Despicable GOP.

No, I’m not just referring to the Republican Party’s current slate of presidential candidates – although they, alone, should be cause for derision. I’m referring to the Party’s ongoing disregard for ethics, human kindness and the Constitution.

Witness former Nixon administration staffer John Ehrlichman’s recent admission during an interview with Dan Baum for Harper’s about the war on drugs. As reported by, Ehrlichman stated, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Disgusting as that is, the Nixon campaign’s actions regarding the Vietnam War were worse. It is now known that the campaign intentionally undermined the Paris peace talks to prevent the end of the war before the 1968 election. Of course, the Nixon campaign was also guilty of breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee to steal information that would help it win the campaign.

In other words, the GOP candidate was willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of US soldiers and subvert the electoral process in order to gain office.

The Nixon campaign’s actions lend credence to those who have charged that the Reagan campaign undermined President Carter’s negotiations with Iran for the release of our embassy hostages until after the 1980 election. They also add credibility to charges that, during the Reagan administration, the CIA ran an operation to sell drugs in black neighborhoods in order to finance the Contras in Central America. And those actions neatly align with what has been proven – that the Reagan administration illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to finance the Contras.

There’s more.

In response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed into law by a Democratic president, it is known that the Republican Party embraced southern racists to improve its ability to win elections. The Party created a war of “social values” (anti-abortion and anti-gay rights) in order to appeal to “Christian” evangelicals. It attacked labor unions to benefit its large corporate donors, and to deny campaign funds to Democratic candidates. It prioritized partisan ideology over respect for the law in its Supreme Court nominations ultimately resulting in a series of court decisions that led to a torrent of money to sway campaigns. And, as I’ve shown in my new book Antidote to Fact-Free Politics, the GOP used those ideological justices on the Supreme Court to quite literally steal the 2000 election from Al Gore.

Since that time, the GOP pursued an ill-advised and unnecessary war. It has resorted to unprecedented obstruction to thwart many of the objectives of the Obama administration. It has used its majorities in red states to gerrymander congressional districts in order to prevent them from ever electing Democrats. It has aligned with the Koch brothers, their billionaire allies, and large corporations to re-write state laws through the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in order to enact long-term change on behalf of corporate interests. And, despite no evidence of in-person voter fraud, it has imposed voter ID laws to disenfranchise poor and minority voters.

Yet, as the result of the propaganda originated by the RNC and broadcast by Fox News, rightwing radio and the ratings-driven mainstream media, many poor and middle class voters are convinced to vote Republican against their own self-interests.

Is it any wonder that our nation has officially become an oligarchy?

Will Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee Be “Borked?”

In case you aren’t familiar with the history of Supreme Court nominations, the threat refers to President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork, which was blocked by a Democratic-controlled Senate. But though you may think that turnabout is fair play, the Senate’s refusal to confirm the nominee involved a much different set of circumstances than what we are seeing today.

First, unlike the current Senate’s blanket threat to filibuster any Obama nominee, Democrats warned Reagan that Bork could not be confirmed if he was nominated. They hoped he would nominate someone less controversial. The reason was Bork’s firing of Archibald Cox, the first Watergate Special Prosecutor, as part of the Nixon cover-up of Watergate. Though Bork later claimed that, as the newly-appointed Attorney General, he was acting under orders of President Nixon, it was believed that he understood the implications of the firing and was trying to prevent the impeachment of Nixon. Bork was also considered an ideologue and a divisive figure in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia. Even the ACLU opposed his nomination.

So it was clear that the Senate was not blocking any Reagan nomination to the Court. They were singularly focused on blocking the nomination of a candidate they vehemently opposed.

Nevertheless, Republicans were furious, and they vowed to repay Democrats by blocking nominations of Democratic presidents. Of course, they forget that, before Bork, they successfully filibustered Lyndon Johnson’s nomination of Associate Justice Abe Fortas to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And later, they forced Fortas to resign from the Court over the fact that he had accepted a lifelong annual retainer for agreeing to provide legal advice to a friend and former client for a family foundation. Yet Fortas’ actions would seem to pale in comparison to those of current Justice Clarence Thomas. Not only has Thomas long been dogged by claims of sexual harassment of Anita Hill. Thomas failed to make legally-required financial disclosures for 13 years. He also refused to recuse himself from cases in which there were obvious conflicts of interest.

