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The Great Man

The Great Man

I watched the “great man” closely on television last night. He was either just himself or he has lost himself.

Barak Obama came on the scene as a startling talent. He came out of the darkness to run for the United States senate in a major state. The details of the coincidental success aren’t important because it was only the springboard to unbelievable accomplishment after a short stint in congress. Timing? Talent? Force of personality? In retrospect it is so hard to say. But it was a meteoric rise.

Yet there is a certain strangeness to his allure. Most people saw him as an amazing campaigner in his salad days. He was never flamboyant but he had reserved energy that seemed to be wanting to get out but was always on the verge. You could feel it under his delivery and you imagined more than what you saw and heard. He had wallop in a low key and he seemed so genuine in a very natural way. He wasn’t overreaching and his demeanor was such that while he was strong, handsome, articulate and charming he still had the common touch of a former community organizer. And he was a writer. Read the rest of this entry

Phoney Secrecy

Everyone knows, or should know that when you use the internet, especially for email etc. that it is available to almost anyone in the world.
But to have the government spy and record everything that goes on is clearly against the fourth amendment. The ACLU is finally getting around to challenge the constitutionality of the Patriot Act. What took so long for them and others?

Article 4: People have the right to be free, in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, from unreasonable searches and seizures, and no warrants may issue without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and specifically describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Read the rest of this entry

Matt Shea the Wife beatter and Gunslingger

Matt Shea is a firearms nutcase.  We can’t wait to see him arm himself again when the traffic is not to his liking.

But Matt is not a one event talent.  His ability to hyper ventilate while abusing his former wife and his anger at fellow legislators has made a real reputation for this political radical.

We are waiting to see him refuse to pay his income tax like his Sovereign Nation conspirators.  Shea’s radical belief systems compel him to challenge any commonly accepted political principles and make him forget to get a concealed weapons permit or maybe he was doing that on purpose!

We can probably regard Matt Shea as an extreme Libertarian with a fascist streak running through the middle.  But he may go beyond that though with the gun fetish.  The gun in the car was loaded so he may be seeing “boogymen” that are out to get him.  We are looking at rather psychotic behavior here.  Has he lost his empathy?  That is the real test of who is a psycho.   Can he love?  Can he imagine the feelings of others?  Is self interest his main focus?  Can he play with others?

It is time to call him out as either a sociopath or a real psychopath.



Parenting and Persuasion and Lakoff

Putting Lakoff’s Work in a Larger Context

by: Mary L. Wentworth, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: jakub_hla, pareeerica)In applying to political discourse the scientific discoveries of how concepts are embodied in our brains, George Lakoff and his associates have made an important contribution to how we liberals ought to be talking about issues.

What is missing, however, in this application of science to politics, is recognition that a powerful worldwide system known as patriarchy needs to be the context for these discussions. For example, in a recent Truthout article, “Obama, Tea Parties and the Battle for Our Brains,” Lakoff explains how liberals and conservatives differ in their views of the family.

Liberals, Lakoff pointed out, prefer the model of “a nurturant parent family” that is not only based on “empathy,” but also on “responsibility – for both oneself and others, and on excellence: doing as well as one can to make oneself better, and one’s family and community better. Parents are to practice these things and children are to learn them by example.” Clearly, these are families in which women, as the primary nurturers, have an important place.

“Conservatives,” wrote Lakoff, prefer “a strict father family” model. In this kind of family, “the world is seen as a dangerous place and the father functions as protector from ‘others’ and is the parent who teaches children absolute right from wrong by punishing them physically (painful spanking or worse) when they do wrong. The father is the ultimate authority; children are to obey, and immoral practices are seen as disgusting.”
Republicans claim that this model is based on “traditional family values.” Actually, they are patriarchal values rooted in the subjugation of women, for it is not just the children who must yield to the authority of the father, but the mother as well.

