Category Archives: Politics

We emailed Congress but lost on the TPP (again). Let’s try something different.

Summary: Each year we send 200+ million letters to Congress. What does Congress do with them? What’s the result? Is there a better way to help guide the Republic? Repeated failures show the answers, and point the way to a better future.  (1st of 2 posts today}

“Man is by nature a political animal.”
— From Aristotle’s Politics.

Politics of Change

Contents

  1. We’re weak because we’re lone rangers
  2. What happens to your letters, calls,
    …..and emails to Congress?
  3. A path to real power
  4. For More Information.

(1)  We’re weak because we’re lone wolves

The Obama/GOP victory — passing the still-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership — marked yet another defeat for the New Left model of information overload plus individual action. Websites such as Naked Capitalism (imo best of the breed; I read it daily) provided a flood of information about the TPP and urged their now-informed readers to call or write their representatives. This model of political activism is defective, making yet another defeat for the Left almost guaranteed.

Left and Right share the American model of empowered individualism which has taken a deep hold in the minds of the outer party (the managers and professions of America). We become informed, then like John Galt or Bruce Wayne, take decisive action. We feel involved and engaged, although disappointed by the inevitable defeats.

It’s a daft model. Even the 1% understand the need for collective action. They’ve spent decades building organizations to convert their money into political influence, while they recruited, trained, and employed talented people (as shown by the bios in the SHAME Project, creating the equivalent of Jesuits for the 1%).

The people of America lack the wealth of the 1%; our greater numbers make organizational structure even more important than for the 1%. Yet increasingly we see ourselves as lone rangers, increasingly hostile to leadership — as shown by the Occupy and Tea Party movements). This makes us weak.

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The 1% are changing America. It’s our move.

Summary: The moment approaches when every American sees that the 1% are taking it away. Then we each make a choice to go with the flow or resist. Here are a few events that show this time is close. I’ve predicted the events leading to this point, but have no idea how we’ll react. Much depends on our choice.

“An experience of profound contempt is necessary in order to grasp our situation, and our capacity for contempt is vanishing.”
— From Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, chapter on “Values” (1987).

Don't Tread on Me

We’re in the pursuit phase of our battle with the 1%, the quiet coup. Decades of quiet organizing and slow progress (see here & here) — then Reagan began their advance that continues to this day, inexorably accelerating. After breaking down the old order (e.g., unions, campaign finance limits, New Deal era limits on banks) we see them building a New America: dismantling the public-financed colleges (see here and here), shifting the tax burden from the rich to the middle class, and many other changes to core features of America.

The obvious moment of truth will come when events force us to see the systematic nation of these changes. Will we rise to the challenge, or look in the mirror and see cowards? That time approaches. Soon we’ll learn the answer.

(1)  Former NSA & CIA Director Hayden mocks us

This is almost too good to be true. Former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden spoke to America’s inner party at the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Conference.

If somebody would come up to me and say “Look, Hayden, here’s the thing: This Snowden thing is going to be a nightmare for you guys for about two years. And when we get all done with it, what you’re going to be required to do is that little 215 program about American telephony metadata — and by the way, you can still have access to it, but you got to go to the court and get access to it from the companies, rather than keep it to yourself” — I go: “And this is it after two years? Cool!”

He was speaking the truth. We deserve to be mocked The USA Freedom Act was mostly cosmetic reform (the NYT agrees). Two years ago I predicted our pitiful response to Snowden’s revelations.

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Jeb Bush speaks to us about climate change. Is he a denier?

Summary:  American political campaigns are the longest and most expensive in the world, but consist largely of both sides kicking sand into our eyes. The result leaves us less informed and more divided, and gives the victor no mandate. Campaign 2016 has begun. The reaction to Jeb Bush’s remarks about climate shows that we’ve learned nothing from the spectacle of past campaigns.

