Saturday, October 2, 2010

Much about Doing Nothing

It has been over a year since I attempted any real writing. The last book I brought out was First Steps on The Path: A Man's Field Guide to the All written under the pen name Ollamh BrocCroman. It is still available on Amazon and at The Enchanted Forest in Fort Worth, Texas. that particular work is a guide to help people break free of oppressive fundamentalist institutional religions using the generic tools of the Earth Based Religions. What was written there applies to almost any person on earth who seeks an escape from the chains of spiritual bondage. I've been told I will burn in hell by fundamentalist Christians, and accuse of cultural rape by fundamentalist Celtic Reconstructionist. Such criticism is the price one pays for finding a better way outside of the institutional approval. I do appreciate that it is read by such critics. Fundamentalist do not approve of intellectual or spiritual freedom. They think you need them to show you the way. I don't.

I am sitting here. I am again unemployed. Not a big deal. I have Thirteen years until I can retire on the pittance handed out by social security. From what I can tell, there are jobs out there for the young uns. Old men like me can go away and die. According to James Mitchner in Centenial the Native American had a personal ritual for Old Men. Lame Beaver staked himself out in the middle of an raid forcing the opposing tribe to deal with hims first. Ultimately they killed him. There was no choice. He knew that. He was getting old and useless to the tribe and it was expected of him.

Well, hate to say it, but I am not useless to the tribe. Quite the opposite. I have tales to tell and lessons to pass on to the generations to come. Most of them I have indicated in other works. I spend time exploring alternative religions to break the "spell" of conservative, fundamental expressions. I have also worked well outside the corporate box in Wealth, Women and War. Some of that information I have shared in these infrequent blogs.

Recently a young friend of mine was bemoaning his existence in IT (Information Technology). Can blame any creative soul trapped in a cubical, chained to a telephone for complaining about the state of the industry. It has been codified, ritualized, conformed to strict standards and homogenized around the Microsoft Monopoly. Mine you that is not a bad thing, if you are a savant.

A few years ago Mr. Bill Gates of Micorsoft went before congress begging for more visas to bring over labor from India to fill It slots. He was whining that there were not enough U.S. Computer Engineers. No body bothered to ask him where were the opportunities for the qualified Computer Engineers currently looking for work in the United States. This was around the same time that a well known New York law firm was instruction the Multi-Nationals on how to hire foreign nationals over qualified U.S. citizens.

Yep, That is colonization -- excuse me, I mean Globalization -- at its finest. I don't know why we don't just let 'em hang out the sign "Help Wanted: U.S. Boys need not Apply" Isn't that what Rand Paul wants to do?

We fought for a vision where there was ample of opportunity for all. That is not what we have in the United States of America today. However, there is an upside. Something very special is going to happen in between 2025 and 2042. The boomers (Baby Boomers born between 1945 and 1962) are going to (I'll put this gracefully) pass into the oblivion of eternity. That is the ultimate nothing. Over that eighteen year peroid that United States will lose roughly one-third of its population.

That will be the end of the world as we know it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wealth, Women and War: The God Card (from 2007)

In the beginning of this report we discussed utilizing the writings of antiquity as the basis for the social contract. We examined this in some depth in the last chapter concerning institutional religion in the United States.

In the first century Rome, at the height of the Roman Empire, we know that the production of products ensured a good economy for skilled workmen. We are told by the economist, that production and not jobs is the key to economic strength today. Some like, Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter, point out that most people in the United States today do not understand the difference between jobs and production. This was pointed out in the June 14, 2007 edition of The Economist. This conceptually diminishes the argument for the need of economic opportunity. It may be just another corporate smoke screen.

The United States, due to the decisions made in the 1970s to kill stagflation (the conjunction of a stagnant economy and a post-war inflationary spike), shifted away from production, and the by-product of employment. How one can build a productive economy with less than a fully utilized working population seems unanswered. There seems to be an outlook which emphasizes that less employment opportunity is somehow healthy for the economy. While fewer employees do reduce cost for the corporations, the whole argument seems a little shortsighted. Where it seems to fail is in the arena of human dynamic and the individual and group response to diminished economic rewards.

Within the framework of the hard line response to the inevitable spike in crime as a result to the lack of opportunity there is a “crime control” mentality. That fails society on a number of levels. One, it increases the need for a wide range of law enforcement personnel; that is a cost without adding to production of goods and services. Two, such jobs are low paying with little to no benefits resulting in the same economic conditions for the watchers as the watched. The resulting effect is collusion between the watched and the watchers for economic gain. We use to call this “corruption;” if we keep it up we will be calling it “standard operating procedure.” This will also push the population further and further away from any additional support of the operative status quo. Those who do not end up incarcerated will be hard pressed to continue to support those who are. However, through taxation, they will be forced to take on the burden of increasing the support of the increased prison population.

The “get tough” advocates are working on the assumption that only a small portion of the population will engage in criminal activity. That is a bad assumption. We are already seeing an increase in the prison population which is disproportionate to the demographic which commits crimes. There are fewer people in the United States population in the ages of fifteen to thirty, yet more people in prison. That shows that the assumption is a fallacy, and reinforces the connection between crime and economic opportunity without the expert arguments of the economist. It never ceases to be amazing just how well we can rationalize the base motives of humanity; in this case being corporate egoism or debauchery.

In the 1980s, the shift away from the economics of production through opportunity was pushed even further in the application of “supply side economics.” In the span of six years the U.S. abandoned two thousand years of economic practices which built the economy from Imperial Rome to the U.S. Superpower. Within an evolutionary framework it makes a certain amount of sense. The collectiveness of the functional social order has been abandoned in favor of a Darwinist approach to economics. We have come to the conclusion that somehow we do not need each other. This shift in philosophy is how we have come to the present situation: wealth is controlled by a few talented and gifted business savvy individuals and the skilled craftsman is left to fend for himself against the corporate behemoth.

The craftsman is not competing against equally skilled craftsmen from around the globe. He is competing against the goods sold locally which are produced in far flung locations in underdeveloped economies. The local craftsman’s CODB (Cost of Doing Business) is fixed, based on the pricing of the local economy. The craftsman from an underdeveloped country, often subsidized by their local government – as seen in Japan, sells his product for less because his CODB is less and the additional collective resources are provided by his government. This subsidization is also the case in China and India. It is worth noting that our three competitors have cohesive societies, and have criticized the United States as being a mongrel nation, then turned around and chided the U.S. for being racist. These countries are not stupid; they are playing on our worse social fears. What is worse, is that our corporations sell us out to them. During a time of war, presuming that we are really at war, would such actions not be considered treasonous?

This brings up another point of contention between the corporation and the individual. No matter how strong, or how wealthy, the corporation cannot continue to function in a way which is considered disloyal to the local geographical social order. Politics will find a way. History shows that the corporation’s will shall be pushed aside for the sake of the combined individual will within the politics of a given region. It may take a generation of living under the yoke of deprivation, but it does occur. Moreover it occurs quite often.

Maybe the concept of the nation state is dead. Maybe, due to technology, we are truly a global community. However, ponder this: did the telegraph, linking far flung communities prevent the Civil War, or did it exacerbate it? Rather than use the communication tool to alleviate problems, the wires sung with stories of challenges and abuse until the nation broke down in utter chaos. The south seceded from the Union out of fear of what the Union would do once Abraham Lincoln took office, not because of anything that was done by James Buchanan prior to the inauguration of Lincoln. The only thing which was aided by the communication technology was the heightening of the fear and misgiving of what would happen. Bring this forward. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. It did not prevent World War One. Nor, for that matter, did the wireless radio. Transatlantic cables, radio, and the airplane did not prevent World War Two. Television did not prevent the Cold War, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and the wide assortment of bush wars around the world. These technologies did make the world a much smaller place.

In today’s global economy we are dependant upon the interconnectivity of people on the individual level via the internet to facilitate the globalization process. Yet, the same technology which has made the world smaller may have sped up the friction between cultural differences. The technology made the world a smaller place, facilitated global trade, but the cultural differences still do exist.

