Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Shut Down- from Antares...

As old readers here know, I have a team of visiting anthropologists - from Antares - camping out in my attic.  Periodically they offer insights into human behavior, from their very uninvolved perspective.  A bit baffling sometimes, but sometimes, perhaps, useful.  When I can understand them, through their guffaws and giggles.  Just the word "economics" for example, tends to make them start choking on their own tentacles.

The USA is currently "shut down", as virtually every human on the planet is sharply aware.  In remote villages in India, the community hunkers in front of their one satellite TV, and watches the latest noise from our politicians, who have locked antlers.


Looks exciting, of course, but when the antlers actually lock (which does happen) the inevitable result is death, for both combatants.  Either via predators, or starvation.  And we are, currently - locked.

One of the primary results of this political deadlock is a vast irruption of "explanations", via all media.  A veritable pundit super-volcano has appeared, drowning the media in lucid, logical lists - of each pundit's pre-existing beliefs.  My Antarean friends have actually reached saturation in their normally insatiable sense of humor- they're getting tired of it.  And not that this will make any difference to H. sap, of course, (since we never listen), but they decided to take pity on me, at least, and explain it all.

So here it is; in case you want to understand.  Warning: the outlook isn't good.

"History!!" the Antarean leader chortles.  "Humans are almost the only species in the known Universe that keeps track of their past; and then not only ignores it- but constantly talks about ignoring it!  You even have a running contest in smart sayings by smart thinkers on how humans ignore it!"

The Antareans, however, dissect human history, constantly.  You have a breakdown in "democratic government"?  Maybe- it would be good to look at the entire history of "democracy" - how it came about, how it has failed before- and what preceded it, in human history.

Any good academic could turn this discussion into a 5,000 page tome.  None of us really have time for that, though; so I'm going to cut to the chase.

The Antarean anthropologists point out that before "democracy", there were two competitive forms of human government; monarchy or some authoritarian variant; and tribal councils.  Authoritarian governments quickly began to dominate the world stage, since it's quite easy for a King to say "Your sons will fight in my army; now." and enforce that; but it's rather difficult for tribal council governments to sustain armies and wars.

Tribes often require that large decisions be made by - unanimous consent.  They talk; until all tribe members publicly agree- "Ok; we'll do that."  It's understood that some members do not like this action, spoke against it, and still think it's a bad idea- but nonetheless, agree that the tribe will take this action- because no decision, and no action, and deadlock; would all be far more destructive.  If the disagreement is too deep- the safety valve is understood to be that the tribe will split.  You're free to go do it your way- on the other side of the mountains.

Authoritarian governments forbid splitting, and punish it with death.  No, you may not leave; we're all in this together.  Great way to keep your army working.

As the human population increased, however, the tribal groups simply ran out of places to go to; nearly all government by unanimous consent was replaced by authoritarian governments- which became intolerably abusive.  Power corrupts, etc.  So "democracy" was born- able to make decisions by "majority" vote, with modest variations on how you define majority.

Now, all you have to do to get a workable decision is convince a majority.  49% don't agree this is a good idea?  Tough.  We're doing it anyway.  So very much faster than weeks of discussion.   When true democracy became too slow, "representative republics" were developed; a kind of hybrid authoritarian-democracy; still involving a periodic vote.

Segue to "the tyranny of the majority"; followed by "checks and balances" as in the USA Constitution, designed to ensure "minority rights".

It's taken a while for the revised system to hit the wall - but that's what it's done.  Because in all cases, "majority rule" requires that the minority acquiesce to decisions they disagree with.  For 200 years; that was our tradition; you lost the election?  Win the next one; meanwhile, we're one country.

But what we stopped doing was the long tribal councils- where all voices were truly listened to, and respected- and the acquiescence of the minority was formally sought, and acknowledged.  Little by little, the resentment has built- until we now have a minority that refuses to be governed; and also refuses to even listen to the majority's arguments- truly; locked antlers.

All governments require the consent of the governed.  That is what we have lost.

And what sobers my Antarean friends up is, they don't see how we're going to get it back.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

News watchers- get your binoculars NOW...

