NPR fails to mention occupation– while Barghouti says in Guardian it is ‘root cause’ of violence

At a time when violence is flaring between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, Americans are being deprived of crucial information about the conflict. Our press portrays the clashes as a cycle of violence between two groups with ancient enmity; and while there is some truth in that description, it is vacuous if reporters fail to describe the power balance here. At the very least, reporters should say that the violence is taking place in the context of a 48-year-old military occupation of Palestinian lands by Israelis.

Today National Public Radio did a piece on the latest violence in Israel and Palestine and referred again and again to events in occupied territory, but never provided that simple fact to readers. Host David Greene began by saying that the latest stabbing took place “just outside Jerusalem’s Old City.” Yes: it took place in occupied East Jerusalem, at the Damascus Gate. Palestinians who live there can’t even vote for the government that controls their lives.

NPR’s correspondent Emily Harris reported that the stabbing “didn’t come out of nowhere. There are always tensions simmering at some level here, though it does go up and down.” The ancient enmity idea. Then she referred to the murderous arson attack in a “Palestinian village last summer.” That July 31 attack was inside the occupied territories, and said to be perpetrated by Israeli colonists. She didn’t say so.

Harris went on to talk about the dispute over access to the Holy Sanctuary, or Temple Mount, in occupied Jerusalem. Again, not a word about occupation, and religious zealots were made out to be “interested” in equal rights:

Jewish groups that are interested in expanding Jewish rights on the Holy site

Harris spoke of Israeli security forces’ efforts to “figure out how to respond to” Palestinian attacks; again, not a word about their being occupiers. And spoke of the killing of an Israeli couple “in the West Bank” and another stabbing at “a checkpoint.” That couple were settlers killed deep in the occupied West Bank. Checkpoints exist to enforce an occupation.

The terrible paradox here is that other parts of the world are getting this information. In today’s Guardian, imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti writes that the occupation is the root cause of the violence:

Imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti on Sunday delivered an impassioned plea to the international community to tackle the root causes of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, as he praised the “new Palestinian generation” for resisting the Israeli occupation.

In an article for the Guardian written from his cell in Hadarim prison – his first for an international publication since 2002 at the height of the second intifada – Barghouti said he was pleading with the world as then to “to deal with [the violence’s] root causes: denial of Palestinian freedom”…

Here are excerpts of Barghouti’s op-ed:

“This new Palestinian generation has not awaited reconciliation talks to embody a national unity political parties have failed to achieve, rising beyond political divides and geographic fragmentation.

“It has not awaited instructions to uphold its right, and its duty, to resist this occupation. It is doing so unarmed, while being confronted by one of the biggest military powers in the world….

“The escalation did not start with the killing of two Israeli settlers [in the West Bank]. It started a long while ago and has been going on for years. Every day there are Palestinians killed, wounded, arrested.

“Every day colonialism advances, the siege on our people in Gaza continues, oppression and humiliation persist. As many want us today to be overwhelmed by the potential consequences of a new spiral of violence, I will continue, as I did back in 2002, pleading to deal with its root causes: denial of Palestinian freedom…

“Some suggested that the reason why a peace deal could not be reached was late President Yasser Arafat’s unwillingness or President Mahmoud Abbas’s inability, while both of them were ready and able to sign a peace agreement.

“The real problem is that Israel has chosen occupation over peace and used negotiations as a smoke screen to advance its colonial project. All governments across the globe know this simple fact and yet so many of them pretend that returning to the failed recipes of the past could allow us to achieve freedom and peace.”

Shouldn’t NPR be reflecting this perspective? Any Palestinian would describe the conflict in these terms, if not so eloquently. They just want their freedom.

Finally, look at this report from South Africa:

“Apartheid in South Africa was a picnic compared to what we have seen in the occupied territories,” Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete said following a visit to Palestine.

A picnic compared to South African apartheid. I was told very much the same thing nine years ago in Hebron by a South African church worker. Jimmy Carter tried to tell Americans Palestine was headed for apartheid that same year and was slamdunked by Terry Gross for the analogy. Charney Bromberg regretfully told a Columbia audience it is apartheid, The Nation has said it’s “apartheid on steroids,” even Jeffrey Goldberg has said it’s apartheid but “temporary” or “provisional.” When will our press decide that the public is adult enough to hear this truth? I do believe that #BlackLivesMatter is our greatest ally in this discursive struggle, because its efforts have been treated fairly, even sympathetically by many NPR journalists, including Arun Rath and Audie Cornish.

