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April 8, 2014

12:49 PM

Part 7 Red states vs Blue states

redstates

 

"Well, I think right now, we have got a major problem that we're just -- we're going broke. We are spending money we don't have." -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas -- January 7, 2013

"So I think that while Social Security has to be reformed and saved, the need is less immediate than with Medicare and Medicaid." -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) New York -- November 8, 2012

Over the past decade, voters have heard similar statements from both sides of the political spectrum. Whether it is the fact that government spending is out of control or that social programs need to expand to help the growing number of impoverished, generations of voters have heard the same refrain. While these statements may be soothing to some, the reality is that society has moved past these outdated political paradigms.

Society is undergoing a fundamental evolution that is changing economics and politics. Not only are standard tropes outdated but they do not solve the fundamental issues. So what are these outdated tropes?

It's About Wealth Redistribution: Growing global income inequality is increasingly becoming a concern. The widening gap between the rich and the poor is having negative long-term effects, and the current solutions are failing. While the drumbeat of "tax the rich" does partially solve the social program funding issue, it does not address the root causes of inequality.

It's About Smaller Government: The cry for smaller government has been steadily growing over several years. There is an increasing perception that individual action has been buried under procedures and bureaucracy thus creating mounting frustration and anger.

It's About The Past: Humans have a natural tendency to look to the past as a template for future events, particularly during challenging times. Prior experience has been a good predictor because predictable patterns are self reinforcing. However, due to a number of disruptive elements such as technology, such systematic predictability is disappearing.

It's About Local Effects: Individuals always like to think they are in control of their own destinies. Unfortunately, such control is illusory. The growth of technology and connectivity increasingly makes the world a smaller place.

One of the many reasons that people are being "turned off" by political discourse is due to the fact that it is failing to address the underlying root causes of individual dissatisfaction. While individuals have been buffeted by changes in technology and innovation, socio-economic frameworks have yet to adapt to these new realities.

If individuals know that the old antiquated tropes are ineffectual, then what are the new principles that should be driving socio-economic redevelopment?

Creating Individual Opportunity: Individuals are looking for the flexibility to pursue "the American Dream," without having to incur lifelong penalties. The barriers for individuals to pursue the American Dream are getting higher. Take, for instance, the increasing educational debt load that individuals must accrue to enter the workforce or the fact that wages continue to stagnate while the cost of living increases. The American Dream was built on the ability of individuals to pursue their dreams both professionally and personally. As such, it is necessary to develop a socio-economic framework that enables individuals to pursue the American Dream in a manner that is individually fulfilling while socially beneficial.

Creating More Efficient Processes To Benefit More People: There is a growing need to redevelop socio-economic frameworks in order to improve success rates and reduce costs. Whether it is the multiple bureaucratic layers that slow government processing time or the inability of the U.S. government to negotiate a fiscal solution without causing a major financial catastrophe, individuals are frustrated with the slow pace of these basic socio-economic frameworks. An increasing refrain from the public is why is it possible to order over the Internet in seconds but it takes weeks to process a basic government form? This dissonance between what individuals are experiencing personally and the socio-economic frameworks is only worsening and needs to be rectified to break the current deadlock.

Building Future Foundations: Tomorrow's society will be based more on leveraging intellect and less on physical brawn. This is already visible with the growth in Silicon Valley and the decline of manufacturing in the Rust Belt. What is needed is to build socio-economic frameworks to enable more people to take advantage of the "Intellectual Revolution." This means enabling a greater swath of the general population to take part in this "Intellectual Revolution," by providing the right tools and the right opportunities.

Consensus Buy-In Not Regulatory Brute Strength: There has been increasing dissonance between individuals and governments on a global scale. The ability of technology to offer the ability to "individualize" and "personalize" experiences is increasingly at odds with the heavy-handed and unitary approach that governments are taking. Indeed, the "one size fits all" approach that governments utilize is more harmful than helpful. Governments should be adopting the methodologies that have enabled individualized experiences to help individuals while increasing transparency and lowering costs.

From the above mentioned outline of outdated tropes and socio-economic redevelopment, it is clear that pundits and politicians who preach old antiquated tropes are living in a fantasy world. The old reality of "putting lipstick on a pig and reselling it," won't fly in today's society, who is desperately looking for new solutions to new realities. The voting populace is smarter and they know that manufactured factional fights and artificial scarcity will not address the daily hardships they face. Old debates of the past are for historians to analyze. What is needed now are new solutions that fit with the new 21st century realities.

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April 2, 2014

2:23 AM

From Freedom to now!

 

  

Image

Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to cover its employees’ birth control on company insurance plans. In fact, they’re so outraged about women having access to birth control that they’ve taken the issue all the way to the Supreme Court.

