Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shifting Gears

This past election has shifted the gears of our country. A whole lot of people woke up and got active this last cycle.

Along with this shift in the electorate is another that needs to take place in the American consciousness, and with it, a change in its culture and objects of worship. The purpose of this blog is shifting gears to begin highlighting what those changes are. These changes are already on the move as this last election shows with a hard turn toward sanity, humanity, and a genuine caring for people. It was a turn away from labels, divisiveness, and ideological demagoguery. The people asserted their sovereignty and took back control. I don't think they are likely to be so easily pushed around anymore. At least not for a long while.

Boggles the mind

In an article that piqued my interest was this:
The bill, by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., defines a 20-week-old fetus as a "pain-capable unborn child" - a highly controversial threshold among scientists. It also directs the Health and Human Service Department to develop a brochure stating "that there is substantial evidence that the process of being killed in an abortion will cause the unborn child pain."
I can only wonder at a people who care so much for the possibility that the unborn might feel pain but couldn't care less about innocent people being tortured who definitely can feel pain.

Measuring the Speed of Meme

Not sure how trackback works so I'm just posting the link and hope that will work good enough.

Click the link and follow the instructions there to participate in seeing just how fast things can travel in the blogosphere. Happy linking!

[Update] BTW, I got the link from Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Economic Slavery

I finally got up the energy to get my desk cleaned up and get all the bills in order. Again. It's a never ending battle against all the paper that comes thru the front door of my house and ends up on my desk.

Anyway, while I'm going through the rest of what needs to be paid this month I discover that Frontline on PBS is doing "The Secret History of the Credit Card."

I already know the credit card "industry" is a racket. Then I get told how bad it really is. As I listen to the report and look at the bills (most of these are my dad's which I now need to take care of since his stroke last year) and at the new stuff that has come up during the course of just living, I want to scream. My nervous system is on fire and I have the impulse to strangle something (not literally but you get the point).

What gets me is the sheer complicity of the U.S. Congress to go along with the credit card racket, failing utterly in its duty to not only establish, but to maintain, justice and to promote the general welfare. Instead, the legislators happily allow the American public to be fleeced and then rounded up and brought to the slaughterhouse as a sacrifice on the altar of profit. We are no better than the Aztecs. Just less bloody about it.

It seems no matter how hard you try, there is just no winning. Unless the financial drought in people's wallets start getting some rainfall in terms of higher incomes, especially for retirees, desitution is in store for everyone but the top tier of households in the U.S.

I'm beginning to think that this is the underlying anger that drove this past election. Enough with the crooks and the Scrooges.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Timeless Way of Living

A Timeless Way of Living

There is a Way of living that is most natural and humanizing. It is a humane way of living that covers the entire life span and seeks to maximize what is best about and within each stage of life. Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, peak maturity, decline, and old age.

However, we are now facing a serious problem of extensive infirmity in the elderly because medical advances are enabling people to live much longer than they ever have before. In fact, the fastest growing segment of the population in America are those over the age of 65.

The Frontline episode "Living Old" (aired 11-21-06, TPT, channel 2, MN) examines this issue head on and gives us a great deal to think about and discuss regarding no only the financial and economic questions this raises, but also the deeper social impacts this will have. There are a great many policy issues that will have to be addressed that will become un-ignorable in the very near future.

Although it is very possible that the other crises, namely energy and the environment, that are now coming online will make the problems of aging somewhat moot in the future as resources dry up, this does nothing to address the current suffering and lack of humane policies to deal with the already old and infirm.

At the heart of this issue is the nature of our relationships whereby the economic relations have had an enormously detrimental effect on the communal. As a result, the social fabric is in taters and both the very young and very old share the common problem of a lack of genuine care.

These must be corrected. And so, we must take a new look at how we really ought to be living which I do in a later post.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ignore this

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me,
happy birthday to me,
happy birthday to Ne-o,
happy birthday to me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Democratic Party: RIP

I do Zogby polls. The latest (11-19-06) is the hardest ping yet for Hillary Clinton running for prez.

While I do meet people who like her and think she's just the greatest, I meet others who despise her and will defect from the Democratic Party if she so much as breathes in the direction of the White House.

Hillary, the DLC, and hubby Bill have done enough to this country along with the sociopaths in congress and in residence at the WH that should she run, she will in fact split the Dems who will be looking to back a third party candidate. Unless the Dems put up someone genuinely interested in serving the public interest and the common good, the Dems can kiss their party goodbye for it will have become irrelevant in the lives of ordinary folks.