Jeb Bush logo

Contents

  1. Jeb Bush talks about the climate. The Left smears.
  2. What do climate scientists say?
  3. What does the American public say?
  4. Do we need more innovation?
  5. For More Information.

See tomorrow’s post, where eminent climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr. answering your questions about climate models.

(1) Jeb Bush talks about the climate. The Left smears.

The Left warms up for the 2016 election with smears to arouse the dwindling faithful…

Two stories are the most often cited to support these statements. Neither remotely justifies them. First there is this…

“It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.” {Fox News, August 2011}

And this, more recently…

“The climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you. … It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Bush said that climate change should be just “part of, a small part of prioritization of our foreign policy.” He suggested that the United States should encourage countries that have higher carbon emissions rates to reduce them. “We’ve had a pretty significant decrease and we’ll continue on, not because of Barack Obama, but because of the energy revolution.” He credited hydraulic fracking, horizontal drilling and an increased use of natural gas for helping cut American carbon emissions.

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Dueling remarks about the Pope & the climate from Rush & Jeb! We can learn from both.

Summary: Two voices on the Right illustrate vital aspects of our largely dysfunctional political system, bad news and good news about the climate wars (and the Pope). We can learn from the former and gain inspiration from the latter.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”

— From the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I report.

Unicorn politics

We can do it.

Author Marc A. Cirigliano (see his books) tweeted today about two interesting articles by conservatives. Rush shows us why climate change has become yet another example of dysfunctional US public policy, locked in a futile debate — and religion so often just a prop used by both sides. I am no fan of Jeb Bush, but yesterday he said some sensible things about climate change and the Pope. If we put aside our ideological blinders, both Left and Right can learn from these two men.

Rush shows us the problem

Transcript of the Rush Limbaugh show: “The Pope’s Leaked Marxist Climate Rant“, 16 June.

“Meanwhile, we’re in a ten-year cooling period! There hasn’t been any warming. The whole thing is a hoax, and we’ve got this leak of a papal encyclica on the “fact” that global warming is man-made. It’s man-caused and we have almost a religious commandment here to deal with it. I mean, it’s just right out of the Democrat Party.”

Years ago I asked Michael Cohen if there were people on the stage of America who didn’t believe in global warming. Rush proves Cohen correct and me wrong about this (again). But if we listen closely, he makes some valid points.

First, he makes the obvious point about the hypocrisy of the Left suddenly believing the Pope is a guide to the good and the true. Are they going to follow his teachings on homosexuality, the role of women, the use of birth control and abortion? Probably not.

Second, later in the program Rush points to actual science — and demonstrates how it is often lost in the political conflict that’s rendered US public policy so dysfunctional (except in matters of direct interest to the 1% or the Deep State).

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The Barons of England warn us not to throw away what they gained in Magna Carta

Summary: 800 years ago on a field at Runnymede the Barons of England took a large step for humanity. The consequences of their actions still echo today. Now we’re losing what they won for us. On this anniversary recognition of that sad fact can alarm and inspire us.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
— Written by Benjamin Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its “Reply to the Governor” (11 November 1755).

King John signing Magna Carta

If only we were so bold and strong.

Our elites greet the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (the Great Charter) with “no big deal; move along.” A New York Times op-ed by Tom Ginsburg tells us to “Stop Revering Magna Carta“,, He’s a professor of international law & political science at U Chicago. Law professors are often among the leaders of the movement against our liberty.

The Wall Street Journal of course bats for the anti-liberty teams, with the news headline “Magna Carta Celebrations Reignite Legacy Debate: some question the importance of the document“. Its editors live for the day they can run that headline for the Bill of Rights.

The Economist misleadingly says “The great majority of its provisions have been repealed: of the original charter’s 63 chapters only three — one confirming the freedom of the church, one confirming the liberties of the City of London and the crucial chapter 39 — remain on Britain’s statute book” (except that many of the other provisions remain codified in laws expanding and deepening MC’s provisions).

