President Obama Disappoints, Why the Surprise?

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

495px-Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_1Those who’ve read my comments here through the last two Presidential elections, know that I supported and voted for Barack Obama twice. Yet President Obama has been a disappointment to me throughout his Administration. His continuing support of what I consider extra-Constitutional intelligence gathering is a terrible thing. That Guantanamo Bay is still functioning is a continuing human rights violation. The continued American troop presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan is as disgraceful as the reasons that caused us to be there in the first place. Bradley Manning is an American hero that this country is illegally torturing with this President’s approval. The entire issue of the rising deficit and of a mythical “Fiscal Cliff” is one the President gives credit to, thus making it seem real to the public, while those decrying it merely are using it as a means of destroying America’s already frayed “social safety net”. The escape from criminal prosecution of the Bush Administration for War Crimes time has passed. The financial titans who collapsed our economy with their fraudulent manipulations will not be brought to justice, only become wealthier. The continuance of prosecuting the “War on Drugs” after we’ve seen marvelous public initiatives legalizing marijuana at State Levels, is a cruel hoax that destroys the lives of people in the name of protecting the citizenry. Need I go on to make the point of how disappointing this Administration has been? It would take tens of thousands of more words to do so, but then in this erudite group of those readers of this blog, it would be unnecessary, because so many here could do it on their own and perhaps better than I can.

Where I get confused at times here is in the continuing surprise that is expressed with each new violation of our rights, with each new foreign incursion and with the continued militarization of this country as it “goosesteps” towards the creation of an Empire. I get confused because I fail to understand why people who know better, would think that someone else as President could prevent all of these atrocious occurrences. This confusion is re-enforced by the fact that this blog has continually presented evidence that this country is no longer, if indeed it has been, under the aegis of our beloved Constitution. Leading the evidence presented here was Jonathan Turley’s blog post ”10 Reasons The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free”. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/15/10-reasons-the-u-s-is-no-longer-the-land-of-the-free/  As our esteemed proprietor followed up this post was selected as one of the top ten articles in the Washington Post’s Outlook Section for 2012. At the end of this piece I will give links to my own guest blogs which have also reinforced the idea that we are no longer the country of freedom that our establishment claims we represent. Thus comes my somewhat confused question as to why would we the denizens of this blog think that barring action by the people, that our President, or any other governmental officials could single-highhandedly return us to the ideals of our constitution.

My working for and voting for President Obama had nothing to do with a belief that he could effect anywhere near the change that is needed to make this country free, to level the economic playing field, or finally end our march for world hegemony. I firmly believe that this country is ruled by a Plutocratic Corporatocracy and this has at least been the case since the assassination of JFK. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/03/17/a-real-history-of-the-last-sixty-two-years/

What I wrote about in that guest blog was the JFK murder represented a turning point where the Corporate Military/Industrial Complex assumed control of U.S. foreign affairs and sent the chilling message to all future Presidents that they ought not to interfere with the will of this group in foreign matters. Richard Nixon believed himself to be a foreign policy expert par excellence and demanded to run his own foreign policy and he too was removed from office, albeit less violently, but in my opinion with the same complicity from those who disposed of JFK.  As I wrote succinctly about Richard Nixon in the guest blog linked above:

“Nixon further escalates Viet Nam War. He names Poppy Bush Ambassador to China despite lack of qualification. Nixon/Kissinger cut “Experts” out of Foreign Policy and negotiate détente with China, decried by Defense/CIA/”Experts who are all “Cold Warriors”. “Plumbers” unit formed in White House, members all tied to CIA and Poppy Bush. Amateurishly bungled Watergate Burglary performed by intelligence professionals. Nixon reelected but Watergate becomes big deal. Bob Woodward, with past CIA ties, begins investigation with Carl Bernstein. Woodward gains information from “Deep Throat” that is damning. John Dean, who also has ties to Poppy Bush blabs to Congress. Andrew Jaworski, an old friend of Poppy Bush, becomes Special Prosecutor after Cox fired. Poppy Bush becomes head of Republican Party. Poppy Bush advises Nixon to resign for the good of the Party. Gerald Ford becomes President and surprises Poppy Bush by not naming Poppy Bush Vice President. Ford pardons Nixon before full charges are brought and so many details lost as the investigation stops.”

 I believe the full story is that Nixon overstepped the foreign policy limits of the Presidency, drawn in the sand by JFK’s murder and was removed as punishment. President Obama when he ran in 2008 mad the promise that he would abolish Guantanamo Bay, via Presidential Decree, during his first day in office. I have no reason to doubt he believed this, but I think that after the election when he was being briefed by the Foreign Policy/Military/Intelligence establishment he was given the message as to just how far he could go and today Guantanamo still thrives, we still have troops in Iraq and are still prosecuting a war in Afghanistan. We also see a steady barrage of pressure to attack Iran and intervene in Syria. As we already have done in Libya. Our defense budget is already larger than the defense budgets of all the countries in the rest of the world combined and with all our supposed economic woes nobody with any power dares to question it remaining so high.

Prior to Obama’s 2008 election our economic system was trashed and a hasty bi-partisan coalition backed the moves of our Federal Reserve head, our Treasury Secretary and our putative President to bail out these huge Investment Banks with a blank check. Pro forma efforts at investigation were made, enough details coming out to show that the crisis was the result of their own mismanagement and of indeed outright fraud. Not only were there no major prosecutions, but in fact many responsible for the crisis received even larger bonuses the following years. It’s true that Bernie Madoff was sent to jail for what will be his life, but then Bernie Madoff preyed upon the same class of people who caused the banking crisis. The plain truth is we are powerless when it comes to the Plutocrats of the world and only those who attempt to take from them are the ones who suffer.

While I’ve only scratched the surface above of the President’s impotency in the face of the interlocking power of the Plutocratic class intertwined with the Corporate Military/Industrial Complex, almost all who will read this are already there with their own insights. This devolves into two questions then which I will attempt to answer. The first is of course why did I even bother to support President Obama if I think he lacks the power to change anything substantive?

My answer is simply that I refuse to give up hope that we the people can rise up and make a difference. While I believe we are ruled by a Plutocracy, I also believe that this Plutocracy is not a homogeneous group. There are insatiable egos in play and there is disagreement in how to manage us “the people”. For purposes of ease let me break that up into two groups, although the reality I think is far more diverse. The first group can be called the “let them eat cake” group and they could care less about the lives of us peasants as long as we continue to serve them well. The second group are those that believe in “noblesse oblige” and believe in their power, yet feel that they owe something, though not that much, to the teeming masses yearning to breathe free. Each National election is a reflection between these two theories of social control. In the election past Romney represented the “eat cake” group, while Obama represented the “noblesse oblige” group. Since I refuse to give up hope that we can find a way to overthrow this Plutocracy, for now I must support the “noblesse oblige” group to minimize the effects of the pain being inflicted upon the people.

The second question is what I think can be done to change things. The answer in my mind is so broad that I would have to write a manifesto, which I’m not yet prepared to do. Here then are my ten suggestions for how we can regain our freedom done schematically and in random order.

  1. Organize opposition to both parties from the ground up by forming a third party willing to build over the span of years and not needing the immediate gratification of instant success.
  2. Understand that ideology is the enemy of equitable solutions and that humanity’s ills are those of a psychological rather than political basis.
  3. Do everything in our power to maintain internet freedom, since it has become the only remaining source of information untainted by propaganda (if you look diligently enough).
  4. Educate people as to the reality of their desperate situations.
  5. Educate people about how they have been manipulated by mythology and propaganda.
  6. Stop believing in leaders no matter how attractive and start believing in our own competence.
  7. Protest injustice wherever you encounter it.
  8. Understand that you must convince people of your cause, before you can advance your cause.
  9. Examine your own prejudices and expunge them
  10.  Treat other human beings as you would have yourself treated.

Those are my ten as counter point to the ten ways we are no longer free. What are yours? First though let me give my own “political” views succinctly:

Every human being shall have the right to adequate: Food; Water; Shelter; Clothing; Free Education and the means to find meaningful occupations. They should have freedom of speech, thought and movement. This is what needs to be accomplished for the Human Race to evolve to its full potential. The mechanisms for this should be developed pragmatically, not through political philosophy. The sociopaths, the psychopaths and the narcissists must somehow be segregated from the rest of humanity,  or at least denied meaningful power.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/11/17/democracy-in-america-what-does-it-mean/

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/11/10/selling-out-middle-class-america/

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/10/27/murder-at-kent-state/

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/10/13/manipulated-america-one-theory-of-how-they-control-us/

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/10/06/american-dream-not-american-reality/

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/09/30/portents-of-the-new-feudalism/

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/07/07/mythology-and-the-new-feudalism/

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/03/10/what-motivates-the-1/

145 thoughts on “President Obama Disappoints, Why the Surprise?

  1. Good article Mike. I agree that Obama was the better choice, but not a perfect choice. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a perfect choice anymore. One issue omitted from your list of Nixon screw-ups is the alleged treason of trying to convince the South Vietnam government to boycott the peace meetings with the North in an attempt to scuttle them until he could get into office. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/10/richard-nixon-100-criminal-traitor

  2. That’s why I vote for none of the above….. But Mike, as people will tell you…. He is the lesser of two evils….. How is that so when he is using bush policy’s and expanding on them….

    How about life time presidential protection…. An order signed by Obama which dates back to January 1997….. It only benefits bush and Obama….. Hmmmmm…. The president in 1990 sign a law into effect that reduced it to 10 years effectively 1990…… Hmmmmm

  3. I was a fan of Obama’s when he ran for the senate in Illinois but not so much after that but he was far better than his competition….. Romney. Gingrich, Santorum , Paul, Perry…… If Hillary runs, game over. Christie is the only republican that has half a chance. Maybe in the meantime, Obama and Biden can get something going on gun restrictions. Obama failed to do anything about guns during his first term.

  4. SWM, I am quite similar to you vis a vis the early Obama. I know you have family in Chicago so he was on yours and my radar before he went nationwide. Our disagreements w/ what Obama has done and not done are are also somewhat similar. I have more problems w/ his business acumen.

    I know I can say this to you w/o raising any ire. We went to see ZDT yesterday. We saw it @ the Sundance Theatre in Madison. I don’t think conservatives are even allowed in there!! There were no boos[I thought there would be] and some applause @ the end. The movie was very even handed and my wife, who is more liberal than I, really liked it. This is not an attempt to persuade you. As I said previously, I respect your stance and I believe boycotting is a good tool of protest. The lead actress gave a better performance than Jennifer Lawrence from Silver Linings, who I had picked for the Oscar. A big part of the flick was a woman having to operate in an almost entirely male enviroment. The flick shows how a woman interrogator provides the balance needed. The woman investigator I had working for me was a superb interviewer/interrogator.

  5. Mr. Spindell:

    While I admire your sentiments, I wonder about your 2 votes for Pres. Obama.

    The first vote was obviously optimism (and the fact that Sen. McCain was not much of a choice), but after his first term, we saw that Pres. Obama was just another Bush with even bigger spending habits.

    Look at our deficit. Do we think that any societal improvement is possible when we will face an economy with higher taxes, reduced benefits, inflation, and a debasing currency?

  6. RIP Aaron Swartz. Another freedom fighter destroyed by the Obama Administration. Hounded to death by the Justice Department:

  7. Swarthmore,
    I am with you on the hope that some meaningful progress is made on controlling the unnecessary and dangerous semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines.

  8. “JFK murder represented a turning point where the Corporate Military/Industrial Complex assumed control of U.S. foreign affairs and sent the chilling message to all future Presidents that they ought not to interfere with the will of this group in foreign matters.” (Mike S)

    And I would add … firmly cemented by the assassinations of MLK and RFK. MLK was getting very mouthy about Vietnam and RFK was going to bring the whole house of cards down on their heads. The cabal that accomplished the first coup in Dallas didn’t even bother changing the method of “lone, crazed gunman”. In fact, using the same method was part and parcel of the threat to future nominees.

