Good luck on Tuesday New Hampshire!!
The year is 1961 a politician by the name of John Fitzgerald Kennedy is about to be sworn in as the 35th president of the United States of America on a bitterly cold January morning as Pennsylvania Avenue experiences its worst traffic jams in living memory due to heavy snow fall. The inclement weather could not dispel the jubilation of the Irish people both at home and abroad. This day would be defined as the pinnacle of success for Irish Americans. The Irish people had advanced from being the unwelcome outcasts that arrived on coffin ships fleeing the Irish potato famine in 1847 to finally having one of their ancestral citizens elected leader of the free world.
This was a nostalgic period not only for Irish Americans but for the entire country. Just as President Obama does today; President Kennedy had a strong and courageous outward vision for Americans and for America’s place in the world. Just as African-Americans are proud that president Obama of Kenyan descent, proclaims a vision of America being at the forefront of science and technology and a country where regardless of color, creed, or politics, all Americans are equal, so too were the Irish at their president who echoed the exact same sentiment. Just as President Obama has always strenuously promoted the separation of Church and State so too did President Kennedy. He was in no doubt that both the American people and the American constitution demanded that his Catholic faith should have no place at the heart of government and that he would be a president for all people. His commitment to a secular America could not be more obvious than when he gave a speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association at the Rice Hotel in Houston Texas on September 12 1960.
“So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again — not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in. I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute — where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote — where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference — and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him”
It wasn’t only president Kennedy’s commitment to secular values that made him remarkable; his advancement of science and technology would see America enter the space age. Barely five months into office; in May 1961, President Kennedy made the following speech to a joint session of congress. View his congressional address here.
It was Kennedy’s vision and the quintessential American spirit of optimism that would give rise to one of the most defining moments in 20th century history. A mere 8 years after President Kennedy made his appeal to Congress; on July 20th 1969 people across the world from the remote corners of Ireland to every other corner of the globe, huddled around their television sets to witness Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin herald a new chapter in human history as they became the first humans to set foot on the moon.
Corporate Greed, Religious Fundamentalism & the Downward Spiral of a Great Nation
The America of the 1960’s was a golden era in economic terms where the middle class were able to pursue the American dream. They were upwardly mobile and could easily provide for a family on a single income. It would be reasonable of parents to expect their children’s generation to be financially better off than their own. People were paid an honest wage for an honest days work. It would seem in the intervening years that the American people became the biggest victim of their own country’s economic success. The unrelenting growth of American capitalist ideology, the rise of Christian extremism and rampant unregulated capitalism often expressed in quasi-religious terms has resulted in America’s economic system morphing from being an extremely sensible fiscal model to one that is now giving rise to an uncontrollable transfer of wealth from both the American working poor & middle class to the top 1%. US conservatives often cite their fear of redistribution of wealth yet this is happening already but in reverse. It is socialism for the rich whereby working people fund the super-rich to an ever increasing degree.
America: A Corporate State
I believe that uncontrolled capitalism (not its healthy regulated form that I subscribe to) has lead to the United States of America becoming a corporation in all but name. The ambitions of a corporation should be economically and morally radically different to those of a State governed by democratic government. The objective of a company is to maximize profit on investment whereas the fiscal objective of a democratic State is to generate enough wealth so as to provide for all its citizens in a fair and transparent manner.
Imagine you are the CEO of a new company “America PLC” that has recently commenced trading on the stock exchange. Your obligation as CEO is to maximize profit for your shareholders. The first thing you might need to do is assess your earning potential. This could easily be achieved by determining the GDP of the US which currently stands at around $17 trillion. The first problem you will encounter as CEO of America PLC are the people of America themselves and secondly those they elect. The American people represent a drain on your resources because their economic agenda is very different to yours. Human nature being what it is will mean that there are approximately 320 million people who represent a financial liability by seeking to use your potential corporate earnings to enhance their own financial wellbeing and that of their family. How would you tackle this problem? The elected leaders of America in corporate terms represent competition. Politicians are supposed to be the CEO’s of the State who are running a competing business but this time for the benefit of the people themselves. How does big business deal with competing business? They acquire them. Your first major investment as CEO will be to buy out the political system. Now you have law makers as your employees whose job description is to enact laws that will maximize profit for your shareholders. This acquisition can easily be made due to inherent weaknesses in the system of political funding in the United States and through investment in lobbying.
