Politics


Government and Politics07 Jan 2015 02:03 pm

To Protect and To Serve is the motto of the LAPD which has been adopted by many police departments throughout the US. It’s popularity is due to the fact that it succinctly states the goal, purpose and ideal of law enforcement officers. Wikipedia states the following version, “A police force is a constituted body of persons empowered by the state to enforce the law, protect property, and limit civil disorder”.

The power given to the police is generally to assist in their ability to protect the public from personal harm and loss of one’s possessions by criminal means. The police are given weapons and jurisdictions to make sure we are protected as are our civil rights by aiding their ability to enforce the law.

Yet, recent events call into question if the role and purpose of the police has been forgotten, lost or completely altered. Lately the ideas of serving their bosses and enforcing the law have gone through some pretty startling changes.

The recent confrontations between the public and police officers has centered around the feeling that some police officers at times use their power to abuse, kill and terrorize citizens. Statistics regarding race and economic status strongly suggest that there are those in our society who are not only profiled, but actually targeted by law enforcement. Likewise, the escalating numbers of those in the US imprisoned seems to suggest that our legal system is highly motivated to fill jail cells. The rise of for profit prisons which need, get subsidized and assisted in maintaining a 90% occupancy rate seems to testify to an economic and political need to arrest and convict a steady stream of citizens.

Corruption is a part of almost any body or workers or professionals. Almost every professional body, company and agency has means of finding and punishing internal corruption and malfeasance. Public ire often escalates when frequent reports of abuse and malfeasance regarding the behavior of a professional group surface and are not accompanied by substantial punishment, reform or convictions. This has been the case whether the perpetrators have been clergy, politicians, bankers, physicians, lawyers, teachers or police officers. The recent lack of some very high profile cases even being brought to trial let alone resulting in a conviction has made a growing percentage of the populace highly suspicious if not all out angry at the lack of “justice” or an effort to even admit a problem exists.

History has shown that power often corrupts, and that those in power often abuse their power.  Yet, the staunch blanket defense of the integrity of all police officers by their supervisors, watchdog groups and public officials flies in the face of reason and people’s general experience.

Recently our leaders have become intolerant and unappreciative of people of conscience and “whistle blowers” treating them as terrorists and enemies of the state rather than as courageous heroes or even well intentioned caring people. Our leaders repeatedly labeling police officers as heroes and patriots who put their lives on the line each and every day while true in many cases, seems to deny the reality of the relationship between power and corruption and the need for law enforcement law enforcement.

The increased militarization of our police force, through swat teams, free military hardware such as tanks, and high tech weaponry seems to call for more scrutiny and management not blanket immunity and protection. Stories routinely reported about the increased arming of governmental and quasi governmental agencies pepper our newspapers. Everything from the FBI, to homeland security and NGO’s, to bankers and the federal reserve are arming themselves with weapons and survival kits through government aid and taxpayer monies.

The recent staged reactions by the police detail assigned to NY mayor de Blasio to publicly and privately turn their backs on him when he speaks or passes by shows how far we have strayed from the motto “to protect and to serve”.

The mayor,  who as their boss is ultimately the person in charge of hiring and firing, is neither being protected nor served by his employees in blue. This is apparently due to “some of his remarks” construed by the functional leaders of the police department as “siding” with the public in their “unjustified” criticism of the police. Not only are these actions suggesting that the police are beyond corruption, conviction (the law) and improvement, but also beyond being questioned or criticized. This us versus them mentality is dangerous for people with power and weapons to have, and is a bad omen for all citizens who want justice to be based on anything other than might makes right.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court that states that the “Police Can Violate The 4th Amendment If They Are Ignorant Of The Law” just further tilts the playing field away from the rights and protections of citizens and towards the infliction of power on its own terms. In essence the decision means that law enforcement personnel can enforce their definition of law with no consequence as long as they profess ignorance of the law. The 4th amendment is not that difficult to understand and how knowledge of this amendment couldn’t be made a prerequisite to becoming a law enforcement officer is beyond defense. How can we trust our police to enforce the law, if they are not expected to know the laws they are enforcing?

It appears that many of those assigned by society to serve and protect are turning their backs on more than the mayor of NYC.

I truly believe that their are plenty of heroes in law enforcement, I just wish more of them had the courage to step forward and expose the corruption, practices and bad seed which are making a sham of the praise worthy ideals of to protect and to serve.

Jim Guido

 

Government and Music and Philosophy and Poetry and Politics and Social Issues03 Aug 2014 10:54 am

The following is the lyrics and reverie for Deus Ex Machina a song of mine which will be released as a track on the album I’m Just Saying later this week.

Deus Ex Machina

Deus ex Machina is literally “the god machine”. In ancient Greek tragedies it was a device used at the end of the play to save the day through divine intervention to extricate the lead characters from sure and utter ruin.

In this song a strong proud woman is counseled to remain patient despite the fact that the speed of life is seemingly careening out of control. The counsel of her contemporaries seem to suggest that she should take solace in her beliefs and that soon her prayers will be answered by a last minute appearance of the god machine. We moderns are likewise being asked to trust that through our faith in religion, spirituality, technology or science will be plucked out of the immanent disaster our current path seems to be on.

In the late 60’s Buckminster Fuller published a book entitled Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. The book focused on how the earth is essentially a huge spaceship with a limited amount of resources which cannot be resupplied. All of the life on this self-contained ship traveling through space is fragile and mutually dependent on each other for its continued survival.

Our blatant over use of finite resources such as oil, and our continual polluting of our air and water since his book was released bear comparison to the way the characters in the old greek plays ignored the prophesies of the savants in the tragedies. Our foolhardiness becomes even more obvious when we take the analogy between the earth and a giant space ship a little further.

Imagine the fate of the Star Ship Enterprise or some other city sized spaceship, if they allowed their water and air supply to be polluted and toxic. In addition, imagine the repercussions if they routinely had battles between different sectors of the ship in which passengers were killed and their living environment (hardware) were destroyed. How long would the voyage last?

The interdependence of organic and sentient life is a functional and practical reality, while our concepts of nation, political ideology, belief and judgment are relatively arbitrary. Without trees we could not breathe, nor could our bodies function and survive without germs and bacteria. The kill of be killed philosophy which dominates our modern world view is misguided and untenable. Strategies of how to coexist should not be relegated to the realm of utopia or idealism, for they are essential to our continual survival.

Words of hope, promise, and national or ethnic superiority pale in comparison to the importance of actions which increase the quality of life for all the inhabitants of space ship earth. The earth is a lush and vibrant planet due more to the ability of organic life to cooperate, adapt, harmonize and thrive than for its ability for individual organisms to defeat and destroy other organisms. While each individual organism must eat or perish, they also depend on the overall health and expansion of all life on the planet for their continued existence.

People turn a blind eye to the atrocities done in their name, or even defend, justify and support the actions of governments which are destroying people and nature. We are endangered by nuclear warheads and accidents, the degradation and increased toxicity of our water and air, the destruction of arable land and the overuse of non replenish-able resources. The earths growing population and advances in technology have created the opportunity for us to have killed and caused more human suffering than any previous empire on earth. We have killed millions upon millions of innocents under the ironic and absurd pretext of giving people their freedom.

So should we be like the ancient Greeks and still pin our hopes on divine intervention or the eleventh hour appearance of a god machine?

The earth has successfully dealt with every crisis it has faced. Despite the fact that life has always been fragile and survival has always been a reality, life on our planet has not only persisted but flourished. The earth is the only blue/green planet that our science has been able to find, so our planet had to do something right in order to create and support organic life. All we have to do is tap into and continue the tradition of our flourishing planet.

