Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How's The Government Gonna Pay Fer All That Coverage?


In recent months I've repeatedly heard a litany of scripted lamenting from self-styled Konservative or genuine Conservative Americans all concerned about the mechanics and costs of the Affordable Care Act.  True to the partisan Republican/Konservative rhetoric that seems to script so many anti-liberal persons and perspectives, the question arose multiple times.

"How the heck are we ever gonna pay fer that?"

Fact is that the ACA is well-planned whether the new government website runs like a Dodge or a Toyota or not. The funding is there despite what Faux News and Konservative Koncerned have to say about it. But my task is not to defend the party of the President. They can do that for themselves quite nicely.

No, my task is the hunting and smacking of GORKs ... King Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli went after Orcs to make Middle Earth a safer place to live.  Well,  I quite enjoy hunting dumb but dangerous animals, Grand Old Party Konservatives.

"How are we going to pay for the GOP Medicare D boondoogle."

I was asking that question some seven years ago when an earlier crop of fiscally and civically irresponsible GORKs passed the "new" Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. That was at a time when the know-it-alls and their lobbyist coaches controlled the House and the Senate and were abetted by a president who appeared to possess the economic depth and understanding of ... well ... Orcs.

Next time the money-wasters pretend to shed alligator tears over all the aspects of the American budget that they have yet to get to the lobby trough, remember ... they're only GORKs and you can't trust GORK wisdom that doesn't exist.

Here's something I wrote that was published in its entirety in the local papers back then about the Medicare legislation Bush, Hastert and Frist blessed us with ...