Philosophical differences still exist. Generational differences still exist. Demographic differences still exist. All of these prejudicial differences come into play in the world around us. Our ability to communicate globally does not negate those differences. Just because these differences are taboo discussion points in polite society, does not mean they do not exist; it simply means that that we have decided to ignore the rabid red dragon in the living room.

Many old philosophies dictate specific tribal and/or racial superiority. These philosophies are often couched in proverbs which include the phrases “God’s will,” “God’s law,” “Natural Law,” etc. etc. When there is plenty to go around and there is relative prosperity for all, such prejudices are academic and irrelevant. It is during these times that society is motivated to do away with as many forms of prejudice as it deems detrimental to society as a whole. However, when resources are lean, primal tribal identity becomes a primary factor within a geographically specific location. From this tribal identification is derived the self-assured justification necessary for one group to have, or acquire, the resources of another group, or individual.

The arguments concerning the existence of Israel are good examples. According to popular Western religious tradition, Israel exists because “God” ordained that portion of the land to the Jews. Based on the standard Jewish text, the land deeded to the Jews by God extends from the Mediterranean to Iraq and consumes much of the Arab land today. This would consume Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. This is far more than the beachfront and scrubland which Israel occupies today.

In spite of Arab assertions, Syria was created by the League of Nations as a colony of France in 1922, and Palestine (including at the time Jordan) was ceded to Great Britain in 1916. Saudi Arabia’s existence dates back to 1744; which makes it only slightly older than the United States itself. The argument against Israel is somewhat self-serving. The Balfour Declaration establishing, at least conceptually, a Jewish homeland was made in 1917. The whole region fell into the hands of the Western powers because the Ottoman Empire sided with the Austrians and Germans and lost World War One. The Arabs have no more legal right to control the land or its destiny than the Jews do.

Criminal activity in opposition to a legal mandate is only as good as the ability to gain control and hold it in a negotiated peace. This is something which the Arabs have not been able to do since 1948 when the Balfour Declaration was finally implemented. The deeper discussion concerning what the Arabs did when to whom, and what Israel did to whom when, is beyond the scope of this report. For a detailed discussion on the situation see A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time by Howard M. Sachar.

When political arguments fail, and survival hangs in the balance it is from the writings or antiquity that the God of the Jews and the Christians arises and final authorization and ultimate justification. The Jews, however, never did occupy the amount of territory ceded to them in their scriptures. The current location of Israel is roughly the size of Chicago, Illinois and occupies the same track of land which they held tribally in the days of the Greek and Roman Empires following the last Babylonian captivity period. In spite of the overwhelming disinformation concerning Israel, the current conflict does not date back millennium; it is relatively new on the geopolitical landscape.

According to Western historic record, Israel ceased to exist in 73 A.D. Rome, growing tired of the chronic Jewish uprisings, murdered, enslaved, and scattered the Jewish people. This account is in dispute by the Arabs who held that stretch of real estate from the fall of Rome (Constantinople) in 1453 to 1919. In 1948 the Jews were finally granted the sovereign state of Israel as reparation for the allowed Nazi genocide during World War Two. This secured a westward leaning political state in the Soviet sphere of influence. The Soviet Union, needing friendly neighbors as a buffer against Western Europe and the United States gave Islamic nations favorable status until 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The preferential treatment to Islam remains an oddity in Soviet History. In Richard Pipes’ A Concise History of the Russian Revolution the blatant discrimination against the Jews and Christians is documented; the preference towards Islam is also documented. Islam was given preference for totally pragmatic reasons. The religions of antiquity had nothing to do with the decision. The U.S decision to support Israel equally had little to do with religion. Religion is simply a safe all-encompassing label to differentiate complex political states of affairs.

These facts are, as stated, opposed by the Arabs who controlled the land from mid 1400s, under the Ottoman Empire, to the late 1940s under the French and British empires. The Arabs rebuff that there never was a Jewish State in the region around Jerusalem. Their view, sees the power shift from the Greeks, to the Romans, to Mohammad, and through Mohammad’s obedience to God, the establishment of God’s true kingdom (and one true religion) through the Ottoman Empire. It was an Empire which stretched from the Middle East across North Africa, north to Spain and the Basque region. The core of the Empire lasted from the fall of Constantinople until the end of World War One with the capitulation to Great Britain and France by Germany and her allies.

The occupation of the Ottoman-Turkish Empire by France and Great Britain (and subsequent U.S. influence) is seen by the Arabs as a continuation of the struggle which began with the Crusades. Those crusades, popularized in the peasant class nobles as the righteous against Islam, were triggered by the Arab’s excessive tolls penalizing the Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem and more importantly, interference with the all important spice trade along the silk road from India. Spices played a major part in the preservation of meat in Medieval Europe. As Christendom rallied around the Cross of Christ, Arabs rallied around Muhammad. The economics of the situation were pushed aside, and the series of wars, at least in popular mythology became a struggle of religions.

Once again, the ultimate authority and justification to continue the struggle is God. However, God, and the specifics surrounding God, are used only as a tribal identifier, and it has very little to do with the nature of the conflict. The conflict remains socioeconomic and political. God, or religion, has nothing to do with it. Today it is about the control of the oil resources in the region.
One can leave the existence of the monotheistic God of the Near East and Middle East to the philosophers, theologians and the preachers. The events in the world today have very little to do with “the true living God.” Current events come about due to market manipulations, technological factors, human inventiveness, and the lack thereof.

The reason for the Jewish/Arab conflict is resource scarcity. The first resource is the land itself. The second resource which brings the west into the conflict is oil. The God card is played only to bring in the sympathies of the mass supporters on each side of the conflict.
Admittedly this is a lightly glossed over view of the complexity of the Arab/Jewish conflict, but it is sufficient for the purposes of this report. It illustrates how the God card is played to justify a conflict which is due primarily to resource scarcity.

The Jews traveled from relative deprivation in post World War Two Europe and the Soviet Union, to a location where they would not be prosecuted because of their view of God. The Jews, due to the litigious nature of their own religious tradition, have a propensity to be articulate, independent, free-thinking, and quite adapted to the capitalistic system. It is not their system, but one inherited by the Jews over eons of wanderings around the old.

Money lending in antiquity was considered a dirty business, as such it was one of the business in which the Jews were allowed to excel by European and Russian Royalty. They became good at the business and were persecuted for excelling at the very business to which they had adapted out of necessity.

Hitler’s destruction of the Jews was due to the amount of wealth perceived via propaganda to be held by the Jews. The Holocaust had little to do with religion. It was mass murder to secure the wealth held by a minority in Europe; a case of competition gone out of control in the capitalist system due to the deprivation imposed upon Germany after World War One.

A huge debt was imposed on the Germans, and they were given little economic ability to repay that debt. This economic deprivation created a criminal nation state. In the aftermath of this massive genocide, the Jews pressed Great Britain to live up to the agreement under the Balfour Declaration, and the exodus to the Promised Land began again.

The Jews chose that stretch of beachfront and scrub land because their writings of antiquity deeded that stretch of land to them in the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs. The original occupation took place around 1290 B.C.E. (approximately 3297 years ago). Even that exodus has its roots in the proscription of a minority by a majority due in no small part to politics, and socioeconomic status of the Jews within Egypt.

Israel did offer to live at peace with the Arab majority in the newly formed nation in 1948. The offer was rejected. Where Jordan exists today was, under the Balfour Declaration, where the Palestine State was to exist. While today’s news feeds are filled with the horrible Jews backed by the horrible United States oppressing the honorable Arabs, this is not quite the facts. The Arabs are quite capable of sophisticated propaganda in their own right. The Arabs backed Germany and lost. The Arabs backed the Soviet Union and lost. Now they perpetuate that story that the United States was founded by Satanists, exiled from Egypt, who infiltrated the Masonic Lodge in England in the 1600s.

At some point in the near future, it is doubtful that the United States will be so sympathetic toward the rights of the Arab peoples who live in the United States. Another terrorist strike during another economic slump may be all it takes to completely strip any sympathy toward the Arab population.

In an unfortunate twist of events, the West subsequently became dependent upon the oil resources under Arab lands. Had our technology not become so dependent upon oil the Near East would have become more of a back water on the world stage.

