Saturday, March 01, 2008

Me-Worlders vs. We-Worlders

Arianna Huffington offered an interesting perspective on the presidential campaign in her blogsite article: Microtrends vs. Macrotrends: Why Obama Is Winning (2/28/08). In this writing, she constructs a compelling case as to why the vaunted Clinton juggernaut unexpectedly ran up on the rocks while the dynamic Barack Attack lopes to the nomination finish line.

Hillary Clinton's chief political strategist is Mark Penn. Despite the "Titanic" founderings of her campaign flotilla, she has steadfastly stood by him. During her string of primary and caucus losses, Hillary made a few rearrangements of the deck chairs on her sinking campaign ship. Yet, she still refuses to accept the most important fact facing her: The Clinton election effort was structured upon the wrong method and the wrong message for this particular point in time.

Arianna Huffington informs us: "Penn and the Clintons set about slicing up the electorate into the 'small forces behind tomorrow's big changes' that Penn described in his 2007 book Microtrends. They then devised policies and personas to try to appeal to each one -- only to watch dumbfounded as their microtrend sandcastles were washed away by the macrotrend tidal wave of the Obama campaign." This writer refers to it as the Obama Tsunami. Ms. Huffington's excellent observation could be whittled down further. It's a classic case of the Me-Worlders vs. the We-Worlders.

Here are glaring examples of the differences between the Clinton Disconnection and the Obama Inspiration:

Recently, Hillary appeared before a packed audience at an African American church. It was obvious she did her microtrend homework. She came prepared to wow the churchgoers with her knowledge of "black" issues. And she was going to end her speech with a rallying litany of tried and true preacher applause lines. After she finished her stolid sermon, she woodenly delivered her prepared applause lines. As the audience responded, it was clear she was enjoying the moment. But, the only thing this writer felt was a growing sense of revulsion and disgust at this canned spectacle. It was evident Hillary Clinton didn't have a clue what she was talking about. Yet, she was totally oblivious to the ignorance of her actions. If I came away from this event feeling seriously troubled, I'm sure many in the audience endured the same sickening sensation.

Barack Obama makes no such microtrend distinction when he speaks. The Barack Attack has one, solid message for each and every audience: "Yes, we can!" David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, said: "Hillary Clinton's campaign model is a very tired Washington model: 'I'll do these things for you.' Barack's model is: 'Let's do these things together.'" Obama took his community organizing skills and simply applied them to the entire nation. Hillary Clinton and Kool-Aid Penn have a hard time countering Barack's message because it's not based on a specially contrived election game plan but on his heart-felt, personal experiences. And the voters are able to distinguish the dud from the real deal.

Furthermore, Penn's microtrend method is only the latest version of the antiquated, divide-and-conquer strategies from the feudalist Middle Ages. It's specifically designed to keep political power away from the people and in the hands of an elite few. Ronald Reagan, the Bushes and the Clintons are all Me-Worlder types. They come in office to wield power, not to share it. This is why Ronald Reagan copped an Alzheimer's plea when he was caught with his keister bare in the Iran/contra conspiracy. This is why Bill Clinton sings Kumbayah with Poppy Bush in TV ads even after the former CIA director rifled his passport files during the 1992 presidential campaign. This is why Hillary Clinton waltzes around with Rupert Murdoch to the abject consternation of many of her supporters. And this is why John McCain kisses and makes up with Dubya after the Shrub buried his 2004 campaign in South Carolina using some of the dirtiest tricks in political history.

The American people are finally catching on to the Me-Worlder witchcraft. Thirty years of royal rule under the Reagan/Bush/Clinton regime haven't benefited them at all. The ultimate impotence of the Dubya Debacle should've been expected. When Bush said he was a uniter, not a divider, the handwriting was plainly etched on the wall. Anyone, who has trouble eating pretzels and watching TV at the same time, is totally bereft of the skills necessary to unite anything. He can barely put two words together and form a sentence. Yet, this cretinous creature can claim he's the "leader" of the Free World. Dubya's insane reign is the woeful product of decades of monumental corruption in high places. America has been microtrended, macrotrended and mismanaged to the edge of complete collapse.

The We-Worlders are ascendant because the Me-Worlders wasted the time, energy and resources of this great land, rather than using these tools to better our nation. The greedy Me-Worlders have to be replaced with wise and productive We-Worlders. The youthful exuberance of the Barack Attack is fueled by a very simple energizer: There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Unfortunately, the Hillary Futility is reaping the whirlwind from the destructive policies of the Reagan/Bush/Clinton era. This election cycle is all about change. The Barack Attack sharply represents that change. And no matter how often Hillary decorates her campaign with a change motif, her message is falling on deaf ears. History is invariably destiny.

