It is time for "liberals" and "conservatives" to wake up to the fact that they BOTH share the same primary goals: restoring the Constitution, reasserting national sovereignty, rebuilding the economy, and ending the special-interest influence that has gotten us into this mess. Liberals and conservatives are NOT enemies -- and they need to rise above their differences and work together for their common survival.
Does anyone really believe the (U.S.) Republicans are "conservative" and the Democrats "liberal"? I wish I could find that much of a difference between the tweedly-dee and tweedly-dum parties -- but it just doesn't exist. The Mena drug smuggling was a joint Bush-Clinton operation; Waco was no different than the SLA burnout, the Reverend Jim Jones-CIA affair, or the MOVE fire-bombing in Chicago -- which were carried out in earlier administrations.
Bankrupting the nation and selling out sovereignty have been bi-partisan affairs. Politicians pretend to have differences -- giving us a dramatic show debate at election time -- to keep us choosing between them rather than voting in some real people with guts and integrity. They're using the age-old strategy of tyrants: divide and conquer.
I recently received the following posting:
AMERICAN POLITICAL FUNDAMENTALS
I see the White House is like a subway -- you have to put in coins to open the gates. -- Johnny Chung (1997)
America's so-called political system is based on money. BIG CORPORATE MONEY now owns the best government that money can buy. Presidents are NOT elected because they give a damn about either environment or posterity; they are elected because BIG MONEY wants them elected so BIG MONEY can make even more BIG MONEY...
I think this sums it up pretty well. The agenda of BIG MONEY is neither liberal nor conservative, it is corporate. And the political battle of the day is not between liberals and conservatives, it is between corporations and the people.
This was not always the case. Prior to 1945, there was a close bond between a nation and its industries and the two were generally counted as one in calculating the strength and wealth of nations. A nation's power grew with the strength of its industries, and industries profited from the larger economic sphere that a more wealthy and powerful nation could provide. The two were bound in a mutually beneficial partnership -- a partnership which kept nations healthy and provided benefits to the citizenry. The people, corporations, and the nation -- their interests were in fundamental harmony. The Third-World may have been exploited, but at least the First World was relatively sound.
But in the post (WWII)-war "Free-World" system, the close-bonding between nations and "their" corporations has been falling apart. As long as the stability of the overall world system is not in danger, TNCs (the Trans-National Corporations, or the "multinationals," as some prefer to call them) don't give a damn about the national strength and prosperity of their individual home nations. Thus -- from the perspective of board-room strategy -- the allegiance of the typical TNC has become global: TNCs are citizens of the world; their focus is on global opportunities; the very concept of "home nation" is out-dated -- to TNCs, all flags are flags of convenience.
Nations and industry can no longer be counted as a single entity -- TNCs are a force in their own right, with an allegiance to the overall world system rather than to a single nation. The mutually beneficial partnership is dissolving; nations are losing claim over their sinew. Nations have been abandoned by TNCs, and the people are stranded in a shaky ship of state. TNCs -- with their new world-system allegiance -- are putting their weight behind centralized international bureaucracies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Trade Organization (WTO). This is neither a liberal nor a conservative conspiracy -- it is the open policy of the TNC community, and it is being implemented by politicians of both parties beholden to TNC BIG MONEY.
The (U.S.) Constitution is not being sold out by UN-loving liberals, it is being sold out by TNC political influence. The New World Government will be neither liberal nor conservative -- it will be corporate. All the centralized bureaucracies mentioned above are staffed by TNC-approved bureaucrats, not elected officials. This power grab by TNCs -- and the transfer of sovereignty to their centralized bureaucracy -- is what GLOBALIZATION is all about. It amounts to the replacement of democracy by a modern corporate variety of feudalism. Up to 1945, large corporations used their First-World nations as safe bases, and treated the Third World as little more than colonial plantations to be exploited. The maintenance of civil order was left to puppet regimes and occasional big-power intervention. It has always been corporations (from the British East India Company to United Fruit) that carried out the imperialist exploitation, not nations themselves. The nations simply provided a free security service. The consequence of globalization is that ALL countries (in the FirstWorld as well) are to be treated by TNCs as colonial plantations. Privileged nations are no longer needed by TNCs as safe-base homes; all nations can now be exploited; TNCs alone can be the "great powers". As in the Third-World today, the major role of all governments will be to maintain public order and to seek to be "competitive" in attracting corporate favors. What this means is police-state governments and no worker or consumer rights (and no Constitutional rights). The only problem the TN's still need to solve is how to arrange for "security services" as First-World nations are weakened and disenfranchised. My guess is that they will create yet another TNC-dominated bureaucracy -- perhaps to be called the World Peace Organization (WPO) -- which will somehow be given control over NATO and Pentagon hi-tech (low manpower) weaponry.
