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                 The True State of the Union

                                                                                                        Earth Manifesto Insights

                                                                                                              Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

                                                                                                            January 2006

Every January the President of the United States delivers a generally upbeat assessment of the State of the Union, one that is sprinkled with idealism, political spin, rosy rhetoric, shameless boasting, deceptive partial truths, and an outline of political initiatives. The true State of the Union differs markedly from that crafted by the speechwriters for the President. 

The current State of the Union here in the year 2006 is one of enormous challenges and dramatic potential and extraordinary risk.  Many of these issues are discussed below, in more accurate terms, with the spin removed.

Note that eleven score and ten years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  The most important Founding Principles of democracy in the United States were these:  fairness and justice for all;  the promoting of the General Welfare;  the limitation of federal government power;  and the establishment of rules of law that protect the freedoms of individuals to live their lives without undue interference, and in reasonable hopes of pursuing happiness.

Extensive economic, social, technological, scientific, demographic, and environmental changes have taken place in the 230 years since the Declaration of Independence.  Progressive legislation has been enacted to abolish slavery, limit unfair competition, prevent monopoly practices, guarantee civil rights, reduce worker abuses, guarantee women's rights, establish a social safety net, and protect a healthy environment.

The human race is being confronted today with challenges that are increasingly global in nature.  These problems pose more significant risks than ever before in the history of civilization.  Our human activities are threatening the world with devastating conflicts, climatic instability, diminished biodiversity, a heightened vulnerability to man-made and natural disasters, and inexorably greater demands on the planet's finite resources.

The primary causes of these increasingly dangerous risks are stimulated consumerism and wasteful production and consumption.  Arrogant greed and aggression and the continued rapid growth in the number of human beings on Earth are also contributing factors.  These forces put humanity on a collision course with the limits of the carrying capacity of Earth's ecosystems to support us.  We are damaging ancient rain forests, temperate forests, fisheries, wetlands, coral reefs, wildlife habitats, and even the atmosphere.  And we are simultaneously wastefully depleting aquifers, topsoil, minerals and fossil fuels worldwide.  This is causing an accelerating deterioration of fundamental life support systems, making it ever more important that we immediately begin to enact bold conservation measures and family planning programs.

Ambrose Bierce defined politics as "a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."  Today's political strife is, on the surface, a titanic struggle for the hearts and minds of men and women.  It is a profound struggle, in essence, between forces that seek to give the powerful and the privileged ever-greater influence and those opposing forces that advocate wise, far-sighted planning to protect the public and to safeguard its assets and to prevent ecological catastrophe and to limit the abuses of power that are inherent in unregulated capitalism.

The true State of the Union can be most clearly understood by considering the following specific issues with open-minded attention and clarity of thought:

* ENERGY POLICY … We need an intelligent and far-sighted National Energy Policy.  Conservation, efficient energy use, and innovation to develop renewable alternatives must be the cornerstone of a sustainable energy future.  It is dangerous to allow our economy to remain highly dependent on oil and natural gas.  We must develop and implement a visionary Strategic Initiative to wean ourselves from our addiction to polluting non-renewable fossil fuels.  We are driving this finite resource towards exhaustion.  This leaves us vulnerable to price shocks and economic and social disruptions as we use up the remaining 50% of oil supplies on Earth.  We must stop giving giant oil companies direct and indirect subsidies.  We must prevent them from externalizing substantial pollution and related healthcare costs onto society.  Additionally, our extremely expensive militarism in the Middle East is a consequence of our addiction to uninterrupted access to dwindling oil supplies.  This makes us less secure due to the exacerbated hostilities and hatred it is causing, the enormous debt being incurred, and the potential for terrorist ‘blowback retaliation’ for the great injustices associated with militarism and imperialism.

The free market will automatically stimulate innovation when incentives are introduced to find renewable alternatives to fossil fuel use.  Green taxes and comprehensive full-cost pricing of oil would discourage wasteful uses of this valuable resource.  This will give market recognition to the true costs of the procurement, use, and rapid depletion of fossil fuels.  A bold new National Energy Policy must be implemented rather than our current wrong-headed one that emphasizes enormous subsidies for oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear industries.  

