Sunday, December 16, 2007

Response to Keith Johnstone & rich getting richer

First a response to Keith Johnstone, then a report on increase in the
wealth of the rich.

Hi Keith,
For background please read the response I sent Sharon Foster at 10:05
this morning on

At you will find a couple of samples
of what was on my website last year and some of the emails I've sent
out to the impeachment listserves over the last month.

I'll respond to you paragraph by paragraph:

On Dec 15, 2007 10:16 PM, Keith Johnston <> wrote:

> Hi Richard,
> That's quite a response you posted. Thanks for the extensive reply, I'll try
> to address just
> a few of your points.
> First and foremost, your original post made no mention that you were in fact
> a candidate
> for the party's nomination. Rather it appeared to me that you were serving
> as a facilitator.
> I base that on your comment "So far I have not found anyone who is willing
> to accept a 4th

I promised in July of this year that the 4th district would have an
impeachment candidate because, if no one else would run on such a
platform, I would. I communicated this to the GP State Central
Committee, the USGP Peace Action Committee, and the impeachment
listserves and committees in the state, and didn't realize that when
David Bedell asked me to forward that email I needed to rewrite it
because there are readers of the Fairfield Green yahoogroup who have
no contact with any of the others.

> district Green nomination for the congressional race. We will accept
> nominations from the
> floor."

I have sought other people who would run on an impeachment platform in
this district and have found none. I have just received information
from Gerald Falbel, who is interested in running against Shays,
probably as a Green, but not on an impeachment platform.

Your use of these phrases and the collective "we" gave no indication
> that you are a
> candidate for the nominee.

I assumed it was known. "We" refers to whoever manages the 4th
district convention--David Bedell, Paul Bassler, and I being the three
Fairfield Greens who most frequently go to state meetings in recent

For the record I am not running for the Green
> nomination for
> the CT-04 race.


> Second, I didn't reference a "one-issue platform", but rather voiced concern
> over the
> platform being built around impeachment. A subtle difference perhaps, but a
> difference.

Other people have talked about a "one-issue" platform. I'm not sure
what you mean by the subtle difference, but I'm willing to plead
guilty at this point to having a platform built around impeachment. I
have realized from the activity of the last 18 months that impeachment
really IS the make-it-or-break-it issue for the dominant theme I
announced last year: "Republic not Empire." The Bush project is to
destroy the apparatus of the Constitution and replace it with complete
freedom of action for a dictatorial executive branch--in the service
of managing world hegemony to maximize security and return on
investments. Bush does all that he does to transfer wealth from the
poor to the rich.

> Third, my reason for thinking that the party platform would be built around
> impeachment
> is based on your writing, in your original post, "I believe the Greens
> should run a candidate on an impeachment platform."

I've been sending these posts for 9 months and I have a LOT of
writing. Within a month or so there will be at least 200,000 words on
one to three sites.

> The next two items I'll tie together. In your reply you state "I disagree
> that arguing for
> impeachment will weaken the Green Party". And a few paragraph's later you
> write "I have
> no idea why you seem to believe that by criticizing Caruso you are somehow
> criticizing
> me." First it's not my intention to criticize you or the party, but rather
> to voice my opinion
> on a course of action that I think would be positive, and constructive. What
> I was offering
> was an analogy by illustrating how Caruso's fixation on a single point
> overshadowed the
> rest of his plan.

Keith, once one gets into debates, what one gets to say depends on
many things besides oneself--the planners, timing, and rules of the
debates, questions from the audience, statements by the other
debaters. Having been in a debate that did not follow the rules on
time the planners said they would follow, I'm not going to criticize
the conduct of a debate I haven't seen, especially when I don't know
what was said before it. Debating is like wrestling, an intense
activity in which you have to ignore some of what is going on around
you and have to be ready to discard your own plans because of changed
circumstances. It SOUNDS like Caruso got hung up on trying to explain
something he didn't have the time to go into; somehow he seems to have
gotten the impression that it was being turned into the crucial issue.
But I have no idea what that means about his actual thinking or his

> Next, you have decided to interpret my comment of "But let's jump ahead to
> January,
> 2009. Bush will be out of office. A new President and administration will be
> assuming
> responsibility and power, and a new Congress will be sworn in to uphold the
> Constitution". In your reply you say "when you jump to January, 2009, you
> apparently
> believe you are jumping to one date. You are not." Both the January 3rd, and
> 20th dates
> you reference fall within the month of January. I will concede however that
> you are right.
> There would be a 17 day window that would exist for Congress to draft
> articles of
> Impeachment, start an investigation, convene hearings, find Bush and Cheney
> guilty, and
> then remove them from office.