I cannot believe that we live in a world where we would even consider letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical tests, treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections.

But here’s the scary thing: With the judges we’ve got on the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby might actually win.

The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

Recently, three well-respected legal scholars examined almost 20,000 Supreme Court cases from the last 65 years. They found that the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top 10 most pro-corporate justices in more than half a century.

And Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts? They were number one and number two.

Take a look at the win rate of the national Chamber of Commerce cases before the Supreme Court. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Chamber was winning 43% of the cases in participated in during the later years of the Burger Court, but that shifted to a 56% win-rate under the Rehnquist Court, and then a 70% win-rate with the Roberts Court.

Follow these pro-corporate trends to their logical conclusion, and pretty soon you’ll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.

Birth control is at risk in today’s case, but we also need to worry about a lot more.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court unleashed a wave of corporate spending to game the political system and drown the voices of middle class families.

And right now, the Supreme Court is considering McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that could mean the end of campaign contribution limits – allowing the big guys to buy even more influence in Washington.

Republicans may prefer a rigged court that gives their corporate friends and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists every advantage. But that’s not the job of judges. Judges don’t sit on the bench to hand out favors to their political friends.

On days like today, it matters who is sitting on the Supreme Court. It matters that we have a President who appoints fair and impartial judges to our courts, and it matters that we have a Senate who approves them.

We’re in this fight because we believe that we don’t run this country for corporations – we run it for people.

View Entry

March 27, 2014

5:52 AM

Policy vs Politics

public policy


Policy or politics?



This next part is rather tricky so you may want to take a few notes, especially if this is a bit new or strange to you. We’ll use a recent example but for now most will claim allegiance to the R’s of the D’s. But in this age of divisive politics how does one know in which direction their loyalties should lie. I hope that I can help a wee bit.

Now if you follow politics at all then you are aware that for the past 5 years in the term of President Barack Obama not much has been accomplished. Unless you count, the passage of the 1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.

2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.

3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide "living wills" to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.

4. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.

5. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 91,000, with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of summer 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.

6. Eliminated Osama bin laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.

7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.

8. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via "stress tests" of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their "toxic" assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.

9. Repealed "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell": Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.

10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi: In March 2011, joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s forty-two-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.

11. Told Mubarak to Go: On February 1, 2011, publicly called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to accept reform or step down, thus weakening the dictator’s position and putting America on the right side of the Arab Spring. Mubarak ended thirty-year rule when overthrown on February 11.

12. Reversed Bush Torture Policies: Two days after taking office, nullified Bush-era rulings that had allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo certain "enhanced" interrogation techniques considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions. Also released the secret Bush legal rulings supporting the use of these techniques.

13. Improved America’s Image Abroad: With new policies, diplomacy, and rhetoric, reversed a sharp decline in world opinion toward the U.S. (and the corresponding loss of "soft power") during the Bush years. From 2008 to 2011, favorable opinion toward the United States rose in ten of fifteen countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, with an average increase of 26 percent.

14. Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Spending: As part of the 2010 health care reform bill, signed measure ending the wasteful decades-old practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. Starting July 2010 all students began getting their federal student loans directly from the federal government. Treasury will save $67 billion over ten years, $36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students.

15. Created Race to the Top: With funds from stimulus, started $4.35 billion program of competitive grants to encourage and reward states for education reform.

16. Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards: Released new fuel efficiency standards in 2011 that will nearly double the fuel economy for cars and trucks by 2025.

17. Coordinated International Response to Financial Crisis: To keep world economy out of recession in 2009 and 2010, helped secure from G-20 nations more than $500 billion for the IMF to provide lines of credit and other support to emerging market countries, which kept them liquid and avoided crises with their currencies.

18. Passed Mini Stimuli: To help families hurt by the recession and spur the economy as stimulus spending declined, signed series of measures (July 22, 2010; December 17, 2010; December 23, 2011) to extend unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes.

19. Began Asia "Pivot": In 2011, reoriented American military and diplomatic priorities and focus from the Middle East and Europe to the Asian-Pacific region. Executed multipronged strategy of positively engaging China while reasserting U.S. leadership in the region by increasing American military presence and crafting new commercial, diplomatic, and military alliances with neighboring countries made uncomfortable by recent Chinese behavior.

20. Increased Support for Veterans: With so many soldiers coming home from Iraq and Iran with serious physical and mental health problems, yet facing long waits for services, increased 2010 Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 16 percent and 2011 budget by 10 percent. Also signed new GI bill offering $78 billion in tuition assistance over a decade, and provided multiple tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans.