Hillary may have one last chance. It appears George Bush is coming to the rescue of both her campaign and the creaking crusade of grandpa John McCain. Dubya conveniently forgot to appoint enough members to the board of the Federal Election Commission. This means the FEC won't have enough members to convene a quorum to ensure everyone is playing honestly by the rules during this election cycle. In this Wild West atmosphere, we can expect record money machinations through to Election Day. These shenanigans don't even include the incipient Florida and Michigan delegate fiascoes and the festering superdelegate scenarios.

If Barack Obama survives this convoluted primary and caucus season to win the Democratic nomination, he will give his acceptance address at the convention exactly 45 years to the day when Dr. Martin Luther King gave his legendary I Have A Dream speech (Aug. 28, 2008). How dramatically appropriate will that moment be as Obama marks his date with destiny? On that hallowed occasion, the We-Worlders will rejoice while the Me-Worlders will wonder what happened. Well, the answer to that question isn't too profound. What will happen on that sultry summer night is an idea whose time has finally come.

Franklin L. Johnson

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Un-Electoral College
And Stooper-Delegates

Extra! Extra! Read all about the Hillary Conspiracy!

Only in America, could a bunch of self-important prima donnas devise undemocratic means to determine our undemocratically elected leadership, then somehow declare, with a shamelessly straight face, our nation is a real democracy. Technically, we don't live in a genuine democracy. America is a democratic republic. We vote for the folks who, then, go about the business of executing the people's business. The sad part is we reflect too often on our alleged leaders' campaign sloganeering rather than on what they're accomplishing in our name, such as financing illegal and immoral wars.

A democracy is a nation formed by revolution against tyranny. It usually seeks to ensure the basic freedoms as enumerated in the Bill of Rights, including majority decision-making; the rule of law and civilian control over the military. America is a representative democracy in which the people elect leaders to govern and write the laws of the state. Today, it seems we're getting only onerous taxation without any common-sense representation. Perhaps, it's time to consider replacing our failed system with direct democracy based on the popular vote. The unmitigated arrogance and incompetence of our government leaves us with no other choice. Consequently, it's time for America to mature as a nation and for us place our collective fates into our own hands.

A republic is a state which is not led by royalty, like a king or queen. Hereditary authority is replaced by elected representation. We have a presidential system in which the heads of state and government are the same person, as opposed to a parliamentary republic where these power positions are held by separate people. Historically, some republics are led by an autocrat wielding many of the powers of a monarch. This is why recent Republican presidents feel comfortable stressing the republican rather than the democratic side of our governing structure. Either way, an almighty "unitary executive" wasn't what the Founding Fathers had in mind. Additionally, the assumption of dictatorial control makes the prospect of the imposition of a state-sponsored pseudo-religion all the more possible. It's not simply a coincidence George Bush attacked the vital barrier between church and state while he illegally boosted his executive power. Also, the Bush/Clinton sharing of the Oval Office raises the ominous spectre of a return to hereditary rule.

Despite their alleged reverence for democratic principles, the Founding Fathers had little use for genuine governance of, by or for the people. After all, they were privileged, land-owning, slaveholding, Indian killing, women hoarding men of European descent. In 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the attending 55 delegates set up and sealed the shaky electoral fate of our nation.

The original constitution did not refer to an Electoral College. It only noted the states held the responsibility of choosing electors, who actually elected the president and vice-president. Americans are finally realizing the electoral vote fights are fiercest in California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio because these are the states with the most electors. All the other states are helpless bystanders to these quadrennial battlefields. Our election process is so arcane and convoluted even the professional consultants have difficulty understanding it. This crazy quilt contraption is kept in place to benefit political insiders who're the only ones who really know how it works.

As if this useless confusion weren't enough, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) added another layer of madness on top of this one. The Democratic party certified superdelegates to be seated at the convention. This was an attempt to make the nominating process more transparent and less subject to manipulation by party leaders in smoky back rooms. This idea only moved the political combat from the smoky back rooms to the contending candidates' war rooms. The secret fights for unpledged superdelegates are more savage than the open campaign for regular delegates. Furthermore, the entire delegate system itself is patently unconstitutional. These people get to vote twice -- once, as ordinary citizens during a primary or caucus, then again, as automatically seated convention delegates. What's worse, superdelegates don't represent any constituent voting group. They only represent themselves. Regular delegates are usually apportioned to the candidates chosen by the voters. These delegates rarely vote against the will of the people at the convention. Superdelegates, however, have no such obligation. They're relatively free to vote for anyone they wish. This leaves them open to intense lobbying pressure from the warring candidates' camps. Unquestionably, much of this lobbying is done illegally -- with money, sex and drugs being offered as the usual party perks.