If 21 members of the Judiciary Committee, 218 members of the House,
and 67 of the Senate agreed about what they were doing, they could do
it very quickly.
> In your reply you write "I think it is always dangerous to worry about
> appearances before
> one worries about substance. You think that public perception of
> impeachment will damage the Green Party. But public perception is largely
> shaped by the
> corporate media. If we obey the corporate media, we are lost forever. It is
> our job to speak
> the truth and help people to understand it, not to throw up our hands
> because people
> have been deceived and then deceive them in turn." In reply to this i'll say
> that
> impeachment in general will not hurt or harm any one party.

I don't think so. Historically, the party that did the impeaching--or
even just drawing up the charges for impeachment--has ALWAYS won the
next election. The Democrats are making a BIG mistake about this.

But to "run a
> candidate on an
> impeachment platform" will turn the party into a one-issue party and the
> candidate
> chosen to run on that platform, regardless of however many other great ideas
> he/she
> might have, will be labeled as the pro-impeachment candidate by both the
> public, and the
> corporate media.

Keith, the way you are thinking about this is what drove the Democrats
to the right in order to try to capture the center as the Repuiblicans
moved it to the right. Registered Greens are 1 in 700 voters in
Fairfield. On the state ticket last year, no Green got more than 1.8%
of the vote. We've managed to get several Greens into office in very
small areas and in uncontested elections, but in Stamford, for
instance, the largest share of the vote we've received is 3%.
Meanwhile Shays had record funding last year and Jim Himes has the
seventh largest war chest for congress in the country despite being a

My goal is to raise issues the other candidates are afraid to raise
and to state them clearly. My personal motive in running is that the
only candidate I have heard who has come close to saying what I
believe is Ralph Nader. The others all claim to represent me but
don't. I decided to run because I knew the only candidate who was
going to say what I had to say was me. People who don't like what I
have to say shouldn't vote for me; instead they should run against me.

Is that right? No. But I think it is reality, and a
> candidate running on an
> impeachment platform will not be elected, and will do little to help set the
> stage for the
> future electability of other party candidates.

I don't think so. I think few people in this country have heard a good
presentation of the issues surrounding impeachment. I think they
should hear it. But if you want someone else to run, please help that
person to run.

However in my last 3
> paragraph's I outline an
> approach that I think not only plays up the party's strong points, but also
> helps to clearly
> define it in the mind of the public as a party that stands for something.

Are you thinking of the national party, the state party, Fairfield, or
local groups? In Fairfield our essential problem is that 3 people did
3/4ths of the work last year. If you want to strengthen the party,
please contribute time and energy and stimulate other people to. If
you think that can be done better with another candidate, please find
the candidate.

> In Jean deSmet's post-election win press release it said: "This election is
> about the future
> of Windham," deSmet told her supporters tonight. "We are going to listen to
> what the
> community wants. We are going to involve those not yet engaged. We are going
> to build on
> our community's strengths and on what's working. And – you better believe it
> – this Town
> is going to be a proactive participant with the community in working
> together on common
> goals." This is a positive and forward-looking message that I appreciate,
> and I will eagerly
> follow her to see how she implements these words.


> Finally, in your last paragraph, in discussing universal healthcare, you
> state "You say you
> think these are the real issues and that they are disconnected from
> impeachment." In re-
> reading my post I can't seem to find the comment that you're referencing in
> which I
> discuss that healthcare is disconnected from impeachment. I will reiterate
> that I do
> believe that most people would rather vote for a candidate and a party that
> stands for
> something, rather than for a candidate or a party that stands against
> something.

Keith, I have plenty of beliefs about what is right and good and
should be advanced. But I can't take a Pollyannaish view toward the
destruction of our republic. If we can't agree that Bush and Cheney
have violated their oaths of office, we have no prospect of keeping
our own.

> me a positive vision of the future. Tell me what we can do together to
> improve our
> country. How can we create healthcare for all, how can we improve our
> transportation
> infrastructure, how can we improve the quality of life for the poor, how can
> we protect the
> environment and in so doing can we replace our existing petroleum-based
> energy system
> with one made up of renewable energy.

I've had that vision over 40 years. But what have you witnessed for
the last 40 years? WHY has this country been squandering everything
that was good about it? WHY can't we get what we want and need? WHY
are our hopes crushed over and over?

The world is run by the plutocracy of the leaders of the G8, Keith.
Without understanding how the rich get what they want at the expense
of the rest of us, we have no prospect of improving anything. You want
to hear hopeful imagination. We got as far as hopeful imagination can
get in this country in 1968. We need analysis and clear comprehension.

> Those things intrigue and excite me. Talk about that and I'm right there.

