“Sister Morphine,” Tell Me What You Poll, I’m So Tired of Thinking

The days preceding the June 7 Democratic Primaries were radioactive with energy from both of the campaign staffs.

Then A. P. and Twitter sauntered–or did it nobly step up and simply announce their journocorp propaganda–(I still can’t understand how Absentee Ballots in California are counted and regularly released to the media.) Will there ever, in this pretense of a democracy (no Constitutional right to vote: States control) be an election where polls will be silenced, where early results will be prohibited, and–god forbid–people will have to do their own thinking and feeling and make up their own minds without deciding which popularity group they do or don’t want to join? “This” is democracy? Was this some monster which was created by abhorrent machinations of elites to further treat the people as if some school of fish they were managing?

US Crisis Turns to Making “Big Sausage”…in the Back Room

In a repeat performance of Radical Republican Brinkmanship, the House refused to pass a budget by midnight, October 1, 2013, and so the process of shutting down most of the U.S. federal government began. Allegedly, Republican House leaders and other radical Republican factions claimed that they were standing fast against ObamaCare, claiming that the American people did not want it, and it was being forced upon them. The House Republicans demanded a one-year delay of implementation of the Affordable Care Act in return for passing a budget. The Senate and President Obama said no. Instead, the Senate passed their own version of the House budget legislation and sent it back to the House.

President Obama gave a lengthy statement from the Press Room at 5:00 PM Monday, speaking in a very calm and undramatic manner, laying out the plain facts as he saw them. While I have not often been pleased about how President Obama has addressed various issues or with the high tone of many of his major speeches, I made a point to watch the video of his statement and I believe he hit all of the major issues and did it in a manner of calmness that lent an air of competence, clear understanding and determination.

I immediately noted one significant point the president made clear almost at the very beginning of his statement: “With regard to operations that will continue:  If you’re on Social Security, you will keep receiving your checks.  If you’re on Medicare, your doctor will still see you.  Everyone’s mail will still be delivered.  And government operations related to national security or public safety will go on.”

These issues have always seemed to find their way into some obscure part of newspaper articles whenever these federal budget shutdown issues are pending. It’s as if the major media somehow insist that the complexity of the political drama be given first billing and the needs of the People can be discussed later or somewhere else.

So, I was particularly interested to see how President Obama would manage this issue of the People’s needs, and I believe he responded immediately and with simple clarity.

Now, today, October 2, 2013, the president has called the leaders of Congress to a meeting at the White House in an attempt to resolve the budget crisis.

In other words, the members of the Washington Establishment are preparing for the next act of Kabuki drama.

I suggest that it may be important to note that any president still retaining his faculties would know, given the history of the last few years, that a budget crisis was indeed looming on the great stage of Washington, and as a responsible leader he would need to make sure that he could be seen preparing–if not the very first act–an early and significant act in the requisite Kabuki.

This may have begun on September 15, 2013, as reported in the New York Times, An Unusual Public Battle Over an Energy Nomination, by Matthew L. Wald. The Senate Energy Committee was planning a hearing on Tuesday regarding the president’s nomination of Ronald J. Binz to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This was the kind of action which immediately calls forth a whole trainload of coal industry objections and they were true to form. Why the Times thought to headline this event with the word unusual must be some form of intended irony. No?

Soon after, articles began appearing in the Times announcing U.S. Revives Aid Program for Clean Energy, Administration Presses Ahead With Limits on Emissions From Power Plants, and Administration to Press Ahead With Carbon Limits.

Timing is essential in all human endeavors and even more so when much is at stake.

So, now the stage is set. Has the administration laid forth some tasty bait for bargaining to throw into this most necessary Great Sausage of a Deal? Will there be some announcement of changes in the expected new Limits on Emissions From Power Plants?

We can only wait and see, but anyone who reads anything about our Best-Government-That-Money-Can-Buy (and damn the general Welfare in our Constitution’s Preamble) must surely be prepared for some tasty deal to be delivered on a silver tray, fresh from the West Wing and halls of our Capitol.

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Responsibility?

