Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


November 12, 2013

WE THE PEOPLE: The wolves at the door

CROSSVILLE — “Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you.” — Benjamin Franklin

A representative government can only work if representatives are loyal to their constituents. The reason we are being ill-served by a Congress that is less popular than head lice is because the loyalties of its members are to corporations that have no allegiance to America. They should, as someone suggested, be required to wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers so we can identify their corporate sponsors. Too many are willing to violate the oath sworn on the Bible they claim to revere in order to protect the interests of those who bought their seats for them. The result is that corporate profits are extremely healthy, but democracy is on life-support.

Democracy cannot survive if there is no conversation between the people and those who are supposed to represent them. If you have been off the planet or too engrossed in “American Idol” to notice what is happening, there is a good place to start catching up. Attend what is billed as a “town hall meeting” with your Congressperson. Do not confuse this event with the unscripted, freewheeling town hall meetings you may have attended in the past. The ones where voters stood up and asked elected officials any questions they wanted to and felt free to express their own opinions.

What you are more apt to find, when the Congressperson and her entourage roll into town, is a controlled event with a mostly hand-picked audience and screened questions. The Congressperson will be kept at a safe distance from voters, and your chances of actually talking to her are slim to none. She will stick to the party script, heavy on talking points and light on specifics. (Woe be to the conservative politician who veers off into the weeds, for his path forward will be rough and snaky, and his political days will be numbered.) The rush to get the Congressperson on the road again makes you feel like it was just a drive-by on the way to a more important destination.

Congressional members create the illusion of representation by distracting us with bogus issues and lies, and are seldom challenged by the news media. So they win another term to feed at the government trough, and we pick up the tab. The 2014 calendar for the House just released by Eric Cantor shows members will work 113 days next session, down from a whopping 126 days this year. What a deal: $174,000 a year, great benefits, awesome retirement plan, plus the opportunity to take bribes. All that for working less than four months a year doing nothing.

For democracy to work there must be a free flow of information, and we cannot communicate with these sold-out servants of corporations. We can either stand up and fight for democracy or keep our heads down and go along. It has been my experience that ignoring a problem does not make it go away. I believe in the power of the American people to fight and win even though we are up against an unlimited supply of corporate money. But we can’t win without accurate information, and that takes work. Politicians depend on us not knowing and not being willing to learn. It is time to surprise them. 

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  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

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