Posts by Kazolias

Socrates George Kazolias. I am a Paris based reporter, media consultant, university lecturer and trainer in communications. For the past 35 years, I have done on-the-ground training and reporting throughout Africa, including in conflict zones, and around both Eastern and Western Europe. During my career I have worked with NGOs, the UN and the US State Department in various assignments in Media for Peace initiatives and Democratic Development Assistance as well as helping University Faculty Members set up Communications Programs and teaching techniques. I have developed an expertise in African and European affairs on which I have written and lectured extensively. I am available for commentary and reporting. I am ready to travel and accept short term assignments. I also train government and business leaders in Media Relations and Crisis Management Communications. My 35 year career includes Radio and TV reporting, Production and Management Positions. I am fluent in English and French with a working knowledge of Russian and German.

The USA Needs A New Constitution

 

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To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The United States must organize a Constitutional Congress and write a new, 21st Century, text to govern our nation. The further we go, the deeper the messes caused by a text written for the world of 1787. It would be a long process but I don’t think a few Amendments or Referendums will get the job done. However, there are things that could be done now.

 

Get A Horse

To begin with; any elected representative who supports the Electoral College should be forced to go to Washington on horseback like the Founding Fathers and for the same reasons. We could easily do away with the Electoral College without changing the number of delegates by introducing a state-by-state proportional voting system.

Let’s say a state has 30 representatives to the House. In a proportional voting system, the parties which reach a certain threshold, say 10% of the vote, divide the number of delegates according to the percentage of the popular vote they got. This would eliminate the problem of Gerrymandering.

Such a system would also allow for the emergence of new parties to challenge the status quo of Democrat and Republican, basically giving us a greater choice than the conservative right-wing and extreme-right wing choice we have now. It will enrich the debate and offer voters more options while at the same time fight ‘Fake News’ by getting more views expressed publicly.

With more parties elected comes the possibility of forming coalitions and thus limiting gridlock. More parties and coalitions also limit the capacity for executive abuse as we see today with Trump and his subservient GOP or under Obama and his hidden wars.

We should also extend the terms of House members to at least four years. Under the present system, they spend half their two year mandate campaigning for the next elections.

A National Photo I.D. Card

The US should introduce a mandatory national photo-identification card. This will do away with all accusations of voter fraud. It will also help the administration in many of its tasks. Those opposed to such I.D. papers should think of their Drivers License which is already one form of photo-I.D.

On the photo-I.D. would be name, place and date of birth, social security number and fiscal IRS number, which should be one and the same anyway. Perhaps Draft Status could be added (yes, I want to bring back the draft). These cards would also help in the fight against illegal immigration, welfare fraud and speed access to social services for citizens. Yes, they will probably contain a micro chip and, if an address is included on the card, you may have to renew it every time you move. 

There are arguments for and against such identification (click here ) but I am convinced this will make everybody’s life a lot easier and legal. The European experience can be studied to see how well it works.

Flintlocks and Powder Kegs

These photo-identification cards could also help in gun control and background checks if the US is to maintain a Second Amendment under a new Constitution. The problem is, for many, the Second Amendment has become more important than the First which gives us liberty. In this case, nuttier elements of our society will easily use the Second to suppress the First as has already too often been the case.

I would say that these Second Amendment enthusiasts should all be forced to own a Flintlock, keep their powder dry in the pantry and report for State Militia duty once a month. I am not against owning weapons. I own some myself. But I do want to keep semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of unstable and criminal elements. A national I.D. card can help do this.

Aliens Are Not Citizens

“Birthright Citizenship” for aliens must end. I agree this is a complete mis-reading of the 14th Amendment as designed by those who wrote it. It was never intended for anybody else other than freed slaves of which we have none in the US today. It was to insure they could benefit from US citizenship along with their 40 acres and a mule. Most never got the latter and many are still waiting for the full rights of the former as the 2018 voter suppression cases demonstrate. It would have spared North Dakota Indians from having to fight for their right to vote this year (click here).

At last Florida will allow ex-convicts to vote (25% of the state’s Black males have a prison record (click here ) and Colorado has abolished the servitude clause in their State Constitution (click here). Now we need to end chain gangs and exploitive prison labor for private enterprise where they still exist. The new Constitution will have to ban private prisons and private police forces for public order. It will have to clearly define the government’s monopoly role in ensuring law and order for the general public.

End Executive Abuse of War Powers

Another thing the new Constitution can do is take back war powers away from the president. The executive branch has much too much authority to use military force around the world without any accountability. The new Constitution should also abolish the use of mercenaries, also known as ‘private contractors.’ If a country goes to war, the whole country goes to war. You don’t sub-contract a nation’s security, nor allow for ‘private wars’ to be fought in our name with no Judicial or Congressional oversight.