Oh, my, my, my.  There's a really nice chunk of news going on, right this very second- and there's a free education also being offered to all serious citizens in the "reality" of how "news" reaches us.

The Washington Post, this morning, featured as its Front Page Top Headline- a story - and audio recording- apparently stemming from Bob Woodward (remember Watergate?  yeah; him.)  In the "Style" section.

The recording is of a very, very private conversation - in Afghanistan; in the office of General Petraeus.  You can hear them say "are your ears off?"  They weren't off.  It's a flat offer from Rupert Murdoch to "bankroll" a Presidential candidacy by Petraeus.  Run by the current head of Fox News.

Yep.  Read all about it.  Woodward's story here.  Also in "Style"; but a featured top headline.  For a few hours.

If you go to The Washington Post website right this minute- not one word of all this is in any headline- it's been removed.  At least- they haven't removed the links; but you have to search for them.

Are you hearing about it elsewhere?  Only if you search.  Yes, ABC and CBS have picked it up- but you won't find it on their headlines.

I think- tomorrow - you will.  But at the moment- someone is VERY very ticked off- and pressure has been brought to bear, to bury it.  For a while.  But this one is SO not going to go away.

Oh, so many questions.  Why is Fox News advising our top General?  Why are they asking him to write their headlines?  (They did.)  Why is Rupert Murdoch offering to "bankroll" our politicians?

Why is General Petraeus unaware that someone is making recordings of his conversations, in his office??  The guy who was most recently- the head of the CIA?

Oh, this one is going to be fun.  Take a look!  My guess is- they'll keep it wrapped up a little while; but not forever.  It's just way too much stinky fish.


Update; Feb. 20, 2013.    Wow.  I guess even week old stinky fish can be wrapped up so tight it won't smell.  This story; as of now, has disappeared completely.  If you didn't pick up on it within that 3 day window- you're out of luck.  Right now; all the links still work.  Send them around so they can't totally disappear.  And learn- yes; your news is controlled.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A little perspective...

We have a little internal conflict these days in the Little House; Spice is deeply engaged by, and involved in, the US presidential election bustle; and I am not.

I freely admit that when I was her age, I was all tangled up by it.  But, having seen many presidential elections come and go (the first one I remember was Eisenhower...) - I find it all a great deal less exciting these days.

Is it important?  Well, sure.

But- it may help you relax if you can come to truly understand - that what you see going on in the public media is a performance; not government.  And the performances you see have little to do with what will actually happen after the elections.

So; really; you might as well relax a bit; and enjoy the chorus lines.  Because that's what they are; well rehearsed, singing and dancing scripts written by professionals who are not on stage, and yes, occasionally one trips and stumbles on stage, so we can all go "oooo!"

And, there are the old troupers, and the ingĂ©nues.

In amongst all the frenzied kerfuffing (neologism alert) about last nights Biden-Ryan tango, what came to my mind most prominently was Biden's better grasp of old, old advice, long available.

What matters is the emotions engendered, long after the dance; all the "logic" invoked will have been long since lost when voters step into their booths.  Was this person strong, or weak; is what will be remembered.

And in that vein of thought, what I dredged out of my ancient neuro archives was this patter song from a very old Danny Kaye movie; The Inspector General.

For those not familiar- Danny is playing an ignorant, illiterate, sub-peasant; who suddenly finds the people in this village believe him to be the Inspector General sent to root out corruption.  Admitting he is not, will likely get him hanged.  So- this is his pondering how to - fool everyone.

Which- is what politicians do, you know.

Enjoy the song; I love it dearly.  And the wisdom it contains is vastly larger than you might think at first.

As usual; if the Blogger player is cranky; go straight to YouTube for it.  Be patient!  It's a long clip, a bit uneven, but with very tasty bits.


Might as well.

One of my favorite lines of all times:  "Up off your knees!!  STOP LICKING MY BOOTS!"


That and the end of the song; "Give 'em the Fist! Give 'em the Wrist! Give 'em the ....  "  oh, my.  He slipped one past the censors there, the rascal!  The original audiences had to be gasping.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Grab this one quick!