If the Republican-led Senate follows through with its threats to filibuster any Obama nominee, what will happen when the tables are turned? Will we see another tit for tat? Will Democrats seek payback? For more than 7 years, Republicans have blocked President Obama’s nominees. In fact, in 2010, they blocked a whopping 97 presidential appointments in a single day! Even today, there are 81 vacancies on federal courts with 39 judges waiting confirmation.

If Republicans continue on this path, Democrats will be faced with the choice of allowing the Republican dirty tricks to succeed. Or returning the favor.

Neither option benefits our nation.

The Attempted Destruction Of A Candidate.

Since she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has been the presumptive Democratic nominee for the office of president. And, of course, that has made her the prime target for Teapublican attacks. There is simply no other explanation for the continued investigation into the attack on our Benghazi consulate. In fact, few other incidents in US history have received such scrutiny. Not the attack on a Marine base in Lebanon during the Reagan administration. Not the sale of weapons to Iran during the Iran-Contra scandal under Reagan. Not the attacks on 9/11 during the Bush administration. Not even the run-up to our invasion of Iraq on false pretenses.

For nearly 3 years, there has been a near constant drumbeat of rumors and accusations by Teapublicans over the Benghazi attack. Only Obamacare has been the subject of more Teapublican rants than Benghazi. We even have a select congressional committee on Benghazi. Yet, despite no evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary or anyone in the Obama administration, the “scandal” persists. Indeed, it has grown into “e-mailgate” over Clinton’s decision to use her own e-mail and her husband’s computer server, instead of the one provided for her by the State Department.

Was she trying to hide something? Did she illegally use her husband’s server to receive and send classified information? Could the server have been hacked? More to the point, was she trying to hide what really happened at Benghazi from Teapublican congressmen?

Multiple investigations have proven that the answer to all of those questions is an emphatic no!

Clinton provided all of her e-mails from the server regarding State Department business – more than 30,000 – which have been poured over by the FBI and still there is no evidence of wrongdoing. But the purported scandal will not go away. It continues to expand. Each and every day, the so-called “liberal” media publish yet another story of a new Teapublican allegation. Now the FBI has been given access to all of Clinton’s personal e-mails. Of course, this is exactly what Teapublicans have been fishing for.

Be prepared for her private e-mails to be leaked to Teapublicans and then to the Press. Anything that can possibly be portrayed as negative, deceitful or unethical will show up in the media. And, if there happens to be one e-mail that can be construed as a “bombshell,” it will be released next summer during the peak of the presidential campaign.

We’ve seen this act before.

In 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for president, there were numerous allegations and investigations into Whitewater, an ill-fated investment in which Republicans claimed that the Clintons had defrauded other investors, but, in fact, the Clintons lost money themselves. That “scandal” was followed by Troopergate, Fostergate, Billarygate and numerous other “gates.” All of them were simply fishing expeditions to find dirt on the Clintons. Only after expending 6-7 years and more than $70 million, did Republicans finally strike paydirt when Monica Lewinsky’s friend outed her relationship with Clinton leading to a congressionally-appointed Special Prosecutor who was freed to dig into every corner and crevice of the Clintons’ lives.

In fact, the Republican obsession had little to do with the Clintons themselves. Like the elephant that serves as the Republican logo, Republicans have long memories. They are still looking for payback over the threatened impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon. They first tried to pin a scandal on Jimmy Carter and settled for the Iran hostage crisis which was extended by Reagan’s treasonous agreement with the Iranians to hold the hostages until after the presidential elections. They tried to pin anything and everything on Bill Clinton. And they failed at painting Barack Obama as a radical Muslim Kenyan unqualified to hold the office.

Now they’ve turned their attention to Hillary.

Of course, the Teapublicans could not have any success with such manufactured scandals if not for a compliant, corrupt and lazy Press; a Press that is all too happy to fawn over every bombastic word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth; a Press that happily publishes accusations leveled at Hillary without any attempt to research the accusations and to put them into context.

For example, did you know that Hillary was not legally bound to use a government e-mail server? Did you know that the State Department’s server was hacked while Clinton’s remained secure? (It is, after all, a server shared with a former president of the United States.) Did you know that the previous two Secretaries of State, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, also used private e-mail accounts while in office? And did you know that Karl Rove and the Bush administration funneled millions of e-mails regarding government business through a server owned by the Republican National Committee and, when asked to produce those e-mails, erased them?