Thinking that congress had your best interests in mind when they legislated the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit?
Think again.
To understand why your new Med D prescription benefit is so complicated, confusing and expensive for your budget, you must understand one thing about the economic theory of the elected Republican majority at the national level.
"What's good for corporate capitalism is good for the country."
They really believe that.
They really believe that economically and socially the wisest plan is for  "pseudo conservative" legislation to force all of us to get out of the way while tax cuts to the rich and loopholes to business make our lives better.
Right ...
Medicare D is modelled on one of our classic corporate capitalist national failures: our commercial health insurance system. That's the vaunted one that under the most powerful economic force in the world has left us in 37th place globally in terms of effective and quality national health care.
That's the vaunted one that any system modeled after Britain or Canda or any other country where EVERYONE is covered would never exceed the vauntedness of corporate America's capitalist dream.
Here's how they did it ... and you must remember the power of lobbying in this country and how senators and congress persons can't decide how to vote until a corporate capitalist prompts their wisdom with cash.
These wise lawmakers chose some 260 private insurers (corporations who supported this scheme with lobby money given primarily to - you guessed it - Republican lawmakers. Republicans, you surely remember, are the majority in congress and therefore have the power to turn the scheme into law). Now then, these wise partisan lawmakers have forced you to choose one of those elite insurers.
Who are these chosen 260?
Why they're private pharmacy benefit insurers, HMO's, pharmacy organizations like Walgreen's, Long's and Wal Mart.
You surely didn't think they are social-minded or populist organizations like the Grange did you?
Naw ... these aren't social minded do-gooders. They're the profit-minded self-interested.
Our economically "wise" lawmakers have now made it legal for our government to send YOUR medicare money - I mean it, the actual money that would be used as your individual medicare benefit - to the corporation you have to pick  from among the 260.
It's an automatic revenue the corporation will spend advertising or marketing costs for in order to out-muscle the competition which will then be passed on to you as part of the additional premiums you'll pay out of pocket for your medicines.
This is a free-market system run amok.
In some areas seniors have 40-50 choices of plans. The plans have confusing choices of options, many of which involve differing monthly premiums (ranging from $0 to $60).
There are combinations of deductibles.
There are combinations of co-insurance (your percentage/their percentage of the medicine's price).
There are options to try cheaper generic drugs.
There are "tiers" (levels of priority and/or allowability) based on copays, generics, preferred brands, non-preferred brands, specialty drugs ...
and whether you buy from an "in-network" pharmacy with discounts or "out-of-network" pharmacy with no discounts.
There is no standardized nomenclature (no set of names, concepts, options and plan definitions that are standard among all of the 260 chosen corporate medical monopolists.)
One uses the phrase "co-pay";
another calls it "deductible".
What if we folks have questions?
Well,  we can go on line to a web site with a complicated web answer-giver. If you're one of the 75% of seniors who have never gone on line - well, chin up! A whole new cyber adventure is out there just waiting for you to invest in another corporate hog-trough sector by buying a computer and joining the internet surfer society.
What's going to happen with this pick-your-pocket-because-you're-over-a-barrell scheme?
Remember, the Republicans got this doofus plan passed with a projected price tag of $400 billion - a little less than the current sub-total for war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan by the way.
But wait!
We then learned that the Bush Administration told Medicare officials - in the tradition of Bill O'Reilly - to SHUT UP. They were told to keep the real cost which is in excess of $550 billion a secret.
What about the sacred chosen 260?
All vendors are not expected to remain "competitive." That means that not all vendors are expected to survive in the free-market system.
No, the biggest sharks with the biggest teeth and the biggest lobby dollars will win the survival of the health insurance fittest. We'll  see the 260 reduced to perhaps 10 survivors; mega-innsurers who will slug it out for all the leavings of those other 250 who just couldn't make it.
And instead of free-market capitalism we'll have closed-market monopoly based on sending Medicare tax dollars to friends of the Republicans.
Who might that be?
Well, United Health Group is spending 75 million on marketing and operations for this new Republican give away.
Aetna= $50 million
Cigna: $40 million
Humana (a midwest regional insurer)= $80 million.
Pfizer's in there too. You know Pfizer ... Bob Dole sold his Viagra perspective for Pfizer.
But those investments are chump change compared to what happens when all the Medicare clients sign on to automatic directed payments to the chosen hog-trough recipient.
This is the Republican American Way of course and whatever premium you pay to your chosen insurer will include recovery of that marketing money.
Then there's this: You'll hear words of wisdom from the Medicare RX Education Network and may receive mailings in envelopes bearing a return address of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
You are forgiven if you mistakenly assume these are official government communications to you.
They are not.
They have been allowed by Republican free-marketer politicans to use the government's official logos.
And if you run into something called "Medicare Today," you'll be seeing a creation of the Healthcare Leadership Council.
Who's that you ask?
Well, a group of hospitals, drug companies, medical equipment makers and academic medicate centers joined up some 300 members. They then raised millions of dollars for "outreach" to get seniors to sign up and authorize one of them to receive government Medicare dollars earmarked in your name.
The 37th best medical care system in the world is 37th because that system functions in the tradition of Exxon-Mobil's double-digit billions of dollars quarterly profits.
However, the 37th best medical care system is #1 in what is the truest priority: Turning billion-dollar profits while at the same time failing to adequately treat and protect all of its citizens.
That's the linkage between corporate lobbyists and corrupt politicians. That linkage and system is more and more revealing itself as foundational to the failed economic politics of contemporary corporate conservative Republicanism.
© Arthur Ruger 2006
*Reference: The Nation, January 30, 2005 - KILLING MEDICARE by Trudy Lieberman who writes about healthcare for The Nation.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TIME LAPSE MAP OF EVERY NUCLEAR EXPLOSION EVER ON EARTH



Insanity ... after all that show of force, we don't seem to have anything of social redeeming value to show for our bomb-making skills.

Watch the whole thing. Don't click it out as repetitious. That would be an act of moral cowardice.

Realize that we Americans and our competitors with our boy toys just couldn't bring ourselves to not light one more ... over and over again ...

Then explain to yourself how and why we think we are the greatest country on Earth because we have the ability to do what with our firecrackers?

And of course some will say there was scientific testing going on. Of course there was.

A consequence of scientific testing reminds us that our own contemorary political and moral American heroes authorized the use of depleted uranium in Iraq to make our bombs and bullets tougher penetrators. Those heroes remain strangely silent about the horrible and enormously large spate of birth defects in the same specific combat zones.

I was asked, "Saving thousands of Japanese and American lives wasn't socially redeeming?"

The comparative ... whose "thousands of lives" are we valuing the most at the expense of the lives of others?

