It’s time to let America be America again | As it Turns Out

Don’t you wonder what changed our government from the democracy intended by our Founding Fathers, to the anti-government it has become today?

The majority of Americans believe our government today is at its most unethical, most cruel and most arrogant that we’ve witnessed. We’ve had unscrupulous politicians, but never the multitude there is now.

Some historians say the change began during our civil rights movement in the 1960s. “What changed was the marriage of anti-civil rights politics … with big money in politics,” Jeffrey Sachs wrote in The Boston Globe.

“With the advent of expensive television ads, mass mailings and big data, campaigns became expensive. Big campaign money flooded in and federal politics became the playground of billionaires.”

Enter Charles and David Koch, who with extravagant funding of “libertarian think tanks, advocacy groups, university departments, and political action committees… bought the Republican Party.”

Big businesses and their lobbies were gifted tax cuts and deregulation. Eventually, Big Armaments, Big Health, Big Oil, and Wall Street became “more influential than government itself,” and could “call on the federal government to do their bidding,” Sachs wrote.

The Koch brothers — plus Robert Mercer, Sheldon Adelson and John Olin — provided enough funds to be able to profit largely to their advantage. Democrats are no angels, but Republicans excel at these games of profit and power.

Mr. Trump is “surrounded by people who are veterans of this Koch apparatus,” wrote Nancy MacLean, author of “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.”

“I saw by one report, 70 percent of his top senior appointees are coming from the [Koch playbook] and that includes his vice president, Mike Pence.”

Chris Hedges, author of “Days of Destruction,” wrote, “Corporations are designed to make money without regard to human life, the social good or impact on the environment. Corporate laws impose a legal duty on corporate executives to make as much money as possible for shareholders.

“A corporation that attempts to engage in social responsibility, that tries to pay workers a decent wage with benefits, that invests its profits to protect the environment and limit pollution, that gives consumers fair deals, can be sued by shareholders.”

‘As useful as eating arsenic’

One simple fact about what energy corporations are doing with fracking, according to Juan Cole of Truthdig. “It’s ‘energy’ corporations who have vast inventories of worthless fossil fuels that they want to unload on the marks quickly before everybody realizes they have the same usefulness for human beings as eating arsenic.”

The protectors at Standing Rock tried to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from going across their land and the Missouri River. Owners of the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, wanted to bulldoze through sacred tribal grounds, including a burial area.

Energy Transfer Partners decided to get rough; after all, they had billions of dollars to make. First came the local police, who used violent measures — dogs, water hoses and rubber bullets, the usual.

Recently, Intercept began publishing its investigation into who was called out next. TigerSwan, a military-type security firm Energy Transfer Partners held on retainer, used aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping techniques to help combat the “enemy.”

“Such coordination between big business and law enforcement should raise alarms regarding the state of our democracy,” Julian Brave NoiseCat wrote in the Guardian.

What happens when the pipeline tries to go through Washington state? Will TigerSwan be called in for us?

“While many Americans may have viewed the conflict at Standing Rock as a fight for democracy and civil rights, the protesters and many Native Americans understood it to be one regarding legal jurisdiction and authority over land and resources — made all the more pressing by the presence of non-Native law enforcement and private security,” NoiseCat wrote.

Amy Goodman, author of “Silenced Majority,” reported for Democracy Now: “The battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline [was] waged as a renewed assertion of indigenous rights and sovereignty, as a fight to protect clean water, but, most importantly, as part of the global struggle to combat climate change and break from dependence on fossil fuels.”

If you get the chance, see the documentary, “Awake, A Dream From Standing Rock.” Beautiful. Powerful.

Who stands up for Americans if attacked by Energy Transfer Partners and TigerSwan? Our children and grandchildren deserve to live in an America where they are protected from the greed of big business corporations.

Perhaps we’re going to have to fight for what we want, instead of relying on our government. It’s up to you and me to stand up for ourselves and be straightforward about what we want from our government.

— Marylin Olds is an opinion columnist who lives in Kingston. Contact her at

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