Beam Me Up, Scotty! The Earth Manifesto Arrives …
An Earth Manifesto publication by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
Hi! Clear-eyed Tiffany Twain here, introducing
the Earth Manifesto. A rush of ideas jostles for attention and
expression and priority. Big Picture
stuff. Vital perspectives. Far-sighted thoughts. The essays in the Earth Manifesto seek truth in probing Olympian considerations of
our existence and the important issues that face humanity. The primary purpose of these writings is to
fairly, objectively and accurately analyze what’s happening in our world today,
and to use clear understandings to propose progressive solutions that are
socially and ecologically propitious.
States has fallen into the trap of creating economic bubbles that have made us
vulnerable to a financial collapse of the entire global economy. Our nation has also, under the Bush/Cheney
regime, made the most costly blunder in American foreign policy history by
being suckered into preemptive wars and seemingly endless and destabilizing
military occupations of Muslim countries in the volatile Middle East. How could this state of affairs have come to
pass? Why has this happened? And what can we do now to save ourselves?
this are exhaustively explored in the
Earth Manifesto. It is clear that
the vast majority of the American people want similar things: a country in which our families are safe and
the economy is fair and functional and sound;
a society in which there are good opportunities, education is
affordable, everyone can get their medical needs met, and prosperity is broadly
distributed; a world that is not
embroiled in unjust wars; and a planet
where the air is clean and pure fresh water is widely available and there are
protected open spaces and parks and National Forests and Wilderness Areas and
wildlife. How can we accomplish these
greater good goals? Startlingly
different ideas and perspectives are held about both priorities and methods,
and powerful interest groups strive to gain influence and control in order to
gain benefits that are often contrary to the common good.
There are far
better ways to achieve the greater good than to allow dysfunctional aspects of
the status quo to prevail. A radical
disconnect exists between the policies of those in power and the best interests
of the majority of Americans. Politicians have been failing us during these
times of unprecedented global challenges.
Our political system thrives on conflict, and those in power divide
people and distract them to keep them from uniting and implementing public
policies that would advance the good of the majority and of people in future
generations. Instead of fair-minded
goals, insider interests champion the privileges of small minorities of wealthy
people and corporate CEOs. Since
politics has dramatic effects upon all our lives, the 2008 Presidential
election is extremely important to our future.
The stakes are high, and the candidates offer us dramatically different
ideas and policies.
In the great 1975 film, Three Days of the Condor, the character
Joseph Turner (played by Robert Redford) discovered a plot to invade the Middle
East for its oil. Imagine that: war for oil.
War for oil! In the film, Joseph
Turner disparagingly asks a CIA operative, “Boy, what is it with you
people? You think not getting caught in
a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?”
The response of the CIA operative is chilling. He basically says that when Americans begin
to run out of oil or food, we will not really care how our government goes
about getting it, we will just want our leaders to do whatever is necessary, no
matter what is involved and no matter how shortsighted. Injustice, aggression, violence, warfare,
resource exhaustion, ecological disasters, even figuratively eating the seeds
of the harvest of future prosperity … whatever!
This attitude of desperate expediency is epitomized by the fervent chant
at the recent 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota: “Drill, Baby, Drill!”
needs seem to play into the hands of the greedy. Knowing the short-term orientation of
people’s desires and behavioral propensities, it is clear that a restructuring
of our economic and political systems is needed to forestall foolishly
shortsighted expediencies. Our goal must
be to create outcomes that represent “the
greatest good for the greatest number of people over the longest period of
time”. This is the essence of
conservation and smart planning and precautionary wisdom -- and of fairness to
people alive today as well as those to be born in the future.
been gambling that our priorities are good and proper. But an objective evaluation reveals that our
priorities are misguided and radically askew.
More than 80% of Americans say they think our nation is headed in the
wrong direction. The main reason for this
is that our economic and political systems are structured to primarily benefit
rich people and corporations, not workers and the majority of people. At the heart of the discontent that people
are feeling is our faltering and inequity-filled economy. Another big issue is the fact that we are
fighting extremely costly wars abroad.
For extensive insights relating to economic forces affecting us
here in October 2008, see Reporting Live
from the Ground Zero Bleacher Seats in the Mega Bubble. And for many valuable insights concerning
peace and militarism and war, check out
Reflections on War. Both essays can
be found on links to the Earth Manifesto Home Page.
One way to fix our corrupt political system would
be to institute public-financed Clean Money/Clean Election reforms that would
reduce the influence of narrow special interests. This would reduce the power of corporate
lobbyists so that they do not consistently dominate our public decision-making. Serious Congressional ethics reforms should
also be put into place to hold politicians accountable for dishonest activities
and political shenanigans. Effective
regulations and oversight of banks and other financial institutions are needed
once again to keep greed and fraud and speculation from destabilizing our
economy and harming prospects for long-term prosperity. The best way to channel self-interested
motives into the greater good is through the freedom-respecting and
market-oriented approach of using wisely focused and far-sighted incentives and
disincentives. As the brilliantly sensible businessman and author
Paul Hawken wrote in The Ecology of
Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, “We must design a system … where
doing good is like falling off a log, where the natural, everyday acts of work
and life accumulate into a better world as a matter of course, not a matter of
conscious altruism.” Think about it!
We need to find good
ways to make our representatives work together to find common ground between
competing interests. The culture of
conflict and deception in Washington, D.C. prevents us from achieving greater
good goals. We must demand that our
representatives reach fair consensus on common ground in every issue, and that
they make reasonable compromises to advance clearly prioritized national
objectives that are consistent with the general good over the long run. Clearer priorities will allow us to keep our
government from being hijacked by greedy interest groups at the public expense. As
Alan Greenspan, the economist and former long-time Federal Reserve Board
Chairman writes in his 2007 book The Age
of Turbulence, we should regard compromise as “the price of civilization,
not an abrogation of principle.”
The Earth Manifesto explores these issues in depth,
together with bigger questions of human nature, competitive urges, underlying
motives and ecological truths. Emotions
and hype run high on the political scene, so I encourage readers to put on a
logical Mr. Spock thinking cap and read on.
Emotional hijacking on an individual level can be harmful enough to our
relationships and well-being, but on a society-wide basis, it is anathema to
fair-mindedness and sensible progress toward better communities.
I encourage readers to evaluate these important
ideas objectively and honestly. These
essays have been written to help people see through deceptive and simplistic
worldviews and narratives that paint complex issues in ways that are
black-and-white and overly simplistic.
It is inaccurate and dangerous to see Americans as good and others as
evil, for good and evil run through each of us.
Politics must evolve from stubborn partisanship and “you’re either with
us or against us” vindictiveness, and winner-take-all paradigms to become
nobler and fairer in embracing the common good and peaceful coexistence.
Authority! “Rebel Against Something
Because Everything Ain’t Right!
and threats have given greater power to right-wing political forces in the
United States. Why is this? The late and great John Fowles wrote about
this phenomenon in his provocative book The
Aristos, calling it “countersupporting”.
Unjust actions tend to strengthen the resolve of those who oppose
injustices. Militarism and imperialism
strengthen impulses for terrorist retaliation and other forms of blowback. Repression begets resistance, and arrogance
begets resentment. Humiliation begets
anger and frustration, and violence often begets violence in reaction.
powerful tendencies in human nature.
This is why Golden Rule fairness and honest diplomacy and smart
statesmanship are better underlying principles than reactive policies like the
Bush Doctrine of “preemptive war”. As
the human population continues to increase rapidly, competition intensifies and
motives strengthen for strong countries to use force to get oil and land and
fresh water and competitive advantages and domineering control. We simply must find more effective ways to
prevent aggression and resource wars.
Will and Ariel
Durant were respected philosophers and historians who thoughtfully noted in
their compelling book, The Lessons of
History, that war is the ultimate expression of competition. Modern wars are extremely unjust and
destructive, so the need is strong for us to find effective means of preventing
them. General Douglas MacArthur once
wisely said, “I
believe that the entire effort of modern society should be concentrated on the
endeavor to outlaw war as a method of the solution of problems between
nations.” Hallelujah for that sentiment! Let’s commit our nation to this effort!
The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain
Mark Twain is one of America’s most famous
writers. He was an immensely popular
personality in his day, and a great American hero to boot. Born in 1835 in the slave state of Missouri,
he was steeped in a culture that was conflicted over slavery, so his novels
provide trenchant insights into the collective psyche of his times. Mark Twain struggled with the biases of the
society he grew up in, and in doing so he created classic characters like
Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, Judge Thatcher and the slave
Jim. He used clever satire and biting
humor in his writings and public lectures to expose absurdities in the human
condition and to delve into the profound conundrums of the Civil War period and
its aftermath. Later in his life, during
the Spanish-American War, he became a leader in the “Anti-Imperialist”
movement. He opposed hawkish American
expansionism that was a natural extension of the ruthless hubris of “Manifest
Destiny”, which so devastated the Native American Indians. He spoke out against U.S. attacks on Spain in
Cuba and the Philippines in 1898 and subsequent military occupations of those
countries, writing these words:
“… I have seen that we do not intend to free, but
rather to subject the people … We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem …
It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make these people free,
and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And
so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its
talons on any other land.”
Almost 100 years have passed since Mark Twain’s
death in 1910, yet today we are still grappling with the legacies of both
slavery and imperialistic impulses. Our
great nation still labors under the shadow of momentous conflicts and grave
inequities, despite remarkable progress that has been made in freeing slaves,
giving women the right to vote, and establishing protections for workers,
consumers, investors and the environment.
Here in October 2008 we are faced with an extremely important
Presidential election that pits Barack Obama, a liberal black man, against John
McCain, an old white guy who is championing orthodox ideologies of the radical
right that include tax-cutting for the rich, deficit spending, cronyism,
corporatism, deregulation, aggressive militarism and religious
fundamentalism. We can’t afford four
more years of this right-wing governance.
Two quotes succinctly summarize the colossal
contradictions that characterize our two dominant political parties.
“The Republicans are the party that says that
government doesn’t work, and then gets elected and proves it.”
--- Conservative P.J. O’Rourke
A liberal is
“a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”
--- Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Robert
The challenges facing Americans are daunting and
unprecedented in their global ramifications, and the contrast between the
presidential candidates and their ideological positions could hardly be
greater. Both political parties are
talking about change and reform, because the Bush/Cheney administration is
widely regarded as being so unfair, inegalitarian and irresponsibly profligate
with government spending. It is becoming
clear that it is harmful to the public good to overly indulge in deficit
spending and corruptly embrace cronyism, corporatism, authoritarian abuses of
power, religious fundamentalism and military aggression. Both parties claim to be best qualified to
fix the serious problems of our economic and political systems, and the
American people seem to be having a difficult time deciding who to believe -- and who to trust.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota
believed that politics should be about far more than power, money and winning
at any cost. He once said, “Politics is
about the improvement of people’s lives. It’s about advancing the cause
of peace and justice in our country and in the world.” Ah, such wonderful ideals! Democrats have unfortunately been too poorly
organized to be effective in overcoming and rebuking the ideologies and
emotional appeals of right-wing conservatives, despite the obvious high costs
and inequities and failings and detrimental outcomes of the ideas and doctrines
espoused by the powerful radical right and financial elites. It is time to let a new generation lead, and
a progressive one, not an old generation and a political party with a sadly retrogressive
There is plenty of blame to go around for the
failures of our political system.
Republicans are more focused on ideological consistency and winning at
any cost than are Democrats, and since they have dominated our nation for the
past eight years, they have much more responsibility. Moderate Republicans have traditionally
represented integrity and fiscal responsibility and limited government, but
under the Bush/Cheney regime they have made the federal government more radical
and fiscally irresponsible and domineering.
They have helped create the largest budget and trade deficits in our
nation’s history, and they have eliminated common sense regulations, oversight
and supervision that served to protect the economy from systemic risks.
They have also ruthlessly launched costly
“preemptive wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq, and violated the Geneva Conventions
against prisoner torture. They have
exploited public fears, stimulated divisiveness, belittled opposition, and
suppressed dissent. They have
aggressively expanded Executive power and infringed on checks and balances
established by the Constitution. They
have abused their power to diminish people’s civil liberties, and deceived the
people to advance a narrow, highly unfair economic and social agenda.
They have appointed corporate-friendly judges and
Supreme Court Justices who do not really represent the mainstream of majority
public opinion; and they have pandered
to the religious right rather than to moderates or secular interests.