Thanks to James North.

Israeli forces have killed 25 Palestinians since the beginning of October

 

The CIA in Guatemala: A chilling account of death and misery by a brave woman…

This is a video by Jennifer Harbury, an American whose late Guatemalan husband, a Mayan indigenous activist, was “disappeared” by the military. After hunger strikes and investigations, she learned that Efraín Bámaca Velásquez had been tortured and then killed — and that the CIA knew all about it. Her story is a powerful one..

Ayahuasca Psychedelic Tested for Depression

Scientific American

A pilot study with the shamanic brew hints at its therapeutic potential
By Arran Frood and Nature magazine

Ayahuasca, a sacramental drink traditionally brewed from the bark of a jungle vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of a shrub (Psychotria viridis), contains ingredients that are illegal in most countries.
Credit: Jairo Galvis Henao/Creative Commons

 

A psychedelic drink used for centuries in healing ceremonies is now attracting the attention of biomedical scientists as a possible treatment for depression. Researchers from Brazil last month published results from the first clinical test of a potential therapeutic benefit for ayahuasca, a South American plant-based brew. Although the study included just six volunteers and no placebo group, the scientists say that the drink began to reduce depression in patients within hours, and the effect was still present after three weeks. They are now conducting larger studies that they hope will shore up their findings.

The work forms part of a renaissance in studying the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic or recreational drugs—research that was largely banned or restricted worldwide half a century ago. Ketamine, which is used medically as an anaesthetic, has shown promise as a fast-acting antidepressant; psilocybin, a hallucinogen found in ‘magic mushrooms’, can help to alleviate anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer; MDMA (ecstasy) can alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder; and patients who experience debilitating cluster headaches have reported that LSD eases their symptoms.

Ayahuasca, a sacramental drink traditionally brewed from the bark of a jungle vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of a shrub (Psychotria viridis), contains ingredients that are illegal in most countries. But a booming ayahuasca industry has developed in South America, where its religious use is allowed, and where thousands of people each year head to rainforest retreats to sample its intense psychedelic insights.

Depression drink?
The brew has been studied by anthropologists, social scientists and theologians, but clinical research on ayahuasca has been limited to observation of its effects in mice and rats, and in healthy human volunteers, including brain-imaging studies and retrospective surveys of past use.

For the latest study, researchers led by Jaime Hallak, a neuroscientist at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, gave one mild dose of ayahuasca to six volunteers who had been diagnosed with mild to severe depression that was unresponsive to at least one conventional antidepressant drug. None had drunk ayahuasca before.

After their drink, the participants sat in a quiet, dimly lit room. Physicians used standard clinical questionnaires to track their depression symptoms. Improvements were seen in two or three hours (though the psychedelic effects of an oral dose take around five hours to wear off)—a rapid effect, as conventional antidepressants can take weeks to work. The benefits, which were statistically significant, continued to hold up in assessments over the next three weeks. Three of the participants vomited, a common side effect of ayahuasca, but otherwise the procedure was well tolerated, Hallak says.

“It is a proof of concept of what so many ritual ayahuasca users already know: ayahuasca can help one feel extra well, not just during the experience, but for up to days or weeks after,” says Brian Anderson, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study but has published papers on the drink’s potential. “The relationship between ayahuasca’s psychedelic effects and its therapeutic effects needs to be empirically studied,” he says.

James Stone, a psychiatrist at King’s College London who has studied the effects of psychoactive drugs on the brain, says that the study is interesting but should be viewed with caution because it had no placebo group. “Placebo response is a well-documented effect in clinical trials of antidepressants,” he says. “The only things that can really be concluded from this study are that it is tolerated by patients with depression, and in these people did not seem to have any serious side effects following a single dose.”

It is biochemically plausible that ayahuasca could treat depression—its plants contain compounds that alter the concentrations of the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain—as do commercial antidepressants. These compounds include the hallucinogen N,N-dimethyltryptamine, which binds to serotonin receptors, and also the chemicals harmine, tetrahydroharmine and harmaline, which are thought to inhibit an enzyme called monoamine oxidase A and so prevent the breakdown of serotonin and other neurotransmitters.

“It is possible that ayahuasca and other serotonergic psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, may be useful as antidepressants for particular subsets of patients in the future,” says Stone. “We await the results of well-designed, random controlled trials to determine clinical effectiveness.”