  9. Assassination Of JFK: Robert F. Kennedy’s Children Speak About Incident In Dallas

    By JAMIE STENGLE 01/12/13

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/12/assassination-of-jfk_n_2463184.html

    “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is convinced that a lone gunman wasn’t solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and said his father believed the Warren Commission report was a “shoddy piece of craftsmanship.”

    “We were kind of lucky because we lost our members of our family when they were involved in a great endeavor,” her brother added. “And that endeavor is to make this country live up to her ideals.””

  10. SwM,

    The more Obama dithers, the deeper grows the anger. However, putting Biden in charge indicates he is serious about tackling the problem.

    I’m all for encouraging that NRA fool, LaPierre, to give more speeches.

  11. Need I go on to make the point of how disappointing this Administration has been?

    Well, while I get the point, I think you should list the worst things first, which is his support for Oil-Qaeda, even in the face of knowledge that was made law over two decades ago:

    “The report’s roots can be traced to the The Global Change Research Act of 1990, which required that a national climate assessment be conducted every four years, with a report issued to the president and Congress. The legislation led to the formation of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, an inter-governmental body involving 13 federal agencies and departments, including the Departments of Commerce, Defense and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, among others.”

    (National Climate Assessment).

  12. “Those are my ten as counter point to the ten ways we are no longer free. What are yours? First though let me give my own “political” views succinctly:

    Every human being shall have the right to adequate: Food; Water; Shelter; Clothing; Free Education and the means to find meaningful occupations. They should have freedom of speech, thought and movement. This is what needs to be accomplished for the Human Race to evolve to its full potential. The mechanisms for this should be developed pragmatically, not through political philosophy. The sociopaths, the psychopaths and the narcissists must somehow be segregated from the rest of humanity, or at least denied meaningful power.”

    Very nice and well said.

  13. Nick, My daughter is trying to talk me into seeing it before she leaves tomorrow but so far I have resisted. :)

  14. Swarthmore mom 1, January 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    … the bullying of Aaron Schwartz. by the federal prosecutor……very sad.
    ====================================
    Aaron was an advocate of our being able to have this conversation on “the innertubes” … which may signal their plans and may not … whether or not he committed suicide himself, or had “government help.”

  15. I, too, gave my vote to B.O., though I wasn’t voting FOR him. He is a torturer and a war criminal. If he was in the docket at Nuremberg, they would string him up for continuing non-defensive wars of aggression.

    I am so saddened to be American; perhaps I should type AmeriKan.

  16. SWM, Went to see Lincoln also this week.Very good. It showed there are no “pure” politicians but purity is not needed to be a great leader. Obama is no Lincoln, no matter how much his people try and sell that.

  17. Swarthmore mom 1, January 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Dredd, I am not going there. No one has suggested that.
    ======================================
    No one here, but there is much talk and it will grow.

    A consequence of a government that should not be trusted but is, or should be but isn’t, as circumstances evolve.

    This blog the place where business as usual “dominates” the struggle to see things as they really are.

    I am always friendly to kids who are trying to figure out why their parents are doing bad things to them and others.

    I get your drift, so you are not invited to that party.

    Still luv ya!

  18. nick spinelli 1, January 12, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    SWM, Went to see Lincoln also this week.Very good. It showed there are no “pure” politicians but purity is not needed to be a great leader. Obama is no Lincoln, no matter how much his people try and sell that.
    ===================================
    If Obama was the best president we have had in a long time, and I do not doubt that, we would still be where we are.

  19. “Mr. Swartz was 26, and his death was due to suicide. His body was found by his girlfriend in his apartment in New York, his uncle, Michael Wolf, said on Saturday. He had apparently hanged himself, Mr. Wolf said. ” (NY Times, link below)

    =======

    Bron posted the following link to the Missouri v. McNeely thread:

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/violetblue/techs-relationship-with-depression-suicide-and-aspergers/904

    My response, with modifications:

    Bron,

    Interesting link. I would add that depression and suicidal ideation do not necessarily lead to suicide. Sometimes they do, but not always.

    Aaron Swartz reportedly hung himself. Maybe in his case it was government-assisted suicide, in the sense that the DOJ was rather relentless in its pursuit of him and, I gather, insistent about wanting to make the “felon” label stick. He wouldn’t be the first person driven to suicide by “federal bullying.”

    From the NY Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/technology/aaron-swartz-internet-activist-dies-at-26.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&hp

    Mr. Swartz returned the hard drives with 4.8 million documents, and JSTOR declined to pursue the case. But United States attorney Carmen M. Ortiz pressed on, saying that “Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars.”

    (Ms. Ortiz might have added that there are important exceptions to that “rule.” During the S&L crisis, there were thousands of indictments and roughly 1000 people went to jail. Now, we go after people like Aaron Swartz, and let Wall Street types and corrupt bankers skate.)

    It’s interesting to note that “on Wednesday JSTOR announced that it would open its archives for 1,200 journals to free reading by the public on a limited basis.” (NY Times article)

    Very, very sad. A terrible loss…

    Your comment is awaiting mod

  20. Blouise,

    I posted my earlier comment* before seeing yours! ;-)

    (“Assassination Of JFK: Robert F. Kennedy’s Children Speak About Incident In Dallas” * )

  21. Interesting Article. But I am a little confused. Are we more of a Oligarchy than a “Plutocractic Corporatocracy”? Or is Pluto-Corp a fancy term for Oligarchy? You also state that we should ‘return…to the ideas of our constitution.” What time period or era are your referring to? You have to remember that this same constitution stated that African-Americans were 3/5 of a man. This same constitution that wouldn’t allow women and African-Americans the right to vote until the 1960s. The same constitution that allowed people to work 12-16 hour shifts without overtime pay until unions came into power. The same constitution that allowed (and still allows) pollution of our environment since the early 1900s. Did the constitution ever address the Native American? Or did they just kill them off? So, what time period are you referring to? Our constitution has always been for the European (white), wealthy male-giving them the cake-while, only now, giving everyone else only a chance to lick the bowl.

  22. Fantastic article Mike especially in those 10 point steps.

    I agree firmly that a third party is necessary but it is going to take a long time since the two co-powers have crafted the election process to effectively guarantee both of them remain jointly in power.

    But I am a bit more radical in that my view is that last election would have been glorious if all incumbent politicians on the federal level would have lost their jobs and the next election woulld have removed the rest.

    It is common in companies when it has performed poorly and a new ownership comes along to fire all the managers who created a bad situation for the company. The federal elected government has failed the American Citizenry so greatly they should be elected out of office just as swiftly. I know there have been some individuals in office who have been doing the best they can, but when the probablem is so great it is time to clean house for the betterment of the country.

  23. Donald L. Anderson 1, January 12, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I, too, gave my vote to B.O., though I wasn’t voting FOR him. He is a torturer and a war criminal. If he was in the docket at Nuremberg, they would string him up for continuing non-defensive wars of aggression.

    I am so saddened to be American; perhaps I should type AmeriKan.
    ========================================
    chill out bro …

  24. “I like what the blogger Lambert Strether wrote on my Facebook page (in Aaron’s memory, friend me!):

    “Our society should be selecting for the Aaron Swartz’s of this world. Instead, generous and ethical behavior, especially when combined with technical brilliance, turns out to be maladaptive, indeed lethal. If Swartz had been Wall Street’s youngest investment banker, he would be alive today.””

    -Rick Pearlstein from the link supplied by Swarthmore mom

    (Thanks again, Swarthmore mom.)

  25. “Larry Lessig, who worked closely with Aaron for years, disapproves of Aaron’s JSTOR hack. But in the painful aftermath of Aaron’s suicide, Lessig faults the government for pursuing Aaron with such vigor. “[Aaron] is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying,” Lessig writes. “I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you.” Wired

  26. The death of Aaron Schwartz is another “feather” in the cap of a justice department that would rather go after anyone else but the war criminals and the corporate criminals in our country. Who do I blame for this DOJ focus? President Obama.

    It would seem that the people who supported him and elected him are noting more after thoughts to him and those thoughts are not very friendly.

    My deepest sympathies to Mr. Schwartz and his family.

  27. Bullying is the way of government in America. Has been for as long as we can find the history, even some of the history that we find evidence of the hiding of. Bullying is the way the wheels turn.

  28. Nick,

    I went to see Lincoln….. Though it was done well….. It was condensed to the point that history as I’ve learned it was short changed….. Now, if the whole point was the ability to get things done…. Then yes…. But it is my understanding that Lincoln did not want the blacks to remain in the then US…. I may be wrong…. But hey…. History is generational anyways….

  29. AY, Like you. I was a bit dismayed Speilberg chose to focus on basically one aspect, the passage of the 13th Amendment. If I had a choice of a sweeping bio pic covering his whole life or focusing on a key issue, I would pick the latter. However, Speilberg could have expanded the time frame to cover the entire Civil War, including the passage of the 13th Amendment..show Lincoln as a war time president and handling domestic affairs @ the same time. Show more on how his generals and admirals got fed up w/ him often times. That said, who the hell am I to question Speilberg in moviemaking.

  30. I just read the comment. I was out in a sailboat all day with half blind guy. He puts the tiller through my collar and he adjusts the main halyard and jib halyard. We ran over a buoy and it was my fault. So, I am late to chimne in.

    I voted for Obama twice. Twice this year and twice in 2008. Well, blind dogs have their trickes at the ballot box. But I agree with much of the article.
    The torture of Bradley Manning is one war crime that needs to be scrutinized worldwide and the commanding officers prosecuted at the International War Crimes Court.

    Why are we “at war” in Afghanistan? To keep six guys with box cutters from boarding airplanes? The former Soviets who were soldiers in that territory are laughing at us. Here we were paying Muslim Brothers to go there to become anti Soviet rebels and now they are all al qaeda.

    Central to this debacle is the military industrial complex and guys like Romney, Cheney, Bushies, Fox News fair and balanced talking heads.
    It would be good if the Vietnam anti war generation would get off their arses and talk to grandkiddos. The difference between Nam and Afghanistan is in latitude. Changes in latitude, changes in atitude. Obama: Pull out now like your father should have. Make that a bumper sticker.

  31. Statement (partial from family of Aaron:

    “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

    Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.”

  32. Until we get over the Dem’s VS Rep’s nothing will get done….after watching Obama run Bush’s third term, I realized that they are just figureheads and big oil, big banks (& the fed), war contractors, wall st, & a corrupt click in the CIA is actually running the country.

    And I have already switched to the Libertarian Party…. do I agree with all of their platform, of course not….but as you say they are a LOT better than the two (actually one) main choices.

    I used to think Jobs should be #1 priority, but I can see now Corruption needs to be…because until THAT is fixed, nothing else will get done.

  33. Family Of Aaron Swartz Blames MIT, Prosecutors For His Death

    The family of Aaron Swartz, along with his partner, Taren Stinebricker-Kaufmann, have released a statement about his death and announced plans for a funeral on Tuesday, January 15.

    Swartz committed suicide by hanging himself on Friday, according to the statement.

    In the statement, the family blamed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and federal prosecutors, who pressed criminal hacking charges which carried a potential sentence of more than 30 years in jail against Swartz for an incident in which he downloaded a large number of academic papers over MIT’s network, for his death.

    “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy,” they wrote. “It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”

    That echoes a criticism made by Swartz’s friend Larry Lessig, the Harvard University professor and well-known authority on Internet law, who called the government prosecutor in the case a “bully” and said that Swartz had been “driven to the edge” by the government’s aggressive handling of the legal case.

    Here’s the full statement, which was also published on a site the family created to memorialize Aaron, rememberaaronsw.com:

    Our beloved brother, son, friend, and partner Aaron Swartz hanged himself on Friday in his Brooklyn apartment. We are in shock, and have not yet come to terms with his passing.