Wouldn't it be fair to ask residents and relatives of residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see if their unwilling sacrifice redeemed the social good everywhere else?

We could subjectively declare - if we assumed and were insistent that we possessed the higher wisdom and the will and means to impose it - that that the social good of saving all those lives is greater than the loss of life in those two cities.

I find it extremely difficult to rationalize a form of murder as a necessary social good in which the protection of one side's soldiers and citizens at the terrible cost to anyone else is paramount. Such in fact constitutes a social evil.

The precedent established by Mr. Truman and the American government is with us today. Wise or not, we are required to acknowledge that we were the first to use those atomic weapons of mass destruction and we did so in anger and with extreme prejudice ...

We are not noble because we did that and today's reaped whirlwind of atomic terror began with that self-serving "noble" decision that many among us today rationalize.

I believe that when we make that sort of self-serving rationalization, we authorize ourselves to do it again to someone else ... and tell ourselves how much better it is to do it first before it is done to us.

After all, we are, as Geoffrey Perret wrote, A Country Made by War.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

On gun-toting straight-shooting Konstitutionalists

the valiant men of Open Carry Texas

"A group calling itself “Open Carry Texas” showed up today fully armed with semi-automatic pistols, rifles, and other firearms.  They wanted to present a strong and intimidating front against a group they believe,  wants to limit their liberty.   Theses brave men stood shoulder-to-shoulder, weapons poised for immediate response to any hostile move from their sworn enemies.
Who were these sworn enemies, gathered to deserve this flashy show of weaponry and might?  
It was four mothers."



Right ...

Got me to thinking. It seems that the slogan driving these folks with the big iron(s) on their hips is …
“If you block me from using my First Amendment Right I will exercise my Second Amendment Right and use my weapon on you!”
… or something like that.

As to who the traitorous un-American “YOU” bent on destroying our liberties is …  and the reasoning behind the extreme step of using a weapon against another citizen, well that’s up for interpretation.

Apparently whoever it is seems to be the evil spawn of the 1930’s and 1940’s Germanic and Italian terrorists who have somehow re-incarnated into the 21st century.

But that’s confusing because aren’t them guys the historic heroic idols of extreme right wing American pseudo-patriotism?

The “H” guy? Or better even, the Mussolini guy who was not ashamed of government corporatism while lying to and bleeding the common citizens in order to keep the rich in power?

I believe it is called “carrying” ... and is part of making what is considered a patriotic statement having to do with defending our liberties whenever and wherever those freedoms appear to be under attack.

So then, what does “under attack” mean?

What is in the mind of someone who feels the need to publicly flaunt  personal ownership of a weapon because something frightens him that  is not frightening most people who are otherwise civically engaged and active.

Is there a difference?

Well, although we all have that right some of us use common sense that dictates that one need not  “carry” unless a defense of rights is under literal and immediate physical attack, war or invasion of our country.

Otherwise, “carrying” is just another word for “packing” (as in heat) which declares
‘I’m a macho guy who could accidentally shoot a kid, a little old lady or her pet if I was of a mind to. ‘
A veteran myself, I know lots of other veterans in my community who HAVE used a weapon in defense of our country.  We are genuine – the real thing - and would not hesitate to leave our homes, leave the churches before the sermon ends, leave the tavern with the last beer unfinished, drop what we’re doing, jump in our trucks, get our weapons and make haste to the scene of threat or action.

We'd do it in a moment’s notice cause we know where our weapons are – kept safe under lock and key until needed.

And for most of those I know it would not be any different if those attacking were government agents or military troops sent to forcibly take our weapons away,  put us in some kind of internment camp, force us to pay our taxes or execute us for fornication.

But  that is not what is happening.

Nothing even close to that is happening although in recent years I would not have put such a possibility beyond the reach of the those who advocated (Dick Cheney) an imperial presidency plan.

That was real.
That was political.
That was an extreme Republican Conservative move that was also endorsed by pretend broadcast patriot blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Glen Beck would have endorsed it on whatever network dumb enough to hire him back then so long as  he could see through his country-lovin snake oil tears.

So who is packing … er, I mean “carrying?”