Further trials are under way. Draulio de Araujo, a neuroscientist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil, and a co-author of the study, says that his team has already treated 46 (out of a planned 80) patients in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of ayahuasca and depression that began in January 2014. “We hope to finish it by the end of this year,” he says.

The ALEC-Backed War on Local Democracy

By Mary Bottari and Brendan Fischer

After the town of Denton, Texas passed a ballot initiative banning fracking in November 2014, the oil and gas industry reacted with outrage and swiftly filed suit. Politicians in the state capitol responded with a fusillade of bills to preempt local authority over public health and safety and to subject local ballot initiatives to pre-approval by the state attorney general. There was even a bill to end local home rule altogether.

The tiny town of Denton was not alone. From New Jersey to Oregon, on topics as diverse as minimum wage, paid sick leave, community broadband, e-cigarettes, and GMOs, state politicians are stepping up their efforts to destroy a bedrock principle of U.S. governance–the right of municipal and county authorities to legally and appropriately enact and strengthen laws that reflect local needs and priorities.

Corporate interests that spend hundreds of millions a year on state and federal lobbying have grown accustomed to getting what they want at the federal and state levels, but it is much harder to assert corporate control over America’s 22,553 municipal and county governments.

Preemption is part of a one-two punch corporations and politicians are using to block the advance of progressive policies at the local level, where these policies are most likely to be enacted. Just as they have done in Texas, industries and trade associations are also filing a barrage of lawsuits against local governments to frighten off other localities considering the same option. For example in Trenton, New Jersey, six trade associations–the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Restaurant Association, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, and the state branch of the National Federation of Independent Business–have gone to court to challenge the results of the November 2014 earned sick days ballot measure. A preemption bill is also looming.

A diversity of industries are pursuing this aggressive strategy against grassroots democracy, but what may be surprising to some is that a group dedicated to individual liberty and “limited government,” which in 2010 authored a model bill recommending that local governments block and preempt stricter state and federal laws, is at the center of it all.

Dual-Track Strategy Outlined at ALEC: Preemption and Litigation

When cities like Seattle and Los Angeles took action to “raise the wage” in 2014, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) jumped into action. As The Guardian reported, ALEC and its local government offshoot the American City County Exchange (ACCE) “launched an aggressive dual-track mission that combines legislation and litigation in what ALEC calls a ‘new battleground’ over worker compensation.”

At an ACCE meeting in December 2014, Cara Sullivan, who heads ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force, explained: “Perhaps the biggest threat comes from the local level.” Her solution? “One solution that ALEC has passed is state legislation that preempts the polities from within the state from raising the minimum wage higher than the state level.”

If this sounds like an strange talk to be giving a room full of city and county officials it is. And it gets stranger. Karen Moreau of the American Petroleum Institute’s New York lobbying group also lectured the local officials on the danger of local control.

“It really hit me when I visited a Holocaust museum here a couple years ago in DC,” Moreau said,“and I wandered through the exhibit that describes the rise of Hitler and describes the rise of Fascism, and how Fascism actually takes hold, and it struck me because it was so similar to what I see happening in our small towns on issues like fracking.”

What do grassroots advocates think of it all?

“It is clear what is going on here. They want to stop our momentum. So they’re expanding their toolkit to try to undo democracy and delay justice,” said Ellen Bravo, Executive Director of Family Values @ Work, which advocates for paid sick days. “They will fail, but in the meantime, they will make many families less economically secure and less healthy,” Bravo added.

We have seen this play before. It was drawn up decades ago by the tobacco industry with the help of ALEC legislators to fight local public health restrictions on smoking, tobacco and tobacco advertising to youth.

As CMD has reported, ALEC’s relationship with the tobacco industry started around 1979, when ALEC Executive Director Kathleen Teague wrote to the Tobacco Institute seeking financial support. In 1981, Tobacco Institute leaders attended ALEC’s “Exclusive White House and Cabinet Briefing” with President Ronald Reagan and his cabinet.

ALEC legislators worked with the industry on a strategy to get weak, permissive state smoking laws passed in order to prevent cities and towns in the state from enacting stricter smoking laws. One1994 document shows the industry crowing over passing laws in 18 states to preempt localities from restricting smoking and their efforts to target 19 more states in 1995.

