Pious Fraud

My attempt to say something...anything of value. A pious Fraud.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Raw Deal

When Governors attack! Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, Michigan and my employer the state of Ohio have all launched attacks on collective bargaining. Scott Walker of Wisconsin being the most visible and ideological. It is nothing less than a coordinated blitzkrieg on unionism itself. Republicans, never friendly towards organized labor, have decided that now is the time to destroy the legal structure that allows americans to bargain with their employers. Notice I didn't add "collectively"? That's because unless you are an executive you have NO bargaining power as an individual anyway so the collective part is the only way you will ever exert influence in the employment process. The industrial revolution radically altered the economy by virtually eliminating skilled labor in most areas of employment. We are now all replaceable cogs in a giant dehumanized and abstract machine. The more layers of management the more layers of abstraction. Those at the top, CEO's, Governors etc. have virtually no connection to those who actually do the work of the organization. So they can dismiss our needs, our drive's, our knowledge, our commitment to our work and our humanity. We only exist as numbers on a spreadsheet, and republicans at least seem to only see us as overhead. We cost them. They don't seem to believe that we do anything but subtract from the bottom line. I submit that is a massive and dangerous blind spot!

Imagine a company that makes widgets. It's employees are organized in a pyramid from the producers of the widgets, to their direct supervisors, to the department heads etc on up to the CEO. Now remove the CEO. Does the company continue to produce? Of course it does. Now subtract the widget makers from the pyramid and what happens? No more widgets. Those at the bottom of the pyramid are the most fundamental components of the organization, the CEO is the least fundamental but most significant because without the successive management layers we'd have a directionless mob of widget makers that sooner or later are likely to run into trouble. So good management obviously is a must but my point is that both play a vitally important role. If you're building your dream home would you build it without the foundation? Or, conversely, would you put all your money into a foundation and not build a home on top of it? Only if your an idiot, insane or some sort of foundation fanatic. "Homes weigh down foundations with all their walls and roofs, destroy all homes! Free the foundations!" and of course their sworn enemies the mobile homers. "Foundations are stuck in the mud! Let our homes fall where they may!"

The larger issues are philosophical and ideological. What these governors are trying to accomplish is the elimination of any and all influence that workers have on the organizations they belong too. It is an organizational authoritarianism, a top down system of power where those at the bottom only have duties and responsibilities and the decision makers have power but no responsibility to the workers or even the organization itself. They seem to believe that an organizations only responsibilities are to increase its stakeholders power and wealth at any cost to society, humanity and the common good. The stakeholders in business are stockholders and owners but never the workers or the public. In government the stakeholders used to be the people but now are the special interests that got the leaders elected. Since the supreme court declared that corporations are to be treated as individuals and therefore not subject to restrictions on campaign contributions (ironically they feel the opposite about labor unions who are limited in what they can contribute) they have become the undisputed supreme stakeholders of the republican party and hence the country.

The simple fact is that while the average americans buying power has steadily been decreasing since the late seventies, the wealthier you are the wealthier you have become in that same time frame. Now we are seeing wealth inequality we haven't seen since the gilded age. The average CEO made about 40 times what the average employee made in the seventies, now they make about 300 times the average salary. The wealthiest 20% of americans now own 84% of the nations wealth, the top 60% own 99.7% and the bottom 40% own three tenths of a percent. And all of this occurred while productivity went up! The wealthy like to act as if this is because they are smarter than the rest of us, maybe that's true, but I'm smart enough to see that it's largely because they benefit from a tax structure an economic policy and a political system that is designed to enrich the few at the expense of the many. I call that amoral, republican leaders call it the american way.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sarah Barracuda and the Rhetorical Lynch Mob

Republican demagoguery coming home to roost:

""I'm mad! I'm really mad!" another man said, taking the microphone and refusing to surrender it easily, even when McCain tried to agree with him.

"I'm not done. Lemme finish, please," he said after a standing ovation. "When you have Obama, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and the rest of the hooligans up there going to run the country, we have to have our head examined." Washington Post

McCain supporter: "I don't trust Obama, he's not, he's not, he's uh...Arab."

McCain: "No, No, He's a decent family man, citizen who I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues..."

McCain: "We wanna to fight and I will fight but we will be respectful."

McCain is in agony. He wants to be President so bad it hurts, but he can't bring himself to fully commit to his campaign's scorched earth policy on Obama. While his supporters yell "traitor", "kill 'em", "terrorist" and "bomb Obama" and harangue the media with racist epithets and middle fingers, McCain is getting squeamish about it. He repeated the same sentiment later to boo's from his own crowd. Saracuda on the other hand looks like she's on a Caribbean vacation . She practically glows every time she rhetorically lynches Obama. And the crowds roar with approval. The crowds have made it clear they want McCain and Palin to pull out all the stops. They want republicans to call Obama a muslim, terrorist sympathizing, un-american, black nationalist every day from now until the election.

