Archive for the ‘Partisanship’ Category
I talk to many people on a daily basis about what is happening around us in this country. These people are conservative, liberal and anywhere in between. Many state they are ‘independent’ of political affiliation. However, many others are trapped in imposed partisan politics. I find that these people, no matter how much they understand a point or agree on the subject matter, will still fall back on their political Party rhetoric and talking points. This prevents us from coming together to fight the real enemy, and that enemy has become the corruption in government itself. This political Party addiction keeps us busy bickering amongst ourselves, often times even when we agree, because many people find it impossible to get past the partisan conditioning.
This is very much like being in an abusive relationship. It’s a political abusive relationship.
How many of you have ever been in an abusive relationship?
Do you currently adhere to a political party — more than just voting, but actually adhering to one? You know what I’m talking about — phone banking, making and distributing signs, public advocacy, maybe even more. Maybe you’re a precinct captain, one of the folks who “runs” a county-level political organization, or perhaps you’re involved at the state or even national levels.
If so, have you ever stopped to consider whether or not you’re actually part of an abusive relationship?
What defines an abusive relationship?
And the lies that go with it.
Let me guess — you’re going to tell me that you believe that your relationship with your political party embodies what you believe in and how you live. That it embodies your values, your core expectations, and what you want from government.
Are you being honest with yourself or are you practicing co-dependency?
If we ever hope to move past the corruption, misrepresentation and outright fraud of our current government structure, people’s blind devotion to Party politics must end.
A great example of what I’m talking about here happened relatively recently with the United States Supreme Court opinion issued in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 558 U.S. 310 (2010). Almost immediately people lined up along Party lines with their opinions on this decision. The Democrats/liberals decried this as a victory for corporate personhood and blamed the alleged ‘conservative makeup’ of the Supreme Court. Even President Obama couldn’t resist taking a dig at the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address, which further cemented this false premise in the minds of the American Public. For their part the Republicans/conservatives didn’t seem to understand the Opinion any better and appeared to be evenly split between agreeing with the Democrats and just plain being confused.
Here’s the problem: Citizens United had absolutely NOTHING to do with ‘corporate personhood.’ It had to do with selective restriction on free speech protected under the 1st Amendment. Citizens United sought to restore a more equal balance between corporate money spent on advertising and the ability of individuals to pool resources to help amplify their voices to the equivalent of what corporate money could do. Citizens United stemmed back to the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act or “BCRA”), which Citizens United sought to overturn in part. McCain-Feingold was a decision that imposed something completely opposite of its advertised goal. Instead of limiting corporate money in politics, it gave more protection to corporate money at the direct expense of individuals! This was an Act sponsored equally, by Republicans AND Democrats and it was (and still is to some extent) terrible law that infringed on free speech of individuals while protecting the corporate monopoly on political advertising. So what we had here was a united effort between both Parties to give more preference to corporations over individuals by lying to the American people to convince them it was the exact opposite. Abuse? I’d say so. (For future reference, always be skeptical of anything labeled ‘bi-partisan.’ You KNOW it’s not going to be good. They only team up when they really want to defraud the American people.)
Curious. So then we have Citizens United, a case which defended the 1st Amendment for individuals, against a terrible piece of legislation, sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans. Yet all we heard about was how Citizens United was a terrible blow for individuals and a win for corporations. Wait. Wut? Confused yet? Don’t be.
Simply, the Democrats disliked this Opinion because the moving party, Citizens United (the organization) wanted to air an advertisement critical of Hillary Clinton. During the course of the matter winding its way through the courts, the Democrats as a Party, sought to fight the case by tying the widely-despised corporate personhood precedent with the conservatives behind the Hillary Clinton ad. Corporate personhood is something that evokes extremely strong, passionate reactions in people and was a very easy way to coalesce opposition to Citizens United. It was that simple. If the moving party (plaintiff) to this litigation had been a traditional liberal-embraced cause, such as perhaps an environmental group or a civil rights group that wanted to air an advertisement critical of a Republican official, there wouldn’t have been a negative word spoken by Democrats. Likewise though, we all would have been subjected to Republicans trying to fight this case by using the precise tactics that the Democrats did by also tying the case to corporate personhood.
Do you see how this works? They play you. They get you to be unable to move past the partisanship and Party rhetoric to see the REAL issue. The REAL issue here was a severe infringement of individual rights over corporate protections. This should be an issue upon which ALL Americans could easily agree; there was no Party politics involved here other than the ad that the plaintiff wanted to air; the content of said ad was entirely irrelevant to the case. The inability of individuals to compete effectively against corporate money was imposed with McCain-Feingold despite it being widely advertised as being the complete opposite: a protection for individuals against corporations. Everyone bought the lie, and then to make it worse, when the damage was undone, everyone bought the lie that Citizens United was damaging to individuals and re-confirmed corporate personhood.
Just so our readers will NEVER fall for this specific scam again, if you want to see the personhood status of corporations removed, the ONLY way that ever gets done (no matter what anyone tells you), is to bring a case before the Supreme Court to revisit Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad - 118 U.S. 394 (1886) and have it overturned. Yes, corporations were granted personhood back in 1886! It is that old of a precedent. Never in our history has anyone ever attempted to revisit this case, yet we hear about ‘corporate personhood’ frequently.