By 2000, the industry had systematically and successfully enacted preemption legislation in themajority of states. The preemption not only put the lives and health of millions at risk, it sucked a lot of air out of burgeoning grassroots movement.

“I think we all recognize that building genuine grassroots movements is one of the few ways left that ‘We the People’ can still protect our own health and safety, whether in the workplace or in the community,” Mark Pertschuk from the watchdog group Grassroots Change explained to CMD. “The most devastating thing about preemption is that it destroys grassroots citizen movements. This is why interfering with local control is such a high priority for the industries that support state (and federal) preemption.”

Since the Regan era, Phillip Morris/Altria and Reynolds Tobacco have continued to bankroll ALEC, vote as equals with legislators on ALEC “model” bills, serve at times on ALEC’s governing board, and sponsor swank cigar parties at ALEC meetings. The ALEC library of bills directly benefits ALEC corporate members and includes measures to preempt: local wage ordinances, pesticide and GMO restrictions, public broadband, internet taxation, rent control, gun control, cell phone regulation, charter school authorization, and more.

As ALEC observer Rep. Chris Taylor of Wisconsin reported, ALEC’s guiding principle supporting big business “turns the small-c conservative ideal of individual liberty and local control on its head.”

Below, we detail recent preemption efforts in three categories.

Minimum Wage “Whack-a-Mole”

The dual-pronged strategy of legislation and litigation is being used to thwart local minimum wage laws.

ALEC has long pushed bills like the “Living Wage Preemption Act,” which aims to block local boosts to the federal minimum wage. Multiple states have adopted ALEC preemption, and last year in Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin (an ALEC alumnus) signed laws to prohibit cities from raising the minimum wage or enacting paid sick days. Another Oklahoma bill introduced this session would bar local laws requiring government contractors to pay a living wage.

In Washington State, soon after Seattle’s City Council took the historic step of enacting a $15 minimum wage, ALEC member the International Franchise Association sued in federal court to block the law’s implementation, making the extraordinary claim that it “discriminates” against franchises like McDonald’s in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. A District Court judgerejected the lawsuit, but it appears the IFA is planning to get its case before the U.S. Supreme Court: it has hired Paul Clement, a conservative super-lawyer who has argued 74 cases in front of the nation’s highest court, including the challenge to the Affordable Care Act. In 2014 and 2015, wage preemption bills were introduced in the state which would kill the Seattle wage hike.

In Los Angeles, another massive trade association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), sued after the city raised the wage to $15.37 for hotel workers.

Representatives of both IFA and the AHLA spoke at the December ACCE meeting about their plans to thwart local wage increases.

Brian Crawford from AHLA “urged conservatives to launch populist campaigns against wage increases by adopting the mantra that higher pay hurts ordinary Americans,” reports The Guardian.

Crawford compared the industry’s battle against local wage laws to a game of Whack-a-Mole: “We’re trying to beat them down when they pop up.”

Paid Sick Days Preemption

The spread of paid sick day preemption laws is also tied to the corporate bill mill and benefits ALEC members like the National Restaurant Association. Eight states enacted paid sick day preemption after Wisconsin’s anti-paid sick day measure was handed out at ALEC’s 2011 meeting with a National Restaurant Association executive in attendance. In most states where a paid sick day preemption bill has been introduced, its sponsor has been an ALEC member.

In Pennsylvania, where Philadelphia enacted a paid sick day law in February, ALEC member Sen. John Eichelberger amended a Senate preemption bill so it would apply retroactively. Eichelberger was simply offended that Philadelphia would exercise local control.

“The amendment was introduced because we do not want to allow municipalities to try to sneak in changes to local ordinances before this bill is placed into law,” he said. Rep. Seth Grove, anoutspoken ALEC member and frequent sponsor of ALEC legislation, is also pushing a bill to block cities from enacting paid sick day laws. (Grove tried, but failed, to push similar measures in previous sessions.)

In addition to pushing ALEC legislation, low-road employers have used the courts to block paid sick day ordinances.

For example, after seven New Jersey cities enacted paid sick day initiatives last year, a group of big business lobbies (including affiliates of the National Restaurant Association and Chamber of Commerce) sued to block Trenton’s law, throwing an array of tenuous legal arguments at the wall.

“They couldn’t defeat it at the ballot, so they filed a lawsuit to delay it, and perhaps intimidate other cities from trying,” Bravo said.

