Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Disruptive Technological Innovation meets State Government

The speed of change in America is rapidly increasing.

On March 13, responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Arizona Legislature closed the public galleries in both chambers to the public. Ten days later, lawmakers recessed with "tentative plans to return April 13."

Now, from the Yellow Sheet Report (3/31/2020),
As coronavirus cases continue to grow, lawmakers are rethinking their April 13 date to reconvene. “Based on the latest info that we have, I’m going to guess that April 13 is probably a little too early,” Fann told our reporter. Shope said he, too, is skeptical of the April 13 return date. “If the president says we shouldn’t be doing crowds until April 30, I think we should be following that,” he said, noting he doesn’t speak for Bowers, who didn’t return a call for comment... 
Senate GOP leadership plans to meet about once a week at the Capitol to talk through the latest changes, and Fann, for example, was driving away from the Capitol when she spoke to our reporter. Lawmakers are staying in touch through calls and emails, but meeting in person helps leaders keep on top of everything they need to consider, she said, adding they’re careful to sit 6 feet apart. Gowan, Gray and Leach attended today’s meeting, while Borrelli called in from Lake Havasu
Both chambers have changed their rules to allow members to vote remotely if needed, but Fann said many of her senators don’t like that idea and would prefer to meet, debate and vote in person. “We have said that if we do that, it’s going to be a last resort,” she said. Meanwhile, House leadership has insisted throughout the process that a full-remote Legislature is off the table.
It's really no wonder to me that those people are reluctant to vote remotely or conduct their business, "full-remote." 

But the cat may already be out of the bag.


Consider this question. Did Abraham Lincoln envision the oligarchical system that controls government in Washington, DC and all 50 states today? Did he describe a government in which the citizens should have statistically non-significant impact on lawmaking and how those laws are carried out?

I don't think so.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
How ironic must it be that President Lincoln, the first Republican president of our country, marked this sacred occasion, the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with this most succinct and poignant declaration -- "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." 

Rather than continue to expound on the terrible condition of government in America, at any or all levels, I call your attention to the fact that during times of national (world-wide) stress, major change can happen, sometimes quite quickly.

Direct democracy has been on my personal radar since the mid-1990s.

But the subject has been on the minds of thinkers and political theorists such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, author of The Social Contract, for centuries.
Although Rousseau argues that sovereignty (or the power to make the laws) should be in the hands of the people, he also makes a sharp distinction between the sovereign and the government. The government is composed of magistrates, charged with implementing and enforcing the general will. The "sovereign" is the rule of law, ideally decided on by direct democracy in an assembly.
The moment may be soon upon us.

The speed of change in America is rapidly increasing.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered: yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776
How nearly is human cunning allied to folly! The animals to whom nature has given the faculty we call cunning, know always when to use it, and use it wisely; but when man descends to cunning, he blunders and betrays. Thomas Paine, To the Citizens of the United States, 1803
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776


Today in America, we are faced with increasing tyranny. Many of my friends are discouraged or fearful or downright angry. The America of the Orange Menace is not the America fought for in the 18th Century.

In some ways, we are today a more promising country, having overcome long and deep injustices, notably institutionalized slavery and disenfranchisement of women and racial minorities. Yet, the influences that embedded those injustices in our society remain and to this day push back against the Progress of humanity accomplished in law over the last 200+ years. 

Independence declared in 1776 with the proclamation that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Only now we know that to reference all of humanity, male and female, poor and rich, regardless of skin color or religious creed. Even though those rights are self-evident, they were never manifested with only a simple snap of the fingers. Our history is full and rich with incidents, stories, of bitter conflict between those who would claim said rights and those who refused to allow them. 

Words fail me in an effort to succinctly document the current cultural and political environment. It is anything but peaceful. So, I'll stop here but say that Paine, the great pamphleteer, saw this time in his mind. The difference between his time and ours is a matter of labels. He heralded the Great Experiment of self-determined self-governance. Today, tyranny has returned. But now it's not called hereditary monarchy. Instead, it's oligarchy and plutocracy.
I’m not sure what America’s form of government is anymore but, it is definitely not a democracy. A Democracy provides every legal citizen of a certain age with the free and equal right to participate in a system of government that elects representatives of the people by the majority of the people, who promise to do the will of the people.
The Electoral College, gerrymandering, photo IDs and other voter suppression tactics are just some of the practices that keep America from being a democracy.
And the man who used masterful cunning to ascend to the most powerful office on the planet in 2016 ironically makes no pretense of his deceit.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hard Truth

Like it or not. Love the Democratic Party or hate it. The hard truth about the binary decision American voters face in the 2020 general election for president is encapsulated in this meme:

Except that the hard truth is even more stark than "helping" him. Those are three of the four ways to effectively vote for the Orange Menace to get a second term.