All I can venture is a perceptual speculation based on behavior, verbiage and posturing.

Most carriers appear to be dying to be seen  publicly wearing.

Most carriers appear to be hoping someone will challenge them so they can then draw.

Most carriers act like they will be disappointed if they don’t get to publicly use the weapon so as to be seen as heroic.

It seems to me that would-be Second Amendment heroes won’t hesitate to manufacture (imagine) enemies to the homeland in order to sustain a macho sense that hearkens back to every Wayne or Eastwood movie where the good guy gets to shoot somebody.

Or they are willing to suspend judgment and critical thinking by falling for any broadcast lie hook, line and sinker.

Consequently, when you see a carrier "packing" in public with a cold hard stare hidden by movie-hero sunglasses you can read in that stone cold facial expression and posturing this message:
“Please!
Before it’s too late and I can no longer be and feel heroic!
Please …. somebody make my day!”
Flash your weapons guys, get out those comic books and to hell with anyone else in the crowd, their children or their grandchildren.

And just like the Hannity acolyte in Tennessee who gunned down several human beings in a church because they were Hannity-defined  “liberals” …

Just like that … someone’s child will be gunned down and it won’t matter which Wayne or Eastwood character did the shooting.

It won’t matter whether he believes that Beck, Limbaugh or Fox News said it would be acceptable

… there will not be anything heroic about the perpetrator.

… only  a stick horse, plastic chaps and cheap sunglasses trying to cover cowardice, a junior high maturity and a lack of the greatest civic attribute a citizen can offer the country:

Common Sense ... One of the Founding Fathers beloved of Kindergarten Konservatives and gun-toting Constituionalists, Thomas Paine,  said give me liberty or give me death.

Paine did not everybody needs to "carry" so those gun-toters who are irresponsible can be gunned down regardless of collateral damage.

And woe unto those too afraid to speak up or disagree with the heat packers.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Union not putting words in their mouths ... lets GOP speak for themselves.

Latinos and other immigrants control the long-term fate of the Republican Party
One ad shared with POLITICO shows Texas Rep. Lamar Smith calling the popular DREAM Act “a nightmare for the American people” and quotes Georgia Rep. Paul Broun saying undocumented immigrants are “criminals and they need to be treated as such.”
Iowa Rep. Steve King makes an appearance in one clip, referring to illegal immigrants “hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
And in multiple commercials, the AFL-CIO highlights Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks’s statement that he would do “anything short of shooting” undocumented workers in order to crack down in illegal immigration.
Immigration as a serious concern impacting millions of innocent American citizens.

This is primarily a propaganda effort akin to the Gingrich imagery prior to welfare reform in the 1990's that fed off citizen's imagination of welfare queens, lazy single mothers and deadbeat dads lurking on welfare rolls all over the country.

It was in fact a republican attempt to capitalize on the knee-jerk reaction back then when someone ahead of them in the check-out line started waving food assistance coupons (the easily discernible funny looking money) at the cashier.

No lie was bigger than the myth of massive welfare fraud that needed to be cleaned up. The reality was something more manageable: a reformation of a government system of handouts that enabled apathy and discouraged initiative on the part of welfare recipients.

The welfare budget impact on national GNP and federal budget has always been essentially less than the a small percentage of actual spending on military hardware and the more than 700 American military installations worldwide that politicians are extremely loathe to try and  justify.

But, needing fodder on which to tread with their upwardly mobile inflammatory jack boots, grandstanding pork-barrel politicians taught us all to belittle and disrespect the poor single welfare mothers (or less frequently, fathers.)

We were told to be indignant. The stampede was set off. ("of course MY child could never be one of those welfare addicts. How could that child ever humiliate ME? Of course I'm for Welfare Reform!)

For immigrants today we are left with the bad seed of an idea that because of the flow of illegal immigrants into this country, we are on the verge of economic and political collapse because we don't have a Berlin wall on our borders keeping the pestilence out.

For every Berlin wall-advocate I'd like to see an acknowledgement not of the criminality of businesses that hire illegals, but the political criminality of demonizing workers with families who pay taxes off their fake SS cards (thereby possibly benefiting some unaware American citizen who is getting credit for those tax payments.) At the same time these "outraged" alien fighters include in their spending priorities that tax revenue (much of which will never leak back to the workers in the form of refunds since there is reluctance to file a return.)