The lawsuit claims that, because New Jersey regulates temporary disability benefits and family leave, the state “occupied the field” of sick leave, prohibiting local governments from addressing the issue. The suit also claims that paid sick days amount to an increase in the minimum wage, since a worker is paid when they are home sick. But a worker who benefits from a paid sick day law doesn’t get extra pay; it means they won’t be docked pay when sick.

“A minimum wage earner without paid sick days is actually earning a sub-minimum wage,” Bravo explained.

Fracking and Drilling “Public Liberty” under Threat

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a controversial method of gas and oil extraction that injects a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, water, and sand into underground wellbores — has been linked to earthquakes and contaminated water resources. Dozens of cities in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania have banned the practice in recent years. Concerned citizens in Denton, Texas went up against the the state’s most powerful special interest and approved a fracking moratorium as a ballot measure in November 2014.

But the powerful oil and gas industry is fighting back against such efforts with a lawsuit and with help from ALEC legislators.

In the Texas legislature, Rep. Phil King, who currently holds the highest position in ALEC as the group’s national chair, sponsored a bill to preempt Denton and other cities from banning fracking or other oil and gas operations.

In New Mexico, House Majority Leader (and ALEC member) Nate Gentry is pushing a bill to block local regulation of oil and gas drilling. His proposal would even preempt local zoning laws requiring oil and gas setbacks from schools or environmentally-sensitive zones. Legislative leaders in Oklahoma are also pushing a bill to preempt local fracking regulation.

In Ohio in February, the state Supreme Court outlawed local bans in a lawsuit brought by industry. And in Texas and New Mexico, even more draconian bills have been introduced to penalize localities by withholding state funds if they dare to regulate fracking.

“It’s not just our air, water, health, safety, and our property values,” said Adam Briggle, Vice President of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group. “But it’s to exercise our right, what I would call public liberty, which is having a say that impacts you in important ways. And so we exercise what I consider grassroots local democracy.”

Texas officials, backed by oil and gas campaign contributions, filed suit against Denton a day after the law took effect. Oil and gas interests also launched separate litigation.

Permanent Preemption Peddled as “Compromise”

Although it has primarily been “Big Government Republicans” pushing state bills to block local control, in some cases Democrats have signed-on to the measures, often as part of a “compromise” for short-term gains and often at the behest of corporate interests. This is most common in states where statewide legislation, such as a minimum wage increase, is likely to pass. Rather than fighting a losing battle against the law, business lobbies promote the addition of preemption language as a way to stave off local efforts in the future.

Last year, for example, Democratic-controlled Rhode Island raised the state minimum wage to $9, and also blocked local governments from enacting higher local wages. At the time, Providence was considering a $15 minimum wage, and the restaurant and hotel industries pushed the preemption measure to block the local law.

Last month, Democrats in the Illinois Senate passed a bill to raise the statewide minimum wage to $11, but under pressure from the state National Restaurant Association affiliate, the measure also preempts a recently-enacted Chicago law that raises the wage to $13/hour.

In New Mexico, the National Restaurant Association affiliate has stated that it will support a higher minimum wage, as long as it is coupled with preemption.

Although coupling a minimum wage increase or other progressive legislation with preemption may bring a short-term benefit, it has long-term consequences in communities across a state.

“Local communities must continue to stand up for the rights of those neglected by the state,” saidBriggle, “or we will not only risk our health, but also lose the last venue in which we can take control of our own destiny.”

The Gates Foundation vs. the World Social Forum

Food sovereignty activists protest outside a secret elite corporate seed conference convened by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on March 23, 2015. (Photo: Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk/flickr/cc)

This week the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID hosted a meeting in London with big agribusinesses to discuss strategies to increase corporate control over seeds in Africa. The location of the meeting was secret. So was the agenda. Attendance was strictly invite-only and nobody who even came close to representing African small farmers was invited.

Meanwhile farmers and food sovereignty activists met at the World Social Forum in Tunis, Tunisia to discuss their solutions to the problems of our food system. These two meetings represent not just two different types of meeting – a closed, secretive meeting of the powerful versus an open, democratic meeting of grassroots activists – but also two radically different paths for the future of our food. One is based on corporate control and would generate vast profits for a small elite; the second is centred on sustainable, democratic, local food production.

“There is powerful evidence that organic farming practices and local seeds used by small-holder farmers are able to produce more food on less land and with less water than industrial agriculture.”