You have now made the first major strategic investment but your problems are far from over. Politicians cannot merely take from an enlightened people as they are heavily outnumbered. People will not willingly give up their hard earned income without a serious fight which could pose the very credible threat of civil unrest which is not good for business. You decide to hold a boardroom meeting to get the best minds together. You need a workable plan that will dampen down the will of the people to resist your corporate ambitions. To put it bluntly you will need to develop a system of mass mind control and propaganda. So long as people can think freely they simply will not consent to giving you their money and their elected leaders will be unable to force them. Now that you have come to the conclusion that mass mind control is necessary the next step will be to undertake a case study on best practice. Have any other countries achieved your objective and if so how do they do it? There are no shortages of examples of political despots using mass mind control to persuade the masses that their political objectives are in the people’s best interest. Probably one of the most infamous examples is Nazi Germany. On March 14th 1933 Joseph Goebbels established the Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. One of the first tasks of this branch of government was to assume total control of Germany’s broadcast media and to use it for their own political ends. Once you own the media you need to use well established means of mind control psychology using the carrot and stick approach. You need to make the masses feel special and give them a feel good factor. According to the Nazis, white Germans were very special because they were superior to other races. You also need to instill fear of those who pose a threat to the system by means of creating a scapegoat based mentality. Once these have taken root then and only then can you start the gradual process of reducing people’s wages and the amount of money spent by central government. Once the case study is complete, its author gives a boardroom presentation. They assure those in attendance that the project is doable and despite the fact that nowhere else in the world will citizens of a country willingly embrace poorer living standards to support corporate ambitions, America will be a first. Once this pioneering form of entrepreneurship is successful your corporation can enjoy almost unlimited success. The conclusion of the boardroom is unanimous America PLC is to start acquiring as much of the public media as possible.
Unfortunately this is not merely a fictional scenario as the following article from the business insider shows. View the article here.
Needless to mention I do not subscribe to new world order or any other non-evidence based conspiracy theories. This media acquisition by the rich is merely the inevitable outcome of a society like no other on earth that worships free market economics as if it were a one size fits all solution to all the world’s economic problems.
The result of this is the Donald Trump phenomenon. Nowhere else in the world do the impoverished and those on the minimum wage cheer on a blundering bigot megalomaniac billionaire and become willing participants in their own financial downfall. The downtrodden are cynically lied and manipulated to an extent that should never happen in a normal healthy democracy. It is a flashing red light that should concern most free thinking Americans. Despite Donald Trump topping the polls I do not believe Americans are inherently stupid for the same reason I don’t believe Afghans who vote for the Taliban are intellectually challenged. It is simply cause and effect. The US media and the ruling class have convinced the American people who possess an admirable get up and go attitude, to willingly embrace a political system that offers no hope for them. Just as North Koreans believe their country is special, so too do millions of Americans who are undereducated and underpaid who believe that someday they too can become like Donald Trump. They are fed a diet of false hope and fear of those who are the scapegoat of the day. One time it was Irish Catholics, today it is Mexicans and other immigrants.
America PLC is not merely an idea made up by me but a reality in all but name. The numbers of shareholders in this enterprise are becoming increasingly smaller and wealthier to the social and financial detriment of everybody else.
Bernie Sanders made his political career from pointing out this uncomfortable truth
Coming from Ireland and growing up in the era of Charlie Haughey, like most Irish I have an innate skepticism when it comes to politicians. Most of them have over inflated egos and many lack even a degree of common sense. They start off with noble ideas only to become institutionalized by the system. However Bernie Sanders is no ordinary politician. When I first heard him describe himself as a socialist, I immediately thought either this man is crazy, brave beyond belief or a combination of both. This is a quote taken from the Washington Post that he made in 1983. Bear in mind this was during the Reagan era when his political administration actively demonized the idea of wealth redistribution to the poor. These words were uttered 6 years before the fall of the Berlin wall. This quote alone makes it clear beyond any doubt that Bernie Sanders is a man motivated by the purest form of political integrity. He is a politician that has no obvious parallels in Ireland, Britain or the US. He is a man whose politics transcend the cynical vote catching rhetoric that almost all politicians are guilty of.
“I am a socialist, of course I am a socialist,” he told a Democratic opponent in a mayoral debate, according to an Associated Press story in 1983. “To hold a vision that society can be fundamentally different, to believe that all people can be equal, that is not a new idea. … I don’t think there is an administration in the country that is more progressive than this one.”
Bernie Sanders possesses the laudable trait of being a politician who patiently waits for time to catch up on his politics whereas almost every other politician mould their politics to that of which the electorate want at any given moment in time. To me this is a defining characteristic of a Statesman and leader. All too often politicians try to present themselves as being a man of the people yet their policies are unconvincing at best. Bernie Sanders is not only a genuine American patriot who opposed most US lead wars yet tends to the veterans whose lives have been ruined in combat and has been photographed in the middle seat of a commercial flight, but he is also a politician that has been consistently right on the issues and those who have attacked him have been proven consistently wrong. The most recent example was the Wall Street Journal where they made the outlandishly bogus claim that Sander’s health policies would bankrupt America when in fact the economist whose work they were quoting had said that Sanders proposals would actually cost considerably less than what the US currently spends on health. Here is an article in the Washington Post where that argument is thoroughly debunked.