The rumors today that the US Justice Dept. is preparing CRIMINAL! charges for some folks over the Libor fixing scandal - has got the folks on Wall Street seriously spooked!  (What!  Golly!!  You mean- you were expecting us to follow the rules!??  We had no idea!!)  And we've got the proof right here!

Bloomberg News feed is currently (but not, I bet, for long) running THIS headline:

Yep, that's right.  There may be charges- in Sepetmeber!

LOL!!!  For a news service that certainly strives for cool and correct- Sepetmeber is just a really huge whoopsie.  Only accountable as- oh, some nerves, maybe?  Or, maybe that's how you spell it, in Amercia?
UPDATE; next day, the URL is still working, to my amazement- but they DID change the resulting headline, to something quite different, and spelled correctly.  Tres amusant.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Political dialogue!

In the Polka Dot Gallows category. Today's cartoon strip from Brewster Rockit is the most intelligent commentary on current political processes I've seen; reaffirming my contention that our comedians and humorists are in fact today's actual great philosophers.

True, true, true, and yes, it hurts.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I have the answer.

No, really. :-)

So, the Republicans have managed to bring all lawmaking and government in the USA to a crashing halt, yes? Government by blackmail. Set up some phony "moral imperative", in our case, "no taxing the rich", and sit down in the middle of the road, announcing that you will never never be moved from your moral high ground.

Not only is the USA about to go into a government shut down; since no budget is going to be passed. And maybe a sovereign default. But my own state of Minnesota is in the identical place; Democrat governor, Republican legislature; absolute stalemate.

The thing is, the Republicans are all gleeful, since they've discovered the power of "just say no". Like all 12 year-olds, they are having huge fun. And the grown-ups in the situation, whoever they may be, are just really struggling to find any kind of a handle. Alas, corporal punishment of 12 year old Congressmen is probably not an option.

So, it occurred to me. What do you DO, when your kid climbs up a 40 foot tall tree, and refuses to come down?

There's the answer, staring us in the face. You tell the kid- "ok, fine. Stay up there! Have fun!" And you leave.

So; the Republicans think it's grown up to walk out on negotiations?

Fine. They want to run the country?


All Democrats- whenever a Republican says "no, we need to do it THIS way" - your BEST option is to smile and say "Fine! You're in charge! Go do exactly what you want!"

I can't imagine a fiercer revenge.

Since they've brought it all to a halt anyway- and are blaming the adults who keep trying to make things work-

Let them run it. All. You wanna guess how well that will work out? A whole bunch of really bad things are about to happen, economically. We all know that. Whoever is nominally "in charge" will, of course, be blamed for it - any and all realities in the case notwithstanding. So; why not let the Republicans take all that nice responsibility?

It's the best possible way to insure 100% Democratic legislatures voted in, next election.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Education for the future.

This is not fun. Nobody wants to still be thinking about leaking reactors. But; you really, really, need to know this.

This news release comes today from the official Japanese Public Television station, NHK.

I'm going to simply include all of it here, since there is a very high probability that in a few days, you won't be able to find the information easily; or perhaps not at all.

Gov't didn't release radiation data after accident

The Japanese government has expressed regret for not disclosing some important results of the radiation monitoring conducted near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant soon after the accident.

The central and Fukushima prefectural governments collected the data to determine evacuation measures as well as food and water restrictions for residents.

A reading on March 12th, one day after the massive earthquake and tsunami hit the plant, shows that radioactive tellurium was detected 7 kilometers away. Tellurium is produced during the melting of nuclear fuel.

Three hours before the data was collected, the government expanded the radius of the evacuation area around the plant from 3 kilometers to 10 kilometers.

But the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency reported at a news conference several hours later that the nuclear fuel was intact.

The government also failed to disclose the high radiation levels in weeds 30 to 50 kilometers from the plant. On March 15th, 123 million becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 per kilogram were detected 38 kilometers northeast of the plant.

The nuclear safety agency says it deeply regrets not releasing the data.