Politics and the Shortcomings of Democratic Capitalism
pretend that politics revolve around
a contest of principles. But make no
mistake about it: politics, at its core,
is the collective expression of competing and conflicting interest groups that
are primarily concerned with making money and gaining influence and power, NOT
with advancing honorable principles. And
the contest is not at all fair. We
theoretically have a representative democracy, but most of the power is wielded
by vested interest groups that rig the laws and regulations and even the
judicial system in their favor at every turn.
In the process they corrupt our brilliant constitutional system in order
to gain private advantages at the public expense. They defend their privileges and stubbornly
oppose real reform. They avoid
accountability and evade responsibility for the harmful impacts of their
actions. They largely ignore the greater
good and the interests of young people who cannot vote, and they forsake the
interests of future generations.
one of the most influential journalists of the late 19th century,
published a satirical dictionary in 1911 in which he defined politics exactly
as described above: “Politics, n.
A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” And also, “Politics, n. The conduct of public
affairs for private advantage.” Satire
often contains incisive wit and wisdom, and these two definitions surely
address the cynical heart and the manipulative soul of politics today. It is not principles that politicians are
most concerned with, despite disingenuous rhetoric to the contrary; it is the interests of insiders and
corporations and Big Money donors.
Honestly! We must pay attention to what politicians
actually do, not just to what they say.
We must recognize their motivations and hidden agendas. Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the
time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people
all the time." The right wing,
exploiting fear and anger that Americans felt after the 9/11 attacks, have
fooled the people for years, but their reign is coming to an end. Or will they somehow convince voters to give
them four more years? As the old says goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
Long ago (in
1936) the Supreme Court
recognized that “An informed public is the most potent of all restraints upon
misgovernment”. In light of this fact,
we should strive to ensure that politicians and the mass media present
comprehensive and honest versions of facts so that citizens are able to make
well-informed decisions. By doing this,
our democracy will function more properly and in ways that are more broadly
economic trends and political developments of the past decade, American
politicians are seriously misleading us.
We must see through all the deceptive rhetoric and spurious arguments
and manipulative spin and ridiculous misrepresentations. We must clearly understand the true motives
that are at the center of political maneuvers.
It is important for us to see that our democracy is actually more of a
money-driven plutocracy than a fair democratic republic, and to act to change
this state of affairs. Movements for
Clean Money and Fair Elections are one way that we could effect revolutionary
change in our corrupt system.
Almost 2,400 years ago,
Plato expressed the wise philosophical opinion that a society should be ruled
by its wisest citizens. Such means of
governing would be honestly guided by the common good. Plato viewed democracy with skepticism,
regarding it as absurd that an ignorant and selfish person would be given the
same voice as an intelligent, broadminded and public-service-oriented citizen. It is sad but true that those who achieve
power in our nation are rarely wise, or selfless, or truly compassionate, or
farsighted. As Winston Churchill once
“Many forms of
Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or
all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that
democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that
have been tried from time to time.”
I personally love our democracy and its
substantial protections of human rights like the freedom of expression. Our Founders recognized that tyranny poses
many threats to life and liberty and property, so when they created our
Constitutional democracy they instituted a strong system of checks and balances
between the executive and legislative and judicial branches of the federal
government. They did this to prevent
injustices and abuses of power like those the British had imposed on the
freedom. To ensure individual freedom in
a society, some regulation of individual conduct needs to be instituted, for
otherwise complete freedom for all results in anarchy, lawlessness, chaos and
increased insecurity. Thus the first
condition of freedom is ironically that it be must be limited. The primary task of government is to
establish order by defining the privileges and responsibilities of its
citizens. It does this through laws and
law enforcement and a system of courts and judicial proceedings. The best leaders make decisions about optimal
courses of action by striving to adjudicate between competing interests and
fairly balance the desires of individuals and businesses with the greater good
of the community.
Since government is a primary province of power and influence,
special interest groups and scheming politicians who seek to gain privileges
and shirk responsibilities tend to corrupt the system. Deficit spending, entitlements, subsidies,
earmarks and tax cuts tilted to benefit the wealthy are all essentially
political gambits that pander to elite factions of society. Instead of creating policies that are
sensible and farsighted, politicians use these irresponsible political
expediencies to gain and maintain power.
These strategies are oriented toward politically self-serving goals of
getting re-elected, NOT toward advancing public interests in a fair and
It is vastly preferable to find common ground and
comprehensive solutions to problems rather than to fail to solve them. Most problems do not go away; they tend to get worse when they are not addressed. History shows that the best way to deal with
issues, both domestic and foreign, is to enact fair compromises. Bipartisan efforts get the best results. Stubbornly uncompromising partisanship and
ruthlessness are generally quite counterproductive. Dirty politics, blaming the opposition,
‘gotcha politics’ and demonizing others are all tactics that obstruct progress
toward fairly solving problems. When
such polarizing tactics are used,
dysfunction results and it is hard to plan ahead and make good decisions. Furthermore, obsessions with scandals,
sensationalism, celebrities, mindless entertainment and alluring titillation
divert public attentions from clear understandings of issues and their best
solutions. Public ignorance, deceptive
spin, political propaganda, snide mockery on talk radio, and unbalanced
journalism all harm our democracy.
Money and the
peddling of influence drive our economic policies and political
initiatives. Corporate lobbyists
dominate Washington D.C., and their mission is to promote the interests of
insiders. Their political lapdogs on the
radical right use emotionally manipulative gambits and ideological stances on
hot-button social issues to get voters to support laws and policies and
corporate subsidies that give great advantages to special interest groups at
the expense of the public. We must see
through “trust me, friend” reassurances and political masquerades of those who
are trying to gain power for ideological control or selfish advantage. When we recognize the private privileges that
are being advanced in the conduct of public affairs, we are better able to
judge what is proper, appropriate, desirable, fair, sensible, honorable and
acceptable. The criteria that we should
use in deciding what policies are best should be (1) Golden Rule fairness, (2)
consistency with the common good, and (3) the probable impacts on people today
as well as in future generations.
The November 4,
2008 Presidential election looms ahead of us, and the stakes are very
high. Both Republicans and Democrats
recognize that the Bush/Cheney legacy has been one of enormously costly damage
to the greater good, so both parties are claiming to support dramatic reform
and positive change. Both Barack Obama
and John McCain claim that they are the best candidates to make the changes
needed. John McCain has the more
difficult sales job since he supported orthodox Republican positions more than
90% of the time in the past eight years.
Who can we trust? As a
progressive, I feel that it is clear that Barack Obama is a much better
bet. He is smart, adaptive and extremely
well organized. He is a great
communicator who has proved to be effective in mediating concerns of both
conservatives and liberals when he was the first African American president of
the Harvard Law Review. These are
qualities that we need in a leader, and not “90% the same as Bush” John McCain!
No amount of lipstick can figuratively conceal the
disturbing details of the wrongheaded Republican priorities in the past eight
years. Progressive-minded people must
courageously stand up to the coalition of wealthy people and CEOs and religious
fundamentalists that put George Bush and Dick Cheney in office, and make it
clear that working people, women, children and the environment must not be left
behind in the policies we formulate.
Ruthless Competition versus Desirable Cooperation
an astute, objective and logical observer like Spock from the planet Vulcan in
the famed TV series, Star Trek. Given the responsibility to report on the
essence of human nature on planet Earth, Spock-like observers would note that
human interactions are characterized by genuinely cooperative impulses as well
as highly competitive urges. Though
people have a distinct commonality of interests, we are often involved in
serious disagreements and violent conflicts.
Since this is the case, the best interests of humanity would be served
by cooperatively creating powerful mechanisms and incentives that maximize fairness
and true justice, and that simultaneously reduce inequities and mitigate
inequalities. To accomplish this, we
need to transcend the politics of extreme partisanship, deceptive manipulation,
divisive polarization and dishonesty.
interest naturally abound in human societies.
To prevent tyranny over the majority by the people in power, our
Founding Fathers established a representative form of democratic government in
which checks and balances were instituted to prevent inherent impulses toward
tyranny, inequality, unfairness and injustice.
This grand progressive experiment in government “of the people, by the
people and for the people” rejected the historical domination of people by
privileged elites. Many corrupting
influences subvert these founding principles.
It is somewhat of a miracle that our great American experiment in
democracy has prospered for 232 years now and managed to survive all the
challenges that have arisen during this interlude, including anti-democratic
political ploys, intense political struggles, a Civil War, two World Wars, Cold
War nuclear weapons threats, McCarthyism, empire building, foreign adventurism,
terrorism, financial panics, economic recessions and depressions, natural
disasters, severe environmental assaults, and revolutionary changes in demographics,
technology, communications and mass media.
So far in the
early years of the 21st Century, many factors are complicating the challenges
that our civilizations face. Rapid
population growth, irresponsible corporatism, disruptive globalization, terrorist
attacks, Peak Oil, domineering superpower military interventionism, right-wing
ideologies, climate change, hurricanes, floods, droughts and intense wildfires
are all accelerating these existential challenges. As a consequence, our democracy is confronted
by gathering threats to our national security, as well as to our personal
liberties. The economy is faltering, and
banks are going bankrupt. Our national
debt is spiking upwards. Our military is
being over-stretched in “preemptive wars”.
Inequities are increasing and our political process is failing us. The checks and balances in our government are
being subverted by factions hungry for power and special privilege. Fraud, corruption, deception, fear-mongering,
military aggression, unbalanced deficit spending and indeed materialistic
consumerism itself all pose grave threats to our future prosperity. Greedy rich people are acting with extreme
shortsightedness, and needy poor people do what they must to survive. Ecological sanity is under attack, and
biological diversity is under siege.
To deal effectively
with these enormous challenges, we must act boldly and wisely. We need to work together to make our
societies fairer and more sustainable.
Much can be done, and great hope resides in courageously addressing
these challenges. An extensive list of
prescriptions for a fairer and more secure world can be found throughout these
writings, and they are succinctly summarized in “One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies“
and in “Progressive
Agenda for a More Sane Humanity.”
I highly recommend the illuminating book by
columnist Robert Kuttner titled The
Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our
Prosperity. This book gives readers
valuable and surprising insights into the workings and complexities of our
economic system and our democracy. It
provides insight into the risks of having the government and the Federal
Reserve encourage financial speculation and expanding debt and excessive
leveraging. It also shows how insider
activities and deregulation and conflicts of interest cause big problems and
how private equity firms, investment banks and hedge funds have created
systemic risks that require costly government bailouts to keep the system from
falling into a destabilizing recession.
Comprehensive Global Perspective II
The human race is the dominant species of animal
on earth. Our ability to think,
communicate, learn, understand the past, predict the future, and plan ahead
allows us to take advantage of a wide range of habitats and resources. It seems clear that better understandings of
human nature and history are valuable for us to achieve the goal of creating
more stable and enduring economies and a healthier populace and institutions.
Knowledge is critically important to human
survival. This is even truer today than
it was when our species relied on hunting and gathering to survive, or in those
long millennia when agriculture allowed agrarian societies to prosper. Many lessons can be learned from the study of
the rise and fall of human civilizations.
Dominant superpower America must recognize the risks and cautionary
historical facts related to the decay of empires. Civilizations have
historically arisen in response to successful dealings with great
challenges. Civilizations grow when they
respond appropriately to such challenges, and they enter a period of decline
when they fail to cope.
Seven primary traits are said to typify the decay
of the far-flung Roman Empire and the British Empire. We must avoid channeling these traits as if
they are a desirable and predestined script!
The decline of
civilizations generally occurs because of the following combination of causes:
1. Resources are squandered and depleted;
2. An unfair plutocracy becomes established that is
characterized by an ever-growing disparity between the fortunes of the rich and
3. Political corruption and mismanagement become widespread;
4. The military, because of a dangerous arrogance of
power, becomes bloated and overextended in costly and debilitating foreign
5. The public is divided by inegalitarian domestic policies
and becomes effectively disenfranchised, so the populace becomes increasingly
cynical and apathetic;
6. The people grow complacent and are diverted by lavish
sports spectacles and other forms of distracting entertainment and
materialistic indulgences and foreign wars;
7. There is a massive influx of people and their customs from
History shows that as empires climax and decay,
the ruling elites become ever more desperate, corrupt, anti-democratic and
authoritarian in their drive to maintain their power. This dynamic certainly seems to be playing
out in the United States today.
President Dwight Eisenhower warned the American
people against the ‘disastrous rise of
misplaced power’. He noted that we must be alert to make certain
that we find positive ways to ensure “that security and liberty may prosper
together.” For our civilization to
succeed rather than collapse, we need more forward-thinking leaders!