    Aaron’s insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable—these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter. We’re grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world.

    Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge. He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.

    Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

    Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.

    _____

    Aaron’s funeral will be held on Tuesday, January 15 at Central Avenue Synagogue, 874 Central Avenue, Highland Park, Illinois 60035. Further details, including the specific time, will be posted at http://rememberaaronsw.com, along with announcements about memorial services to be held in other cities in coming weeks.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/Family-Of-Aaron-Swartz-Blames-MIT-Prosecutors-4189406.php#ixzz2HoXx6QrO

  34. The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz

    by Glenn Greenwald
    Saturday 12 January 2013

    “I always found it genuinely inspiring to watch Swartz exude this courage and commitment at such a young age. His death had better prompt some serious examination of the DOJ’s behavior – both in his case and its warped administration of justice generally. But his death will also hopefully strengthen the inspirational effects of thinking about and understanding the extraordinary acts he undertook in his short life.

    This sort of unrestrained prosecutorial abuse is, unfortunately, far from uncommon. It usually destroys people without attention or notice. Let’s hope – and work to ensure that – the attention generated by Swartz’s case prompts some movement toward accountability and reform.”

  35. Looking back at our Presidents I find myself disappointed in many of the ones whom I have put on the high echelon list. George Washington could have crossed the Delaware a little sooner. Abe Lincoln could have issued the Emancipation Proclamation sooner. Truman could have given them more hell. Clinton could have kept his paws to himself. Those are some of my favorites. Obama is unique. He is likeable and smart. And yet we have these wars and human rights offenses that are criminal.

    Free Bradley Manning!

  36. “. . . with the continued militarization of this country as it “goosesteps” towards the creation of an Empire.”

    The creation of Pax Americana is long complete. The sustainment of, or not, is up to us.

  37. You said:

    “Here then are my ten suggestions for how we can regain our freedom done schematically and in random order.

    Organize opposition to both parties from the ground up by forming a third party willing to build over the span of years and not needing the immediate gratification of instant success.
    Understand that ideology is the enemy of equitable solutions and that humanity’s ills are those of a psychological rather than political basis.
    Do everything in our power to maintain internet freedom, since it has become the only remaining source of information untainted by propaganda (if you look diligently enough).
    Educate people as to the reality of their desperate situations.
    Educate people about how they have been manipulated by mythology and propaganda.
    Stop believing in leaders no matter how attractive and start believing in our own competence.
    Protest injustice wherever you encounter it.
    Understand that you must convince people of your cause, before you can advance your cause.
    Examine your own prejudices and expunge them
    Treat other human beings as you would have yourself treated.”

    1. Noble suggestions but literally hundreds of millions of dollars helps to buy election results and, until you change that system dramatically, a 3rd party will be just as subjugated to the embeded vested interests that paid for them as are the current parties. Very obvious I would have thought.

    2. Then 10% of the population would be virtually unable to read what you have written. Another 45% are so dumb and poorly educated they would have great difficulty comprehending much of what you have written even if they were interested and another 20% could, but are apathetic and so they really don’t care that much.

    3. What all the zombies understand really well is what free stuff they can get from Government and that is what influences and can change election results. They love to vote themselves free stuff paid for by others (just like the top end of town) and parties like to offer it to get elected.

  38. The word “surprize” in the title of the topic has its relevance. I was surprized that Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 so effectively. I was not surprized that the “scion” of the “rugged individual” Joseph Kennedy had no effort and no success in those two well needed pieces of legislation. I was surprized that Lyndon Johnson got us sucked so deep into the swamps of Vietnam after Ike and Kennedy had treaded us in. In War the Democrats sometimes follow the footsteps of those tough guy RepubliCons who are owned by Blackwater.

    The topic omits the fact that Obama has removed us from Iraq and is moving us out of Afghanistan. The author wants all things quicker. While we are at it, lets pull our troops out of Europe, Korea and Japan. We have too many of our men and women in the military. Let them learn to be “a man” in some other fashion.

    The author should get over the fact that Romney lost and Obama will be in for another term. Then it will be Biden or Hillary. In four years many of the old fart Republicons will have died off and the new voters are not so stupid as to vote for the likes of Rubio, Jindhal, or Jeb.

  39. “The author should get over the fact that Romney lost and Obama will be in for another term.”

    ConLawDog,

    Just a suggestion, but perhaps your perusal should go further than looking at the title and then making up your own story. Perhaps then you could disagree, or agree with the author with some sense of what is being discussed.

  40. Points:
    1. Organize opposition to both parties from the ground up by forming a third party willing to build over the span of years and not needing the immediate gratification of instant success.

    How, exactly? “Forming a third party” has been advocated since I have been voting, I do not think that will ever happen. There is no plausible mechanism I know of to do this. I will also say I have had epic discourse on this blog advocating for postponed gratification and refusing the strategy of voting for the lesser of two evils or “not wasting your vote,” with little agreement by these erudite readers, including you. There is a fundamental psychological problem with creating a third party, especially if the third party is going to resemble either existing party, because people are not stupid and realize that splitting the vote of the existing party they like, in order to vote for a third party that is bound to lose, is going to elect the greater of two evils (in their mind), so they contribute $5 to the new party but zero votes, and the third party dies.

    2. Understand that ideology is the enemy of equitable solutions and that humanity’s ills are those of a psychological rather than political basis.

    Funny stuff from a guy that rejects anything that does not fit his ideology.

    4. Educate people as to the reality of their desperate situations.

    This has been tried and failed as well. People just do not believe their situation is desperate, OR they do not believe they can do anything about it, because the choice of politicians is severely limited and it has proven impossible to find one that, as you assert, does not cave in and give the Corpocracy what they want, presumably upon penalty of death or disgrace for refusing, like JFK or Nixon. Obama had the best rhetoric EVER, people (including me) believed him, and he turned out to be a liar. Why should we believe some leader of a “third party” will be any better? Once elected we have zero control over them, by law and by design, and it is a mistake to think they will give us what we want in order to get a second term, when they can set themselves for life in a single term.

    5. Educate people about how they have been manipulated by mythology and propaganda.

    Again, people do not believe it, and do not have time to be “educated.” 85% to 95% of this country believes in mythology and propaganda as the way to run their life and relationships. How in the world is this an executable goal?

    6. Stop believing in leaders no matter how attractive and start believing in our own competence.

    That is virtually impossible; it is contrary to human psychology (as I think you well know). I do not know what “believing in our own competence” is supposed to do, we are presented every four years with a choice of precisely two candidates with any chance of winning. I do not get to vote for myself and my own competence.

    7. Protest injustice wherever you encounter it.

    I do not think protest works very well, certainly the Occupy movement has not effected any positive changes of which I am aware. I would recommend, instead of protest, contributing $10 to a fund for prosecution or defense, whichever is on the side of justice.

    8. Understand that you must convince people of your cause, before you can advance your cause.

    Based upon approval ratings of the House and Senate, I believe most people are already convinced there is a problem. Based upon the 2012 election, I believe most people are already firmly rooted in one of two camps, as you do. Converting a Republican to a Democrat is like asking me to grab hold of a redwood and uproot it. Again, I think this advice defies human psychology, if your cause is basically (as expounded at the end of the article) the half-socialist, social-libertarian, regulated-capitalist outcome to which I also subscribe, how do we convince people that is a worthy cause? People convince themselves, if their emotions do not already lie on the side of “we are all in this together,” they won’t be convinced by any rhetoric. Speaking for a moment as an atheist, it is like trying to convince a devout religionist that God does not exist. All the logic, analogies, metaphors and hard real-world evidence one can muster will not convince them. This is because they have a large emotional investment in their belief they cannot bring themselves to abandon. The same is true for ideologies, they do not have to be rational, they have a foundation in a person’s emotional identity, and getting through that is like scratching your way through a concrete wall with a paper clip.

    9. Examine your own prejudices and expunge them.

    Easier said than done. I did it though, in advocating for Ron Paul. Funny how you were unable to overcome your prejudice against him, and then your prejudice against me for not agreeing with your prejudiced view of him.

    10. Treat other human beings as you would have yourself treated.

    The Ayn Rand acolytes truly want everybody to be on their own in an unregulated, zero-tax environment. I have detailed the faults of that system, but they truly want it, for themselves and others, because they mistakenly believe they would somehow be richer for it, and by some magic everybody would be. Are you sure you want to tell them to treat you as they want to be treated?

    The golden rule presumes a uniformity of morality and regard for others that does not exist in reality. Many a religious zealot believes that infidels should be put to death, and sincerely claims they themselves or even their children should be put to death should they ever become an infidel, that such an action could save their soul. If a person believes that their own death is preferable to continuing a life of sin, are you sure you want to tell them to treat you as they would like to be treated?

  41. Mike S,

    You know some folks just like to make it personal…. If you can’t debate on the facts or your argument is subject to different conclusions based on the same data…. Attack the person….. With more hyperbole….

  42. Excellent column, Mike, but since I’m one of the ones not surprised and think the Founder’s ideal of a democratic representative Constitutional republic has fallen to not just a corporatist plutocracy but a fascist corporatist plutocracy, I’m just going to let this play out some more before saying more than that.

  43. Cameron,

    “1. Noble suggestions but literally hundreds of millions of dollars helps to buy election results and, until you change that system dramatically, a 3rd party will be just as subjugated to the embeded vested interests that paid for them as are the current parties. Very obvious I would have thought.”

    I wrote about this one year ago: http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/07/americas-transcendent-issue/

    “2. Then 10% of the population would be virtually unable to read what you have written. Another 45% are so dumb and poorly educated they would have great difficulty comprehending much of what you have written even if they were interested and another 20% could, but are apathetic and so they really don’t care that much.”

    I do not have as much negative opinion of the intelligence of the population as you do. However, this is what I believe is the root cause of the problem you are trying to limn: http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/21/the-authoritarians-a-book-review-and-book/

    “3. What all the zombies understand really well is what free stuff they can get from Government and that is what influences and can change election results. They love to vote themselves free stuff paid for by others (just like the top end of town) and parties like to offer it to get elected.”

    I’m always skeptical about people who would think 75% of the population is illiterate, dumb, uneducated and/or apathetic. That is an attitude that is not borne out by my life experience, rather it has the underlying assumption that its source is somehow on a rarefied intellectual plain and we have enough of those in power already to really screw things up. The people are never as dumb as those with intellectual pretensions would make them out to be. The problem is that most people are struggling to keep their heads above water and so lack the leisure to contemplate their navels.

  44. “Mike S,
    You know some folks just like to make it personal…. If you can’t debate on the facts or your argument is subject to different conclusions based on the same data…. Attack the person….. With more hyperbole….”

    AY,

    How true.

  45. Tony C.,

    If you are watching Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States on Showtime, Mondays @8:00pm, I would be interested in your opinion of the material. I believe tomorrow’s presentation is “Bush and Clinton”.

  46. @tony

    This occurred to me:

    Voting behavior has a minimal impact on policy in large part because it is primarily a means of legitimating the power structure from which both parties derive their influence. The current power structure prevents citizens from effectively lobbying Congress, replaces dignified work with automation, uses higher education to turn students into indentured servants, and provides no viable means to halt the post-911 erosion of civil liberties. Leadership is not a viable means to enact social change because belief in political leadership is itself a tool used to enforce conformity. Conformists don’t bring about social change.

    An alternative to 3rd party voting, which is often denigrated as “throwing your vote away” is to use voting as a means to coordinate the attitudes of the disaffected — that is, to use the existing electoral system for a purpose other than installing an individual in office. Such an alternate use of voting would be to vote for yourself as a write in candidate coupled with the determined advocacy of this same tactic.