Patriarchy is a system with a long history, predating written records, but it remains a powerful contemporary force throughout the world.
Patriarchs instituted the practice of marriage many millennia ago in order to subordinate women whom they saw as a valuable commodity by giving every man the right by law to absolute dominion over a wife. In patriarchal marriages, the father is more than a mere “protector.” He is a property owner. And in many countries, a wife today has no more rights than a slave. Women and girls are sold into marriage or prostitution, traded for other goods, or simply given away. A wife is viewed as valuable property because along with the domestic services that she provides she is able to produce children, especially sons, and the progeny belong to the property owner.

This issue of ownership is at the root of the strong opposition on the part of conservatives to Roe vs. Wade. The idea that a woman would have control over her life to the extent that she could legally abort the “male-owned” fetus is anathema to the patriarchal system and to those who espouse “traditional family values.”

Conservatives seek to strengthen patriarchy here and abroad by not only denying women access to abortions, but also to contraceptive information and devices.

Conservatives mask their contempt for women under the term “pro-life.” Few seem to notice that they have painted themselves into a corner on this issue, because if they claim that abortion is tantamount to murder, then how can they logically allow abortions, as some want to do, in the case of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother?

Here, in the United States, thanks to two militant women’s movements over the last 150 years, progress has been achieved in removing many of the barriers to full personhood for women. But we are not out of the woods by a long shot. We women still have no equal rights under the US Constitution. Men in “nurturant parent families” can also be abusive and overbearing. And even here the violence – rapes, murders and domestic abuse – necessary to maintain the subservience of women goes on at a steady pace.

An issue Lakoff addresses in terms of framing is homosexuality. Liberals use “gays and lesbians,” which gets a more positive response in polls, while conservatives always use “homosexual” as in “homosexual marriage” or homosexuals in the military” etc. The question that needs to be asked, however, is why conservatives feel compelled to demonize homosexuals in the first place. The answer is that homosexual relationships undermine the patriarchal system that is structured on heterosexuality. Men are not involved in lesbian relationships, keeping the women in line. Two cohabiting men are seen as abdicating their responsibility to help control women. One might add that gay and lesbian relationships offer a more equal, and, therefore, a threatening model, to the patriarchal one.

Conservatives here have been tagged as working with their counterparts in Uganda to achieve legislation that would outlaw homosexuality and impose death sentences on those in violation of it.

The quid pro quo for lower-class men in exchange for their privileges vis á vis women is absolute loyalty to the ruling patriarchs. The loyalty chit is called in whenever patriarchs gear up to fight another one of their wars. The presence of women and homosexual males in the military erodes the ages-old patriarchal ideal of what it means to be “a real man.” Over the centuries, and the present one is no exception, men around the world have been willing to put their lives on the line to advance the interests of those at the top.

By substituting “patriarchal” for the phrase “conservative moral,” in Lakoff’s final sentence: “The highest value in the conservative moral system is the perpetuation and strengthening of the conservative moral system itself,” we would have a statement that gives us an appropriate context.

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Energy,Economics vs Growth

Energy and the Wealth of Nations
by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP
(Note: Commentaries do not necessarily represent the position of ASPO-USA. This commentary originally appeared as part of an Advisor Perspectives newsletter.)   Read the rest here.

When our society relies on an understanding of economics that did not predict, prevent, or mitigate the current economic crisis, and that, more importantly, does not effectively address climate change or resource depletion, it is time for a new and different approach to understanding the economy. That premise is the foundation of Energy and the Wealth of Nations, an important book by ecologist Charles Hall and economist Kent Klitgaard, who together are pioneering the new discipline of biophysical economics.

Richard Vodra, J.D., CFP®, is the President of Worldview Two Planning of McLean, VA. He recently retired from a 27-year career as a personal financial planner. He is a member of the Board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO-USA).

Democratic Party Sold out Wisconsin

It’s Class War in Wisconsin, Yet Democrats Sing Kumbaya

By Gary Younge, Guardian UK

04 June 12

A vote to recall the state’s Republican governor has huge implications for US politics, but the liberals have missed their cue.

here is a degree of hyperbole one comes to expect from American activists around election time. Given the level of polarisation, this is hardly surprising. Every vote, you’re told, is about liberty, justice, the American dream, the constitution or the world one wants to leave your children or grandchildren. Then, often, half the eligible voters stay at home and, regardless of who wins, not an awful lot changes.