Deus Ex Machina

Deluge of broken comedies, the joker licks the steam
Laura struggles to make it better puts her pride in relief
The treadmill keeps moving faster all is on the increase
Before you slip into the chasm enter the god machine

Keep your toes on the line don’t trip on that line, trip on that line
Your hopes are in the future, so they tell you, so they tell you
So they tell you, so they sell you all will be improve a little later
Running cold, running bold, running blind, can you set the pace?

Lunge onward in darkness blindfolded by the mask of innocence
Walk softly pretty lady have faith in the guiding hand
Take a sleep on stony ground, not much you can do with this land
Listen safe to the deep voice that tells you what lies below

It’s cold, so cold and shady but a few yards yonder lies a brook
You can rest there for awhile, rest there lover
All looks so bleak, the edge of defeat, have faith in some alien god machine
Kiss the treasure the golden dream for here comes the god machine

Adorable god of fortune is late upon the scene
Make me shiver in wonder of your awesome majesty
Pluck us from the danger, the climactic deed
If you’re made of plaster what awaits sweet destiny?

Golden idol of reason celestial or divine
Save us at eleven before our last midnight
All looks so bleak, the edge of defeat, have faith in some alien god machine
Kiss the treasure the golden dream for here comes the god machine
Deus ex machina
Enter the god machine
Deus ex machina

Government and Politics and Social Issues18 Apr 2014 02:03 pm

The desire to be free and the need to protect our freedom has been a declared hallmark of modern civilized societies for the last several centuries. Personal liberty and one’s reputation are valued as rights to be earned through honoring the social contract. In fact in most societies the government’s main purpose is to insure that the freedoms of law abiding individuals are protected and insured. The phrase “give me liberty or give me death” attributed to Patrick Henry became a truism of the American culture. Imprisonment and slavery have replaced exile as the harshest punishment short of death that a society can inflict upon an individual.

You would expect and assume that a society that places such a high value on freedom would make every effort to insure that someone’s freedom was not taken from them unnecessarily or unjustly. You would think the act of terminating one’s freedom would be done as a last resort and only after every other alternative had been exhausted. Surely you would think that every effort and precaution would be taken to insure that a person would not falsely or mistakenly have their freedom taken from them. While all the sentiments regarding the essential primacy of freedom are ideals of our judicial system, its basic structure and functioning tell quite a different story.

Yet, while being judged by a jury of your peers and having witnesses take an oath to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth” seems like a good start, the very trial process is littered with obstacles and priorities which make truth and justice fairly inconsequential. In the majority of situations witnesses are asked yes and no questions which are designed to only yield the aspects of fact and truth which support the lawyers agenda. Any attempt by a witness to actually tell the whole truth is suppressed and redirected and if the witness persists in attempting to give a full and balanced reply to the question they could be held in contempt for “refusing to answer the question”.

In fact, one could say, that in a trial truth is a commodity used and exploited in the name of the higher purpose of the attorneys and that is to win the case. While witnesses take an oath to honesty, lawyers do not. Their ethic and currency is not truth, but on presenting the best and most biased case possible to support the portrayal of events in the way they want them to be viewed.

In the case of wrongful harm such as theft, assault or such the best interest of the victim would be to have the perpetrator imprisoned, rehabilitated and restitution extracted from him whenever possible. Yet, the prosecutor’s main goal is not to identify the true perpetrator and bring him to trial, but only to prosecute the man who for whatever reason stands accused.

Our system does not foster a true dedication towards finding out the truth, neither does it truly protect nor insure one’s freedom. Instead, the trial process is a contest between two opposing sides in which lawyers use all devices at their disposal to have their side win. Witnesses are asked questions in ways which emphasize desired perceptions and trigger emotional biases in jurors to carry the day.

Our system of justice seems rather callous when you think of what is at stake. When a person’s freedom and long term reputation hang in the balance you would think we could gear our judicial practices less towards winning and more towards discovering whether someone acted in a way deserving of the loss of their freedom.

A great deal of a trial lawyers education and ongoing professional instruction centers around the science of how to convince and influence jurors. Lawyers make a science out of how to speak, make references and influence jurors in subliminal and unconscious manners in order to get their support with no inherent regard to the actual innocence or guilt of the person accused. Making and winning a case, not attaining the truth, is the order of the day.

While the truth is often difficult and sometimes impossible to ascertain, considering what’s at stake, we should make every conceivable effort and devote the bulk of the trial process to arrive at certainty. In those cases where certainty is unattainable than and a person’s freedom should not be taken away.

What then would a judicial process dedicated to the truth look like? It would involve all parties working together to find out the truth and then after the truth has been discovered they the prosecution and defense could present the mitigating, heinous or chronic circumstances which help judge and jurors determine the best course of action.

Our economic system is structured in competition where distortion, exaggeration and biased perspective are somewhat indigenous to sales and commerce. The more pervasive our market based brand of capitalism is in our lives, the more dishonesty and deception become interwoven into our moment to moment experience.

The techniques of misrepresentation, exaggeration and deception have seeped out of commerce and have invaded our social, political and even spiritual existences. Yet, even if we were to find sufficient reason to continue to misrepresent, deceive and exploit in other aspects of social economic interaction, we should make truth and honesty foremost when it directly impacts one’s very freedom and the carrying out of justice.

Considering what’s at stake serving as a juror should be a treated as a solemn and venerable responsibility. Our civic courses should include instruction on the meaning and duty of serving as a juror. If we truly wanted jurors to appreciate the gravity and importance of the task at hand, they should be well compensated for their time serving. Currently, a sizable portion of the populace try to avoid doing jury duty and view it as a nuisance. It is the rare person who equates the preserving of the ideal of freedom and justice with the process of serving on a jury.

We still pose ourselves internationally as a beacon of freedom and justice.  In fact our government feels it is our moral duty to meddle, intervene and when possible alter the “immoral” and “unjust” practices, governments and leaders of nations throughout the globe. The fact that our nation finds it necessary to imprison the highest percentage of its citizens than any other nation on the planet does not strike them as odd or hypocritical. Yet, if we are such a moral and free society, than how we can  justify a system that removes the freedom of so many of its citizens. Are we more immoral than others? Or do other nations such as our European allies just let 9 times as more dangerous and immoral criminals undeserving of freedom to roam their streets and work in their businesses?

While this tendency of ours to jail segments of our population, especially minorities and the poor, at a high percentage has been going on for decades we could point out one disturbing dynamic. We mentioned above the dangers of having our system of justice and with it people’s very freedom being dependent on economic competitive factors which supplant truth and justice as the primary concern. Over the last few decades the trend towards privatization of prisons has grown considerably. In order for these prisons to succeed and make a profit they need to retain a rather high occupancy rate, which means they will not be able to survive unless our conviction and imprisonment rate stays high if not continue to increase.

While there are literally hundreds of fine articles discussing the increased role and function of privately owned prisons and their impact on the job market and its impact on our justice system you could start with the following as an introduction: Privatization of the US Prison System

The damages done to lives by white color crime while at least as significant as those caused by poor substance users or petty thieves, yet the percentage of people who go to jail for breaking laws which destroy people’s financial and practical existences is disproportionately low, and in some cases such as banking fraud almost nil. Our system of justice seems to value the freedom of the wealthy, regardless of the severity of their harm, to the freedom of the poor or minorities. While we officially ended slavery long ago, some would make the case that our prisons have done a rather decent job of continuing the actual practice of slavery by taking away the freedoms of minorities through imbalanced incarceration.