Our shortsighted energy policies are creating increased additional national security risks due to rapid climate change, weather extremes, and agricultural disruptions that are being caused by the billions of tons of global greenhouse gas emissions that we are collectively pouring into the atmosphere each year.  Coal is not a clean energy source, and mountain top removal coal mining is devastating many landscapes and streams.  Nuclear energy involves extreme risks of centralization, radioactive wastes, and vulnerability to accidents and terrorism.  For clearer perspective, see the ideas contained in ApolloAlliance.org.

* LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL … Republicans frequently say that we should be creating more of an Ownership society.  Yet their policies are gravely contradictory to this goal.  The richest 1% of Americans already owns more of American's overall wealth than the bottom 90% combined.  And this richest 1% of Americans received a staggering $148 billion in tax cuts in the year 2004 alone.  Disparities of wealth are growing, and this constitutes an extreme social injustice, one that is antithetical to both our founding principles and to religious doctrines that preach fairness and compassion and charity towards the powerless and the poor.  

We need progressive taxation, greater investments in public education, more affordable healthcare for all, livable wages, a viable Social Security system, balanced budgets, resource conservation, and more generous humanitarian aid, NOT hundreds of billions of dollars for "preemptive wars" and ever-greater tax breaks for those who have no need for them whatsoever.  Actions, not deceptive talk, must be regarded as the true colors of any politician.  We must reign in the power of the greedy;  and we should not be further disenfranchising the needy!

* ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS … The natural systems of the Earth need to be protected.  This is an ultimate overriding moral good.  We cannot allow shortsighted political expediencies to sacrifice the environment for short-term profit.  We depend on natural systems completely for our sustenance and the quality of life, and ultimately for our very survival.  The League of Conservation Voters gave the Bush Administration a failing "F" grade on its environmental policies in its expansive June 2003 Presidential Report Card.  It called the recent Republican record the worst assault on environmental laws in American history.  Standards are being rolled back on environmental safety and public health.  Enforcement of environmental laws is being circumvented.  Outrageous and misleading legislation is being advanced to favor corporate interests over the best interests of American citizens, allowing more air and water pollution and more aggressive exploitation of public lands.

The Office of Management and Budget completed a study that found that the cost to business and government of environmental laws from 1992 to 2002 was five to seven times less expensive than the costs to society for pollution cleanup and adverse healthcare impacts.  Yet the government wrong-headedly allows industry lobbyists to re-write environmental laws to allow Big Business to externalize these costs onto society.  It is criminal for Big Business to profit by harming the public and the environment!  Laws such as the Clear Skies initiative that allows more air pollution, and the Healthy Forests initiative that allows more aggressive logging of our National Forests, must be replaced by better balanced laws.

* PUBLIC LANDS PROTECTIONS … Millions of acres of unspoiled public lands and potential wilderness areas are threatened due to the powerful influence of corporate drilling and mining and logging interests.  These exploitations of our public wild lands must be more tightly controlled.  The widely supported Roadless Rule that protected 58 million acres of public lands should not have been overturned by the Bush Administration.  We must conserve and protect wild lands and open spaces and park lands.  The nonpartisan organization, The National Parks and Conservation Association, gave the Bush Administration a Report Card in the summer of 2003 with an overall grade of a "D minus". The Bush Administration was cited as (1) failing to preserve park resources by weakening clean air laws and opening 13 national park units to oil and gas drilling; (2) opposing any additions at all to the National Parks System; (3) failing to fulfill the President's pledge to provide adequate funding to restore and renew our national parks; and (4) failing to protect wildlife and the quality of park visitors' experiences by reversing the snowmobile ban in Yellowstone National Park, by encouraging the use of noisy and polluting Jet Skis in more than a dozen parks, and by taking no action on curbing low-flying commercial flights over the Grand Canyon.

