Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bachmann, The Pretzel Logic Propagandist Patriot

The Chief Mad Hatter of the Tea Party

  Michelle Bachmann’s political career finds its origins in the school board elections of a small backwater town, appropriately called Stillwater, which has a population of 18,000 and a racial makeup of 97.52% White. Fargo (1996), and Grumpy Old Men (1993) were filmed in Stillwater. You can still see the small town mindset in her appearance and demeanor. Bachmann may have been born in Iowa, but she grew up in Anoka, Minnesota, population 17,000.

  To gain her second term in 2010 Bachmann spent over $8.5 million dollars, "...more than any other House of Representative candidate, although her opponent, Tarryl Clark, was able to raise $4 million, one of the largest fundraising efforts in the nation for a U.S. House challenger."

 What did the people that helped her to outspend to be reelected get for their money ? She has never crafted a single jobs bill during her tenure in congress, and is more widely known for such bills as the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act”, and “To Repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act”. I can’t find any bill that she ever sponsored that has passed in the entire Congressional Record. I did see a couple of co-sponsored bills, but most of them were co-sponsored by the entire Republican caucus, except for one such bill renaming a post office building in Minnesota as one of 7 co-sponsors.

On her website michelebachmann.com , she states:
"As a constitutional conservative, I believe in the Founders' vision of a limited government that trusts in and preserves the unlimited potential of the American people."
 Now, calling one's self a "constitutional conservative is a Pandora's box in and of itself, since most persons calling themselves this appear to have either an extremely narrow interpretation of the term, an erroneously incomplete knowledge of the constitution, or both. 
 What I believe occurred to enable Bachmann now to have come to lead the Mad Tea Party caucus is that she has learned how to become the lead propagandist of that radical right evangelist portion of the Republican base. I will compare her studied mastery of the art of propaganda with some similarities she shares with two of the other most successful propagandists in world history, Augustus Caesar and Joseph Goebbels. Michelle Bachmann is no "snowflake snookie", as Sarah Palin has been characterized.

 Political terms such as Left and Right came from the period of the French Revolution, referring to French parlimentarians who were seated on the right of the chair of the parlimentary president who were supporters of the monarchy. There, the Right represented politicians who were for hierarchial rule, clericalism, and tradition, and invoked natural and divine law to justify the state of social inequalities. After the revolution, the far right emerged as counter-revolutionaries.  So the far right involves support of strong or complete social hierarchy in society, and supports supremacy of certain individuals or groups deemed to be innately superior who are to be more valued than those deemed to be innately inferior.

 "Asked if her positions are extreme, Bachmann replies that the Tea Party’s ideals are simply the most rational solutions to a broken and profligate government, and that the only option is to stand tough. 'I do not twist in the wind,' she says proudly."

 " In a speech in Minneapolis in 2006, Bachmann spoke of growing up with “the emotional struggles of not having a strong father in my life.” Two years after her father left, Bachmann joined a high-school prayer group. She had been brought up a Lutheran, but she knew little about the Bible. With the help of the members of the prayer group, she explained in the speech, she became a born-again Christian.. 'But what it meant was that all of a sudden I had a father'.... In the fall of 1975, Bachmann enrolled at Winona State University, a small school in southeastern Minnesota, where she became more devout and tried to lead her dorm mates to Christianity. There she met Marcus, whom, she has said, God called her to marry. She had a vision while praying 'of me marrying this man in the valley where his parents have a farm in western Wisconsin.' According to Michele, Marcus was simultaneously having a vision about marrying her."

 "Mythical figures were the foundation to Augustan propaganda. Throughout the life of Augustus, he attempted to link himself to divinity. His proclaimed divine lineage is mentioned throughout his propaganda program and acts as the glue holding all his work together."
"Every part of Augustus's propaganda is deliberate and intertwined with already existing ideas, and constantly repeating themes. Repetition made Augustus's program strong".
"The common tale that is constantly repeated in the propaganda of Augustus Caesar is the story of the founding of Rome. {editors note: Bachmann often refers to Stillwater as the birthpace of Mn.}. Augustus constantly returned to the same line of history to tie himself to the Divine Julius Caesar and to tie Julius Caesar to the gods....At the time of Augustus, these myths were as good as fact in the hearts and minds of the people of Rome...why would Augustus need these stories to be told ? These stories bring the art of Augustus to life...These stories also aided in the reception of the forms of propaganda that followed them. "

  As in Roman times, propaganda is a constantly repetitive multimedia affair, utilizing another of it's techniques, used Ad nauseam. Bachmann consistently uses controversial statements made to startle the media into reporting them, thus ensuring coverage and publicity. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to even find an example of propagandist techniques not being used by the RNC, Romney, and the superpacs as well as Bachmann herself. 

  Bachmann also shares a family "scandal" (obviously in her eyes) with Augustus, his daughter Julia. who was banished and several men were executed, forced to commit suicide, or exiled. It is hard to reconstruct what actually happened, but it was proved that she had taken part in nightly drinking parties on the Roman Forum and that she had a lover named Iullus Antonius. Other men were also reported to have enjoyed her favors, but this may be gossip. Bachmann's stepsister after her mothers 2nd marraige is a lesbian in a long term relationship. Bachmann had been reported to be very close to this sibling, but we've heard nothing of her during the campaign. 

 Speaking of Romney, the "blunderbuss businessman", it's appropriate to also note that in Rome:
"The celebration of the Secular Games in 17 BC was another deliberate piece of ‘media management’. The Games were supposed to mark a renewal for the city – the ending of one period and the beginning of the next. The propaganda appeal is obvious....Augustus must be one of the single most successful manipulators of his own image – he stands {in} comparison to the spin-doctors of the modern political scene. He was the conservative father figure, shepherding the nation (now both Rome and Italy) into a new golden age."

 "Also he ensured he satisfied Roman citizens' expectations in terms of "bread and circus". The agrarian laws established by the Gracchi at the times of the social wars a century earlier were still in place and still granted the poorer Roman citizens the right to purchase grain at half price. By the time of Augustus approximately half of the population was taking full advantage of this benefit. As Julius Caesar had when he was Aedile, Augustus ensured that great public games and feasts were regularly organised to keep the population happy."