While this possibility is worthy of discussion it is not the central issue of this post which is just the relatively flippant way our society through its competitive trial system treats the reality of human freedom. I personally find it very disturbing when the main goal of a trial isn’t the truth regarding the innocence or guilt of the accused, but in the winning of a case by the prosecution or a defense attorney. As mentioned before certainty and truth are not always attainable, but we should at least devise a system which is devoted to and maximizes all energies towards the uncovering of as much fact and truth as possible. Personal freedom and social justice truly deserve our finest efforts, and should not be reduced to possible outcomes of a system of justice built on personal competition between lawyers measuring their success through winning cases even when the odds and facts are not in their favor.

Jim Guido

Economics and Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues17 May 2013 03:03 pm

My dad came to the US from Italy when he was 13 years old. My mom was born in the US in a small Italian community which was where my dad’s family eventually settled. My mom’s parents married shortly after they had come to America and quickly started a family.

My dad, who was 13 years older than my mom, lasted less than a year in public schools and began working to help support the family when he was 14. My mom lasted into her freshman year of high school, but too, had to quit school to help support the family.

My dad was a firm believer in the idea of coming to America to “make a better life”. He, like many of contemporaries, felt that hard work and sacrifice were necessary to accomplish this goal. Living in the US was seen as an opportunity to escape the poverty that had dominated his family for generations in southern Italy. Success, for him, was being able to provide for his family so that they had food on the table and would not have to spend their waking hours worrying about basic safety and survival.

After my parents married they moved to a nearby factory town on the shores of Lake Michigan. My dad took pride on his working his way up from the railway yards to become a ticket agent at a train station. He talked of his being fortunate of no longer having to do “menial labor” nor having to work in the factories that dominated local employment.

In my early years I rarely saw my dad for he found it necessary to  have a second job to make sure we could not only survive, but save some money for the future. My dad got up at four in the morning,  got ready for work and returned home about 3 in the afternoon as we were coming home from school, we than would eat before 4 so that my dad could make the evening shift at some restaurant or at the new fast food establishments.

On the rare evening my dad was at home he would take his slide rule and racing form to the kitchen table and spend hours doing the research that went into his small wagers on the horses. On weekends we either went to relatives houses many of which still lived in the Italian community a half hour away, or some relative would come to our house. Larger family parties occurred regularly celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays and church functions. On Sunday mornings we always went to church before seeing relatives for the remainder of the day.

The men in my hometown talked about work and factory life far more than any other topic. Even in family gathering it was unusual that someone didn’t vent a little frustration over their work situation, boss or the lack of security in their employment. 

Maybe it was just what we chose to watch, but the topic of labor and work even seemed to dominate the entertainment industry. I remember movies and plays which dealt with coal miners, factory workers, union strikes and the plight of failure and emptiness in characters such as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman.

While Marx was not someone my blue collar world had read, people and TV often talked about feeling the “dehumanizing” role of factory work, or how mass production work was like living in a prison, or how insulting and degrading it was to have to kowtow to every boss or supervisor and how the work itself took away a man’s sense of dignity and self-respect. Even the popular comedies on TV made numerous jokes and references to the ever present possibility of being fired or laid off.

At a very early age I became highly fearful of ending up working in a factory, or being forced to engage in some labor of endless repetition. Even the professionals in town with careers or those in management positions seemed to be kowtowing to some boss and being tethered to a long and highly structured work week.  In my mind I began to equate work with a loss of freedom, autonomy and any hope of  a decent quality of life.

My mom had worked from the age of 15 until she got married in her late 20’s. She took pride in being a strong peasant woman and in the old world values of the immigrant mother’s she idolized. She liked the role of  mother and homemaker, and took a particular delight in cooking.

My mom’s life of a housekeeper mother was filled with menial labor and “drudgery”.  Yet, the ardor of her work load and the time required to complete a task seemed to lessen with each invention and advance in appliance technology. Going from washboard to wringer was not that drastic, but the jump to washing machine was dramatic and much appreciated. Even the advance in fabrics reduced ironing time. The list of appliances, technologies and “conveniences” which reduced housekeeping time and effort was expanding on a monthly basis. Even in lower middle class families such as ourselves the quality of life of the homemaker was improving greatly.

By the time I was four or five my mom was able to entertain herself with radio or TV while she tended to her household tasks and chores. She was able to take breaks to watch a favorite program or visit with a neighbor lady for an hour or so, and still get dinner on the table by 4.  My mom actually found enough “leisure” time to reengage in hobbies/crafts of her latter childhood such as embroidery and crocheting.

Most of her daytime TV was divided into two areas. One area of interest was quiz type of programs such as “Concentration” and the other were the emotional tearjerkers such as “Queen for a Day” or the “Millionaire”. 

While the advances in technology appeared to be a boon for the housekeeper, it did not seem to improve the quality of life for the factory worker. While advance in assembly line technology did reduce the physical demand on a worker, it also reduced the scope of their activity to one part or cog of a product. No longer could they even take pride in the completion of an entire product such as a clock, radio or car, but only in the installation of a front fender, minute hand, or some other part of the complete product.

While technology reduced the time it took to housekeep and the strain the tasks took on the body, in the factory it just increased production expectations and the fears that the technology would replace your need as a worker. Advances in technology made it possible for my dad’s work load to be decreased, and he could have theoretically played a radio while he worked. Yet, his “higher ups” sent out memo’s stating playing a radio would result in termination of employment, and the railroad found many new and additional tasks for him to perform to insure that he had no free time or that his work load was reduced in any fashion or form. To the contrary it seemed that each passing day my dad was required to do more, and be responsible for more, with no additional pay.

In general I found my mom’s life more tolerable than my dad’s. I found his perpetual working, subservience to bosses, and the lack of autonomy and development of outside interests to be boring at best and humiliating at worst. I could never reconcile my relatives story of my dad’s past with the dad I knew. The man who played trumpet, read philosophy, travelled the country, was an avid Ham operator, gambled, made his own sausage, cheese and wine, etc. was  nowhere to be seen. The last vestiges of that man were only seen at the rare moments he listened intently to the opera on the radio, or took time for himself to read reflective nonfiction.

The time I remember him being the most vibrant and alive was when I was 6 or 7 and his union went on strike. My dad become a leader of the workers at this time and set up camp at the downtown hotel in our town. He shined in the role of organizer, giving people instructions, speaking at meetings and being part of the negotiations with management. Though he was glad when the strike was over, I kind of missed the dynamic man who was my dad for a short time.

My dad’s sense of pride and self-esteem had him adopt the stay at home housewife preference. He felt it was his obligation and duty to be the “breadwinner” and that he would be a failure if his wife “had to work”. Yet, when I was 8 years old my mom decided that since all the kids (I was the youngest) were fairly self-sufficient that she wanted to do more to help make our family financially more comfortable. It took only a couple of weeks to convince my dad that she nor their friends would think she “had to work”, but that she just wanted a new challenge and it would allow my sister an opportunity to learn how to cook and manage a home.

My dad helped my mom get a job as a ticket agent at another station on the same line as my dad. She enjoyed the challenge and it gave them a shared interest which brought them closer together. Yet, it wasn’t long before the luster of the new job wore off, and my mom began to complain about the routine just like all the men. Yet, at the end of the day the sense of financial security she got from the job outweighed its deficits and she stayed on the job until about a year after she was robbed at gunpoint and never again felt safe at work.

By the time I got to high school I had made the following assessments of the world and lives of men and women.  I viewed being male as having almost no options and being destined to a laborious life spent in servitude, with little hope of privacy, autonomy or time for personal development. Most of the men I knew seemed empty, emotionally vacant and resentful. The boys my age were trying to sow a few wild oats before conforming to the fate of being male.