World War II was caused by the world domination
plans of Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy and Emperor Hirohito in
Japan. More than fifty million people
died in the conflict that ensued. This
severely discredited the extreme-right form of political organization known as
fascism, which had appealed to people during the terrible social insecurity of the 1930s Depression. An apocryphal list of strategies that fascist
regimes use in power was propagated during the 2004 election. These strategies were ones that were said to
characterize fascist regimes like those of Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito, Franco
in Spain, Suharto in Indonesia, and Pinochet in Chile. Fourteen primary traits of fascist regimes
were identified. It is valuable to
consider the cunning Machiavellian schemes used by such governments, and the
ominous parallels they have with those of the Bush/Cheney administration during
the past eight years. Think carefully
about these 14 characteristics of fascist regimes:
(1) Corporate Power is Protected. The industrial and
business elites of a fascist nation are often the ones who put the government
leaders into power. This creates a
mutually beneficial relationship between business and government, and a power
elite that consequentially ignores the common good.
(2) Obsession with National Security. Fear is used as a
motivational tool by the government over the masses.
(3) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption. Fascist regimes are
almost always governed by groups of associates and cronies who appoint each
other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to
protect their friends from accountability.
It is common in fascist regimes for fraud and corruption to occur, and
even for national resources to be appropriated or outright stolen by government
(4) Supremacy of the Military. Even when there are
widespread domestic problems, military forces are given a disproportionate
amount of government funding, and vital domestic agenda items are
neglected. Soldiers and military service
are glamorized, and secret police organizations undermine civil liberties.
(5) Controlled Mass Media. The media is either directly controlled by
the government, or it is indirectly controlled by government regulation,
conservative ownership or right-wing media executives and spokespeople. Censorship, especially in war time, is
(6) Powerful Nationalism. Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of
patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other propaganda and
paraphernalia. Flags and flag symbols
are seen everywhere on clothing and in public displays. Loyalty, patriotism and conformity are
demanded. As Sinclair Lewis warned in
his 1835 novel, It Can’t Happen Here,
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying the
(7) Religion and Government are Intertwined. Governments in fascist nations tend to use
the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public
opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology
is common from government leaders, even when their policies or actions are
diametrically opposed to the actual major moral tenets of the religion.
Identification of Enemies and Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause. The people are rallied
into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to overcome a perceived common
threat or foe. Racial, ethnic or
religious minorities and liberals, communists, socialists, progressives,
terrorists or other groups are blamed.
(9) Disdain for Human Rights. Because of fear of
enemies and perceived needs for greater security, the people under fascist
regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because
of "necessity." The people
tend to look the other way or even approve of such tactics as torture, coercive
and punitive interrogations, long incarcerations of prisoners, and even summary
executions and assassinations.
(10) Rampant Sexism. The governments of
fascist nations are almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender
roles are made more rigid. Opposition to
abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national
(11) Labor Power is Suppressed. Labor
unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed, because the
organizing power of unions and workers is seen as a significant threat to
(12) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts. Fascist nations tend to
promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other
academics to be censored or even arrested.
Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often
refuse to fund the arts.
(13) Obsession with Crime and Punishment. Under fascist regimes, the police are given
extraordinary power to enforce laws. The
people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil
liberties in the name of patriotism, and national police forces have virtually
(14) Fraudulent Elections. Sometimes elections are
held in fascist nations, but they are generally just a sham. Such elections are often manipulated by
emotional appeals and smear campaigns against opposition candidates. Legislation or fraudulent schemes may be used
to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and to manipulate
the media. Fascist nations also
typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
believe strongly in freedom and democracy, and oppose tyranny and the
infringement of liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. I believe that Barack Obama represents by far
the best hope we have to regain our integrity, fairness and respect in the
world. He represents a better potential
president than John McCain because McCain and the Republican Party are
representatives of the right wing and of religious fundamentalists who have
usurped so much power in the United States in the past eight years. It also should be a significant consideration
that the next president will likely appoint one or two new Supreme Court
Justices, and our nation can ill afford more right-wing judges to be appointed
for lifelong terms who will side with corporations against people and maybe
even overturn important precedents like the Roe
vs. Wade decision.
I strongly believe that we must make bold
corrections to our political course to ensure that our great country does not
go further down the path towards authoritarian domination of our diminished
democracy. We must not let the “security
racket” and hyped-up threats of terrorism pave the way to the loss of our
freedoms and democratic governance!
thesis of many ideas in the Earth
Manifesto is that if we embrace bigger narratives and wiser and more
comprehensive understandings, we will be able to achieve a saner and healthier
future. The overarching context of these
ideas is the big picture of what contributes to the long-term best interests of
humanity. The insights and even
epiphanies of ecological philosophers should inform all our decision-making. When we take into account our collective
responsibility for the wise stewardship and smart usage of natural resources,
we will be able to achieve better outcomes.
To measure our progress in achieving greater good goals, we should
fairly assess the probable impacts our actions will have on the well-being of
our children and people in future generations.
an enlightened spiritual leader like the Dalai Lama, in touch with the
essential soul of humanity and the wisdom of the ages. Given the responsibility for educating people
concerning understandings of the human condition, you would likely advance a
simple truth: the prosperity and
survival of the human species is ultimately dependent on people working
together well enough to make their livings in ways that do not destroy the
ecological underpinnings of our individual and collective well-being. We
need to harmonize our activities with the natural world to a greater extent,
and refrain from single-mindedly trying to control and modify and dominate and
pillage nature at every turn.
A recent report by the International Union for
Conservation of Nature indicates that almost 50% of species of primates on
Earth are threatened with extinction due to human activities that include hunting,
logging, mining, the burning and clearing of tropical forests, and other forms
of habitat destruction. These actions
are contributing to the demise of many species of life on Earth, but it is
particularly serious that we are driving so many primates to extinction because
they are our closest living biological relatives. Mammals are classified into 29 biological
orders, and we Homo sapiens belong to
the order Primates. The extinction of
primate species is one aspect of the unraveling of the web of life that is
resulting from our concerted assault on nature and the inadvertent impact this
is having on other forms of life.
Chief Seattle, a Native American leader in the
Pacific Northwest, warned the U.S. government in 1844 against the misuse of
land, water, air, and animal life. He said, “Whatever happens to the Earth, happens to the children of the Earth …
All things are connected, like the blood that unites one family. Mankind
did not weave the web of life; we are but one strand within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
Now, 164 years later, the truth of this observation becomes clearer.
We live in
times of accelerating change in human affairs.
Rapid population growth is causing aggregate demand to increase for
fertile soil, food, fresh water, forest products, mineral resources, and fossil
fuels. These trends are causing an
intensifying competition over resources.
Most countries compete in accordance with laws of demand and supply and
the rigged rules of the economic systems that prevail, but in their hubris some
nations abuse their power and launch wars over resources and ascendancy. As a result of these circumstances, a number
of overarching threats confront the human race.
Included among these threats are resource depletion, ecological harm,
biological extinctions, water and air pollution, widespread poverty,
starvation, exacerbated conflicts, and the consequences of Peak Oil and
human-caused global warming and related climate changes.
reason or emotion, an epiphany lies before us, in plain view. We need to pay closer attention to nature,
and to better understand her ways. It is
vital for us to honestly recognize nature’s limits and the sensitivities of
natural systems to our impacts. When we
do this, it becomes obvious that it is imperative to channel our behaviors more
fairly and consistently toward ecologically propitious long-term goals. By doing this we can help ensure the general
welfare and protect the best interests of future generations.
One reason we strive to control and dominate the natural world is that we
have anthropocentric worldviews. We
think we are separate from nature. We
cultivate beliefs that the human race was created by a supernatural being that
made the Earth for our dominion, like the God of Genesis in the Bible who tells
us to be fruitful and multiply, and to replenish and subdue the Earth and its
denizens. We unfortunately seem to be
conveniently ignoring the part about our replenishing Creation, and we are
abdicating our responsibility for protecting its vital signs and exercising
faithful stewardship of its bounty.
This is a practical matter, as well as an ethical
and spiritual one. We must manage our
use of Earth’s resources in wiser ways, and make intelligent provisions to staunch
the inexorable depletion of these resources.
We also should rightly recognize that we derive a wide array of
extremely valuable ecosystem services from the Earth. These services are crucial to all aspects of
human well-being, so we must not irreparably damage them!
Ecosystems services are provided by (1) wetlands,
which mitigate flooding, purify water, and provide rich aquatic nursery
habitats; (2) forests, which regulate
stream flows, protect topsoil and fisheries, and provide wood, fiber and critically
important carbon sinks; (3) wild areas
that provide sustenance to wildlife and ensure biological diversity; (4) birds, bees and various other pollinators
that provide crop pollination and seed dispersal; (5) natural systems that keep insects, pests
and diseases in check; (6) the natural
symbiosis and resilience found in biological diversity and ecosystem health
that help maintain Gaia’s balance; and
(7) public lands and open spaces that offer recreational and aesthetic and
Scientists estimate that ecosystem services
contribute more to the international economy every year than the gross national
product of all countries in the world combined.
Despite this great value, we are messing with Mother Nature and harming
her ability to continue providing these services!
generally don’t give much consideration to the larger implications of impacts
that humanity is having on Earth’s ecosystems and the other denizens of our
home planet. Nor do we show enough
concern for people in the future. Our
motivations, aspirations, ambitions, narrowly selfish interests and competitive
drives are causing damage to the very foundations of our existence. We are foolishly indulging in profligately
wasteful consumption that is stimulated through clever marketing, debt
financing, government subsidies, bubble economics, changing fashions and
consequences of our materialistic consumerism are becoming ever more
obvious. We are depleting Earth’s
topsoil, clear-cutting forests, harming habitats, killing wildlife, destroying
wetlands, squandering resources, and polluting streams and lakes and
oceans. We are overfishing the oceans
and damaging coral reefs and causing extensive oxygen-depleted dead zones in
the seas. We are even altering the
composition of the atmosphere, so we are basically upsetting the balance of
nature upon whose health we depend for vital ecosystems services.
In addition to
these ecologically foolish activities, we are allowing Big Business to externalize costs onto
society and the environment like those associated with the prevention and
mitigation of pollution, the clean-up of toxic wastes, and impacts related to
greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Recognizing these facts,
it is crazy for us not to make concerted collective efforts to overcome these
obstacles and to change the behaviors that are contributing to such
inauspicious developments. The time to
make positive changes is NOW, while reasonably good alternatives are still available.
A cynical bumper sticker spotted recently is savvy
but seditious. It states: “At least the war on the environment is going
well.” Ha -- But not really so funny!
and tyrannical impulses and misguided idealism and status seeking through extravagance
are powerful forces that seem to be inherent in every society. Knowing this, we should plan ahead more
wisely and establish effective mechanisms to ensure more sensible courses of
action. This is how we could avoid the
adverse developments and dangerous consequences of our aggregate activities and
reactionary responses to events.
Schemers and scammers abound in this world of ours. To presume, out of some ideological conviction,
that financial institutions and businesses and governments will operate best
without sensible regulation and adequate oversight is to deny human nature, and
to invite fraud and help facilitate swindles.
This is an economic issue that is explored in detail in Reporting Live
from the Ground Zero Bleacher Seats in the Mega Bubble, where
the unethical schemes of people like Charles Ponzi and Phil Gramm are
To be candid,
this is simply NOT the best of all possible worlds. Things could be better on our home
planet. Policies could be fairer. We could extricate ourselves from our
ruinously expense military occupations of Middle Eastern countries. We could choose budgetary priorities that are
more beneficial to society than those that command the current allocation of
our taxpayer dollars. We could
ameliorate the cumulative environmental impacts of our actions, and make them
more nearly sustainable. We could
implement bold energy conservation initiatives and better vehicle mileage
standards and greater efficiencies of fossil fuel use. We could invest more sensibly in alternatives
to oil instead of fighting wars for access to other people’s fossil fuel
resources. We could spend more money on
initiatives designed to ensure peaceful coexistence and good neighborliness. We could create effective international laws
and institutions to prevent military interventions and wars. We could make positive social changes like
reducing malnutrition and poverty. We
could make international trade fairer, and do more to prevent diseases, and
lower the price of education, and provide women with better reproductive health
care, and improve fresh water supplies and do more to protect the environmental
Marketing Strategies and Political Gambits and Their Impact on
Politics is at
the heart of many of the problems facing us, so the perspectives of the former
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan are worthwhile. In his book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House
and Washington’s Culture of Deception, he makes a compelling case that the methods used in politics in our
nation’s capitol today have strong parallels to the strategies used in
war. He cites the famous military
treatise written by a Chinese general about 2,500 years ago, The Art of War, in which tactics are
extolled for managing conflicts and positioning and maneuvering and deceiving
enemies. The Art of War has been used extensively in its applications not
only to warfare but also to corporate strategies and politics, so its insights
are valuable for understanding political events. When we consider the strategies of
politics-as-war, we see that continuous political campaigning can seriously
affect the process of governing itself.