21. Tightened Sanctions on Iran: In effort to deter Iran’s nuclear program, signed Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (2010) to punish firms and individuals who aid Iran’s petroleum sector. In late 2011 and early 2012, coordinated with other major Western powers to impose sanctions aimed at Iran’s banks and with Japan, South Korea, and China to shift their oil purchases away from Iran.

There is another 25 or so accomplishments that I could mention but you get the idea. You either like the man or not. But how to choose the next leader? The problem is that from day one in this current president’s term there has been such strong resistance to him that its surprising that anything has gotten done.

We have various groups that fought for the right to take him down. The main group that should hold your attention is a group called the "Tea Party" Their goal is to take out the entire structure of the current government and replace it with Anarchy ( political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control) I don’t think most of you would want that. But when choosing a group to represent you need to look past the politics to the policies espoused but the group. So lets look at todays issue and you think about it. OK?

One area is the right for a woman to choose her health care not her employer (policy) If a business can say that you don't have insurance that covers this what will stop them from saying "You have cancer-not covered!"  

Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to cover its employees’ birth control on company insurance plans. In fact, they’re so outraged about women having access to birth control that they’ve taken the issue all the way to the Supreme Court.

I cannot believe that we live in a world where we would even consider letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical tests, treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections.

But here’s the scary thing: With the judges we’ve got on the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby might actually win.

The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

Recently, three well-respected legal scholars examined almost 20,000 Supreme Court cases from the last 65 years. They found that the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top 10 most pro-corporate justices in more than half a century.

And Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts? They were number one and number two.

Take a look at the win rate of the national Chamber of Commerce cases before the Supreme Court. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Chamber was winning 43% of the cases in participated in during the later years of the Burger Court, but that shifted to a 56% win-rate under the Rehnquist Court, and then a 70% win-rate with the Roberts Court.

Follow these pro-corporate trends to their logical conclusion, and pretty soon you’ll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.

Birth control is at risk in today’s case, but we also need to worry about a lot more.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court unleashed a wave of corporate spending to game the political system and drown the voices of middle class families.

And right now, the Supreme Court is considering McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that could mean the end of campaign contribution limits – allowing the big guys to buy even more influence in Washington.

Republicans may prefer a rigged court that gives their corporate friends and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists every advantage. But that’s not the job of judges. Judges don’t sit on the bench to hand out favors to their political friends.

On days like today, it matters who is sitting on the Supreme Court. It matters that we have a President who appoints fair and impartial judges to our courts, and it matters that we have a Senate who approves them.

We’re in this fight because we believe that we don’t run this country for corporations – we run it for people.



View Entry

March 23, 2014

12:36 AM

When is slander a scandal?

Slander

A false statement, usually made orally, which defames another person. Unlike libel, damages from slander are not presumed and must be proven by the party suing. See, e.g. TXO Production Corp. v. Alliance Resources, 509 U.S. 443 (1993).

The following is not slander is a scandal

Gentle readers,


This next post was a long time in coming for the simple reason that there is so much to choose from and not be nonjudgmental. Well the truth of the matter is you can’t be when as we say in Irish Ní féidir leat a shocrú dúr! (Which translated into to American English means "You can’t fix stupid )

Tea Party Congressman Louie Gohmert has earned his title of America's dumbest Congressman.


A small sampling of his greatest hits:

Literally screamed about the threat of killer babies

Claimed money earmarked for Chinese snow leopards might mean we'd be eating more "moo-goo-dog-pan"

Said we should fight the health are bill by not allowing election of senators

Claims vaccines are a liberal plot to stop human population

Compared a dictator to George Washington

Claims hammers are just as dangerous as assault rifles

and, up till now, my personal favorite:

In an attempt to sound smart, attacked Eric Holder for "casting aspersions on my asparagus"

But I may have a new favorite. Two days ago, Louie discovered an old skit parading Sarah Palin's bid to be vice president....





The skit, which aired in September 2008, is a classic that I got to enjoy again. Its the now-famous one of Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler playing Sarah and Hillary while poking fun at Sarah Palin's clear unreadiness as well as Hillary Clinton's ambition. 

A little slow as always, Uncle Louie was so incensed upon seeing this old sketch that he declared on the House floor, just this past Thursday, that he would like to set the record straight on how smart Palin really is. He did this by reading the entire skit ver batim so it can be part of the Congressional Record and painstakingly correcting the "errors" with actual quotes!

His dry delivery of the sketch was worthy of its own parody:


 

Poor Gohmert.

He has apparently never heard of satire.

Joe Biden never actually said "You dopes got schooled Biden-style!" McCain never called Obama "Pee-pee pants". Obama also never went on national television to say the census was revised to find people who oppose Obama care.

Even if I didn't like the skits, as a Congressman, I wouldn't go on the House floor to correct these "errors". But I get satire. Sketch comedy shows build skits from an established perception of a politician: they almost never use a politician's exact words. 