"Rep. Michele Bachmann is promising to get the price of gasoline back below $2 a gallon if she is elected president." 

 Teapublican propaganda is primarily meant to draw an emotive response, often using fallacies and Ad hominem attacks as they now do to discredit the president’s very origin, religious upbringing, beliefs, and even rebuttable edited snippets of his statements. Labeling has had a huge effect on public opinion to poll as showing that a considerable amount of the voting public now believes the name calling of “the president is a muslim” despite any amount of coverage showing him with his family attending church and statements to the contrary. This is why logic, facts, and exposition of erroneous claims and information have little noticeable effect on the opinions of the “true believers”. Add to this the lately described physiological differences of the liberal vs. conservative mindset and the added stress of economic environmental conditions, and there is little wonder why polarization is now so remarkably prodigious.

 "It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success."
(Fest, The Face of the Third Reich, 1983 p 90)

Goebbles Principles of Propaganda (excerpts)
"1. Propagandists must have access to intelligence concerning events and public opinion.

{"Bachmann to Intelligence Committee"} 

5. Declassified, Operational Information must be available to implement a propaganda campaign. 

 {" Rep. Michele Bachmann says the Muslim Brotherhood, the international Islamist movement that recently came to power in Egypt, has made “deep penetration” within the U.S. government, and she wants an investigation of its influence within five federal agencies."}

6. To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium.

14. Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases and slogans." 

 And so it goes, on and on. But the parallels are chilling. 
(Goebbel's Principles of Propaganda
Author: Leonard W. Doob
Source: The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3, Autumn, 1950, pp. 419-442)

 "He openly acknowledged that he was exploiting the lowest instincts of the German people – racism, xenophobia, class envy and insecurity. He could, he said, play the popular will like a piano, leading the masses wherever he wanted them to go. 'He drove his listeners into ecstasy, making them stand up, sing songs, raise their arms, repeat oaths – and he did it, not through the passionate inspiration of the moment, but as the result of sober psychological calculation." Goebbels

 "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."  ~ Joseph Goebbels

"She comes from us, not to us,” said Dacosta, an industrial engineer and passionate political activist. “She speaks our code, and we believe her.”

 Bachmann once stated that the evangelist theologian Francis  Schaeffer “was a tremendous philosopher." (Lizza 2011) This, about a man who became unhinged philosophically after Roe vs. Wade and who speculated about the possibility that the U.S. government is controlling its citizens by means of psychotropic drugs.  Schaeffer was the major shaper of the Dominionist cult, and early on was one of the most influential evangelical activists in the U.S. 

 In 1981, three years before he died, Schaeffer published “A Christian Manifesto,” a guide for Christian activism, in which he argues for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe v. Wade isn’t reversed. In his movie, Schaeffer warned that America’s descent into tyranny would not look like Hitler’s or Stalin’s; it would probably be guided stealthily, by “a manipulative, authoritarian élite.” (Lizza 2011) It appears that Bachmann wants to be the chief sectarian leader of that authoritarian elite before its too late. Bachmann also mentions that her father was a strict authoritarian. 

"Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (...) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (...) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion."  (Hitler; Mein Kampf citations are from the Project Gutenberg-hosted 1939 English translation by James Murphy)

 If you’re afraid that Bachmann got her first law degree at the bottom of a cracker jack box, she very nearly did: “In 1979 Bachmann enrolled at the new O. W. Coburn School of Law in its inaugural year (and first of three name changes), at Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Bible, not the Constitution or conventional jurisprudence, guides the curriculum. For several years, the school could not get accreditation, because students were required to sign a “code of honor” attesting to their Christian belief and commitment.” (Lizza 2011)

(Lizza 2011) “The law review published essays by Schaeffer and Rousas John Rushdoony, a prominent Dominionist who has called for a pure Christian theocracy in which Old Testament law—execution for adulterers and homosexuals, for example—would be instituted.”

(Lizza 2011) “At Oral Roberts, Bachmann worked for a professor named John Eidsmoe… who In Alabama… he addressed an event commemorating Secession Day and told an interviewer that it was the state’s ‘constitutional right to secede,’ and that ‘Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.”

While her husband Marcus got a masters in counseling from an obscure Pat Robinson school, Bachmann attended the College of William and Mary to get a masters in taxation law, ostensibly because she was not professionally prepared for any serious career in law, and even for a couple of years at the I.R.S., she never litigated much as a junior lawyer, perhaps one case going to trial. “According to court documents, in 1992 Bachmann sought six thousand dollars in taxes from a Chippewa Indian who failed to report three years of income from Youth Project, Inc., a community-organizing nonprofit dedicated to “social justice and peace.” (Lizza 2011)

So there ended her law career. After several years of evangelical based anti-abortion and educational activism, Bachmann became a state senator continuing this agenda, railing   constantly against same sex marriage and other gay rights issues. Her election to congress simply elevated her to the national stage by making endless controversial statements from her philosophically evangelical right wingnut background. This continued with the backing of the mad Tea Party attracting so much attention that the media enjoyed popularizing her rants and raves and thus unwittingly propelled her right into the clown car of the Republican primary campaign for the presidency. 

(Lizza 2011) “Today, one of the leading proponents of Schaeffer’s version of Dominionism is Nancy Pearcey, a former student of his and a prominent creationist.” ”Sara Diamond, who has written several books about evangelical movements in America, has succinctly defined the philosophy that resulted from Schaeffer’s interpretation: “Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.”

(Lizza 2011) "When, in 2005, the Minneapolis Star Tribune asked Bachmann what books she had read recently, she mentioned two: Ann Coulter’s “Treason,” a jeremiad that accuses liberals of lacking patriotism, and Pearcey’s “Total Truth,” which Bachmann told me was a “wonderful” book.” 