So here we are. Trapped in our abusive political relationships, which in turn, prevent us from having civil discourse with others of opposing political Parties. Yet, we all complain of similar things on a daily basis: Of the creeping advancement of a too-powerful government and the resulting loss of freedoms. We lament the loss of the rule of law, which is no longer applied equally to everyone, but instead exempts special classes of people, and targets others. Our government ‘representatives’ facilitate this discrimination by catering to the more than 35,000 corporate lobbyists that descend on Washington DC on a daily basis. All three political Parties have failed on an epic scale and have become only about promotion of themselves and their members. So, now that you understand what the results of this abusive relationship with your political Party looks like: What do we do about it?
You can start by reviewing the Federationist Platform. It’s time that the American people had their OWN lobbyists and it is past time to use our government’s biased, preferential laws against them.
Then please vote in our Poll. (registration is free, but required to post and vote)
House Republicans Find Corzine Guilty Of MF Global Collapse, Missing Funds; Democrats Refuse To Endorse Findings
It appears that these days not even the Corzining of client money can happen without it being split across furiously polarized party lines. As it turns out hours ago, the Committee on House Financial Services released an advance glimpse into a report to be released in its entirety tomorrow, which puts the blame for the collapse of not only MF Global, but also the disappearance of millions in client money, right where it belongs: the firm’s then CEO Jon Corzine.
As Bloomberg summarizes, “The summary reflects conclusions reached by Republicans, who hold a majority on the panel and were in contact with Democrats during the investigation, according to Jeff Emerson, spokesman for the Financial Services Committee. The investigation included three congressional hearings, more than 50 interviews and a review of documents from MF Global, former brokerage employees and regulators, according to the summary.”
Yet that Corzine corzined millions, leaving clients scrambling in bankruptcy court in an attempt to recover what should have been segregated money from the very beginning, and also just happened to blow up one of the 21 Fed-anointed Primary Dealers, is not surprising: this has been long known by everyone. Those who need a refresher are urged to recall the Honorable’s testimony before the House… or maybe not: after all it is not as if Corzine himself could recall a whole lot. Where it gets interesting is that the former Democratic governor, and senator, not to mention primary bundler for president Obama, is, in the eyes of the members of the committee, innocent: All the democrats on the Investigations Subcommittee refused to sign off on the findings, meaning that to them, Corzine is completely innocent. That this is purely a political move is glaringly obvious. It is also abhorrent, because as long as political ideology gets in the way of pursuing and imposing justice, the Banana States of America will remain just that.
Subcommittee Investigation Reveals Decisions by Corzine Led to MF Global Bankruptcy and Missing Customer Funds
Full report of Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee
to be released Thursday
WASHINGTON – Decisions by Jon Corzine to chart a radically different course for MF Global and try to turn the 230-year-old commodities broker into a full-service investment bank were the cause of the firm’s bankruptcy and failure to protect customer funds, Republican members of a congressional subcommittee will report this week.
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Randy Neugebauer, will release the full results of its year-long staff investigation into the collapse of MF Global on Thursday.
“Our investigation is essentially an autopsy of how MF Global came to its ultimate demise and what can be done to prevent similar customer losses in the future,” said Chairman Neugebauer.
Corzine, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs who later became a U.S. senator and governor of New Jersey, resigned from MF Global on November 4, 2011, almost 20 months after becoming the firm’s Chairman and CEO. The brokerage had declared bankruptcy four days earlier and its collapse revealed a $1.6 billion shortfall in customer funds.
“Choices made by Jon Corzine during his tenure as chairman and CEO sealed MF Global’s fate,” Chairman Neugebauer stated. “Farmers, ranchers and other customers may never get back over $1 billion of their money as a result of his decisions. Corzine dramatically changed MF Global’s business model without fully understanding the risks associated with such a radical transformation.”
The Subcommittee’s staff investigation of MF Global involved three hearings, more than 50 witness interviews, and the review of more than 243,000 documents obtained from MF Global, its former employees, federal regulators and other sources.
“By expanding MF Global into new business lines without first returning its core commodities business to profitability, Corzine ensured that the company would face enormous resource demands and exposed it to new risks that it was ill-equipped to handle,” the subcommittee report states.
In order to generate the revenue needed to fund MF Global’s transformation, Corzine invested heavily in the sovereign debt of struggling European countries. These investments, which carried enormous default and liquidity risks, were a “prime focus” of Corzine’s attention and he failed to develop a corporate strategy for managing the risks, the subcommittee majority staff found.
Those risks were exacerbated by an authoritarian atmosphere Corzine created at the firm where “no one could challenge his decisions,” the subcommittee report reveals.
Corzine made significant changes to MF Global’s senior management, including the hiring of Bradley Abelow, his former gubernatorial chief of staff, as the firm’s chief operating officer.
When MF Global’s chief risk officer disagreed with Corzine about the size of the company’s European bond portfolio, Corzine directed him to report to Abelow rather than to MF Global’s board of directors. “This change effectively sidelined the most senior individual charged with monitoring the company’s risks and deprived the board of an independent assessment of the risks that Corzine’s trades posed to MF Global, its shareholders and its customers,” the report declares.
Corzine insulated trading activity from review process
In addition, the subcommittee’s report reveals that Corzine acted as MF Global’s “de facto chief trader” and insulated his trading activities from the company’s normal risk management review process. This enabled Corzine to quickly build the company’s European bond portfolio “well in excess of prudent limits without effective resistance.”
Rather than hold the European bonds on MF Global’s books, which could expose the company to earnings volatility, Corzine chose to use these bonds as collateral in repurchase-to-maturity (RTM) transactions. This permitted the company to book quick profits while keeping the transactions off its balance sheet.
Failure to initially disclose extent of risks
Since MF Global did not initially disclose the full extent of its European bond holdings, federal regulators and the investing public were not aware of all the risks facing the company.