Ford’s automobile was originally designed to be fueled by ethanol or gasoline. The first production engine was a hybrid. Gasoline derived from oil proved to be more effective at a lower energy cost. The same holds true for diesel fuel. The original diesel engine was designed to run off peanut oil. What was a bright technology improvement in the early 1900s has become a source of intrigue and global conflict in the early 2000s.

Ethanol is still a poor tradeoff for gasoline as the off-spec grains used to produce Ethanol are usually reserved for feed-lots. Bio-diesel derived from recycling cooking oil is proving to be a useful alternative.

Due to the amount of income which could be generated in the oil business, the corporations, using their influence, maneuvered the Eisenhower administration into utilizing a resource which was limited and non-renewable. This in turn trapped the United States into the middle of the Arab/Israeli conflict beyond the political games of the Cold War.

The ultimate authority to justify the conflict is God. However, God, if the monotheistic God of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims does exist, seems to have little to nothing to do with the conflict; except as an endless source of disagreement to add fuel to the fire. All the real issues surrounding the decisions concerning the development of the region’s resources are made by men within the corporations based on the capitalist world view on both sides of the globe.

Having attacked soft targets in Africa, and military sites around the Saudi peninsula, the Islamic fundamentalists whose culture is in direct conflict with the Western free market values traveled to the United States to strike at the heart of their economic enemy. They organized their cells. They executed their crimes. They did not hit various religious institutions within the United States. While we have been given religious objections as their rational for their actions, none of the targets were Jewish or Christian institutions. Had the attacks been based on religious bigotry, one would expect the targets to be religious in nature. They struck at the transportation system (the airlines themselves were part of the targeting) and the economic and military power hubs of the United States.

The rhetoric following the events on 9/11 does pose some questions which remain unanswered in the political debate of the early 21st Century.

Who, in the United States, knew there attacks were going to occur? Rumor has it that the Saudi royal family in the U.S. fled the nation days before the attack.
  • Who supported the Islamic Judaists who perpetuated the attacks?
  • Where did the support funding come from?
  • How involved were the local communities (Islamic or otherwise) who might have economic reasons to benefit from the attacks?
  • Since 16 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, what gains have the Saudis made since 2001?
  • Did the Saudis benefit from the fall of Afghanistan’s Taliban or the fall of Saddam?
  • Why was no one in the United States held accountable for the events of September 11, 2001? No one in the CIA, NSA, or FBI even resigned for the biggest Foreign Intelligence blunders since Japan attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Unfortunately these answers are hard to pinpoint. Internal factors have been fogged up because the attacks have been used to engage in global political adventurism. This adventurism is based on cultural, or tribal, motivations of the current administration. It is no exaggeration to say that the power structure has had a quasi-secular, religious view that the United States under the neo-conservatives has the right to rule the world.

Whatever can be said about the current administration, it has to be said that the last four administrations have done a poor job in protecting the interests and safety of the population of the United States. When Reagan faced the terrorists in Lebanon, he pulled out. He further supported Saddam with arms during the Iran/Iraq war. George H.W. Bush escalated the cultural class by placing foreign troops into Saudi Arabia under the guise of opposing Saddam’s aggression. Clinton blatantly ignored the threat and sought to appease the Islamic Fundamentalists by intervening in the Balkans, and doing little to aggressively investigate the rise the Al-Qaeda. George W. Bush used the events of September 2001 to launch a war into Iraq which has no connection whatsoever to the events of September 11, 2001. Furthermore, in the current scheme of things, what rational government cuts taxes as it goes to war? What rational government supports crippling the national economy during a time of war? What rational government supports shifting economic growth to a foreign power during a time of war? What rational government supports building the economy of a possibly aggressive enemy during a time of war?

One of the common jabs of the current conservative commentators is that the opposition doesn’t “get it.” They are right! Many of the current administration’s detractors “don’t get it.” The actions of the Bush administration are utterly irrational, and blatantly criminal. Could it be that the administration and its supporters have been operating at level two of Maslow’s pyramid and are failing to find the needed safety at that level?

Much of the world today views the United States as a greater threat to the world than the Islamic terrorists. While the terrorists are well armed, trained, motivated street gangs they are running out of funding. The use of gasoline, and propane tanks indicate that conventional munitions are becoming scarce for them. This would seem to indicate that they no longer have the support of a nation state even at a clandestine level. This could indicate that the Saudi and the Iranian government support, long implied and never proved, are drying up.

Lacking military munitions, one can conclude some of the actions taken by the United States during this administration are paying off. Al-Qaeda may be hanging out on its own.

Whether one agrees that there is a threat posed by the Bush administration’s actions or not, the perception following the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq can only mean that the United States and the corporations are viewed as a negative liability in the general population.

Case in point: Halliburton is moving its world headquarters to the Middle East. While they are touting that this is a move to better serve their customers, even conservatives are viewing the move as a mean of escaping prosecution in light of the alleged fraud committed during the current operations in Iraq.

Dubai does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. and the current administration is in short time mode as seen with the “Scooter” Libby presidential intervention. Mr. Bush and his neo-conservative cronies will be out of office in January of 2009. Barring some kind of catastrophic attack against the United States it is doubtful that the GOP will retain the presidency in the November 2008 elections. Once again in this political climate a major corporate citizen and a primary government contractor are engaged in activities which are not good for its primary customer, the United States of America, its owners, or its employees.
One has to question if such a move is in anyone’s best interest, or if it is only further proof that the corporations are flawed by their make-up and corrupt in their activities. Moreover, will it create a view in the current political and socioeconomic environment that the corporations are a pariah on the social landscape?

Errors in judgment by one corporation can have ripple effects which will paint all corporations in a dim light. That much, if nothing else, is proved in the discussion on Critical Criminology.
Enron, an energy company out of Texas, has already created certain skepticism about the ethics within the energy industry. Will the actions of Halliburton further diminish the trust and good will towards the remaining Texas corporate community and the energy industry? Will it force the rest of the nation to review their affiliations as well? Remember Andersen Consulting was virtually destroyed when Enron’s house of paper collapsed. They were acquitted later of any wrong doing, but the damage was already done. Corporations do not trust each other to do what is right, but they demand that the people put their trust in the corporations.

Whatever the answer is, one thing is for certain, God has little or nothing to do with the activities of the corporations. God created people. People created corporations. We created them. They are our responsibility.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Mosque Grows in Manhattan

I did some digging on this one. As it turns out the proposed site is three blocks (better part of a mile) away from the WTC pad. In a city like New York, Chicago, L.A. that might as well be in the next state ... or the other side of the world. As best as I can tell it is private land.

The way the GOP is carping about this proposed site, you'd think the proposed Mosque was on the WTC pad (Ground Zero) and sanctioned by the local city, and state authorities. The way the Republicans are chatting this up, it is as if the Port Authority is inviting the Islamic community to build a Mosque in the alcove of the new structure planed for the site. That is not the case.

Since it is on private land, the and we do still have the First Amendment in tact then the Islamic Muslims (read their history, please) can do what they please.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As we know from the 14th Amendment, which has also come under attack by the Republicans of late, applies herein that the state of New York cannot and should not be involved in the erection of any religious institutional establish that is on private land ... unless, of course, the state is sanctioning the established site by using public money, or public land for the building.

On a personal level, as you know, I have little use for any of the recognized institutional religions.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Odds and End for Friends and Fans

It is a beautiful day in Fort Worth, Texas. It is 60 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a soft breeze blowing at about 13 miles and hour. The relative humidity is at 52%. For a March 4 it is beautiful. I am loving it.

In a bit over one week, I am moving into my new apartment. My own place. A place that will be home for the next 12 months. A place where I can relax and be myself. Because writing is such a lucrative profession in the U.S, today, I will not be back on-line in any foreseeable future. I could be back on a week after the move. I could equally be back a year after the move. It kind of depends on what happens when it comes to a job.

I have had many jobs. I have learned much from all the people I have worked with and the challenges I have worked on. Yet for some reason all I can say is that we have a propensity to throw people away. Who knows maybe it is the population congestion of the peek boom that hit in 1957 and is working the way through the era. I don't know. I know that I feel like I am being punished for simply being alive. Honestly, I am no longer concerned. I am alive to enjoy days like today in relative comfort, and that is enough for me.

