Monthly Archives: February 2012

Primarily wrong and fundamentally flawed!

One of the most significant issues facing our political system is the corruption introduced by the ever-increasing influx of money into it.  This comes from a variety of sources, and there have literally been thousands of books written on the topic, and millions of web pages.  (An search for books on the topic produced 3,948 results as of this writing.  A Google search for “campaign finance reform papers” produced “about 63,500,000 results”.)  We’ve heard discussion on the influence of SuperPACS.  We’ve talked about the special interests.  Lobbyists.  (Even Jack Abramoff is warning about people like him. Ha!)  Term limits.  Congressional insider trading is a hot topic lately.

Here though is one idea you haven’t heard and that really needs to be implemented.  Let me start first by posing the following.  Picture the outrage that would swell if it was proposed that any government – city, county, parish, state, or federal – were to fund and/or conduct the election for the board of directors of the ACLU, for the United Auto Workers or for the American Family Association.  Can you imagine?  Would any of us agree that would be appropriate?  While I can see that there would be a small handful who might, just because weneverhave true unanimity, I am confident that the majority would be so large as to be nearly complete.

Now, why then do we the people in the guise of our city, parish, county and state governments continue to fund and conduct the internal elections for the “two” major political parties in America – the Democrats and the Republicans?  That is precisely what we are doing with every primary election that happens.  When we go to the polls for a primary to select a candidate for one party to run against a candidate from another party in a general election, you are engaged in an internal decision-making process for that party.

The short version of the history of why this happens comes from trying to make sure that the party bosses of the past were not manipulating the voting machines to put their own people in place.  (Sound familiar?)  This may have been a laudable goal at the time.  It may still be a laudable goal.  However, it is still an inappropriate crossing of a line between government and a private organization.  Further, it doesn’t appear to be working very well, does it?  Does anyone really believe that they’re voting for a candidate rather than voting either against another candidate or voting for the least offensive candidate?

Worse though, government running of the primary process intrenches the political bosses in the seats of power.  It helps to prevent the rise of third parties into the political field.  It contributes to preventing non-party affiliated individuals from having a legitimate opportunity to be heard.  It is only one factor, but it is one large factor.

It is also expensive!  I have been looking for the actual data, and the states do not make this easy to find.  I have not found the hard numbers that I wanted to present to you.  Mostly what I find are oblique references that I won’t cite.  I suspect that this is, in part, because most of these expenses are born at the local level and are not really compiled at the state level.  In other words, no one is really tracking it. We track how much the candidates are spending.  (That is a whole other topic!)

However, what I am finding is specific locations.  From this we can extrapolate somewhat.  We cannot get a specific number, and I will not even attempt to do so.  I will let you make your own guess.  For example, Woodbury County, Iowa recently cited the cost of the 2010 Gubernatorial election as $153,000.  They also cited the cost of the 2008 presidential election as $251,802.  These are not primaries, and these are not New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, or other major metropolitan areas where the expense is sure to be larger.

If the parties need to have a primary to choose their candidates, I understand that, and I certainly have no objection to that, other than the fact that I argue that it is time for them to cease to exist.  However, we the people and our avatar, the government, must get out of the business of conducting these elections for them.  It is an improper exercise of governmental power and influence on the behalf of particular, chosen individuals and institutions and it is an unacceptable expenditure of funds.  If they need them, let them have them.  Just let them fund them, and conduct them.  Then, let the rest of us laugh at the mess they make of them.  We will also learn a lot about how well they might actually be able to run the country by how well they run their primaries.

This seems to me to be an idea that from Tea Party to Occupy, we should all be able to get behind.


What ARE you going to do about it?

So, there’s this goofy image of the president floating around.

Arrogant Obama

It’s clearly intended to show him looking arrogant, and the last time I saw it, it was accompanied by the caption, “Not Progressive enough for ya? Well… whadya gonna do about it??”

So, I think this is a grand question.  What are you going to do about it?  What am I going to do about it?  Here’s what I am going to do about it.