The belated disclosure in October 2011 of its extensive European RTM portfolio – which amounted to 14 percent of MF Global’s total assets – combined with poor earnings news prompted credit rating agencies to downgrade the company’s credit rating to junk status.
The downgrade set off a “run on the bank” by MF Global’s investors, customers and counterparties that created a liquidity crisis during what would turn out to be the company’s final days.
Because Corzine had failed to integrate systems and controls for managing the company’s liquidity and protecting customer funds, the company could not fully assess and anticipate its liquidity needs during the crisis, nor could it coordinate its cash management, liquidity monitoring and regulatory compliance functions.
Liquidity crisis prompts withdrawal of customer funds
“As the company struggled to find additional liquidity,” the subcommittee reports, “company employees identified excess company funds held in customer accounts. However, because they did not have an accurate accounting of the amount of customer funds the company held, they withdrew customer funds as well as company funds.”
The subcommittee notes that it will be up to prosecutors and regulators to determine whether MF Global or its employees violated laws or regulations when these withdrawals of customer funds were made.
‘Dereliction of duty’
“However, the responsibility for failing to maintain the systems and controls necessary to protect customer funds rests with Corzine,” the report maintains. “This failure represents a dereliction of his duty as MF Global’s chairman and CEO.”
In its report, the subcommittee recommends that Congress consider legislation to impose civil liability on the officers and directors of futures commission merchants (FCMs) like MF Global who sign financial statements or authorize transfers from customer segregated accounts. Such legislation could “restore investor confidence in the derivatives markets and ensure that an FCM does not misuse customer funds in the future,” the Subcommittee report said.
Other findings of investigation to be released
In addition to its findings that Corzine’s decisions led to MF Global’s downfall, the Subcommittee report is expected to address regulatory agencies’ failure to share critical information with each other about MF Global, failures by credit rating agencies to sufficiently review MF Global’s public filings, and concerns about the New York Federal Reserve’s decision to designate MF Global as a “primary dealer” despite the company’s troubled financial situation.
So, now the Democrats, whose former ‘claim to fame’ was excoriating bankers and Wall Street and aligning themselves with the Occupy movement, stands between John Corzine and justice. Be sure to thank them. NOW who’s the ‘Party of the rich?’ For those of you who are rabidly partisan Democrats that continue to believe Obama will stand up to Wall Street, you might want to consider that part of the reason Corzine is untouchable is that he was one of Obama’s biggest fundraisers: Corzine, Amid Scandal, Is Among Obama’s Top Bundlers It is way past time for the people who are clinging to their preferred Party to wake up and realize THEY DO NOT WORK FOR YOU! NONE OF THEM!
This really says it all…
The “Euro” story, incidentally, is all about transfer payments. It even puts forward the position that all of Europe must “accept” liability for each member state’s government debts!
The rest? The same basic deal. Budget, budget, budget. And yet there’s a cudgel in there for Ryan’s backing by the banks.
Nowhere in those six stories is the fact laid bare that (1) the banks are creating credit unbacked that does not exist, thereby exerting their own taxes on the economy and (2) that government, ultimately, is no different than people — that is, it may not spend more than it takes in via taxes on a long-term, sustainable basis.
That’s all there is to the fiscal problems both Europe and the United States face. It’s not difficult at all. It’s made difficult because the media refuses to discuss the truth and people are continually sold magical unicorns that crap out pretty colored candies — and when the candy turns out to be something dark and sticky they get upset.
This can easily be summarized as “Welcome to reality.”
Ryan will of course be pilloried for trying to throw granny down the stairs. The truth is that Ryan deserves this treatment both by the campaigns and media. He deserves it because his so-called plan with regard to Medicare is an open fraud on all levels as it refuses to deal with the source of the problem with medical cost escalation.
Government created the problem. It did so by creating specific mandates for health providers forcing them to provide care to people who either could not or would not pay, whether that failure was due to misfortune or choosing to buy iPhones, fancy cars, booze, cruise vacations and big houses instead of saving for medical expenses.
Government then provided a legal shield so that activities such as collusive pricing, blatant restraint of trade and other monopolistic practices that can only be enforced with government backing were available to the medical industry.
If all five makers of carpet get together in a room and agree to all raise their prices 20%, that’s a felony. The reason it rarely happens and “works” in a competitive market is that there is a tremendous incentive for one of the carpet manufacturers to break ranks and undercut his competition, destroying their market share and becoming wealthy while the other guys starve for business.
But in the health market this is not true. Try to open up an MRI in your town and you will find that in order to do you needpermission – and it will be withheld if there is no “need” in your area. What is the definition of “need”? That prices will not be depressed by your entry into the market.
The entire purpose of a free, open and competitive market is to depress prices to the level where the most-competitive participants are still able to make what they, and only they, judge to be a satisfactory profit.
If prices fall below that level some people will exit the market and supply will ease, raising prices. If prices are above that level some people will be attracted to the opportunity and will enter the market, increasing supply and lowering prices. This is what a free market does.
But in the medical system the market is not allowed to work. By mandating that Juanita the illegal Mexican immigrant, 7-1/2 months pregnant, drug-addicted and drunk, must have her premature baby delivered when she goes into labor and the child and her are bothentitled to the best medical care we can provide irrespective of the fact that she has no money and is pregnant, drug-addicted and an alcoholic of her own free will not to mention that she is here illegally, the hospital is put in an untenable position — it is forced to absorb the $2 million NICU bill with no ability to recover it from the person(s) who demanded the service.