In Sarah Palin's case, however, they actually did. The OTHER famous sketch with Sarah Palin involved her notorious interview with Katie Couric. SNL didn't need satire. It copied the interview almost word-for-word:

Since the Texas Congressman thinks that defending a failed candidate and Fox News pundit from 2008 pre-election satire is currently the most pressing issue facing his constituents, I would challenge him to do the same with this sketch.

Its rare when a politician is so inept that comedians can just use their own words without embellishment. Lucky for them, Sarah Palin is just such a politician. Its just too bad that Gohmert isn't a more prominent one, or they could get a goldmine that rivals even her.












 





 



View Entry

March 13, 2014

2:21 AM

Part 3 What you didn't learn in school-But its not too late

mind

This may look like a line up for tonight's concert, but guess again! These are but a few of the many political parties that have played a role in American presidential elections. With names like Whig, Anti-Mason, and Green, these parties may sound more like household cleaners or new wave bands than political powers. However, the diverse conditions of historical eras, and differing ideologies of America's people gave rise to these political parties, founded to advance specific ideals and the candidates who represented them.

Today, America is a multi-party system. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the most powerful. Yet other parties, such as the Reform, Libertarian, Socialist, Natural Law, Constitution and Green Parties can promote candidates in a presidential election. It is likely that political parties will continue to play a major role in presidential elections in the new millennium. Do you think our party system has strengthened or weakened our election process? Do you think the American People will seriously look outside the Republican and Democratic Parties to elect a president some day? What might cause this?

No Parties Here

Our founding fathers had seen vicious fighting among political interests in Europe, and wanted to avoid this in the new nation. As the framers of the Constitution, they were very concerned about not creating crippling dissension within our political system. On Saturday, June 2, 1787, Ben Franklin took the floor at the Constitutional Convention as a skeptic. Franklin feared that greed-driven competition for the presidency would divide the new American government into factions. He warned, Franklin

There are two passions which have a powerful influence on the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power, and the love of money. ...Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall be at the same time a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it. The vast number of such places ...renders the British government so tempestuous...[and is the true source] of all those factions which are perpetually dividing the nation [and] distracting its councils...

On Wednesday, June 6, 1787, just a few days later, James Madison weighed in by saying that if unregulated, All civilized societies would be divided into different sects, factions, and interests, ...of rich and poor, debtors and creditors, ... the inhabitants of this district or that district, the followers of this political leader or that political leader, the disciples of this religious sect or that religious sect. In all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion, the rights of the minority are in danger.

In order to avoid factions, the Constitution grants political parties no role in selecting a president. Ironically, political factions sprang up right away to support the Constitution and to oppose it. By the presidential election of 1796, political parties were firmly in place in America. The Federalists followed Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. The Democratic-Republicans (also called the Jeffersonians) followed Thomas Jefferson and James Madison -- the very James Madison who had earlier warned against factions.

Today the party system seems firmly entrenched. Some Americans might argue that there is no real difference between the ideals and political stance of today's parties. Other Americans routinely vote a "party ticket" in their belief that a particular political party will best represent their wishes for governing the nation. In light of the role played by today's political parties, do you think our founding fathers' concerns about creating factions was warranted? Does our current party system give adequate voting choice to most Americans? What do you think the future might hold for America's party system?

David Letterman and Jay Leno rely on political parties and political candidates to provide material for their nightly monologues. Throughout America's history, parties have been derided because of what they stood "for" and "against". This 1914 vaudeville act takes potshots at the ideologies and behavior of political parties from our nation's past including the Prohibitionists, the Suffragists and the Bull Moose Party


Comedians had only two parties to pick on until 1827, when the Anti-Masons organized the first third party in America. As you might suspect, this party's ideology was to prevent Free Masons from influencing government offices. While the Anti-Masons lasted only eleven years as a separate party (they joined the Whigs in 1838), they did set a precedent by holding the first party convention that nominated candidates.

Political Parties of the 21st Century

Today, America is a multi-party system. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the most powerful. Yet the Reform, Libertarian, Socialist, Natural Law , Constitution and Green Parties will probably field candidates in upcoming presidential elections. Regardless of their names, ideologies and candidates, political parties will play a major role in presidential elections in the new millennium. What is the likelihood that a candidate from a party other than Republican or Democratic will become President of the United States? What might trigger such a change in voting patterns by the American people?

So why is politics so devastating that so many turn off, tune out and say things like "I don’t talk about religion or politics!"


Next time we investigate a legal term called slander.


open or closed

View Entry

March 1, 2014

9:51 PM

Politics, pundits, and Punch &Judy

dirty politics

The 2008 campaign for president was the most vicious in U.S. history, some pundits have said. There were certainly some cheap-shot moments here and there but, relatively speaking, was the 2008 race really that nasty?