An individual superdelegate commands the delegate power of about 9,000 voters. This outrageous disparity undeniably negates the most sacred democratic principle of one-person/one-vote. Their votes are furiously pursued by well-financed candidates who promise them virtually everything under the sun. Is it any wonder why many Americans believe we hold auctions rather than elections?

This highly exploitable system produced the wildest aberration ever conceived. Somehow, the DNC leaders found reason to void the delegates from Florida and Michigan because they moved their primary dates before Super Tuesday. This was against party rules. The result was the voters in these states were left without any representation at the convention through no fault of their own. This decision was simply unconstitutional, not to mention undemocratic.

Due to the ban, some candidates campaigned sporadically in Florida. Most didn't campaign in Michigan because of an agreement not to do so. Their names weren't on the ballot in that state. Yet, mysteriously, Hillary Clinton campaigned in both states, as if the ban didn't exist. Now, she suggests the delegates she accumulated in these states should count and be seated at the convention, deliberately overriding the very rules everyone said they agreed to. This is a ploy right out of the BushRove book of bad faith blindsides. It can't be a mere accident this whole fiasco stands to benefit the Establishment choice, Hillary Clinton. No wonder she keeps saying Barack Obama is inexperienced.

Our electoral politics have degenerated to the point of evil, immoral irrationality. This illegal ace-in-the-hole plot was contrived as a stop-gap measure, just in case all other options didn't work to prevent the rise of a People's Choice candidate like Barack Obama. How else can you explain this outcome? More important, the DNC could've produced a solution that was both constitutional and democratic well before any of this nasty nonsense had a chance to transpire. The only logical reason for them not to do so is the present imbroglio was completely predetermined and intended. The facts available lead to only one conclusion: The Clintons and the party leaders conspired to cut a deal to hi-jack the nominating process in spite of the rules. If the DNC tries to seat these illegal delegates and if they try to finagle the superdelegates against the will of the voters, the 2008 convention will make the 1968 event look like a tea party. This is a very serious situation.

America has never been a democracy. This nation has always been a hypocrisy. We've never practiced what we preach. Today, caging lists, ugly smears, rigged machines and other awful ruses are used to discourage full voter participation in the democratic process. Both major parties want to whittle down the lists of serious voters to the bare minimum, leaving only those they believe are predictably maneuvered by their campaign ads.

America is at a critical crossroads in our turbulent history. The Ruling Class is doing everything possible to consolidate its command and control over us. They want to turn our citizens into subjects. They want to roll the clock back to the feudalist good ol' days. And they want us to sit down, shut up and grimly accept their undemocratic plans and policies. If there is to be a future for this great land, this insane scenario mustn't be allowed to happen. It's time to review the relative strengths and weaknesses of our sacred constitution. The Ruling Class misuses its strengths and the Vulture Culture abuses its weaknesses. Strict constructionism is just a compound word for strong obstructionism against long overdue change.

A new constitutional convention has to be convened to update our founding document specifically to address issues which were either ignored or not envisioned at the Constitutional Convention. Universal human rights, women's rights, technology rights and direct democracy should be written into our national charter. All the finagling factors should be written out. And while we're at it, when are we going to stop printing the passage about some folks being considered 3/5 of a person?

Franklin L. Johnson

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Our Economy:
What's Wrong With It?

When former presidential candidate, John Edwards, said there are two Americas, he was telling the sad truth. There are indeed two Americas: The ten percent who are doing quite nicely and the rest of us. More specifically, 90% of us are fighting tooth and nail just to survive while the remaining Vulture Culture Vampires feverishly suck the life blood out of us as we struggle. No person exemplifies the Vulture Culture ethic more than Dick "Darth" Cheney, the ultimate whitened sepulcher Vampire. His cold, black heart has more gears and gadgets than Big Ben.

When the media informs the public about our economy's problems, they tend to wrap its constituent elements together in one narrative. This leaves the impression all Americans are suffering from the same financial difficulties. The difference is assumed to be a matter of degree. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. The American economy has been deliberately bifurcated due to thirty cruel years of irresponsible Republican rule. The once dynamic generator of humanity's hopes and dreams has been savagely deformed into an ugly effigy of itself. It took a long time for us to get into this shaky position. So, it will probably take just as long to recover from the damage.