Unfortunately this does not just extend to Juanita. It also extends to the rest of the United States population. If you choose to eat yourself to death, stuffing your pie hole with sugars and fast-acting carbohydrates dramatically beyond your metabolic needs, you will become fat. This occurs due to your own free will and no amount of arguing otherwise changes that fact. As a consequence of this, along with other deliberate choices you make, such as the decision to drink to excess, to smoke cigarettes, to use recreational drugs of various sorts (legal and illegal), to engage in risky sexual activities and more you may dramatically raise the expectedamount of medical care you will require.
By passing laws mandating that should you do these things and, instead of socking back 5, 10 or 20% of your income for reasonably-expected medical expenses later on in your life you instead decide to spend the money on cars, booze, a fancy house, cruises and gambling, or are simply less-fortunate and don’t have the mental or physical prowess to earn a material surplus in your life, the medical establishment is obligated to provide you with the best treatment possible irrespective of cost we are right back in the same place.
Politicians do not wish to speak of this on either end. Oh sure, they will put forward platitudes about “personal responsibility” but they never actually come out and delineate it in plain English, directing that language at the legions known in popular culture asPeople of WalMart. (Caution: That web site, should you choose to visit it, may infest your computer — it throws a trojan horse warning from my anti-virus software when I look there and as such I will not link it!)
Nor will they direct it at our Senior Citizens, as they know damn well that seniors are overrepresented in the polls and pissing off voters is a good way to lose your job as a politician. The unfortunate reality is that the point of impact for our economy and fiscal house has been beyond the typical senior’s remaining lifetime for the last 20 years, which creates a horrifying problem — fixing the Medical System, particularly things like EMTALA, is politically impossible when the beneficiaries will all die before the detonation occurs.
The fact is that the majority of our Senior Citizens are pigs. They don’t give a damn about their children who will still be here or worse, their grandchildren who are still kids and yet will absolutely get screwed when, not if, the government collapses as a consequence of what they demand.
Many of these people could be excused for being ignorant of the fundamental mathematical construct that bears on this issue, illustrated here (once again):
However, not all of them are that foolish, as most went to school back when mathematics was actually taught in class and you had to actually learn it to pass from middle school, say much less high school.
They simply don’t give a damn and prattle on about how they’re “owed” as “they paid in” — never mind that the politicians at their direction as they voted for them spent the money already on other things and thus what they paid in is already gone as they demanded it be spent!
This is much like taking your $10,000 in savings and going to Vegas, gambling it away on Roulette, then complaining that the 10 large is gone. Of course it’s gone — you blew it on something other than its intended original purpose!
Until we the people demand that politicians tell the truth, and we further sit our dear old parents (and grandparents) down and explain to them that we will not pay twice to cover the fact that they intentionally goaded government into dissipating the funds they put in for other purposes there will be no progress.
There are only two options before us as a nation — we either force that conversation to take place or our economy, and government, detonate as those two exponential curves run away from each other.
According to the Washington Times and the GOP establishment it does.
The five-term GOP congressman resigned Friday after botching the relatively routine political process of turning in the proper number of signatures to get his name on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.
Mrs. Cassis, a former state senator with the backing of many of the state’s Republican leaders, launched a write-in bid for the nomination last month after Mr. McCotter’s departure left Mr. Bentivoloo as the only Republican on the ballot.
A veteran who served in Vietnam and in Iraq, Mr. Bentivolio, 60, has said he’s a fan of Ron Paul and the Texas congressman’s ideas on closing overseas American military bases.
That libertarian streak has some Michigan Republicans uneasy — Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson called Mr. Bentivolio’s views “extreme” and Ms. Cassis, 68, has said her opponent “doesn’t sound like mainstream Americans.”
From the moment Thaddeus McCotter botched the simple requirement of submitting a mere 1,000 signatures to appear on the state primary ballot, the Michigan State Republican Party big wigs have been scrambling to derail Mr. Bentivolio’s campaign. We wrote here about how a closed door meeting of the Republican establishment resulted in a coordinated effort to start a write-in campaign. Despite all those egos having difficulty coming to an agreement upon just who should be the write-in candidate, it was finally decided that the Trojan Horse should be Ms. Cassis. A stunning choice, considering her voting record and especially in light of her (oft denied) integral role in establishing the much-reviled, job-killing, MBT (Michigan Business Tax).
Contrary to the Washington Times’ attempt at spin, this really isn’t a ‘Tea Party v. Republican Party’ situation. This is an ‘Honest Man v. Establishment Politics’ issue. Kerry Bentivolio is not a politician. He’s an intelligent, honest man with integrity who cannot be controlled or bought. THAT is what scares Party politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle. Mr. Bentivolio is not running for office for personal glory or enrichment, he’s doing it for his grandchildren. He’s doing it because our system of government has been so corrupted by powerful special interest groups, be they individual or corporate, that it no longer actually represents either the voice or the will of The People. Even more, he’s doing it because our monetary system itself has become a means by which the private banking industry can control our entire legislative process. One need look no further than the perpetual bank bailouts of the Too-Big-To-Fails or at the lack of prosecution of any of these documented frauds perpetrated on the American people by the banking industry to see proof of this. Whether it be the Tea Party movement or those involved with the Occupy movement, the American People are beginning to understand their lack of representation and the depths of the corruption.
This is a new chapter in an ongoing battle for the heart of our Country. Should we allow the big government GOP (or DNC establishment) to derail a candidate who is fighting against their special interest graft?