    The advantages of such a voting tactic are multi-faceted:

    1. Focuses on individual initiative rather than rely on some external organization for efficacy

    2. If enough people participate, will create a spectacle that the media can’t spin.

    3. Lets disaffected voters know how many others like them are out there as a pre-requisite for more organized behavior

    4. Gives voters the choice to vote for what they believe in rather than against what they fear

    5. Non-violent

    6. Inexpensive

    7. Able to distinguish the angry voting abstainers from the apathetic non-voters

    It is important to the success of such a tactic that participants vote for themselves and not a third-party candidate as a “protest vote.” The objective is to create a numerical anomaly in the election results that neither the media nor the political establishment can spin by creating a disparity between the number of ballots cast and the number of votes leading candidates receive. The purpose is to refuse to legitimize a corrupt system.

    If a prospective participant is afraid of becoming a “spoiler” and tipping the election in favor of “the other side,” then, first and foremost, advocacy of this tactic should be directed towards non-voters who don’t vote for major parties anyway.

    Also, keep in mind another way of interpreting how close our elections have become:

    In 2000, the Florida recount was triggered by statute because less than 0.5% of votes separated Bush from Gore. If one denies that the election was rigged, one must then accept that an election settled by less than the statistical margin of error by definition says nothing about voter preference. An election so close might as well be settled by chance.

    A statistically-significant degree of participation in such an action would be 5% of the popular vote, as this is what is required for federal election matching funds. This could be the youth vote. The purpose is to create a numerical “black hole” that the nation will have to examine, both in terms of voter preferences and with respect to the integrity of the voting system overall.

    If you’re like most voters, then you believe polarization is a problem in contemporary American politics. Voting for Democrats and Republicans will only lead to more polarization, and is not a viable solution. At some point, citizens are going to have to take just a little bit of a risk and change their behavior. Anybody who looks towards the risks taken by protesters in the Arab Spring should consider engaging with this more modest risk.

  47. “The second question is what I think can be done to change things. The answer in my mind is so broad that I would have to write a manifesto, which I’m not yet prepared to do. Here then are my ten suggestions for how we can regain our freedom done schematically and in random order.”

    “Those are my ten as counter point to the ten ways we are no longer free. What are yours?”

    Tony,

    Well you certainly had little use for my ten points, but you failed to respond with your own solutions which I was soliciting. I stated that I wasn’t ready to write a manifesto. Each of the ten points I raised were schematic and there is enough thought behind them that to fully elucidate it would require at least another blog article to fully articulate. I could defend each and every one of your rather tepid and dyspeptic refutations, but truly I think your rant was more a product of your long harbored resentment of the fact that I made light of your support of Ron Paul. As we went round and around again last year you were willing to ignore Mr. Paul’s racism, bigotry, economic insanity and religious fanaticism simply because of his views about foreign wars and torture. I wasn’t willing to be as charitable as you and since his economic policies would directly affect me and many millions of others wasn’t willing to promote that man’s stature any further. My suggestions may well be vapid in your and others eyes, but at least I put them out there, since the alternative you offer seem hopeless. If you would like to give solutions a shot then go ahead, otherwise I’ll not engage is dealing with your dyspepsia further.

    “The golden rule presumes a uniformity of morality and regard for others that does not exist in reality.”

    Too bad your dogmatic atheism prevents you from seeing that the “golden rule”, absent of theology represents the essence of a philosophy of social interaction. From it comes the basis of almost all humanistic philosophies of positive social behavior. It was promulgated first by Confucius (hardly a theocrat), then by The Buddha (another non-theocrat) then by the Hellenism, Judaism and finally Christianity via Jewish Pharisee philosophy. In essence it is not about religion, but you evidently don’t get it. As far as my “dogmatism” goes, what is dogmatic about?:

    “First though let me give my own “political” views succinctly:

    Every human being shall have the right to adequate: Food; Water; Shelter; Clothing; Free Education and the means to find meaningful occupations. They should have freedom of speech, thought and movement. This is what needs to be accomplished for the Human Race to evolve to its full potential. The mechanisms for this should be developed pragmatically, not through political philosophy. The sociopaths, the psychopaths and the narcissists must somehow be segregated from the rest of humanity, or at least denied meaningful power.”

    Tony,

    Even though there is much we agree on you at times can be the most dogged of the regulars in pushing your ideas. Were I willing to go for a comment record for this post then I would continue to engage you since you never know when to quit, but frankly I really was interested in other people’s views on how to change things, not is boosting my own ego by trying to demolish someone.

    In truth the response to this blog in terms of relating to where I was going has mostly been disappointing to me, but some seem to get it. For those who haven’t, my apologies for not making my points clear enough and not elaborating more.

  48. For those who think that our federal politicians take a personal interest in their individual constituents, here is where their loyalties truly are:

  49. @Mike: but you failed to respond with your own solutions which I was soliciting.

    I offered to detail such a solution in the past, you angrily rejected it out of hand without even knowing what it was, as coming from a Ron Paul supporter. Why should I think this time would be any different? You are incapable of treating any suggestion from me on its merits, on the grounds that I supported Ron Paul on some rather narrow Constitutional points and you think that by association he was a racist. Remember that?

  50. @Mike: From [the golden rule] comes the basis of almost all humanistic philosophies of positive social behavior.

    I don’t think so; the golden rule is a misguided formulation of our native tribal instincts, and from THOSE spring the philosophies of positive social behavior. We are evolved to live in tribes, and we are evolved to understand “fair treatment.” The perception of “fairness” is emotional and not even limited to humans; other pack-oriented mammals demonstrably understand it and practice it, without language, without philosophy, and with very limited rational capability. The golden rule promotes a definition of “fairness” that mistakenly, for the sake of brevity, personalizes it.

    We do not seek the golden rule, we seek fair treatment. The fundamental objection of Republicans and Libertarians is they think it is unfair to be coerced by a government; the fundamental objection of liberal progressives is they think it is unfair to be coerced by corporations.

    We all seek relief from unfair treatment, including coercion and exploitation. We just define them differently.

  51. Mike S.,

    Disappointed? Why?

    It has been my experience over the last 50 some years that change comes very slowly when one is dealing with the voting public.

    The trick is to keep the conversation going and allow it to explore every side-path that pops up.

    People have to align ideas to the experience of their culture and there are many, many cultural differences within the boundaries of this nation.

    Look how long it took for women to gain the vote; for slaves to gain full personhood; for children to be barred from the sweatshops.

    This country has always, always been controlled by those who worship money … changing that is a very real culture shock. Make no mistake … that is the change that is afoot and the resistance to that change is mammoth.

  52. May I give a reframe of your #10 golden rule:

    Treat others as THEY would have you treat them, if you choose.

    This means that you don’t assume that they would like to treated as YOU would like to be treated. You actually ask them what they want and then give it to then, if you choose.

  53. “We do not seek the golden rule, we seek fair treatment.”

    You do know what the Golden Rule is, don’t you Tony? It’s a statement of the Ethic of Reciprocity. Philosophically, the entire notion of justice is based upon it. It is inherently both personal and societal in that it is a reciprocal relationship between one’s self and others that involves both sides equally.

  54. @Mike: since the alternative you offer seem hopeless.

    You have no idea what alternative I offer, you misremember our previous conversation: You rejected anything I had to offer sight unseen.

    On the contrary, you offer a solution that I believe is entirely hopeless. Advocating for a third party is unrealistic. If you think Obama was sincere but cowed by the Military / Industrial complex, why would a new third party be any less cowed?

    How, precisely, would this third party be different enough from the many existing parties (Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, Constitutional, etc) to gain any traction? What novel new ideology do you propose that can reliably capture 61 Senators and a House majority and force through a fundamentally liberal-progressive agenda?

    I do not dismiss these because they are YOUR points, I dismiss all calls for action that I believe are fundamentally not executable. I sympathize with your goals, and with your distress, but the answer is not to wish for things that cannot be.

  55. @Gene: I believe the Golden Rule is a good rule for 95% of the population, which is why it can be used as a proxy for “justice,” just as Newton’s laws of gravity suffice to accurately send a probe to Pluto, we do not need to take Einstein’s relativity into account at all in order to do that. This does not mean Newton’s laws are entirely accurate, just that they are close enough to the truth for all practical purposes. So is the Golden Rule. But I still maintain that our evolutionary psychology is rooted in the detection of “fairness” that we see in our cousin species, and it is that psychology that gives rise to both the Golden Rule and our basic sense of “justice.”

    For a hypothetical of the difference, presume a man kills his adulterous wife, and truly believes by his religion that was a justifiable action. When we put him to death, we know we do it against his will. We also know that if we truly believed we justifiably killed somebody, that we should not be put to death, either. They way we would like to be treated is to not be punished for a justifiable killing. So we are not treating him as we would like to be treated. There is no way we are following the Golden Rule by putting this man to death; instead we think “justice” (or fairness) is somehow independent of our personal feelings and convictions, it was wrong of him to kill for this reason and it is fair to punish him for breaking that law. On the other hand, we will excuse killing in self-defense, and we will not use the death penalty for an accidental killing, like manslaughter or a traffic accident.

  56. Darren gets it. Anyone who doesn’t think prosecutors engage in punitive prosecutions just to grab headlines and get reelected or maybe become a judge one day, just doesn’t understand how the system works.

    Anonymous has weighed in on the Sandy Hook incident and how the media whores are falling over each other for face time on camera, the Constitution be damned. Facts and statistics are bothersome things, and should not get in the way of a juicy story. Basic journalism rule: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

  57. Yall just can’t stand that a black man is president. He did it two times. Yall just need to get over it and live with that fact. He better then any president we had in our history.

  58. OS,

    Ever since special interest groups try and force Court Accountability you have statistics and numbers that move dockets rather than justice….. In my honest opinion….

  59. Lakesha,

    I don’t care who is president….so long as they follow the constitution ….. And quit the special interest grabs….

  60. Gene H.
    1, January 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm
    “We do not seek the golden rule, we seek fair treatment.”

    You do know what the Golden Rule is, don’t you Tony? It’s a statement of the Ethic of Reciprocity. Philosophically, the entire notion of justice is based upon it. It is inherently both personal and societal in that it is a reciprocal relationship between one’s self and others that involves both sides equally.
    ——————-
    the ‘Golden Rule’ is a possible (and not always) shield against the need for seeking ‘Justice’….even waaaaaay back the Bible warned against dealing with ‘Justice’. Fairness is not always a given any more than doing unto others as you would like them to do unto you is. More than Justice, more than Fairness, the important issue is ‘Understanding’. It is important to understand that when you are dealing with fearful people….they will be blind in their dealings. It is important to understand when you are dealing with brutes, they are apt to hurt you before they would bother to be ‘fair’. It is important to understand when you are dealing with greed….greedy sorts have crooked scales also making things utterly ‘unfair’.
    Systems are ultimately prone to be unjust because they are made up of all sorts of people….who see things with their own particular faults and wants and fears, despite initial intent. Our ‘Justice’ system is a product of many interpretations of language and so it has evolved ito a dangerous and self-serving place. It is a system that can not even act until a harm is done….itself a big, unthinking, self-serving, brute.

  61. The surprise I think comes for people who think there really is no difference between Democrats & Republicans. Once he was elected no Republican would disagree with Boy Blunder in any meaningful way. If he wanted nation damaging tax cuts all Republicans wanted them. If he wanted an unfunded, wildly out of control Medicare Rx plan all Republicans wanted one, if he wanted a pointless stupid war in Iraq . . . well you get the picture. Now that W is not the great daddy in charge you hear them try to claim they never liked him much don’t you know.

    Democrats actually have principles that they are willing to buck their leadership on. There is no doubt that any of the last 4 Dem candidates (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama) would be better than the GOP alternative. That each would have failed to live up to the standard we hope for has a lot to do with how insane a large number of voters have gotten and how many Dem elected officials don’t just fall in line like their GOP colleagues do.

  62. @Woosty: My point is that our perception of what is and is not “unfair” is essentially not itself subject to rational definition because it is an emotional reaction; we know what is and is not unfair when we see it (usually, except in hypotheticals designed to be in the gray margins).