First, I am not going to vote for the same stupid false dichotomy that we the people have been supporting for years now. The two parties merged years ago. As my father so often says, we get the government we deserve.  This is a very sad, but all too true statement.  It’s not a matter of “throw the bums out” just because they’re in. It’s a matter of throw the bums out if they’re bums. In this case, show me the ones that aren’t bums, and I’ll support them. So far, Barney’s retiring (I can’t vote for him, anyway), Kucinich is in trouble due to redistricting (I can’t vote for him either), Elizabeth Warren is sporadic (Nope, couldn’t vote for her either) and, as far as I can tell, pretty much the rest are spineless or evil.

The best choice I’ve seen this election cycle for president is still Rocky Anderson.  And, most people still don’t even know about him. The Green Party is a joke and has been since putting Nader out as their candidate with 7 VP candidates depending on which state he was running in (1996).  For me, it was made even worse when the self-described “pretty much the head of the Greens in Florida” wanted to argue with me while at Occupy Tampa about whether that had even happened, she showed that many of the Greens don’t have any more of a clue than the damn Tea Partiers.  (Note to political organizers: If you’re at a political demonstration, protest or other activity, there is at least a chance you might encounter someone who actually has a clue, so you should not be clueless yourself.)  Now, this isn’t to say that the Green Party doesn’t hold many positions that I do support.  It isn’t to say that there are not many important issues that need to be accomplished on these fronts.  Only that as an organization, they are not to be taken seriously.

Voting third party is throwing your vote away? No! Voting Repugnocrat or Demoncan is throwing your vote away. From the time I was 18 until Shrub, I didn’t vote Democan.  I was told I should repeatedly because I should be afraid of the Republicrats, and truthfully, I was afraid of them and what they were doing to the country.  I was afraid of what they would continue to do to the country.  However, at that point I believed, and still believe, that the Libertarian Party was actually the most liberal party we had.  In the time since though, the Libertarians have become the refuge of the ultra-right wing and those who haven’t woken up enough to actually look at who has climbed into bed with them.

Then, along came Shrub.  Shrub scared me enough that I did vote Democan in the presidential preference poll.  Twice.  And, those are the only votes I regret.  The only two votes I feel I threw away.

Never again.  Lesson learned.  My father taught me too well to repeat those mistakes a third time.

I stumbled onto another image.  (I would credit if possible, but as with so many images one finds shared on social networking sites, there is no attribution).  I share it here because it is wonderful.

Did you get that?  It’s important.  Read it again.

When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world, “No, you move!”

Second, I am going to do all that I can to continue to educate everyone around me.  I will do so in person and online.  I will do so via this blog and via my social networking.  I am going to engage in every form of relevant protest that I can, while still maintaining my level of responsible engagement in society. I am going to be actively involved in calling, emailing, and petitioning my so-called representatives until we can replace them.  I will fully exercise my constitutional rights for as long as we have them, for that is how we make it difficult for them to be taken away.  If they are taken away, then I will engage in more radical action and abandon these responsible measures.

And, in the meantime, I’m going to do the very best I can to live by the principles I believe in in every way that I can.

So, yeah. That is what I am going to do about it. What are YOU going to do about it?

Starve the Beasts

It’s interesting and ridiculous how the Republicrats want to blame Obama for everything over the last few years, but yet, in the recent Florida Presidential Preference Poll, The Grinch was running commercials touting all the things that he accomplished while he was the speaker.  All the same things that they would allow the president to take credit for, if it had been their president, “balanced budget for three straight years”, the surplus, low unemployment, Dow Jones up, etc.  (I was looking for a link to the specific commercial I had in mind, but I am not finding it.  It’s paid for by “Winning our Future”, if you really need an example, so it’s technically not run by the Grinch, but *wink* *wink*)

In fairness, the Democans do exactly the same thing.  They’re just not running any national campaigns right now.

Two questions remain.

– Why is it that so many people CLAIM that negative campaigning turns them off, but then so obviously respond to it?

– Why do we, as a country, continue to support either of these ridiculous parties with our time, our money, and most importantly our votes?

Both parties have done great things for our country.  Things for which we should remember them in history.  However, the time has come to consign them to the dustbin of history and move on.  The time has come when both parties have shown that they now care more about the love of money and power than about principle.