I've got them. But they will go nowhere without impeachment. The
Democrats aren't going to give them to us. They just want world

> I stand by what I said: most people want to vote for a candidate and party
> that stands for
> something. Impeachment, especially in context of the 17 day window between
> Congress
> convening in January and a new president being sworn in on the 2oth, can be
> discussed,
> but I don't believe it should be the focus of a political campaign.
> Investigations for war
> crimes, sure. But those investigations will, and should, take a great deal
> of time.

I bring that up merely to refute the idea that impeachment is a moot
issue. I'm proposing pressuring the Democrats to impeach BEFORE 2009.
They're starting to respond. Wexler wants to start investigation of

> I want to vote for a candidate who focuses on a positive vision for our
> country, and
> articulates that vision in positive terms that will encourage people to work
> together for a
> unified and stronger country.

I've been writing for 45 years, Keith. One book is due to come out in
May. I may publish some essays before that. But my purpose is not to
help people lift their depression. They are depressed for good reason;
the vicious power politics they are continuously subjected to is
infuriating and we are usually in no position to do anything about
it--therefore it's depressing. I think we all need to learn how power
works so we can resist it.


Report Says That the Rich Are Getting Richer Faster, Much Faster
Published: December 15, 2007
The increase in incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans from 2003 to
2005 exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans,
data in a new report by the Congressional Budget Office shows.
The poorest fifth of households had total income of $383.4 billion in
2005, while just the increase in income for the top 1 percent came to
$524.8 billion, a figure 37 percent higher.
The total income of the top 1.1 million households was $1.8 trillion,
or 18.1 percent of the total income of all Americans, up from 14.3
percent of all income in 2003. The total 2005 income of the three
million individual Americans at the top was roughly equal to that of
the bottom 166 million Americans, analysis of the report showed.
The report is the latest to document the growing concentration of
income at the top, a trend that President Bush said last January had
been under way for more than 25 years.
Earlier reports, based on tax returns, showed that in 2005 the top 10
percent, top 1 percent and fractions of the top 1 percent enjoyed
their greatest share of income since 1928 and 1929.
The budget office report takes into account a broader definition of
income than tax returns that is known as comprehensive income. It
includes untaxed Social Security benefits, welfare, food stamps and
part of the value of Medicare benefits, giving a fuller picture of
incomes at the bottom than tax data.
Much of the increase at the top reflected the rebound of the stock
market after its sharp drop in 2000, economists from across the
political spectrum said. About half of the income going to the top 1
percent comes from investments and business.
In addition, Congress in 2003 cut taxes on long-term capital gains and
most dividends, which advocates said would encourage people to turn
untaxed wealth into taxable income. Some economists have said that the
increase in incomes at the top is illusory and is in good part simply
converting untaxed assets into taxed income to take advantage of
reduced tax rates.
The Congressional Budget Office report made no attempt to explain the
increases in income in its annual report on effective federal tax
rates paid by people at different income levels.
Asked how much of the increase at the top was from the tax cuts rather
than market gains, Peter R. Orszag, the budget office director, said,
"I can't give you an answer to that because we just don't know."
Chris Frenze, Republican staff director for the Congressional Joint
Economic Committee, said the increase in top incomes is much more
modest if viewed over longer time periods. Since 2000, he said, the
average income of the top 1 percent has risen $97,900, or 6.7 percent,
the same percentage increase this group had from 1992 to 1997.
Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in
Washington who characterizes the Bush administration's policies as
YOYO economics, based on You (Are) On Your Own, said the differences
in income growth explained why so many Americans have told pollsters
that they are feeling squeezed.
"A lot of people justifiably feel they are working harder and smarter,
they are baking a bigger and better pie, and yet their slice is not
growing much at all," Mr. Bernstein said. "It is meaningless to
middle- and low-income families to say we have a great economy because
their economy looks so much different than folks at the top of the
scale because this is an economy that is working, but not working for
At every income level Americans had more income, after adjusting for
inflation in 2005 than in 2003, but the increases ranged from almost
imperceptible for the poor to modest for the middle class and largest
for those at the top.
On average, incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by
$465,700 each, or 42.6 percent after adjusting for inflation. The
incomes of the poorest fifth rose by $200, or 1.3 percent, and the
middle fifth increased by $2,400 or 4.3 percent.
The share of all federal taxes paid by the top 1 percent grew, but
only slightly more than half the rate of their growth in incomes
because of the tax rate cuts. The top 1 percent paid 27.6 percent of
all federal taxes in 2005, up from 22.9 percent in 2003, while the
share paid by the middle fifth of taxpayers declined to 9.3 percent
from 10 percent in 2003.
The share of their income that the top 1 percent paid in all federal
taxes and in income taxes fell. The total tax rate dropped 1.8
percentage points, to 31.2 percent, from 2003 to 2005 while their
average income tax rate declined one percentage point, to 19.4
percent, largely because of the cuts in taxes on capital gains and
NYTimes, Dec 15, 2007