes and trade, according to the firm’s Web site.

Health care interests, including CVS Caremark, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Abbott Laboratories and HealthSouth, are among the firm’s lobbying clients.

Wife has lobbying interests
One area of review of his appointment will be the lobbying connections of his wife, Linda Hall Daschle, who has worked mostly on behalf of airline-related companies over the years.

NBC also confirmed Wednesday that she will leave her job in a lobbying firm, where she has specialized in aviation and defense issues. She will reportedly go on to start her own public policy firm, where she will not lobby.

So Tom just advises, and doesn’t lobby.  OK.  And he’ll be overseing health care “reform.”  OK.

As for his wife, amazingly, the Washington Post doesn’t seem to have any articles about her to peruse.  Odd, considering she has had long career at the Federal Aviation Commission and as an aviation lobbyist…But USA Today still has a piece from 2001 titled “Daschle, lobbyist wife vow to keep careers separate“.

From the article:

Tom Daschle’s rise to the helm of the Senate spotlights an awkward fact of life for Washington’s power couples: When professional lives intertwine, ethical conflicts can follow.

The South Dakota Democrat’s wife, Linda, is a lobbyist who mostly represents airlines, aircraft makers and other aviation-related interests — all of which have a steady stream of issues before the Senate. As majority leader, Tom Daschle has the power to set the Senate’s agenda.

snip

One client that attracted attention because it was outside Daschle’s normal area of expertise was Schering-Plough, the pharmaceutical giant that sought unsuccessfully last year to extend the patent life of its allergy drug, Claritin. Several ethics groups said the lucrative lobbying arrangement smacked of buying special access.

Back in 2004 when Daschle was running for the Senate again, a blog named South Dakota Politics, which was keeping an eye on Daschle and his opponent, John Thune, took on Ms. Daschle’s lobbying interests and the connections to Senate actions.

The October 26, 2004 entry is particularly interesting (note–the Roll Call article is no longer available):

Roll Call reports brouhaha surrounding Linda Daschle

Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, has a report today headlined “GOP Makes Issue of Daschle’s Wife.” Excerpt:

The Thune campaign took out a full-page ad in Saturday’s Argus Leader, the newspaper of Sioux Falls, that excerpted a report filed with the Senate Office of Public Records showing Linda Daschle’s name on the form for her firm’s lobbying on behalf of Schering-Plough. At the time the company was seeking a patent extension on its anti-allergy drug, Claritin.Noting that the company paid $470,000 to Daschle’s firm, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, the Thune ad ends with the line: “Only one candidate has personally profited from big drug companies. That candidate is Tom Daschle.”

The South Dakota Republican Party also sent out a four-page mailer that went after Linda Daschle’s lobbying for airlines that benefited from a post-Sept. 11, 2001, bailout supported by Sen. Daschle and all Congressional leaders as well as by Thune himself.

Thune’s aides stayed on the offensive Monday, suggesting their attacks were based on stories from mainstream or left-leaning publications such as The Washington Monthly, Slate and L.A. Weekly. Dick Wadhams, Thune’s campaign manager, said the “clear conflict of interest Linda Daschle” is involved in was first aired “long before this campaign started.”

“There is literally only one candidate in this race who has personally profited from pharmaceutical companies,” Wadhams reiterated.

It should be noted that Thune’s print ad criticizing Daschle for personally profiting from pharmaceutical companies came AFTER Daschle began running television ads last Wednesday lying about Thune lobbying for “big drug companies.” In reality, Thune only lobbies for South Dakota companies.

It’s interesting to observe that the first candidate to bring up the issues of lobbying and abortion in television ads has been Daschle, not Thune.

Daschle lost in 2004, and this information apparently turned off enough voters to “make it so.”  This and that big house that’s pictured on the blog and his declaration as D.C. as his place of residence (dubbed “Mansiongate”)…and the lie about Thune’s lobbying. That latter point alone qualifies him for a job with the Obama camp….

According to OpenSecrets.org, Ms. Daschle has apparently continued her relationship with Baker, Donelson et al.  If you want to see a boatload of connections, however, check out Muckety‘s extensive relationship maps.  (Play around with these and be sure to pass the mouse over the wheel of connections to get the full information. Click on Baker, Donelson, then at the bottom click on “47 lobby firm”).  And, yes, you’ll see hospitals and health outfits galore, Howard Baker, Lamar Alexander, etc. etc.–it’s so jam-packed you can’t even see all of them…until you click on individual firm names and you see even more! It’s very interesting!