As often was the case in colonial times the corporate agenda in Africa is today often disguised as paternalistic benevolence. Friendly-sounding projects such as the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the DfID-supported New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition promise to eliminate hunger by creating the conditions that will bring new corporate technologies and more big business investment to African agriculture.

On the face of it that all sounds very good. So why this level of secrecy for the meetings about the projects? Samwel Messiak, a Tanzanian food campaigner I met in Tunis tells a very different story of the corporate agenda for Africa’s food. He told me that in Tanzania the New Alliance has helped corporations “buy” land off local communities without their consent and without paying them compensation for their lost land.

This is because the corporate agenda of AGRA and the New Alliance threaten to move control of land and seeds into corporate hands. The push for corporate engagement in Africa’s agriculture also has a strong focus on producing cash crops for consumption in richer parts of the world (a practice started in colonial times) which if anything provides less food for people living locally. It seems strange that a supposedly charitable organisation such as the Gates Foundation is involved in this agenda; it seems they have swallowed the idea that only the market can provide for our needs.

Democratic food

In a very different setting from the corporate meeting in London, an alternative vision for our food is forming. In a packed room at the World Social Forum in Tunis, farmers and food sovereignty campaigners discussed a radically different food system.

Farmers and campaigners from across the world shared examples of how agriculture can provide livelihoods for farmers, food for local communities and can be a central part of women’s liberation as women are taking a leading part in food production in most places.There is powerful evidence that organic farming practices and local seeds used by small-holder farmers are able to produce more food on less land and with less water than industrial agriculture.

Agribusinesses are putting small-scale farmer under pressure everywhere. But representatives from places like Chile, Senegal, Bangladesh and Italy told the meeting how farmers are showing how local communities can take back control of their food systems to provide healthy and affordable food. It was inspiring to experience how unified farmers and campaigners from different places are in their fight for democratic control of our food. As we chanted at the end of the meeting: “The people united will never be defeated”.

In 2015 it shouldn’t be a radical notion to want to move beyond colonialism and make sure farmers can keep control of the resources needed to grow food to feed their communities. So it is more important than ever that we stand with small farmers across the world to defend their right control their own land and their own seeds and our right to healthy local food.

Why the 99 Percent Keeps Losing

‘The remedies that would restore economic opportunity and security to ordinary Americans are far outside mainstream political conversation, and will not become mainstream until forced onto the agenda by a genuine mass movement.’ (Image: file/public domain)

Our current political situation is unprecedented. The vast majority of Americans keep falling behind economically because of changes in society’s ground rules, while the rich get even richer — yet this situation doesn’t translate into a winning politics.

If anything, the right keeps gaining and the wealthy keep pulling away. How can this possibly be?

Let me suggest seven reasons:

Reason One. The Discrediting of Politics Itself. The Republican Party has devised a strategy of hamstringing government and making any remediation impossible.
Instead of the voters punishing Republicans, the result is cynicism and passivity, so the Republican strategy is vindicated and rewarded.

The media plays into this pattern by adopting a misleading narrative that makes the gridlock in Washington roughly the equal fault of both parties — with lazy phrases such as “Washington is broken,” or “politics is broken,” or “partisan bickering.” (Do a Google search of those clichés. It will make you sick.)

Eminent political scientists such as Jacob Hacker (Off-Center) and Thomas E. Mann and co-author Norman Ornstein, a self-described Republican (It’s Even Worse Than It Looks) have thoroughly debunked the premise of symmetrical blame. It’s Republicans who are the blockers. But these scholars and their evidence fail to alter the media storyline, and the damage has been done.

The very people who have given up on politics, and on Democrats as stewards of a social compact that helps regular working people, are precisely those regular working people — who see the Dream getting away from them and government not helping.

Reason Two. Compromised Democrats. But the Democrats are hardly blameless. Instead of seizing on the collapse of 2008 as a disgrace for laissez-faire economics, deregulation, Wall Street and the Republican Party, Barack Obama tried to make nice with the GOP, refrained from cleaning out the big banks that caused the mess, and drank the Kool-Aid of budget balance.

The result: working people frustrated with economic backsliding had no party that really championed their interests. The fateful year 2008 may have been the worst missed moment for revolutionary reform in the history of the Republic — and depending on who gets the Democratic nomination next time and what she does with it, 2016 could rival 2008 as a lost opportunity.