The UN isn't likely to become the military branch of the NWO, because it is too democratic -- too representative -- to be trusted by the TNC community. Repressive governments will do the day-to-day policing, and the NWO Judge-Dredd force will come in for emergencies.
I believe that the (U.S.) Militia movement is being deceived by intentional leaks of "UN blue helmets in Montana" -- the idea is to get them fired up against Clinton and an imaginary UN-liberal conspiracy. This marks them as "cult nuts" to the silent majority, and thus a large-scale pro-sovereignty solidarity movement is prevented. That is why it is crucial that we all recognize the common BIG MONEY adversary -- the TNCs and their world bureaucracy. The rest of us are all being scuttled together, and encouraged to fight over the deck chairs on the Titanic ship of state.
We need a revolution of a new and different kind, a revolution that responds to this unprecedented state of emergency. We don't have much time, because the chips of power are being transferred rapidly to the NOW bureaucracies, and the game is for keeps. We must all join together or we won't have the strength to challenge the TNCs and the divisive mass-media propaganda. And since we will be (take hope!) a MAJORITY movement, it is open political organizing we need, not clandestine guerilla groups. We need to take the high ground on Main Street and force democracy on Washington, DC, not skulk in the hills. But we have to understand that we -- all the little people -- are in this alone, we don't have big business as a natural partner in nationhood anymore. They've left home and taken the bank account with them, and we must call them to account.
We still have the power -- if we seize it -- but our window of opportunity is closing fast. The good part is that when we prevail, we will have genuine democracy for the first time -- not just a junior-partnership in a corporate regime.
Posted by Richard K. Moore - firstname.lastname@example.org - PO Box 26, Wexford, Ireland, www.iol.ie/~rkmoore/cyberjournal (USA Citizen)
President Clinton and his team of budget advisers are still savoring the afterglow of last summer's five-year balanced budget law and the appropriations bills they just wrangled from Congress for this fiscal year.
But there's no rest for the weary: `Tis the season to craft next year's spending plan, with all the little flourishes that will be making their way into Clinton's State of the Union address on Jan. 27.
But don't look for any expensive new ideas for fiscal 1999, because the message that's making the rounds of the executive branch is: The money's not there. "It's really tight," a budget official said.
As Clinton starts writing his first spending blueprint since the five-year agreement he reached with Congress four months ago, it's clear that his best budget days are behind him. Statutory spending limits on programs the President and Congress have the discretion to finance--everything from Head Start to the national parks--mean that the budget Clinton will send Congress on Feb. 2 must put the squeeze on his innovations. And that will hold true for the remainder of his term. Those limits, known as discretionary spending caps, leave little room for Clinton to build on the "investment" spending he got from Congress for the fiscal year that started on Oct. 1. Budget law requires that wherever he adds padding, he must take out an equivalent amount of stuffing.
Clinton's options all have drawbacks. He could request fiscal 1999 spending below this year's level for certain programs in order to make room for his priorities. But White House officials say it's tough to identify what Clinton might cut that would add up to much. Or Clinton could offset new spending with new revenue sources, although revenue-raisers that smack of tax hikes are political death. Or, the White House could seek to raise the spending caps--an idea that's being discussed but is probably unlikely, given how it would fuel conservatives' charges that Clinton is a spendaholic.
As the President and his budget advisers decide what to emphasize in the
1999 budget--their latest meeting was slated for Dec. 5--budget director Franklin D. Raines has advised federal agencies that anything new they might want has to compete for a pot of roughly $5 billion, White House officials said. Because most departments are already baying about the effects of the discretionary spending limits, the skirmishes for more money could get nasty. Total discretionary spending for fiscal 1999 is capped by law at $533 billion--or $256 billion, not including defense--a mere 1 per cent increase over fiscal 1998. The White House persuaded Congress to raise the ceiling for 1998, instead of lowering it on the way to a balanced budget by 2002, to cover the Administration's wish list for new spending.
But planned pay raises for federal employees, budget officials say, could use up every bit of the extra 1 per cent for 1999. The consequence: If Clinton wants anything new, he'll have to put it on ice or jettison something old. For a President whose agenda relies on "investments," the brave new world of a balanced budget has its hazards. "Just because the deficit is coming down doesn't mean the President gives up his desire to do other things," said Stanley E. Collender, a budget policy expert with the New York City-based public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. "The fact that the budget is being balanced is not the President's only goal."