Main Street and Wall Street aren't suffering from the same illness. Although the maladies in question are closely related, they are not one and the same. Main Street is under the stress of a mountainous cash flow crunch, as illustrated by the subprime loan meltdown. There are two things happening here. One is the bulk of subprime borrowers can't keep up with their mortgage payments. This detail is ominous because these people are the canaries in the coal mine. Whatever happens to them first tends to find its way to the rest of us. The subprime borrowers can't maintain their monthly payments because their incomes have barely kept up with inflation over the last three decades, but their costs of living have skyrocketed over the same period. The most important factor in the explosive growth of real costs of living is the price of energy. The second point is banks and other lending institutions are taking greater risks on the bottom end of the credit curve because business on the more secure top end has dried up. It's been that way for many years. The major reason why is the Middle East wars are sucking up all the available capital. Real growth in the economy is being restricted by the building of war machines which have no value-added multiplier effect -- a computer can be used for many functions; a tank, only one. Giant projects which require the participation of multiple lenders are put on hold for a lack of funds and bidders willing to bear the risk. Moreover, huge deals usually entail some local or federal government support, either as a lender or guarantor. The only ventures getting this type of attention are those related to the World War industry and the builders of our national security state. Everyone else has been sidelined.

The answer to these problems is very simple: End the Middle East wars. When George W. Bush slithered into the White House, crude oil was selling for about $20.00 a barrel. Today, it's $100.00. This is clearly no accident. Dubya and Dick entered office with a plan to snatch control of Arab oil. They didn't care how they got this evil job done. These narrow-minded monsters saw the collapse of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to seize the energy resources of the entire planet for their, not our, benefit. They cloaked this operation in the veil of national security. Then, they used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse for initiating it. These are the deeds of an out-of-control rogue regime. The Founding Fathers must be tumbling and turning over in their graves.

If the wars were ended, the premium price of oil would quickly settle down to the $35-$40 range where it belongs. Capital markets would free up and flow properly. Domestic growth would accelerate. Good jobs would be plentiful. The dollar would rebound. Interest rates would be growth-oriented. And average income would improve. Most Americans would then be able to cover their costs of living without fear of default. The problem is the massive cash flow crunch caused by the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Arab land. The solution is to stop these crimes against humanity and to lock up the perpetrators.

Wall Street is suffering from a different disease. A half-century ago, a busy trading day was barely ten million shares. Today, transaction volumes on the NYSE are in the billions. What does all that buying and selling represent? Five decades ago, various market averages were reasonable barometers of the health of our economy and its growth potential. When most trades were still executed with pad and pencil, stock prices were valid indicators of a corporation's true value. Today, we must ask: What do the averages, volumes and trade prices represent? Do we honestly know? Wall Street was created as a venue to bring companies and investors together for the precise purpose of building America's economy. Speculators were usually kept under control. But, the introduction of historic innovations, like the car, phone, TV and computer, has the general tendency of boosting speculation over investment. Boom and bust cycles can be directly attributed to these events.

There was a time when trading was an important factor in the American economy, like any other industry. The leading market drivers were still companies creating products and services which were the envy of the world. Today, our economy is being driven by speculation, not innovation. The vital purpose of Wall Street has been converted from making deals to making money. Corporate contracts were once written for the benefit of all stakeholders. If the deal was successful, then everyone had a chance to benefit. Now, deals are struck to reward the handful of people who contrive them. Very little thought is given to the long-term consequences of these imprudent decisions. The speculators morphed Wall Street into a giant casino -- a place which is completely unworthy of legitimate investment.

The media tell us trillions of dollars are being lost on Wall Street as a result of the slowing economy. What they don't tell us is most of these losses involve pumped up off-book and off-shore schemes. Valuations in the futures, options and derivative markets are made out of thin air. This is because only ten percent of these exotic instruments are backed by any real financial exposure by the investor. The rest is borrowed on margin from banks and other lending institutions.

These markets are primarily colossal Ponzi schemes or mammoth betting parlors. They exist only to make money, not to grow the economy. When American workers catch cold, Wall Street bettors catch pneumonia. The reason why is the speculators depend on us to continue driving the market place, fortified by the eternal optimism which is built into the American Dream. The speculators simply exploit this optimism. The problem is the diabolical policies of the Bush regime destroyed the American Dream. The speculators have no reason to be surprised when they find themselves all alone after having thrown the American Dream baby out with the speculation bath water. When these wildcatters get into trouble, they always seek to recoup their losses by selling off corporate assets and destroying jobs. Rampant arbitrage will never be a practical replacement for wise investment. The solution to Wall Street's problems is evident. The trading markets have to get back in the business of matching companies with investors. The speculation mill has to be reduced to a cottage industry. And the mountains of useless futures, options and derivative contracts should be fashioned into wallpaper.

When Dubya gave his last State of the Union speech, he was correct in saying our economy is basically sound. This is true. But, his insane policies are strangling the life blood right out of it. In short, our economy is suffering from an immense cash flow crunch caused by illegal, immoral wars and rampant, speculative greed. So, the solutions are to end the wars and stop the greed. While we're at it, we must release the jaws of the Vulture Culture Vampires who are sucking on our necks. Presently, it appears America could use a national fiscal exorcism to save our economy's soul.

Franklin L. Johnson