* BETTER EDUCATION … The education system in the United States needs reform.  The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) represents a bipartisan effort to improve the quality of public education, but funding for this initiative has been reduced by many billions of dollars from commitments made by the current Administration.  Many argue that the NCLB law is misguided in its focus on testing, as opposed to providing our children with broader abilities to think critically and understand more clearly.  NCLB law is also causing widespread public "school failures".  This is due to the faulty design of the law, with its rigid provisions that require "adequate yearly progress".  We must reform NCLB, and strongly support the public school system and the professional development of teachers.  We must strive to make public education more accountable to parents and students and communities, rather than to federal government bureaucracies.  In addition, our society should invest in better quality public education through such initiatives as good pre-school programs, safe after-school programs, and better affordability of higher education.  See FairTest.org for a Third Year "No Child Left Behind" Report Card itemizing the laws failures.

The costs of a college education have increased 30% in private schools and 56% in public universities over the last 5 years, yet Congress is cutting student loan aid and has frozen Pell grants for the last 4 years.  This is bad news for students trying to get ahead.

* BALANCED BUDGETS … Our national debt is increasing at an irresponsibly rapid rate.  It has increased almost 900% from $845 billion at the beginning of Ronald Reagan's administration in 1980 to $8.2 trillion today.  This has caused the U.S. to become the world's biggest debtor nation, instead of being the largest creditor.  We must do a better job of controlling and prioritizing federal government spending of taxpayer dollars.  We must rein in pork barrel spending, corporate welfare, wasteful military spending, and the growth of entitlements.  We must reduce subsidies to big agribusiness corporations and extremely profitable energy companies.  And we must stop allowing the clever expediency of deficit spending, which is an undisciplined and financially risky and unfair shift of taxation to people in the future.  Deficit spending is a means of evading the difficult choices that a more responsible federal government should be making.  We must always keep the interests of the future in mind as a healthy context for good policy-making.  We cannot continue to let short-term, vested-interest-oriented politics dictate selfish, greed-driven, and myopic public policies.  Instead, we should give greater consideration to the impacts that our activities will have on future generations, and create an ecologically and socially wise new paradigm for better decision-making.  We should enact a Bill of Rights for Future Generations, as petitioned by the Cousteau Society, in recognition of the fact that borrowing from the future is the ultimate form of taxation without representation!

In his first State of the Union speech following the 9/11 terror attacks, President Bush stated on January 29, 2002:  "To achieve these great national objectives --- to win the war, protect the homeland, and revitalize the economy --- our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-term."  Listen: either he was deviously lying to the American people about the enormous size of his deficit spending plans, or he has presided over the worst fiscal mismanagement in decades.  Federal spending has increased dramatically, by more than 30% since President Bush took office.  He has not vetoed a single spending bill.  He aggressively cut taxes and ramped up defense spending, and this contributed to a large increase in budget shortfalls.  This reflects a dogmatic confidence in the righteousness of borrowing from the future, rather than paying as we go.  The President last year asserted that he will cut the deficit in half, not this year, not next year, but 5 years from now!  In other words, the Republicans effectively act as if more than a trillion dollars of mounting shortfalls in the next 5 years is perfectly acceptable in order to continue giving tax breaks to the wealthy and failing to hold the line on the growth of social program spending and continuing to finance militarism without paying as we go.  We must hold our leaders responsible for developing a detailed blueprint for achieving balanced budgets soon!

A prime example of the serious misuse of power by the federal government on domestic spending involves the drug-industry-friendly Medicare/Prescription Drug Bill passed by Congress in November 2003.  It is a new entitlement program enacted in the face of record deficits.  It will cost an estimated $720 billion over the next 10 years.  Its passage is an outrageous example of the anti-democratic steps taken during the legislative process that effectively circumvent government rules and laws that require accountability, ethical behavior, transparency, and the inclusion of opposition opinions.  The Bush Administration dishonestly misled Congress as to the true cost of the Drug Bill, concealing the known facts at the time that the legislation would cost far more than the $400 billion that Congress was led to expect when it agreed to the new spending.  See the website at CommonCause.org for the reprehensible details of the political subterfuge that was involved in the passage of this legislation.  Google the phrase, "Common Cause - Democracy on Drugs").