The New York Times reported in a February 22, 2013 article, Mindful of Bubbles in a Boom for Deals, by James B. Stewart, that according to Thomson Reuters, in the first two months of 2013, there have been more than a thousand mergers and acquisitions, valued at more than $162 billion, which is more than twice the increase over the same period in 2012. At this current rate of mergers and buyouts, the total for 2013 could be more than $2 trillion, which will greatly surpass the $1.57 trillion in 2007, before the financial crisis spread across the world.

The last few years have witnessed increasing reports of record levels of corporate profits, while layoffs and unemployment increase, leaving citizens and governments virtually powerless to institute any substantial changes, with most governments also unwilling to even attempt to institute changes to improve the lives and income of working people, the 99%.

Yet, our various media sources, politicians, and scholars continuously pump out reports of how so many economic, social, and environmental conditions continue to deteriorate, heightening the sense of crisis, fear, and powerlessness in the hearts and minds of so many billions of people. That is, if those billions of people are actively paying attention rather than attempting to seek some balm of escapism from their feelings of powerlessness, or even shame.

Responsibility?

How can we effectively and morally discuss the issues of responsibility for these gargantuan challenges we are all confronted with, in terms of the average citizen worker and consumer?

I cannot find within myself any moral right to suggest that unless everyone does at least something to begin to turn back this tsunamic tide of decline in our quality of life that they are irresponsible: I suggest that, whether considered consciously or not, each person has the unquestionable right to live their own life as they must, as long as they are not directly responsible for any damage to anyone else’s life and limb. That said, then how can we effectively discuss the issue of responsibility, a subject which is paramount to any relational, social, or political condition?

I suggest that we each consider if there is not, in fact, some minimal efforts we can make to both improve the potential of our own lives and the lives of most people who share this planet with us: Each hand lifting water at the edge of the ocean could create, if not literally, then at least figuratively, a tsunami of change which could be seen and felt by most who cared to look. What change could this be, what would it look like? As for responsibility, it would not actually require all of us to be responsible for that effort, for that commitment to change, only a tipping point of a few million, but those few million acting in some sense of a chorus of unity, a chorus of recognized and committed responsibility, freely chosen and freely given in a sacred and compassionate act of sharing.

It is really quite simple, but not easy: The United States represents the most powerful economic and political force among all the nations of this world, and historically presents itself as the model of democracy and human rights.

However, much of that presentation is a great deception, a deeply embedded lie, arising for the most part out of our own willingness to be decieved, lest we risk the pain of coming face to face with how our own culture and government actually places very little value on our individual lives, and has never actually attempted to create a social and legal structure to provide for the general welfare, in grave contradiction to what the Preamble of our Constitution claims.

How much unity of voice would actually be required to change our social and legal structure, how much expenditure of energy would we have to invest in order to turn this great battleship of our country around and begin to change our system, to bring forth “a new nation, conceived in liberty for all”? I suggest that if some few million of us only spent five minutes a week for some six or seven months engaged in the same general conversation about the proposal on this site for a set of major Constitutional amendments, then we would witness the “tsunami” of potential change happening right before our eyes and within our hearts: We just have to agree and commit to this singular, united effort, and consistently devote a minimum of five minutes a week, discussing this proposal with our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

At the same time, we must be ever vigilant about becoming invested in efforts for social and political changes which only address symptoms of what ails our nation and our world, rather than what is really missing from our fundamental social and political structures. We can too easily be drawn into actions which might make us feel better about ourselves and our sense of commitment, but will not actually bring about the fundamental kinds of changes which will generate new roots sprouting with ever-lasting green shoots.

As I said, “it is really quite simple, but not easy.” And the world has never witnessed such a small but united and powerful commitment. We just have to do it. Five minutes a week for some six or seven months. Do you have a place in your heart to commit to that few minutes a week?