Robert A. Heinlein once wrote, "Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so." When it comes to the political, and economic discussion this is so true. The highly qualified shipping clerk, auto mechanic, telephone technician highly skilled and qualified in their own field is apt to hold a higher regard for their political opinion than the college professor with different degrees in various specializations. It is not a lie that the more you do know, the more you realize what you do not know. Those who have not come to this realization are the most likely to be uncompromisingly radical in their opinions. Yet, in truth such decent people, skilled as they are in what they do, know little.

Every time I get deeply engrossed in the politics of the land. I remember the writings of Mike Royko, and his constant hounding of Richard J. Daily. In the end, for all the ink, Mike succeeded in only outliving Daily. The machine never stopped ... and with some modifications is still in power today. Looking at this history, and all the history of politics, I am beginning to wonder if it is not just a matter of genetic predisposition to view life in one way or another. That should give you something to about.

The idea I am getting at, the one lesson taught me by the Bush era, is the the powers are going to do what they damn well please and there is not a hell of allot that we can do about it. I will let you ponder that one. If you are, however, going to get into the fray then get some cross training in human behavior and psychology so that you do understand how people work.

I am looking for a new job to go with my new apartment. If you would like to see the skill sets I bring to the table, you can find them on my LinkedIn account.

Until we meet again, May your God go with you.

Cliff Potts

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Joe Stack (1956-2010)

On February 18, 2010, Andrew Joseph "Joe" Stack III flew his single engine aircraft into the The four-story Echelon I building off of US 183 near Loop 1 in Austin Texas. The building housed the offices of the IRS with approximately 190 employees. Stack's Daughter, Samantha Bell, said her dad was a hero in an interview on "Good Morning America" on February 22, 2010. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo called him a coward. Many others have made comments that Stack was a "loser" a "failure" or "insane."

There are two things I see in the media coverage and the comments. One, the drive to demonize the man, rather than understand what happened. Two, the childish response to resort to name calling when there is no other recourse (not to sound high and mighty here, I have done some name calling too).

Like it or not, Joe Stack is dead. His essence is back in the protective sum of the universal life force. There is nothing you, or I, can do to him. Unless he is the next John Brown of a new civil uprising he will be all but forgotten in 40 years. In 100 years his act will be a minor citation on the documentation of the era.

As to the charge of being a failure are concerned, the are dubious at best. One source cited the appraised value of Stack's Austin home was in the $230,000.00 range. He also owned the aircraft which was rammed into the IRS offices. Even in the economy the Piper Cherokee list in a range from $22,000.00 to $35,000.00. That is not quite the hovel or beater, bondo-mobile of a "failed loser."

No, something else happened in Austin on the morning of February 18, 2010. From all the venom and rhetoric heaped on the, still undiscovered, corps of Joe Stack, it is something which institutional officialdom, and the thoughtless cronies who bark at their command, would rather not address; there is a failure in the system.

Joe Stack is no hero. He is no demon. He is a predicted product of an predatory competitive system where winning is everything. We have over 100 years of sold, reviewed science which prove Stack's response was predictable. That science is ignored. Maybe it is past time we stopped ignoring what we do know all to well.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Is Obama doing a good job?

A question was asked: Is Obama doing a good job? Before I answer that one, let me share a favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson.

"The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government." -- Thomas Jefferson to Maryland Republicans, 1809.
If that be true, then that is the yardstick that one has to use to evaluate the current Administration. This administration has attempted to alleviate the employment anxiety of 30,000,000 Americans. It has attempted to shore up the crumbling infrastructure of the nation. It has attempted to bring sanity, honesty, and integrity to the Financial District. It has attempted to work out a bipartisan approach to Health Insurance Reform. It has sought to bring in all factions in the U.S. to the negotiation table to add to the solutions of the national issues. It has not started any new wars, and is seeking to bring the two separate wars started under George W. Bush to a successful conclusion. It has brought diplomacy back to the primary means of resolving political differences with others.

I would say, while not perfect by a long shot, the Obama Administration is doing a pretty good job. I am not going to fault them if Obama can't walk on water. The last man who could was executed by the conservative factions of his era, by the way. Just though you might want to consider that, too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Obama's State of the Union Address (Final)

I could go one to finish the discussion of Obama's well delivered State of the Union Address. He was excellent. However, in all honesty, politics bores me. I find it insufferable. I don't see any inclination towards working to unify the nation. I see squabbling factions all thinking they have the only answer regardless of the human sciences. Much of what passes as political science is anything but science. It defies psychology. It defies sociology. If defies the basic wiring of humanity except in creating a terror based reaction toward some nebulous pending future disaster which may, or may not come, while ignoring the ones which are occurring around us now.

As far as Presidents go, I think Obama has the job well in hand. He is, however, the president. He is not a representative. There is a difference. If we do not like what is going on in the nation, it is at the door of the individual representative that the responsibility sits. It is his, or her, job to speak to the will, or needs, of the people he, or she, represents. That is where it all resides. That, at least, is what the Constitution of the United States tells us. The president is there to oversee what is done in Congress and enforce the laws that are passed. Seems that congress has abdicated its authority to some kind of elected monarchy that we have allowed to exist. Not sure how we got to an empirical presidency. Seems to have happened somewhere in World War II. I'll leave that up to you to figure out.

I am going back to work on a fictional piece for the web that is tentatively titled Indistinct Foreshadow. Like most of my web writing it is pretty raw, but I think you will find it much more interesting than more rambling about the leadership, or lack of, in the nation today.

Thank you very much for taking my political insights into account. I do appreciate the readership.

Cliff Potts

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Breaking News: It is snowing.

I awoke this morning to find that Fort Worth, Texas had about an inch and a half of snow on the ground. That was at approximately 8:30 AM. It is now approximately 12:30 and we have approximately twice that on the ground. The official reports out of Meacham International indicate .02 inches per hour. Seems to be more on the ground than they are reporting. The Northwest Campus of Tarrant County College will be closed today at 3:00 PM; and if you live up north, and are reading this, you are probable yawning in tears over this piece of news. However, this is the fourth snow storm since the December 24, 2009 blizzard, and subsequent freeze, all but shut down the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Having been here since 1998 this is unusual weather for the region. DFW, the Metroplex, usually experiences one day like this, let alone an ice storm, a year. Some years the freeze doesn't occur at all. It is unusual weather. And people, my friends on Facebook included, are arguing about Global Warming again.

On a national level this is what is being reported:
Here are some of the discussions on the opposite end of the spectrum:

It is a tad bit -- just a bit, mind you -- disingenuous to site the emails generated by a dissenting opinion about Climate Change as some kind of proof that the long term global climate alteration is somehow a Democratic, or liberal, hoax. However, as Heinlein wrote, "Never underestimate the power of human stupidity." You can take that for what you will.

A dissenting opinion is the most honest expression of any academic, scientific, and even spiritual dialogue; the dissenting opinion adds to the discussion and aids in showing flaws in the hypothesis being presented. It simply means that the imperfect humans do not have all the answers within the majority opinion. The "stupidity" -- to stay within the Heinlein idea -- is to use imperfect opinions for political fodder. However, let us agree that politics is about emotion, fear, and self-interest, and how to play to those gut levels. It is not about reason, logic, and data.

Some years ago in a discussion with a professional geologist who was a proponent of the Global Warming theory information came out that based on the geological record we should be in a cooling cycle, not a warming cycle. That cooling cycle was trumpeted in 1970s era headlines that we were (or are) heading for another ice age. Now we are told that we have reversed that trend and the opposite is occurring. Yet, this opposite effect supposed to be brought about by human (specifically U.S.) activity may lead to the same new Ice Age (see links). This was the science used in the "B" grade si-fi The Day After Tomorrow. As such, if that is the case, then we seem to have a reversal of the trend.

All of this, however, is background for you. The point here is not to get into the grand brawl over the politics of Global Warming. So why discuss it at all?

For one thing, it is still a scientific discussion about a topic the scientist are still trying to grapple. The second, and bigger issue, is the idea that Mother Earth does not go through cyclical changes. She does all the time. She is a living, dynamic organism of which we, humans, are a small part. Change is inevitable.