Where was the outrage then? Where were the congressional investigations? Where was the Press?

Our Other Civil War.

This past Labor Day should give us pause to consider its real meaning. More than a 3-day weekend, the unofficial end of summer and a shopping holiday, it’s a celebration of labor – the hard-working men and women who built this nation. In many ways, it also represent the end of our second civil war.

The war began in the late 1800’s when wealthy industrialists discovered they could exploit the flood of new immigrants by forcing them to work long hours in dangerous conditions, all the while paying them barely subsistence wages. The battlefields were in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Reading, San Francisco, and on Blair Mountain, West Virginia. The combatants were ordinary working people demanding living wages and safe working conditions who were often attacked by armies of security companies, law enforcement…even veterans from the American Legion.

The battles raged for decades until workers finally won the right to organize and negotiate with their employers. This collective bargaining, as it came to be called, eventually brought us the 5-day, 40-hour work week. It brought us paid holidays, paid sick leave, workers’ compensation insurance, and retirement benefits. Collective bargaining ended the practice of forcing men, women and children to work in dimly-lit, poorly-ventilated sweat shops. It ended company stores which were used to accumulate workers’ debt and hold workers captive from cradle to grave.

Even if you have never joined a labor union, you benefit from the efforts of those brave enough to fight the establishment.

Unfortunately, the exploitation only ended in the United States and other advanced nations. The descendants of the industrialists – the CEOs and directors of large, multi-national corporations – merely exported the exploitation elsewhere…to countries lacking collective bargaining. They simply moved their factories to China, to Bangladesh, to India, to Pakistan, to Indonesia, to Malaysia, to Viet Name and elsewhere. In those countries which have few government regulations and no labor unions, they are free to force workers to slave away in sweat shops, often paid by the piece and made to work seven days a week.

Of course, this is no longer called exploitation. It is now called globalization. And, whether or not we care to admit it, we all participate in this exploitation. US corporations get their products made at lower cost and American consumers benefit from lower prices. Corporate shareholders see dividends and higher profits. And while the corporations despoil the land, air and water of other countries, we can breathe more easily because the pollution is out of our sight and, therefore, out of our minds.

So what can you do to stop the exploitation? You can vow to purchase products that are humanely made and sustainably grown. You can divest your investment portfolio of the corporations that are the worst offenders. You can write letters to the leaders of those companies. You can boycott their products. And we can end the current war on collective bargaining began when Ronald Reagan, a former union leader himself, betrayed PATCO, the air traffic controllers’ union. You can support collective bargaining for teachers, first responders and government workers. And you can demand that your company have a representative of its workers on the Board of Directors as is the case in many European companies.

Then, and only then, will we be able to truly celebrate Labor Day.

The US Is No Longer A Democracy. Here’s How It Happened.

Last year, a study from Princeton and Northwestern universities, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens,” concluded that the US government no longer represents the interests of the majority of the nation’s citizens. Instead, it panders to the rich and powerful.

In other words, the US has become an oligarchy defined as a government by the few, a small group that exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.

More recently, President Jimmy Carter, commenting on how big money has subverted our elections, said, “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations.”

The US didn’t become an oligarchy by accident. We got here as the result of a long list of political decisions designed to pander to the wealthy and the powerful. Here’s how:

During the 1800s, the US went from a largely agrarian society to a society based on the industrial revolution. This created some extremely wealthy individuals often referred to as the “Robber Barons,” who took advantage of cheap labor created by the influx of immigrants. They paid little and subjected their employees to horrific working conditions. During this so-called Gilded Age, the wealthy chose the candidates and ran the nation until the masses began to rebel.

In the early 1900s, the Gilded Age ended when workers began to unionize. The wealthy responded by hiring the police and ex-military (the American Legion) to break the labor strikes by bashing some heads. In reality, it was America’s second civil war.

When the Great Depression struck, the nation moved even further toward socialism which caused the wealthy to try to arrange the assassination of President Franklin Roosevelt. In fact, many of the industrialists wanted the nation’s government to reflect the fascist governments of Italy and Germany. Their agenda was interrupted with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, World War II and the revelations of the Nazi death camps. And they were forced to accept the will of the masses until the 1970s when President Richard Nixon and Vice-President Spiro Agnew attacked the new media in order to deflect criticism of their policies.