Kerry Bentivolio scares establishment Republicans because they know that he will expose their dirty dealings the same way he would expose those on the other side of the aisle. All Americans should support his stance against corruption regardless of whether they agree with him on other policies and all Americans should refuse to reward the corrupt career politicians who oppose him.
“Sometimes the ‘people’ are right.”
“There are two kinds of outrage:
The anger of the disappointed spoiled;
The authentic moral wrath of the common people betrayed.”
Permit me to sketch some real-world political context.
America has evolved two cooperating political elites, each of which runs one of the two parties and shares three common traits: (1) high education levels, (2) important wealth (3) a distrust of the populist vote bordering on fear. Winning elections for each requires a periodic courting ritual during which the populist vote (on which success depends) is earnestly sought, followed by a measure of post-election betrayal. Well before the 2008 credit-bubble crash and the advent of the Tea Party movement, I noticed the growing populist pressure.
“Populism in this usage represents the politically relevant precepts, attitudes and core positions that distinguish an enduring majority of adults from the political elites that depend on their approval.”
For decades, the corporate country club conservatives and the Lexus limousine liberals succeeded in achieving a rough division of the populist center: social populists on one side, economic populists on the other.
That situation was mutating well before the 2008 real estate credit bubble burst. Just before that calamity, I wrote the following (in an analysis of developments in American populism):
“While I still believe that a legitimate populist movement can accommodate local custom (when popular sentiment clearly differs from the mainstream, thinking of the accommodations for gay marriage in Vermont for example), I also believe that there can be no accommodation for the anti-democratic reversal of the popular will in the rest of the country in this important area of life, especially by judicial fiat. When judges, for example, abuse their trust by overriding the popular will, especially on essential ‘family values’ issues, a populist rebellion is virtually inevitable.
“The coming populist reformation will be driven by the events and exigencies of the next few years because these challenges will bring the failures of elites of right and left to address the core populist values and concerns into sharp relief.
“Among the prominent threads in the reemerging American populism that will shape the parties and the political discussion over the next decade, these four stand out:
“Procedural populism. The signal anti-populist development of the last 65 years was the emergence of governance via non-elected institutions under the control of the non-populist elites of the two parties. Principally the courts and the administrative agencies, these new power centers have quietly and not so quietly set public policies in motion that never could have gathered sufficient popular support. There are many examples, some obvious, others less so. The signal pro-populist development in the same period was the emergence – principally in California producing what some political scientists are now calling ‘hybrid government’ of the popular initiative as a tool for setting social and tax policy in ways that the legislative bodies – controlled by party elites – did not.
“Me-first nationalism. Starting with Ross Perot several election cycles ago, this is the many headed hydra that the elites in both parties fear the most, and it is the most universal form of populism. The failure of the Soviet Empire is an international model is a classic case of a putative universal ideology hitting the nationalist wall. Note that party elites of all stripes tend to be more internationalist than the so called ‘common people’.
“Tough minded populism vs. the wimp elites. This covers a whole range of issues that will be pivotal in the next decade, all interesting.
“Common sense economics. The revolting specter of a broken financial system fueled by pampered executives (as many of them democrat-pandering as republican-pandering) who pursue ultra-short-term paper profits over long term real world gains is so profoundly unsettling that a populist rebellion is inevitable in some form. The fears and anxieties in the current electoral-economic situation introduce a mob psychology wild card effect that may obscure the larger trend.
Politics is a game played among four players, each representing one mindset.
The game is about power, challenges to boundaries, and the reallocation of other people’s money & property.
- For typical liberal minds, boundaries are obstacles to be eliminated, including the boundary between “mine” and “yours”.
- For typical conservative minds, boundaries are bulwarks to be defended, including the boundary between “my kind of people” and the “unwashed”.
[Liberals and conservatives share a great deal more than they are willing to admit.]
- For centrist minds, boundaries are threats to a delicate balance and boundary relaxations are always preferable to conflict.
- The reasonable minds, the rarest of all, are equally wary of the toxicity of the ideologues and the weakness of many centrists whose tendency to conflict avoidance undercuts courage and principle when both are most needed.
People endowed with common sense agree that “extreme” ideologies are harmful, yet many of them tend to ignore the extremism of the ideologues who claim to share the same general socio-political vision. But the difference is not just one of degree, as in intensity or passion. When actually adopted, all ideologies operate as powerful reality filters, screening out or distorting every inconvenient data set or challenging point of view that cannot be accommodated to the “correct” view. In a sinister operational sense, the extreme ideologies work like mind-worms, feeding on the vulnerable, substituting a secular catechism for critical thinking. The vulnerable groups include those closest to a particular ideology in the spectrum of belief, the rootless ones searching for “meaning and purpose” and all the post-modern thinkers who have abandoned their allegiance to the core moral order. They were Lenin’s “useful idiots”. I like the term “unwitting prey” or even “pets”.
At this juncture in history, the most toxic ideologically saturated minds are still found among the progeny of the two malign ideologies of the last century: Marxism and National Socialism. The beliefs of Lenin survive in the guise of bureaucratic egalitarianism and those of Hitler survive as population eugenics. The true believer ideologues dance on a scary precipice, unaware of the yawning abyss, one foot-slip away. History taught in the classic manner, with fidelity to the past, sans ideological filters, is a powerful vaccine against the toxic infectious ideologies. We can hope that such classic history will once again be widely taught.
Each of the four archetypal mindsets (liberal, conservative, centrist and reasonable) is “onto something”. They are not ideologues – these mindsets are traditional styles of rational thought and communication. Each is a gift to us conveying some essential part of the big picture. Each has had its day and will again. No culture can afford to ignore or marginalize a single one of them, except at a steep cost, because each mindset is part of the civilized historical tradition.