On December 26, 2004 an Earthquake in the middle of the Indian Ocean produced a tsunami which killed an estimated 230,000 people in fourteen countries. August 23, 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Cost and killed an estimated 1,836 people (an estimated 705 are still missing). On January 12, 2010 a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Port-au-Prince in Haiti. The Haitian government estimates 230,000 died in that event. Maybe just to prove a point, a 3.8-magnitude quake rattled Northern Illinois at 3:59:33 AM on Wednesday, February 10, 2010. If that is not enough to convince you that change is inevitable, when was the last time you had a conversations with your great-grand-mother?

For the rabid right and the loony left it should be remembered, if Mother Earth chooses, through some form of natural selection, to scrape humanity off its surface, it will do so. Human beings, especially as individuals, are not the end all of all. We collectively, and individually, are but a small part of the equation. This brings me to another quite. Robert A. Heinlein wrote, "Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity."

In the meantime, I am going to sip my hot cup of black Maxwell House coffee, read a good book (or blog) and enjoy the very strange snow here in Fort Worth, Texas. It is, after all, just a snow storm.

********

Update: 7:06 PM FORT WORT, TX -- It is still snowing. Unofficial reports suggest that there is now five inches accumulation of snow in northern Tarrant County. The heavy, wet, packing snow has been falling all day, and does not look like it will let up until later tonight. Is this the beginning of a new Ice Age? Film at 11:00 (we can be sure of that).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Obama's State of the Union Address (Part 9)

Today we are taking a small sliver of time to address some more minutia from the right. A questions was posted as to why George W. Bush is referred to as King George the Usurper. He was questioning if the honorific title comes from the 2000 election. In being a honest observer, it may be worth a moment to pause and look at what is often ignore in the case of Bush v. Gore.

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. -- Constitution of the United States, Amendment 12
While Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) does nullified Amendment 12 to the Constitution of the United States just a tad, it is not from this dubious case, still argued by scholars, that the title is derived. The honorific was bestowed on the President George W. Bush for his propensity to sign executive order rather than take issues before his own congress. It is a literary tool which is used to make the distinction between George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush within the dynastic time line.

President Obama: With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

Herein lays the crux of why the decision to allow corporate free spending is problematic. In this day and time when we are dealing with corporate interest, that does not automatically translate to American interest. In the 1995 the Republicans rightly decried a half million dollar gift from the Chinese via Loral Space & Communications Ltd. (see link to left) to the DNC. Now they want the same type of funding to be free and above board so these multinational firms can influence national concerns and U.S. politics. We pretty much can conclude that Bill Clinton sold us out to the Chinese, same holds true for George W. Bush. In Bush's case he literally sold us, in the form of treasury bills, to the Chinese (23.35% of the U.S. debt). The Chinese hold a massive part of our debt and therefor own a massive chunk of us. The question is then whose side are the rank-and-file Republicans on? The pattern pretty much has been set.

Still as Heinlein penned, "Don't ever become a pessimist.... a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events." There is much to be said in that statement. There is no point in being angry over what you have no control over.

More to Come




Monday, February 8, 2010

Obama's State of the Union Address (Part 8)

It seem to be somewhat dead here on the net tonight. Not much in the way of activity. Little chatter. May be that Facebook's new front page is squelching much of it. It could also be that most folks are recovering from the aftermath of last night media circus. The 2010 Superbowl is now a thing of history. The New Orleans Saint won. Well, gents, congratulations.

Some have likened the Superbowl as some decadent extravaganza that is similar to Nero's Gladiatorial circuses. It is from that experience that we derive the phrase "Bread and Circus" as a government way of appeasing the masses. That is not true. The Superbowl is vastly different in a very critical way. There is no bread.

Nero, in his infinite wisdom, hosted gladiatorial spectacles of butchery and mayhem. Fight's to the death were the norm. Releasing unarmed prisoners to wild, hungry cats was sport for entertainment. During these games, free to the public, Nero would have vendors throwing loves of bread to the spectators. Hence the term "bread and circus."

Our Superbowl is not anywhere near such a spectral. It is not free. Not by a long shot. The price for these seats ran between $800.00 and $1,000.00. Resold tickets were averaging $2,700.00. That is more than your average McJob holder makes in a month. The food one can get at the vendors is equally not free. It is a Capitalist extravaganza. And it is harmless amusement for many. I did, by the way, miss it.

Turn the page ....

Not sure what to make of this one. The details are sketchy at best. It seems that someone one is attacking rural Texas churches. According to a story released by AP this morning, nine churches have been hit by arsonist this year. It is something that has to be watched. Are these fires the crimes of vandals? Are the unrelated? Are they individual crimes of passion in response to some perceived slight? Or is this reprisal against the Religious Right's politics? Is this a political statement, a reprisal against soft targets for all of the inflammatory hate speech coming from the right? We do not know yet. The story is lacking detailed coverage. It is almost as if the story is an after thought filler of the Associated Press. We can only wait as see what come of this if it ever comes across the desktop again.

Once again, it is time to dust off the old Criminological tomes. This is where one has to look at Merton's work on anomie (lawlessness) and deviance. This is were deviance has a specific clinical definition of deviating from the cultural norm. When applied to roughly 30 million people who are unemployed or underemployed with 41% of those having been idled for more that 27 weeks then you are looking at roughly a population of 12 million who are now somewhere in a sate of deviation. They are being innovative in attempting to acquire gainful employment. They may have slid into ritualism where the grind through the web site looking for jobs, applying to the few which they are qualified for, and allying for the weekly stipend from the Unemployment Office, without any real hope of finding anything worthwhile. Others may have fallen into retreatism and are no longer counted in the overall unemployment figure. One way or the other they have dropped off the grid. The final part of the matrix is rebellion. That is a final rejection of socially acceptable means to achieve the socially acceptable goals.

That is where we are at: A state of transition in the social order due to economic inactivity. The questions now are:
  • How to respond?
  • What texture is that response?
  • How do we prove the value to the social goals and the social means to a population losing faith in both?

It is worth noting, from Heinlein's fictitious Lazarus Long, that one should, "never appeal to a man's 'better nature.' He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage"

President Obama: We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it.
Obama: From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument -– that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is that's what we did for eight years. (Applause.) That's what helped us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. We can't do it again.
Some on the Right? To hear the Republicans tell the story the deficits came from Carter, Clinton, and Obama. Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and King George the Usurper had nothing to do with it.

Here are but a few articles for your considerations on this issue:
Do we have to keep beating the dead horse? The GOP has been in control of the nation for 28 of the last 41 years. They have had the helm. One can lay the issues at the congressional door, but congress has been in the hands of the GOP from roughly 1995 to approximately 2007.

I will concede that a good Republican cannot acknowledge the point. They have faith in the ideals of their party. But the question becomes what are they? Are the Republicans and then Americans, or are they Americans and then Republicans? Which comes first? Baring that, where do their interest lie? Is it better for them to goose step in support of a party which has time and again failed the nation, or is it time to think past the rhetoric, look at what has been done, look at the raw data, and liberate the mind? The GOP is playing their constituents as fools.

President Obama: ... we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve.
While I appreciate the acknowledgment of fact from Obama, I am also very skeptical that there will be any change. Time will tell.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wages of Sin (Caution: Bible quotes used)

Have you ever attempted to discuss current events with a Republican? I am not talking about the average republican who is business oriented, fiscally conservative, likes to keep the money in the pockets of those who work for it.

I am talking about a Republican! The God fearing, GOP stands for "God's only Party," "Real Men Love Jesus," "Guts, God and Gun," Sara Palin for President, Tea Party, type of Republican. That kind of Republican. It is an amazing discourse.

Let me lay some ground work for you before I get into this discourse. My Christian counterparts would call this "testimony."

Can I get an "Amen," Sista?