By raising questions about the objectivity of the media which were embraced by conservatives, it set the stage (intentionally or not) for the Reagan administration and its economic policy of “Trickle Down” theory. This was nothing more than a return to the “Horse and Sparrow” economics of the gilded age, during which government policies were carefully crafted to benefit the wealthy under the theory that if you feed enough oats (money) to the horses (the wealthy) enough will fall on the road to feed the sparrows (the masses).

Reagan portrayed the government and its regulation of industry as the enemy. He attacked labor unions. He lowered taxes for the wealthy. He increased the amount of money exempted from estate taxes. He deregulated the media by eliminating the Fairness Doctrine which held media accountable to serve in the public interest. And he lowered capital gains taxes, which allowed the wealthy to keep more of their primary sources of income – interest and dividends from investments.

With the wealthy allowed to accumulate more money, labor unions on the defensive and an emasculated press, the table was set for the oligarchs. All of this was made worse by Grover Norquist, Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed who showed the Republican National Committee that it could thrive by eliminating compromises from our political discussions and treating politics as war – a blood sport. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took congressional dysfunction a step further by transforming the GOP into a parliamentary-style party in which the entire Party is unified on every vote. If you dare to break ranks with Party, you are punished in the next primary and election.

Add to all of this the more than $28 billion lobbying industry, which is financed almost exclusively by the rich and the powerful, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which writes laws on behalf of its corporate sponsors then hands them to its conservative members to sponsor in their state legislatures where the bills are often passed with little discussion or examination, and the George W. Bush administration which cut income taxes for the rich by 4.6 percent and all but eliminated the estate tax.

The last major player is the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court, which by 3 decisions (Buckley v Valeo, Citizens United v FEC and McCutcheon v FEC) unleashed a torrent of money in campaign donations from the oligarchs. So much so, that candidates should have to wear NASCAR-style uniforms with labels of their sponsors. Indeed, of the nearly $400 million donated to presidential candidates so far this year, nearly half has come from fewer than 400 families!

Given all of this, no election in our history has been as critical as next year’s. We can either continue further down the road of oligarchy by electing candidates who try to divide us over social issues while pandering to the wealthy. Or we can elect candidates of change – real change. Candidates who will put the power of the government back in the hands of the people.

That’s why I support Bernie Sanders.

The Man Who Saved Nukes.

In 1986, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev asked for a meeting with President Ronald Reagan. When they met in October of that year, Gorbachev surprised Reagan by offering what may have been the greatest gift in history. He proposed a realistic path that would lead to total nuclear disarmament. It would have resulted in the mutual destruction of all nuclear warheads over a period of 10 years and the elimination of all such weapons worldwide. It called for ongoing inspections to make certain that such weapons would never exist again. And it would have forever removed the very real threat of the annihilation of our species.

The offer was no trick. No attempt to gain military advantage over the United States. It was a sincere attempt to end the madness of the Cold War.

There was only one condition – that the US would agree to limit the testing of Reagan’s pet project, the Strategic Defense Initiative otherwise known as the “Star Wars” defense system. The US would be allowed to continue to develop SDI, but testing would be limited to laboratories and it could not be deployed. This was not an onerous condition since the project was still in the early days of development. It likely would never have been ready for deployment within the 10 year period. And after nuclear disarmament, it would no longer have been needed anyway.

Of course, Reagan refused.

Reagan’s neocon advisers, especially Richard Perle, convinced Reagan that Gorbachev was asking too much. They felt that restricting SDI to laboratory testing would not be accepted by the conservatives back home. They demanded atmospheric testing. As a result, we missed the best chance to rid the world of nuclear weapons in a lifetime – maybe forever. So the next time you hear someone like George W. Bush trying to create fear by pointing to the threat of nuclear weapons, remember who is truly responsible for the continuing threat.

Reagan is the man who was credited with ending the Cold War, but the real credit belongs to Gorbachev. It’s thanks to Reagan that we still live under the threat of nuclear weapons and the very real chance that they might fall into the hands of someone crazy enough to use them.

Source: The Untold History of the United States

Public Versus Private. Corporations Versus People.

Ever since President Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” conservatives have attributed virtually all of our problems to the federal government. They believe that the government cannot do anything well. As a result, they have continually cut taxes in order to starve the government of revenue, making it less effective and less efficient so it better lives up to their expectations.