Republicans made big gains in the off-year elections of 2010 and 2014. Skeptical or cynical voters on the Democratic side (young people, poor people, African Americans, single women) are less likely to vote in off-years, while the rightwing base stays ferociously engaged. The more that potentially Democratic voters are disaffected, the more the Right can block any progress on inequality.

Reason Three. The Reign of Politicized Courts and Big Money. The Supreme Court’s usual majority has become an opportunistic subsidiary of the Republican Party. Two key decisions, reflecting outrageous misreading of both the Constitution and the abuses of recent history, undermined citizenship and entrenched the rule of big money.

In the Citizens United case of 2010,the Court majority gave unlimited license to big personal and corporate money. And in the Shelby County v. Holder decision of 2013, the Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, declaring open season for a new era of voter suppression.

As a consequence, the potential role of invigorated democracy as the antidote to concentrated wealth has been weakened. Economic inequality translates into inequality of political influence.

Reason Four. The Collapse of Equalizing Institutions. During the postwar boom, America actually became more equal. The bottom quarter gained more income share than the top quarter. This was no historical or technological accident. Shared prosperity was built on government activism promoting opportunity, strong unions providing decent wages even for the less educated, enforcement of other labor laws, debt-free public higher education, well-regulated financial institutions, a genuinely progressive income tax, and a trading system that did not promote outsourcing.

Politics — not technology — caused the evisceration of these instruments. Politics could take back a fairer America.

Reason Five. Bewildering Changes in How Jobs Are Structured. In the past couple of decades, regular payroll jobs with career prospects have increasingly been displaced by an economy of short-term gigs, contract work, and crappy payroll jobs without decent pay and benefits, or even regular hours. This shift often gets blamed on technology or education, but that’s malarkey.

With a different political balance of forces, regular employees could not be disguised as contract workers; corporate executives could face felony convictions for wage theft; the right to unionize would be enforced; the windfall profits of the “share economy” would actually be shared with workers; large corporations like McDonalds could not pretend that the wages and working conditions in its franchises were somebody else’s problem — and full employment would give workers more bargaining power generally.

Reason Six. The Internalization of a Generation’s Plight. Compared to my age cohort, Millennials are the screwed generation. The dream of homeownership has been undercut; good jobs with career prospects are in short supply; young adults begin economic life saddled with student debt; the pension system has been blown up; and if you want to have kids, society doesn’t do anything to help the work-family straddle.

You’d expect young adults to be in the streets, but here the cynicism about politics blends with a natural inclination to make a virtue of necessity. Maybe I’ll never own a home but I have to move around a lot anyway. I have all I need on my iPad, which means I’m less materialistic than my parents. And hey, I don’t get to be a millionaire like the people who created Uber, but maybe I’ll be an Uber driver, which is cool. Not to mention airbnb.

On the other hand, the political leader who called for a one-time write off of all past student debt might still rally a lot of Millennials. In the distribution of income and opportunity, a lot of questions that are actually political have been personalized and internalized. The assumption that we are all on our own is deeply political. But that can be changed.

Reason Seven. The Absence of a Movement. In the face of all these assaults on the working and middle class, there are many movements but no Movement. The Occupy movement, which gave us the phrase, “The One Percent,” was too hung up on its own procedural purity to create a broad movement for economic justice.

Looking out at the plethora of local and national groups pursuing greater economic equality, one sees mainly idealism and fragmentation.

Some of it is caused by that dread phrase, 501 c 3. Well-meaning foundations fall in love with the charismatic activist leader de jour, seem intent on creating yet another grass roots group or coalition, and then that group needs to differentiate itself from rivals and dance to the foundation’s tune. (This is a column for another day.)

The remedies that would restore economic opportunity and security to ordinary Americans are far outside mainstream political conversation, and will not become mainstream until forced onto the agenda by a genuine mass movement. Sometimes that movement gets lucky and finds a rendezvous with a sympathetic national leader.

This has occurred before — in the Roosevelt Revolution of the 1930s and the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s. But without a potent movement on the ground, mainstream electoral politics is likely to remain stuck with remedies too weak either to rouse public imagination and participation, or to provide more than token relief for today’s extreme inequality.

This vicious circle — really a downward spiral about depressed expectations and diminished participation — can be reversed, as it has been reversed at moments in the American past. As that noted political consultant Joe Hill put it, as they were taking him to the gallows, “Don’t mourn, organize.”