These blasé sophisticates misunderstand the significance of Magna Carta. It matters little that many of its provisions are meaningless or repugnant to us, that King John repudiated it, or that it was often forgotten for generations (then rediscovered).  Runnymede on 15 June 1215 was a milestone on the long road paved with “blood, sweat, and tears”. The meeting at Philadelphia in 1787 laid another milestone, one now being lost.

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Becoming better informed won’t help. Here’s a small easy step towards political change.

Summary:  You can make a difference by taking small steps towards political reform for America. In a few hundred words this post takes you to a conclusions that might change how you see US politics. I believe you will find it worth the journey.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

American Reform Party logo

Pouring more water on a rock does not make it wetter.
— Ancient aphorism.

A new paper in 2006 built on a long series of previous social science research, giving us a powerful insight about the origin of our dysfunctional politics: “It Feels Like We’re Thinking: The Rationalizing Voter and Electoral Democracy” by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels (Professors of Politics, Princeton) — Abstract…

The familiar image of rational electoral choice has voters weighing the competing candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, calculating comparative distances in issue space, and assessing the president’s management of foreign affairs and the national economy. Indeed, once or twice in a lifetime, a national or personal crisis does induce political thought. But most of the time, the voters adopt issue positions, adjust their candidate perceptions, and invent facts to rationalize decisions they have already made.

The implications of this distinction — between genuine thinking and its day-to-day counterfeit — strike at the roots of both positive and normative theories of electoral democracy.

Their conclusions explain an oddity of American politics.

Most of the time, the voters are merely reaffirming their partisan and group identities at the polls. They do not reason very much or very often. What they do is rationalize. Every election, they sound as though they were thinking, and they feel as if they were thinking, as do we all. The unwary scholarly devotee of democratic romanticism is thereby easily misled. But in fact, while the voters may be consistent, and while they may be rational in the thin economic sense of the term, they behave in what Lippmann (“Public Opinion“, 1922) referred to as a pseudo-environment only loosely connected to …

“… the real environment where action eventuates. If the behavior is not a practical act, but what we call roughly thought and emotion, it may be a long time before there is any noticeable break in the texture of the fictitious world. But when the stimulus of the pseudo-fact results in action on things or other people, contradiction soon develops. Then comes the sensation of butting one’s head against a stone wall, of learning by experience, and witnessing Herbert Spencer’s tragedy of the murder of a Beautiful Theory by a Gang of Brutal Facts, the discomfort in short of a maladjustment.”  {Ed. Not Spencer. It was Thomas H. Huxley in “On the Study of Zoology” (1861).}

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Hillary is all but anointed as the nominee, but unpopular. It’s how the system runs without us.

Summary:  Hillary is all but crowned as the Democratic nominee for President, yet her low polls numbers suggest that even a moderately strong Republican candidate could defeat her. The Republicans also appear likely to nominate an unpopular candidate. If so, the 2016 will clearly show how our political system runs without us. Plus, public opinion polls provide a mirror into which we can see ourselves — and as a side-effect this polls reveals our gullibility.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

"Hillary for Oligarchy" poster

How does a Republic work if its citizens remain aloof from it politics? America seems likely to provide a demonstration, as November 2016 seems likely to give us a choice between two unpopular candidates. Unpopular to us, that is. America’s stakeholders, the people who run it while we remain on the sidelines, will love them. Today we’ll look at the anointed Democratic front-runner, to see what the polls reveal about her, about us, and about the state of the Republic.

CNN ORC opinion poll

 

A poll taken May 29 – 31

 

“Do you favorably regard politician X” goes to the bottom line of electoral politics. The results show Hillary as a polarizing figure, with both high unfavorable and small  “no opinion” levels. The current ratings are among her worst ever since Bil Clinton’s election as President.

May 2015 CNN pollMay 2015 CNN poll

Asking about the qualities that lead to a favorably opinion yields similar results, showing that the roots of her unpopularity are broad and deep.

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