We could actually drastically limit the power of the president to one where he presides more than he governs. At any rate, ‘decrees’ should have to go through Congress one way or the other. Many will argue that these rules already exist but the president is acting unconstitutionally. If that is the case, then it is because the Constitution we have lets him get away with it. All the more reason for a new text.

These were just a few reflections but the time is now. 

  1. Completely limit the amount of authorized campaign funding and impose a fair exposure clause for media in order to maintain their licenses and access to the airwaves. The 1947 Hutchins Commission Report on Freedom of the Press and its responsabilities has been completely forgot (click here)
  2. Henry Luce and Robert Hutchins developed the social responsability theory with the goal of avoiding a public which demands government regulation of the media. They could not foresee corporate monopolies taking over the media landscape:
    "Social-responsibility theory thus proposes 
    that the media take it upon themselves 
    to elevate society's standards, providing 
    citizens with the information they need 
    to govern themselves. 
    It is in the best interest of the media 
    to do this; 
    if they do not, social theorists warn, 
    the public will demand that 
    the government regulate the media."

N. Dakota: GOP Massacres Indians’ Right To Vote

imagesWhen North Dakota, in 2012, elected Democrat Heidi Heitman to the Senate by some 3,000 votes, Republicans, who run the state, went scrambling for solutions. They found one which eliminates 75,000 potential Democratic voters from casting a ballot, including the quasi totality of the state’s Indians, roughly five-and-a-half percent of the population.

The solution Republicans found came in the form of a change in identification presented at polling stations. In 2018, a voter must present an ID which has name, date of birth and a provable address with street and house number. Fair enough you may say except in rural North Dakota people live in sparsely populated areas where dirt roads often have no names and houses rarely have a number. In all nearly ten percent of the Flickertail State could be denied their right to vote.

 

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Every General Store has letter boxes

Many people, including most Indians, don’t have street addresses. They have Post Office Boxes. Voters in North Dakota never needed a street address.

 

Although a lower Federal Court overturned the law saying P.O. Boxes were fine addresses, the new rule was upheld by a Federal Appeals Court and, this month, by the US Supreme Court. This gave Democrats and Tribal leaders three weeks to get on their horses or in their pick-ups and get papers to people which will be accepted at the polling stations — an almost impossible task.

North Dakota is the only state with no voter registration. Until the law change, it was enough to show up at a poling station, show an ID with your name on it and vote. Only cities like Bismarck and Fargo can do voter registration if they feel the need. 

You would be on the voting list if you voted in a previous election. If you had no ID, it just took somebody to recognize you to be able to vote. If you were not on the list or it was the first time you voted, you signed a affidavit saying you are you and voted. Believe it or not, there has never been voter fraud, even though that is the pretext Republicans used to change the law.

Republicans said they could not verify 3,600 affidavits after the 2016 elections. That does not mean there was voter fraud, nor has anybody claimed there was voter fraud. Everybody in North Dakota knows everybody else for dozens of miles around. It was the Voting Rights Act a Republican Congress passed in 2013 that gives states much more power in policing polling stations so you can bet your wooden-nickels they will enforce the new law on Tuesday.

images-2The Republicans claim people can all get a 911 address and then obtain the proper papers with a “911 street address” on it. The emergency response has designated addresses for people in the state’s 53 counties. 

Many Indians don’t have the means to travel to, nor the money to buy the new ID once they get to an administrative center with their 911 address. There is also a high level of homelessness among them, not to mention many Indians don’t have birth certificates. Tribes are trying to get free ID to voters in time for election day and reach out to those spread around in the prairies and hills.

Why is this election important? Without the Indian vote, it will be hard for Heidi Heitman to win the election and if she loses, the Democrats have no hope of taking back the Senate.

US Unemployment: Figures that Don’t Figure in the National Debate

Real unemployment in the US is much higher than the official figures tell us, perhaps over 20%.

“Figures don’t lie but liars figure!”

images-1When Donald Trump claimed during the 2016 election campaign that real unemployment in the US stood at 42% (click here), he was closer to reality than you may think.  He was using a number called ‘The Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate (click here)‘: all those Americans 16 and over minus prisoners, military, mental health patients, etc.. This figure shows that only 62% of Americans have meaningful employment which is the lowest it has been since the 1970s. In all 102 million Americans are out of work. ( See note 1.)

Both Dems and Reps Hide the Real Figures

Trump’s hyperbola should have sent the press digging because, this time, Trump is right to call the figures ‘Fake News.’ Once adjusted, you should come to an unemployment rate of around 20%, much higher than the 3.6% touted by the Bureau of Labor which only counts those who are on unemployment benefits.