Bachmann’s secular fundamentalism and Tea Party extremism is, when you come to think of it, the perfect madman's foil to the blunderbuss businessman Willard “Mittens” Romney to continue the attack on the middle class and it's progressive roots.  Her steadfast radical fundamentalist activism and his polling pliability and backing of the power elite have much to compare to the rise of the party of control in Germany during the socioeconomic strains of the 1930s, and the dealings (the "Settlements") of Octavian becoming Augustus of the Roman Empire, respectively. 

The philosophical unity slogan of the tripartite of fiscal, social, and the power elite conservatives is in the party line of “anyone but Obama”.  And the real power behind the throne, namely the neoconservative power elite, shares the same lust for conquest as did the Roman Empire in it's infancy and the facists of the 20th century.

A Dark Knight Rises, indeed.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Barbarians At The Tea Party

Or How the Romniacs Misread the British Tea Leaves

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark 
- Hamlet (1.4.90), Marcellus to Horatio

  The reticence of Willard "Mittens" Romney to cooperate with his hosts' Olympian endeavors is surprising at first since better etiquette might be expected from the crusty upperclassman, although one suspects that megalomania might be the primary cause for such incivility. But upon closer examination, it becomes more apparent why this participant of "dressage" clashes with even his Tory bosom buddies.

Mitt Happens

Insult to Injury

The Blunderbuss Businessman

  Mittens had previously stacked his deck of foreign policy advisers with the very same neoconservatives of the last Bush administration, with such infamous names as John Bolton, Eliot Cohen, Cofer Black, Walid Phares, Dan Senor, Max Boot, and Michael Hayden (who I'm still not sure why he's even involved in this). And oh, let's not forget their prime bankroller, Sheldon Adelson, who has the most narrow foreign policy agenda of his own.




  This set up of his so-called "War Cabinet" is so highly suspect that one might be led to believe that the far right wing of the Teapublican party might ride in on Mitten's coattails and claim to be protectors of  "U.S. interests" (actually their own) to drum up support for another war. And you might not be far off the mark.

It appears even Dick Cheney is clawing his way back into favor, performing a supporting role as a major fund raiser. Now that's really appalling to anyone who's appreciated the rise of America's recent standing in the world up until now as promulgated by the Obama administration, and deftly dealt with by Secretary Clinton in the true role that the U.S. State Department is responsible for. American influence has been repaired to a great degree by more than adequate stewardship, and competent handling of crises.

We simply can not, nay must not, permit these ex-Bushie bumblers to plunge us further into economic disrepair and military weakness as the unrepresentative shadow government in league with inept Teapublican freshmen would have us march again. We are still struggling to recover from those highly damaging 8 years of incompetent leadership under Bush with ineffective and misguided legislation, and the subsequent obstructive and recalcitrant 112th Congress, the most polarized since the Reconstruction. The most that the sequestration cuts to defense will total is approximately 10%, to the worst possible scenario of 14%, but further expeditionary follies need to hold anyway, before the armed forces of the U.S. become broken.



 Only 1 in 5 congressmen have had any military service, and that includes the current members of the military reserves who you may count on less than two hands. Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was the only member of Congress whose spouse was an active duty servicemember until his retirement. So I ask you, who are the true patriots now, and where are the politicians gutsy enough to stand up for their own country over party affiliation and reelection contributions ?





Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jihadist Aims In A Failed Islamic Nation State's Civil War Armed With Chemical Weapons ?

 What concerns me is to what ends the jihadists will use to justify their involvement, besides the probability that what may eventually replace the Assad regime will not be a democratic government. What the Romney campaign of neocon bumblers gives script to their candidate warning of the dream of the jihadists to establish a "caliphate" somewhere is not in Iran but is more possible in a united Sunni nation-state adjacent to their Al Qaeda power base in Iraq. However, of even greater concern will be the massive quantities of WMD that exist in Syria as nowhere else in the Middle East.

 The only parallels that the Romney group may be mistakenly but indirectly correct about is not the "Soviet threat" but the possibility of jihadist warfare by proxy in Syria. However arming them with heavy weapons is not, since they may fall into unwanted hands.

The jihadists are attempting to repeatedly paint the situation of the Assad regime's Alawite Shia minority as "occupiers" which is the rallying call for jihadist infiltration acceleration and engagement alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but the FSA has not fallen for this concept as of yet, whilst welcoming the participation of jihadists but downplaying the idea of foreign fighters entering the fray en masse themselves.

  The cause of immediate concern for the WMD is illustrated by the pilfering of large quantities of high explosives from the Iraqi depots as well as the unguarded warehouses of military hardware and materiel that was widely seen in Libya.

  However, this is not one of the centers of the "Arab Spring" so distant from the bases of jihadist power but adjacent to Iraq and sharing that porous border.
“Last month, a number of Israeli defense officials spoke out about Syria’s chemical stocks. Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh called Syria’s chemical stocks “the world’s largest” and warned that the Assad government would “treat us the same way they treat their own people,” according to a June 11 article in The Times of Israel. Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said Israel needed to continue to gather intelligence on Syria’s weapons stocks but also consider options for possible proliferation scenarios, including whether it would be “wise” or “nonsense” to attack “convoys carrying sophisticated and advanced Syrian weaponry if they are detected ahead of time,” according to a June 4 article in The Jerusalem Post.”

  Several difficulties would be encountered in any effort to eliminate Syrian stockpiles if they were threatened by non-state actors. It might not be feasible or even possible to physically defeat all WMD targets using conventional stand-off weapons, since many of the delivery systems and agents remain in what may be deeply buried hardened targets, necessitating use of advanced penetrating weapons with thermobaric payloads. Also, in a conventional attack against such targets, collateral effects may be target (rather than weapon) induced. For example, an attack against a chemical or even biological agent  storage or production facility might result in dispersal of hazardous agents over a large area. This effort to eliminate the stockpiles would be a much more intensive effort than simply operating a “no-fly zone”, and requiring constant monitoring and sorties.