    For example, say a young mother of three accidentally kills a pedestrian. The Bible says “a life for a life,” which at first sounds fair, but do we think it is fair to put her to death for her moment of inattention? Typically we do not, sometimes we find her guilty of manslaughter and she serves probation instead of jail so she can continue to work and care for her kids.

    The Golden Rule is an attempt to define fairness, and IMO it does not always work. Let us phrase it as: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Now presume, due to a string of violent bank robberies, I am an undercover armed guard in a bank, pretending to be a patron, and sure enough, an armed robbery begins. I can shoot the robber. He doesn’t know I can. I certainly would not want the robber to shoot me. So should I do unto him as I would have him do unto me, specifically, leave him unshot?

    No, I should shoot him and defend those I believe he is about to hurt; he is brandishing a weapon. Is it “fair” to shoot him? Most of us say yes, it is fair, he is the one that took the risk and instigated the incident, he owns the responsibility for whatever happens to him. But I am (in this hypothetical) definitely not adhering to the Golden Rule, I am going to do unto another what I believe he is willing to do unto others in order to stop him; not what I would want him to do unto me.

  63. @tony

    > Advocating for a third party is unrealistic.

    Ross Perot got 20% of the popular vote. Granted, that didn’t translate into any electoral votes, but I would argue that Perot was a large part of the reason why Bill Clinton made it a priority to balance the federal budget.

    Third party candidates can put issues on the table that the major parties won’t go near. The effect may be difficult to quantify, but the influence is there.

  64. Voting for Obama, Cuomo, or Mrs. Clinton will only extend the rule of
    oligarchs who support the wholesale killing of thousands or millions of people who live in countries which have assets the oligarchs covet.

    When will the NPR wake up and realize that the lesser of two evils is still evil?

  65. Tony,

    There is a palpable undercurrent of anger in your comments towards me today. I didn’t know you cared.

  66. Gene,

    I hadn’t, but should have realized that the GR is not some namby-pamby make nice everyone formulation that some take it to be. What it is is the elegant basis of a most sophisticated philosophical starting point. This is why when Hillel the Elder stated it he added that “all the rest is commentary”. For him, it was the details that needed to be honed. I think some have it confused with “turn the other cheek”, which is not only a very different concept, but one I find untenable.

  67. @Indigo: And since Ross Perot, the self-funded billionaire (and while I was a consultant, my employer for about six months, well before his run)?

    The difficulty and expense of mounting a third party candidacy is enormous; and it can really only be undertaken by people or organizations that can risk at least tens or as much as hundreds of millions of dollars. Ross Perot is an example of a failed attempt, not a success. The modern rule in politics is that once you win, as Dick Cheney said, “we can’t be bound by things we had to say to win the election.”

    Bill Clinton is a superb politician, and I think once he won, Perot was the furthest thing from his mind; a lucky break for him that split the Republican vote. Clinton acted in the interest of his wealthy constituents in balancing the budget. Chronic budget deficits cause debt and debt causes inflation, because we end up printing the money we need to make the payments.

    If somebody believes that a third party is the route to saving the country, they need a plausibly compelling way to inspire the populace to raise a hundred million or so dollars, recruit a hundred thousand volunteers, and steal 40 million voters from the existing parties (1/3 of the total number of voters in 2012) in order to have a fighting chance.

    Losers are instantly forgotten. The elected do not heed them; they laugh at them for spitting into the wind. Even though our lives may be at stake, to politicians this is a game, the winners do not adopt the loser’s game plan, they stick with their own.

    A plausible solution will have a plausible and executable beginning. It has to be something that can snowball from modest beginnings, on its successes, into a force that cannot be ignored or dismissed.

    I would be happy to see somebody design a party that meets even a compromised version of my ideology and then just get that implemented in a city council in some town that is split 50/50 like the country, prove to me the new party can recruit 1/3 of 250,000 voters, equally from either party (so it doesn’t just split one party into two factions, like the Tea Party or Ross Perot did), and I might believe there is something there.

  68. Tony,

    The Golden Rule is not an attempt to define fairness and never was. Confucius promulgated it as a response to the Chaos of war that took place in what was to become China. It’s not about fairness, it is about establishing a peaceful society. You really don’t get it do you?

  69. @Mike: What you see as anger is not anger, it is frustration at well meaning people wasting their time and encouraging others to waste their time in the same fruitless pursuit of tilting at windmills.

  70. @Mike: he Golden Rule is not an attempt to define fairness and never was.

    On the contrary, I think it is, because I know a bit about evolutionary psychology and the primacy of “fairness” in the biology of our thinking. As they say, even a dog knows the difference between being kicked and being tripped over; they will forgive you for the latter but not the former; because they too have a rudimentary sense of what is fair. Shall you now tell me what I think?

    As for Confucius, Chaos is easy to argue against, a perfect argument is not necessary. Any argument that calls for order instead of chaos is good enough, any argument that calls for a peaceful society instead of free-for-all war and killing is good enough.

    You really don’t get that, do you? Or is it that you are so reverent of some ancient dead philosophers that you cannot help but ascribe infallibility to their thinking?

  71. Swarthmore,
    Colin Powell is a little slow if he is just figuring out that his party has a vein of intolerance in it!

  72. Tony C.
    1, January 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm
    @Woosty: My point is that our perception of what is and is not “unfair” is essentially not itself subject to rational definition because it is an emotional reaction; we know what is and is not unfair when we see it (usually, except in hypotheticals designed to be in the gray margins).
    —————
    yes, I agree. the “Golden Rule’ forces us to look at fairness from the ‘other’ persons perspective….it takes greed and a few other things out of the perspective equation, IMO, and allows for more rational and dare I say, a path from the emotional to rational understanding…

  73. > And since Ross Perot, the self-funded billionaire

    I would argue that a large part of the reason why there haven’t been more 3rd party candidates is because of the Democrats.

    After Naderites switched to Gore in 2000, Nader got blamed for taking votes from Gore. The very notion of a third party candidate became toxic to the entire left-leaning end of the political spectrum. I was told to my face by lefties that I was the reason why Bush was in office.

    Now Nader wasn’t trying to win in 2000, he was trying to get 5% of the popular vote to qualify for federal matching funds the following season. He could have run an effective campaign in 2004 if some many Democratic voters weren’t scared off.

    Perot was self-funded, but in a less quantifiable sense, his business background gave him perceived legitimacy. There are public funding mechanisms in place for candidates that get 5% of the vote in a federal election, but it looks like, since Citizens United, this may unfortunately be a moot point.

    Another reason why there haven’t been more 3rd party candidates is that it is nearly impossible for a third party candidate to get on a ballot. Because Democrats and Republicans write the rules, they collude to lock out other parties. They do this by requiring exorbitant filing fees, or by using lawyers to get 3rd party candidates kicked off the ballot, or by passing statutes that require 3rd party candidates to collect as many as 10x more signatures than major party candidates, just to get listed.

    You allude to these facts, but none of this bears on my suggestion that 3rd party candidates can force issues into the spotlight. Yes, its hard to get on the ballot if you’re a 3rd party candidate, but once there, it is possible to have an effect.

    Lastly, I would point out that in the US, we have had many different parties in the past. We haven’t always had only Democrats and Republicans. The reason we have these two particular parties at this point in time is that, at different points in history, people changed their voting behavior. The Democratic and Republican parties themselves are both evidence that this type of change is possible. To this end, if you think polarization is part of the problem today, I find it rather doubtful that more polarization is the solution.

    > Bill Clinton is a superb politician

    Yes, and he was successful because he was a centrist. Here’s a historical article about Perot’s role as an irritant:

    http://articles.latimes.com/1993-04-29/news/mn-28533_1_clinton-budget

    And — let me note that I’m no big fan of Clinton — I would suggest that Perot’s business credentials are what got many of Newt’s caucus on board.

    > Losers are instantly forgotten

    Not Nader, and not Perot…

    >A plausible solution will have a plausible and executable beginning

    Did you see my earlier post above, where I advocated voting for yourself as a write-in? Scroll up and give it a look. I outline a modest program for what amounts to a self-help course. People need a simple way to demonstrate to themselves that their voting behavior is problemmatic, and they need a feedback mechanism to re-inforce such perceptions among eachother. My proposal above is geared towards such ends.

  74. @Indigo: To this end, if you think polarization is part of the problem today, I find it rather doubtful that more polarization is the solution.

    But I do not think polarization is the problem; I think two parties is pretty much the natural outcome of a winner-take-all system (which is what our politics represent, in that only one party can be President, or represent a district. Two parties can represent a State in the Senate, but in any given election only one Senator is elected (I’m pretty sure that is true of all States).

    In a market place where customers can buy any of a number of products, so winners can co-exist, the medium term natural outcome is a log scale division of the market; typically a ladder of 3 to 7 providers. Longer term, the result also tends toward a binary choice (Coke or Pepsi), and eventually because some management dope slips up and bets the company on a bad idea, a monopoly. “New Coke” almost did that to CocaCola, for example.

    I do not think polarization is the problem, I think it is a symptom. I think corporate money influencing politicians to double deal us is the problem. I think the failure of voting to correct that problem has led to more vociferous and ideological demands from both sides to try and coerce their politicians into listening to them; to no avail. It is the equivalent of a frustrated parent that has lost control of their child being reduce to yelling commands: “NO!” “STOP!” “PUT — THAT — DOWN! NOW!”

    (An apt analogy, because like such parents, we get to this point by never doing anything to punish the unruly, namely betrayal by a politician, as Mike has pointed out: They get our vote regardless of what they do, because the other party is always the greater of evils.)

    The polarization is an attempt at clarity when allowing some healthy leeway has been repeatedly abused.

    Get the money out of politics, and the motivation to abuse the powers of their office will vanish with it, and I think so will much of the polarization we see.

  75. @Indigo: Not Nader, and not Perot…

    I should have been more clear; losers are instantly forgotten by the winners. Not necessarily by the public, of course, Ron Paul and Nader got votes every time they ran. I do not believe losers influence the winners of the elections they run in. Any appearance of that is, I think, something that was coincidentally in the interest of the winner (or his backers) anyway.

  76. @Woosty: the “Golden Rule’ forces us to look at fairness from the ‘other’ persons perspective.

    Which is almost always a good thing, but as I pointed out, not always the right way to look at a situation.

    I believe (with experimental evidence) that rationality is always a servant of the emotions. The emotions signal to us something is unfair or unbalanced, and then rationality is used to analyze the situation and discover if the unfairness actually exists, and if so, precisely what is unfair about it. I think we have all had the experience, for example, of thinking “That’s not fair!” but not being able to articulate exactly why we feel that way: Unfair is not a conclusion, it is a feeling, like anger or fear, and sometimes we need to think to understand exactly what is causing such feelings.

    I am not saying the Golden Rule is a bad rule. I am saying it is not a universally applicable rule, because it would not always result in a fair decision. The only universally applicable rule is, in fact, what is “fair.”

  77. @tony

    > I do not think polarization is the problem, I think it is a symptom

    That’s a reasonable enough position

    > losers are instantly forgotten by the winners

    There have been academic treatments of Perot’s effects on the major parties. Here’s a chapter that’s relevant to the point at hand:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=G2vGosWs1dYC&pg=PA61&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

    The chapter discusses efforts by both Democrats and Republicans to modify their positions in order to assimilate Perot’s constituency.

    Cheers!

  78. Shano,
    One of the oldest police interrogation tricks in the book is to try and elicit a statement before telling the subject they are under arrest. The smart person tells the police at first contact they are not comfortable talking or answering questions without counsel present. Most folks are not that assertive or knowledgeable. Best thing to do is question the officer non-stop using the broken record technique: “Am I under arrest? If I am not under arrest, am I free to go?” This places the officer in a conundrum. Don’t give the officer time to ask questions, just keep repeating yourself, or respond to every question with those 15 words.