I did have some distant male relatives who lived in Italian communities or neighborhoods that seemed to truly enjoy their lives. They were artists, musicians, entrepreneurs (organized crime?), or individuals who somehow got by with minimal labor. They were fun loving, funny, emotional, and their lives seemed to be filled with meaningful relationships. Quality of life, joy and relationships were their priorities and they made you feel good just to be able to bask in their energy.

The Italian lover’s of life philosophy summed up by the colloquialism “dolce far niente”  (sweet idleness) was something that I harmonized with. Another version of this Italian art of living philosophy was offered by North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano when after being diagnosed with cancer  said: “To me, there are three things we all should do every day…..You should laugh every day…You should spend time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears…If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special”…

The life of most of the adults I knew seemed hollow and meaningless. Life seemed too incredible and precious to me, to waste it in toil or mindless activity. Most men were doomed to an empty existence of endless labor, we had no choice in the matter. Women on the other hand were beginning to have options, my mom could work or stay at home. Technology and social change were opening a whole new world to women in which they began to talk of issues such as“quality of life”, “consciousness raising”, “intimacy” and the richness of human emotion and experience.

Just when I was beginning to feel that I would have little or no opportunity to lead a fulfilling and rich existence the women’s movement emerged as a beacon for a vision of living a quality life. While the majority of men were consigned to a life of labor and subjugation, a growing percentage of women were entering a new age of self-exploration and enlightenment.

I remember watching the Phil Donahue show and feeling a growing sense of hope and optimism. Women were leading a discussion on the direction of society. The gospel of the women’s movement seemed to be that men were leading an empty life of labor, ambition and the thirst for power, and that women were in danger of leading a “shallow” and “superficial” life filled with pettiness and gossip. Women were being called upon to join together in a quest for a fulfilling and meaningful life. A life of freedom, dignity, respect and personal development. 

The majority of my male friends in high school were either already becoming emotionally vacant and empty, or just partying until the music stopped. My female friends were more into self-disclosure and talking about their feelings. 

I became close to a small group of verbal guys who talked at length on science, philosophy and the future. I also found another mixed group of friends who talked about art, literature, music and social revolution. The majority of female friends I had, talked about relationships, human communication and the soap opera of adolescence. 

Though I sometimes found the conversation of my female friends to be petty or emotionally tedious it was far preferable to the alternative. I found myself introducing or advocating my female friends to become more engaged in the women’s movement and its basic philosophy.

Advances in technology were already showing that automation was the future, and that many factory jobs could be replaced by automated machines working faster and more efficiently than human workers. We already were showing signs of having too many workers for too few jobs, and that productivity goals could be met through less full time workers.

The women’s movement and pop psychology were informing us that “self-actualization” and “intimacy” were far more important than work/labor and making money. That, in fact, monetary ambition and long working hours were injurious to health, quality of life, and the development and maintenance of fulfilling friendships and enduring familial relationships.

Despite the murder of some very important leaders of social change much had been accomplished not only in the growth of the women’s movement, but civil rights, and the ecological and anti-war movements. Watchdog agencies, whistleblowers and journalists were exposing the corruption in government, business, medicine, finance, academia, the media and the military in a way that seemed to promise better management and accountability.

Human dignity and respect was on the rise for workers, women, minorities and students. Fear and hatred was being replaced by tolerance and understanding. The landing on the moon had been a sign that we can accomplish anything we commit ourselves to and that war, poverty, and world hunger were problems we could address and solve.

We are fond of saying that it is darkest before the dawn, yet one person’s dawn is another persons dusk. And just at the moment when I felt that the journey of self-actualization and quality of life was about to take flight, the forces of anger, control, hatred, and oppression seemed to silently turn us back towards the prison we just escaped.

Almost overnight the messages of personal development, quality of life, human intimacy, freedom and autonomy were being subtly modified and replaced with messages speaking of consumption, making money, and national and cultural superiority. 

The advertising and business world targeted minorities, women, and students as emerging lucrative consumer markets. Equating new found freedoms and social status with making money, consumption and having a new and expensive image. Drinking malt liquor and wearing specific clothes became synonymous with being a hip and successful black person. Virginia Slim’s proclaimed, “you’ve come a long way baby”, to hawk a product “designed for the modern woman”. 

Soon the women’s movement humanistic message of quality of life and intimacy became lost in the desire for equal pay and full employment. Entering the evil and destructive male dominated world of power, money, servitude and labor became the goal and battle cry of the movement. 

While I fully supported equality and rights for all, I felt stunned that the goal had now become for all to become slaves to money, labor and subjugation to corporate owners be they white male, female or minority. I personally cared little if the warden were black, white or female, I just wanted out of prison. My concern was in the quality of our lives and in our ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships and a societal respect for my and your privacy and autonomy.

Now forty years later I still have the same longings, desires and goals. I look back at the women’s movement like a photograph of an old girl friend who ended up sleeping with my old tormentor. We could have shared so much together, we could have had made the world an intimate caring place. Instead we now live in a society in which two paychecks don’t even have the purchasing power of one back in the 50’s or 60’s.  And where quality of life, life expectancy, health, happiness quotients, and leisure time have been on the decline and falling behind other more “socialistic” nations around the globe.

While I look back at what I experienced as a lost opportunity its hard not to be frightened by our surveillance society and the loss of all the freedoms and privacy we struggled to achieve and the fact that the only real growth industry left in our decayed capitalistic system of empire is fear mongering , prejudice and intolerance. 

Jim Guido

 

Government and Politics and Social Issues28 Apr 2013 09:56 am

*Jobs are never coming back
Progress in automation and technology are drastically reducing the number of jobs needed nationally and globally

*Raiding social security and medicare have nothing to do with debt reduction
It is just a blatant money grab and class war

*The new health care laws will not improve services or provide coverage for everyone
They will shift responsibility away from insurance companies and onto individuals
They will maximize profits and fine those who can’t afford insurance

*The internet was and always will be a pentagon project
It is just part of the global surveillance plan

*The war on terrorism if not a myth (like the Red Scare) is exploited as a tool
Blatant fear mongering to have us hand over all power to government protectors

*We do not behave like the good guys
Our military presence in 3/4 of nations is opposed to all of our basic principles
Including national sovereignty, freedom, self-determination an democracy to name a few

*We are becoming increasingly expendable to our society
no longer needed as consumers, soldiers, workers, etc.

*Capitalism is not the cause but benefactor of technological progress
Just as pirates and conquistadors weren’t the cause but the benefactors of the wealth and resources they pillaged

*The consumer based society is being phased out
Being replaced by the financial instrument technologically automated society

*Fed reserve is a private banking institution
They act on their own self-interest, not ours

*Bernanke is an expert on deflation
He knows how to best manage deflation to maximize profits for his peers

*Money you put in a bank is not saved
Technically and legally it is money loaned to the bank for them to invest and use

*Sanctions are not designed to create peace
Their function is to cause dissension through the suffering and death of innocents

*Predatory drones are a form of military and psychological terrorism

*The basic principles of psychology of torture are being used on US citizens

*The major messages of the media are orchestrated, monitored and censored

*The wars we’re fighting are not for our freedom
The number of innocents we kill in war, sanctions and insurrections is unprecedented

*Your civil liberties, rights and privacy are being systematically disassembled (removed)

*A person with no privacy is not free
A society with no privacy is easily controlled

*Our imprisonment numbers reveal our governments real view of freedom
If everyone is under surveillance, why the need to imprison at record pace?

 

 

 

So your patriotism and blind faith in your government and the political process, how’s that working for you?