“The US Defense Department recently estimated that it would take more than 75,000 US military personnel to guard Syria's chemical weapons. This is, of course, if they could arrive before any WMD were transferred or looted -- a highly unlikely prospect.”

  "At least six formal terrorist organizations have long maintained personnel within Syria. Three of these groups PDF -- Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- have already attempted to acquire or use chemical or biological agents, or both. Perhaps more troubling, Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters from Iraq have streamed into Syria, acting, in part, on orders from Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. In the past, Al Qaeda-in-Iraq fighters attempted to use chemical weapons, most notably attacks that sought to release large clouds of chlorine gas. The entry of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups into the Syrian crisis underscores its increasingly sectarian manifestation. Nearly 40 percent of Syria's population consists of members of minority communities. Syria's ruling Alawite regime, a branch of Shia Islam, is considered heretical by many of Syria's majority Sunni Muslims -- even those who are not jihadists. Alawites, Druze, Kurds, and Christians could all become targets for WMD-armed Sunni jihadists. Similarly, Shiite radicals could conceivably employ WMD agents against Syria's Sunnis."
"Last Thursday, James R. Clapper, the Obama administration's director of national intelligence, told Congress that the United States thought Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters were responsible for the most spectacular rebel attacks on Syrian military forces in recent months, including suicide bombings in Damascus in December and January and two attacks earlier this month in Aleppo. The four attacks, which targeted Syrian military or intelligence facilities, killed at least 70 people.
Clapper called the presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters in Syria a "disturbing phenomenon" and warned that the anti-Assad rebels "in many cases may not be aware they are there."
"Formerly, Syrians used to come to fight in Iraq, but now they are fighting in Syria," Adnan al Asadi, Iraq's acting minister of interior, said Feb. 2 in comments distributed to McClatchy last week."


“Syria is a major regional producer of phosphates that could conceivably be used for WMD. The country produces 2 million tons of phosphate per year and has an estimated reserve of around 2 billion tons. In October 2002 it was announced that a major "super" phosphate plant was to be constructed near Palmyra with a partnership between Russia and the state-owned General Company for Phosphate and Mines. A similar project is underway with the Indian firm, Dharmasi Morarji Chemicals Ltd”.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Gimme Shelter

Don’t argue about the difficulties. The difficulties will argue for themselves. ~ Winston Churchill


1)      An untreated clincally mentally ill graduate young male student despondent about his future (and he's right), Of course it has something to do with economic and social decline in our society ===>
2)      and since most of our mass murderers have a level of depressive symptoms, notice how nearly that compares to the profile for a terrorist domestic or foreign, and voila ! ===>
3)      Freely available materiel online, at gun shops, gun shows, etc for massacres. If not economic, then moral decline, with the same profile. Pick your poision. And while there obviously must be some pathological process here, remember there is still a fine line between mental illness and criminal behavior.

  This may be complex, but it is not rocket science; many of the gun owning public are responding with selfish defensive statements about their cherished collections during a time of mourning which makes it morally repugmant. I find myself arguing with gun owners who put up both simplistic and elaborate justifications, but it all boils down to me, me, me.

  Let’s frame the argument over the necessity for regulation, which is reserved to the government by the Second Amendment, to describe the gun as simply a tool usually employed for a specific job. It should follow then that for a task such as attaching two pieces of paper together, you only need a stapler, not a nail gun. This makes the use of a nail gun inversely proportional to the task at hand. This is the argument against “assault” wepaons.

  Put another way, if you need to attach some drywall to a beam, you may find that using a hammer is the correct tool to drive in the nails. However, if you are installing a hinge or working with glass, you will prefer to use screws and bolts and different implements. The NRA will have you believing that if everyone had a hammer, then all projects might be successful. But using simple reasoning it follows that by having various tools in your toolbox, and ensuring that you have been shown how to manipulate them correctly, that you will have a greater certainty of completing your project successfully and safely.

  Unfortunately the gun enthusiasts seem unable to see past their selfishness to extend the protection that their activity and ownership afford them to others in society who may need safety from weapons inappropriately acquired and used. How many more children need to die senselessly at mass shootings,  from accidental discharges, from misplaced rounds into residences, parks, and the like ? 

The Numbers

Wayne LaPierre and the NRA

The Last Word

  This time I appreciate Mayor Bloomberg's advocacy to try and set a fire under the calculating politicians either afraid of their controlling base (and corresponding base emotions) or of sparking a backlash, pushback, or whatever you worry about igniting. It's time for leadership and implementation and it's long past time to set this right. Close the loopholes about so-called "private gun sales" which are anything but private, enforce the laws already on the books and eliminate those "nod and a wink" procedures (or change them to facilitate enforcement), and reinstate the expired assault weapons ban. Anything less is simply more obstructionism or avoidance, take your pick.

Developing Into Decline

The Elites Are Unanimous: Lower Everyone's Wages and Standard of Living -- Except They Don't Say it Out Loud

America's 1% are in harmony on the matter that concerns them most -- who gets the biggest slice of the pie. 
By Jeff Faux, Alternet July 19, 2012
Editor's note: This essay is derived from Jeff Faux's new book, The Servant Economy: ​Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class, which William Greider calls a "really important book" that tells the "astonishing story of how class works."

  I wouldn't presume to give economic predictions myself, but I can offer up some ruminations on how those of us in the working poor -formerly known as the lower middle class- already know and feel what the author presumes the power elites do. 
  That "two earner" family has been struggling for decades, not only recently, buying "McMansions" with family rooms that no one has ever used because they're never home and work themselves to the bone doing overtime and/or several jobs to maintain, and even less reason to use them after all these new electronics have taken away any family time left. The new "toys" are wonderful distractions, but perpetuate that "keep up with the Jones" consumerism.