  79. I believe (with experimental evidence) that rationality is always a servant of the emotions. The emotions signal to us something is unfair or unbalanced, and then rationality is used to analyze the situation and discover if the unfairness actually exists, and if so, precisely what is unfair about it. I think we have all had the experience, for example, of thinking “That’s not fair!” but not being able to articulate exactly why we feel that way: Unfair is not a conclusion, it is a feeling, like anger or fear, and sometimes we need to think to understand exactly what is causing such feelings.~ Tony C.
    —————
    not sure I buy this….would love to see the evidence. I don’t believe that rationality is ‘always’ a servant of the emotions. In fact, it is often rationality that helps to mollify the emotional self when unfairness is forced. But then again, it helps to have a clear application when talking about such things…
    Unfair is not a conclusion, it is a feeling? No, I don’t think that at all. Upsetness is a feeling in the face of an unfairness….I know this for a fact, someone stole my cookies and that was both unfair AND upsetting…. ;)

  80. In reading the subsequent articles about shano’s link a few posts above it is my agreement to trigger Miranda warnings as being both Custody AND Interrogation. Miranda warnings do not apply if the person is not being detained or under arrest. However, I have to agree with the 9th Circuit’s decision that declining to make a statement is not admissable as evidence against the defendant (unlike other courts of appeal circuits)

    When looking at polygraph evidence in our state at least the defendant has a right to decline a polygraph test and the refusal to use a polygraph test cannot be used in court against the defendant. In fact, if the defendant takes a polygraph and the interpretation goes against them, the defendant can supress the polygraph evidence and it cannot be admitted into court.

    So it would seem inconsistent to me that a defenant’s refusal to submit to a polygraph exam is not admissable but refusing to answer police questioning is. Both are rooted in 5th amendment self incrimination protections.

  81. I’m not sure I believe in the vast conspiracy you put forward. But the facts as you lay them out sure make me wonder.
    My problem with you is that you violated your principal #1
    “Organize opposition to both parties from the ground up by forming a third party willing to build over the span of years and not needing the immediate gratification of instant success.”
    In this past election there were several parties to choose from as well as writing in the name of a person of your choice.
    There are more than 2 choices. I believe the choice between McCain and Obama was about a 10% difference, between Mitt and Obama was less than a 5% difference. Policy (especially foreign policy) is identical.
    Please people, look at the other parties, Sure not everything they propose I agree with. However, fewer and fewer of the policies put forward by the Rs and Ds are policies I can live with.

  82. “The Golden Rule is an attempt to define fairness, and IMO it does not always work.”

    Actually, no, it’s not. The Golden Rule as an expression of the Ethic of Reciprocity is an attempt to define equity (an integral but not sole component of justice) and the reciprocal nature of interaction in a society. Fairness and our sense of it is it’s own creature in the formulation of what constitutes justice. As is revenge. The question of “what is justice” is deceptively complicated, but at it’s heart it relies upon two key principles – equity (basically mathematical ideal) and fairness (basically an emotive response) to achieve outcomes that are as just as possible while maintaining the peace that third party dispute resolution creates in the place of self-help remedies. This is in part why a justice system will never be perfectly just – some outcomes please no one even though they are considered societally adequate to maintain peace and limit self-help (which inherently has no constraint but the will of those pursuing it which may or may not be equitable or even reasonable). Learned Hand once said that the law was the pale shadow of justice and he was right. Justice in the karmic or poetic sense is a moving target and the goal of a working and optimized justice system is as just an outcome as practically possible and permissible by the mores as expressed by the laws of the society in which it operates. Poetic and karmic justice have to be left to chance as a matter of practical application. Sometimes the systems provide that, sometimes they don’t, just like outcomes nature provides, but perfection is a reasonable aspiration to assure maximum and maximal good outcomes despite being an unreachable destination.

    That being said, I also don’t disagree with W=^..^ that our current justice system is broken. Not completely perhaps but substantively enough to be a legitimate concern for all citizens.

  83. I am not a bit disappointed with Obama. I am not surprized that I am not disappointed. I am surprized that some are disappointed. But, I am not disappointed that they are disappointed. Nor should they be surprized. Nothing in politics really surprizes or dissapoints me. some things bore me and some things are intolerable. Like the fact that Romney got away with crating that dog across country. The torture of Bradley Manning is intolerable.

  84. If the torture of Bradley Manning is intolerable to you HumpinDog then why are you not disappointed with Obama? After all, he is Commander in Chief. I am surprized that a dog of your caliber would be not disappointed.

  85. Forty plus years ago I am arguing about bringing the boys home from Vietnam and now the grandkids of the boys are in Afghanistan. I am disappointed. But not suprized. Had Obama been in Nam we would not be in Afghanistan. Which is why I am for Hagel at dept of Defense.

  86. Government: shut down the war or we will shut down the government. May Day 2013.
    Bloggers: Be there. Washington DC on May Day. If the government wont shut down the war, we will shut down the government. I will be disappointed and surprized if you do not show up.

  87. BarkinDog: You waited until almost two in the morning to put out a call to the fellow bloggers to go to Washington DC to protest the War. They are all done and will just go to the next topic tomorrow and it will all be for naught. I am disappointed in you and surprized. Besides, these people on this blog are not going to protest the War. This is not 1971. We complain but we dont act. Now be a good dog.

  88. I’m sorry if this comes off as objectionable, but this author is suffering from cognitive dissonance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance
    (“In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel “disequilibrium”: frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc.”).

    The “noblesse oblige” group is identical to the “let them eat cake” group. Their differences are merely illusions created by propaganda. The litany of events the author laments about at the article’s beginning bear testimony to this fact. Yet, in the face of insurmountable, undeniable, evidence the author cannot bring himself to see the irrationality in voting for the “noblesse oblige” group.

    There is another way. End the two-party system, one vote at a time. Stop voting on the basis of an irrational belief. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Vote libertarian or just-plain independent. Maybe never vote for an incumbent as a matter of principle, no matter how good he/she may seem, because power corrupts even the best of us.

  89. @Gene: The Golden Rule […] is an attempt to define equity

    In your mind, how does “equity” differ from “fairness?”

    As I peruse Webster’s, the first definition of Equity is: “fairness or justice, esp. the common fairness that follows the spirit rather than the letter of justice.”

    I use the word “fairness” because as a rule I like to use the most commonly understood words that will suffice without me having to explain what it means. That served me well in business, and it has served me even better in science, especially among colleagues that speak every variety of broken English imaginable. I think everybody understands what “fair” means. It occurred to me to use “equitable,” but I decided “fair” was more pithy.

    I think equity or equitable is synonymous with fair when talking about something as vague as human feelings, so sure, if you like it better, use “equity” or “equitable” where I use “fairness.” If you think there is a distinct difference, please elaborate.

  90. People are surprised that a right wing, corporatist president like Obama does those things? Only if you’ve got blinders on.

    The US has only two parties, the conservative Democrats and the fascist Republicans. Whenever I hear a US politician as “leftist”, it makes me laugh. Few Americans know what a leftist actually is, since most have never travelled abroad and almost none get their news from international media.

  91. “Good article Mike. I agree that Obama was the better choice, but not a perfect choice. ”

    Mr. Obama was the WORST CHOICE. What I still fail to understand is, given his first four years in office – WHY IN THE &%$+* WOULD SOMEONE VOTE FOR HIM AGAIN?????? That makes absolutely NO SENSE.

    Aside from the facts that the election was stolen and he didn’t get enough votes and had to use fraudulent voting measures to “win”.

  92. @Woosty: There is a term coined by Goleman which turns out to be a generalized phenomenon called Amygdala Hijack. You can read the Wiki entry on it at the link.

    The amygdala is the emotional reaction processor of the brain; and there is a biological pathway for it to shut down the neocortex (the rational part of the brain) and take action on its own. The neocortex developed much later than the amygdala; even mice have amygdala.

    The other path of evidence is that people that have lost their amygdala due to injury, cancer or degenerative disease, but NOT their neocortex, are rational but do not experience basic emotions, like fear, anxiety, boredom or even preference, and this can make them mentally disabled. A mathematician can still solve calculus problems without error, but he will stand in his closet for two hours trying to rationalize what to wear. He doesn’t get bored or frustrated at his inability to choose, those are emotions. He doesn’t worry he looks like a fool, that is an emotion. When asked to verbalize what he is doing, he is mentally spinning stories about each choice, who he might meet, following rules about which colors can go together so he could pick a tie …. he is trying to rationally pick the best shirt to wear. He still feels pain, thirst, hunger, muscle tiredness, and the urges to eliminate, so those are what eventually end the experiment.

    But what is happening (in the simplified model) is that the neocortex, rationality, is subordinate to the emotional self and spins until the emotional self says “enough, I have made a decision.” But his emotional mind is dead, so his neocortex just spins endlessly. The neocortex computes rational outcomes. It can deal rationally in other rules and procedures of horrific complexity (multi-dimensional calculus), but it is a late-addition tool for the amygdala (or amygdalae, we have two), it is the judge that reacts to these outcomes to decide good and bad.

    People do irrational things, even irrational things with major life consequences (or life-ending consequences) because they are being driven by emotion. They panic, say things they instantly regret (because the neocortex computes the most probable fallout of what was said and it isn’t good), consumed by emotion (anger, grief, lust) they drive their car into an accident. I think everybody has had times where they could not think rationally in the presence of overwhelming emotions. The opposite does not happen, nobody complains about experiencing sudden burst of overwhelming rationality.

    Woosty says: In fact, it is often rationality that helps to mollify the emotional self when unfairness is forced.

    True. Why does the emotional self need to be mollified? How does that mollification take place? Usually by clarifying the alternatives of acting on the existing emotions, and showing the emotional self that such paths can lead to even more grief and regret. The rational mind deals in outcomes, the emotional mind judges those outcomes, and that is how the rational mind can “control” the emotional mind. It is not actual biological control, it is more like the control a worker exerts over his boss by guiding them to the right decision based on all the evidence.

    Woosty says: Unfair is not a conclusion, it is a feeling? No, I don’t think that at all. Upsetness is a feeling in the face of an unfairness.

    The rational mind computes the outcomes, who gained, who lost, in the short medium and long term. The emotional mind judges whether that totality of wins and losses seems “fair” to it. This is not just simple arithmetic on the dollar value of things, it is the arithmetic of emotional values. In a divorce, a man might trade a ten thousand dollar antique china cabinet for custody of their ten year old dog and be happy with the trade, because he doesn’t care about the china cabinet and in his mind that was always “hers” anyway, and the dog was always “his.”

    What you call “upsetness” is what I think is the signal of detecting an imbalance, inequity, or unfair outcome. Why is it “unfair?” It just is, we feel like pain and gain, wins and losses should be proportionately distributed, so in a partnership or collaboration, it seems unfair to us if one partner gains on the other partner’s pain. In a divorce, a fair settlement is basically an emotionally equal distribution of the gains of the marriage and the pains of giving stuff up in the division of unitary properties (like a dog or china cabinet). The reason, I think, some end up in court is that one or both parties feel so emotionally pained that they want to use the divorce to punish the other party in the hope of equalizing their pain. Rationally, they should settle up as quickly as possible and move on to happier times, but: Emotions rule.

    (I only used divorce here as a simple and clear example; I have never been and do not ever intend to be divorced.)

  93. @Swarthmore: Glenn Beck plans to build a 2 billion dollar libertarian compound in Texas

    Sounds like some good construction jobs to me. I did not know Beck could command two billion dollars. I imagine, by the Aynish calculus, it is in each individual’s greatest self-interest (i.e. unadulterated greed) to provide some modest, throw-away support for such a project, just enough to see if some fools can be tricked into funding it, and otherwise to ride free on its results while claiming credit for making it happen. Which means it will sound like it is happening but will run short of funds before it is in any way complete. Just my take on their “initiatives.”