No society without liberal, conservative and centrist minds – all of whom are in a mutual dialogue mediated by the reasonable minds – can avoid the “bubble trap”. The real world abhors a bubble. Those who insist in living in one will eventually find themselves in an unchecked downward slide. The slope is steep and the momentum of the fall is constantly accelerating. The reasonable minds among us are the first to notice the pending disaster, but only an aroused population can stop it.
“Not my problem”, you say? No part of a human society falls over the precipice without taking others down with it. I believe that during times of great imbalance – like our present situation – we are in acute danger because the consequences of a major misstep will be unforgiving: We are permitted to briefly lose our balance, but we must quickly regain our footing or we will fall. The precipice is always near, and it’s a very long way down.
Dialogue pierces bubbles and augments balance. At times like this, when political posturing and maneuvering trump dialogue, the abyss is much closer that we think.
About that Giant
Now, here is a secret. All this time a huge giant has been sleeping under our floor.
Go with the metaphor for a moment, and ask yourself: What would a dreaming giant dream?
HINT: The giant is us, the people, not the population, but that ancient virtual collective memory that holds the precious life lessons of our ancestors. This is our giant, the keeper of our pains, joys, successes and failures – especially of our failures. The Sleeping Giant embodies our common wisdom, our common sense and our common morality.
When the players in the political game become too corrupt, too careless, too unbalanced and too arrogant, the center does not hold and things fall apart. Eventually the noise from all those gnashing teeth awakens the Giant under the floor. Meantime the Giant dreams of wisdom ignored.
Elites are typically out of touch. It is their nature, whether conservative, liberal or centrist. They are disconnected by circumstance, out of touch almost by definition, and always distanced by the habits of comfortable neglect. In the Giant’s world, loyalty and trust trump ideology and one’s station in life – especially the ideological fads of the elites. In the Giant’s world, loyalty and trust start with family and friends then radiate to neighborhoods, then to communities, and so on, ending at the borders of the country. Loyalty and trust are at the heart of the ancient moral code, the “Deep Torah of humanity” if you will, the main precepts of which cannot forever be ignored by any people, including, especially, by the elites.
Our daily lives, the reality “on the ground”, shapes the alpha and omega of real life. When we say that the elites are disconnected, this is what we mean they are disconnected from – and this is why they need to be watched at all times. But the common people are too busy living and struggling with daily life to keep up surveillance of the miscreant elites.
Among all the precepts and aphorisms of the ancient moral code, five themes sound in the Sleeping Giant’s dreams like thundering heartbeats:
- Earning entitles one to keep its fruits – the harder the earning, the fiercer the keeping. This precept applies to all people regardless of their station. One does not initiate a general program of taking property from any group (i.e., without a fair individuated adjudication, such as reparations for theft) without threatening all groups. In the Giant’s world, the earnings of the common people the fruits of which are more precarious and therefore more precious, are to be carefully respected by the elites. Significant price inflation is a thinly disguised, elite-engendered theft of earnings.
- The common people and their children entitled to the same human dignity as the elites enjoy. In the Giant’s world, the common people must be every bit as well protected from predators (human, animal, institutional and inhuman) as are the elites and their children. For example, the specter of private security guards for the elites and underfunded, under-deployed police for the poor people is a violation of human dignity. In the Giant’s world, the elites (who are functionally necessary, but not individually indispensable) will be “kept on” only so long as they honor the basic human dignity of the common people.
- Theft by a common person is stealing and should be punished. In the Giant’s world, there is no theft exemption for the elites. The “Deep Torah applies to all – ruler and ruled, powerful and powerless. Yet theft by an elite person is sometimes a mere “resource reallocation”, until the crime is discovered, when it may be called “misappropriation.” In the Giant’s world, elites do not steal from the common people…even elected elites acting under color of law.
- Trust is the baseline commitment of the social order and individual relationships. When elites disparage the family ties, the loyalty and trust relationships and arrangements of the common people, the foundation of general trust is damaged. Elites do not break trust with the common people nor publically undermine its value by disregarding it among themselves, except at their great peril. They do not debase the Deep Torah by adopting a separate moral standard for themselves. Not without deeply angering the awakened Giant.
- Beware when the trust with the common people is finally broken: Then, even the most benevolent gestures of the elites become traps – hungry tigers are then considered safer company. In the Giant’s world, the elites do not trick the common people.
Our current elites include some very clever types who value their personal status over anything else. Some of these clever ones actually fear the Giant, but they have a plan to lull it into sleep. These elites have kept a subset of “the population” as pets. These human pets enjoy a very limited capacity for independent thought and action, because they have been conditioned to dependency, and they live on highly filtered information. These pets can be easily manipulated and even teased into a state of faux rebellion. Occasional pet outbreaks are arranged or exploited to create conditions that will allow the elites to reestablish themselves by changing costumes.
This is why mobs of noisome pets should not be confused with a Sleeping Giant Awakening. Two distinct things must not be confused: The anger of the disappointed spoiled and the authentic moral wrath of the common people betrayed. Those unruly pets sleeping in tents in the public square are an intended distraction. Moral outrage grounded in the Deep Torah will always trump ordinary discontent.