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Security of Systems and Intelligence Blocked by Corporations Until They are Given Control

As the New York Times continues to report, now in its February 12, 2013 article Obama Order Gives Firms Cyberthreat Information, the president’s executive order is virtually meaningless because it does not include authorization for minimum standards for protecting critical infrastructure, because such authorization requires Congressional approval and that approval has been continuously blocked by Senator John McCain and other senators, acting as the voice of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Since 9/11, private corporations have gained increasing yearly profits of many billions of dollars as government sought security and intelligence assistance from private industry, after large numbers of skilled intelligence analysts and operatives left government employ, lured by huge salary increases within the growing expansion of security and intelligence divisions of major multinational corporations, explicitly encouraging the evolution of the increasing control of our national security by private corporations, corporations whose loyalty is fundamentally to profits and shareholders, while at the same time, many of these corporations also serve other foreign nations.

Once this public-private relationship acquired a critical level of competition for control with both other corporations and Congress, Congressional oversight became increasingly blocked as exemplified by the lack of the yearly Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2005 through 2009. Only when Congress relented in its demands for significant oversight of most of the intelligence and security programs which we had allowed to evolve, directed by private corporations, were the annual passages of Intelligence Authorization Acts allowed to resume: The People’s voice and participation were once again pushed further into the depths of irrelevance and incapacity, increasing the power, year by year, of the corporate aristocracy.

However, the New York Times continues to promote the illusion of journalistic oversight with the use of Orwell’s double-speak as it allows private security executive Dale Peterson, founder of Digital Bond, to appear as the apparent voice of reason and incredulity of the government’s lack of leadership. “The executive order is about information sharing – it does not even begin to address the real problem, which is that these systems are completely insecure,” they quote Peterson. Peterson continues, “I’m amazed that 11 ½ years after 9/11, the government hasn’t even had the courage to say, ‘You need to replace this insecure equipment.’ If you get on these systems, they have no security and you can do whatever you want.”

And, unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening. The New York Times, as if dramatically wringing their hands in frustration, concludes by informing us that “some 198 attacks on the nation’s critical infrastructure systems were reported to the agency [Department of Homeland Security] last year, a 52 percent increase from the number of reported attacks in 2012.”

So, rather than Al Qaeda holding the U.S. and The People’s security hostage, we have evolved to finally allow virtual total control to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its aristocratic members, the multinational corporate principalities.

Hope looms only when the voice of The People will rise to be heard in a Congress created by substantive Constitutional amendments empowering The People with a Constitutional right to vote and a Congress created by Constitutional amendments to promote a real representative republic of The People, instead of the continuation of The Royal Reign, representing our Aristocracy’s Money.

Until then, The People’s “Voice” will continued to be buried in the missing paragraphs of our major media, such as the New York Times, paradoxically one of the media sources we continue to be helplessly dependent upon.

Addendum: February 16, 2013

Spies for Hire, by Tim Shorrock, is the fundamental source to begin reading about this modern public-private partnership which promoted the evolution of the private intelligence and surveillance industry in the United States.

Top Secret America, a Washington Post project reported by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, brings much of the material originally developed by Tim Shorrock—but not credited to him by Priest and Arkin, unfortunately—up to date, revealing the depth and breadth of the private intelligence-surveillance industry which continues to grow within the United States, supported by our federal government as a helpless addict would support his dealer.

Priest and Arkin’s Washington Post series was then developed into a book, and a PBS Frontline program.

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Corporations Will Eventually Wake Up and Support Workers

Ultimately, it is possible if not even likely that the corporate world led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its capitalist driven, profit-valued fundamentalism, will begin to support the more liberal and humanist value of supporting employees by providing better income and benefits and shorter working hours because it is the most logical direction to take, given the corporation’s fundamental value of profits:

Profits and their increase eventually require more consumers and it is ultimately only with the cooperation and direction of corporate policies improving employee income and working conditions that steady growth in first world consumption can occur. How long this revisionism will take to manifest, remains to be seen. Many, if not most corporations will likely continue on their current path of converting the impoverished of the third and second world into lower-paid new consumers, and until that approach begins to show diminishing returns, combined with any increase in loud and outraged voices in the U.S. and other first world nations, the impetus of the status quo will almost certainly continue. In addition, there will remain the inherent contradiction about how this ultimate eventuality of the increase of billions of new consumers and the increase of consumption of the current consumers can also be reconciled with a sustainable world. However, only the most myopic reactionaries could fail to foresee that this redirection of multinational corporate policy would achieve the greatest implementation of double-speak since Orwell first coined the term. Endless television, print, and internet advertisements would make this religious conversion of corporate philosophy into the greatest modern body of heroes ever envisioned, doubtlessly followed blindly by a mass of all-too-willing consumers desperately in need of some new heroes to finally fulfill their faith in the normative world and its illusory, but compelling promises.