* FAIR TAXATION … Every taxpayer currently pays the exact same amount of tax on every dollar of taxable income as every other taxpayer with the same marital status.  This is progressive taxation.  For instance, a person earning $500,000 per year in taxable income pays exactly the same amount of tax on their first $50,000 of taxable income as someone earning only $50,000.  Progressive taxation is fair.  What is unfair is taxing the future by irresponsibly indulging in deficit spending in order to circumvent the need to pay as we go.  Giving tax cuts that primarily benefit the highest income earners is fiscally irresponsible and socially unjust, because it effectively allows the rich to get richer at the expense of everyone else, now and in the future.  The marginal tax rate for the highest income earners reached a peak of 70% before Ronald Reagan became President, and today it is only 35%. This is a regressive change, and it is socially unfair.  Deficit spending penalizes every taxpayer in the future by forcing an increasing amount of money in each year's budget to be spent on interest expense related to the national debt.  One fair solution to this inequity would be to increase the marginal tax rates on all taxable income over $250,000 per year from the current 35% to 40%, and on all taxable income over $500,000 from 35% to 50%.  The funds generated by these changes would help balance the budget.  We should also simplify the Tax Code, making it fairer and at the same time eliminating loopholes that allow the wealthy to reduce their net taxable income.

* INHERITANCE TAXES … The regressive tax breaks that began with Ronald Reagan are brazenly contributing to an accelerating widening of the gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else.  The elimination of the Inheritance Tax under the guise of family farm protections and fairness to the richest 1% of Americans is shifting the burden of taxation away from those who are most able to pay taxes to other people who are less able to pay and who will be most onerously affected by the change.  The only fair way to finance the elimination of the Inheritance Tax would be to increase taxes on the highest wage earners.  In other words, we should finance Inheritance Tax reductions for the richest 1% of Americans, who are fortunate enough to have estates worth many millions of dollars, by a marginal tax rate increase on those very earnings that create such estates.  It seems obvious that it is wrong to finance tax breaks for the rich by regressive taxation OR by borrowing money from the future.  Throughout history, great concentrations of wealth and extreme disparities between the rich and the poor have led to social upheavals that are destructive to all.  Such disparities are reaching an extreme today under Republican fiscal policies.  As can be seen throughout history, this can be remedied wisely through peaceable partial redistributions like progressive taxation, or unwisely and destructively through civil conflict, extreme political instability, or revolution.  I find the arguments against eliminating the Inheritance Tax to be very strong, and believe that it should NOT be eliminated.

* SOCIAL SECURITY … Last year's Republican plan to privatize Social Security was deceptive and fraudulent in nature.  To start with, the Social Security system is not a fiscally sound retirement plan.  All funds collected from taxpayers today are either immediately given to people already retired, or they are loaned to the federal government by the Social Security Trust Fund.  Of course, the government spends every cent of this borrowing, not to mention the additional hundreds of billions of dollars per year that are squandered through the expediency of deficit spending.  It is unconscionable to claim that we can reform this Ponzi-like scheme by borrowing money to create private accounts, pretending that taxpayer funds are not already being radically overspent.  It is wrong to cover up the malfeasance of this deception by borrowing trillions more dollars from the future.  There is already a gigantic unfunded liability of $11 trillion related to this spending of Social Security payroll tax collections.  Incurring enormous additional liabilities for the purpose of creating millions of private accounts would greatly benefit Wall Street financial institutions, but it would also almost certainly create increased volatility and a stock market bubble.  It would jeopardize future retirees and contribute to the trend towards the potential bankruptcy of the United States.  Fiscal soundness should be brought to the Social Security program by courageous reforms, including the reduction in the rate at which payments to ALL retirees are increased annually.