The use of emotional appeals to achieve narrowly partisan goals and
ideological objectives contributes to our national failure to effectively and
responsibly address the problems facing us.
allowing our leaders to distract and deceive and divide us, we need to unite to
overcome what are really, in the larger scheme of things, relatively minor
differences between people. Together we
need to deal with the looming limits and big challenges that face the human
race. We need to prevent irreversible
damages to Earth’s common areas and stop unsustainably exploiting
resources. To do this, we must redesign
our economies and alter our habits by sensibly using smart regulations and
intelligently designed incentives and disincentives. This is a precautionary good plan.
war’ tactics have been successful in short-term partisan triumphs, but they are
failing us in the bigger scheme of things.
This makes it imperative that we find constructive and visionary ways
forward. We must strive for fairness and
peace and sustainable existence rather than narrow victories of conservatives
over liberals, or rich people over the masses, or capitalists over communists,
or Christians over Muslims, or Shia over Sunni, or evangelicals over agnostics,
or human beings over the natural world.
The many conflicts of interest in human societies are made worse by
drives for economic ascendancy and political dominance. Differing cultures, ideologies and
supremacist religions add daunting complexities to these conflicts. Still, we must move forward.
and imagination give us great cause for hope, but this hope springs from
intelligence, and not ignorance; from
clarity, not denial; from creativity,
not closed-mindedness; from commitments
to more meaningful values and the greater good, not merely shortsighted
pandering to vested interest groups;
from true justice not ruthless heedlessness; from perseverance in the face of adversity,
not despair; from faith in humanity, not
mindless certitude in a jealous or vindictive God; from enthusiasm, not apathy; and from working together to achieve clear
purposes, not just stoked partisanship.
It is an unfortunate characteristic of human
nature that whenever wars and crises threaten, impulses toward authoritarianism
gain traction. Leaders promise security
in return for the surrender of freedoms and civil liberties. Demagoguery increases, and fears and
insecurities are exploited to gain more power.
Tyrannical drives insinuate their influences into decisions and
policies. Leaders in democratic governments
attempt to convince the people that they are acting to make citizens safer, but
they are often unscrupulous in their exploitation of opportunities for gaining
short-term benefits for insiders and the powerful and privileged.
the constant danger that war compulsions will unduly affect politicians and
governments, we obviously need to have better mechanisms in place to prevent
war. For philosophical, entertaining and
revelatory explorations of ideas related to war, I highly recommend two of the
essays on the Earth Manifesto website: Tall Tales, Provocative Parables, Luminous
Clarity and Evocative Truths: A Modern Log from the Sea of Cortez, in which
John Steinbeck’s ideas about human nature and wars are considered, and the
wide-ranging treatise, Reflections on
War. They both contain important
Communism, Capitalism, Ideology and Sensibility
injustices abound in the U.S. and in the world.
Existential challenges are increasing in their global scope and
seriousness, and seem to be converging toward catastrophe. “It is elementary, my dear Watson,” as
Sherlock Holmes might have said: we
should reform our institutions and our economic and political systems so that
they become saner and fairer and offer greater mutually security. Established interests must yield to ones that
are more conducive to the general welfare and the common good. Greater responsibility for people in the
future must be required in the pursuit of individual self-interest.
The interplay between
economics and human nature underlies many of the circumstances of history. The titanic struggle that has taken place in
the past 150 years between capitalism and communism has largely been an
expression of competition between economic systems. Communism generally used central planning to
direct economic activities, and such centrally-planned economies are plagued by
inefficiencies and distortions inherent in totalitarian control of
government. Significant malaise occurs
when human motives are suppressed and individualistic selfish interests are not
allowed to be freely expressed. Central
planning involves excessively tight government regulation, and this causes
misallocations of resources and competitive disadvantages. It also tends to inhibit innovation and
misdirect capital investment and facilitate social repression and ignore the
damages to the environment associated with industrial activities.
Capitalism, on the other
hand, has been buffeted by harsh social inequalities and cyclical booms and
busts. It has also fared poorly in
dealing with social ills caused by rapid industrialization. It is ruthless in its sink-or-swim economic
ideologies. Sensible laws are required to prevent abusive monopoly business practices, unsafe conditions for workers, exploitive child
labor, excessive working hours, employment discrimination, sexual harassment,
and socially irresponsible environmental impacts. The growing conglomerate power of
corporations is dangerous to people when it is not adequately regulated. Misguided
regulation allows people in capitalist economies to express harsh impulses that
can severely harm others. It often
results in fraud, predatory banking practices, the cheating of consumers, bankruptcies and costly
narrow bottom-line best interests of corporations are simply poor substitutes
for the long-term best interests of the people.
A sensible balance is
needed between under-regulated laissez-faire capitalism and over-regulated
central planning. Centrally planned
economies do not deliver the optimum good to society, and neither do rigged
‘free’ markets. Without proper balance,
priorities are perverted and too much economic instability arises. As John Fowles notes in The Aristos, capitalism “contains the seeds of its own
transformation, and it is high time it started to nurture those seeds.” Yes, it is!
The speculative excesses
and lack of regulation that characterized the boom times of the Roaring
Twenties in the United States led to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Severe problems caused by this economic
calamity led to government intervention in the economy and an impetus to put
into effect broadly progressive New Deal initiatives that helped create a
vibrant middle class and a sound economy for more than four decades. Then in reaction, anti-progressive and
anti-regulatory zeal grew after Ronald Reagan became president, and it is now
culminating in the second Bush Administration.
Deregulation has reached an extreme today that is too lenient in vitally
important respects, and this has facilitated financial shenanigans and banking
abuses and a general triumph of corporate power. Deregulation and the lack of oversight that
accompanies lax regulation have helped create speculative bubbles through the
use of financial instruments that bundle together hundreds of billions of
dollars of risky home mortgages in so-called ‘mortgage-backed securities’. The aggressive promotion and sale of these
“securities” is proving to be disastrous, because as the real estate bubble
deflates, the underlying collateral for these securities loses value. Enormous losses on investments are being
incurred by millions of people as a consequence. The collapse of the real estate bubble itself
is wreaking financial hardships on many people who are having their homes taken
away through foreclosures. And the
overall trend of deflating housing prices is causing retail sales to stall and
unemployment to spike as the convenient “ATM” of home equity loans that has
driven the economy for years falters in tandem with the drop in inflated home
Knowledge, Historical Perspective and Common Sense
The nightly news on television may present us with
“the first draft of history”, but this news contains a corporate establishment
version of events of the day. To the
extent that early versions of history consist of misleading information and
deceptive spin, it makes informed decision-making more difficult. Thus it behooves us to strive to make sure we
have more accurate understandings to strengthen our democracy and improve our
The media is strongly influenced by the
ideological biases of argumentative ‘propaganda pundits’. There are too few television journalists with
integrity and civility like that demonstrated by the late Tim Russert, who died
in June 2008. Instead, many adhere to
stubborn partisanship that is opposed to progressive plans that would make the
world a better place.
On the same day as Tim Russert died, a local
newspaper reported the words of the valedictorian at a high school
graduation. She spoke about properly
preparing for the future. She mused that
we all make mistakes, and that we must LEARN from our mistakes. A famous businesswoman once attributed her
success to GOOD decision-making -- and when pressed as to how she developed the
skill to make good decisions, she said that her wisdom came from what she had
learned earlier by making BAD decisions!
Let’s actually learn from our mistakes.
Part of good preparedness is to understand things as clearly as
possible. As Maya Angelou once wrote, “Nature has no mercy at all.
Nature says, I'm going to snow.
If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that's tough. I am going to snow anyway.”
American politicians have been failing to ensure
adequate preparedness in our society and they have been making many markedly
bad decisions so far this century. They
don’t seem to be learning the right lessons from their mistakes. This makes it crucially important for us to
understand the real nature of the problems we face and the issues related to
them. While Republicans managed to win
the presidential elections in 2000 and 2004 (more or less), they have done a
poor job of leading in the best interests of the people.
The ‘policy cocktail’
that Ronald Reagan championed in the 1980s is being proven to be detrimental to
the majority of Americans. Consider
these aspects of the Reagan initiatives, as ratcheted up immoderately by George
W. Bush and his neoconservative supporters:
economics in the form of drastic reductions in marginal tax rates, from 70% to
28% in Ronald Reagan’s first 7 years, has made the gap between the fortunes and
privileges of the super-rich and the rest of the people in America
unprecedented in its extremes and glaring inequities.
(2) Fiscally imprudent
strategies that encourage budget deficits every year and large increases in the
national debt have caused the U.S. to become the world’s largest debtor nation
instead of its biggest creditor, and they have also led to a big decline in the
value of our dollar. Both of these
trends have far-reaching negative consequences.
(3) Rapid increases in
defense spending and cuts in social program spending are contributing to
serious adversities for millions of Americans.
(4) The idea that
markets should be deregulated has allowed speculative greed to reign, and an
accompanying dearth of oversight and accountability has contributed to a
worldwide crisis in housing, equities, banking and finance. In the absence of good oversight and sensible
regulations, widespread fraud and misrepresentations have taken place. The inevitable recognition that risky
mortgage-backed securities are actually fiscally unsound is causing enormous
losses and severe instability in global credit markets.
(5) Free trade policies
that are unfair and environmentally damaging are turning out to be bad public
policy to the extent that they result in trade imbalances and stagnant wages in
the United States and the loss of millions of jobs in domestic
manufacturing. The NAFTA trade pact that
came into effect in 1994 has caused social turmoil and violent conflicts in
places like Chiapas, a poor rural agricultural state in southern Mexico, and it
has had the unsettling effect of significantly increasing illegal immigration
to the United States.
activities by corporations are contributing to the diminishment of middle class
prosperity and the unfair excessive enrichment of the already wealthy.
is instructive to consider the fascinating brouhaha surrounding the
May 2008 publication of Scott
McClellan’s book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s
Culture of Deception. Scott McClellan worked loyally for George
Bush for seven years, culminating in his position as the White House Press
Secretary from July 2003 to April 2006.
The controversy that arose in reaction to his book’s publication reveals
much. Bush loyalists were outraged over
McClellan’s contentions in the book not because the perspectives are erroneous,
but because McClellan is regarded as having betrayed the President by setting
forth a clear-minded and critical analysis of the nature of politics in our
nation’s capitol. As an author, Scott
McClellan reveals fascinating insider details about the “culture of deception”
and winning-at-any-cost strategies pursued in Washington, D.C. He gives us insights into “permanent campaign tactics” that are required in
our system of governance. These tactics
clash with more broadminded strategies in which people cultivate rational
debate and civil discourse and act to further the common good. Such tactics are oriented toward vanquishing
opposition rather than achieving a smart and fair-minded consensus, so they
obstruct the proper implementation of the most appropriate and beneficial
courses of action.
A rich vein of nuance can be mined by considering
this issue of loyalty. The Press
Secretary is the official voice of the administration, and it is the job of the
Press Secretary to explain and defend the president’s policies and to brief the
White House Press Corps with the official spin on current events. Anyone who thinks that the Press Secretary is
forthright and completely honest is deluding himself or herself. The Press Secretary is sometimes not fully
briefed on White House intentions and actions, as was the case with the
politically vindictive Valerie Plame identity leak scandal. On other occasions, the Press Secretary
knowingly “shades” the truth, providing the press corps with ideological spin
and cherry-picked information and evasive or duplicitous answers to
questions. The White House thus seems to
adhere to the ‘mushroom theory of management’:
they “keep the people in the dark and feed them on bullshit”. When people are misinformed, democratic
decision-making is degraded.
Mark Twain once said,
“My kind of patriotism and loyalty is loyalty to
one’s country, and not to one’s institutions
President and all our representatives in Congress are required to take an oath
of office in which they swear to support and protect and defend the
Constitution of the United States.
Loyalty to our country should take precedence over party loyalty, or
loyalty to the president, or loyalty to ideologies that run counter to the
general welfare and the greater good.
loyalists prefer not to address the increasingly obvious fact that the American
people have been betrayed by the President.