So we see flamboyant clowns masquerading as patriots advocating building a wall to keep the revenue source out ... they're fools and want us to join them in the fools club.

If one's political thinking never evolves to the kind of depth and complexity that the issue merits, one remains a political partisan making a fragile no-substance mountain out of a molehill of a problem.

The recent Latino protests in reality could have been proclaimed as a protest against political exaggeration and insult to an American electorate.

From my own career experience in the state public assistance office I spent more time dealing with lazy native-born gringo/jingo Americans that whine about not being able to find a job because the Mexicans took them all.

You know, them there lazy citiznes act like certain political role models who claim one false thing to pursue another more dreadful false thing ... personal access to government money 

As a gringo myself who pays attention to demographics and the Hispanic culture in which I have family, part of me looks forward to the day when Hispanics outnumber jingoes - er, gringos.

Why?

Because for Hispanics, Asians and other American sub-cultures in which which more and more citizens are being born, there remains ample substance of CULTURE and a consistent value system that reflects cultural mores of behavior, responsibility and respect (especially respect for parents and senior citizens.)

Such is exemplary of a social value system that has been been rapidly fading for years from the consumption-prioritized American populace that stops, looks and listens every time a nursing home advertises how easy it would be to buy your way out of taking care of your elders.
Another example of grandstand jingoism disgracing a nation is the notion that those who come here must speak English or die. In my experience, I've seen impending deaths of elderly immigrants and the children of immigrants averted only because they sought and found someone who could speak their language and listen to them talk about their child's or parent's health problem before it was too late.

There is nothing dumber than the statement that "My immigrant ancestors had to learn English and these are no better." No they didn't. The majority of the earliest never did. But they worked hard and they paid taxes - neither of which require the ability to speak English. And I don't think they expected the sort of jingoistic nonsense dribbling out the mouths of the noisiest of their descendants.
We don't have a mountain of a problem with immigration in this country. We have a mountain of a problem from the sons and daughters - both elected and unelected - who are descendants from immigrants.

And as AFL-CIO strategist Tom Snyder declared:

“This is just a beginning. This is a down payment. The Republican Party may control the immediate fate of immigration reform, but Latinos and other immigrants control the long-term fate of the Republican Party.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What civic responsibilities and why do they matter?

I recall the time when my interest in politics was something akin to but less than my intense interest in the NBA, MLB and the NFL. The winners and losers in local, state and national elections were mostly a matter of "Did the person I like win or lose?" There was very little if any interest on my part in initiatives, law-making or the rising and falling fortunes of our political parties.

I'm an old veteran with no hair, high blood pressure and military memories going back to the early 1970's when Jane Fonda was a swear word and my cousin somehow got into the National Guard and I didn't. Had I waited another six months before enlisting, the new draft lottery which placed my birthday at the 350+ level would have meant that I, like Mr. Cheney, could have pursued my "other priorities."

Somewhere downstairs I've got an old hard-cardboard Schlitz beer-box with enough military records in it to prove I went and to prove I did. There's a bunch of ribbons down there in a glass jar where sometime I'll go down and look at them. There's an air-medal (and maybe a cluster) that are still in their containers. There's little sterling silver wings that my commander told me I could wear even when not on flying status after completing ten combat missions. They're all down there to prove I went and did.

When I was studying Russian at Syracuse University, Woodstock happened less than 100 miles away. I wasn't about to drive over and see that. I was too mad at Jane Fonda - mad about her movie Barbarella and its flaunting R-rated morals-challenged images which had offended my youthful moral view of the world. Oh and I was incensed by her Hanoi activities.

Funny how time changes perspectives. My yuppie kids are outraged that in 1968 I deliberately refused to go to Woodstock.

I agree with them.
What was I thinking?

Was my patriotism so shallow that rain, mud, outlandish music, naked women and pot smoke could rock my foundation as a true American?

I'm embarrassed about what I thought was important when I was 22 and what I did and didn't do about it.