* INFRASTRUCTURE … The physical infrastructure of our society requires committed maintenance.  The American Society of Civil Engineers 2005 Report Card for America's infrastructure rated the condition of our nation's roads, bridges, dams, drinking water systems, schools, transit, and other public works a "D".  We are failing to maintain the very basis of healthy functioning of our society.  We are allowing the U.S. infrastructure to crumble without making adequate remedial investments.  We must stop wasting money on new entitlements and regressive tax cuts and military occupations, and invest instead in revitalizing our urban areas and improving our schools and supporting safer and more convenient public transportation and establishing better pollution control and wastewater and solid waste facilities.

* FOREIGN POLICY … The attack on Iraq is a facet in the "war on terror" that is arguably making us less safe by creating unjust conditions that will lead to more terrorism.  Injustices, arrogant unfairness, and humiliation are being heaped on people of Islamic faith, which serves to galvanize fundamentalists into jihad warfare.  This is a very dangerous way to treat people whose religion says that war is holy in defense of their people and their God Allah.  The war in Iraq and our occupation of that country are ruinously costly policies.  They are dangerously provocative, arrogantly misguided, unwise, and counterproductive in their diversion from the fight against terrorism.  We must use diplomacy and respect other nations' sovereignty and refrain from eagerly resorting to unilateral interventionism.

American leaders like to boast that we are strong and confident.  But in practical fact, the federal government is increasingly foolish in its evangelical self-righteous certitude, and we are allowing our leaders to be arrogant and dishonest in abusing U.S. superpower strength.  It is a dangerous to advance absolutist attitudes that say Americans are good and that others are evil.  It is a great risk to allow our country to be dominated by a single political party, which seems every year to become more extreme in its radical "conservatism", particularly in a world figuratively growing smaller, more interdependent, and more ecologically fragile every year.

Our leaders speak idealistically of democracy, freedom, liberty, justice and peace, but in actuality they are primarily focused on forcefully pursuing policies that are focused on gaining greater power, domination, short-term profit, and unimpeded access to markets and natural resources.  The book Addicted to War, Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism provides an insightful revelation into why we must stop the cycle of violence now by adopting more just policies.

Heavy-handed economic injustices and militarism beget opposition in reaction.  Violence begets violence and terrorism.  Terrorism, in turn, sparks reactionary retribution and intransigence and increased impetus for war and militarism.  Islamic fundamentalism begets Christian extremism, and they ironically both reinforce and empower extremes in their opposition.  We must eschew preemptive warfare, and mitigate the drives for vengeance.  We must reaffirm the Geneva Conventions against prisoner torture.  We must not allow our leaders to act with undue secrecy and inadequate Congressional oversight.

* TORT REFORM … Another complicated issue that is high on the Republican agenda is to reform the legal system.  To effect tort reform, we must understand the social goals of our legal system and its provisions to redress personal injuries, unsafe products, and medical malpractice.  These goals are to protect the public by improving products and workplaces and environmental safety, and to hold responsible parties liable and provide compensation to victims.  Democrats generally seek (1) to provide adequate staffing and budgets to government agencies like the EPA, the FDA, the SEC, the FTC, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to help ensure public safety; (2) to make such agencies tougher and more independent of the companies and industries that they were created to regulate; and (3) to make sure that companies are kept socially accountable and financially responsible by maintaining the power of the courts and the tort liability system.  This theoretically provides companies with a strong incentive to act with a reasonable concern for public protections.  Republicans, on the other hand, generally represent the insurance companies and the medical establishment in striving for (1) weakening regulations and reducing the effectiveness of governmental agencies responsible for protecting the public, and (2) limiting lawsuits and punitive damages and attorney costs, and the sometimes perverse negative effects of the tort liability system. Obviously, the best policy must involve a balance somewhere between the broad aggressiveness of right wing doctrine to allow Corporate America to be less responsible, and the liberal resistance to alter the system even though it is sometimes unfair and often burdensome or misguided.

* WOMEN'S RIGHTS … Women should have equal rights to men.  Sex discrimination should not be allowed.  Women should be paid the same amount as men for comparable jobs.  The government should not interfere with a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester.  There are 50 million abortions worldwide every year.  We could very significantly reduce this number by investing in good women's health clinics around the world and encouraging healthy sex education and supporting unwanted pregnancy prevention programs and making contraceptives widely available.  We should embrace such initiatives resolutely and generously.  The Global Gag Rule and abstinence-only programs are puritanical cultural arrogance taken to an extreme, as if promiscuity were a far greater problem than unwanted pregnancies or the preventable transmission of sexual diseases or the traumatic and morally difficult last resort of having an abortion.