PS: The reason Hillary cannot and should not be trusted to serve the common good is because in Elizabeth Warren's book "The Two-Income Trap" is a description of how the former First Lady went from calling the Bankruptcy Bill "that awful bill" to supporting it after her election to the NY Senate. She managed to get out of voting on it because hubby Bill was quite conveniently scheduled for heart surgery that day and there were a sufficient number of Dem senators to pass it without needing her vote. It is one of the most onerous pieces of legislation against average workers. Tie that in with NAFTA and the outsourcing of jobs overseas and predatory lending and it becomes no wonder there is a huge squeeze on the middle class.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Reading tea leaves

For all the reading of tea leaves many are still unsure about what the Democratic victory means.

According to exit polls, the main issue with voters was corruption. Other issues were terrorism, the economy, and Iraq. The basic temperament was anti-incumbentism regardless of party though most who got thrown out were Republicans.

One of the biggest turn-offs during the campaign season were the negative ads. It hurt anyone who went there and even some who didn't.

The most resonant message had to do with working Americans and doing something about the middle-class squeeze, health care, education, and just plain doing the job of running this country so that everyone benefits instead of only a select few.

In general, what people wanted was to put a stop to something they felt was out of control, namely corruption in and of government, and this includes Bush and his administration's assault on the Constitution and the Geneva Convention. Americans are not torturers and we want habeus corpus.

The instinctive feeling is that the average person doesn't matter. That no one actually cares about them except within their immediate sphere of family and friends, and then sometimes not even then.

In general, they have the feeling that they are a mere means for someone else's end. Namely, as a tool for someone else's profit and power in the work place and in politics, the two often going hand in hand.

The 12 years of Republican rule in Congress and the 5 years of Bush since 9/11 have done much to abuse the psyches of the general public. This being the culmination of the hard right turn the Republicans took to get Reagan elected by inviting the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others of their kind into the party.

While it is not possible to instantly deprogram people from 30+ years of hard core conservative rhetoric, it is possible to give them something else to latch onto. But in order for that to work, the basics of society absolutely must be stabilized from all the disorder that came out of the '60s and the liberal idiots who said there are no norms and there ought not to be any. Well, there are some norms that simply have to exist in order for society to keep from flying apart. So, our job will to put some back in place, get some economic security happening, ensure health care for everyone, and get our infrastructure fully funded. With these at the top level and our own work in the ground, it will be possible to bring sanity back to America.

The rubric would be: American Renaissance: Rebirth of the America Spirit.

More on this later.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Day After

On the morning of Nov. 8, 2006 there was a collective sigh of relief that was so powerful that the world felt different. It was a feeling like "thank God the sane are back in charge."

In my neck of the woods, we had sunshine and it warmed up into the 80s as if to signal that all was right with the world again.

The newscasters and even the various panelists on c-span and authors on c-span's BookTV have exhibited visible signs of relief. The oppressive atmosphere created by the conservative authoritarians in the Republican Party were swept out of office and now we can speak freely again.

It also seemed rather interesting that Pres. Bush would announce the acceptance of Rumsfeld's resignation very early the day after the election. The explanation Bush gave for not making the announcement sooner was to keep from influencing the election. I'm guessing it was to ensure nothing would favor Republicans.

Given this it seems there was a concerted effort to ensure that the brakes would be put on this administration to keep America from doing the unthinkable and bring us back to the world of sanity and reasonableness. With so many from poppy Bush's cabinet now involved with foreign policy it is obvious to me that dad Bush has had enough of the errant child and his friends trashing house America and it was time to put the adults back in charge.

While there is still a whole lot of work to be done to get America where it really, truly needs to be, I am extremely happy that the American people and the powers that be saw fit to save our country from catastrophic disaster.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thoughts on the election

Watched on c-span some folks talking about what will happen with fiscal policy now that the Democrats have won back a majority in both houses of the federal legislature. The two congressional staff panelists of the three are career professional civil servants. I was deeply impressed by their committment to public service.

Having been a candidate for the state legislature, I have a much better understanding about the matters they were talking about, even tho they were talking about federal policy.

Since I did not win I am still in the trenches of ordinary citizenship subject to the whims of everything that flies around in our society from fiscal policy to television advertising to being disgusted at the poison in our food that puts people's health at enormous risk for cancer and other disorders as a result of bad public policy.

The incestuous marriage between the merchants and the government has led to a kind of hemophilia in the sense that the lifeblood of laborers' earnings gushes out of their wallets with no way of stanching the flow.

All of this is just a backdrop for something that occurred to me about our society and how it has provided the conditions for radical conservatism. It began in the 60s with student activism and the Civil Rights Movement. Out of this came the foolish notion of moral relativism and the ditching of social norms which led the way for Reagan and his pogram against social conscience and public responsibility by whetting greedy appetites and utter selfishness.