I use to be an Evangelical Christian. A good, God Fearing, conservative Baptist. Moving to Texas was a revelation. Here I was in a Christian State and in the name of God we are all going to embrace corruption, uphold scientific ignorance, rewrite history in our own image, kill the sinner and the innocent alike, and call forth hell fire and damnation on the rest of the world before we slip out the back door, steal from our neighbor, cheat our customers, lie to the public, abuse our power and sleep with our neighbor's husband or wife. Come Sunday we will brag (confess) about our sins, and do it all over again next week. I call that hypocrisy.

hypocrisy [hɪˈpɒkrəsɪ]
n pl -sies
1. the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc., contrary to one's real character or actual behaviour, esp the pretence of virtue and piety
2. an act or instance of this

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003



Unfortunately, hypocrisy is one of those charges leveled so often and is so rampant that it holds no weight. The response is "Yeah, yeah, so what?" Lying is a sin. Even under the broadest definitions of both the Jewish and Christian definition of sin, lying is a sin*. This sin spreads into the political discussion as well. This is where it becomes a national, political issue and not just a personal failing due to the human condition.

If you listen to the Republicans, the GOP has done nothing wrong. Never. Not Once. There is no connection between the current economic decline in the nation and Bush's decision to cut the taxes of the top 1% of the U.S. population and go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. No, no connection whatsoever. It was Clinton's fault. It is Obama's fault. It is FDR's fault. No, our current situation has nothing to do with Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, or King George the Usurper. Yet, the republicans have been in charge of this nation for 28 our of the last 41 years; the Democrats held control for only 12 of those 41 years. Still, nothing is the responsibility of the Republicans. They want you and I to buy their lie. They want you and I to consider them a viable alternative. They want us to embrace them. It lacks any credibility what so ever! It is insane! It is sin!

Give me an "Amen," brother!

Now James the Just wrote, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." I tell you, look at the works of the GOP. They favor the wealthiest, and put the burden of their colonial wars upon the poorest of the poor of our nation. They let people die of treatable disease because it is too expensive for them. They let the widow and homeless suffer in the cold. They turn their back on the afflicted and injured. They deprive men of wages earned. They make those who can least afford it support the burden of the prosperity that they enjoy! So, where then is their faith? Is it in Jesus? Is it in God? Or is it in the level of wealth that they have achieved at the expense of others?

I tell you, they love their gold. Oh, they love their gold**. It glitters and entices, and gives them the promise that they too can be an abuser of others.

It was Paul the Evangelist who wrote, "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." I ask you this, have they pierced themselves? Or do they pierce others? But it does not matter, they need their Gold. They need to build their fortune. It does not matter who they destroy in the quest for Gold. It is about them and only them. And, they are sinless because of Jesus! That is what they confess.

What did John the Faithful write about those who say they are without sin? He wrote, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." So ... there it is. The truth is not in them. They say they have done no wrong. They say it is the sin of others. They say they want you to trust them because they believe in Jesus, but according to Saint John, and their own confession, the truth is not in them. Yet, you and I are supposed to trust them. How can that be?

Paul wrote in the letter to Roman Church, "For the wages of sin is death ...." Isn't that what we are seeing? Are we not seeing death and destruction sown in the quest of Capitalist Gold? As they earn the wages of their sin, they want to take us all with them. And there is no call to repentance for people who are without sin. So, all they can do is continue to rain death upon us, and upon the nation. Unless we stop them.

Amen!

*See Sinless from January 21, 2010
** See Gold standard. (2010, February 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:01, February 7, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gold_standard&oldid=342039001

Friday, February 5, 2010

Obama's State of The Union Address (Part 7)

Game delayed due to unnecessary roughness ... I had a minor auto accident on Wednesday night. Riddle me this: How does a person hit a big, white, square box that is roughly five feet wide and over six feet tall and has big red lights on the back? I am still trying to figure that one out.

President Obama: After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry.
According to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel any Democrat who opposes Obama's premature reformation of the Health Insurance industry is "f------ retarded" -- oh, boy, here we go again.

Let me lay some groundwork before address the Health Insurance reformation or Mr. Emanuel's remark.

Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 29, 1959. He served from January 3, 2003 to January 2, 2009 in the U.S. House of Representative from Illinois 5th Congressional District. This is the same district that elected Rod Blagojevich. It encompasses Chicago, Schiller Park, Franklin Park, River Grove, Elmwood Park, Northlake, and Melrose Park in a typical gerrymandering style of drawing district maps -- not all that different from Texas. Emanuel is no slouch.

It is at this point that I'd like to have a few words with Mr. Emanuel.

Last summer, when he was shooting off his big mouth, I hit the streets for the President (see amateur video blog entry). If you doubt my word, check in with Sam Hirst-Wade with Organizing for America. Understand this, I have a very bad back, and I was still walking the street here in Forest Hill, Texas for the almost nonexistent Democratic Headquarters of Fort Worth. This was in support of President Obama's cockamamie Health Insurance Reform initiate (was not even a bill in August). So ... what does that tell Mr. Emanuel?

As an individual, I am not the most enthusiastic supporter of the Health Insurance reform bill. To me it looks like a national version of the Massachusetts Model (see amateur video blog entry). Normally I would concede that something is better than nothing. However, I am having a little problem with the lack of a public option. Without a public option I see a concocted reform that will force us into the care of the same insurance companies which have done all they can to deny that care now. We will be told to purchase coverage from one of the current insurance providers, or else .... I am getting very tired of the "or else" clauses. As Colvin pointed out in his work on Crime and Coercion in 2000, the "or else" doesn't work.

I see a system where, sometime after 2013, a new regime takes over and releases the insurance companies from their obligations. I say that because the opposition is still offering no solutions but is insisting that regulation and control is a bad idea in any form of any industry. Without a safe harbor of a public option these companies, over time, will once again do what they damn well please.

I am going to stick with my original prediction from back in 2003. I recorded it in Radicals, Religion and Revelation in the chapter titled 2027. Something is going to hit the U.S. It will not be the Plague. It will not be Ebola. It will not be Swine Flu either. Something is going to hit us like the Spanish Flu of 1918, and it will probably hit us when we are in worse fiscal shape than we are in now -- we seem to hit a recession every three years in this new economy. That event will press the insurance firms so hard that they will go running to Uncle Sam for help. Uncle Sam will eventually pick up the tab since it is that or let the citizens die from a disease that is extensively treatable. At that point, rich or poor, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, we will be stuck with some kind of socialized medicine. Crisis management tends to have long term effects well past the crisis.

If Mr. Emanuel wants to call me a "f------ retarded" because he has failed to convince me that the pattern of history is altered, then it is upon him; he has failed to get his message to the people. Still, I doubt if anyone in Washington really has any concerns about what it looks like at the ground level.

The rank and file republicans, the Tea Party crowd, are not going to give the Obama administration or Emanuel's White House any credit, or cut them any slack. To listen to them the Republicans are God manifestation on earth. They walk on water. They heal the sick with one touch. The hypocrisy is overlooked and nothing is ever their doing. Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes have never done anything wrong. All that has gone wrong is the fault of "the other guy." This is funny coming from a group who embrace the Christian religion where confessing ones own sin is a primary tenant. As such, Emanuel and Obama can give up on them.

If they really want to get the Health Insurance Reform passed (name change noted on February 7, 2010), he is going to have to stop pandering to the right and drive it home. This is what King George the Usurper would have done. This is what Ronald Reagan would have done. More importunately, this is what Boss Daley would have done, and what Harry S. Truman would have done. Obama is the President of the United States, if he want this done, then he has all the position power he needs to get this done. He can be as humble as he wants, it is still up to him to get the job done. As Truman said, the buck stops at the President's desk. Obama is the man in charge, and Obama is the one who has to get the job done.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address (Part 6)

I am one lucky man. Over the past 35 years I have had the privilege to do almost everything I have ever wanted to do. I worked at Chicago's O'Hare International Air Port as a busboy for Carson Pirie Scott's Snack-bars and watched a massive people moving system in operation. I have worked in the, now all but dead, television repair industry as ICs (Integrated Circuits) replaced vacuum tubes (Certified Television Services, Inc.). I worked for the second largest manufacture of Electronic Test Equipment in the world (Lecrotech Inc.). That was all before finishing High School!