  94. @Swarthmore: I see, he doesn’t have the money and doesn’t know where he will get it.

    This is one of the funny contradictions of Randism: Galt railed against the collectivist system and believed that only through freedom could people tap into their divine potential to become creators of their own: leaders, businessmen, artists, and so on.

    So, Galt himself became a “creator” of his own, growing up in a collectivist system without the types of freedom he insisted were necessary (the function of the world “only”), to become a leader and businessman. Wait, I thought that was only possible “through freedom.”

    Funny also that Beck doesn’t understand why people visit Disneyland, and he thinks he can create a Disneyland where all the fun characters are armed and paranoid. What exactly do you think is “expected of you” when you walk into Disneyland? Absolutely nothing at all, you have zero responsibilities to Disneyland. You still have the responsibility to obey the laws of the county, state, and country, however.

  95. Tony,

    My busy Sunday is over so let’s tackle your objections point by point.

    “1. Organize opposition to both parties from the ground up by forming a third party willing to build over the span of years and not needing the immediate gratification of instant success.” (Me)

    “How, exactly? “Forming a third party” has been advocated since I have been voting, I do not think that will ever happen. There is no plausible mechanism I know of to do this. I will also say I have had epic discourse on this blog advocating for postponed gratification and refusing the strategy of voting for the lesser of two evils or “not wasting your vote,” with little agreement by these erudite readers, including you.” (Tony C.)

    When it comes to the effectiveness of Third parties it would be instructive to look at Eugene V. Debs. Who ran for President four times as the candidate for the Socialist Party of America receiving over 900,000 votes in his last campaign in 1920, The major points in the platform of his party became the basis for FDR’s New Deal program 12 years later,

    When we remember your “epic discourse on the blog on the lesser of two evils I assume you forgot my position which I stated over and again. My point was that no other party had done the “grass roots organization that would supply anything for a vote except self gratification. You will note that in my point One I talked of organizing over a “span of years” and from the “ground up”. Ground up means building an organization at a local level. Running for school boards and municipal alderman positions. Third party movements have been ineffective when they are limited to running a National candidate, without broad grass roots. The mistake made by many seeking political change is that they assume the “logic” of their ideas will carry them to triumph. This is not how effective movements are built.

    “2. Understand that ideology is the enemy of equitable solutions and that humanity’s ills are those of a psychological rather than political basis.” (Me)

    “Funny stuff from a guy that rejects anything that does not fit his ideology.” (You)

    This was merely an ad hominem attack on your part, not a refutation. As for my “ideology” I stated it at the end of the article:

    “First though let me give my own “political” views succinctly:
    Every human being shall have the right to adequate: Food; Water; Shelter; Clothing; Free Education and the means to find meaningful occupations. They should have freedom of speech, thought and movement. This is what needs to be accomplished for the Human Race to evolve to its full potential. The mechanisms for this should be developed pragmatically, not through political philosophy. The sociopaths, the psychopaths and the narcissists must somehow be segregated from the rest of humanity, or at least denied meaningful power.” (Me)

    Funny how with your “vaunted” analytical skills you ignored that coda to my blog. This “ideology” as you call it has been stated over and again by me during all my time on this blog. Now you may disagree with it of course, but you choose to ignore it and make me an “ideologue” probably for the Capital Crime in you universe which is don’t disagree with Tony.

    “4. Educate people as to the reality of their desperate situations.” (Me)

    “This has been tried and failed as well. People just do not believe their situation is desperate, OR they do not believe they can do anything about it”
    (You)

    Your response above and the balance of it in your comment is merely dystopian nonsense. In 1964 after the defeat of Goldwater certain of the Conservative elite put together a campaign to upend all the progress of the “New Deal”. It has worked very well in making the term Liberal an anathema to a majority of the people in this country, even though polls and surveys show that the majority believe in “Left Liberal” programs. It worked so well that the Republican Party is controlled by the fascist “Tea Baggers” and the Democratic Party is basically a “Centrist Right” party. What has been done can be undone.

    “5. Educate people about how they have been manipulated by mythology and propaganda.” (Me)

    “Again, people do not believe it, and do not have time to be “educated.” 85% to 95% of this country believes in mythology and propaganda as the way to run their life and relationships. How in the world is this an executable goal?” (You)

    As your words show Tony, you are quite the elitist yourself. Arrogating to yourself being in the to 5% to 15% of the people not in thrall of mental manipulation. how smug you must feel knowing that a huge number of people are merely intellectual zombies. Call me a fool if you will but most of what I write is an attempt to do just what I state in 5 above, but sometimes it is a thankless task when dealing with those who are so certain of their bona fides that they believe they have all the answers.

    “6. Stop believing in leaders no matter how attractive and start believing in our own competence.” (Me)

    “That is virtually impossible; it is contrary to human psychology (as I think you well know)” (You).

    It is neither impossible, nor is it a tenet of human psychology that hierarchical instincts are completely inbred. Currently OWS and MoveOn have built quite successful movements without a strictly hierarchical structures and accomplished much. It’s not easy, but it can be done. In fact it must be done because it is the drive towards hierarchy that has messed up humanity throughout its history.

    “7. Protest injustice wherever you encounter it.” (Me)

    “I do not think protest works very well, certainly the Occupy movement has not effected any positive changes of which I am aware.” (You)

    First of all you give “protest” a very narrow definition linking it to a “60’s” conception, where I see it more broadly in the “loudly object to” connotation.. As to OWS they have made an extremely effective and valuable contribution by producing the 99% vs.1% meme. As the conservative Movement, which I alluded to above has shown, control the meme and you control the mythology. The mythology becomes the propaganda that brainwashes the people. OWS’ contribution of the 1% meme is the most effective progressive innovation in the last 40 years.

    “8. Understand that you must convince people of your cause, before you can advance your cause.” (Me)

    “Based upon approval ratings of the House and Senate, I believe most people are already convinced there is a problem.” (You)

    You miss my point entirely in your haste to refute it. I’m not talking about such things as approval ratings. What I’m expressing is that one of the main problems of any group that tries to make change is that they assume the “logic” of their position and the “proofs” they offer will carry the day. Then they are surprised when it doesn’t because they haven’t taken the time to convince people that “their apparent truths” are correct. This gets back to mythology and propaganda which are far more effective in convincing people than merely laying out the facts” as those in science are wont to do.

    “9. Examine your own prejudices and expunge them.” (Me)

    “Easier said than done. I did it though, in advocating for Ron Paul. Funny how you were unable to overcome your prejudice against him, and then your prejudice against me for not agreeing with your prejudiced view of him.” (You)

    Ah, we come to the essence of the burr under Tony’s saddle. His complaint about my “prejudiced” view of his hero and why I couldn’t accept his logic.
    Your hero has a proven history as a racist, ethnic bigot, religious fanatic and finally an oppressor of women. his policies if implemented would cause unimaginable pain and suffering to tens of millions of Americans. However, being personally immune to all those depredations himself, Tony generously urged that we support Paul because he war right about the War on Terror. I disagreed then and I disagree now. People can make up their own minds. As to those Libertarians who might object I would simply respond that one can’t espouse Libertarian principles and at the same time espouse limiting a woman’s right to choose, despite ones personal views on abortion.

    “10. Treat other human beings as you would have yourself treated.” (Me)

    “The Ayn Rand acolytes truly want everybody to be on their own in an unregulated, zero-tax environment. I have detailed the faults of that system, but they truly want it, for themselves and others, because they mistakenly believe they would somehow be richer for it, and by some magic everybody would be. Are you sure you want to tell them to treat you as they want to be treated?” (You)

    Your paragraph above, the one that followed it and then your subsequent comments showed you lack comprehension of the meaning of this formulation. Since you aren’t stupid, it is a mystery to me why you can’t understand the nuances of its import. Gene made the effort but his explanation was beyond you. Try this Wiki link since perhaps its comprehensiveness expressed with simplicity will be easier for you to comprehend: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule . My guess as to your implicit rejection of its formulation is that most people unknowingly think of it as a religious formulation and in your case being a militant atheist that is unacceptable. Too bad really since it is far more a philosophical concept, than a religious one.

    Finally, let me also express where I think your greatest comprehension problem stem from and that is from a misunderstanding of “feelings” at least from my perception as a Gestaltist. Human feelings are the actual sensations that take place within our organisms. When we have feeling we then exercise our thought to define them in our terms. The expression “he gives me a pain in the ass” is talking about an actual pain, that are brain then defines for us as the person we are listening to.

    “I think we have all had the experience, for example, of thinking “That’s not fair!” but not being able to articulate exactly why we feel that way: Unfair is not a conclusion, it is a feeling”

    There is no such feeling called “unfair”, or to put it bluntly where in your organism do you feel “unfair”? for instance when you are treated unfairly your stomach may get queasy. You brain might then characterize that as feeling queasy in this situation is because of it being “unfair”. You’ve turned that around and made the conclusion into the feeling. As they say in this “you’ve put Descarte before the horse” and intellectually that is unfair and incorrect.

  96. @Mike: Well, my busy Monday is already five hours underway, with seven to go, so I cannot respond except in parts.

    1) Mike says: This is not how effective movements are built.

    They are also not built on recycled ideas that won’t get any more traction or effectiveness than they already have. An effective movement is built from the grassroots, that is true, but it also requires belief and participation. Eugene Debs was promoting an essentially untried idea. Despite his efforts, he never received more than 6% of the vote. It is entirely possible he was “lucky” in the sense that, even though he died just a few years before the Great Depression began, his concepts were still fresh enough in warrant adaption in the recovery of the Great Depression, as part of the New Deal.

    After all, something had to be done, everybody knew it was the corporations and banks (and market crash, and market manipulation) that put us in such dire straits, and Eugene had been pounding the table to address precisely those points. The pendulum was bound to swing the other way; and some adaptation of Eugene’s agenda and oratory was quite possibly the path of least resistance for FDR.

    I will leave it to others to decide if a movement can be called “effective” if it requires a Great Depression style meltdown to occur before it gets partially implemented as a last resort.

    2. Mike says: his “ideology” as you call it has been stated over and again by me during all my time on this blog. Now you may disagree with it of course, but you choose to ignore it and make me an “ideologue” probably for the Capital Crime in you universe which is don’t disagree with Tony.

    I have no problem with your ideology, Mike, you misunderstand. You wrote that ideology is the enemy of equitable solutions. This is obviously after your earlier posts in which you reject not only Ron Paul based on your ideology, but rejected any solution I might invent because I supported Ron Paul, and therefore by your ideology, nothing I invent can have any merit. I was dinging you on your hypocrisy; exhorting others to put aside THEIR ideology, while resting your case for dismissing my solution sight unseen based on YOUR ideological disagreement with my support of Ron Paul.

    That is all for now.

  97. @Mike: I would also appreciate it if you discontinue lying about me. Ron Paul was not “my hero.” Ron Paul, as I have said many times, was the one person I thought would actually put the brakes in our careening toward an Imperial Presidency, because his actions have been consistent with his rhetoric on the Constitution. Otherwise, I think Ron Paul is truly an idiot, he was my pragmatic choice for what I considered was the last chance in my lifetime to get a President that would undo the Constitutional damage that has been done. I still think that; but he is no more my “hero” than a steering wheel is my hero, he was a tool that I thought would get us to change course.

  98. @Mike: 4. Your response above and the balance of it in your comment is merely dystopian nonsense. […] What has been done can be undone.

    Apparently a maxim you apply quite selectively. When I argued that any damage Ron Paul might do as President to civil rights or the pro-choice movement could be undone by a subsequent President, you dismissed that argument out of hand. When I argued that the only thing politicians care about is votes, and we had to withhold votes to punish Democrats or they would slide ever further to the right, you opted to defend the lesser of two evils. When I said anything we lost we could get back by electing a better Democrat in the next cycle, and a more compliant one for having witnessed the punishment of his predecessor, you dismissed that argument out of hand too.