The awakened Giant is the real deal. But how can we tell the difference? How will we know when the Sleeping Giant has awakened? Listen closely for a critical the voices cohering around five themes: (a) keeping earnings; (b) being kept safe from predators; (c) holding thieves accountable, no matter their status; (c) honoring trust relationships; (d) rejecting the falsely benevolent gestures. This is the growl of the “Deep Torah”. It is the authentic voice of the people that, when aroused, exhibits a sudden moral coherence and unmistakable power.
You may have noticed that the Giant is stirring. It may soon be fully awake. I leave it to the reader to decode the signs, both false and true.
Timing is everything.
A fully awakened, angry giant is a very blunt instrument indeed. This is why populist rebellions tend not to end well, even for the common people who first cheered the “protesters”, only to discover, too late, that a new set of elites had been using them as unwitting foot soldiers all along.
There is a strategy for the survival of the good people and good institutions, the constitution of this Republic and the prospect of an American renewal during an Awakened Giant Event.
The strategy is grounded in five simple rules, easy to outline, but difficult to implement….
Rule One: The ideologues cannot be trusted.
Rule Two: Listen closely for the ancient moral message (see above). The more quickly that message is heeded, the sooner the Giant will go back to sleep
Rule Three: When things go seriously awry, the voices of practical and moral authenticity will not diverge. So beware those who are still trying to trick the people – even – or especially- in a “good cause.” Beware those who want to “break some eggs” to make an omelet when they really mean break some heads to make a revolution. And shun those who want to destroy human dignity and freedom to make “a better world”, because the really mean “a bigger kennel.”
Rule Four: The Sleeping Giant is us.
Rule Five: Victory goes to the most self-disciplined, morally rooted (think deep Torah here) and determined candidates, parties and movements.
How awake are you?
Copyright © 2011 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law, All rights Reserved
Forwards and links are welcome. For other permissions, contact the author via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The author is a California Attorney and the creator and administrator of The Policy Think Site www.jaygaskill.com and the linked blogs.
 This predicted reformation is slow in coming, but I believe will eventually result in the absorption by both political parties of the key enduring elements in the common wisdom, giving them standing and policy expression…but that is another topic for another day.
 A development fully exposed in Mark Levin’s book, Liberty and Tyranny.
 The most recent example is the attempt by the EPA to end-run the Congress by declaring CO2 gas a pollutant (be careful when you exhale!) Earlier examples include the ADA’s administrative loose definitions of a protected disability that once was even expanded to include stupidity at the workplace.
 California voters, using the initiative process (functioning as a second party in a one-part polity), twice overruled the wimp elites by reinstating capital punishment for extreme murders and three strikes punishment for dangerous offenders. There are many other examples of the ongoing disconnection between the “civilized” elites and the common sense, common people.
 What do I mean by extreme ideologies? Their signature includes intellectual arrogance, close-mindedness and ruthless political practices. Consider two generic examples: (a) the enforced-quality group in which Marx’s ghost can be heard saying, “All wealth is the product of an evil system”, and “The private ownership of property (especially when accumulated by the successful) is the primary evil”, therefor let “us” (who will use the power of the state for “social justice”) fix those structural problems for you; (b) the entrenched inequality group in which the ghost of Hitler’s race-scientists can be heard whispering, “You know that there are too many of the wrong people in the world, it’s up to the superior ones to protect ourselves by any means necessary and “thin out” all the rest.” I leave it to the reader to tease out how these core ideas still manifest themselves in the post-modern culture, often in stealth mode.
 Required reading includes the classic, The True Believer, by the late Eric Hoffer, the self-taught longshoreman.
 From time to time, well-meaning intellectuals have announced that we have entered a new era, free from the mistakes of the pass. Daniel Bell (1919-2011) famously proclaimed the “End of Ideology” and Francis Fukuyama (1952- ) announced “The End of History” (arguing that Western liberal democracy is the final form of government). These and others profoundly underestimate the human capacity to stumble into the abyss over and over again
 As Yeats, that prophetic poet, put it, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned”… William Butler Yeats – The Second Coming.
 …Or the deep Tao, if you will. See C. S. Lewis’ book, The Abolition of Man. Its Appendix, Illustrations of the Tao, has a compendium of the moral precepts that are widely shared among the various religions and philosophies.
 The drug culture, the pop culture, a supine, uncritical, brainless mainline media, and an ideologically saturated academy are features of the kennel.
 The implied reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement was intentional. Linkages to Marxists connected to the administration’s SEIU and other “community organizing” allies were only thinly disguised, as were the training sessions for the “professional” demonstrators designated to be the “arrest worthy” poster children for the movement.
Comes now this morning into my email notification that The Daily Bell has not only ripped off my commentary and opined upon it (legitimate) they further attributed it to CNBC (not kosher folks.)
But let’s examine their opinion a bit, shall we?
Dominant Social Theme: By expanding the regulatory state, we can make things better.
Free-Market Analysis: One of the main emergent US dominant social themes is that the government and regulators must step in to clean up the market and make it safe for investors. The idea is that the larger modern marketplace is very necessary for the functioning of modern society and that one must “clean up fraud” so that people will “trust” the market again.
This meme is being enunciated aggressively all over the place lately, and we have done our best to point it out. It is based on a misapprehension and is placing good people into rhetorical boxes where they decry modern finance but turn to the US’s penitentiary-industrial complex for solutions. Here’s more from the article excerpted above:
Expand the regulatory state? How about we actually enforce the laws that already exist? And for those that are not laws but written as laws, how about if we either turn them into actual laws (instead of lying about what they are) or repeal them so that nobody thinks they’re a law when they are not?
