Wednesday, February 8, 2012


A VOICE IS STRONGER THAN MONEY

On Tuesday Presidential candidate Rick Santorum with no money, but with a strong message for the evangelicals, won all three caucuses and primaries. Mitt Romney and his super PACs, with all of their money could not overcome the vox populi of the people who voted.

Last night was an important example of how the people can check the process of money in campaigns.  There has been so much made of the ads paid for by the PACs under the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that the people may be finally understanding the ads are to be ignored. 

As I noted in my original post on the issue, the solution to Citizens United is not to restrict speech, but the people.  The people must be willing to ignore the ads.  The people must learn to educate themselves about the candidates. 

It does not serve freedom if when the people are lazy we restrict the free speech of corporations and wealthy people.  It is theoretically possible Citizens United could force the people to become more attentive to the candidates who reflect their views.  This certainly has to be better than the people giving up on someone like Rick Santorum just because the talking heads claim he cannot win.

The talking heads and PAC money candidates can be ignored in favor of principle.  The power remains in the vox populi.  So long as we keep the power with the vox populi, We the People will effectively check our elected officials.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


THE CHECKS AND BALANCES INHERENT IN FREE SPEECH, AND THE RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY

In the same way the press seems to have abandoned its check on government through a free and vox populi oriented press, so too have far too many Americans through their refusal to stand up and say - enough is enough. 
Former Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower foresaw the dangers of corporatism in our democracy.  He specifically spoke to the issue of the military industrial complex.
Here's an excerpt:
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/17/132942244/ikes-warning-of-military-expansion-50-years-later

You can also watch him speak on the issue in his farewell address.



In the 60's students and young adults raised up and spoke their minds on all sorts of issues from civil rights, to war, to drugs, to poverty.  The students took control of the universities and created student unions.  One area on campuses where students succeed was taking control of the bookstores and keeping prices down.  In time the student leaders voluntarily gave up that control to corporate interests who then paid a fee to the university for the privilege of bilking the students.

The 60's proved that if the people exercise their check on government and the courts they can effectuate policy changes.

It is true the people are making progress in small ways.   But the reality is, in terms of the corporate take over of our government, as warned by President Eisenhower, it is nearly complete.  One reason the corporatist have succeed is the radical right.  President Reagan promised them he would oppose all individual freedom for anyone they deem immoral in exchange for their vote.  This was the final major putsch in the corporate take over of our government.  It was also the first major modern step to the rise of anti-liberty voices in the name of God.

Occupy Wall Street is a voice against corporatism.  Unfortunately, as the key leaders sought comfort in the warmth of their homes, the more radical near anarchists elements have begun to turn the movement into a movement of destruction.  Unless the original leaders of Occupy Wall Street seize control soon, the movement could be lost.

The radical right seems to understand the function of the people as a check on government and courts. While I am not happy with what they are doing in the following example, the example is clear evidence of how the people can still check the actions of the government.

The legalization of gay marriage in Washington is now a  formality.  But because the radical right is unhappy with this result they intend to exercise their right of free speech and assembly to overturn the Washington legislature through a possible public ballot initiative. 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/03/us-gay-marriage-washington-idUSTRE81204O20120203

While I may not like how they intend to use the ballot initiative, it is nonetheless a good thing that as a group they seek to exercise their right of checks and balances as against the legislature.

Until the American people understand that the concept of checks and balances goes well beyond the three branches of government, corporatists will continue to take control of our government.  The people need to know through ballot initiatives and the ballot box they are the ultimate check on the courts and legislatures.

The funny thing about the radical religious right and their alignment with the corporatists is, it was the corporatists who changed the blue laws which had stores closed on Sunday.  But then I guess when you generally seek to do the work of injustice, you get  in bed with the devil himself.

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1164.html

Meaningful change will not come to our government until the people reassert their power of Checks and Balances on the government and the courts.

Friday, February 3, 2012



CHECKS AND BALANCES,
AND SEPARATION OF POWERS

I loved to teach this lesson because it would drive traditional government instructors nuts.  Most teach this as a simple one day lesson about the checks and balances each of the three branches of government have on one another.  It is so much more complex as defined in our Constitution.

Inherent in the US system of checks and balances is the press.  Inasmuch as there is no free and body politic oriented press in the US, the part played by the press in checks and balances is now officially dead.  The sad part about this is, with an investment I believe to be of about $100,000 a true free and body politic oriented press could be started on line and in a few years make the owners billionaires.  If just a handful of all the unemployed journalists understood ethics and capitalism, they would no longer be unemployed.  They would own the most successful online newspaper in the world.