* MORALITY … Our leaders in the last five years have very successfully managed to rule by dividing Americans, rather than by striving to unite us.  They have done so in order to strengthen their power and establish the dominance of Neoconservative doctrines.  Shallow, simplistic and discriminatory anti-gay, anti-abortion moral arguments have been given great energy, while far more profound moral issues of peace, combating poverty, maintaining environmental integrity, promoting social justice, and caring about fairness have been subverted and diminished for selfish political gain.  Religious faith is too often dishonorably used as a manipulative tool to justify actions that are contrary to morality and the common good.  ‘In God We Trust’, we say, although it is difficult to know why:  God seems to be clearly indisposed towards helping millions of people who suffer from grave injustices, inexplicable violence, unfortunate accidents, natural disasters, terrible diseases, and ignominious fates.  We would be better off placing more hope and faith in our leaders, holding them strictly accountable for the public good.  The constellation of harsh policies that revolve around Strict Father ascendancy is crushing the socially important policies of Nurturing Mother values, as defined by the famous linguist George Lakoff.

Capitalism shows a powerful opposition to efforts to regulate it.  It resists efforts to make its operations more fair, more socially responsible, more accountable, and more ecologically sound.  It seems to disdain social justice and environmental sanity and democracy itself every moment that it asserts its single-minded focus on profits over all other values.  One reason for this is that capitalism and democracy are fundamentally opposed to each other in many ways, just as freedom and equality are basically struggles against each other.  The greater the freedom a society allows, the more that inequalities naturally multiply -- and the rich get richer.  Democracy essentially stands for fairness, equal representation, and government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Unregulated capitalism, in contrast, strives for monopoly, for profit at the expense of workers and the environment, and for dominance, power, and special privileges for a small elite.  Giant corporations wrongly treat the natural world, upon which humanity is completely dependent, as if it were unlimited and expendable, with little concern for the consequences.  They show inadequate care for workers, communities, or a sustainable future.  They strive to gain short-term advantages and capitalize on opportunities to get special treatment and subsidies.  They lobby to get the rights to externalize pollution and related healthcare costs upon society.  Corporations ironically act almost exclusively in ways that, in an individual, would be regarded as pathologically insane (see the insightful book, titled The Corporation - The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power --- or the film based on it --- for valuable insight).

The best policies require a principled balance between freedom and equality, between unregulated capitalism and the protection of the public.  The principal purposes of government are to establish order, to protect the individual from external dangers and abuses of power and privilege, and to strive to provide fairness of education, opportunity, and legal justice.  We must have the insight, vision and courage to create public policies that are consistent with these principles and ideas that contribute to the common good.

Crony capitalism is corrupting the fundamental principles of our democracy.  Wealth and prosperity have become distorted into a self-serving agenda aimed at continually increasing the prerogatives of the super-rich and the powerful.  Political philosophies advocating enormous spending on weapons and military domination capitalize on people's fears, self-righteousness and nationalistic patriotism to advance authoritarian goals.

George W. Bush is doing an extraordinary job of representing the interests of rich people, crony capitalism, and militarism, but he is doing a very poor job of representing the best interests of the American people.  In his first State of the Union address after 9/11, he stated, "… while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high. Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay."  We can now see how his words have actually been translated into action: (1) Since the easiest way to get citizen support is to avoid requiring the public to pay for programs, the Administration has cut taxes, increased spending, and indulged in irresponsible deficit spending.  This has resulted in an enormous increase in the National Debt of more than a trillion dollars since these words were spoken; (2) We have adopted a national policy of aggressive military interventionism, seemingly reflecting a strong conviction that the best defense is a good offense.  This has inflicted "collateral damage" and many injustices on innocent people, and hurt our international relations, put our armed forces in harm’s way, created many enemies, exacerbated hatreds, required the sacrifice of some of our civil liberties in the name of nationalism and patriotism, pushed us towards economic ruin, made the world a more dangerous place for Americans traveling abroad, and made all of us distinctly less secure; and, (3) Our leaders have misled us, botching the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the effective prosecution of the "war on terror" by diverting our military into a deadly and costly quagmire in Iraq.