Yet, a truly sustainable world, a world committed to sustainable economics instead of profits, can only be achieved by the greatest commitment to cooperation of a vast number of citizen constituents. In order to achieve that level of cooperation, citizens must build, by a virtual non-violent revolution, a real representative republic, which can only be achieved by significant Constitutional amendments. Anything less is simply adding fodder to a faith in a disastrous and increasingly deadly illusion.

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Alice, Worried About Indefinite Detention

Mash Gessen in her NY Times Latitude blog of October 29, reports on the severe oppression of free speech in Russia and the horrible prison conditions experienced by those women, as well as further developments in the normal day-to-day repression of speech and political freedom in the Russian “democracy.” Gessen is apparently able to maintain her freedom to write as she does because of her dual citizenship in Russia and the United States, which affords her—and us some special benefit.

Indefinite detention is a reality in the U.S. also, a reality we would have thought impossible two or three decades ago, but now it is “home” for us as well, allowing us to join a long list of undistinguished far-flung nations, but with our own special additional banner of freedom and “peace” which we have maintained by being perpetually at war, somewhere in the world.

We are also experiencing a strange war of words over this potential for U.S. citizens to experience indefinite military detention. Hedges, et al, v. Obama, is a case brought by journalists concerned for their freedom if, in the course of their research, they have contact with people deemed to be certified enemies of the U.S. (Hedges v. Obama, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-cv-331, and Hedges v. Obama, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-3176) This case, born out of clauses beginning in the 2012 NDAA, continues, apparently, to live in some never-never-land, some illusory reality turned upside down so that only Alice can apparently see it. Yet the Republican led House Armed Services Committee has seen fit to muster a loud defense against our illusory fears.

However, Alice (and the man-behind-the-curtain) seem to have their defenders, not the least of whom is Jimmy Carter in his June 24, 2012 NY Times Op-Ed, “A Cruel and Unusual Record,” an almost lonesome voice among official Democrats gone mute in their defense of a law President Obama says that he would never use. And, apparently the potential reality of our concerns may only be observed at the Federal District level—maybe it’s something like the difference between Newtonian gravitational effects and Relativistic gravitational effects—as the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “On its face, the statute does not affect the existing rights of United States citizens or other individuals arrested in the United States,” ordering the emergency freeze of District Judge Katherine Forrest’s May 16, 2012 injunction (she apparently saw something grave somewhere) against section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA to continue until an expedited full hearing near the end of this year, or early in 2013. Yet, it remains to be asked, if this legal power for the military to detain U.S. citizens, in fact, does not exist, then why did President Obama, in his signing statement have to make a point of telling us he would never use it: “I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”? Curiouser and curiouser.

The oppression of free speech and the inhumane prison conditions in Russia are disturbing, but then we, the leaders of the “free world” have the highest per capita prison population on the planet (2003 UN data, 2008 European Commission data). Is it that we’re doing something so right (can you hear that Paul Simon song?) to be so successful in giving birth to and rounding up our ever expanding cult of criminals? Surely a question worthy of any Alice lost in any land wherever. Or, is it now, “whatever”?

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Voting Is Becoming More Difficult

In today’s New York Times, “Getting to Vote Is Getting Harder,” Bill Marsh reports that “at least 180 proposed laws tightening voting rules” have been submitted in various state legislatures. Fortunately for the American voter, only a small number of them have survived challenges in our federal courts.

However, what should be apparent to any concerned citizen is that this battle for and against voter participation will continue indefinitely, until we pass and ratify a Constitutional amendment giving us a Constitutional right to vote.

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