Yet, here I am today, a retired and stay-at-home repository of all my experience which is the only source of wisdom I have to offer my kids and grandkids.  I sure as heck am not going to teach my kids that military veterans are long on judgment and condemnation and short on forgiveness. Most veterans have seen enough in life to know that there's not much useful in taking an "I'll never forgive you for that!" attitude in most areas of life.

No, I'm not retired from the military. I got out after 6 years and served 2 more in the reserve. 29 years later, I'm still aware of a sense of difference between the civilian and military world where you have got to trust somebody before you follow them.

In 1968 I was so mad at LBJ, I voted for Nixon so I guess that made me a Republican.

In 1972 I thought McGovern was a peacenik and I was a war-nik so I gave Tricky Dick another vote.

In 1976 I was genuinely offended at Ford for pardoning Tricky Dick so I voted for Carter. Guess that's my first sentiment for the Democrats.

In 1980 when Reagan asked "Are you better off now...." he got my vote. Back to bein Republican.

In 1984 he looked tougher than Mondale so I voted for RR again.

By 1988 though, I didn't trust Bush the First so I went into my vote-for-the-outsider mode and voted for Dukakis. Democratic fool am I?

1992 and I'm mad at Bush Sr. who seemed to think looking like Patton would fix the economy and voted for Bill Clinton with the following little sentence in sotto voce: "Ok you SOB, you'd better not blow it."  Back to thinking in a Democrat way.

By 1996 I began to suspect I was more of a liberal than a conservative and just couldn't bring myself to vote for Dole.

So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.

By 2000 I realized that my veteran's instincts were alive and well and I saw only form without substance in George W. Bush. He's my age and I could never vote for anyone who at best was no smarter than me. Besides, an old NBA fan like me thought Bill Bradley was the smartest guy for president and I was disappointed that he didn't get nominated. I voted for Gore, the military veteran.

By the time George W. invaded and occupied Iraq and lied to me and you in order to get away with it I was having problems with the political behavior in this country that now seemed more important than the Red Sox beating the Yankees.

When my wife Lietta took off for Texas to help Cindy Sheehan beat up on George Bush, I also decided to get involved ... as a citizen ... rather than a party partisan.  This despite the fact that my dissent and opposition to a sitting president almost demanded that I support the opposition party's candidates and issues - to the degree I could stomach them and could stomach their lack of stomach for a fight.

I soon learned that lock-step support of a sitting president and publicly patriotic loyalty grandstanding had very little to do with civic responsibility and holding the government responsible. I was in good company .. folks like Tommy Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight the Eisenhower.

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. -President Thomas Jefferson
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.” - President Theodore Roosevelt
Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President. - President  Theodore Roosevelt
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -President Theodore Roosevelt
Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionist and rebel men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. -President Dwight Eisenhower

Good enough for me. So I began public dissent and never regretted it. Didn't stop no wars, didn't get anyone indicted or impeached and didn't impact the outcome of any elections despite all that Lietta and I could do.

But ... I felt good about myself for trying, for taking a stand and for standing for something of merit.

Bush's 2004 re-election after all those manipulative antics and with the help of religious and social conservatives was a shock for me. It taught me things about American voters as a group and their diminished or absent attention spans that I've never forgotten. Predominantly republican congresspersons, television commentators and talk-show jocks all acting and speaking almost in lock step synchronicity, saying the same things and sticking almost sickeningly to the same talking points and slogans left me with a vulgar and foul taste in my mouth.

Democratic voices were mostly mealy-mouthed and seemed almost afraid to throw down any gauntlet against what I began calling the Kindergarten Konservative Klamor.

By 2008 there was no visible republican worthy of my vote and perhaps with one or two exceptions the democrat would get my vote. For me the eventuality was either Hilary or Obama and when McCain nominated the Konservative Kindergarten Kween my voting choice was going to be totally obvious.

I am not a democrat but I can say with total honesty that there appears to be no republican worthy of my vote so long as the party itself is beholden to the tea party crazies. Voting to re-elect Obama was a no brainer. And I am not happy with our sitting American president.

Again here I am, So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.