So, what you have today is about seven and a half months to decide if what's important to you is to make a quixotic statement about something you have little to no control or even influence over (like condemning a political party that can be a huge pain in the ass)... or if you actually want to stand together to effectively eradicate said Orange Menace.

As for me and my house, we're going to stand together.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Biden campaign explanation of Trump coronavirus failure

There's been plenty of internet content about the coronavirus this week. Sorting through what's most succinct and meaningful isn't always easy.

Further, I've seen people asking where Joe Biden is lately. Well, here's Ron Klain from Biden's campaign. Klain served in the Obama administration as Ebola response coordinator. His explanation is just over 4 minutes.

Additionally, Columbia University infectious disease expert W. Ian Lipkin breaks down the situation in this video that makes sense.

And here's one of the most important things we can do in 2020:

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Drawing forth the next wave of Progress!

Bull Connor hoped to drive a stake through the heart of the civil rights movement.

He achieved the exact opposite.

... We now have a tremendous opportunity because America has been awakened to realize how bad things are. To take the next step forward, we have a great, great opportunity...

... to give the marginalized, the demonized, the isolated, the oppressed, a full share of the American Dream... to root out systemic racism...

Please continue to give HOPE, HOPE, HOPE. Thank you. -- Joe Biden

From Teri Kanefield's blog today,
Some background: Oligarchy isn’t new in the US. In fact, this is our third slide into oligarchy. [...]
When the South lost, the North quickly moved to strengthen industry and infrastructure. There were almost no federal regulations limiting industrialists, so many cheated. They manipulated markets and fixed prices. There were no labor protections, no social security, no 40 hour work week. [...]
This brings us to the second oligarchy, the age of robber barons. The rich were rich. The poor had no hope of advancement. [...]
These groups aligned to dismantle the federal government:
  • Industries that wanted to get rid of regulations and taxes
  • White supremacists
  • and Evangelicals who wanted the church to govern, not the state. [...]
We’re now tipping toward a third oligarchy which (if we get there) will be best described as a Post-Communist Mafia State.
A mafia state is when a few wealthy people control the government and essentially own and control the nation’s industries.
This brings us to Putin, a creator of the modern mafia state.
White supremacists love Putin. [...]
Each oligarchy we’ve been through has been outwardly different, but each was fueled by racism.
According to political psychologists some people will never live comfortably in a liberal democracy. They’ll hate it. They’ll fight it.
Democracy is chaotic and messy. Autocracy is streamlined and efficient (none of those checks and balances to slow things down).
As I alluded to in my previous post, this has been a tough week for me. One reason: the best presidential candidate (IMNSHO) dropped out of the race.

That leaves Tulsi Gabbard (oh, PUH-leeze), Bernie Sanders (my 2016 favorite candidate), and Joe Biden.

Technically, the race between Bernie and Joe is still up in the air. However, essentially and practically, I believe it's over.

Unless Bernie comes up with a nobly unifying message, Joe Biden will be the nominee.

The video at the top of this post is the primary reason. Secondarily, the reason is because while Bernie and his supporters weren't looking, Liz Warren effected the revolution. Perhaps the only revolution that matters at this moment.