So when activists on both sides of the effort to recall Wisconsin’s governor insist “everything” is at stake, they should not be taken too literally. Nonetheless, this time they have a point.

The recall campaign was sparked last year when Republican governor Scott Walker pledged to remove collective bargaining rights from public sector unions and cut local government workers’ health benefits and pension entitlements, claiming this was necessary to balance the state’s budget. Walker, a Tea Party supporter, was elected in 2010 against Democrat Tom Barrett, with 52% of the vote. By February 2011, tens of thousands of protesters descended on the state capitol in Madison. In all 50 states, rallies were held to support Wisconsin unions. Before tents ever went up on Wall Street, this midwestern state was occupied. Unable to prevent passage of his anti-union bill and other measures, labour activists and progressives collected more than 900,000 signatures to recall him.

That makes Tuesday’s vote a rare chance for a clear referendum on who should pay for this economic crisis – those who created it or those who have suffered most because of it. So in a state with a larger population than Ireland’s and a GDP greater than Portugal’s, people here will vote on the causes and consequences of austerity.

Walker’s record speaks for itself. In his first year in office Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state, and was one from last in private sector job growth. He has cut tax relief to low-income families and the state’s Medicaid program. He has introduced a voter ID bill that will limit minority and low-income electoral participation, reproductive rights legislation that has forced Planned Parenthood to suspend providing basic services to women and repealed the law that protects equal pay for women.

Meanwhile, according to the Wall Street Journal, union membership has slumped since he banned automatic deduction of union dues from salaries. The WSJ reported that membership of the state’s second largest public sector union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, fell by more than half in Walker’s first year while the American Federation of Teachers lost more than a third of its members.

Unemployment has fallen, although that is most likely because people have left the job market and, depending on your accountant, he has balanced the budget. He has cut property taxes for the first time in 12 years and given millions in tax breaks to corporations.

In short, he has hammered working people, undermined the capacity of those who represent them and marginalised many of those who might vote for their interests while effecting a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich: a more balanced budget for a more unequal society.

The degree to which he is successful in this project has national implications and resonates with struggles that are taking place globally. Neither the unions nor the poor are responsible for this crisis but across the world they have been scapegoated for it.

In the US, unemployment has rarely been this bad for this long, wages have rarely been this stagnant and corporate profits, as a proportion of GDP, have never been this high. In that context the referendum raises the question: should the burden for the recession, precipitated by a banking crisis, fall on labour or capital?

Conservatives seem to understand this. In a large Tea Party rally of several thousand in Racine on Saturday, speakers railed against “union thugs” “union bullies” and “pinko commies”. Walker has been caught on video telling a donor, shortly before he announced the cuts, that he intended to use a strategy of “divide and conquer” to defeat the public sector unions by driving a wedge between them and private sector workers. They also see the broader implications in an election year where the economy will take centre stage. Political and financial support has flooded in from around the country. “We are going to chart the course for the rest of the country,” said the state’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, who is also being recalled.

The activists on the ground calling for Walker’s recall understand this also. Ask them what’s at stake and most will say women’s rights, union rights and voters’ rights. But the Democratic leadership, both locally and nationally, who have taken over the recall effort, clearly don’t. They have run a campaign calling for more consensual governance and less divisive rhetoric and accusing Walker of being corrupt. Bill Clinton, who came to town to stump for Barrett on Friday, called for “creative co-operation”, bringing unions and business around the table to discuss common interests. There are times that can work. But not when unions are not allowed through the door, let alone at the table.

Nationally, Democrats have kept their distance. Clinton is the only high-profile Democrat to lend his support to a campaign that is being outspent by more than seven to one. Little wonder that most polls show Walker with a small but persistent lead that only a huge Democratic turnout can override. Indeed it’s amazing his opponents are doing as well as they are.