Remember what George Bush said when he was a candidate for
president: “I’m a uniter, not a
divider”. He swore to bring honor and integrity
and dignity to the White House. He said
that he believed the United States should not engage in nation-building
activities or interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries. Perhaps he should have given more heed to the
words of Mo Udall, a Presidential candidate in 1976: “Lord, give us the wisdom to utter words that
are gentle and tender, for tomorrow we may have to eat them.”
President has acted very contrary to his implied promises. His tenure of rule has been one of the most
ideological, uncompromising, fiscally irresponsible, secretive, dishonest,
inegalitarian, divisive, anti-environmental, imperialistic, militaristic and
corporatist in all of American history.
Dick Cheney and George Bush have basically betrayed core principles of
conservatism and fiscal discipline and smartly limited government. They have aggressively expanded the power of
the executive branch by asserting greater executive privilege in many
arenas. They have stonewalled Congress
and refused to provide subpoenaed information.
They have covered up actions by the administration that violated the
nation’s laws. Shrewd lawyers for the
White House and the influential Office of Legal Counsel have aided these
efforts, despite the many ways in which these Machiavellian tactics have had
adverse consequences for the American people.
For deeper perspectives on these understandings, read
the book by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Charlie Savage titled Takeover: The Return of the Imperial
Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. These initiatives are practically
Nixonian in their treachery!
Defenders of George W. Bush professed to be
perplexed by the understandings in McClellan’s book. But readers of the book are barely surprised
by the widely acknowledged content of McClellan’s perspectives concerning the
nature of politics in Washington D.C. and the facts about the selling of the
Iraq war to the American people.
Likewise, the whole story surrounding the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame case,
together with the incompetence and ineffectiveness and bumbling cronyism in the
federal government’s response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, are causes for
larger concerns about our political system.
Scott McClellan provides compelling insights into
the often disingenuous and sometimes self-delusional bubble of White House
politics. McClellan gives President Bush
a generous amount of respectful credit, contending that George W. Bush was
considered to have “a proven ability to calm the partisan waters, bring people
together, and achieve positive results” when he was the governor of Texas. If this was true, George Bush certainly has
been ‘born again’ on the national scene, with the help of his radically
arch-conservative Vice President Dick Cheney.
He has become a divider, an irresponsible spendthrift, an evangelist for
vested interests, an exploiter of people’s insecurities, an inveterate war
promoter, a stubborn authoritarian in advancing expanded executive privileges,
and a man who has created negative outcomes for the vast majority of people in
the United States and the world.
The chapter in Scott McClellan’s book on “Selling
the War” provides provocative perspective.
President Bush had begun a carefully scripted campaign in September 2002
to convince Americans that war with Iraq was inevitable and necessary. Larry Lindsey, the president’s chief economic
adviser at the time, offered “an analytical opinion as to the cost of a
possible war with Iraq: somewhere
between $100 and $200 billion.” This
estimate ironically came at the same time that Bush was rhetorically urging
fiscal restraint, so it irritated the president, who seems far more concerned
with “staying on message” and getting ‘good press’ than actually being honest
and getting good results. The
“loose-cannon comments” by Larry Lindsey were one of the reasons he was forced
to resign soon thereafter, in December 2002.
As it turns out, the cost of the Iraq War will
eventually cost our nation more than $3 trillion, according to the Nobel
prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
This astounding and obscenely high cost includes such things as the
deferred costs of veteran’s health care and disability compensation and
replenishment of military equipment and interest expenses. To spend so much money on this terrible
misadventure is shocking and awful!
American citizens should be righteously outraged
about these current trends and this wasteful spending on an unnecessary war. We should be loyal to our country and our
Constitution by finding more effective ways to limit abuses of power. We should demand that the federal government
be made more open and transparent. We
should insist on serious reforms of our political system to limit the
institutional bribery in our elections and legislative processes. Voters should throw out all of the rascals
who have betrayed the trust given to them.
In their place, we should elect people who will more honestly address
the domestic and foreign policy issues that face us, and be more fiscally
responsible. Candidates in the future
should demonstrate honest concern for the longer term in their policy making,
and use constructive diplomacy on the international stage, and work harder to
prevent war, and stop pandering so exclusively to narrowly-focused special
Those who voted for the Bush an Cheney ticket have
had their loyalty and trust betrayed.
Republican leaders have been disingenuous and dishonest about the
motives for war. They have ruthlessly
pursued cynically shortsighted policies.
The public’s attention has been diverted through a focus on divisive
hot-button social issues, and people’s insecurities have been exploited through
the hyped-up of fear of terrorists and enemies, and nationalistic impulses that
accompany military aggression have been inflamed. Meanwhile our pockets have been picked, and
these politicians have used their selfish ideological initiatives to undermine
our true national security. It is
astonishing how much money we have spent on the military at the expense of
fiscal discipline and priorities that are more important in people’s lives.
Truth or Consequences
am a firm believer in the people. If given
the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them
the real facts.”
unfortunately play very loose with the truth and the facts. As Maya Angelou says, “There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.” In 2006, the Merriam-Webster’s #1
Word of the Year was “truthiness”. The
American Dialect Society defines truthiness as “the quality of preferring
concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to
be true.” Enough truthiness,
politicians! Let’s demand honesty and responsibility
and true accountability in our policy making.
As Bill Moyers says, “A democracy can die of too many lies.”
is a newspaper editorial cartoon in comic strip format that contains the slogan "The lies behind the
truth, and the truth behind those lies that are behind the truth." The truth is frankly complex. It is subjective and slippery, and is often
obscured and distorted. To tell the
truth, there are MANY lies and misrepresentations that lurk behind political
rhetoric and ideological arguments. It
is the fascinating truths behind these distortions that are valuable for us to
fully understand. The comprehensive
truths behind earmarks and energy policies and failed attempts at ethics
reforms, for instance, cast an entirely different light on what’s really
happening in our societies.
cherry-pick information and frame it in plausible narratives, but their
reasoning is often simplistic and specious.
They make assumptions that are disingenuous rather than comprehensive. To fundamentalist believers in authoritarian
ideologies, the ends justify the means, so those who sell these stories are
much more like hucksters and confidence men than honest citizens. They play on people’s selfishness, biases,
faith, trust and fears to gain power, and then they roguishly exploit this
power to mold policies to their narrow advantage. They rely on people being gullible, ignorant
and disenfranchised in order to keep from being held accountable for unfair and
unethical abuses of power. Let’s not be
gullible; let’s strive to better
understand, and to make a difference with our votes!
During the Cold War, Americans were led to believe
that the Russian people and the Chinese people were brainwashed by their
Communist governments. This was an
accurate assessment to the extent that the media in totalitarian nations is
tightly controlled, so people are misled into believing those official versions
of the ‘truth’. The rigorous control of
information is a fundamental characteristic of authoritarian governments.
We Americans often fail to see that we also are
subjected to brainwashing when we are spoon-fed political spin by the White
House Press Secretary and other “propaganda pundits” and radical right-wing
talk show hosts and marketing experts.
Manipulation of public opinion is a lucrative full-time activity in
Washington D.C., and the sound-bite highlighting of conflict and controversy
glosses over critically important aspects of issues.
Truth, according to an old proverb, is the first
casualty of war. Truth is thwarted in
wartime partially because the independence of the media is diminished when
fear, insecurity and violence overcome the integrity of journalism, and when
the media strives to conform to a nationalistic line. The control, management and distortion of
information about the war in Iraq has been facilitated by the media, and this
complicity with war hawks has helped make it easier for the United States to
get into this costly and unjust military action and occupation. Such complicity also aids the government in
suppressing sensible and valuable opposing voices.
The military-industrial complex that Dwight
Eisenhower warned Americans about in 1961 has acquired influence that is unwarrantedly powerful. This influence represents a distinctly
“disastrous rise of misplaced power”. We surely should find more
effective ways to prevent this influence from endangering our liberties and
democratic processes. As Dwight Eisenhower noted, “We should take nothing
for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the
proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with
our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper
Before the presidential election in 2004, George
Bush talked about ushering in “a new era of integrity inside the Oval
Office”. He stated: "The people have spoken,
They said they want change. They
said it's time to clean up Washington.
They are tired of politics as usual.
They're tired of the pursuit of self-interest that has gripped
Washington. They want to see an end to
partisan bickering and closed-door decision-making. If I'm elected, I'll make sure that the
American people can once again place their trust in the White House."
Yay for those sentiments! But, honest to God: this may be fine speechifying, but it is
complete hogwash! As Mark Twain once
sarcastically said on the issue of trust, “I don’t believe it would sound any better
if it were true."
Bush Administration has failed to act in accordance with the high-falutin’
words with which it has reassured us.
Instead, it has made a sustained effort to undermine the power of the
people by pursuing courses of action that alter the fundamental principles of
our democracy and the balance of power established by our Constitution.
"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no
question about it."
--- George W. Bush, July 27, 2001
George W. Bush is
now coming to the end of his two terms in office. He is leaving our nation embroiled in two
costly wars in the Middle East. The
economy is suffering a meltdown as housing and stock market bubbles are
deflating, and we should understand that these bubbles were irresponsibly
stimulated by the short-term-oriented policies of the government and the
fire workers who make mistakes or who are incompetent, or if they cheat the
company. They fire managers who squander
assets or misuse their positions for personal advantage at the company’s
expense. But government tends to be a
much more forgiving employer; it
generally holds its employees to lower standards of competence and
responsibility than private employers.
At the highest levels of federal government, elected officials act with
even less integrity. They betray the
trust of citizens when they advance narrowly partisan, short-term oriented,
inegalitarian and unsustainable policies that exploit the nation’s natural
resources and public lands to benefit a small fraction of the populace -- the
rich and the powerful -- at the expense of the majority and all in future
generations. They even spend their
political capital trying to cajole us into believing that these gambits are
best and necessary, and that they will TRICKLE DOWN to benefit society! Statistics prove that Reagan Revolution
policies like tax breaks for the rich and hyper-spending on the military do one
thing for sure: rather than trickle
down, they facilitate the GUSHING UP of wealth to the very richest people. For these reasons, I feel strongly that the
Republicans should be ‘fired’ at the polls on November 4th. Vote for Barack Obama!
The Dangers of
Recent Presidential Precedents
Superman, the original
comic book hero, was known for his ‘good guy’ principles. He represented ‘Truth, Justice and the
American Way’. He spent his time
protecting people from arch-criminals, and saving them from evil villains and
calamities. We want our leaders to be
supermen and superwomen, but gosh, power unfortunately corrupts, and in
superpower America, power leads to arrogance and abuses of insider influence
for profit, and to self-aggrandizement and the evasion of common-good
responsibility and expedient actions oriented toward maintaining power.
Above and beyond
the harmful social and environmental legacy being left by the administration of
George W. Bush, a loaded automatic weapon is figuratively being left lying
around with its safety catch off, ready to be used by presidents in the future
to potentially abrogate the civil liberties and security and prosperity of the
American people. This weapon comes in
the form of new precedents established by the White House that dramatically
expand the power of the presidency and reduce the ability of Congress to
perform its vital oversight responsibilities.
Such power facilitates abuses of influence by the few, to the detriment
of the many.
Fathers specifically gave Congress the responsibility for making decisions to
involve our nation in wars. The Bush
Doctrine of preemptive wars and the abuse of power by the executive branch to
engage in wars abroad are actions that usurp the responsibilities of Congress as
set forth by the Constitution. This is
only one of many ways that make this precedent-weapon dangerous. Other aspects of this executive power grab
are contained in the president’s unilateral abrogation of several important
international treaties, and in his unprecedented use of signing statements to
avoid following laws established by Congress.
Stains on our moral standing in the world in the form of ‘extraordinary
renditions’ of prisoners to other countries and ‘enhanced interrogation
techniques’ and torture-like abuses in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons are
also perverse precedents. Further, the
abuse of the system by classifying enormous amounts of information as “secret”
serves to subvert our democracy by limiting and controlling public knowledge
and awareness. Warrantless wiretapping
programs and egregious provisions of the Patriot Act and suspensions of habeas
corpus rights of detainees and other incursions on privacy and civil liberties
give the office of the president more power, and sets a precedent that could be
even more seriously abused in the future.