It was the Republican Party who, following the Civil War, led the reconstruction period in the South.  However, it was largely the Democrats who lead the final portion of the civil rights battle for “racial” equality in the 1960s.  (We still have a lot of equality battles to fight in this country, but we’ve come a long way and that should NEVER be forgotten!!)

I stumbled across this the other day and thought it was particularly relevant to our time. I recognize it is just a little long.  I ask that you read it in its entirety.

 It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights.

Abraham Lincoln in his first State of the Union address delivered December 3, 1861.

We notice that 150 years ago that great Republican icon, Abraham Lincoln was specifically saying that capital is NOT  superior to labor.  That capital only exists as a result of labor.  From this we can infer many things.  Amongst those things, we can infer that Lincoln would support that capital gains ought not, for example, be taxed at a lower rate, but rather at a higher rate than labor.  There are many other things which can come from this simple statement.

But, again, I digress.  The point is that both parties have done many great things for the country and they should be remembered and honored for those contributions.  They should have their places in the history books and museums.  And, now, we should move on.  They need to be relegated to the sidelines, because we have allowed them to become corrupt and controlled by narrow interests.  The worst part, and the part for which we should be truly ashamed and afraid is that WE ARE DOING IT TO OURSELVES!!

“But, we have no other alternatives”  That’s not true.  We have many other alternatives.  The Republicans have for the last 40 years been engaged in a “Starve the Beast” campaign.  Their intent is to bankrupt the government.  This has been written about and acknowledged repeatedly.  I will post about it at some point, but others have done very thorough pieces about it.  It would take very little looking for the interested reader to find the details.  We the people have to engage in our own starve the beast campaign on the parties.  We have to end their stranglehold on ourselves and our government, because again, we are they!  We have other alternatives.  We have the Green party.  We have the Justice Party.  There are others.  Look around.  Don’t rely just on the mainstream media and what you have always known.  As a free adult, you are responsible for your own education!

The parties can no more exist without we the people than any other institution can.  No institution exists without the people who make up its rank and file.  If we walk away.  If we stop contributing, and volunteering.  If we stop voting, and spreading the message.  If, instead, we start volunteering, contributing to, and voting for alternatives, then we can do this!!!

Fighting (Super)fire with (Super)fire!

Yes!  This is an excellent sign of engagement!  As you may recall, I have been arguing that we cannot withdraw from the system if we intend to salvage it.  (I won’t rehash the save v. destroy discussion here.)  I have also been arguing that in order for the Occupy movement to not become completely irrelevant, it has to mature.  These are sure and long overdue signs of that maturation.



These are the serious, non-comedic versions of Stephen Colbert’s Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.  Which is not to say that Colbert is not serious in his way, because he certainly is.  He is also, I hope, being very successful in driving home the point.  However, there are elements that will avoid him specifically because the method of delivery is comedic.

Okay, so these are unsophisticated first steps.  These are not the experienced, groomed political operatives of the Democan/Republicrat machine.  Yes, and?  There is nothing wrong with that!  I have not been, and I would hope that none of us are, opposed to the power to the people approach.  These guys are picking up the shovel and attempting to start digging themselves.  Now that they have, everyone else has to step in also.  It has to be a joint effort, of course.  Give if you can.  Spread the word!

We have to stop just talking.  We have to stop just squatting.  Direct action can’t just be heckling the politicians and protesting.  Those are important, but that can’t be all that we do.  We also have to be engaged in the political process.  We do not have the numbers, or let’s be honest the commitment of the majority of the numbers we do have, of the people who made the Arab Spring happen.  The Arab Spring that so many in the Occupy want to claim alignment to.

And, why is that?  Because most of us simply haven’t lost enough to get that level of commitment.  Let’s be honest with ourselves.

But, we still care.  We still see the inequity in our den.  Just because we recognize that we are better off than so much of the world, does not mean that we can not strive to fix our own system.  It does not mean that we cannot strive to be better.  For in doing so, we can put ourselves in a better position to help others.

So, again, get off your ass and get engaged!!  Speak out!  Educate yourself and everyone else!  Let them be aggravated with you.  Do what you have to do to make the world a better place, even if it is just your little neck of the world.

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