There are countless other examples of Bernie Sanders political convictions simply being years ahead of their time. They are clearly available to be viewed on-line.
1) Bernie Sanders schooled former Fed Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and predicted the economic collapse in 2003.
The footage is available on youtube or can be viewed here.
2) Bernie Sanders has been in favor of gay marriage since the 1990s.
When the Clinton administration introduced the defense of marriage act in 1996, Bernie Sanders opposed it.
3) Bernie Sanders warned of the consequences of invading Iraq and vehemently opposed the war that Hillary Clinton endorsed.
This video is a moving testimony from a genuine patriot. He essentially predicts the formation of ISIS and the entire destabilization of the Middle East, not to mention the cost of this senseless war in terms of lives of those that served on the battlefield. View the youtube video here.
4) Bernie Sanders was heavily invested in the black civil rights movement as early as 1962 whereas Hillary Clinton worked on Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign.
Goldwater was a Republican presidential candidate who opposed the civil rights act of 1964. It took the assassination of Martin Luther King to convince Hillary Clinton to defect from the Republican party. One has to question the moral wisdom of any politician who would openly support a candidate who believed in racial segregation. The clip below has modern day relevance in terms of Kim Davis. Note the protester carrying the sign God demands segregation. Bernie Sanders yet again not only displayed the moral wisdom to realize this was wrong but possessed the same courage he shows today in resisting racial inequality. View a clip of a documentary on Barry Goldwater here.
5) Keystone Pipeline
Few issues reveal just how much Hillary Clinton panders to populism than the Keystone pipeline fiasco. This regarded the proposed building of an oil pipeline from Alberta Canada to Houston Texas. Some phases of this are already complete and are operational but a 4th line has given rise to environmental concerns and work on it has been suspended. The fears were based on the potential impact it would have on the Sand Hills region of Nebraska. Hillary Clinton has had no less than 5 positions on the Keystone Pipeline project. This indecisiveness and inability to show leadership makes her much less capable than Bernie Sanders in my opinion. Sander’s view on the project was expressed from the very onset of the debacle. He firmly and resolutely opposes the new pipeline. View the history of Hillary’s indecisiveness on this issue here.
American politics affects Ireland and the rest of the world but we do not get a vote in US elections
I stand with American liberals and those who are trying to make their country better. The American people work longer and harder than their European counterpart and they get little or no paid vacation time. In Ireland most employees receive between 4-5 weeks paid leave. Should a woman become pregnant, she will get little or no paid maternity leave from her employer in the US. Here in Ireland we get 6 months paid maternity leave and the option of another 6 months unpaid leave. In Ireland we take it for granted that we will be seen by a doctor if we get sick and will get a degree of treatment even if our health service is overstretched and under resourced. Americans who are under-insured or not insured don’t have this privilege. The genuine hard working people of America have much of their tax dollars spent on needless wars and squandered unnecessarily on corporate welfare. It is time for the entire world to oppose this economic apartheid in America that is due to massive wealth inequality and the subsequent erosion of the middle class.
The bailout of Anglo Irish Bank and others resulted in Ireland being forced to fund the biggest bailout of banks per capita in the world.
Even more alarming for those in Ireland and the rest of the industrialized world is the fact that despite having much stronger levels of social welfare/social security, our income and wealth divide is now beginning to mirror that of the US. America PLC is so strong that its financial system is starting to cause the same erosion of capital among the middle classes outside of the US. The practices and the excesses that started on Wall Street are now accepted around the world and what Wall Street started Ireland made worse. In 2009 the nationalization of Anglo Irish Bank and others lead to Ireland having the unenviable title of being the country that signed off on the largest bank bailout per capita in the world. The entire sum came to approximately €68 billion and resulted in the country going under the stewardship of the IMF. The human cost of the bailout came to €9000 for every man, woman and child in the country and is borne by the working people of Ireland. Three of the staff from Anglo Irish bank were jailed here, marking the first case of its kind in Irish history but the former CEO of this rotten institution David Drumm is currently residing in the US. A Boston judge saw through his lies and outright fraudulent activity when he tried to file for bankruptcy there.
David McWilliams outlined the similar economic challenges facing the middle class in Ireland and the US and the growth of the super-rich.
Last week one of Ireland’s leading economists David McWilliams presented a fantastic but depressing documentary on Ireland’s wealth divide. The entire documentary amounted to a stunning endorsement of Bernie Sanders economic agenda and is well worth looking at if you can get it online outside of Ireland. Among the shocking economic statistics that emerged were 1) the top 5% in Ireland earned almost twice that of the next 60% in 2014. 2) The bottom 20% own a mere 0.2% of our national wealth. Just as in the US, the median wage of the middle class has fallen dramatically in the last decade. View an article from the Irish Independent in relation to the documentary here.