  Those "summer jobs" we used to work as teenagers no longer exist, and young people of college age have been unable to find any meaningful work before, during, and even in some cases after graduation. For those who do have jobs, productivity has reached the saturation point as the managerial class has kept their companies' labor pool to a minimum. The bulk of "burbs" and rural area jobs have been paying minimum wages for decades, and not everyone can work at Walmart, drive a truck, or get one of those temp jobs as an admin assistant. Not to mention that the temporary agencies exploit their employees like developing country remitters. Or worse:


  The financialization of  the "Wall Street" that has been preying on "Main Street" for many, many years has led to now a complete lack of ethics in trading and banking,  promoted CEO worship and promulgated such ruthless corporate raiders as Willard "Mittens" Romney (he sounds so much "sexier" as a gangster) as the new role models for the one percenters. One percenters, that even sounds like a gang !

  The author and others complain about a credit crunch, but consumer saving has been on the upswing for awhile now, business debt as well as inventories held down, and credit has eased. The hoarding of cash is now the problem that the Wall Steet crowd AND the financiers have created to further obfuscate matters. It's true that the financiers and I'm sure some others are overjoyed to just sit on their own respective piles of currency collecting the interest on those high yield bonds, but that's nothing compared to what they could be reaping from normal capitalistic spending.

  What both disappoints and surprises me is the manufacturers'  timidity and alledged hesitation to invest in our future. "Uncertainty" is no excuse for supposed risk taking capitalists, so of more concern is the perceived lack of consumer demand, which is true in most economists' eyes that I've read, so perhaps industy is examining the very same reading.

  We now resemble a developing country in many ways. One reason to say this is because along with our current extremes of inequality, the complexity of the tax code and all it's pecularities favoring corporatism at the expense of public works and policy facilitates tax evasion and avoidance. The refusal to tax fairly the wealhiest sections of our society supplemented by voter repression and the lack of a reasonable immigration policy come together to suppress the growing ethnic minorities in favor of the power elites that constitute the controlling political minority. These lax tax policies are simply a cost-effective way to control populist challenges to the then dominant minority's power base.

  What is happening now can be adequately described by the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee, who theorized that all civilizations pass through several distinct stages: genesis, growth, time of troubles, universal state, and discintegration. Toynbee argues that societies that develop great expertise in problem solving simply become incapable of solving new problems by overdeveloping their structures for solving old ones. Thus, the "creative minority" degenerates into the dominant minority that fails to recognize new ways of thinking due to a worship of their "former self", becoming prideful and unable to adequately address further challenges ( Arnold J. Toynbee, "A Study of History" 1961).

  Toynbee (1961) then states that the ultimate sign that a civilization is disintegrating is when the dominant minority forms a "Universal State", which stifles political creativity. He states:
"First the Dominant Minority attempts to hold by force - against all right and reason - a position of inherited privilege which it has ceased to merit; and then the Proletariat repays injustice with resentment, fear with hate, and violence with violence when it executes its acts of secession".

  Toynbee (1961) argues that as civilizations decay, they form an "Internal Proletariat" and an "External Proletariat". The Internal proletariat is held in subjugation by the dominant minority inside the civilization, and grows bitter; the external proletariat exists outside the civilization in poverty and chaos, and grows envious. He further argues that as civilizations decay, there is a "schism in the body social...". Doesn't this sound like the rich, the middle class, and the working poor ?  Sound familiar ? No, I don't mean simply the words as if they were Marxian, because they're not, this is from a comparative history study in complexity science terms, don't let it scare you. But it should ring some bells in some belfries and have some resonance with the present day OWS movement, relevancy to this election year, and to  American society in general.

 All in all, our incomes and standard of living are not what worry me, it's this developing decline of our society, and just as trying to predict the stock market, we can't be sure of when it's actually going to be disintergrating. I relate our societal fissures to the actual decline of the West in general, since these are clearly global trends, primarily in Europe and other developed countries. North American political polarization has come full measure into various large electorates becoming dissassociated with our original U.S. Constitutional intentions of procedure. Our 112th Congress is reported to be the most polarized since the reconstruction. The Republican base that has become so radicalized and so ignorant of the actual Bill of Rights that it now makes up the largest portion of those who unwittingly point towards parlimentarisnism, although once they realize what they're asking for, it might be a unicameral one. And that would be un-American.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Wild Wild West

 Mayor Bloomberg Testifies

 It almost did involve my sons tonight, Mr. Mayor.  After viewing considerable discussion from non-gun nuts, it appears that yes, there is no correlation between most gun laws and gun homicides, as in Russia. However, there IS a very concrete even cause and effect between gun possession and suicide and accidental homicide rates. So those are those facts. Now the reality of life sets in, and while I was just watching the beginning of the Harris-Perry show and her coverage of the Aurora mess, I heard two shots nearby not 10 minutes after I had sent my younger son out for milk and my older son was still on his way home. Turns out there was a man shot in the chest around the corner from us so close that they were still searching our backyard for another perp or the firearm. I'm sick of this. I'm retired military and EMS, have seen it all before, but I don't want to see it anymore.... Now I completely agree with Mr. Bloomberg about something. As a former NYPD radio dispatcher, and friend of numeous cops back then, they'd all agree with getting guns off the street.

  The show was recorded, I was watching it prior to 10:40 PM (EST), which was the aproximate time of the shooting, give or take 5 minutes. I saw nothing to be of use as a witness, because around the corner and slightly uphill is out of my field of vision from my  apartment.

   You know how the guns come into NYC, they're largely smuggled in on the "Iron Pipeline", which refers to guns acquired through illegal straw purchases in the Southeast and smuggled up the I-95 corridor, and from around the country from private gun shows as well.


Operation Young Guns

 Here's "America's Mayor", who I vehemently disagree with on many issues, making a ton of sense. Must have been because it was coming from his core as Federal prosecutor who knows better than the average joe. I see the FOP is in the NRAs pocket, with the NRA being a much feared lobbying influence on scared rabbit Republicans.


1800 was the yearly gun homicide total when I was working on the street as a "Tactical Patrol" unit in Brooklyn, where most of the shootings occurred. Six is the highest number of "cracked chests" that I've seen AT ONE TIME simultaneously in Kings County Emergency Room. Two is the number of shots I hear that were pumped into the chest of a man next to my house (well, apartment) tonight while I was watching a tape of this show. Two is also the number of sons I have, and thank God they're safe with me tonight. Well, are we really ? 