So while conservatives are using Wisconsin as a laboratory to openly wage class war, the Democratic leadership keeps extending their hand and singing Kumbaya. The problem is not simply that Walker is divisive – though that is a problem – but that he’s on the wrong side of the divide. Calls for unity are meaningless without first spelling out on what basis people should unite and working out where the disunity came from in the first place.

“You get out of a ditch when people stand on each others’ shoulders and the person at the top starts pulling people out,” said Clinton. True. But the last people you’d rely on are those who dug the ditch and shoved you in – particularly when they’re still building and still shoving.

Assassination official policy?

Anything goes now?  The NYTimes assassination story is so chilling because he appears to think that it will enhance his re-election!  Could Bush/Cheney have gotten away with this?  I am sickened by this. 
“The article is not an expose’. It appears to have been commissioned by the administration itself as part of his re-election campaign’s attempt to run Obama as the unflinching commander-in-chief in the “war on terror,” touting the supposed success of his assassination program and outflanking the Republicans from the right.
The authors note that the article is based upon interviews with “three dozen of his [Obama's] current and former advisers,” who were clearly authorized and encouraged to talk about the president’s immersion in state murders”. Read the rest of this entry

Debt will Get You and our Nation

In recent days, New York Times economist Paul Krugman has been doing a whole bunch of interviews in which he has declared that the solution to our economic problems is very easy. Krugman says that all we need to do to get the global economy going again is for the governments of the world to start spending a lot more money.

The Danger of Being Partly Right on Spending

Krugman believes that austerity is only going to cause the economies of the industrialized world to slow down even further and therefore he says that it is the wrong approach. And you know what? Krugman is partly right about all of this. The false prosperity that the United States and Europe have been enjoying has been fueled by unprecedented amounts of debt, and in order to maintain that level of false prosperity we are going to need even larger amounts of debt.

But there are several reasons why Krugman is mostly wrong. First of all, we have not seen any real “austerity” yet. Even though there have been some significant spending cuts and tax increases over in Europe, the truth is that nearly every European government is still piling up more debt at a frightening pace. Here in the United States, the federal government continues to spend more than a trillion dollars a year more than it brings in. If the United States were to go to a balanced federal budget, that would be austerity. What we have now is wild spending by the federal government beyond anything that John Maynard Keynes ever dreamed of.

Secondly, Krugman focuses all of his attention on making things more comfortable for all of us in the short-term without even mentioning what we might be doing to future generations. Yes, more government debt would give us a short-term economic boost, but it would also make the long-term financial problems that we are passing on to our children even worse. It is important to understand that Paul Krugman is a hardcore Keynesian. He believes that national governments can solve most economic problems simply by spending more money. His prescription for the U.S. economy in 2012 was summarized in a recent Rolling Stone article….

The basic issue, says Krugman, is a lack of demand. American consumers and businesses, aren’t spending enough, and efforts to get them to open their wallets have gone nowhere. Krugman’s solution: The federal government needs to step in and spend. A lot. On debt relief for struggling homeowners; on infrastructure projects; on aid to states and localities; on safety-net programs. Call it “stimulus” if you like. Call it Keynesian economics, after the great economic thinker (and Krugman idol) John Maynard Keynes, who first championed the idea that government has an essential role in saving the free market from its own excesses.


So is Krugman right?

Would the U.S. economy improve if the federal government borrowed and spent an extra half a trillion dollars this year for example?

Yes, it would.

But it would also get us half a trillion dollars closer to bankruptcy as a nation.

Krugman claims that “austerity” has failed, but the truth is that we have not even seen any real “austerity” yet.

When a government spends more than it brings in, that is not real austerity.

People talk about the “austerity” that we have seen in places such as Greece and Spain, but the truth is that both nations are still piling up huge amounts of new debt.

So let’s not pretend that the western world is serious about austerity.

The goal for most European nations at this point is to get their debts down to “sustainable” levels.