******************************
So here I sit at my keyboard ... reminding myself why I got involved when one president and his administration lied their way to all those dead soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

I want to rephrase a few things I wrote about a president in 2005 and expand the subject to include the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.
In 1968 when I enlisted I had a rough idea of what I was getting into.
That "rough idea" was based on trust ... trust in a system and, ultimately, trust in a specific leader and a specific governing political party. The specific leader of course was LBJ, the specific party was the Democratic Party and the specific system was and is the system that allows us to hang our political opinions on buttons and sanctimonious drapery of stars and stripes from which we belch our prejudices.
When you sign up you endorse a contract on the bottom line. It's a contract with specified written obligations on the part of both parties, but also with unspecified but powerful assumptions on the part of both parties.
In the case of joining the military knowing what you are getting into is based on very powerful unwritten but nationally accepted assumptions:
(1)  The integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military and that CIC's skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.
As a volunteer you are at the mercy of that individual, his party and their combined priorities - with a strong expectation that those priorities extend beyond a desire to remain in the driver's seat.
(2)  As a volunteer you are at the mercy of your own fellow citizens (including your own family) whom you trust to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agenda's and ideologies;
hat leaders are driven by a genuine desire to involve the country in on-going mutual participation and compromise regarding foreign policy before resorting to force as a last resort.
(3)  Volunteering to become a soldier is volunteering to preserve and protect - with your own power and will - the country, its borders, its citizens and its institutions. It isn't volunteering to keep a political party in power.
The only way to avoid that circumstance is for the citizens to assume their rightful role in the triangular relationship with the troops and the CIC. The troops are expected to trust the CIC's wisdom as well as the patriotic participation of the Citizens who will keep the CIC honest.
The CIC is expected to trust the troops to follow orders and expects to sustain by honesty and integrity the support of the Citizens.
The Citizens expect the troops to do their duties and expect the CIC to sustain by honesty and integrity his political authority. The Citizens must be willing to hold the CIC accountable and willfully resist when the honesty and integrity of leadership is absent.
That is what is going on right now.
The politicians have demonstrated a lack of leadership at a time when leadership is needed.
We have civic responsibilities that include critical thinking, striving for common sense and an ability to wade through or ignore bullshit so we can help do something about the bullshitters. If I could fire and replace them all I would ... but I can't. However, there's no requirement to sit quietly in the tavern while the blowhards waste everybody's time and money with political silliness. We ought to stand up to grandstanders, bullies and drugstore cowboys - no matter the color of the ice cream on their boots.

That's why I'm taking my mind off the shelf and going back to the scuffle. It seems to be what makes me feel good about myself for trying. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is Civic Participation and Empowerment?




The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan institution established and funded by Congress to increase the nation's capacity to manage international conflict without violence.

USIP’s Strategic Goals

To help prevent, manage, and resolve violent international conflict both within and between states

To promote post-conflict stability and development

To increase peacebuilding capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide

To build and shape the field of international conflict prevention and management and to
professionalize its practice

To build knowledge and create innovative tools for peacebuilding

To bridge research and practice in preventing, managing and resolving violent conflicts

To teach, train, inform policymakers, practitioners, students and the public about the challenges of conflict prevention, management and resolution and how to respond to those challenges

8.8 Necessary Condition: Civic Participation and Empowerment

8.8.1 What is civic participation and empowerment? Why is it a necessary condition?
Civic participation and empowerment refer to a condition in which every citizen has the means to actively engage in the public sphere, including political processes.437 Under this condition, civil society is empowered, protected, and accountable; the media are present, professional, and independent of government influence; equal access to information and freedom of expression is upheld; and political parties are able to form freely and are protected. Civil society, the media, and political parties can mitigate the potential for violent conflict by providing legitimate public forums and mechanisms for peaceful debate.438 Through these means, the population can also peacefully participate in politics, provide a check on the government, and influence government policy. Without opportunities for civic engagement, motivations for violence may be more likely to increase, as the population seeks to ensure their voice is heard and their needs are met. Civic participation and empowerment also require respect for fundamental civil and political rights439 of minority groups, including the perception that these rights can be freely exercised without fear of retribution.440

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