It is against the law, for example, to swindle people. It’s a crime. And as I pointed out here, the Right side of the aisle, including the Tea Party, refuses to address the fact that our nation’s largest financial institutions are serial violators of the law to the point that nearly all would have committed their “third strike” and be disbanded (the equivalent to life imprisonment) by now.
There is no shortage of laws under which to actually prosecute.
The Daily Bell goes on to sling around the common mud of “fiat funny money” and allege that but for The Fed there would be no problem at all. This, however, is a lie, for two simple reasons:
- The Fed is already constrained in what it can do — it has a mandate for stable prices (that is, zero inflation) that it has serially and repeatedly violated for its entire 100 year history, even prior to the implementation of the so-called “dual mandate”, and yet there has been no enforcement. Why not? There is no punishment called out in that law, just as there is no punishment called out in the former enabling law for the OTS and thus “backdating” deposits by IndyMac bank didn’t lead to a criminal indictment against either IndyMac or the so-called “regulator” who did it. A “law” or “regulation” without a punishment for violations is no law or regulation at all — it is a mere suggestion. As such these so-called “laws” are nothing more than sops for the fools at places like The Daily Bell who love to point to all these “laws” and then claim that “more regulation” is futile. That would be true if those were actual ineffectual laws but due to the lack of a punishment clause they stand as nothing more than blank pieces of paper.
- The proffered solution, free market currencies, is just another sop to idiocy. Government will always denominate its current taxes due in something. Whatever that something is will be the defacto currency of the nation and will be the majority — by far — currency that is used for transactions. The “why” is simple: Nobody in their right mind wants to wake up some morning and find that their currency du jour has been devalued by some sort of debauchery and their taxes due but not yet paid have suddenly doubled or more, instantly bankrupting them. The simplest and “zero cost” way to hedge against such an event is to transact in the currency you pay your taxes in. Sorry folks, but logic resolves this conflict and it doesn’t go where the Paulites would like; you must employ magical thinking to get to their claimed nirvana.
Indeed, the problem with the “free market” currency solution is that if you do not resolve the actual problem — the lack of The Rule of Law (that is, #1) so-called “free market” people will intentionally create the situation in #2 and get away with it!
That, incidentally, is the history of monetary systems going all the way back to the American Revolution and beyond. Indeed if you look at historical inflation rates prior to The Fed you will find ridiculous changes in the valuation of the currency over very short periods of time. 10, 20, even 30% swings in valuation were common. If you happen to believe that the fact that over the long haul the “more or less stable value” was preferable to what we have today you’re cherry-picking your timeline — get it wrong by a year or so and you’d either have made a bundle or been bankrupted.
Unfortunately life doesn’t work this way; you fall in love, you get sick, you get well, you find a job, you lose a job, your roof leaks, you get hit by a bus and you die all on a very unpredictable timeline. But those who pull the strings through government are more than happy to use your series of unfortunate events to screw you blind and steal everything you have — and absent The Rule of Law, they will.
Our latest little corruption was sent to me here, from the Fed weekly balance sheet:
Where did that $45 billion go? Oh, in the nice catch-all bucket called “Other”, right? What’s in “Other”?
Let’s see…. the GSEs are in there (Fannie/Freddie), the IMF is in there, the UN is in there, a lot of things are in there. So which “other” was this and why wasn’t it identified with specificity? Oh that’s simple: There is no rule of law when it comes to Fed operations as there is no “or else” to be found anywhere in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, as amended.
Thus The Fed could “decide” that Fannie and Freddie paper was “ok” to buy, even though the black letter of the law says otherwise. They could point to their own “interpretation” and since there was no “or else”, if they interpreted wrong, even intentionally wrong, there was no cost to them personally that could be imposed. Ditto for “Maiden Lane” and their other machinations.
In this case it appears they bailed out someone yet didn’t tell us who it was. Gee, with all the turmoil in the markets you can’t find someone who needed to be bailed out, can you?
Those who argue for “End The Fed” have yet to reconcile the fundamental nature of the problem: It is not The Fed that is the issue, it is the presence of so-called “laws” with no penalty for non-compliance that is where the problem resides.
In point of fact The Fed’s actual mandate for stable prices is exactly correct. Followed to the letter we have no debasement of the currency over time, no inflation, and you can save a mere 7% of your income — if your Social Security taxes were then to be merely returned to you in retirement along with that 7% you would have an effective 20% saving rate for retirement and would need exactly nothing beyond that for a reasonable retirement lifestyle similar to that of your working years! If you saved nothing you would still have a 13% saving rate and we would meet the mandate of the “social safety net” allegedly to be provided.
If the “law” had actually been followed there would have been no ramp in credit compared to GDP because it could not have been funded. There would have been no Internet bubble, no Housing bubble and no crash. House prices never would have gone materially over 2x incomes and likely would be between 1x and 2x. Medical and college costs would be what they were then. Wages would have risen with productivity but not beyond, and you would have kept that standard of living increase instead of having it stolen by the vipers of Wall Street and the Capitol. Jobs would not have been offshored and there would have been no incentive to hire illegal aliens and displace American workers.
So why didn’t it happen this way? That’s easy: There is no “or else” in these so-called “laws.”
Ending The Fed will do exactly nothing without fixing this problem. Competing currencies will do nothing without fixing this problem. In point of fact essentially every current economic issue we face is found, at some point, in this singular premise.
Those who continue to beat on the “End The Fed”, “Competing Currencies” and other similar-sounding drums are either missing the mark because they fail to analyze the problem or worse, they’re shilling for those who are looking for yet another way to rob you blind when the current scam, which is about to collapse, comes down around their ears.
Don’t fall for it.