But for economists such as Krugman, this is a very bad idea. Krugman insists that cutting government spending during a recession is a very stupid thing to do. The following is from one of his recent articles in the New York Times….

For the past two years most policy makers in Europe and many politicians and pundits in America have been in thrall to a destructive economic doctrine. According to this doctrine, governments should respond to a severely depressed economy not the way the textbooks say they should — by spending more to offset falling private demand — but with fiscal austerity, slashing spending in an effort to balance their budgets.

Critics warned from the beginning that austerity in the face of depression would only make that depression worse. But the “austerians” insisted that the reverse would happen. Why? Confidence! “Confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank — a claim echoed by Republicans in Congress here. Or as I put it way back when, the idea was that the confidence fairy would come in and reward policy makers for their fiscal virtue.

Yes, Krugman is correct that government austerity measures will only make a recession worse.

Just look at what has happened in Greece. Wave after wave of austerity measures has pushed Greece into an economic depression. If you want to see what austerity has done to the unemployment rate in Greece, just check out this chart.

As other nations across Europe have taken measures to get debt under control, we have seen similar economic results all across the continent.

The overall unemployment rate in the eurozone has hit 10.9 percent which is a new all-time high, and youth unemployment rates throughout Europe are absolutely skyrocketing.

Right now there are already 12 countries in Europe that are officially in a recession, and in many European nations manufacturing activity is slowing down dramatically.

So, yes, austerity is not helping short-term economic conditions in Europe.

But what are the nations of the western world supposed to do?

According to Krugman, they are supposed to run up gigantic amounts of new debt indefinitely.

And that is what the United States is doing right now. But at some point the clock strikes midnight and all of a sudden you have become the “next Greece”.

U.S. government debt is already rising much, much faster than U.S. GDP is.

Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26 percent, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61 percent during that same time period.

Today, the U.S. national debt is equivalent to 101.5 percent of U.S. GDP.

But Paul Krugman does not consider this to be a major problem.

The Obama administration is currently stealing approximately 150 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour to finance our reckless spending, but for Paul Krugman that is not nearly good enough.

To Krugman, the only thing that is important is what is happening right now. Apparently the future can be thrown into the toilet as far as he is concerned.

The founder of PIMCO, Bill Gross, told CNBC on Tuesday that the U.S. government is likely to be hit with another credit rating downgrade this year if something is not done about our exploding debt.

The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.

But Krugman insists that the solution to our economic problems is even more debt and even more spending.

Krugman Would Take Us Closer to Insolvency

In a previous article, I detailed how we are doomed if the U.S. government keeps spending money wildly like this and we are doomed if the U.S. governments stops spending money wildly like this.

If we keep running trillion dollar deficits every year, at some point our financial system will collapse, the U.S. dollar will fail, and we will essentially be facing national bankruptcy.

But if the federal government stops borrowing and spending money like this, our debt-fueled prosperity will rapidly disappear, unemployment will shoot well up into double digits, and we will soon have mass rioting in major U.S. cities.

The truth is that we have already been following Paul Krugman’s economic prescription for the nation for decades. Our 15 trillion dollar party has funded a standard of living unlike anything the world has ever seen, but the party is coming to an end.

The Federal Reserve is trying to keep the party going by buying up huge amounts of government debt. The Fed actually purchased approximately 61 percent of all government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2011.

It is a shell game that cannot go on for too much longer.

The national debt crisis can be delayed for a while, but at some point the house of cards is going to come crashing down on top of us all.

If Paul Krugman wanted to talk about real solutions he could talk about shutting down the Federal Reserve and he could talk about going to an entirely debt-free currency.

But we all know that is not going to happen, don’t we?

As I have written about before, the Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual government debt machine. The system was designed to have the amount of money and the amount of government debt constantly expand.

And it has been working quite well in that regard. At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

But Paul Krugman is not going to talk about the real issues. Instead, he is just going to keep running around declaring that more government spending and more government debt will solve all of our problems.

It is a very big lie, but millions of people are going to believe it.




“I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.” – H.L. Mencken