Lying, deception, manipulation, stealth and secrecy are not just the norm they are pervasive in government, business, commerce and international relations

We cannot separate who we are from what we do

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues07 Apr 2013 02:45 pm

At some point in time after WWII the US decided that it would accept no deviation from its social, political and economic agenda. In every area of life either you’re with us or you are against us. The “us” was theoretically the US, but as time has gone on the “us” has morphed into a small club of the financial elite (who are not all necessarily of the US).

The US, the financial, political and military superpower, has the wherewithal and the disposition to engage in war with all. Most empires throughout history have enjoyed the spoils of war, yet no empire in history has had the maintenance of their empire more directly tied to the concept of perpetual war and plunder.

We justify our aggressive policing of the entire globe through rhetoric espousing freedom and the spread of democracy. We hide behind such lofty ideals to excuse our governments complete intolerance with the possible existence of other political, social or economic systems.

While, following WWII most nations feared and treated war as a desperate action of last resort, the US relished and glorified the concept of war. Even before the radioactive clouds completely cleared, we were having war with anything that moved, or possibly impacted our existence. We were the good nation, and all others were either just like us, or evil.

We framed and posed everything in and outside our society in terms of battles and wars. We had wars on poverty, crime, drugs, communism, socialism, illiteracy, obesity, and atheism. Labor unions and management were always doing battle before the government convinced us that labor unions were unpatriotic. Our friends and family waged war and had battles with tooth decay, polio, mental illness, cancer and laziness.

Even our recreational life was framed in war vernacular. Major sporting events were always battles and wars. Soon even the most mundane contest or competition got “elevated” to war status. If it wasn’t a war, it was neither worthy of our attention, interest or appreciation.

Despite the benefits and blatant success garnered through mediums such as mediation, diplomacy and negotiation we slowly were convinced that such strategies were dangerous and counterproductive. The gains in worker and civil rights, the women’s and peace movements, and the ecological movement were examples of generally non-violent forms of social improvement.

The US government steadily embraced an inflexible policy of seeing any form of negotiation as a sign of weakness and a horrendously bad precedent. This was true not only internationally but domestically as well. As forms of social advocacy have not only fallen out of favor but have become increasingly dangerous or illegal.

US journalists, union organizers, humanitarian workers and clergy working abroad have reported being targets for US and US backed forces for assisting “leftist” groups for decades. Now, domestically we increasingly treat the participation of peaceful demonstrations and non-violent protests as a quasi-illegal act, where participants are video taped and become subjects for Homeland Security and FBI investigation.

The perpetual war on terrorism is being used as a vehicle to destroy and remove many of our basic civil liberties. The new laws allowing American citizens to be imprisoned and even executed without a trail or even official charges being brought forth are very disturbing. The whistleblowers of corruption and immoral behavior, which were treated as heroes a few decades ago are being imprisoned and demonized. All dissent is being viewed as an aid to terrorism and, therefore, fit to be treated as an act of terrorism.

While we trumpeted freedom, democracy and national sovereignty we have practiced keeping every nation on a short pragmatic and ideological leash. Any nation placing the needs and rights of their citizens over US interests were intimidated or forced to show due respect to the US.

Leaders of nations who oppose our economic and political agendas are labeled evil tyrants, even when they are democratically elected and loved by their people. Some of the leaders who we have tried to assassinate and overthrow have done wonders in the areas of health, civil liberties, education and standard of living for the majority of the nation’s population. This is not to say that they are wonderful people, but only to acknowledge the incongruity of our nation’s despising them, and the practical and functional benefit their leadership has provided its citizens.

In a few instances our government has gone so far as insinuate or even call a leader of an unfriendly or enemy nation crazy. We are then told that we must take action against this country due to their capabilities or ambitions for weapons of mass destruction. Yet, who in their right mind would publicly insult a truly crazy leader who had the capabilities of waging nuclear warfare, or engaging in terrorist activities killing many US citizens.

Either our leaders are themselves lacking mental stability or they know that these so called evil leaders are harmless and using the “war” of words to validate our harming that leader, his people or the land they live on. Yet, when these insane maniacs show impressive restraint from our insults and accusation, we up the ante by engaging in intimidation and bullying techniques such as imposing economic sanctions, international trade restrictions, devaluing their currency endangering resulting in the pain and suffering and eventual death of millions of innocents.

The US currently has military bases and presence in near 160 countries. When one considers that there are less than 200 nations one could say we are pretty much everywhere. The original list of nations named as part of the “axis of evil”, were the last remaining nations without a capitalistic central bank. Economic allegiance seems to be even more important to the US than political format. Many of our most valued allies are nations headed by despots and non democratic leadership, but none of our allies have a economic system separate from ours.

The land of freedom and defender of human rights has a higher percentage of its populace imprisoned than any other. While we fight to protect our freedom we are the most monitored society on the planet. One must always keep in mind that the internet was and always will be a Pentagon project.

As I type, each keystroke is documented and filtered through a host of systems alerting the authorities to the level of concern they should have. Almost all our communications are monitored and documented, likewise our activities and interests. With GPS, smart phones, etc. it is hard for us to keep private even for a brief moment our exact whereabouts.

Despite this pervasive surveillance we see a need to imprison a higher percentage of our populace than any other nation on the planet. Though we rank far down the list in terms of violent crimes, we still find a reason to deny the freedom of more people than the harshest dictatorship.

In a land that loves war, is economically dependent on war, and uses war as a way of controlling its people and getting complete economic and social compliance the war on the citizen will not end until economic domination is complete. Any penny left in your name represents a battle to be fought and a contest to be won.

Each victory just gives the economic and military elite more wherewithal to conduct their war with all.

Much of the progress of human society has been in our efforts to work together and lend each other a helping hand. Yet, lately when we ask our government for a hand, apparently all they feel they can afford is to give us the finger.

Jim Guido

Government and Politics and Social Issues16 Feb 2013 12:09 pm

No country has ever been prouder of murder, torture, intimidation, genocide, rape, assassination, the overthrowing of sovereign and elected governments, and the starving of millions of civilians and children in “humanitarian” interventions than the US. Ah, but let me not “drone” on, I guess I have to leave that to our commander and chief.

We kill to protect our freedom.

We kill to keep our citizens safe.

We kill to secure our borders.

We kill to defeat evil.

We kill to defeat terrorism.
We kill to prevent terrorism.

We kill to free others.

We kill for peace.

We kill for ideology.

We kill for oil.

We kill to protect our way of life.

We kill to spread our way of life (killing is our way of life).

We kill for regime change.
We kill to prevent regime change.

We kill for feminism and against barbarism.
We kill for racism.

We kill for religious freedom.

We kill to protect our honor.

We kill to honor our dead.

We kill for hope.

We kill to influence nations and their peoples.

We kill for capitalism.
We kill for democracy.

We kill to spread higher ideals.

We kill to show strength.

We kill as an act of diplomacy.

We kill to stop crime.

We kill for change.

We kill to show our love of our country.

We kill people who envy and hate us.

We kill families in their homes in distant lands.

We kill people who might wish us harm.

We kill people who know people who might wish us harm.

We kill people who may want to retaliate for our killing.

We kill doctors, charity and aid workers who care for those we kill.

We kill journalists and whistleblowers who report or question our killing.

We kill the through sanctions, banned weapons, and toxic substances.
We kill by destroying farmland, potable water, wild life and vital infrastructure.

We kill our soldiers (children) in unnecessary combat.

We kill our humanity by glorifying and legitimizing our killing.

We kill our soldiers who commit suicide by not providing them with services when they have been raped, traumatized, or coerced to act against their conscious. (We condone our soldiers being raped by peers and superiors)

We kill as a preemptive act.

We kill as a moral act.

We kill to demonstrate our high ideals and moral indignation.

We kill for justice.