I have worked construction. I've painted rooms, hauled up muck, replaced sewer tiles, and tuck-pointed exterior brick walls (hard work that I am paying for now, but rewarding in its own way). I spent three years as a runner at the CBOT (Chicago Board of Trade); and lost $6,000.00 (on paper) in five seconds. I was there when the opened the new pits (by now they are probably the "old pits"). I worked as an inserter operator for a Christian Mission in San Francisco producing hundreds of pounds of bulk mail, and touching lives all over the United States. I patrolled buildings that others insisted were haunted. I was on site and supervising for Wells Fargo Guard Services in 1984 when story broke that Jewel Foods had tainted milk on the shelves. I worked for a firm doing research for a Navy sonar cable brake ... and packed it up in cosmoline when the plug was pulled on the project. I was there when Bell&Howell pulled their manufacturing plant out of Chicago and auctioned off everything in the plant; and I got to walk the halls of the first DeVry Campus before it was bulldozed and turned into a mega-mall.

After graduating from college, I worked for three different Disaster Recovery firms. The first was in Long Beach, California. It was a small, but well known, data vault. It was there that I wrote my first published work. The installation manual for the Disaster Recovery 2000 was my work. This was still five years before the internet. The next was a Disaster Recovery firm in L.A. Aeroscopic was involved in the recovery of damaged equipment. That lead, eventually, to Metropolitan Services in Libertyville, Illinois. All of this, interesting, but somewhat disappointing since I had graduated third in my class with a B.S. in Telecommunications Management.

Along the way, I also met a man working at a defense contractor in Long Beach. He told me to work with BASIC and get into AI. Never managed to get certified on AI; could not afford it. However, I did have the skill to write an integrated customer tracking and accounts receivables program for the small Disaster Recovery firm in Libertyville, Illinois. Too, when I was a whole 19 years old, I worked at as a Quality Control Test Equipment Engineer for a, now, long ago, defunct company; prototypes, I learned, are meant to blow up. That is what Underwriters Laboratory is all about. I also worked "The Road" (Illinois' Toll Highway) as a toll technician fixing the automated collection machines. Too, for a while in 2002, I worked at KLIF as a "Technical Producer" and I produced the segments of Hands on Health that aired on KCLE in Cleaburn, Texas. And, for a little while, I was a hired gun (all legal, I assure you). With that, however, I am getting ahead of myself.

In 1994 I got my one and only break. I went to work for ISSI (Integrated Sales Solutions Incorporated) making outbound sales calls to pitch Norther Telecom's Ethernet Switch. Since I was the only one who was willing to crack the case on a computer I eventually became their Novell Administrator, their Telemagic Administrator, their trainer, and their telecommunication administrator. Many hats for $12.50 an hour. It got better. In a short time, with many projects, and so many different, small, independent technical firms that I now don't remember them all (most are out of business), I was able to double that. I was on my way ... or so I thought. It came to an end in 2000. Actually, by 1998 one could already see the slow down. For me it stagnated. My last decent paying technical job ended in October 2000. Then ... boom!

Tier One Technical Support paid $25.00 and hour in 2000. The last job I finished on January 22, 2010 paid $14.00 an hour for the same responsibilities and additional sales quotas atop the technical support and customer satisfaction ratings.

We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from the last decade –- what some call the "lost decade" -– where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation. -- President Obama, January 27, 2010
I have indeed been lucky. I have seen it all come to this moment. Having vindication from none other than the President of the United States is a plus, of sorts. There are plenty of jobs that afford a person a wealth of experience, but most don't pay worth a tinker's dam. This last one paid just enough to spend it all on going to and from work and keep working.
We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. (Applause.) To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security. (Applause.)

If Obama pulls this off, I will be surprised. I hear allot about planned growth, and expansion, but I am not seeing much. I have seen allot. Most of what I have seen has been the complete opposite of his brave, new idea.

As I point out in Wealth, Women and War, watch what they do, not what they say. Just remember, it is not entirely up to Obama, there are many, many players that have to come together to push this nation forward. Maybe this Son of Chi-Town can pull off some Boss Daley arm twisting and make it happen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address (Part 5)

It is Tuesday, February 2, 2010; Groundhogs Day! Tradition holds that I make a bag of popcorn, or two, and pop in the DVD of the 1993 movie of the same name, and listen patiently for the immortalized words, "Winter, slumbering in the open air, wears on its smiling face a dream... of spring. Ciao" I know, such excitement in this American life. Still, at least I have a TV and a DVD and a copy of the movie to watch. Many don't even have that. And, even unemployed, I can stop in the middle of a day and write about bigger issues than one man's search for meaningful employment in a darkening age. Doesn't that sound ominous?

Whatever one can find to be grateful for one also has to acknowledge that unemployment is no fun. That is an understatement. The whole process is demeaning. It is socially acceptable prostitution. And one never knows exactly what the employer is looking for to make the final cut and land the job. Then add to the equation that work, to some, has to be a hostile environment.

I work for one owner in 1991 who would come into the work room and tell us how many people he had just turned away at the door. He made a point in telling us that we should be grateful for the $10.00 an hour he was paying us in Los Angeles, California. I worked for another manager, also in L.A. who seriously threatened me my life. And my ex-mother-in-law wanted to know why I left that employer. With behavior like that, and the attitudes the enable it, it was no wonder that L.A. burned in 1992 (even if Rodney King was behaving like a jerk). Heavy handed authoritarianism has been a cultural marker in California for years. The history of the changes in criminal justice is littered with corps of innocents differed and civil right trashed for the sake of expediency in the name of crime control. But, I digress. The quest remains looking for gainful employment in an environment where there is mutual respect and relatively adequate "middling" income levels. That of course throws us back to the discussion of the darkening age.

And the quest goes on ....

One thing I had touched on yesterday was the colonization of the Moon. Actually, I was talking about the end of the lunar missions. In all honesty, I don't think that colonization was the mission to begin with. Colonization was a dream of the decade, but not the goal. We may have extended our reach further than our grasp, but we did reach it, and then we did let it go. It is a mark in the history book likened to the Vikings first landing in North America. We now know they made it, but they could not capitalize on the discovery. Conquest and capitalization did not occur until after Columbus reach the "new world" in 1492; some 490 years after Leif Ericsson's all but forgotten expedition. Gaspar de Côrte-Real is credited for being the first European to set foot on North America in 1500.

In the end, we were told that we needed to address problems here at home. On our own Earth before we went "gallivanting among the planets." We had to cure poverty. We had to address the scourge of racism. We had to put sexism to rest. There were diseases to concur. We had to make a lasting peace with the Red Menace (no, not the Republicans). We had to silence the dogs of war in Southeast Asia.

Here we sit, some 38 years later ... and we are still addressing the same issues. We are still trying to provide employment for everyone who wants to work. Racism is still an issue for many. We now begin to see through such works as Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray, Ph.D. that men and women are indeed different (viva la difference!). We have HIV, Swine Flu, SARS, Avian Flu, and a host of ailments best left to others to catalog. Cancer is rising and Hearts still fail. The Soviet Union folded, and Communist China is now a preferred trading partner. The dogs of war moved from Southeast Asia to the Middle East. So, what exactly did we gain by giving up on the lunar colony?

This is where we continue with Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address delivered on January, 27, 2010.

President Obama: I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here's the thing -- even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.

I will refrain form the obvious opening to bounce into a discussion about energy from space. I will not mention that building massive, unshielded, safe reactors on the moon and microwaving it back to Earth has been in the design stages since 1940 when Heinlein wrote Blowups Happen. I will not tell you that Scientific American published Farming Solar Energy in Space: Shrugging off massive costs, Japan pursues space-based solar arrays by Tim Hornyak in the July 2008. I will withhold the comment that at least one site, Space Future, clearly make it plan that such a source is viable. Such comments might be seen as self-serving and lacking magnanimity*. So be it.

What I will say is simple: If for no other reason, We the People of the United States of America have to get off the foreign energy teat! If we are going to get the nation back on track at a consumer of other good and services -- and I don't see us getting off that track anytime soon unless we change how we view ourselves -- then we are going to have to find a way to feed our own infotainment, celebrity crazed, covetous hedonistic, pleasure driven service economy without depending on the whim and wishes of alien (using "alien" in the absolute legal definition here) entities who view us with disdain at best. We need Energy Liberty ... and that is only going to happen when we decided, in the Corporate Board Rooms, that it is good for business.