The War in Iraq has ultimately resulted in the biggest displacement of refugees since WWII. Ireland pledges to take 4000.
US wars affect Ireland and are putting the security of Europe at risk. The human legacy of GW Bush’s invasion of Iraq is currently being felt all over Europe. The consequences of the invasion of Iraq that Bernie Sanders so movingly spoke of are now being experienced here in Ireland. Our government has pledged to take in at least 4000 Syrian refugees. As Syria descends into chaos under ISIS tyranny, open borders will undoubtedly allow some ISIS terrorists enter Europe despite the best security measures being taken. However we cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of innocents fleeing for their lives.
Crowds celebrate Ireland’s historic vote to legalise same sex marriage outside Dublin Castle.
The Obama administration ushered in a wave of liberal thinking across the west that probably helped bring about the political atmosphere necessary for Ireland to be the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage by popular vote. The expression when America sneezes the world catches a cold has more than just mere economic connotations; it is also of major significance in the culture wars. The people of Ireland who endorse secularism overwhelmingly have a vested interest in stemming the growth of Christian fanaticism in the US. Take for example Ireland’s abortion laws that are one of the most draconian in the world. A recent poll showed that even 64% of Irish farmers want some progress made in this area. Farmers either in Ireland or the US are not noted for their liberal thinking, yet a majority of them see the need for change. Despite a growing demand for a change in the law, our government continually refuse to bring about the opportunity to hold a constitutional referendum for fear of splitting up the main party in government over this politically sensitive issue.
US Christian extremists fund Irish “Pro Life” movements to a massive extent and US citizens account for the majority of their on-line membership.
American Christian fundamentalists see Ireland’s abortion laws as a template for what they wish to impose on America. American Christians are heavily invested in Irish so called pro-life movements such as Youth Defence and the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC). It is estimated that around 70% of Youth Defence membership is made up of Americans Christian fundamentalists who wish to use Ireland as a role model for the introduction of punitive limitations on the reproductive rights of women. Much of (If not a majority) the funding for these groups comes from American donors. The continuing laws around abortion in Ireland remain not only a human rights embarrassment for Ireland but an existential threat to secular values in the US. Here is an article from the Atlantic outlining just how intertwined American and Irish religious fundamentalists are when it comes to our abortion laws.
Electing a non religious president and leading by example is the best way to tackle the growth of religious extremism both in USA and around the world. Bernie Sanders would be the 1st secular agnostic president in modern US History.
I have long argued that the best strategy for America to tackle the growing menace of religious extremism both within its borders and around the world is to elect a president that is not only secular but one that is above religion and one that will not publicly feign religious belief for electoral gain. Bernie Sanders has the courage and sheer political honesty to come out publicly as a secular agnostic and that is yet another reason why I like the guy immensely. For sure Bernie Sanders throws lavish praise at Pope Francis who I feel has many questions to answer, but what is different to any of the other candidates is he will only do it politically where he and Pope Francis share a common political objective as in dealing with income inequality and the threat posed by man-made global warming. Bernie Sanders does not do religion in the public space and that in itself is both remarkable and historic.
I believe that Bernie Sanders represents everything that is good about America. He has shown courage and backbone to a degree that is almost unheard of in political life. He overcame extreme adversity being the son of the last remaining Jewish family member to survive and flee the Nazi holocaust. He grew up in a run-down apartment and was unrelenting and fearless in speaking out for what he believed was right. It wasn’t political expediency that saw him get elected as mayor of Burlington Vermont. Speaking unapologetically about his socialist convictions during the Reagan era was almost as if he was trying to be the architect of his own political downfall. It wasn’t flag waving or saying how much god influenced his decision to enter politics that got him elected either. Bernie Sanders spent his political career shunning political orthodoxy. He became Mayor despite holding views that only represented a tiny minority of those that elected him purely on the basis of his loyalty to those he represents. Bernie Sanders is a hero to his constituents. He is a genuine patriot in a country that all too often uses the term to a nauseating degree and to promote actions that are anything but patriotic. His bravery, loyalty, proven political & economic wisdom and the fact that he has shown himself to be inspirational to an unfathomable degree is why as an Irish man I am asking the American people to do as Bernie Sanders himself has always done and shun the political, religious and economic dogma that has for too long run contrary to the great ideals expressed by president Kennedy.
I believe Americans in their millions will ignore the scaremongering, the vested interests of big media, corporate government and the naysayers and will elect Bernie Sanders as the 45th president of the United States of America to the justified applause of the Irish people and the rest of the world.
Finally a message from Bernie
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