Not at all, compared to labels like "jackass" and "hermaphroditical" tossed around during presidential elections back in the day.

"2008 was downright mild," compared to some of the tactics employed in the past, said Gil Troy, professor of U.S. History at McGill University in Montreal.

Mudslinging is certainly not a new approach in politics, historians agree. Opposing candidates have been tearing each other down since 1789, when George Washington was the first, and last, president to win an election by a unanimous electoral decision.

Our Forefathers could be just as cutthroat

There's just no avoiding the more malevolent side of politics during presidential elections in the United States.

"Elections have frequently been intense dust ups — American politics is rough and tumble," said Troy.

This year's election wasn't free of controversy, but both Democrats and Republicans were tame in their approach, said Troy, who noted that race played a part in keeping things relatively high-brow.

"John McCain to his credit refused to raise the Jeremiah Wright issue, because he feared making racial waves. Barack Obama very cleverly deemed every attack against him, no matter how mild, a smear, and this helped put the Republicans on the defensive and raise the bar," Troy said.

While Obama and McCain's attacks tended to be ideological in nature, past presidential candidates have barely hid their personal disdain for each other.

Slander became the campaign precedent as early as 1800, when incumbent president John Adams ran against his vice-president Thomas Jefferson. The duo, who'd worked together on claiming independence for America in 1776, were now bitter rivals and traded slurs that would put today's genteel candidates to shame.

Jefferson's side started by calling Adams a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman." Adams supporters responded by labeling Jefferson "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father."

And the vitriol has continued unabated:

•In 1828 Andrew Jackson's wife — who had, shockingly for the time, been divorced — was called all sorts of lewd names by his opponents (they also called Jackson a jackass). In retaliation, Jackson claimed that incumbent John Quincy Adams had once tried to offer his maid as a concubine to Russian Czar Alexander I.

•1964 pitted sitting president Lyndon Johnson against Republican Barry Goldwater and is considered one of the nastiest of the last century. Johnson systematically destroyed Goldwater's character with the help of an "after-hours" smear team. It worked — Johnson won one of the most lopsided elections in U.S. history.

•In 2004, the "Swiftboat" smears against John Kerry, which questioned Kerry's military service record during the Vietnam War, were much dirtier than anything that happened in 2008, Troy said.

 

The Fact is that the Golden Age of politics never existed

The forefathers may have been just as sneaky as today's campaign managers, Troy said, but that doesn't prevent people from believing that modern politicians are more cutthroat. The penchant to view the most recent election as the nastiest, hardest-fought contest is a natural one, historians say.

"Americans are always searching for the golden age in the past, which I believe never existed," said Troy.

There is also a reason why politicians keep up the devilish deeds time after time. People have a tendency to forgive and forget even the worst offenders by the time the next election roll around, Troy said.

"[During] each campaign we idealize the previous ones and express deep disappointment with the [candidates] we have to choose from and the methods they use," he said, "not realizing that the reason why they use those methods is because the harsh tactics work on us!"

 

Few campaigns in the modern era have been completely free of dirty politics, which generally means the use of slander, libel, forgery, or other potentially criminal acts to embarrass a political rival. Since both candidates may engage in this type of behavior during a election year, the losing candidate rarely pursues legal action after the election is over. While voters may be offended by the use of dirty politics, political campaigns are notoriously outcome-oriented, suggesting that the candidate should use any and all means necessary to guarantee a win.

 

One legendary but unconfirmed example of dirty politics is said to have occurred during a heated campaign between Claude Pepper and George Mathers in the 1950s. Mathers is often credited with delivering a speech describing Pepper's sister as a "well-known thespian." Pepper's brother was a "practicing homo sapiens." Pepper himself reportedly "masticated daily" or "openly matriculated at college." Although none of these allegations were in the least bit immoral or illegal, Mathers counted on voter ignorance to sway the voters away from a questionable candidate like Claude Pepper

 

While that example of dirty politics may be apocryphal, there are other examples which are all too real. In 1972, an early frontrunner for the Democratic presidential race named Edmund Muskie became a victim of dirty politics. Political enemies leaked a letter to the press which allegedly contained quotes from Muskie condemning French-Canadians. This letter followed allegations of Muskie's wife being an active alcoholic. Muskie's emotional defense of his wife made him appear weak and vulnerable, two qualities not often viewed. as presidential. The "Canuck Letter" also turned out to be a complete forgery.