Administration has also relied on a foolish and unprecedented increase in the
national debt to achieve its goals. It
has irresponsibly indulged in the insidiously risky expediency of deficit
financing to achieve its objectives. By
spending profligately and borrowing enormous sums of money to pay a significant
portion of the cost, the Administration has acted to minimize taxpayer
resistance, but it is harvesting grave unintended consequences and financial
instability. This represents a colossal
failure to honestly and prudently face difficult budgetary decisions.
Another means by
which the Administration has promoted a narrow agenda of regressive and unfair
social policies and short-term-oriented environmental policies is the placement
of political operatives in federal agencies.
Such appointments have served to undermine the public service purposes
of these agencies. The Environmental
Protection Agency and the Department of Justice, in particular, have become
highly partisan, and these agencies have acted in many ways that are distinctly
contrary to the best interests of the people.
Administration is leaving us with a Supreme Court whose rudder has been jammed
to the right, giving corporations more power and making it easier for the
executive branch to abuse power in the future.
Republican appointments to the Supreme Court have emphasized intensely
ideological economic fundamentalism and social conservatism. Whereas the moderate tenures of Chief
Justices Warren Burger and William Rehnquist closely reflected public opinion,
the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito have tilted the judicial
agenda toward the radical right. This
endangers centrism and fair-mindedness.
It expands corporate and executive power, and gives religion a more
powerful influence in our government. It
threatens to deny or overturn civil rights and privacy rights and reproductive
rights of Americans.
The ‘oil guys’ in the Administration are
leaving us addicted to oil and wars for oil.
The net benefit to society of increasing mileage standards for vehicles
has been estimated to be in excess of $2 trillion. Nonetheless, the White House has suppressed
such findings by the EPA, and for many years the Bush/Cheney crowd has opposed
better vehicle mileage standards and carbon-dioxide emissions limits. Now Republicans are seizing on public anger
at high oil prices to exploit people’s ignorance and promote drilling
initiatives that will do little to reduce gas prices but will further enrich
Big Oil. When we should be boldly
pursuing independence from our oil addiction, and cleaner energy policies by
developing renewable alternatives and conservation and efficient usages, this
drilling ploy is hindering progress.
Fairer and more farsighted governance is
vitally important to achieve our best national interests The official subversion of democracy by our
leaders is lamentable. So is our system
of institutional bribery and influence-peddling to corporate lobbyists. This is why we need publicly-financed Clean
Money and Clean Elections to help elect more honest politicians. See “The Top Ten Official Ways to Subvert American
Democracy” for more expansive insight into how our democracy is being
undermined. This can be found at the end
of the Earth Manifesto essay entitled “Freedom
- Utopian Idea and Unifying Objective” (see the link on the Home Page).
leaders should strive to unite people around common good purposes rather than
to divide them to accomplish narrowly ideological objectives. Instead, a politics-as-war syndrome has been
dominating American political strife for many years. Karl Rove, the “architect” of George W.
Bush’s political success, has made this state of affairs worse. He was instrumental in creating a toxic
atmosphere in which good public service is subordinated to negative attacks,
misinformation, distortions, “gotcha politics” and the belittlement of
liberals. Rewarding loyalists and
punishing people who advocate different policies may help strengthen political
parties in the short run, but they hurt common causes. The oversimplification of complex issues and
portrayal of issues in deceptive black or white terms is detrimental to our
nation. The 2008 election campaigns are
becoming similarly ideological and negative in tone and content.
partisanship and tendencies in Washington D.C. towards “politics as war” have
been used to obstruct wise and mutually advantageous compromises. Instead of fairly and constructively
governing, great energies have been poured into selling the public on wars and
narrowly-focused ideologies and socially regressive agendas. It is time to change this!
McClellan writes, “… once the election is over, elected officials of both
parties -- especially those in positions of leadership -- owe it to the public
to work together on solving the country’s problems through deliberation and
compromise. For most of American
history, they have done just that, even after hard-fought, even brutally negative
election campaigns.” It doesn’t work
that way these days! Both of the
political parties in our restrictive two-party system are driven by hard-line
elements that are not willing to compromise.
Secrecy and a lack of openness and candor and forthrightness result in
suspicion and distrust. The “blame game”
divides people, makes them defensive, and prevents smarter collaboration. These factors make rational debate and a
sensible consensus harder to achieve.
A clever new
video from Jibjab was recently shown on the Web at jibjab.com. This video provided a fun and insightful take
on political campaigning and the long presidential campaign that is now in its
final two months. The video is titled Time for Some Campaignin’. It uses the tune from Bob Dylan’s 1960s
political anthem that called for revolutionary change, The Times They Are A-Changin’. Here
are some of the lyrics sung by caricatures of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton
and John McCain and other politicos:
gather from both far and near
a ritual we practice every four years
we promise you anything
win the crown we’re chasin’
its time for some campaignin’
Yes, it’s time
for some campaignin’!
spend billions of dollars
make our points clear
get you to step up
And cast your
we spin you around
poke you in the rear
its time for some campaignin’
Yes, it’s time
for some campaignin’!
Parody can be healthy
for our perspective. By poking fun at a
topic, parodies draw attention to both pathetic weaknesses and appreciative strengths
of the things they lampoon. Parody and
satire are used in TV shows like The
Daily Show and The Colbert
Report. They give us a humorous look
at serious issues of the day, and give us good entertainment as well as a
healthy and light-hearted basis for evaluating ideas and helping to see how
more honest approaches can make a positive difference. In any case, I wonder if we can find better
ways of preventing politicians from figuratively poking us in the rear!
"Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and
the politicians as a joke."
--- Will Rogers
(1879 – 1935) was “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son,” and a highly-regarded humorist,
social commentator, motion picture actor and international celebrity. This observation was rather prescient in
light of the high regard many people have for Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert,
and the very low regard for members of Congress!
advocated the shortsighted expediency of a “gas-tax holiday” during his primary
race. Now he emphasizes oil-drilling as
a main tenet of his energy plans. He is
using rhetoric about honesty and integrity in his campaign that is similar to
the less than forthcoming rhetoric used by George W. Bush when he was a
candidate. He claims he is committed to
making substantive policy changes. Can we
trust him? He has, after all, sided with
the Administration more than 90% of the time in his Congressional votes. His proposed tax policies would result in
more debt and even larger disparities of wealth and privilege. His plans to privatize the Social Security
system are a throwback to the failed initiatives that President Bush tried to
sell the nation, and his healthcare ideas are a continuation of the unfair
practices that currently characterize healthcare in the United States.
McCain’s “bomb bomb Iran” tough-guy militancy does not even pretend to
recognize the need for the U.S. to extricate itself from the military
occupation of Middle East countries.
Shall we have a conversation with Iran before we let the bombs fly? Shall we levy increasingly antagonistic
sanctions on Iran, a country that we have surrounded by military occupations on
both its eastern and western borders?
Imagine Canada and Mexico being occupied by a foreign power,
for any reason whatsoever. How happy
would Americans be with that? Would we
not have some very serious concerns for our national security, our sovereignty,
the safeguarding of our natural resources, and the legitimacy of our regional
It may be that
it is human nature for leaders to occasionally hijack followers into launching
wars on others, but it is our overarching obligation as citizens to demand that
more effective laws and international institutions be developed to prevent such
compulsive wars and violent episodes of aggression. We need to find better ways of keeping such
men as Adolf Hitler and the Bush/Cheney crowd from using their monomaniacal
obsession with control, dominance, and profiteering to drive their nations into
costly, unjust and devastating wars.
Albert Einstein was correct when he
observed, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used
when we created them.” To trust John
McCain and the Republican Party to lead our country for the next four years
would likely compound the folly of the past eight years. If we want real change, and an end to our
unnecessary wars and brutal military occupations of other countries, and if we
want a greater potential for positive societal outcomes, Barack Obama offers a
much better bet. We need revolutionarily
different priorities in our policies, not flawed ideas, not subterfuge, and not
continued support for the business-as-usual status quo or right-wing think tank
particular must recognize these facts, because the simple fact of the matter is
that patriarchal conservatism is inherently sexist and contrary to women’s best
interests. Right-wing policy
prescriptions that exacerbate inequities and undermine women’s rights are
simply unacceptable. Women of the World,
Sarah Palin may be a clever and attractive woman, but she sure does not represent
the best interests of women or the American people. She has little in the way of foreign policy
experience. She toes the Republican line
of Big-Oil-first energy policies, and she expresses disingenuous doubt about
whether humanity is contributing to climate change. She sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an
endangered species, apparently worried that the listing would interfere with
expanded oil drilling in Alaska. She
helped gain more pork barrel earmarks per capita for Alaska than any other
state in the union. She
is a right-wing religious conservative who is anti-choice, and she supports
abstinence-only sex education and purportedly believes that Creationism should
be given equal treatment to evolution in public schools. She is secretive and demands unswerving
partisan loyalty. We need more honest
secular leaders in the White House, not ‘more of the same’ ideological
extremists like those in the Bush Administration!
Freedom of the Press!
The death of Tim Russert
is a tragic development. He was one of
the fairest and most honest of TV journalists.
He asked tough questions, and actually LISTENED well to responses. The judgment of the American people has been
clouded by biased perspectives that swirl across the airwaves and through our
consciousness. Our tempers seem short,
and we are not objective when our emotions are crassly manipulated as they have
been in the last seven years of constant terror alerts.
The documentary film Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism
provides a fascinating perspective on how the unfair and unbalanced
reporting of Fox News distorts the news and creates misleading ideas in the
minds of the public. And the film WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception gives
viewers understandings of how the government and corporate media and the
Pentagon strive to influence policy by “managing people’s perceptions”. When reporters were embedded with troops
during the initial stages of the invasion of Iraq, for instance, they were used
to help sway public opinion in support of the war. Administration efforts were designed to
propagate the views of operatives in right-wing think tanks while
simultaneously reducing objectivity and eroding the independence of the media. Debate was muzzled, valid criticism was
blunted, and dissent was marginalized.
The American people would be wise to evaluate the news with healthier
doses of skepticism, and to demand more accurate information. As the old bumper sticker advised, Question
First Amendment of the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of the press. A free press protects the right of people to
know whether their government is acting honestly, or fairly, or lawfully. The people at FreePress.net are among the many who are
concerned that Big Media is failing us in this regard. They believe that media reform is
crucial for creating more accurate news, and for advancing a vibrant, diverse
and independent media to ensure that our democratic institutions operate
effectively and responsibly and truthfully.
The media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
indicates that large news conglomerates and an excessive concentration of media
ownership can limit the spectrum of viewpoints expressed, thereby eroding
Bush Administration has proposed a reduction of 56 percent in the budget for
public broadcasting in 2009. This would
put unbiased news even more at risk, and limit the points of view to be heard. It would also reduce educational and cultural
programming that millions of Americans prefer to commercial media. Nice going, guys! Big Business and privileged elites sure seem
to hate it when any truth gets out that might interfere with the good gig that
they have going!
No matter what our
leaders tell us or what spin they employ to sell military aggression, the roots
of war can be seen to be deeply entrenched in the fertile soil of economic
competition and strife. In 1776, the
Revolutionary War was fought for the freedom of the thirteen American colonies
from British mercantile exploitation and taxation without adequate
representation. Eighty-five years later,
the Civil War began a fight over the economic issue of slavery and the right of
slave-holding states to secede from the Union.
Today, war profiteering has become a major factor in the motives of
those who promote preemptive wars and military occupations of other nations.
The Secession of the
Astute observers note
that the United States today is being afflicted by a new kind of civil war and
secession. This conflict is taking place
in the form of initiatives that have been described as the ‘secession of the
successful’. The upper classes and rich
people have revolted against paying fairly-graduated progressive income taxes,
even though these taxes treat every taxpayer equally by assessing the exact
same income tax rates for everyone on every level of income.
This conflict pits
wealthy people against the middle class and the poor and our children and those
in future generations. Rich people use
their outsized influence to reduce the share of taxes they pay, and to demand
cuts in social program spending. These
programs have been designed to deal with problems caused by the ugly underbelly
of capitalism and the social ills associated with it, including discrimination,
the ruthless exploitation of workers, racism, sexism, urban crime, suburban
sprawl, drug use, pollution and other consequences of industrialization. It is highly privileged people who primarily
benefit from policies that stimulate economic inequalities and stoke deficit
spending and war profiteering and government bailouts of financial
The upper classes can
afford to live in gated communities and send their children to private schools,
so they are not especially interested in national investments in urban
infrastructure or public schools or initiatives that create fairness of
opportunity. Since the beginning of the
Reagan Revolution, the rich have gotten much richer while millions of workers
toil longer hours and are more productive yet are being left behind.