Clinton's budget advisers are focusing on increasing spending and expanding tax incentives in familiar ways -- such as on school construction, educational quality, trade promotion, environmental protection (including $5 billion over five years for tax breaks and research on global warming), subsidies for child and dependent care, an expansion in individual retirement accounts, reforms in managed care and affordable health care for the near-elderly. Top White House policy and communications advisers have been meeting weekly to talk about how to frame what Clinton wants to do in his State of the Union address. Aides predict a handful of new mini-proposals, plenty of bully pulpit encouragement for companies and states to do things Washington can't afford and lots of chest-thumping about the Administration's accomplishments. "There will be some new ideas that are thematically consistent with the policies the President has been advocating over the years," a senior White House official said--"fiscal responsibility, open markets, economic investment in the future and tools needed to take responsibility." Clinton can't get away with rhetoric, for he's required to specify how he'd pay for his policies. Many proposals he supports in theory would be expensive in practice.
The White House also has its eyes on prospective surplus spenders on Capitol Hill--lawmakers of both parties who anticipate that favorable economic conditions may produce a budget surplus as early as next year, with the prospect of being able to raise spending or cut taxes yet again before 2002. While Clinton is only too eager to embrace the political symbol of a budget surplus--and the sooner the better--he's wary of Republican calls to use black ink to cut taxes for the rich. White House officials have talked about using the 1999 budget to lay out what Clinton would like to do with a surplus, whenever one materializes. Suggestions include a symbolic gesture to dedicate it to keeping Social Security solvent and reducing the $5.4 trillion federal debt. Although some officials said it's unlikely that Clinton will start talking about a surplus when the government is still running a deficit, others argued that proposing to cut the national debt would let him claim the fiscal high ground and help bring long-term interest rates even lower. Reduced mortgage rates, for instance, could be worth more to low- and middle-income families than any tax cut Republicans might champion.
The budget outlook may be sunny from the standpoint of the deficit. But it gives Clinton little chance to respond to ideas the Republicans put forth as the midterm elections and the 2000 presidential race draw near. For instance, while many senior White House officials think Clinton needs to offer something more than the status quo to counter GOP calls to lower taxes and abolish the Internal Revenue Service, he can't necessarily afford the things that would give him a political bang. It wouldn't be cheap to even partially fix the so-called marriage penalty (a Republican proposal to eliminate it entirely would cost $18 billion a year) or to relieve middle-class taxpayers of the burden of the alternative minimum tax. The alternative tax was conceived to make sure that wealthy taxpayers don't wriggle out of taxes entirely, but because it's not indexed for inflation, it will soon affect the not-so-rich, too. More so than with his last five budgets, when he hadn't signed up yet for a long-term plan to erase the deficit, Clinton is on a leash. The budget achievement he'll tout in
January as a necessary bridge to the 21st century also limits the magnitude of his next call to action. "I think the constraints are even greater," a White House official said. "It does not make the job any easier."
A group of angry parents clashed with Liverpool school officials Monday, accusing the district of employing heavy-handed discipline and unfairly punishing students for off-campus conduct.
"Heil, Hitler!" was the greeting from one parent, Ann Coghlan, whose 13-year-old son has repeatedly been suspended from school. "We do not want you policing our community. We have five police agencies here now. Unless you're going to buy patrol cars, stay out of the community." Another parent, Carol Parrillo, presented the board with a petition containing 210 signatures from district residents. The petition said: "We do not agree the district has the right to police our students when school is not in session." But others disagreed.
Bruce Bidwell, president of the United Liverpool Faculty Association, presented the board with 42 pages of signatures from teachers and staff who support the district's policy. Their statement said the district has an obligation to prevent "threatening, violent, or harassing behavior" from spilling into the school environment.
"Imagine the school district turning a blind eye if they hear two factions of students are planning to settle their differences with their fists in the convenience store parking lot," Bidwell said. "Imagine us saying, "This is off school grounds and is therefore none of our business.' Imagine the message that would send to the rest of our students, and to our parents."
In a written letter to the school board, residents Don and Gloria Card recounted an ordeal 15 years ago, when their daughter was harassed outside of school by a group of female bullies. "It's time for the silent majority to speak up," School Board President Joseph Spado said, reciting from the letter. "The good kids are suffering." An attorney for the district, Dennis O'Hara, presented the school board with a 17-page document outlining legal cases that support the District's right to intervene in off-campus matters.
The document lists six New York state court cases, several out-of-state cases and 10 decisions from the New York state commissioner of education.
In cases of sexual harassment, the district not only has the right to act, it is legally obligated to respond, O'Hara said. Sexual harassment was a pertinent part of Monday's discussion because Coghlan's son recently was suspended for making a sexually harassing phone call to a 12-year-old girl at Liverpool Middle School. The boy's message, left on an answering machine, contained several sexual vulgarities.