Dirty politics can range from invasive investigations into an opponent's personal life to complete IRS audits ordered by an incumbent president. President Richard Nixon is said to have maintained an entire staff of experts in this type of political maneuvering, including Donald Segretti and a young Republican named Karl Rove. Political enemies of the president were routinely audited for years, even television hosts such as Dick Cavett. Cavett had criticized one of Nixon's policies on-air, in front of a guest who Cavett correctly assumed worked for the Nixon White House.

Manipulative politics have played a role in American elections since the time of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson himself is said to have used pamphlets filled with incriminating or embarrassing information about his political opponents. Opponents of presidential candidate James Garfield in 1880 published a letter, supposedly written by Garfield himself, recommending that companies use cheap labor whenever possible, including Chinese immigrants. Garfield managed to prove the letter was a forgery before it could permanently damage his campaign.

Dirty politics can occur at any level of public service. Local political candidates often use financial records to embarrass an opponent. Family members and known political associates may also become fair game. A candidate's mental stability may be challenged, especially if he or she offers up an emotional or overheated response to political tactics. A negative ad campaign is not always the same as questionable politics, provided the charges in those ads are true and confirmable. Dirty politics often occur away from the scrutiny of the press, so many examples rarely come to light until years after the campaigns have ended.

Despite the high levels of rhetoric, political scientists don’t necessarily agree that this election is any more negative than those in the past.

Brian Gaines, a political scientist at the University of Illinois Institute for Government and Public Affairs, said a look in history shows mudslinging is nothing new.

The 1828 race between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams was filled with personal attacks, including accusations that Jackson’s mother was a prostitute and that Adams was a pimp.

The 1864 race between Abraham Lincoln and General George B. McClellan was dominated by wild caricatures that included newspaper cartoonists depicting Lincoln as a baboon.

"It is just not true that politics are dirtier or nastier than it ever was," Gaines said.

Kerwin Swint, a political scientist at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, told CNN in August he believes the presidential race will get progressively nastier as November approaches.

But, Swint, author of "Mudslingers: The 25 Dirtiest Political Campaigns of All Time," also said negative campaigns are not new.

In particular, he pointed to the Lyndon Johnson-Barry Goldwater matchup in 1964 that kicked off the television age of negative campaigning with what became known as the "Daisy" ad.

The advertisement, actually called "Peace, Little Girl," shows a girl pulling petals from a flower. A male announcer then begins counting down from 10. At zero, the image of the girl is replaced by the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast, suggesting that Goldwater’s election could lead to nuclear war.

"That’s the one that set the modern standard," Swint said.

In a study titled "Winning, but losing: How negative campaigns shrink electorate, manipulate news media," political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar found that negative advertising does turn people away from voting.

Morrison agrees. "You wind up with less voter involvement and lower turnout," he said.

State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur, is among those candidates who signed the fair elections pledge.

But that’s not to say he wasn’t in the middle of a brawl in 2010, when he unseated former state Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion, in a race filled with negative ads.

Brown, however, says there is a difference between negative ads and false ads.

"In one situation, you have pure blasphemy. In another you have a factual basis for going after your opponent," Brown said.

Gaines said negative ads can play a role in campaign strategy.

"There are people who like them. They are like red meat to them, the diehard partisans. They don’t shy away from the mud," Gaines said. "The people who don’t like them are mostly independents; those who are casually interested in politics."

"They do depress turnout a little bit. They mainly push independents away from the polls," Gaines said. "Sometimes both campaigns think that’s in their interest. Sometimes one campaign thinks the other is going to do well with independents, so they are happy to have a lot of mud flying around."

So much for what has transpired in the past. Let’s move into the present day next time.

To be continued . . .

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February 23, 2014

2:22 AM

The Bloodsport in America we call politics (Part 1)

 

The Blood Sport we call in America politics

After posting for almost a year on spiritual things, I thought I would take a wee break I know that you need one too. My next great love or has been in past years was Political Science (when I came to America I fully intended to study Constitutional law). We Irish know a lot about "rights" and the law. On my way to that Law Degree I was waylaid and never took the Bar exam to become a [Constitutional] lawyer. But that didn’t dim my belief in "rights" human and otherwise.

It would seem that here in America everyone has the right of "free" speech whether crazy, obscene, articulate, intellectual factual or not. One of the things that we learn very early in school even as a child is to be certain of the statements that we make or facts that we are going to use for an discussion or in Ireland (an argument)!

Why Doesn't the Constitution Guarantee the Right to Education?

Every country that outperforms the U.S. has a constitutional or statutory commitment to this right. The United States education system sits at 17th place out of 40 countries, and it’s not just behind those socialist Scandinavians. In addition to the classic northern European bloc—Finland (1st), Netherlands (7th), Denmark (9th)—the superior contenders also come from Asia (2nd through 5th), Oceania (New Zealand, 8; Australia, 13), the rest of Europe, and indeed, even Canada (a respectable 10th).