    Arguing for voting in a corrupt politician that betrays the principles of his party and the Constitution as the lesser of two evils, while simultaneously claiming that “what has been done can be undone,” is disingenuous. It is a self-damaging action, choosing to allow corruption and betrayal by a Democrat over fear of what the big bad Republican might do, when you actually believe anything the big bad Republican did could be undone by a more honorable Democratic replacement in the next cycle.

    Game theory wise you promote a long term loss when a long term gain could be had, because you advocate keeping the seat Democratic no matter what, even if the holder is corrupt, self-serving, and betrays us often, just for the few votes he might cast in our favor for ONE TERM, instead of foregoing those votes for ONE TERM and then getting an honorable Democrat that votes in our favor consistently.

    For a prime example, we Democrats should be very glad Martha Coakley lost to Scott Brown, otherwise we would not now have Elizabeth Warren.

    Once again, hypocrisy, Mike, your maxim only applies when you want it to apply, which turns it into meaningless rhetoric, not a logical principle you allow anybody else to use.

  99. @Mike: 5. As your words show Tony, you are quite the elitist yourself. Arrogating to yourself being in the to 5% to 15% of the people not in thrall of mental manipulation. how smug you must feel knowing that a huge number of people are merely intellectual zombies.

    I was referring to the religious, of which I am not a member, that believe religion is the way to run their life. Religion is mythology. That said, I am certainly not immune to mental manipulation, Obama had me going as a candidate, to the tune of several hundred dollars. I have been defrauded by a con man before, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. I have actually mentioned these before, and you have read these mentions, so you are mis-characterizing me completely and you know it. Is that the only way you know to win an argument, Mike? Are you like the Objectivists that can only argue against extreme positions, like Ron Paul being “my hero” and me being an arrogant “elitist?”

    I am in the 5% to 15% of people that are not in thrall to any form of the supernatural. I do not make my life decisions using some ancient mythology and obvious fiction as my guide.

    Nor do I think people are intellectual zombies, I think the vast majority of people, like me, are emotional animals. Unlike me, about 95% of them worldwide cannot emotionally come to grips with the thought that their existence is temporary and will end, that there is no Karmic Justice, and that death is just oblivion. With no factual evidence to the contrary, their last resort is the hope that somehow, magic will save them.

    That doesn’t make them intellectual zombies or me better than them, it means our emotional makeups are different. I (and my fellow atheists) emotionally prioritize something more than they do. Maybe it is coherency and logic from top to bottom that we find emotionally primal. Talk to atheists and they are quick to point out what doesn’t make any sense to them, what is contradictory or just ridiculous, like the talking donkey in the Bible. Maybe for most people a different emotion is primal, and their received “wisdom” doesn’t have to hold water as long as it tells them what they need to believe, that they do not really cease to exist.

  100. @Mike 9. Ah, we come to the essence of the burr under Tony’s saddle.

    On the contrary, we come to the essence of your hypocrisy. You cannot prove Ron Paul ever did anything in his elected capacity that advanced racism, and in fact voted for some laws that helped relieve the oppression of racism. Yet your ideology won’t let you admit those facts. They ARE facts, and if you think they are not, produce your proof, there has to be a record.

    As for his publishing, the record is unclear, and certainly not enough to qualify as PROOF unless you are already prejudiced against him, his claim that he did not write most of “his” columns is well supported by the actual publisher, and his excuse of inattention is plausible. You convict him on association and circumstantial evidence, blinded by your ideology. And yet more hypocrisy, because Obama’s sins and lies in office have caused a thousand times more harm in costing homosexuals their military careers, killed more people by crappy healthcare than a principled stand would have, killed more soldiers and innocents in war and done more damage to our Constitution than anything Ron Paul would actually have been able to accomplish in office.

    He is not an “oppressor of women,” he is an anti-abortionist, by religion. Are all religious pro-lifers automatically oppressors of women? Only an ideologue would make that escalation; it is the equivalent of the Hitler construct: Disagree with Mike and you are Hitler.

    As for him being “my hero,” you are just lying. I said then and I say now, I think Ron Paul is wrong on small government libertarianism and economic libertarianism. But in addition to those negative qualities, he is a staunch social libertarian on every issue except abortion, and if nominated I thought Republicans would rally around Ron more than Mitt, and Ron could and would reverse the course of the Imperial Presidency I thought would just continue and expand under either Barack or Mitt.

    Anything else he did, I argued then and argue now, would have been thwarted by the Senate, or could be undone in a subsequent administration. A maxim you just asserted yourself.

    I have written enough on this blog to prove I do not support Paul economic policy or small government policy or pro-life policy, I think they are wrong-headed, damaging, and contribute to the problem. Anybody that supports laissez-faire economic policy or pro-life policy is not my hero, they are my bane.

    Yet it was me that put those negatives aside, because I believe if we lose our civil rights we lose everything with them. Everything else is just a law that can be corrected with just a majority. The blatant, unchecked violations of the rights encoded in the Constitutional Amendments are being ignored with impunity (and official immunity from prosecution). We have four more years of that to suffer, time that will give the cement time to harden.

    Of course it is true that what has been done can be undone. That does not apply just to negatives, it applies to positives, like our freedom of speech, our right to privacy and freedom from search and eavesdropping, our right to due process and a trial before being imprisoned or put to death. All of those can be undone, too, Mike.

  101. As requested, here are a few of my own guidelines.

    1) I give people the benefit of the doubt to the extent I can afford to lose that benefit, but ultimately I judge people on their acts, results, and reliability.

    2) I Do not think of losses and gains as the opposite of each other. Minimizing the chance of loss minimizes the chance of gain; maximizing potential gains usually maximizes the chance of loss. I can bet my life savings on lottery tickets to maximize my potential gain, it will also maximize my chances of immediate bankruptcy.

    Every avoidance of risk carries its OWN hidden cost or opportunity cost. Avoidance is not free, and it takes some thought to decide what is a price worth paying and what is not.

    For example with money today, avoiding the risk of capital loss incurs the loss of purchasing power due to inflation. Examples in life: For a teen, avoiding the risks of rejection may carry the price of loneliness and jealousy. In politics, avoiding the loss of a seat your party holds can carry the price of suffering a corrupt, lying politician in that seat, and sending the message to any same-party successor in the future that for you, there are no lines they cannot cross. Examples from business: avoiding the risk of developing new products carries the cost of being bested by competition, avoiding the risk of a new approach in advertising carries the cost of static or declining sales, avoiding the risk of opening a second store carries the cost of forever relying on the limited income of one store.

    3) Because of (2), I think there is no magic solution that gets me what I want without some risk of loss. If we take no risk of losing something dear, then what we get is very tiny marginal gains, which themselves are usually consumed by some unexpected misfortune.

    This could be rephrased as the maxim “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” but I prefer this formulation because it gives you the way to tell if it is “too good to be true.” Where is the risk, exactly? If there is no risk, there is probably no gain; if there were a way to get money for free than all the money would belong to the person that invented it. If there were a way to get political influence for free, the person that invented it would rule the world.

    4) Nothing will be perfectly executed, and every attempt at gain will be answered with an attempt at denying that gain, every attempt at coercion will be answered with resistance. That is just something to anticipate when judging anybody’s proposal for a route to change. Is it robust? Can a few stupid moves destroy it? How about a spy, or a shill? What would a true sociopath do to try and stop you? What would a true sociopath do if they were in charge of it? Even if you do not like thinking about sociopaths, what precautions are built into the proposal to prevent this idea from unintentionally just serving somebody’s greedy self interest?

    5) Do not count on politicians to fix politics. For the majority of them, that is not in their elective or financial interest.

    5a) A corollary to (4): Do not assume the system is broken. Both the House and Senate decide their own rules by simple majority vote every two years. If you periodically set your own rules, and you let an opportunity go by without changing them, then the only sensible conclusion is that the rules are exactly as you want them to be. Note that you can adopt all the old rules but just change one or two, there are no restrictions on how to set them. Set them however you please: Which means every single rule they follow is a rule the majority want in there.

    In terms of practical advice for political activism, what this means is the politicians like the byzantine systems just fine the way they are, and every two years, the majority vote to preserve those rules. All those anonymous holds, filibusters, reviews, committee approval requirements, committee vetos, chairman vetos, task forces, caucuses — All of it is just made up B.S. they can change any two years. So all attempts from outside (or by minority) at “fixing the system” are wasted breath. 50% plus one could fix the system, and only 50% plus one can fix the system, and there is no desire in the House or Senate to fix the system.

    So the system isn’t broken, it does what they want it to do. What is that? To give them cover and excuses for not doing as their constituents want them to do. The system shifts blame, it provides the illusion for Congress that there is a mysterious higher power called the rulebook, and they have no choice but to abide by what was written there by mad men. In fact it is 100% what they chose to write in it (or leave in it) less than two years ago.

    As a corollary, it is safe to presume they will oppose any Constitutional Amendment that would “fix the system.”

    As an aside, it is a good time to note that polarization is good for modern politicians; it helps shift blame to the other party. As long as the blame is done correctly; neither side has reason to complain: Party A being blamed for the failure of Party B makes party A look heroic to their constituents, and vice versa, and that increases polarization. It is a feedback system that comes into play when neither side really care to pass legislation that harms their corporate masters, and both parties need voter contributions to help them ‘fight the good fight,’ as we are endlessly reminded in emails.

  102. Further, although these guidelines may seem harshly cynical, the intent is not to rain on parades, but create them. The point is to help me (and by writing here, others) distinguish reality from fantasy, so that less time and money gets wasted on fevered fantasy, and more is invested in operations that have a real chance of becoming reality.

    They are guidelines, they can be (or sometimes have to be) put aside in special circumstances.

    1) You might have no choice but to trust somebody you don’t know.

    2) Some losses really are just losses, not strategic losses in a greater picture. Once in a long while, you really can get something for free.

    3 & 4) Novel solutions really have been invented and proved magically effective. Most recently, Twitter appeared and (unintentionally) provided a cloak of invisibility that magically organized the Arab Spring. But novelty is the key because it is the only thing that can defeat (4), the principle that opponents will respond. Opponents know how to respond to previously experienced threats, their barricades, warriors and strategies are at the ready. It takes something new and unexpected to defeat them, something that can take them by surprise.

    5) Even politicians can choose to act against their own elective or financial interest for the common good. If you see no other plausible explanation for an act, they probably deserve some cautious credit.

  103. Tony,

    Equity can be reduced to mathematics easier than fairness can because it contains the element of impartiality. That’s part and parcel the reason for not allowing self-help. A sense of impartial equity can lead to a criminal being imprisoned for life. A sense of partial fairness may demand his death. Reducing the potential inequities created by a biased sense of fairness is the function utilizing third party judges employing rational equity rather than emotion.

  104. @Gene: Okay. I guess I think (and this may be just my personal bias) of “fairness” in impartial terms already. e.g. basically nobody ever thinks it is fair for THEM to be imprisoned or put to death or bankrupted. So I tend toward defining “fairness” in terms of what is most typically perceived by people that have no personal material loss or gain at stake; i.e. impartiality.

    But, given the potential for misunderstanding, I should probably amend my claim to “fairness with impartiality” or some such. My worry with using the word “equity” is I know that people get confused by it, maybe because it is most commonly used as a noun (like “I have equity in that company.”) That is why I am resistant to using it, I think that despite context, it does not have the same impact of “fair,” or “impartially fair.”

  105. Professor Turley,
    I am truly thankful that you have finally come around to realize the error of your ways in voting, not once, but twice, for the obvious charlatans who are in the process ruining our once-great country. Their damage will be forever, I’m afraid. If I, as a curious and patriotic citizen, knew who and what obama was two years before he ran for president, it is very hard for me to believe that you, as intelligent and concerned a person and professional as you seem to be, would ever vote for a person with obama’s history.

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