Professor Yasuyuki Muramatsu of Gakushuin University says radioactive iodine has a high effect on children. He says that if the data had been released earlier, more measures could have been taken to protect them from exposure.
Saturday, June 04, 2011 15:27 +0900 (JST)


There is hardly any comment needed; but I'll summarize. Yes, the Japanese government- and ours- knew; for certain; that a reactor had melted down completely; and exploded- one day after the tsunami-quake. That's the only way to get tellurium seven kilometers away. Nothing else could possibly have been responsible.

And- 123 MILLION becquerels of radio Iodine per kilo????? 38 kilometers NW? That's a number you only expect to find INSIDE a reactor core.

And- just like in all the disaster movies- they elected to NOT TELL THE PUBLIC. And the other world governments; with scientists all advising, and seeing what was going on from satellites I do assure you- went right along with it. Gosh, we don't want to scare anyone. Even though their kids are now playing in the spewed out guts of a nuclear reactor.

Apparently though, they believe in "Trickle Down Truth" - because they are quietly telling us now, and oh, yes, gosh, they are sorry about that.

You are really, really, going to want to remember this example in the future.

No "conspiracy theory" delusions here; just the hot, melted facts.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

the handbasket accelerates

Sorry to be so quiet; just normal coping with Life, The Universe, And Everything. Stuff like one virus after another, transmitted via kindergarten, and a mare that is a month and a half overdue in delivering her foal, and slogging through out of season thaw mud, and teetering on ice everywhere after winter came back.

And the world is in such a serious state that I just have a hard time writing about everyday stuff. The world is changing. And the change is speeding up. And, in case you hadn't noticed; nobody is in charge.

And, what happens next is really, truly, entirely unpredictable. Maybe, for example, as a result of the exuberance in Tunisia and Egypt, we will have a shooting war in the next few days, in Wisconsin. Right next door to me.

Everything is that unstable; that insane.

It was learning something I hadn't realized about the situation in Wisconsin that motivated me to write this post. I had, I thought, been paying attention; but this little bit of background information had escaped me. It showed up in Gail Collins' NYT column. I read her regularly; and am very fond of her sense of humor, intelligence, and common sense. But the Wisconsin information was not something I expected to find, given the rest of her subject matter; and it hit me very, very hard.

You know, of course, that the newly elected Republican Governor of Wisconsin, along with the Republican controlled state Senate, is trying to pass legislation that will not only cut pay and benefits for the various public employees of the state, but which will also rescind their right to collective bargaining. Making them second-class citizens, with fewer rights than those who work elsewhere. You know, also, that the Democratic Senators have left the state, to deprive the Senate of the quorum needed to pass the legislation; since that was the only tool left to them.

Here was what I did not know, and what I have seen mentioned nowhere else:

"In Wisconsin, the new Republican governor, Scott Walker, wants to strip state employees of their collective-bargaining rights because: “We’re broke. We’ve been broke in this state for years.”

"Wisconsin’s Democratic state senators went into hiding to deprive the Republican majority of the quorum they need to pass Walker’s agenda. The Senate majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald — who happens to be the brother of the Assembly speaker, Jeff Fitzgerald — believes the governor is absolutely right about the need for draconian measures to cut spending in this crisis. So he’s been sending state troopers out to look for the missing Democrats.

"The troopers are under the direction of the new chief of the state patrol, Stephen Fitzgerald. He is the 68-year-old father of Jeff and Scott and was appointed to the $105,678 post this month by Governor Walker.

"Perhaps the speaker’s/majority leader’s father was a super choice, and the fact that he was suddenly at liberty after having recently lost an election for county sheriff was simply a coincidence that allowed the governor to recruit the best possible person for the job. You’d still think that if things are so dire in Wisconsin, the Fitzgerald clan would want to set a better austerity example."

Does that stink? Why yes, it does. Elitist power politics at its very, very worst, most corrupt, most Un-American, most obscene.

And it's being soft-pedaled by our press.

Remember, too- though usually considered a liberal-leaning state, Wisconsin also gave us McCarthy, and Proxmire; two politicians who did vast and enduring damage to the US democracy.

It does seem that the handbasket we are all in- is speeding up, daily.