Every country that bests us in the education rankings either has a constitutional guarantee to education, or does not have a constitution but has ensured the right through an independent statute. Each has constructed law around education as a fundamental right of citizens, at least until the age of adulthood. Finland, the world leader, succinctly asserts, "Everyone has the right to basic education free of charge."(Chapter 2, Section 16). South Korea’s Article 31 on Education has six sections. Switzerland’s constitution mentions education more than two dozen times. For countries with no formal constitution, many have included the right in supplementary documents like the Human Rights Act of the United Kingdom (1998) or the Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Act (2005). Others still, like New Zealand, form the basis for the right to education by incorporating international laws like the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, whose Article 13 provides expansive assurances of education. In addition, each of these countries—well, almost every country in the world—is also party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history. The convention, which prohibits among other things the kidnaping and sexual exploitation of children, vigorously asserts the right of a child to education. Of UN members, only Somalia and the United States have not ratified that agreement.

Now I wrote all of that to make this point. Politics and our governance based on laws has taken a wrong turn somewhere between the founders and present day politicos. It is now not a matter of what is best for the common good of the citizens. It is about two things ‘Money and Power’. We have in this country basically two groups the "liberals and the conservatives". It’s no longer about what is right and what is wrong but about what is right and what is left! The principles of the founders have long since been left in the dust.

Why you may ask? (go ahead, I’ll wait) In a word or two the "golden rule" has been supplanted by what I call the "Wall street" factor "Greed is Good" mentality.

Those with the wherewithal to do that, must rally around themselves those with less education and those who are functionally analphabetic.

So with that in mind we’ll take a short look back at how we have arrived at the point where we call each opposing political group by the most extreme and vile names that one can muster.

I will remind you that you need to bare in mind that even Jesus being crucified had as an inscription above Him And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. (John 19:19) It was for the crime of being political that brought about Jesus’s demise.

To be continued . . .

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February 4, 2014

9:39 PM

Part 9 conclusion "the next Tomorrow person is..."

batkid

Gentle Reader,



I thought I would end this study with a thought of how "Tomorrow people influence those around them. And for a wee time I have spent considering who I might choose to represent the "tomorrow people". Little Miles Scott make our best choice. For one reason in my mind. His wish granted by the Make a wish foundation was to be Batman! A hero! And this wee lad turned a whole city upside down to make his wish come true. It’s not how old one is , or how smart, but what one does with what they have. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance


San Francisco makes Batkid's wish come true


Thousands of people in San Francisco and across the Internet rallied around Batkid on Friday as he sprang through the streets of a San Francisco turned Gotham City.


San Francisco Chronicle printed a special edition in honor of Bat Kid.


Batkid is five-year-old Miles Scott of northern California. For the past three years, Miles has suffered from leukemia. Now in remission, his greatest wish is to be Batman — and the Make-a-Wish Foundation promised to make that dream come true.

It seems that all of San Francisco played their part in turning the city into Batkid's Gotham City. Thousands of volunteers turned out for the all day event and the San Francisco Chronicle even released a special print edition, Gotham City Chronicle, in honor of the pint-sized superhero with articles written by none other than Clark Kent and Lois Lane.

Sports teams, local businesses, police departments and even The White House chimed in with their support for Batkid.

Throughout the day, Batkid was driven around the city in a Batmobile. He jumped into action to save a damsel in distress, prevent the Riddler from robbing a bank and retrieve a kidnaped San Francisco Giants' Lou Seal the seal mascot from the villainous Penguin. And to make the capture official, the Justice Department issued a formal indictment against the Riddler and the Penguin.

Mostly, "Batkid" Miles inspired us to believe in superheroes. If only for the day. Truly Gentle Readers a tomorrow person if we ever needed one. We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why. Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.

But can one be a blessing merely by being cheerful? Yes; moral beauty of any kind exerts a silent influence for good. It is like a sweet flower by the wayside, which has a benediction for everyone who passes by. A legend tells how one day in Galilee the useful corn spurned the lilies because they fed no one’s hunger. "One cannot earn a living just by being sweet," said the proud cereal. The lilies said nothing in reply, only seemed the sweeter, then the Master came that way; and while his disciples rested at his feet, and the rustling corn invited them to eat, he said, "Children, the life is more than meat. Consider the lilies, how beautiful they grow." It certainly seemed worth while then just to be sweet, for it pleased the Master.

Be the Tomorrow person you were meant to be...