We live in an era of
rapid demographic, economic and social change, so most people feel uneasy,
insecure, fearful and vulnerable. Add
this to feelings of envy on the part of the “Have Nots” and jealousy on the
part of the “Haves”, and it is not surprising that conflicts and social turmoil
are becoming dangerously exacerbated. To
cope with these changes and feelings, many people manifest a defensive fortress
mentality. Others champion adaptive
change and choose to be nimble, flexible, mobile, outgoing or assertive. It is natural under these circumstances to
want to either barricade oneself in a safe place or to seize the bull by the
horns and make the most of change.
Either way, our efforts are made to assert control in our lives and over
the circumstances that affect us. Many
people strive to control others to make them conform to their own views of
We are at a critical juncture in human
affairs. We should seize this
opportunity to strive to be versatile and adaptive and far-sighted. Charles Darwin proposed
a cogent conception of the scientific theory of evolution. His basic thesis is not clearly
understood; he wrote that the most
adaptable species were the ones that survive the processes of natural selection. It is not necessarily the most ruthlessly
competitive, or the most physically fit, or the most intelligent species that
survive. We can learn from understanding
this, and realize that we must be flexible to prosper. We should not allow those who are stubbornly
inflexible to control our societies in the face of rapidly changing
circumstances and increasing imbalances of power. So, let’s remember Charles Darwin and
champion more adaptive and progressive national policies!
Vital Domestic Issues Require
Several big domestic
issues clamor for closer attention and boldly constructive fixes, including our
healthcare system and Social Security and Medicare. Let’s consider these, using logic like that
of Mr. Spock and honoring values like public service and positive results that
have been professed by Scott McClellan and many others.
Social Security and
Medicare are faced with daunting demographic and financial challenges because
the Baby Boom generation is now reaching retirement age. There are about 78 million American baby
boomers, who are people born between the years 1946 and 1964. The first 3 million of this group will reach
62 years of age in 2008 and become eligible to collect Social Security funds. It would have been wise for our nation to
have planned ahead better with sound public policies for the retirement and
health care for these people.
But instead of creating
a sound retirement plan, a Social Security and Medicare system was formulated
that is in some aspects similar to a giant Ponzi scheme. Workers are required to pay Social Security
and Medicare taxes, and their employers are required to match these taxes, and
then the government immediately uses this money for other purposes than setting
it aside and investing it for the day the workers retire. This is an unsustainable plan. The demographics of an aging population in
the U.S. are driving this system toward impaired solvency.
Efforts to “save Social
Security” will come up in the next Administration -- and so they should! Republicans and their big contributors on
Wall Street will float their plan again for privatizing this system with
personal retirement accounts, so it is important to understand the true nature
of the Social Security system. Our goal
should be to ensure that solutions are not just forms of corporate-friendly
gimmickry like so many other government initiatives such as the Prescription
Drug Act of 2003, the Bankruptcy Act of 2005, the recent Farm Bill, and deficit
spending in general.
All workers currently are
required to pay 7.65% of their wages as payroll taxes (except, bizarrely, for
our Congressional and Executive branch representatives and other federal
employees!). Of this 7.65%, about 20% of
the money (1.45% of wages) goes to Medicare and about 80% of the money (6.20%
of wages) goes to Social Security. These
percentages have more or less remained unchanged for two decades despite the
demographics of increasing numbers of retirees relative to the numbers of workers
contributing, and despite the astonishingly rapid rate of inflation in
healthcare costs over the course of the past eight years. The costs of these programs are spiking
significantly upwards. This complicates
our budgetary challenges at the same time that we are devoting so much of our
discretionary budget to fighting wars.
On the surface, George
Bush’s 2005 plan for Social Security was sensible. Save the retirement funds and invest them at
a better rate of return! Unfortunately,
we currently do not save the funds at all, so to make the transition to such a
plan, additional borrowing of perhaps $2 trillion would be required. Borrow money from future generations so that
workers could invest it in the stock market for a better rate of return? What a shell game -- and a risky gamble!
Understand this: all Social Security funds are already
essentially commingled with all other government revenues, and they are spent
in full. On top of spending 100% of
these revenues, the government borrows hundreds of billions of dollars of
additional funds each year to finance its profligate and fiscally irresponsible
ways. The Republican plan for Social
Security was to create private accounts for younger workers who could choose to
divert between 2% and 4% of their income to invest it in “safe” stocks (which
are very hard to find now in the bear market of 2008!). In other words, this plan would have allowed
workers to divert to personal accounts one-third to two-thirds of
the 6.20% each employee personally pays in payroll taxes for Social
Security. The influx of funds to the
stock market would no doubt drive up share prices in the short run, but once
again an enormous bubble would be created like the equities bubble of the late
1990s and the current housing bubble. Bubbles
eventually burst. This plan would not
ensure retirement security!
Scott McClellan details
the plan of battle that the Bush administration pursued in early 2005 to
advance their Social Security privatization scheme. This plan came just after the second
stunningly close Bush/Cheney election victory.
George Bush claimed a broad mandate (really!?), and came up with a
“sketchily designed” plan. Here is how
McClellan describes the two-fold approach to getting their agenda implemented:
(1) “educate the public
about the economic and fiscal problems facing Social Security and the need to
fix them. The goal of this effort was to
create a crisis mentality, which would give us a better shot at getting the
necessary public support to bring about bipartisan backing for our reform plan
(2) “shape the solution
and make sure that personal retirement accounts were part of it.”
McClellan points out
that the Administration was “leapfrogging many of the vital steps and jumping
straight to the stage in the process we found most congenial -- the public
relations effort.” He poignantly added,
“It was all vaguely reminiscent of the way we’d short-circuited debate over the
necessity for war in Iraq and chose instead to turn it into the subject of a
massive marketing blitz. We used a
similar approach as we planned the Social Security campaign. With Iraq it was a threat that needed
confronting, with Social Security it was a crisis that needed solving.”
To summarize, the
Administration once again tried to create positive spin while distorting the
facts, confusing the public, deceitfully hyping up misinformation, and then
letting corporate lobbyists design a plan that would create huge fees and big
profits for a relative few at the expense of sane public policy. Large costs would eventually be borne by
people in the future, but in the interim there would be big profits for Wall
Street firms and “momentum investors”.
More, more! Again, again! Crash, crash!
As a consequence of
similarly short-term-oriented policies, healthcare has become a serious issue
in the United States. We are failing to
provide good healthcare to millions of people who do not have insurance. When illness prevention and primary care
access are limited, then more people visit high cost and overly stressed
emergency rooms. The incidence of
preventable illness rises, and so does the mortality rate for those who seek
care only when they have an emergency or a serious health crisis.
About 25% of the $2
trillion in annual healthcare expenditures in the U.S. goes to billing costs,
bureaucracy and profits, so an estimated $500 billion is being squandered on
paperwork and ‘red tape’ and insurance company profits. This money could be used to finance a reform
of our healthcare system, and help to provide coverage for the 47 million
people who have no insurance and the tens of millions who are ‘underinsured’
and the untold numbers who do have medical insurance but are cheated by
insurance companies when their treatments or claims are denied.
It is unconscionable
that healthcare insurance premiums have increased by about 100% in the last 8
years, and profits of insurance companies have increased by over 1,000% while
wage increases have averaged only 25% or so.
This is obscene! Both individuals
and businesses are being adversely affected by these trends. Profiteering at the expense of people’s
health and well-being, whether in the field of insurance, prescription drugs,
military affairs, retirement security or housing fraud, is morally if not
criminally wrong. Such things should be
better managed and more strongly controlled and regulated.
Trends such as these
make it necessary that we change our political system to reduce the powerful
influence of lobbyists and other forms of influence peddling. When white collar crimes occur, they should
be punished just as severely as blue collar crimes, and all crimes should be
punished to degrees that are proportional to the negative impacts they have on
The fundamental concept
of insurance is that everyone contributes to a financial pool, and then those
who suffer adversities for indignities related to the purpose of the pool are
paid to help them out of difficult times.
The fairest and most efficient form of medical insurance would be a
universal pool that rewards healthy choices and preventative health
maintenance, and yet also does not abandon those with diseases or preexisting
conditions. Such an insurance system
would not be fragmented and focused on profiteering, and it would save on costs
related to marketing and red tape.
Profit obsessions have corrupted our current system by driving health
insurance companies to deny coverage for people with medical problems. Investors benefit, but this is a stupid and
unfair system, and quite immoral. This
is market fundamentalism at its worst.
“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in
the world, and moral courage so rare.”
--- Mark Twain
Few have had the courage
to stand up and make the honest and hard decisions that are required to address
the demographic and actuarial and financial implications of increasing costs of
our aging population. Let’s focus on
dealing with this set of problems, and transcend the distractions of
politicians who strive to divert our attention and resources from these issues
in order to implement a narrow agenda and facilitate profiteering.
Government officials and
our representatives have made the vast majority of Americans less secure by
establishing economic and foreign policies that pander to the
short-term-oriented objectives of Big Business and Big Money. We have allowed the taxes paid by
corporations to be dramatically reduced in recent decades. We have implemented policies that have
significantly increased the national debt.
We have essentially exported manufacturing jobs abroad, and built a
bigger and more wasteful government bureaucracy. We have allowed our nation’s solvency to be
impaired. Rapid inflation is taking
place in commodity and food prices.
Divisive policies have facilitated our involvement in wars and brutal
occupations of other countries.
Injustices and conflicts are increasing.
consequences accompany our national complacency with these aspects of
Establishment policies. Big Money has
perverted our priorities and allowed Big Business to have an overly dominating
influence in the formulation of our laws.
Think about this! Corporations
are single-mindedly focused on making bigger profits, so by allowing them to
rig our system to achieve narrow profit goals, we have significantly weakened
our currency, facilitated the foreign ownership of our companies and assets,
increased economic and environmental risks, ramped up unwisely excessive
consumerism, and allowed the externalizing of serious worker and environmental
costs onto society. We have
simultaneously failed to include a fair share of corporate taxes in the price
of products and services. By allowing
corporations such injudicious influence, we are essentially risking our
collective well-being and prosperity.
It is an absurd irony
that politicians are making us all less secure in these ways. It is oddly foolish to allow people in other
nations to buy up American companies in industries that
are vital to our national security interests.
Trillions of dollars are accumulating in “sovereign wealth funds”, which
are investment funds of foreign governments that are being accumulated from
enormous profits being made by oil-producing countries and others. These so-called sovereign funds are buying up
U.S. companies and assets, earning the privileges of gaining an ever-bigger
share of the profits that we so eagerly and shortsightedly allow businesses to
make at the expense of the greater good.
And since foreign governments control these sovereign funds, they are
not transparent and often have different priorities and values and ulterior
Patriots should be concerned at this outcome of
narrow ideologies and misguided initiatives that have driven developments in
the world in the past decade. It is a
simple fact that these shenanigans go hand-in-hand with excessive privilege and
One of the most
critical ways in which our leaders have deceived and misguided us since the
terror attacks of 9/11 is in the arena of foreign policy. James Madison, who is known as ‘the father of
the Constitution’, wrote this: “Of all
the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded”. The main reason for this is because war
invariably leads to higher taxes, expanded public debt, curtailments
of citizen liberties and deceptive propaganda.
War is a
shortsighted expediency that allows rulers to increase their powers at the
expense of citizens, AND to do so using the public’s money. “War is the parent of armies; from
these proceed debts and taxes; and
armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many
under the domination of the few,” Madison observed more
than 200 years ago.
Foreign policy is
strongly influenced by hawkish ideologues who are closely tied to corporate
profits and private greed. Pronounced
levels of corruption and waste in Pentagon spending are practically obscene,
according to Robert Scheer in his book The
Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. The desires of citizens to have our national
security assured has been exploited and perverted by our system of “disaster
capitalism”. This has weakened our
nation, and probably caused a strengthening of terrorist resolve. Our moral standing in the world has been
undermined, and our national debt has been driven rapidly higher. These outcomes are detrimental to our
national security, and have certainly NOT made us safer.
antagonism and stimulate motives for retribution and terrorist attacks when we
perpetrate injustices on others.
Aggression is costly, and economic inequities and the ruthless
humiliation of ‘enemies’ makes us less safe.
This outcome tends to obstruct the evolution and defense of open
societies and makes peaceful coexistence more difficult to achieve. The best way to harvest peace is by sowing
justice. We must not let Lady Liberty
die in the name of fear, authority, and fomented national insecurity.