Getting mental health help is not always timely, of course. But getting all that ammo online ? Acquiring real CS or CN gas that works ? Getting an assault rifle (who cares where it got it's classification) since the federal law expired in 1996 ?

You can't realistically tell me that everything is just fine and dandy, because I've been living it, and it's not.  There's not much difference living here on so-called placid Staten Island as there is when I was visiting Panama and hearing the shots there from Noriega's old buried weapons being used in robberies. OUR own society is in serious decline, and we have to take responsibility for that.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Romney's 3 R's: Returns, Relevancy, & End Runs

 Or, The Disintegration of American Ability to Tax the Elite 

There are two separate Romney entities, one being the venture capitalist Romney, and the other the private equity Romney. ("The Two Faces Of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital", Ezra Klein, Washington Post 2012)
Now Romney has doubled down in response to demands for more than only one year's tax return, an anomaly that no other presidential candidate in recent memory has done since Ross Perot refused to release any, when Perot's rate was guesstimated to be less than 7%. Ah, Mittens has been involved in the murky world of offshore banking since he started Bain Capital in 1984, when many of the investors who helped fund his start-up did so through Panamanian registered companies. You know, that place called "Isthmus" in the 1989 James Bond movie, "Licensed to Kill".

Bain Capital Started with help of offshore investors




What's in Romney's Offshore Accounts

Now Romney pays no more than a 15% tax rate on monies he collects from the Bain group as highly contested "carried interest" that is normally paid to investment managers, but he claims to have left the firm in 1999.
"  Romney is the poster boy, the best argument, for taxing this profit share as ordinary income.." {ed note: Lee Sheppard is a contributing editor at the trade publication Tax Notes}
" Romney’s financial disclosure form lists 25 of them in an open-ended category, “Over $1 million,” including So­lamere and Elliott, and they are not broken down further. Romney hides behind a disclaimer that the fund managers “declined to provide such information” about their underlying assets. Many of these funds are set up in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, where a confidentiality law states that you can be jailed for up to four years just for asking about such information. " (Shaxson, Vanity Fair August 2012).

The only tax return that Romney has released, his 2010 return, does not show the offshore accounts. The IRS form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts as of this date unknown to this author.

Follow the Money


 Romney's Bain IRA reportedly contains up to $102 million (who's counting ?). How is this so ? Tax returns may not explain much here. So, all these elaborate attempts at secrecy and offshore stashes begs the question: what was this moneyed power elitist thinking ?

" Romney described himself as driven by a core economic credo, that capitalism is a form of “creative destruction.” This theory, espoused in the 1940s by the economist Joseph Schumpeter and later touted by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, holds that business must exist in a state of ceaseless revolution....Far better, Romney wrote in his book No Apology, “for governments to stand aside and allow the creative destruction inherent in a free economy.”

‘How people are taxed, who is taxed, and what is taxed tell more about a society than anything else.’
(C. Adams (1993). For Good and Evil. The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization. London: p.21)

  The final point to be made about a presidential candidate like this is to avoid him at all costs. In addition to his extreme cautiousness to completely cover up his personal finances and proclivity to ship US jobs overseas and prefers to make foreign investments, I keep stressing that he's a foreign policy neophyte surrounded by the same neocons straight out of the Bush administration, but it looks like the polarized dividing lines between what portion of the independent voters are left are already drawn, and that pool has shrunk considerably.

Joseph Tainter, in his treatise The Collapse of Complex Societies states that "..too many scholars offer facile explainations of societal collapse by assuming...{that} in the face of collaspe:
The Dinosaur, a large-scale society in which resources are being depleted at an exponential rate and yet nothing is done to rectify the problem because the ruling elite are unwilling or unable to adapt to those resources' reduced availability: In this type of society, rulers tend to oppose any solutions that diverge from their present course of action. They will favor intensification and commit an increasing number of resources to their present plans, projects, and social institutions"

 Tainter : ‘Will we find, as have some past societies, that the cost of overcoming our problems is too high relative to the benefits conferred, and that not solving problems is the economical option?’ (Tainter, Joseph, The Collapse of Complex Societies, 1990, Cambridge University Press, p213).

  But that sounds so much like the current Teapublican controlled house of representatives that the term "Dinosaur" sticks easily to that formerly highly respected body of lawmakers, or what were primarily lawmakers. Now they rarely produce any bills relevant to this economy or even to effect a compromise to achieve anything on the only issue close to their heart (besides reproductive rights repression), the deficit. 

 So this is the de facto leader of the power elite, whose tax evasion and avoidance supplement voter suppression and out right purchasing of elections. This leaves us with a moral standard dragging in the dirt of modern politics in the wake of our loss of actual universal suffrage due to the Citizens United decision. We the People vs. we the corporations. God save us all, and God save the United States.  

For further reading  
in Toynbee comparative history:

The process of manufacturing an intelligentsia is still more difficult to stop than it is to start; for the contempt in which the liaison-class is apt to be held by those who profit by its services is more than offset by its prestige in the eyes of those who are eligible for enrolment in it; and the competition becomes so keen that the number of the candidates rapidly increases out of all proportion to the number of opportunities for employing them. When this stage is reached, the original nucleus of an intelligentsia which is consoled by being employed becomes swamped by the adventitious mass of an 'intellectual proletariat’ which is idle and destitute as well as outcast. p157

The symptoms of unrest in the 'intellectual proletariat' of Japan thrust themselves upon the attention of the writer of this Study during a visit to the Far East in the autumn of 1929. The Japanese Government's extreme nervousness about 'dangerous thought’ was exhibited to the traveller when, upon landing in Japan, he was required, as part of the regular passport and customs procedure, to make a complete return of any books and pamphlets that might be included in his luggage. Evidently the Japanese authorities believed that some important element in the population was particularly prone to catch the mental infection of foreign subversive ideas; and, equally evidently, they were terrified about the possible consequences of the disease if once it did gain a hold upon, the Japanese body social. Some of the grounds for this anxiety on the Japanese dominant minority's part were soon revealed to the writer when, in the university town of Kyoto, he was informed that, out of the last graduation-class of students, only 20 per cent, of the young men and women had succeeded in finding employment. Since a majority of the students were the children of poor parents—mostly workers on the land—and had been given their university education (which incidentally unfitted them for pursuing their ancestral calling) at the cost of heavy sacrifices and privations on their family's part, the failure of their education to bring in any economic return was nothing less than a social disaster. p158

How is this apparent spiritual barrenness of our Western internal proletariat to be interpreted? 