Coghlan - who alerted local media of the suspension and sparked the controversy - said the school had no right to intervene because the incident occurred off-campus during the weekend. "How can you sexually harass a telephone?" Coghlan said. School officials, however, said the girl had been repeatedly harassed in school before the telephone call occurred.
Coghlan's son has been suspended for the rest of the year, a punishment that is appealing.
The boy also was suspended last year, after the district accused him of painting racial slurs on an elementary school. Coghlan denies her son was involved.
Other parents at the meeting - including Onondaga County Legislator Thomas
Smith, R-Clay - said the district has been too heavy-handed in its discipline.
"You are not very nice, Mr. Cataldo," Smith told Liverpool Superintendent John Cataldo. The parents also said the district does not do enough to inform parents about the disciplinary process and interrogates students without parents present.
As a student last year at Baltimore's Dunbar High, Christina Mullins knew she wouldn't be able to graduate unless she put in the 75 hours of community service required of all students by the state of Maryland. So she volunteered in the obstetrics-gynecology department at nearby Johns Hopkins University. It would be a good way, she thought, to accumulate hours and also get an insider's look at a medical career. But she mostly saw the inside of a file cabinet. "I was filing papers all day--eight hours--for free," says Mullins. "Do you know how boring that is? And I couldn't get a job because I had to get my hours. I had no money in 1996."
Eventually, Mullins more than met the requirement, racking up 500 hours when she added community events where she played in the school jazz band. But she doesn't think community service should be a prerequisite. "You're just forcing it on us, and people don't get as much out of that," she says.
Students across the U.S. are about to find out if she's right. Mandatory volunteerism, once the province of chichi private academies with a runaway sense of noblesse oblige, has become the latest reform fad in public schools. Though Maryland's statewide requirement is unique, nationally almost one-fifth of students surveyed last year said they attend schools that mandate service. Even cash-strapped urban schools are joining in. In September, Chicago announced that it will demand 40 volunteer hours from its students, starting next year.
Philadelphia officials have debated similar mandates, and Miami began requiring 75 hours of service in 1996.
Proponents say the volunteer work will help reconnect frayed communities by showing young citizens that they can make a difference. "Since the Reagan years, many people just don't care," says Terry Thomas, who teaches a class on service at Carver Vocational-Technical School in Baltimore. "The only way to get people back into the community is to teach it."
Still, as the twisted logic of its name would lead you to expect, mandatory volunteerism has ignited battles. Some parents say it's their job, not the schools', to teach values. "It reminds me of something they used to do in the Soviet Union: 'Every Saturday, you will volunteer to help the greater glory of the state,'" says Barrie Ciliberti, father of four and a Republican legislator in Maryland's House of Delegates. But his side has lost so far in both legislatures and courts. Ciliberti and others have fought in vain to end the mandate since the board of education created it in 1992.
Judges across the country have consistently ruled in favor of schools when parents have sued to exempt their kids. And the Supreme Court has declined to review three lower-court rulings that okayed the obligations. Chicago's move toward required service raises a new set of complications. Can struggling urban schools afford to build good community-service programs--ones that count hours, find worthwhile volunteering opportunities and make sure the students aren't toiling at filing cabinets? And should inner-city students be asked to shove aside family duties and needed jobs--to say nothing of homework--to make room for the new requirement?
Baltimore's troubled schools, which were recently bailed out with $254 million in state aid, offer mixed answers. Last year, as the first senior class under the mandate approached graduation, Maryland officials issued monthly tallies of each school district's progress on the service obligation. Baltimore was always dead last in the state. How have some Baltimore students fulfilled the requirement? Senior Leanda High teaches a popular dance class three days a week in one of the city's toughest neighborhoods. Others' commitment is thinner: each Thanksgiving, students rush to help local celebrity-activist Bea Gaddy feed the homeless for a day. This year, one student says he was told he could earn hours for playing trombone at Baltimore Ravens football games.
For many students, in short, what started out as a noble push for civic-mindedness has turned into a mad dash for a report card showing 75 hours. And facing a new load of paperwork to verify that students did the work, schools have found it easier to count in-school activities like band and math club, even though that takes the "community" from the "service."
Because of such problems, experts like Marilyn Smith, a Clinton Administration official who supervises federal grants for local service programs, are pushing a reform called "service learning," which tries to infuse volunteerism into each class. Biology students might plant flowers at a nursing home, for example. Such embellishments of curriculum are sure to offend back-to-basics types, especially in city schools trying to raise test scores. Some of those traditionalists are the students themselves. "A lot of us just don't have the time, with jobs and stuff," says Deirtra Goldern, a Carver senior. In her case, "stuff" means preparing for the SAT.
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