We kill to test technology.

We kill to shock and awe.

We kill to show leadership.

We kill to show commitment and support.

We kill by being the major seller of weapons.

We kill by instigating conflict.

We kill by the artful use of propaganda and disinformation.

We kill those compassionate and charitable to those we kill.

We kill those who try to stop the killing (for aiding the enemy).

The list could go on and on. The list for the reasons we torture, threaten, intimidate, bully, ruin the the reputation of, lie about and imprison people with neutral or good intentions is even longer.

All of this is done with our active support or silent consent. Some support this out of fear and others out of hatred. Many do this because they have been convinced or convinced themselves that there is no other way.

I use to be baffled when I read about how the Roman’s gave up their freedoms and handed over dictatorial powers to Cesare. I use to be dumbfounded at why a democratic people would give away their freedoms and delegate all power in a leader. Well the loss of civil and personal rights and destruction of the constitution over the last four years has answered that question. We now have given our president as much autonomous power as Cesare wielded in the Roman Empire.

I’ve seen a number of articles written by historians of late stating that many of our president’s current powers have not been in existence since the Magna Carta was instituted over a 1000 years ago. No king was legally allowed to be judge and jury and have people imprisoned and killed without the possibility of legal recourse.

Our president has more delegated power than any leader for over a 1000 years in Western Civilization and no society has had a larger discrepancy between the poor and the wealthy as ours. This includes all the slave based societies going back to ancient Egypt.

While I’m sure people can find ways in which these last two paragraphs don’t fully apply. Yet, the fact that they are true in any way in a supposed democratic and free society is beyond defense.

I wish we spent more time coming up with reasons not to kill. I wish we found the reasons not to kill more convincing than the reasons to kill. Each time we fire a bullet or missile we disturb and destroy the peace.

We could and should judge our goodness and leadership by the percentage of days in which we reduced and prevented killing. If the greatest superpower finds itself incapable of coming closer to following the basic commandment found in all religions and civil societies than it does not deserve to be a leader or a representative of civilized society.

I use to find it incomprehensible that the German’s sat back and either actively supported or at least tacitly condoned the heinous acts of the third Reich, I no longer find it so baffling.

I don’t really expect what I wrote here to have any impact or influence on any one reading it. I only do so as an act of conscious. I care very deeply for all of you. I treasure and value life and humanity.

Thanks for listening.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues30 Dec 2012 09:48 am

We tolerated and turned a blind eye to the predatory practices of the IMF and World Bank as they destroyed national economies by burying them in unserviceable debt. In lieu of payment they then extricated and transferred the assets and resources of the beleaguered nations into their corporate and private coffers.

Now, that the american consumer is no longer needed as producer and consumer the very same strategies and techniques are being used on us to procure, extricate and transfer all of our assets into the personal and corporate coffers of the bankers and financial elite.
The title of this post is taken from a quote attributed to Mike Ditka former player and coach of the Chicago Bears. In a society that fosters and is based upon individual interests, exploitation and capitalization the statement that you get what you tolerate is especially true. A society which fostered and promoted egalitarian and social rights over individual rights would be far more humane and trusting than modern America. Yet, a society that prides itself in the victory of the one over the many is always going to have its icons of success view the masses as its profitable prey.

The US was a nation whose wealth and power was derived from pirates, robber barons and conmen. Since we lived in a ostensible democracy the continued success of these exploitative conmen depended on their obtaining our trust and belief in them. In fact, belief and trust are the trade and currency of the successful conman. It is for this very reason that our perceptual managers and state propagandists groomed us into being a nation of believers trusting in God and Country.

Ever since the government became actively involved in the shaping and influencing of the public mind in quasi-military programs such (Committee on Public Information, Writers War Board, COINTELPRO, etc.) propagandists have capitalized on the interweaving of religious belief and government. It is true that we were a nation founded on religious freedom, yet that freedom was to protect people from being persecuted and harassed for their beliefs. Yet, now the entwinement of belief and government causes those who believe differently than the accepted state beliefs to be threatened, demonized and persecuted.

While the effectiveness of propaganda depends on a certain amount of denial of its existence, the arrogance of those who think they can control the hapless masses causes them to make verbal declarations proudly revealing their true intentions. One such example is the 1981 quote by William J. Casey then director of the CIA stating “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the US public believes is false”.

Currently the state propaganda is trying to convince us that the demise of the American middle class is both inevitable and the fault of the average american. Misinformation and half truths are found everywhere in the pseudo-debate between Democrats and Republicans trying to convince us that economic realities demand our compliance with the loss of our civil liberties, entitlements, worker and consumer protection agencies and our rights to a basic standard and quality of life.

While it is true that some industrial jobs have been lost to nations such as China where workers will work for a fraction of what Americans got paid, it is misleading to think that this is the true cause of the demise of the middle class and industrial base. The fact of the matter is that the US and China continue to dominate in terms of industrial production.

The data is available which shows that then US has enjoyed steady growth in industrial production since WWII. While Japan had and China now shares the stage with the US, the US is still the industrial force. What has decreased is not the amount of production happening in the US, but in the number of jobs and pay. We have not only lost jobs to cheap labor forces abroad, but also cheap domestic labor such as the escalating prison population in for-profit prisons.

Yet, we are losing far more jobs to automation than to any human cheap labor force. The publicity over jobs lost overseas is just a smokescreen to hide the fact that we are losing jobs to machines and robots. Since the birth of mass production most advances in technology reduce the need for human labor. So, while some advances do create jobs they usually remove the need for more jobs than they create.

Years ago the lack of sophistication and autonomy of the machines made it necessary for workers to run and monitor them. In most cases the machines were tools to be used by and for people.

Until recently workers were also necessary as consumes as well as producers. Even as technology advanced and machines became less dependent on people to monitor and fix them, the workers were needed to receive pay to purchase the products being produced. It is still popular to say that consumers make up 70% of the economy, though I doubt if that is any longer true.

There are plenty of fine articles being written about the facts behind both manufacturing and the rise of automation. You could start with The Myth of US Manufacturing Decline by John V. Walsh.

Our vital role as consumer/producers is being attacked on two fronts. One is the whole concept of global marketing in which one makes profits through volume over price (the basic Walmart business model). What this means is that large global corporations can still make increasing profits even as our wages and disposable income dwindle. The second front involves the entire money printing based economy where money printed goes right into the pockets of the 1%.

Each dollar printed and distributed to the few reduces the relative wealth of the 99.9% of the people not receiving the new liquidity. Yet, that isn’t the worst of it. We are paying off all the debts of those “too big to fail” or too wealthy to jail. Each day that this goes on the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich becomes closer to completion.

You may ask what they will do when they have sucked us of our last pennies. Well, the short answer is that there is no limit to IOU’s and they will just position themselves to be in line to get every penny your grandchildren and great grandchildren stand to make. Yet, in all likelihood, automation will make it hard for a job based economy to last anywhere near that long. The logical conclusion is that everything will be owned by a select few and everyone else will be indentured servants or culled in some form or other so as not to waste resources.

In an article entitled Manufacturing Poverty by Cheri Honkala she notes the many ways that disinformation is being used by government and corporate america to pillage the 99 percent in favor of the one percent. Ms. Honkala for those who do not know was the vice-presidential candidate for the Green Party in the last election. The following two paragraphs are from the article.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and affordable housing have been and are now fully funded and paid for through our payroll and income taxes, and are supported by an overwhelming super-majority of voters. They are the property of the American people and the inheritance we have prepared for our children and grandchildren. A “grand bargain” or any other kind of compromise that in any way diminishes or weakens these programs in order to enrich corporations is totally unacceptable.