On first thoughts we might perhaps be tempted to draw an encouraging conclusion. We might account for this dearth of creative achievement by the fact, which we have already observed,  that some of the finest of the plants that have been uprooted in our Western garden have managed hitherto to strike root again on virgin soil. In other words, some of the most promising of the recruits to our Western internal proletariat have been prevented from making any appreciable contribution to a new proletarian culture by the fact that they have been successfully reabsorbed into an unruptured Western body social; and this is a fact on which we may surely congratulate ourselves; since it may be taken to mean that, in our Western Society, the schism between Proletariat and Dominant Minority has been partially repaired, and that the breakdown of our civilization (if it has broken down) has been to that extent retrieved. p188 

(Arnold J. Toynbee, a 12-volume magnum opus A Study of History (1961))


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mass Seduction Bain Corporate Cultism Style

Or How Millions Could Become Romniacs

 This election has more at stake than one might see at a cursory glance, which is what most Americans are giving the campaign by now and during the summer, cursory glances. What slipped through the SCOTUS in 2000 may again manifest itself in the 2012 elections, that is another administration identical to that of George W's, but this time with a cultish figurehead.

Romney’s “Flip-Flops And Business Success” Are Connected Because “Abandoning Deeply Held Attitudes And Reversing Positions Are Job Requirements” For CEOs.
“So, how are Romney’s flip-flops and business success connected? People suspect, perhaps correctly, that Romney really doesn’t believe all the things he’s saying. … [S]uch hypocrisy, which turns off voters, is something like a job requirement for CEOs. In the executive suite, abandoning deeply held attitudes and reversing positions are job requirements. How often have you seen a CEO proclaim that a struggling unit is not for sale, only to put it on the block a few months later? A CEO will praise a product to the skies one day and then cancel it the next. He’ll boast, sincerely, that his companyis No. 1 in the industry and then, when he quits the next day to run a rival, claim that the new firm is tops.”
(DanielGross, “The CEO Candidate,” Slate.com, 2/26/07)
Found in: http://www.scribd.com/doc/78582788/McCain-2008-Oppo-File


"The unravelings of Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom have raised searching questions about corporate leadership and even shaken investors’ faith in corporate America. These debacles have revealed incompetent, unethical, and massively self-serving individuals atop corporations."
("The Cult of the Charismatic CEO", Craig Lambert, Harvard Magazine, September-October 2002)

Corporate cultism naturally engenders CEO worship, especially celebrity CEOs. Romney certainly now certainly qualifies in this regard, coming to the American public claiming to be “I’m Basically In The Investors’ Hall Of Fame.”  (John McElhenny, “Romney, O’Brien Spar At Gubernatorial Debate,” The Associated Press , 10/25/02). There are many pitfalls and dangers in the CEO selection process, one being that now "No longer a sober administrator pretty much unknown outside the company, the CEO was a charismatic leader, understood to embody quasi-religious vision, values, and mission. Who dared to question a sacred leader" ? (See Craig Lambert's "The Cult of the Charismatic CEO" in Harvard Magazine). Many are now carefully hand picked under the heavy influence of major investor groups, not simply voted in by a board of directors that is recommended by that board's chairperson. Note that Romney's style never even included the usual board's process, usually retaining all these posts for himself and directing his company in a cruel dictatorial style of management, not easily described as leadership. It follows then, that how can we expect one's subordinates to have any empathy towards the thousands of jobs including managerial positions swept aside in the name of profits ?

“The Boston-based venture capitalist likes to be in control. ‘(At SLOC) I don’t have the kind of control I’m used to in thebusiness world,’ he said. ‘When I was involved in (the resurrection of the beleaguered international firm BainConsulting), I insisted on having almost dictatorial powers. … That was essential.’” (Lisa Riley Roche, “Mitt ExemplifiesThe New Openness Sought For SLOC,” Deseret News , 2/12/99)

“[S]ome colleagues found Romney to be manipulative. Romney had an ability to identify people’s insecurities and exploit them to his own benefit,’ says a source who worked with Romney but refused to be quoted for ‘fear of retribution.’ This source says that Romney would vary bonuses among his partners just enough to put people on edge, giving $3.1 million to one, $3 million to another and $2.9 million to another.” (Evan Thomas et al, “Is Mitt Romney Ready For Prime-Time Politics?” Newsweek , 4/16/07)

Comparative studies: ( When Cults Collide: How Big Sports and CEO Worship Threaten Societies, Lynn ParramoreDecember 13, 2011, Alternet.org)

And a prime indicator of things at Bain under Romney was the demand for purity, as well as self sacrifice making huge contributions towards his campaigns. (Chapter 22: "Ideological Totalism, The Demand for Purity", Robert Jay Lifton, 1989, University of North Carolina Press)

"Transformational Leadership, Corporate Cultism and the Spirituality Paradigm: An Unholy Trinity in the Workplace?", Dennis Tourish and Ashly Pinnington Human Relations 2002, Sage Publications


Corporate Cults: The Insidious Lure of the All-Consuming Organization, by Dave Arnott    