There has always been an ethnocentric, nationalist component to American politics. And apparently the collapsing economy, middle east chaos and the republican meltdown have stoked the fires of hatred dangerously close to an out of control inferno. Irrational dementia seems to increase exponentially as the social stress increases. And there is a history of assassination, especially of leaders on the left by hate filled wing nuts. McCain does not want to feed this beast. But it may be too late. Lawrence Odonell on Countdown pointed out the McCain has worked very hard to get the support of right wing radio and its most rabid listeners who have never really liked him. He's promised them he'll go after Obama on his relationships to Ayers and Wright, but he is visually sqeamish at the sight of the ugly underbelly of the republican party. There are a few lonely voices in the republican party like Frank Schaeffer and Ray LaHood who have called on McCain to stop the madness. But most pundits on the right are scratching their heads over the furor from the left. The main sentiment seems to be "so what, that's politics." What they mean is "that's how we do it when we can't win on substance." Not that democrats don't try demagoguery, it just doesn't work well for them. McCain's biggest problem is that he has nothing else to run on. His record is tied to Bush, his policies are unpopular, his message changes every day, his poll numbers are dropping like the dow... What's left?

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Monday, June 30, 2008

The Evolution of the Electorate

The Washington Post has a fascinating article on the changing political landscape that has political odds makers foretelling like side show psychics. But I, being a Ken Wilber fan, always want to situate these things in some sort of Wilberian context. So I made a chart showing the the evolution of values as the x axis and income as the y axis:





I think this clarifies the statistics given in this article. It gives a larger context to understand why Virginia, with its influx of highly paid well educated technology workers, is showing increasing numbers of democrats. The exodus of these voters leaves a higher proportion of traditionalist voters in places like West Virginia. The long range demographic data I've seen is that traditionalists are actually decreasing in number. And modernists and post modernists are increasing.

So the divide is not purely economic. It also has to do with perspectives. And these perspectives are evolving. There will always be conservative and liberal viewpoints but the content of these viewpoints will change as their perspectives evolve. Modern wall street republicans and neo-cons espouse many values that were originally considered liberal. And traditional values today are not the same as they were centuries ago.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

When does national security become national imprisonment?

"Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers the individual subordinate to the interests of the state, party or society as a whole. Fascists seek to forge a type of national unity, usually based on (but not limited to) ethnic, cultural, racial, and/or religious attributes. Various scholars attribute different characteristics to fascism, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: patriotism, nationalism, statism, militarism, totalitarianism, anti-communism, corporatism, populism, collectivism, autocracy and opposition to political and economic liberalism.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]"

Under these general guidelines how could one not call the neo-con Busholini administration fascists? Or if you prefer, neo-fascists. They exhibit every aspect of this definition. They are anti-democratic in every major political way one can be today with the exception of this; they have not yet called the next election off. The truly terrifying part is that the majority party in congress has done NOTHING to curtail this slide to neo-fascism of any importance. They have failed to address every one of the most grievous anti-constitutional, authoritarian, policies ever put forth in this country. They have, in a very real sense allowed the imperial presidency of Bush/Cheney to become "precedent". I don't believe Bush is an evil schemer plotting to destroy our country, I believe he is just tragically ignorant. Cheney however is another story. Were this the late 1700's, he would be a royalist. He is so deeply suspicious of the democratic process, and supportive of the imperial presidency, that I wonder why he ever ran for congress. Was it to learn how best to circumvent it's influence? Was it akin to a senatorial Bill Belichek filming the opposing teams signals? I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but the almost unbroken string of victories this white house has had against congress looks to be unstoppable. Their foreign and domestic policy initiatives on the other hand have had almost the exact opposite record of success. Miserable failures from 9/11 to Katrina to the Iraq quagmire have continued unabated. It's just that they have paid, no political price on the home front when it came time to institute their next failed policy. Congress when they haven't rubber stamped Busholini's initiatives have simply failed to exert their powers of checks and balances against excessive executive power.

There is a shallow patriotism running rampant through the neo-con movement and its enablers on the right. It is a patriotism that abhors plurality and celebrates unilateralism. It is a patriotism that seeks a permanent republican majority. It is a patriotism that is incapable of seeing that such an eventuality would mark the end of the country that they profess to love so much. If the two major poles of political thought in this country are right and left, hindering one pole from the exercise of political influence destroys the stability of the system. Ours is a system of government that is designed to utilize that polarity it is not designed to institutionalize one pole and marginalize the other. It was designed to balance them in a healthy way. It was designed to be self regulating by sharing the tools of power between those who disagree on policy. Checks and balances are the self regulating mechanisms that have kept this country responsive to new issues and kept it stable and secure. Disabling these checks and balances to achieve some desired goal of security in the face of a new threat is counter productive and self destructive. This is why fascist regimes have historically not lasted very long. If the power Bush has grabbed is institutionalized, what's to stop some future president from abusing it in far worse ways than Bush? Where is the legal underpinning to stop or punish this abuse?