The U.S. Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius in 1945 said: "The battle for peace must be fought on two fronts. The first front is the security front where victory spells freedom from fear. The second front is the economic and social front where victory means freedom from want. Only victory on both fronts can assure the world of an enduring peace."

Today, Neoconservative doctrine essentially says that we should spend unlimited amounts of money on aggressive dominance to make us secure.  This ignores the mutual security needs of other countries and other peoples.  It also posits that we should advance America's economic supremacy while being stingy in spending for social programs and in sustainable development programs and humanitarian aid at home and abroad.  We should understand that all people are in this existence on planet Earth together, and doctrines that myopically proclaim that we can go it alone are foolish and unacceptable as official policy.

The Founding Principles of our nation and the system of checks and balances in our Constitution are being eroded.  We must stand up and oppose these trends.  We cannot, in particular, allow the increasingly intrusive Executive Branch to stack the judiciary with any more ideological extremists like Samuel Alito.  We need honesty, integrity, discipline and vision in order to establish sensible controls, equitable fairness, and responsible accountability in the White House and Congress.

We must begin to act more responsibly towards the majority of Americans, and towards future generations.  We must use our reason, not blind faith in doctrine, Big Government, deregulation and privatization.

We must strive to make the world a better place by keeping fairness and equality of opportunity as goals of our society.  We must emphasize decentralized power and the health of our communities.  We must fight poverty and injustice.  We must strive for cooperative consensus building, mutual security, energy conservation, the protection of a healthy environment, and peaceful coexistence.  We must be open to a progressive adaptation to change, moving forward, not backwards.

Our leaders have the responsibility of helping to create a healthier and more fair society.  Politics generally panders to the already privileged, so we must establish more effective institutions to prevent such unfair tendencies.  Our goal must be to encourage a maximum of personal freedoms for all people to pursue fulfillment, within the context of a secure, wholesome structure of fair and just laws and institutions.

Our increasingly one-party system is insidiously embracing the retrogressive doctrines of neoconservatism.  It is masquerading as visionary idealism to gain and consolidate power.  Propaganda, deceptive rhetoric, institutionalized corruption, capitalistic exploitation, aggressive militarism, sexism, election fraud, and right-wing control of the mass media are arguably endangering democracy in the United States by contributing to an increasingly unjust and authoritarian federal government.

In conclusion, our leaders are misleading us, and they are leading us in the wrong direction.  Their actions are far too often dishonest and hypocritical.  Their actions are too often contradictory of their deceptive rhetoric.  They almost invariably choose to side with Big Business, Big Money, and Big Government, rather than the best interests of the people, the environment, and Planet Earth.  They are being socially, fiscally, politically and ecologically irresponsible in pandering to unbridled capitalism, deregulation-driven polluters, spendthrift consumerism, anti-democratic unfairness, politically-expedient pork barrel spending, deficit financing, shortsighted public land exploitation, aggressive militarism, American dominance at any cost, and born-again religious fundamentalism.

We must develop more enlightened attitudes towards job creation, small businesses' success, employment policies, living wages, trade deficits, women's rights, civil rights, universal health insurance, stem cell research, and dignity in dying.  We each make choices every day, and we must begin to understand the consequences of the choices we make, and start modifying our choices.

We must demand that our leaders lead us more fairly and wisely and honestly.  We are at a juncture in human history where we need to reassess our purposes with clarity and hope and optimism.  We need to cultivate the ability to better recognize what is best for ourselves, for our societies, and for future generations.

And we must believe that we can make a positive difference in the world --- and know that it is vital and necessary that we strive to make such a difference!

          Tiffany Twain