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January 26, 2014

5:11 PM

Who is today's tomorrow person?

life is to short

 

Gentle Readers,

The second part of part 9 of the tomorrow people starts this way:

One year ago schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen - her "crime", to have spoken up for the right of girls to be educated. The world reacted in horror, but after weeks in intensive care Malala survived

She is known for her activism for rights to education and for women, especially in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. In early 2009, at the age of 11–12, Yousafzai wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. The following summer, a New York Times documentary was filmed about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region, culminating in the Second Battle of Swat. Yousafzai rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.

On the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, Malala boarded her schoolbus in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat. The gunman had no doubt whom he was looking for. He asked for Malala by name, then pointed a Colt 45 and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of Malala's forehead, traveled under her skin the length of her face and then into her shoulder

And as the late great Paul Harvey would say "that’s the rest of the story"

Gentle reader, even as I write this, three are found dead in Maryland. Shot by what we can only imagine to be the personification of the very face of evil. One would think that dissent allows each person to voice their opinion. But in this 21st century it is not allowed not in the East and not in the West any longer. Here in the United States, those in power are slowly restricting the rights of half of its citizenry the distaff side (ever heard of the ‘war on women’?) What about the minimum wage (mostly women, single mothers 64% live in poverty) how about that? (here in America)

So when a young Pakistani girl stands up for the right ob educated halfway around the world. She is standing up for all women worldwide! If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones. Poverty is the worst form of violence. Once poverty is gone, we'll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations. They'll wonder why poverty continued so long in human society - how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair.

So Gentle reader our next "Tomorrow person is a little girl who stood up not only for her right to be educated but for the rights of all women everywhere!

You see tomorrow people are not only educated and astute, they not only see clearly in the present but also see what could be in the future!

What the world sees now is hatred, crime and abuse of not only women but children as well. Can one person make a difference? My answer is yes and many tomorrow people can turn this evil around to what it should be. But it will never happen if those who see that they can do something, don’t step forward. One must count the cost but to do nothing makes your life meaningless.

My hope is that there are enough of you who wish not hate and evil but peace and love will step up and do something.

Peace... till next time

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January 16, 2014

9:40 PM

The Giver and the gifts (Part 9)

 “The writer's curse is that even in solitude, no matter its duration, he never grows lonely or bored.”


"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal". Saint Paul


  “Every man has a specific skill, whether it is discovered or not, that more readily and naturally comes to him than it would to another, and his own should be sought and polished. He excels best in his niche - originality loses its authenticity in one's efforts to obtain originality.”

 


Gentle reader,


Upon reconsideration, I must admit this particular subject is much larger than I first imagined. The problem lies in the difficulty of determining who may be a "tomorrow person" and who may not. And beyond that, can one person identify another who has characteristics of one who could be categorized as a "tomorrow person".


Could it be nature vs nurture? Could it be found in ones DNA or genes (Genes are actually a subset of a cell's DNA. While all of your genes are made of DNA, your entire DNA is not composed of genes. In fact, less than two percent of a person's DNA represents active genes! The rest of the DNA seems to be involved mediating how the genes are expressed.)? Is it biological or the action of the mixture of Chemistry within a person? Good questions all. The question that I started out to ask "What makes a person act, behave, or interact with others the way that they do?" Or to put it another and more personal way. "Who am I?" And why do things effect me in the way that they do?


I am going to suggest that certain people not only would be considered "Tomorrow people" not necessarily for their intelligence, or their genes, DNA, but something more intangible. What is the source of our existence? Something that is intangible, that derives from Spirit...Call it God or call it nature - whatever label you use to define it, IT is absolute. The absolute is not subject to change


There are intangible realities which float near us, formless and without words; realities which no one has thought out, and which are excluded for lack of interpreters.


These next people are those that I call interpreters of what "Tomorrow people are to become. Stay with me a bit longer and I trust all will become clear.


This first person that I want to introduce to us is certainly unique. Coming from Australia this woman is in her own right an accomplished artist but she is far more than that. My wife introduced me in a round about way to Jodi, who also suffers from this devastating and crippling disease not recognized by most of the world’s doctors. And yet there are more than a million of theses people, men, women and yes even children who go unnoticed. Unnoticed by health care providers, family and friends in all but a few cases. Jodi Bassett, who was afflicted with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis M.E. at the age of 19. Now 38, Jodi is the webmistress of the most comprehensive site on all aspects of M.E., www.hfme.org "Fighting for recognition of M.E. and patients to be accorded the same basic human rights as those with similar neurological diseases such as M.S." author of a definitive book about caring for patients with M.E., an amazingly talented artist, and an activist for M.E. awareness All her writing, artwork and videos are done from her bed as she has been primarily bedfast for a number of years. And yet Jodi is a fierce advocate for all of those who suffer with this little know (or cared about) disease. Truly a "tomorrow person" in her own right!



Think about this dynamic woman and I’ll get back to you with the next Candidate.

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