At the same time, conservatives have pushed to privatize many government functions. Private, for-profit contractors now handle many of the functions that our military once did, including food service, transportation, supply and security. Both state and federal governments have awarded contracts to private prison corporations. Public education now competes for funding with private charter schools. Even our most sensitive spying and surveillance programs have been outsourced to private companies as evidenced by the revelations surrounding Edward Snowden.

But are these private entities really better than the government? Is the government really the problem? Much of the evidence says no.

The jury is still out on whether or not privatizing our military is a good idea, but there have been numerous embarrassing incidents in which private contractors were accused of committing war crimes. As for private prisons, studies have shown that they cost far more per inmate than public prisons, even though private prisons refuse to accept high security prisoners and those with chronic illnesses. And a study by Stanford University has shown that private charter schools perform no better than public schools.

Moreover, the 2013 Customer Rage Survey by Customer Care Measurement and Consulting and the Arizona State University W. P. Carey School of Business found that the percentage of people with customer service problems grew from 32 percent in 1976 to 50 percent in 2013. And 56 percent of those who complained in 2013 remain unsatisfied. Most telling is the fact that 98 percent of the most serious customer service problems involved private companies. Only 2 percent were associated with the government!

How can that be? Is it possible Reagan was wrong?

The truth is, our government is ultimately accountable to us. It may seem big and uncaring, but one election can change everything. On the other hand, today’s giant financial institutions and multinational corporations have little accountability to customers. Certainly, you can move your account from a large bank to a smaller one, but the likelihood is that it, too, is controlled by a large holding company. You can switch insurance companies and find that the new company is just as difficult to deal with as the previous one. Likewise, you can get rid of your cable company, but your satellite provider may not be any more responsive. Indeed, it may be worse.

The problem is not a matter of public versus private. Most customer service problems stem from bureaucracy – both public and private.

But our most serious problem involves both public and private institutions. It centers on the alliance between government and large corporations based on disproportionate access and influence. Consider, for example, the alliance between the George W. Bush White House and Richard “The Dick” Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, which was awarded billions in no-compete military contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan; or the alliance between Ohio congressional representatives (both Republican and Democrat) and the Ohio contractor for Abrams tanks which was awarded a contract for additional tanks that the Army neither wants or needs; or the alliance between Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s staff and a private prison company which led to the company receiving multi-million dollar contracts for private prisons. There are many, many more examples.

Not surprisingly, many of the government’s most outspoken critics are conservatives who will gladly spend money to enrich their districts, their states, their corporate friends and themselves.

Mourning Mandela.

It has been said that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. No statement more accurately describes Nelson Mandela.

Mandela began his career as an activist by non-violently demonstrating against South African apartheid. When the white South African government responded with exceptional brutality, Mandela and his followers reluctantly turned to terrorism. But rather than kill people, their intent was to blow up buildings in order to make a statement and disrupt the government.That led to Mandela being tried for conspiracy to overthrow the government and being sentenced to life in jail. With most of the world supporting sanctions against South Africa and, with Mandela as a symbol for freedom, the government was eventually forced to release Mandela and apartheid finally came to an end.

Yet Mandela’s political career was just beginning.

Having won freedom for himself and his people, Mandela directed his energies toward healing the wounds of apartheid. He was elected president of South Africa and, rather than seeking retribution for the crimes of the previous government, Mandela promoted national unity. Is it any wonder, then, that Nelson Mandela is now celebrated by most of the world?

That was not always the case.

Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Richard “The Dick” Cheney and other conservatives considered Mandela a terrorist and placed him on the terrorist watch list. Although Reagan publicly spoke against apartheid, he vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. His veto was over-ridden by Congress. But Reagan defiantly refused to implement many of the sanctions against the South African apartheid government, and Mandela was kept on the US terrorist list until July of 2008.

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who follows today’s GOP.

Since implementation of the Southern Strategy beginning in the late 1960’s, the GOP has almost completely rejected its glorious past as the party of emancipation, consistently coming down on the wrong side of history. The GOP refuses to vote for comprehensive immigration reform. It has fought against gay rights and gay marriage. It has relentlessly attacked a woman’s right to make medical choices regarding her own body. Republican legislatures have pushed through unnecessary voter ID laws in order to restrict the voting rights of minorities.

Despite Mandela’s victory over discrimination, despite his Nobel Peace Prize, despite worldwide acclaim and despite the sorrow so eloquently expressed by people the world over, even now, some in the GOP refuse to acknowledge his greatness simply because Mandela believed in economic equality as well as racial equality. That made Mandela a communist and a danger to the wealthy and the powerful, a claim that defacto GOP leader, Rush Limbaugh, recently leveled against Pope Francis.