Smoke billows and
mirrors flash. Bombs burst in air. The little men behind the curtain speak
through a giant megaphone. A voice
bellows, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I am the great Wizard, and I am a man of
peace bringing freedom and democracy to those who need it. Trust me.
Trust me! Believe!!” Meanwhile, the men behind the curtain are
trying to give people an impression of their omnipotence and righteousness,
despite their insidiously unfair intentions, and they scurrilously send
surrogates into the crowd to rob everyone during the distraction.
The “power of
now” is inestimable. The choices we
collectively make today will extensively affect the actual circumstances that
influence the fate of life on Earth in the future. We can and must find better ways for people
“to make a living, not a killing.” Our
leaders have milked the divide-and-conquer routine for long enough; it is time that we try unite-and-cooperate
methods for a while! New approaches are
needed to accomplish the common good goals of ensuring the general welfare and
creating a more propitious world for our descendants. Smarter and more fair-minded approaches are
needed to help humanity flourish -- and indeed to make it more likely for other
critical species of life on Earth to survive.
share some interests in common. It is
time for us to manage our economic system in ways that recognize the
commonality of interests rather than using gimmicks to make strife worse and
perpetuate unfair advantages for the powerful.
We must redesign our economic and political systems to ensure that they
are fairer, and act to prevent the widening of inequities. We must prevent trends toward
authoritarianism and repression. We need
to institute incentives and disincentives that powerfully motivate people to do
the right things rather than the far right ones.
To determine what
policies are proper, they should be assessed according to consensus
values. We should make fair and honest
calculations in cost/benefit analyses and accurately assess impacts on the
greater good. Otherwise,
dysfunctionality will reign and the risks of hardship, financial turmoil,
widening injustices and even social chaos and revolution mount. We need to find better, more peaceable ways
to resolve our competitive conflicts and nationalistic impulses, and find
effective ways to prevent the use of brute force.
ideals of freedom and democracy are great, to be sure, but we cannot act with
unilateral aggression to impose them on others in violation of the sovereignty
of other countries. An important insight
of Robert McNamara, the Secretary of
Defense during the Vietnam War, is that the U.S. must not proceed
unilaterally because we are not infallible or omniscient. If we cannot persuade other nations that
share similar interests and values of the merits of proposed uses of military
power, we should not use it. We cannot
continue to let ourselves be blinded by the premises of those with selfish,
solipsistic, and ideologically distorted worldviews.
call for greater pragmatism in this regard!
We must stop trying to conquer others, or to forcefully convert them to
our way of thinking and living. Let’s
learn more about other peoples and the nuances and complexities of issues, and
think ahead a bit further in all our considerations. Live and let live! Even the religious conservative Patrick
Buchanan echoes this sentiment; check
out his book, Day of Reckoning: How
Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart.
are a reflection of societal values, and of the established balance between
competing interests. Ideally, this
balance would be dynamic and respect the majority of people and underprivileged
minorities as well as the privileged few.
It would also give rights to those who are disenfranchised, not just
more perks to the powerful and the well-to-do.
It would protect the young as well as the old, and generations in the
future as well as the current ones, and other vital forms of life on Earth as
well as human beings.
is needed to create saner communities and better societies. We would be well-advised to seek to get the
most ‘bang for the buck’ in our national spending decisions. We should act in ways that are fiscally,
socially and ecologically responsible.
We should commit our national resources in ways that recognize the
long-term greater good. No matter what
kind of government prevails in nations worldwide, balance is generally
distorted in favor of small groups of the most influential people. When policies become too unfair or too
myopically shortsighted, they pose a threat to social stability and the
continued prosperity of the whole. This
is one reason that economist Alan Greenspan calls INEQUALITY the Achilles’ heel
In summary, all
is not well on planet Earth. It would
behoove us to believe that we have the power to change things, and to stand up
with courage and clear purpose in acting to change the world in positive ways. It is productive to act as though life has
meaning and purpose and positivity, and to be hopeful and confident in the face
of adversity, and to strive to change things that should be changed no matter
how challenging the circumstances. So
let us speak up and demand a better world, and work together to make it
Unrest” of the greatest movement in world history -- a multifaceted movement
for social and environmental justice that encompasses millions of organizations
-- is having positive impacts on fairness, wiser planning and ecological
sanity. Such trends need to be embraced
and encouraged, not resisted and obstructed by established interest groups that
strive to advance and defend the business-as-usual status quo. Check out Paul Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest for deeper perspectives
on this topic.
Some say that many
people have gone from denial to despair over the daunting challenges facing us,
but there is hope! A new paradigm of understanding needs to be
developed to deal providentially with current global economic and environmental
crises. Despair is self-defeating, so it is not useful, in any case.
Margaret Mead once famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only
thing that ever has.” Small groups
of dedicated politicians also change the world, sometimes for the better, but
all too often for the worse. We can take
back America from the current group of Neoconservative ideologues who, by
almost any gauge, have had a seriously detrimental impact on our society,
economy, environment and world. YES, WE
The Long View of Humanity’s Evolution
Early human societies
were matriarchal, as evidenced by ancient stone sculptures representing the
Earth Mother that have been found in many places by archaeologists. Females and motherhood and fertility were
honored. The very survival of
prehistoric human beings depended on a keen awareness of the threats and
opportunities afforded by wild animals and plants in the natural world. Connections to Mother Nature were more
inherently meaningful and profound than today.
It is likely that there was much greater respect for feminine virtues
like earnest cooperation,
empathetic understanding, constructive communication, clan connectedness,
nurturing caring for others, moderate self-restraint, and peaceable conflict
warrior cultures overran these matriarchal societies during prehistoric
times. Male gods then became ascendant
in many mythologies and religious doctrines.
These male-dominated cultures brought a dog-eat-dog world of supremacist
striving and violence and subjugation.
Our distant hunter and
gatherer ancestors first figured out how to cultivate crops about 10,000 years
ago, and this innovative discovery allowed tribes of people to settle down and
create food surpluses. This caused
dramatic and even revolutionary changes in the roles of males and females in
early civilizations. People congregated
in villages and towns, and technological advances later led to the Industrial
Revolution in which cities were established and grew in size to accommodate
workers who mass produced goods in big factories. These trends made patriarchal ascendance even
more pronounced, and the concentration and centralization of economic power and
wealth grew and grew.
Unprecedented demographic changes have accompanied
this evolution. The population of human
beings has tripled in numbers in just the past 70 years. Billions of people have moved to urban areas,
and then many cities deteriorated and became less safe, so millions moved to
suburban areas. Urbanization and other
human activities began to have unmistakably deleterious impacts on vital
ecosystems upon which we depend.
Inequities in human civilizations became glaring, and seem to be
increasing. During the 1960s, broad movements took place that
advanced women’s rights, civil rights and environmental protections. These movements were accompanied by a
make-love-not-war idealism and an attendant “tune in, turn on and drop out”
counterculture and a sexual revolution that accompanied widespread use of
contraceptives like ‘the Pill’. In
reaction to the Sixties, male dominated puritanical conservatism and
corporatism spurted out in a backlash that started in the late 1970s and has
reached its peak under the policies and attitudes of the Bush/Cheney crowd of
neoconservatives and religious fundamentalists.
This history highlights
the contention that the ways of men are failing us. Global transformations in economic systems
and the environment are making it desirable for us to once again give greater
respect to women and feminine virtues and the healthy balance of Mother
Nature. It is apparent that we need to
once again embrace the feminine or matriarchal values adduced above, including
a more nurturing caring for Mother Earth. It would
be propitious for humankind to cultivate and empower these more ethical,
honorable, and compassionate perspectives in our societies.
What Does God Say, and What Would Jesus Do?
The Bible and
the Koran are the greatest stories ever told, judging from the longevity and
force of their influence. God in these
‘holy books’ is a Supreme Being, and a suspiciously human-like being at that. Believers envision God as a male with a curiously
father-like character. “He” has noble
qualities; ‘He’ is all-knowing, loving,
merciful and just. “He” also has ignoble
qualities; ‘He’ is jealous, judgmental,
anger-prone, ruthless and extremely partial to believers. Those who speak for this God are often
narrow-minded and oddly sexually prudish and sexist and anti-gay and
antagonistic to the dignity and rights of women. Established religions encourage hope for a
better life AFTER the one that believers are actually living, and they try to
instill fear in believers so that they will act according to the commandments
of the church or mosque. “Believe! --
God loves you! … and give money!”
socially positive aspects to established religions, but there are also highly
negative ones. Religions are prone to
being hijacked by fundamentalists and extremists who use them to exhort
followers to supremacist, conflict-causing, hateful and sometimes even suicidal
ends. If there is a Creator, “He” rules
with detachment, and does not intervene in human affairs. So if we want to be saved, we must act to
save ourselves. That’s my opinion! Check out Revelations
of a Modern Prophet for deeper introspections into the anthropocentric
nature of worldviews, and of more sane spiritual perspectives.
The time for supporting
positive change is NOW. We cannot let
either partisan politics or religious traditionalism impede this adaptive
change. We need new ways of seeing our
world, and greater enlightenment. Rather
than quixotically tilting at phantoms or feverishly rubbing magic lamps in
hopes of discovering a generous genie, we need to find better and more honest
leaders, and leadership needs to become more constructive, and principled, and
collaborative, and farsighted, and non-ideological. It must help Americans work together for the
greater good. We furthermore need
honorable statesmen in international affairs, not cheerleaders for aggression
and preemptive wars!
Captain James Kirk of
Star Trek was known for his original thinking, and though he had serious flaws,
he also had important leadership qualities.
Good leadership is desperately needed in the world today. As Scott McClellan writes, “To me, leadership
means uniting people around a common purpose, rather than dividing them along
ideological lines.” Hallelujah for that
Iacocca spoke out passionately at the age of 82 to demand better leadership in
America. In his book Where Have All the Leaders Gone, he
analyzed the qualities of good leadership that he had learned during his long
and distinguished career. He pointed out
the serious shortcomings of today’s leaders, and cited “Nine C’s of Leadership”
that are valuable in achieving good governance:
good character, honest communication, creativity, competence, fair
convictions, charisma, courage and common sense.
It will be
vital for our next President to demonstrate these qualities. I believe that the greatest asset of Barack
Obama will be his ability to assemble a team of progressive-minded people to
help guide our nation in smarter, fairer and more sustainable directions. The extensive experience of Joe Biden will
help in achieving this goal. Let’s elect
them! And then, let’s put powerful
pressure on the new Administration to REALLY make positive changes for the greater
good over the long term. And let’s make
sure ecological considerations have significant weight!
we are before is like a strait, a tricky road, a passage where we need courage
and reason. The courage to go on, not to
try to turn back; and the reason to use
reason; not fear, not jealousy, not
envy, but reason. We must steer by
reason, and jettison -- because much must go -- by reason.”
--- John Fowles, The Aristos
I urge readers to check
out the extensive and comprehensive understandings of big issues on the Earth
Manifesto website. See the magnum opus, “Comprehensive Global Perspective: An
Illuminating Worldview”. Or consider
the implications of the “sensational Romance of Lichenology” in “Tyrants and Damsels and Associated
Insights”. Ponder the important
insights in “Reflections on War”, including
the observation by Mark Twain about imperialist aggression that could have saved
us trillions of dollars and thousands of lives:
“It is easier to stay out than get out.”
Again, for detailed
ideas on the top priorities that we should be pursuing for a better world, see One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively
Transform Our Societies, and the
Progressive Agenda for a More Sane Humanity. Also, peruse one of my
favorites: Tall Tales, Provocative
Parables, Luminous Clarity and Evocative Truths: A Modern Log from the Sea of
Beam Us Up, Scotty!
Dr. Tiffany Twain
Rare opportunity: Be the first
person in history to discover the writings in the Earth Manifesto and to respond to the Soliloquies found
herein. Think about the ideas conveyed
in this essay, and in my fascinating Modern
Log from the Sea of Cortez, and then compose your clearest and most
thoughtful impressions of the ideas expressed.
Send it to me at the following email address:
Some day all of these
writings may be among the most important ideas ever elaborated, and your
feedback, or editorial input, may be included!
“If one is lucky, a
solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.”
earlier version of this essay was published on August 8, 2008, a date of good
omen for prosperity and good fortune.
Yay for us! One of my
‘fantasies’, as expressed in September 2004 on the cover page of the original
Earth Manifesto (Part Seven on the Home Page) is the following brazen and hopeful sentiment:
“Ideally, the Earth Manifesto is destined to become the most influential
manuscript of the 21st Century.”
What if it did?!