The idea that America has become so impoverished that it can no longer afford the most elementary necessities of its people is patently absurd. As a nation we are richer and more productive than ever. Despite declining industrial employment, our manufacturing OUTPUT is higher now than it has ever been, thanks to the technological revolution. The attacks on the safety net are deliberate efforts to artificially introduce poverty in the midst of plenty.

In the article Ms. Honkala points out that the major entitlements currently being taken for granted as needing to be cut (both short and long term) are “fully funded and paid for through our payroll and income tax”. So, it is an outright lie to suggest that cutting these entitlements will directly effect the national debt which is at the base of the so called “fiscal cliff”. Elsewhere in the article she notes that “Social Security currently runs a 2.7 trillion dollar surplus, is a separate fund that by law cannot increase the deficit, and in fact has never contributed a penny to the deficit in its entire 77-year history”.

So, in an honest society any discussion of how to reduce the deficit or how to curtail debt would not involve any of the major entitlements and safety nets programs funded by workers and tax payers for their own benefit. The only conceivable goal of putting social security on the auction block is to allow the wealthiest to raid the 2 trillion surplus.

Yet, even if our entitlement programs were to some day become insolvent, what would be gained by cutting them? If people got less money through social security, or no longer used money from previous taxes on their paychecks to help with health care, than where are they going to get money to use as consumers to stimulate the economy? I guess the answer is that they are never supposed to retire or get sick or in their elder years.

If we were able to bail out banks and corporations by printing money and giving out interest free loans, then how come we couldn’t do that to fund or save social security? We could fund and save millions of americans from poverty and suffering at a fraction of the cost that we used to bail out a handful of banks and businesses. Yet, that, of course, could not become part of the dialogue.

We do, as members of the 99+% get what we tolerate. We in general are too busy trying to survive to pay much attention to the devious devices of propaganda and misinformation wielded by the perceptual managers working on the behalf of the economic elite. We are no match for the devious devices of propaganda they contrive with the benefit of endless funds.

After all who is looking out for our interests? Well, the propagandists and government perceptual managers are making sure that all of our support systems and advocates are becoming extinct. According to them all of those people are corrupt and or a threat to our nation and way of life.

Anyone concerned for our health, welfare and protection are just self-serving charlatans or fanatics with no sense of the real world. People protecting the quality of our air, water and food are ignorant at best, and sabotaging our quality of life at worst. Any union or group designed to advocate for our interests at the workplace, are corrupt megalomaniacs who are causing us to lose jobs overseas, and intimidate us into giving up our “right to work”. And who doesn’t know that all lawyers, environmentalists and green merchants are just greedy exploiters who are trying to make a buck.

I read an article recently by a retired union organizer. In it he stated that, “the only purpose for unions was to improve the standard of living of workers”. I would agree that for many that is the premise behind unions, I would also add that unions were designed to also advocate and protect the interests of the labor class.

We live in a representative democracy. Our entire electoral process is built on the idea that our elected officials represent and protect our interests. There is no denying that there has always been corruption in politics and unions. Yet, it seems foolish to respond to such corruption by completely removing the advocate, protector, representative and the peer group for workers and citizens.
The “right to work” movement is in reality the right to go it alone, be enslaved, and the right to have work go to the lowest bidder of services. The end of collective bargaining, and unions is the right for the owners to maximize their profits and minimize their overhead.

The current trend regarding government policies is very clear in its intent to saddle us with unserviceable debt and extricate our remaining assets. We are getting what we are tolerating, and it is amazing how easy it appears for many of us to support the dismantling of our basic rights and standard of living. Each passing day we are allowing our dwindling assets to be taken by the financial elite while at the same time supporting the removal of all our advocates and support systems.

As many of you know the federal reserve is a private cartel of bankers whose wealth and power often are attained at the expense of the 99%. I will end by referencing an article I read which I cannot find who to credit (please write me if you know what article this is taken from). The quote does appear to be from The Big Picture, but that is all I know.

The questions contained are excellent one’s and are deserving of our scrutiny.

Why, for example, would the Fed want to reduce unemployment if high unemployment pushes down labor costs and boosts profits for its corporate constituents? And why would Bernanke want to rev-up the economy when the ongoing crisis creates the rationale for gutting social programs and slashing public spending? And why would the Fed want to normalise interest rates, when the low rates force savers and retirees on fixed income back into the stock market, while–at the same time– provide unlimited sums of money to the banks at zilch cost to themselves?

The wretched state of the economy is no accident. It is by design. And it’s easy to figure out who’s benefiting from the present arrangement by tracing the torrent of capital that flows upwards to the corporate boardrooms and off-shore hideaways where the 1% stash their loot. Check this out: “Corporate profits as a share of GDP is at an all-time high while wages and salaries are at all-time lows“, The Big Picture)


Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues06 Nov 2012 10:15 am

As our election process degrades further and further into voting for the lesser of two evils, I urge all to vote Bubonic Plague. Since this year’s opponent (Small Pox) has a far superior kill rate to the plague and those who survived small pox were usually grossly disfigured or handicapped, I see little choice but to vote Bubonic Plague. So, while I’m no big fan of the plague I decided not to “waste my vote” for some vaguely healthy third party which has no chance of winning and instead cast my vote for the plague. My vote is more accurately a vote against small pox, and I join the huge chorus of people who chant “anything but small pox” as their campaign slogan.

The US presidential elections have become a total farce in which neither candidate’s policies reflect the will of the people, but rather the uber-wealthy. It is absurd that in a representative democracy we are not offered a candidate whose central policies are aligned with the wishes of the vast majority of its citizens. In poll after poll it is common that over 60 to 70 % of democrats and republicans preferences are in direct opposition to the policies of the candidates regarding the economy, education, bail outs, military involvement, the budget, privacy, civil liberties, government and corporate transparency and public health. The differences between the candidates are dwarfed by their similarities.  While both of their positions on key issues clearly on the opposite side of the public will.

Let me try one more image in an attempt to capture the utter absurdity of this presidential election.  Politicians are defined as and referred to as public servants. Let’s imagine that our nation is one huge restaurant and we are hiring (electing) a cook. In this analogy the pubic opinion polls act as a menu of entrees, appetizers, etc. which we want the restaurant to serve.  We, the people, have requested an extensive menu with a point of emphasis of cutting down on fat and offering healthy eating options.

Yet, now the final two cooks vying for the position are offering us menus with not a single item on them which we had suggested or requested. Add to this fact that the menus are doninated by fatty red meats, rich sauces, and generally cholesterol laden foods. First of all, one has to question the interview process of how out of all the cooks available these became the finalists. Then, we need to question the sanity of the restaurant owners (voters) to actually hire one of these  arrogant clowns who refuse to cook what we ask and to respect our health requirements.

Hell these are not servants but executioners. I know that the words executive and executioner have the same etymological roots, but who would think that the “executive branch” and “the highest executive officer” (president) would become our executioner. The president of the US is the only public servant hired (elected) by the entire populace. How can we accept that this servant is ignoring and in so many ways opposing our will, requirements and wishes?

Our elected leaders are becoming our executioners in the indirect fashion in that they are ignoring our healthy policy menu and cooking up their own dishes (policies) that endanger and kill us. Yet, their role as potential executioners has become more literal and direct than the public servant cook image suggests.

With president Obama’s demonstrating total disregard for the constitution by signing into law the ability for the president of the US to imprison american citizens indefintely without trial, and execute anyone (even citizens) due to his personal assessment that they are a danger to the state, we now live in a country that has legalized tyranny. The president now has as much legal power as any ruthless king or tyrant has ever had.