The fact is, Nelson Mandela fought the good fight. He helped to liberate tens of thousands of people. He inspired millions more. We should all strive to do even half as much. Most especially those in the GOP.

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” – Nelson Mandela

Conservatives Take Aim At Government Labor Unions.

This year, conservatives are gathering lumps of coal for most Americans’ Christmas stockings. We can soon expect to see multi-million dollar assaults on many of the nation’s remaining social institutions and programs. At the federal level, conservatives in Congress are seeking to cut another $4 billion to 40 billion from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps. They are also targeting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance. And they are fighting attempts to increase the minimum wage despite the fact that large corporations have raked in record profits since the beginning of the Great Recession, and that wage growth is our main impediment to economic growth.

Conservatives are facing a severe time crunch in order to accomplish these goals. You see, the economy is finally showing signs of real growth. That means more Americans are working and paying taxes, thereby reducing the drain on social programs and lowering the deficit. As the deficit disappears so, too, does the conservatives’ primary argument for slashing social programs and cutting spending.

If conservatives are going to force more austerity and “personal responsibility” on poor Americans, squash labor unions, slash corporate taxes and head off a growing environmental movement, they have to do it now while the deficit is still inflated due to the effects of the Great Recession.

That’s why, as The Guardian reported, the State Policy Network funded by the Koch brothers is coordinating an all-out assault on government and social institutions in 34 states beginning early next year. The focus is on cutting pensions and wages for government workers, cutting budgets for public schools through voucher programs, and combatting attempts to reduce greenhouse gases. But, undoubtedly, the primary goal of the campaign is to rid the country of labor unions, particularly those in the public sector.

Of course, virtually none of their goals are actually good for our country. They are, however, great for large corporations, their executives and their investors.

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone. Conservatives have been fighting organized labor since the 1800’s. Labor unions grew in the 1930’s following the Great Depression when workers realized that the economic collapse was caused by the rich and their insatiable appetites for more wealth. But labor unions have been under attack ever since. The attacks accelerated during the Reagan administration leading to a decline in union membership, the elimination of more than 85,000 pension plans since 1980, and the export of hundreds of thousands of American jobs. As more high-paying labor jobs were sent offshore, union membership further declined. At the same time, large corporations like Walmart fought to block the unionization of their workers. As a result, union membership declined 11.3 percent in 2012 alone. Simultaneously, corporate profits have soared. But that largess has not been shared with workers.

There is, however, one sector of our economy in which labor unions are alive and well. The percentage of union membership among government workers is now 5 times higher than for workers in private companies. Given their contempt for unions and government, that figure makes public sector unions a tantalizing target for people like the Koch brothers. Their control of workers and the disassembling of government won’t be complete until labor unions no longer exist, corporate taxes are eliminated and the federal government is reduced to the Department of Defense. (After all, somebody has to defend them from those who would like to claim part of their wealth.)

Want to learn more about the attacks on American workers? I highly recommend The Betrayal of the American Dream by Barlett and Steele.

Smallest Government In 47 Years.

It’s fashionable for Teapublicans to demand a smaller, limited government. To support their cause, they quote the 10th Amendment which says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

What Teapublicans neglect to consider is the preamble to the Constitution which reads, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

“Promote the general Welfare” gives the federal government a lot of latitude with which to create agencies such as the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Federal Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and all of the other regulatory agencies that conservatives hate so much.

And, yes, as confirmed by the US Supreme Court, the Constitution even allows for the creation and implementation of “Obamacare.”

Moreover, in recent years, it’s not just liberals and Democrats who have expanded the federal government to a size that Teapublicans now find so intolerable. Republicans were responsible for much of that growth. In reality, what most likely rankles Teapublicans is that a Democrat… a black Democrat at that…is now in control of those departments and agencies.

But it may surprise Teapublicans that President Obama, that so-called “big government-loving, over-regulating, over-spending socialist,” has significantly reduced the size of the federal government! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of federal employees is at a 47-year low. To be exact, before the government shutdown, there were 2,723,000 federal employees. The number hasn’t been that low since 1966. And that number of employees must now serve 118.13 million more people.

Imagine that! Under President Obama, the size of government has shrunk to lower levels than under George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush and even the idol of all government haters…Ronald Reagan!