Even by their calculations, if you add those who are no longer eligible for unemployment, those who gave up looking for a job, and those working part-time but would like a full-time job, unemployment would stand at 7.6%, twice the “official” figure. (Click here)

The government added 608,000 people to its “not in the labor force” category in May 2018 or what the web site ‘538’ calls the “official” discouraged workers (click here). We get the 102 million jobless from adding the 95 million “not in the labor force” to the seven million unemployed.  In 2009, a year after the crash, the figure stood at 93 million: 83 million “not in the labor force” plus 12 million unemployed. (click here)

In reality, the fact that 48% of working age Americans are not working is worse than the 1950s and 60s because, back then, a family could survive on one salary. Today both parents have to work to make ends meet. This explains why there are so many working people among the 44 million who live off of Food Stamps and why 23% of American households with one full time job are on Welfare. And lets not forget those who can’t ‘afford to work’, such as welfare mothers whose salaries could not cover child care?

Dems or Reps – Wages Just Go Down

A good indicator that unemployment is so high is that wages are standing still when they are not going down which means there is a large reserve army of labor out there for bosses to choose from (click here and here). In other words, they can keep wages down because so many people want work. Wages count for only 43% of GDP today, down from 52% in 1969 and worst it has been since 1929, according to economists like Paul Kraugman. And don’t forget what those at the top are earning when contemplating that figure.

No, Trump no longer uses this way of calculating now that he is President. It is amazing how much truth he actually spoke to get elected such as when he denounced his competition for being “bought off” by big money. And don’t expect the Democratic leadership to speak the truth either. They get their money from the same financiers, banks and industries as the Republicans.

The Debt Bomb

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Pissing on the truth.

Another sign Americans are not doing well is debt. Household debt stands at $13.3 Trillion which is an all time high and will reach four Trillion by the end of 2018. This does not augur well as interest rates are set to rise and Americans are spending much more than they earn.  Many economists predict they will default on their debt and send us into another crisis. Corporate debt is well over six Trillion dollars. The dominoes are teetering.

With a budget deficit set to reach a Trillion dollars in 2020 ($890 Billion in 2018) and a debt of 21 Trillion, (105% of GDP!) the US government is doing no better. The crazy idea, economists say, is lowering taxes and raising the deficit at the same time while claiming the economy is doing fine. As long as the world thinks the US is safe and continue to buy Treasury Bonds, we can slither by but how long will it take for people to understand we are fast becoming an economic Paper Tiger? Today, 35% of world transactions are in Euros which shows the currency catching up with the dollar at 39%.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, told Congress in November, 2017, that they should be losing sleep over the debt. (click here)

And don’t think they are telling you the truth when they say the Defense budget is $720 Billion either, even though that in itself is outrageous. You need to add at least 500 Billion more in discretionary spending, which includes financing our wars, and other forms of military spending. (click here)

President Eisenhower warned us against the appetite of “The Military Industrial Complex” and its hold on politicians.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 23.14.14If the Democrats win the mid-terms, they may find themselves dealing with a major economic crisis before the 2020 elections. As with Obama in 2008, they would have to fix an economy broken by the Republicans. And of course, they will do so by bailing out their friends on Wall Street on the backs of Americans who can’t pay their bills.

Somehow, both parties have managed to convince Americans that Freedom means total insecurity, that migrants are the reason they suffer, and that tax cuts which benefit the super rich are in their interests.

Please leave a comment.

 

  1. PolitiFact ruled the 42% figure false. I agree but as you can see from the links I put in, they were using different measures. Here’s the link to PolitiFact (here). They eliminate from the count many I include but PolitiFact still end up with 16%-17% unemployment rate which is six times more than the official rate. The reality is, many, many more people are out of work than the figures admit to.
  2. I am not an economist, nor do I pretend to master the subject of unemployment, but I think these things need to be hammered on so that angry Americans understand that they are right to be angry. That is the starting point for any discussion with those people Clinton called “the deplorables” if we want to fight the rise of right wing extremism in the US.

 

Bolton Threatens the World

 

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If you give one of the most evil people a hammer, everything else is a nail.

 

Doctor Strangelove is back.

John Bolton attacked the International Criminal Court and, in doing so, basically said the United States and Israel have the ‘green light‘ to commit War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity with impunity. Continue reading →

Syria: Six Lost Years

 

This Pod Cast deals with the fact that the solution the West is pushing for today was put on the table by Syria and Russia in 2012 when Syrians approved a new Constitution which calls for multi-party elections.  At the time, the West, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar thought they could overthrow the Syrian government. Now that they have to admit defeat, and while they still threten to attack Syria, they are trying to save one of the last Jihadi bastions so they have some cards to play at the negotiating table.

 

 

I am including the script below: Continue reading →

Macron Hits Back at Trump by Sidelining NATO

EMMANUEL_MACRON_PORTRAIT_OFFICIEL.0Emmanuel Macrons says Europe can no longer rely on the US for its security. He is calling for a European defense initiative which could sideline Nato and has begun bilateral talks with potentially willing EU members. He is even ready to discuss a separate security partnership with Russia. But so far the response is cautious. Europe does not seem ready for France to lead another Grande Armée. Continue reading →