"Typically, cults have a shared commitment to a charismatic leader and uphold a transcendent ideology, the nature of which varies dramatically from group to group but which is as likely to be secular in nature as it is religious (Lalich, 2004). A cult’s leader therefore possesses enormous authority in the eyes of his or her followers.
Having invested many of their hopes for a better life in the leader, followers are intrinsically motivated to look positively on the leader’s words and actions. The resulting  high commitment of members is usually expressed in Stakhonivite work norms which mean that the group environment virtually monopolises their time. Members also replace their pre-existing beliefs and values with those of the group, lose confidence in their own perceptions in favour of those of the group’s leaders, and
experience social punishments such as shunning by other members if they deviate from carefully prescribed norms (Langone, 1995; Singer, 1987). Conformity is critical. The outcome is an environment dominated by what has been described as ‘bounded choice’ (Lalich, 2004) – i.e. one in which the expression of only a limited and tightly regulated repertoire of beliefs, behaviours and emotions is permissible."
"In particular, Maccoby (2000) suggests that many charismatic leaders are narcissists. They have a strong need for power, high self confidence and strong convictions (De Vries et al., 1999). However, whatever their virtues, narcissists tend to be overly sensitive to criticism, can be poor listeners, lack empathy, have a distaste for mentoring and display an intense desire to compete (Maccoby, 2000). In addition, Conger (1990: 50) has argued that charismatic leaders may find themselves prone to:
Exaggerated self-descriptions.
Exaggerated claims for the vision.
A technique of fulfilling stereotypes and images of uniqueness to manipulate audiences.
A habit of gaining commitment by restricting negative information and maximizing positive information.
Use of anecdotes to distract attention away from negative statistical information.
Creation of an illusion of control through affirming information and attributing negative outcomes to external causes."

"Charismatic Leadership and Corporate Cultism at Enron: The Elimination of Dissent, the Promotion of Conformity and Organizational Collapse", Dennis Tourish and Naheed Vatcha, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University, UK

“These business flips are fine, because in the corporate world, people don’t confuse advocacy of acompany’s strategy or products and services with personal honor or integrity. … Good CEOs don’t simply stakeout public positions and stick to them for 20 years. They devise new business strategies and business plans to cope with changing market conditions.” (Daniel Gross, “The CEO Candidate,” Slate.com, 2/26/07)

“It is clear that Romney approaches politics not as a crusade but as a business case study. He doesn’t run in elections, he competes in markets. In 1994, the former management consultant knew his market. … Today, Romney correctly recognizes that what is appropriate for one market (Massachusetts voters) clearly is not appropriate for another market (Republican-primary voters).” (Daniel Gross, “The CEO Candidate,” Slate.com, 2/26/07

Monday, July 16, 2012

Romney Raves To Have One's Cake and Eat It

"To want a horse that both runs fast and consumes no feed"
                                                            Old Chinese Proverb

 Allow me to introduce a basic economic concept that the Chinese proverb and the title suggest, and that is opportunity cost. The relevance here are those costs not necessarily monetary or financial, but the real cost of output forgone, lost time, or other efforts that Romney may have otherwise spent back at Bain whilst laboring at the games in question. I'm no economics expert, but the comparison is quite illustrating as to perhaps why he made the moves to reenter politics that he did.

 Romney, being a political animal, was considering a run at a governorship where ever he could, and Utah and Massachusetts both looked good, apparently. I can not confess to know what was in his mind, even from his writings, which only further serve to muddy the waters, however intentional or not. But just as opportunity presented itself in the Olympic committee bribery scandal, so it did when the Republican machine edged out the acting governor, although he had to refile Massachusetts taxes after Democrats complained about his state of Utah returns.


 Now in the 2012 race Romney has first made the claim of qualifying as deserving of the Teapublican deity title of job creator and creating 100k jobs in his lucrative career in private industry. " In the business I had, we invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs." 
— Mitt Romney, Jan. 7, 2012

 Romney had now chosen to confusticate his twin roles as venture capitalist and corporate raider even further during the already clownish Republican primary campaign. Claiming 100k job creation from his business record is a non sequitur. His campaign claimed these jobs were the total of jobs added at three firms, Staples, The Sports Authority, and Domino's Pizza. However, none of these are true, for he wasn't managing Staples, only making an initial minority investment, The Sports Authority was actually a K-Mart spin-off, and he claims to have left at the same time Bain was aquiring Domino's. All three of these claims have since been debunked.






 Starting to see the pattern ? Now, Romney couldn't decide whether or not from 1999 to 2002 if he was the true owner and CEO, CEO being only one of the four top executive titles he held, or not, and  he still claims credit for contributing to companies like Staples, because he still sat on the board of directors due to the fact that he headed Bain. Will the real executive please stand up ? I don't bemoan his hard work at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and I had two relatives performing there at the time, but the current smoke and mirrors show is a little too much to digest. It just doesn't sit well, as I'm certain it doesn't for many other Americans today either.






 A little corporate huddling and a few planning meetings must have given Romney a heads up as to what was on the horizon for his opportunist political plans and what was, or was not going to be predictive of politically expedient and responsible corporate behavior for his company. I mean it was still his company, lock, stock, and barrel, and prior to his leaving for Salt Lake City and during his "absence" these factors must have shaped both his decision to step away, and then return to now what he is calling "retroactively" retire (who ever heard of such a thing ?). He was not performing divestiture en todo, simply placing a comfortable distance between his management of the company(s) involved in the outsourcing of US jobs, and reaping the profits for some time to come. Quite a balancing act, and he almost got away with it, but ah the paper trail. Something he could not control as readily and antiseptically as he did with his governorship records in their entirety, completing wiping them clean, even all the state hard drives.




  I had to turn off "Morning Joe" this morning because I was so tired of hearing that one note Solyndra samba being beaten to the bar by a another former Bushie neocon associate sent as a surrogate Romney mouthpiece, and it also appears that their campaign set up the usual smokescreen defense, which has been already diluted by hosing down their ridiculous claims, thank goodness.


 I, and I'm sure many Americans, perhaps a majority are becoming numb to the mantra of the repetitive talking points of the Teapublican driven campaign, and am really hopeful that we can come out of this election season with another term for President Obama to get some more vitally needed work done with more Democratic control of the congress. It appears now that our future may depend upon this direction of the pendulum to swing as progressive as the American people have their true opinion.