Goodbye fourth amendment

Our secrets are safe with us

I Spy with my little eye

Corprate citizens win again, consumers are consumed

Fight fire with fire and lawlessness with lawlessness

What price freedom?

You either with us or against us

The profit drive

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Article I section 9 Writ of Habeas Corpus

"The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion...". The Attorney General believes that although the Constitution forbids taking away habeas corpus that does not mean it was ever granted in the first place!

"GONZALES: I will go back and look at it. The fact that the Constitution — again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme —

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.” It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by —

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General."

Good point Mr. Gonzalez by the same token "no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate." Which of course doesn't mean California had a right to equal suffrage to begin with right? Let's just drop Boxer and Feinstein off of the roll call.

Oh and don't forget that the fact that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." doesn't mean that we can't deny people of all religions but Christianity from running for office to begin with right?

This is the man W. is fighting tooth and nail to keep as his Attorney General? Of course who else could deliver such pretzel logic in front of the Senate judiciary committee with a straight face? Gonzo is perfect for the job! Of course he's not the only one in this administration. Cheney's lawyers are claiming that there is nothing that he or other administration officials could have done that they CAN be sued for in the Plame case. Of course Cheney was in the Nixon administration and Tricky Dick once said "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal." These guys should right absurdist comedy.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Articles of Un-Impeachable Offenses

The plenary powers of the unitary executive forbid the U.S. Congress from in any way limiting the powers of the executive branch, or conducting any oversight of the executive branch. The president is permitted to exempt himself and his administration from any law he signs into law by attaching a signing statement declaring so. He may also choose to interpret any law in any way he choses by signing statements without input or interference from Congress or The Supreme Court during times of war. Therefore:

Article 1: The president may bypass the FISA court and any other laws pertaining to eavesdropping during a time of war (even if said war has never been declared) and wiretap, or otherwise eavesdrop on any suspect or person of interest as long as at least one of the parties is outside the U.S.

Article 2: The U.S. may bypass all rules of evidence and criminal procedures on suspected terrorists, including common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and any other International law that formerly applied to the enemy.

Article 3: The U.S. may use evidence gained by coercive means against "enemy combatants" and those combatants may not see the evidence presented against him.

Article 4: Enemy combatants defense may not cross-examine the interrogators on their methods. Due to the classification of these methods as "methods and sources."

Friday, May 04, 2007

"Liberal" media treats anti global warming kooks with kid gloves

I was flipping through the channels the other night and I saw Glenn Beck promoting his special episode arguing that there is no scientific consensus that global warming is man made. Having heard this claim from conservatives before I did a little google search and found this interesting study:

"A 2004 article by geologist and historian of science Naomi Oreskes summarized a study of the scientific literature on climate change.[7] The essay concluded that there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. The author analyzed 928 abstracts of papers from refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, listed with the keywords "global climate change". Oreskes divided the abstracts into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. 75% of the abstracts were placed in the first three categories, thus either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, thus taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change; none of the abstracts disagreed with the consensus position, which the author found to be "remarkable". It was also pointed out, "authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point."" Wikipedia Scientific opinion on climate change

Of course Beck is not alone, Al Gore faced the same criticism from some members of Congress including James M. Inhofe when he appeared before them on March 21, 2007. Inhofe cited several instances of Gore's claim being contradicted by reputable organizations including the World Meteorological Organization. And yet I quickly found this little tidbit in a PDF on the WMO's website. "More than a decade ago, on 21 March 1994, the Convention entered into force and the Parties committed themselves to the stabilization of carbon dioxide concentrations, at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Since then, scientific assessments have increasingly reaffirmed that human activities are indeed changing the natural composition of the atmosphere, in particular through the burning of fossil fuels for energy production and transportation. Comparison of past CO2 concentrations, retrieved from air bubbles in glacial ice cores, with the current measurements of the chemical composition of the atmosphere made through WMO’s Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW), shows beyond doubt that the present atmospheric concentration of CO2 was never exceeded over the past 420,000 years. Additionally, it shows that above one half of this increase has occurred since 1950."

This is a great example of the "liberal" media's aperspectival madness; which Ken Wilber defines as involving the truthful realization that all perspectives are relative but also involves a failure to realize the concurrent truth that some perspectives are relatively better than others. i.e. Nazism is worse than democracy, truth is better than falsity, and just because a perspective can be articulated does not make it as good as any other perspective. This madness permits insincere and deluded voices to raise doubts about the scientific consensus on human causes of global warming as if they held the same validity as the view that there is a consensus. To quote Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse now"..."madness, madness, madness..."

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