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”.  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.

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

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

  1. @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.”

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. @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.

  6. @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.

  7. @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.

  8. @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.

  9. @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.

  10. 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”

    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: . 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.

  11. @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.

  12. @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.”

  13. @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.)

  14. “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”.

  15. 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.

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