While this may not be a new thing for most nations, who have had kings and tyrants imprison and execute perceived threats to the state, it is new for the US. Most nations have outgrown such savagery and realized that this power is inevitably abused with utlimately many people being killed due to only their words, principles, or a resistance to implement and support power gone awry.

This is not to say that the US’s history in regard to the abuse of power is free from blemish. We’ve had our witch hunts literally and figuratively in which people have been imprisoned and executed unjustly. Yet, in almost every case there still was due process such as a trial even if the trial were a farce.

In our country’s recent history with the Red Scare of the 50’s, the maltreatment of the Japanese/American citizens during wartime, and some of our anti-Muslim actions of today we do demonstate our baser natures. Yet, in these examples, for the most part, people were imprisoned or their careers ruined through the legal process or a form of mob rule.

What is important to realize is that this is the first time in history in which we have bestowed upon an individual the power to violate the constitution, due process, and the rights of the individual which are the very basis of the republic. I can only think of one other example in our nation’s history in which one individual was given by the community the right to execute citizens without a trial or official charges due to that person being perceived as a dangerous threat.

The executioner I’m thinking of is The Grand Wizard of the KKK. Maybe, I’m wrong, but this is the only example I can think of where someone is sanctioned by the community to make a unilateral decision to execute an individual without a need for trial or formal charges being addressed. The Grand Wizard was able to make the determination that a person (usually black) was a danger or threat to our way of life and therefore worthy of being executed.

I am not equating our president’s new powers with the value system of a KKK Grand Wizard, I am only stating that this is the closest form of total power functioning outside the law that even a portion of us have sanctioned or allowed to exist. What would have happened if this power of the president were available during the Red Scare, the 60’s demonstrations, civil and womens rights, women’s suffrage, many workers rights movements, and any number of other social movements which were deemed as a threat to our nation and our way of life by some of our leaders. We know that many of our presidents have had public enemy lists which have included outspoken celebrities, artists, writers, political activists, or ordinary citizens who supported ideas that the president found offensive or dangerous. Individuals such as John Lennon, Marin Luther King, Mohammad Ali, Charlie Chaplin, Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky and Jane Addams would have made many presidents lists of people who were public enemies, threats to the state, or terrorists.

The list of dangerous people to the state has always included a number of people on the forefront of social change and/or who are questioning power and the status quo. Some of the darkest moments of the history of many nations involved royalty and leaders who have imprisoned and executed people based on such a list.

There are many reports out that Obama is adding to his “kill list” on an almost daily basis. The very thought of any president being able to act on this list without any accountability or checks and balances is frightening indeed.

Neither candidate is opposed to this new law of imperial power, so no matter who you vote for today you will be electing a man of unilateral power who can execute or imprison anyone that they find distasteful. We aren’t so much electing a president of a representative democracy as a grand wizard of a hate and fear dominated community.

Jim Guido

Government and Politics and Social Issues26 Oct 2012 06:06 pm

I’ve been amazed at how often I hear it said in the corporate media that this election is the most important choice in our nation’s history. This type of hyperbole seems way over the top especially when you consider how incredibly similar the policies of Romney and Obama are. While they may have distinct images their parties might take a microscopic analysis to find any significant differences in their goals and methods.

I can not recall any incumbent who has abandoned, neglected and abused his voter base and platform as much as Obama has. His actions in office have been stunning in their blatant support of the military/industrial complex, the 1%, and the financial industry. You add on to this his stripping of personal rights, privacy and civil liberties as he expands the powers of the executive branch way beyond any previous president.

Obama seems quite confident that his voter base will excuse or ignore his actual policies and vote for him because of his personality and that his opponent is the poster boy for the 99%’s perception of the 1%.

We have become a nation of righteous military zealots who believe that might makes right and that any nation who even mildly differs from us is evil and deserving of sanctions, torture, forced regime change, stealth attack, and annihilation. We now have a president who can decide to imprision any person indefinitely without any proof of guilt or even of a specific accusation. Yet, these imperial powers don’t end there. The president now can have any person executed without trial, permissoin from congress, or legal recourse if the president labels them as a terrorist or a threat to the state.

Romney and the Republican party try to paint Obama as being soft, a socialist, and other stereoypic terms reserved for the most leftist liberals. If this is soft, I’d hate to see what a real hawk looks like. There was a brief moment in the campaign where the Republicans made a specific accusation that Obama was too soft on immigration. Well a quick look at Obama’s actual record regarding deportation, the forced splitting of immigrant families, etc. made it obvious that it was better to keep the accusations vague in order to not reveal Obama’s ultra conservative policies.

Romney’s attacks on Obamacare likewise had to be vague and eventually die out since both of their medical plans were written by the same people and were all but identical.

The truth of the matter is that this election is historically important to see if the perceptual managers have succeeded in making this seem like a real choice between radically opposed idealogies. The perceptual managers want to know if they can help voters ignore the reality of four years of policies and actions opposed to their interests and still vote for a man based on perceptual and blatant dishonesty.

With the increased knowledge of the fact that the presidential debates are highly scripted and controlled by both candidates, it becomes the perfect challenge for the perceptual managers to see if they can still get people to take the election process seriously. This is like getting people to believe in the wizard of oz after the curtain has been pulled back. And from my seat in the arena it seems like they are succeeding.

In the debates even the candidates had a hard time hiding and in fact often admitting the similarity of their viewpoints regarding foreign policy (they love war), economics (business friendly, plan on dismantling social security, etc.), justice (keep putting more in jail but provide complete amnesty for white collar criminals), ethics (expand sanctions, drones, torture, and ignore/violate all international law) an the endless war of terror and generally avoid any mention or tangible discussion regarding poverty, the national debt, automation, military expenditures, personal rights, and need for increased transparency of government, financail and corporate entities.

Voting in this election is admitting you’re willing to cast a ballot for candidates whose major policies are more often than not diametrically opposed to your own. Poll after poll show that significant percentages of Americans are opposed to the policies and actions of our government in everything from the economy, to military engagement, to domestic affairs. Neither party includes in their platform or their talking points the view or the priorities of the public at large.

The public voice is being ignored and we are again being asked to go further and further down the road of voting for the lesser evil. A non vote here may be the most honest, honorable and courageous thing to do this election.

The perceptual managers want to know how far they can take this, and how much loyalty they can muster from a voter base being abused, deceived and manipulated. A non vote is letting them know that you are not buying it any more, and maybe that you are not going to tolerate the game as it is. At some point in time it would be nice if we took a stand and said we are tired of the deteriorization of our rights, freedoms, choices, quality of life and standard of living.

Maybe you will be like me and say, that I am a voter in search of a real candidate. Someone who represents some of my views and cares about people as much as I do.

I refuse to be bullied and guilted into fearing and hating everyone who does not agree with the imperialistic actions of a nation which more often embarasses or morally disgusts me rather than make me proud.

In the sixties it became common to ask “what if they gave a war and nobody came?” Maybe today the question could be “what if they gave an election and nobody voted?”

A vote in this election is vote of confidence in the con men. It is saying we no longer care what our nation is doing to us or to the rest of the world. It is saying “come on take all my money, my freedom and my dignity, I can take it.” I’m not so sure you can take it, but I’m pretty confident they will.

Jim Guido

PS I forgot to mention another little election tid bit which found its way into the news and is indicative of how far our media and democratic pricniples have fallen, and that is that former president Jimmy Carter is on record as saying that the US election process is corrupt and inefficient. He had earlier praised the Venezuelan election and ballot counting process as being state of the art and exemplary. This is the same Venezuela that the US corporate press and our government tried to portray as corrupt during their recent election of Chavez who was also described as a communist and a dictator rather than the elected leader of a conscientious democracy.

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