And here people think I hate American Business. Ha! I chide them because I know they can do much, much better. We are Americans, for crying out loud, and we can make this nation one to be proud of again!

More Later

*Space-based solar power. (2010, February 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:48, February 2, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Space-based_solar_power&oldid=341501166

Monday, February 1, 2010

Obama's State of the Union Address (Part 4)

In the last installment, the topic of Wal-Mart came up. Understand, Wal-Mart is not evil. Wal-Mart has become a force of nature. This is due to their size. They are the globe's largest retail outlet.

When Wal-Mart moves into a region, they tell the local establishments to find a niche market. Find something that is not a main stream item and the locals will find plenty to go around. That is all fine and dandy advise. However, what is a niche market today may be tomorrow's main stream commodity. That was the case in 2004 with Gourmet Coffee. Suddenly something that was left for specialty houses was in the middle of Wal-Mart's already well stocked coffee isle. The small operators, let alone the likes of Starbucks, got crushed.

In another topic raised even before the President's state of the Union Address we were talking about unions. Part of that discussion, more to the side, was about the contribution of the labor to the demise of Chrysler and General Motors. It is worth remembering that the UAW also represents Ford's workers at the bargaining table. Ford, as you may have noted is still doing quite well. Could it be that Ford's management was in a better place to weather these storms of change?

Having mused of all that, let us get back to the issue at hand. The President's State of the Union Address delivered before congress on January 27, 2010; only five days ago.
President Obama: You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations -- they're not standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America.
This passage has one glaring point that begs to be addressed: They're putting more emphasis on math and science.

That phrase has been the mantra of our elected officials for as long as I can remember. And, yet, after landing on the moon, after building the Personal Computer, after implementing the internet with all the complex calculations, after all this, we still hear that we are failing in math and science. Is that really where we are failing? This is enough to make one go screaming into the night.

I guess this is the place to pass along a quote from Senator Kohl a Democrat from Wisconsin. The quote is from the "Crisis in Math and Science Education" hearing in November of 1989.

There are young people out there cutting raw cocaine with chemicals from the local hardware store. They are manufacturing new highs and new products buy soaking marijuana in ever changing agents, and each of these new drugs is more addictive, more deadly and less costly than the last. How is it that we have failed to tap that ingenuity, that sense of experimentation? How is it that these kids who can measure grams and kilos and can figure out complex monetary transactions cannot pass a simple math or chemistry test?
That was over twenty years ago. Since then we have had two Republican Presidents, and two Democratic Presidents, and yet we hear the same tired mantra. Why?

Perchance there is a key in something said by Philip Kovacs in “Gates, Buffett and the Corporatization of Children

Data worship results in a myopic view of what the world could and should be. Children, we might remind corporate America, are more than math and science scores. While math and science play important roles in our lives, there are other scores we might help children increase: their creativity score, their empathy score, their resiliency score, their curiosity score, their integrity score, their thoughtfulness score, their take-initiative score, their innovation score, their critical thinking score, their passion score, their problem-solving score, their refusal to follow leaders who lie to them score, their democratic engagement score...and so forth.
Maybe there is a myopic mesmerizer in the bottom line of a spreadsheet that we can no longer see the end result. Too, maybe it is simply "not cool" to be educated in math and science because in the end there are no laurels awarded to the team who huddle in tunnels under the earth to find the secrets of the cosmos.

At one time, in the 1960s, boys had dreams of passing beyond the envelope exosphere and setting foot on the moon. That dream was ended on December 19, 1972 when the last Apollo mission (Apollo 17) splashed down in the Pacific off the cost of American Samoa. We gave up on the moon and all other endeavors became petty, small, and commercial. The space shuttle had its moments, but even those are best remembered in the failures and not the successes. Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, Harrison H. Schmitt were the last of the great heroes of math and science.

There may be some good news. It really depends on the corporations. To put the best spin possible on the story, Obama is passing the torch of space exploration and development to the private sector; Obama is cutting the budget for the proposed lunar landing in 2020 (ten years from now). Rather than argue if the private sector is up to the task, let us ask if they are willing? That is the only real question.

There is little doubt on this side of the computer monitor that the private sector can do the job. They can do it for less. They can do it faster. They can do it in a shorter time frame. That is so apparent that it is not worth wasting bits in any argument. If the likes of Gates, Jobs, Brin and Page wanted it, we would be on the moon and setting up the first lunar hotel in two years. The question is, do they want it? Will Buffett back it?

That is the challenge of this era. Will the private corporations who can move humanity off this globe, do so?

More to Come

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama's State of the Union (Part 3)

This is a continuation of the project started a couple of days ago to look at some points in Obama's State of the Union Address. I am an unabashed supporter of President Obama. I am not about to apologize of that. Living down here in Texas that makes me a rear individualist. I came to Texas in 1998 to work on a project which the locals did not want to touch. Through a set of circumstances best left for another telling, I have been here through the past decade.

Texas is an interesting state. Not surprisingly there is a population shift towards Texas in this recession. If nothing else, Texas has the most business friendly environment of any of the 50 states. It is easier to start a business here than in California, Illinois, or Wisconsin. It is, however, just as easy to fail here. It may actually be easier to fail here. Texas friendly, does not equal friendly acceptance. New and innovative is not embraced here in Texas. During the Bush years, Texas was described as place were islands of Japan like innovation were surrounded by a sea of third world stagnation (part of that discussion can be found in an article from 2007). I have not seen anything to argue against that assessment. While the up swing in Texas population may be due to Texas' business friendly environment, it may also be due to Texas ex-pats coming back home due to the dismal economic opportunities elsewhere. That is a factor which cannot be ruled out. Having said that, however, for those who are coming to Texas, I would recommend reading Fixin' To Be Texan by Helen Bryant.

Having said that I am picking up where I left off yesterday: page three of the New York Times reprint of Obama's State of the Union Address.

President Obama: We should start where most new jobs do –- in small businesses, companies that begin when -- (applause) -- companies that begin when an entrepreneur -- when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss. Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and they're ready to grow. But when you talk to small business-owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small business-owners across the country, even those that are making a profit.
He is absolutely right. To create jobs, to create wealth in the community, to create a stable economic environment that can sustain the rip tides of the Globalized economy the small business is the key to growth. It is way past time to make the distinction between the local Mr. Monk's Market and Delly and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, and their Wall Street backers, have proved through their actions not to be concerned about what happens on Main Street. They move in, Main Street dies. There is no competition against the likes of Wal-Mart. There is no competition against Microsoft. There is no competition against at&t. By favoring these behemoths main street losses out. The documentation on this is covered extensively in Wealth, Women and War, and Radicals, Religion and Revelation.

Being critical of the MultiNational Corporations, being suspicious of the intent of a corporation is not being anti-business. Right now doing business with Wall-Mart is almost a necessity, but being aware of what Wall-Mart represents and how it (and the others) have been able to dominate the marketplace is a good place to start understanding what has gone wrong with this economy.
Obama: We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from the last decade –- what some call the "lost decade" -– where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.
Thank you, President Obama! With this statement the President of the United States verified what I observer and documented in all three of my works from 2003 to 2008.

Labels are funny things. We all use them, but they are often inaccurate. So in the discussion of who opposes what the labels conservative, progressive, liberal don't really work. As such the wording here is a bit difficult at 6:55 AM on a Saturday morning.

First, to the amateur political hack and obstructionist documentation does not matter. Their fervor is a religious fervor not unlike a religious alliance or team franchise fanaticism. No matter what proof is laid on the table they can excuse their actions or blame someone else. Effectively this direction abdicates any responsibility what so ever for the effect. Often they show all the signs of Neutralization (covered in Wealth, Women and War): the alliance with a "higher" authority.

Second, this abject denial of documented fact covers both sides of the political spectrum.

In this one short statement, President Obama summed up everything I was authenticating for six years. Just because the religious in Texas don't want to see it, and the Republicans in Kansas don't want to admit it, does not mean that it did not happen. Even now, if Georgia's Republican Price, or Wisconsin's Ryan do not want to accept culpability in this economic fiasco, it does not mean that such culpability does not exist. It may not be personal culpability, but it is there.
More to Come.