Liz Warren, as HuffPost declared a few days ago, has (fundamentally) changed the Democratic Party.
The two most influential scholars of economic inequality in the past 50 years are a French economist named Thomas Piketty and a former Harvard law professor named Elizabeth Warren. Piketty’s work revolutionized the way we think about capitalism; Warren’s research transformed the way we think about the economic pressures facing middle-class families. Her bankruptcy scholarship from the 1980s through the 2000s didn’t just resonate with those reading law reviews and economic journals. It took Washington. Chuck Schumer was stunned to read Warren’s work indicating that middle class incomes were actually declining during what had seemed like boom years at the turn of the millennium. She had discovered, he said, “the greatest crisis in America.” [...]
Warren was different. She showed up in D.C. in 2009 as the chair of a panel overseeing the bank bailouts. The panel was essentially toothless ― something created to mollify critics without limiting the Treasury Department’s ability to do what it wanted with the $700 billion Congress had allotted the financial rescue. Warren could have easily secured a place for herself in Democratic Party politics by playing nice and not looking too hard at the people in power.
Instead, she converted the oversight committee into a bracing exposé of abuse and incompetence, enraging the Obama administration and educating the public. [...]
On Thursday, Warren formally withdrew from the primary, after a disappointing showing in early states. But like her career prior to Washington, the significance of Warren’s campaign can’t really be measured quantitatively. Warren has changed the way we think about our politics in ways many Americans don’t even realize. The horizon of possibilities is wider and a bit brighter as a result of her run, and ideas that once seemed like hippie pipe dreams are now the serious subject of policy discussion. Even self-proclaimed moderates and centrists now define themselves on her terms ― they are moderate because they don’t want to do what Elizabeth Warren has proposed.
Liz Warren may not be President #46. But if she's not sworn in as Vice-President on January 20, 2021, she may be the next Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. In the alternative, there's already a movement, which might just get major traction, calling for Warren to become the next Majority Leader of the Senate.

The possibilities are legion. They ALL include Elizabeth Warren playing a major role to usher in the next wave of PROGRESS that Biden called forth in this latest ad.

By the way, for all the criticism Joe Biden has faced and will face, there's a fundamental difference between Joe and Hillary. Widely believed to be inauthentic in 2016, Hillary came damn close to becoming president.

Joe Biden has his foibles. But he is genuine and authentic. His policy mistakes through the years can easily be cataloged. But his concern for Main Street America cannot be reasonably questioned.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Our MINDS are hard to change once we become convinced...

This week, I failed big time at something that has mattered to me for a very long time. But just a couple of days hence, I'm recovering emotionally.

Have you ever failed at something? At anything? I suspect the answer is yes.

It might be natural to feel demoralized and defeated after you fail... but don't let yourself become convinced that you cannot succeed. However, you might have to first adjust your path to get there.

Fight feelings of helplessness. Perform emotional first aid on your self.

Years ago I recognized that the cure for apathy among and throughout the American electorate is empowerment.

For collective success, success as a team, we have to discover what empowers not only our self, but ourselves as a team. Our mates. Our teammates. Perform emotional first aid for others with whom you have common ground and common goals and objectives... but don't forget to put the oxygen mask on yourself before trying to help them.

Our minds and our feelings are not the trustworthy friends we've thought them to be for so long. Perhaps they're more like the really moody friend who can be totally supportive one minute and really unpleasant the next.

What didn't I do this week? Lash out at anyone, even myself. Actually, I recognized the mistake I had made shortly after I made it. A couple of acquaintances/friends confronted me by asking questions. Because they did so, the way they did, I anticipated the consequences and knew it was coming.

I didn't blame anyone. Maybe not even myself. Because frankly, the consequences were reasonable even though unpleasant. And the longer term ramifications for my health, had the consequences not emerged, likely would have been more harmful in the long run. It still was personally very stressful.

But it's going to be okay.

I count it as victory. That's because I've seen SOOOOOO much psychological projection by others and by me over the last two or three decades that maybe this is a breakthrough. Maybe.

But I digress.

At some point in our lives, it's a very good bet that each of us will have our heart broken. The immediate problem/question is what can, or more reasonably, what SHOULD we do about it.

It began to dawn on me Monday that Liz Warren would not be the Democratic presidential nominee this year. This broke my heart. It wasn't the first major disappointment in my life, just the most recent. Btw, I still  Elizabeth Warren.

I've lost siblings, both parents, and endured a divorce with a major dose of acrimony.

Then four years ago, when Bernie failed to win the presidential nomination, it devastated me. I knew it was crucial to defeat the Republican candidate then... the person who has become the Orange Menace.

Clearly, I was convinced Hillary Clinton would be a far better president than the Orange Menace and voted accordingly.

Since then, I've come to the realization that the enemy isn't the DNC.

The Democratic "establishment" didn't cast all of those votes for Joe Biden on Super Tuesday. The diverse American electorate did.

And even more of them (US) will.

My heartbreak in 2016 lasted too long. These two TED Talks from Guy Winch can help shorten the negativity and sadness if you're experiencing anything like I did.

Of course, it IS still reasonable to see that Bernie remains in contention for the nomination.

But when the dust settles, please grieve and then lets Rise UP with One VOICE to oust the Orange Menace.

We shall overcome.