At one time there was "what's in it for me." Then it became "me first." Now, it is "all for me and none for you."

For all the analysis about why the Dems won and the Republican coalition of libertarian/anarchists, neo-cons, and theo-cons is dissolving, what I see is that people are simply fed up with being treated like they don't matter. Why else would the middle-class, moderates, and especially the Latinos vote for the bread and butter issue Democrats in the middle of a Constitutional crisis during an illegal war brought to you by.....

the Republicans.

While it can be argued that the War on Terra is because of 9/11, I personally have doubts 9/11 would ever have happened if American imperialists had managed to keep it in their pants instead of desiring to spread their seed on people more interested in their own self-determination. Thus, it is a lie that America has any interest in spreading "democracy" anywhere. America's imperialists are interested in only two things, wealth and domination. Neither of these is conducive to democracy, not even in America.

And so I return to the issue of the incestuous marriage of merchants and government that create policies that care nothing for the people and in fact do everything in their power to reduce people to mindless consumers. Apparently, people do not like being treated that way and in fact expect the government to follow the rules the rest of us live by and to do their duty to serve the public interest.

Before I forget, the way to reduce radicalism, especially the so-called "conservative movement," is to re-establish actual norms in society which all people uphold and live by. This particularly includes financial stability and security, and less speed in the cycling of new products to market. Extremely few of the products are in fact new or better, and are often worse, than previous or existing models. The speed of commerce and the insatiable appetite it has for profit is the root of what is making our society unstable. Think about it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sex and abortion

Get this. It is NOT ok to kill the unborn but it IS ok to kill the already born even if only a few hours old.

How does that work?

What I also don't get is how people who say they are about having a "culture of life" can justify not doing what is needed to ensure that the already living have a right to work, make a decent wage, get health care, have a financially secure retirement, and have a clean, unpolluted environment. There is no "right to profit" and the rights of the already born are what are guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence and in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights.

As for those being against all abortions no matter what need to be made to review all cases of abortion and the reasons for having them, including cases with severe genetic or developmental defects, severe risk to the woman, and the utter lack of education about sex, pregnancy, and relationships.

And just so people know, there is no major support whatsoever for using abortion as a method of birth control. That is why we have contraceptives. But the greater issue I see is that the men folk are not made to be as responsible for an unintended pregnancy as the women folk. Sexually responsible men are one of the rarest creatures on earth but it is the women who are made to pay for men sowing their wild oats. I say we need to bring back shotgun weddings so men can't just skip out when he knocks the girl up.

And while some women have high sexual desire, they are far, far outnumbered by men who seem to think of little else when in the company of women, otherwise, there wouldn't be so many jokes about the ending of the man's sex life upon marriage.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

John Dean, Conservatives, and Game Theory

This is going to be a bit disjointed because although I have the dots, I haven't connected them completely yet.

To begin, John Dean's most recent book Conservatives Without Conscience is predominantly based on sociological data about right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO) in individuals. Those who score high on both scales are known as double-highs (DH). The SDOs and DHs tend to be amoral who seek power at any and all cost.

The interesting correlation for me is in the use of game theory dealing with defectors and cooperators. In other words, SDOs and DHs are the defectors in game theory. Defectors can also be known as cheaters. There are also studies being done that identify punishers who punish defectors thus working to maintain the cooperative integrity of the group. Adding to this is the work of John Nash who mathematically proved that cooperation is better than competition.

An observation John Dean makes is that Republicans, especially the religious right Republicans, tend to be high RWAs with a good smattering of SDOs or DHs. Whereas, Democrats tend to be low on all counts. In other words, Democrats tend to be free thinkers and free willed. It is no wonder then that the Democratic Party tends to have a hard time working as a unit as if trying to herd cats.

Oh, and just to throw this in, Gary Hart has written a book The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats in order to identify what Democrats actually stand FOR. In his BookTV talk he said to look up the definition of liberal and so I did and it certainly fits me in terms of generosity and open-mindedness which is in direct opposition to the RWA mindset.

Now, the real work on this is to do a cross-cultural analysis between Eastern and Western thought. The cross-cultural cognitive studies of Richard Nisbett PhD at the University of Michigan forms a way to understand some of this, but at the same time, it provides a proving ground for testing Western sociological theory to check if its perspective is in fact valid. In other words, if there is no corollary in Eastern thought, then the Western perspective cannot be taken as universally true.

I'm still working on getting these dots connected but wanted to get this out before I lost the thought. If anyone can track what I'm doing with this please jump in and leave comments.