A simple example - a big deal is being made about Romney stating he loves to fire people who work for him.  In a world where ethics matters in journalism, journalists would have added to the narrative that what he was saying in substance was - he likes to fire people who do not perform.  You know what - me too - and so too should the American people when it comes to our elected officials.  The comment was about accountability, not some deep seated psychotic need to fire people.  What real journalists do is get into the substance of the comment and not the isolated words.  That did not happen with Romney's comment

The other comment which got Romney in trouble is not worrying about the poor.  Real journalists would have gotten into the substance of this comment.  They did not.  Instead they simply used the shock value behind the statement rather than allow it to be a starting point  for policy discussion.

Romney's argument was the poor have a safety net.  As a true socialist, and as someone who actually knows what the ideology of socialism is all about, I have always despised the welfare state of President Johnson and as executed by the Democratic Party.  A civilized society must have a safety net, but not a built in addiction to that safety net.

Quick side note - I do taxes for free for a lot of people this time of year.  This year I have done several wherein the head of household is not only not paying one penny in taxes, but because last year they had a baby, they are getting back over $5,000.  No matter how you look at it, this is a welfare payment.  What really bothers me is, last year the taxpayer paid the bill for the prenatal care, birth, and post birth care of the baby.  These bizarre policies have us paying poor people to have babies.  There is no dignity in this.  Here is my deal.  If you have children on medicaid, then you should not be allowed the child tax credit.  That money should be used to pay back the cost of health care for your child.   Social policies which create an addiction to the safety net must be abolished.  Conservatives can argue budget policy  for the reason to stop these payments, socialists can argue human rights abuses.  In my view it is a human rights abuse to addict poor people to the safety net.  It encourages poverty and a lessor quality of life.

BACK TO THE ISSUE:

What the press failed to do in response to Romney's statement about the poor is look to the policy implications of his statement.  If the safety net means we do not have to worry about the poor, then in fact he is saying he sees no reason to cut the budget by removing parts of the safety net.  This should shock true fiscal conservatives.  He is also saying he is not worried about government institutionalized poverty.  This should shock everyone.  The true shock in his statement is not, not worrying about the poor, but in the policy implications of his statement.

This is what the American press is missing.  This is what the American people are looking for in their press.

The power of the press at one time had the ability to take down a presidency.  Today the press could not take down an ass wipe.  The reason for this is the decision by the press to keep news in soundbites.  The press no longer reports the entire narrative behind the story.  The press looks only for shock value, while dismissing the narrative behind the words.

Key to our freedom is a free and independent press.  Corporatism now directs our press.  In effect what the corporatist approach to journalism has done is remove an important check on our government.  The end result has been a government less accountable to the people.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


REDISTRICTING BATTLE TURNS TO COMPROMISE

According to press reports Texas AG Abbott and civil rights groups are trying to negotiate a settlement to the redistricting mess.

FROM THE AP:

"Negotiations between the state and minority groups were under way even before the court made its ruling late Friday. Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott had approached his group to make a serious attempt to reach a compromise that would keep the state's April primary"

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g9B9k82zU-BJ781lm5wIgEtYDr-A?docId=2f118f3a25604367a5d9b459090720fa

THE PROBLEM

Republicans who actually started this battle by drawing maps which disenfranchised Latinos and blacks, and who asked that the Supreme Court intervene are now complaining that the decision by the Supreme Court may cause fewer Republicans to vote in the primaries.  I am confused by this because in terms of the primaries a small turnout may hurt the competition between the Republicans, but will not hurt the Republicans in the general election.  This is when you want your voters to turn out.

The problem the Republicans face is, if Greg Abbott cannot negotiate a settlement acceptable to the Republican Party, Greg Abbott will again be forced to challenge any court drawn maps, which will in effect delay the primaries again.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

I have always argued that redistricting should be based on two steps.  First you start in the north west corner of the state and then go equal distances east and south until you have a district which represents some 500,000 to 550,000 people.  Second, you then allow a committee to tweak the districts based on economic variables which tie districts together.   There should be an absolute prohibition against considering voting patterns by political party.   This is not a far flung idea.  Some states have moved to nonpartisan committees.

I do not doubt that if Texas would follow this two part process, in time it would not longer be subject to the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


SHOULD JUDGES DECIDE IF YOUR ENGLISH IS PROFICIENT ENOUGH TO RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE?

I chose this story in part because it will show the hypocrisy of the radical right.  It seems to me that in a real democracy it is for me to decide if the candidate can or cannot perform his or her duties if elected to public office.

Well maybe not, in Arizona.

"YUMA, Ariz.—A judge ruled that a city council candidate in Arizona must be removed from the ballot due to lack of English proficiency.
The ruling on Wednesday came after the San Luis City Council approved a motion Jan. 13 asking for verification that Alejandrina Cabrera met the requirement of a state law that any person holding office in the state, a county or city must speak, write and read English.
San Luis Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla filed a lawsuit in December asking the court to determine if Cabrera's English skills were sufficient to qualify her to seek the four-year council seat in the city's primary election."