This info isn’t the most up-to-date and I couldn’t find anything about Ms. Daschle’s recent activities.

But the point is, even if nothing happened with the Daschles and Senate business, there should be scrutiny. And, if there is scrutiny, there might be a bit of unpleasantness for the newly-minted “ethical” standards of the Obama crowd. Of course, Ms. Daschle is leaving her current firm to create her own public policy outfit now.  Are you reassured yet? And all those contacts of Tom’s and his new post gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling!

***

On the subject of health, the Organic Consumers Association has been up in arms about the possible appointment of Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture. Seems Vilsack is no friend of organic foods.  The organic foods industry is growing quickly so you’d think consumers would see some more positive steps taken to enhance a healthy food supply.  OOPS!!!!!

Tell President-Elect Obama: NO Vilsack Secretary of Agriculture

Tell President-Elect Obama: No to Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture

It has been widely reported that former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is being considered for the Secretary of Agriculture position in the Obama Administration. Vilsack is no friend of organic food and farming and his appointment would represent a major disappointment for the Organic Consumers Association and its members. But there is still time to make your voice heard.

1) Contact the office of President-Elect Obama and urge him to appoint a Secretary of Agriculture that reflects your organic values

2) Call office of President-Elect Obama at 202-540-3000 and make sure your concerns about Vilsack be heard.

3) Sign the OCA’s petition below to President-Elect Obama and urge him to appoint a Secretary of Agriculture that is supportive of organic food and farming.

(MORE)


I guess I have to ask, how’s all this CHANGE hitting you, Obamacrats?

By the way, I’ve added my name to that petition.  The Obama crowd hasn’t even taken office yet and I’m already sending in petitions….SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE!!

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Another thing that is STILL not changing is the Sarah Palin bashing. When I saw this screed in Wednesday’s edition of the local rag, I went ballistic.  Have had “agita” ever since.  Where the F*CK does this woman come from?  And since when did Palin express any interest whatsoever in taking the path upward via a Senate seat? More insults abound. Froma Harrop repeats every snide comment about clothes and the “real thoughts” of the Republican talk show guests that she can muster. Never a mention of the the 57 states or location of the Great Lakes according to Obama, by the way.

This really PISSED ME OFF.  Some snippets:

Palin’s Next Career Move

…For many of us, the night terror of Palin being second in line to become president is gone. We can think straight again. And so can Republican leaders.

…The sands of the egg timer seem to be running out on Palin’s moment as a serious national political figure. Even in Alaska, the stars no longer line up in her favor.

Palin returns home at a time when falling oil prices have crimped any petro-state executive’s ability to spread the wealth and take credit for it. She and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez have that in common.

Her divisive remarks during the campaign caused Democrats in Anchorage to doubt the sincerity of her seeming bipartisan approach to governing. They will be less docile. Face it: Palin has a snowball’s chance in Hawaii of recouping her formerly high approval ratings in Alaska.

…Her hope of staying in the big game was to become a U.S. senator.

…While Palin’s political prospects seem increasingly constrained, she has a cloudless future as an incendiary TV talk show host.

…For all her bashing of the East Coast and the media, Palin clearly loves being there and talking to them. Good use for a $5,000 Valentino jacket, alas.

As Captain Potter of M.A.S.H. used to say…..HORSE PUCKEY!!

***

UPDATE via Chicago Correspondent Leslie,  11/20/08 A.M.

Well, it seems our skepticism about Tom Daschle’s “non-lobbying” activities is being picked up in the media.

Daschle pick may test conflict-of-interest pledge

Ex-senator’s health care advising could force recusal on many issues

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of former Senator Tom Daschle for secretary of health and human services posed new questions on Wednesday about how broadly the new administration would apply Mr. Obama’s campaign promises to limit potential conflicts of interest among his appointees.

At issue is Mr. Daschle’s work since leaving the Senate four years ago as a board member of the Mayo Clinic and a highly paid adviser to health care clients at the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird.

In a detailed list of campaign promises, Mr. Obama pledged that “no political appointees in an Obama administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years.”

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