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2012/01/26/candidate_removed_from_ballot_over_english_rule_1327624776/


"Eggington's report said Cabrera's English skills don't meet the level of language proficiency needed to serve on the council.
Minore said the action against his client was politically motivated because of her efforts to recall Escamilla.
Cabrera began circulating petitions to recall the mayor in April after the council hiked utility rates and approved the layoffs of 12 city employees as part of spending cuts to balance the budget."

Here is the thing, whether I like it or not, I can understand people debating whether or not a person should be proficient in English to serve in elective office.  What I do not understand is judges making that decision for me.

The radical right are always complaining about the judges and judicial activism.  It is a very dangerous thing when a political opponent can sue to have a judge take their critic off of the ballot.  This is not how democracy works.  It seems to me the best judges of this woman's ability to serve are the voters.

I am curious to learn if the radical right is going to yell judicial activism, or English first?  My only issue is, the people should be allowed to decide these matters and not judges.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


EVEN SO CALLED SCIENCE HAS BECOME AN AGENDA

This post is not so much about the ills or benefits of fish oil as it is to demonstrate nothing is without an agenda.  Everything I read, I read with an eye towards the author's agenda.  This is important to the process of acquiring knowledge.  You cannot simply take as true anything you read.  Every author, including scientists, have agendas.

For your review:

Sept. 21. 2010

"Previous studies showed that a substance in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), can provide some protection against precancerous colon polyps, according to a statement issued by the University of Leeds, which is coordinating the study."

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20017126-10391704.html

Oct. 5, 2010

"EAST LANSING, Mich. — Fish oil - long encouraged by doctors as a supplement to support heart and joint health, among other benefits - induced severe colitis and colon cancer in mice in research led by Michigan State University and published this month in the journal Cancer Research."

http://news.msu.edu/story/8389/

Here is a balanced story on the issue dated Nov. 4, 2010

"It’s a mixed bag on cancer. A study of more than 35,000 postmenopausal women found that those who took fish oil seemed half as likely to develop breast cancer as those who didn’t. That work was in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. [Theodore Brasky et al., "Specialty Supplements and Breast Cancer Risk in the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) Cohort"]

But a study in the October 15th issue of Cancer Research found that mice with inflamed bowels developed colitis and aggressive colon cancer when they were given high doses of fish oil. [Hillary Woodworth et al., "Dietary Fish Oil Alters T Lymphocyte Cell Populations and Exacerbates Disease in a Mouse Model of Inflammatory Colitis"]
So, fish oil might in fact have a healthful role in some circumstances. But you don’t want to swallow every fish story."

http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=fish-oil-studies-show-a-mixed-bag-o-10-11-04

So, you are a patient with elevated triglycerides, what do you do?  Your doctor tells you fish oil is a miracle supplement, but you have a family history of colon cancer.
Whether it is a question of health or politics, only you can get to a semblance of the truth. 

If the American people are to save their nation they must begin to listen with and read with a critical mind.  Everyone has an agenda.

A simple example - jobs and politicians.

President Obama outlined very specific examples of how he would use the federal government to promote job growth.  It is for you to decide if his suggestions make sense.  When you listen to Romney or Gingrich their jobs program is always the same - less regulation, less taxes, and less government interference.  It is for you to decide which sounds most viable.  Personally, I do not trust a politician whose only theory to grow jobs is unsafe food and products, and oil spills.

If you look to any US Congressional race they all promise the same thing. Jobs, Education, and Veterans.  This means nothing to me.  If you look at the local candidates for Congress do any of them state specifics on how they  can promote jobs in this area?  Do any of them state specifics which demonstrate an understanding of job growth in this area?  One actually does and he has my vote. 

The issue here is, you the voter must get beyond "so and so says if he is elected my son will get a job."  Unless the candidate tells you exactly how he/she intends to grow jobs in the area, when they are only 1 of 435 votes in the House of Representatives, good luck cashing in on that promise.

Think - ask questions - demand answers - run from the candidate who makes blanket statements like they support jobs, education and veterans - really?  Is that because their opponent is against jobs, education and veterans?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



THE MISSION OF BEING AN AMERICAN

I was not going to watch the State of the Union - what could he say - well he said a lot.    Every so often a speech can be monumental in an historical sense.  While his speech was what could be expected, the ending was historical.  It was historical because he put into context what it takes for America to succeed.  He spoke eloquently about the Mission of Being an American.

Here is the end of President Obama's speech on this issue of the Mission.  Leave your politics at home for a minute and consider his words.  Imagine for a minute if Congress could function as an American Mission.

"Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates – a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job – the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other – because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.

So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America."

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71920.html


Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71920.html#ixzz1kRI76S5R



CRYING OVER SPILT MILK - A GEORGE W. BUSH RULE