WARNING: If you don’t share my progressive political views, you may find my Random Ramblings page less aggravating.

July 3, 2018 – What Has Happened to our Political Parties

What has happened to our political parties? The Republican Party of my youth is D.O.A.— an apparent suicide. And the Democratic Party needs immediate intensive care if it is to survive.

Despite having a minority of voters, the Republican Party has maintained power by nurturing a highly motivated base that turns out to vote. It has effectively manipulated the system through extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression, outright fraud, and control of the Supreme Court. And it is supported every hour of every day by a highly effective propaganda network, led by Fox News and abetted by a large cadre of talk radio gasbags.

The result is a party so lacking in governing ability, responsibility, ethical standards, and compassion, that it cannot continue to rule a country of basically decent people. Moderate Republicans and fiscal conservatives may eventually salvage the party but might have to start a new one to retain any voice in national government at all.

At the state and local level, the Republicans continue to do well. They control a majority of governorships and state legislatures. Even ultra-blue Massachusetts has frequently elected competent Republican governors like Bill Weld, Mitt Romney, and Charlie Baker. None of them would fit in, however, with the cadre of deplorables that has taken over the national government.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, seems to have totally lost all contact with its base. It continues to cling to the old boy way of doing things, while its electorate storms off in another direction. It reminds me of an old political cartoon of a man breathlessly asking a bystander which way the crowd went. When asked why, he replied “because I’m their leader.”

If our democracy is to survive, its nominal party needs to take immediate action on three fronts. First, its titular leaders, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden, and both Clintons, need to step quietly into the back room and focus on raising money. Second, Bernie Sanders needs to forget about running for anything and continue speaking to students about his vision for the country.

Third, and most importantly, the Democrats need to take a hard left turn. Think Bernie Sanders plus gun control. The new generation of voters is unlike any this country has seen in the past. They understand the futility of war and belligerence. They are more likely to think and act out of compassion than out of fear.

The day will eventually arrive when we have no political parties at all. As we leave behind the barbaric millennium, we will begin to elect leaders who think and act in the best interests of the world, not just their political allies.

An overwhelming majority of people across the country wants a government that cares about everyone, not just the rich and powerful. We want good relations with other countries. We want open trade. We want health care, education, and prisons to be purely public services, not for-profit businesses. We realize that this country was built by immigrants, and that its strength lies in its diversity. We recognize every person as an expression of God on earth, regardless of skin color, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. And most of all we want our votes to count.

January 30, 2018 – Back in Print

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since I’ve posted on this page, given all the political nonsense we have seen in that time. I’ve been busy with a big consulting contract that I recently finished, so have begun writing again. The following piece was published on the Op-ed page of The Cape Cod Times on Monday, January 29, 2018.

January 30, 2018 – TRUMP’S REAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

While it is deeply disturbing for many of us to watch the Republican administration wreaking havoc on our nation, and truly scary to have such an incompetent president, it could be that the last election turned out exactly as it should have. A win by either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would have meant four more years of congressional gridlock, endless investigations, and inability to get anything meaningful accomplished. Both Republicans and Democrats would continue the divisive politics that have made such a mess of our national government.

Instead we have Republicans running amok, viciously and blindly undoing any social and economic progress made over the past half century, while at the same time shamelessly doing the bidding of their financial backers. The reality is that our government leadership has become essentially ineffective, benefitting only a small cadre of extraordinarily wealthy individuals. The election process has indeed been rigged to negate the will of the majority by manipulating voter access and flooding the news and social media with propaganda presented as fact.

The supposedly representative Congress  not only does not represent the will of a plurality of the population, but blatantly acts against their best interest. And the Supreme Court has become so politicized that many of us no longer trust its judgement. We needed an outsider to barge in and tear things apart.

Obsolete institutions and policies cannot be destroyed by their rivals but must collapse of their own weight and irrelevance. Now that they are no longer the opposition party, the Republican leaders are showing that they have neither the ability nor the desire to actually govern, and need to be replaced.

As a nation, we are learning some crucial truths. We are finding it’s important to elect a president who is intelligent, well-informed, and emotionally stable. We are seeing that competence counts, knowledge counts, discernment counts, and morality counts. Most of all, compassion counts.

The Sanders campaign showed us that the generation now moving into adulthood wants a government that serves the best interest of all its people, not just the rich and powerful. They understand that the most basic role of government is not to rule the world through military and industrial might. Rather, it is to assure that no child goes to bed hungry; and that everyone has access to affordable health care, quality education, adequate housing, and the opportunity to use their talents and abilities.

Donald Trump has made a mockery of this nation’s highest office and appointed a team of department heads who are clearly bent on disbanding their agencies. He is draining the swamp by filling it with alligators. As a result, he has awakened a whole new constituency of voters who have not been paying attention or participating in the political process before.

The mid-term election coming up could see the largest voter turnout ever recorded. This insurgency is likely to overcome any Republican efforts to suppress votes or distort the results. Expect to see a flood of women replacing men at all tiers of government and in both major parties. They will inject a new level of cooperation and sanity into the governing process.

For decades we have seen a growing division between the rich and everyone else, with no concern shown for those who actually create the wealth through their hard work. Now, even the most unenlightened voters are beginning to see that their best interest lies not in the divisive politics of the past, but in the compassionate policies of the future.

January 22, 2014 – Political Predictions

At the beginning of each year I like to pull out my wizard’s cap and speculate on what I think will happen politically. So far my record has been better than average; for 2013 I missed only one – gun control. I predicted that Congress would adopt a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and explosive ammunition, which obviously did not happen. I nailed the other six, however, and will continue all of them for 2014.

1.) The TEA party Republicans will increasingly be seen to be at best un-American and at worst treasonous. They will eventually destroy the Republican Party as we have known it, and will continue to inflict significant damage on the United States government and economy. As a small minority of a minority party, they hold a disproportionate amount of power, thanks to red-state gerrymandering.

2.) Nothing significant will come out of Washington this year.

3.) The U.S. and European economies will continue to gradually improve now that the concepts of austerity and squeezing the little people have proven to make things worse. Both areas will begin addressing the evils of income disparity.

4.) Violent gun crimes will continue to increase in the United States.

5.) Severe weather and other natural disasters will continue world-wide. As these events become more common, people will be less surprised and begin to recognize how they generate widespread compassion and bring people together.

6.) The six major trends that I identified in my book What’s Happening will continue to evolve and become more evident. They are:

  1.  A rise in personal independence and a rejection of traditional ideas.
  2. The revelation of secrets and the demand for integrity in all aspects of our lives.
  3. A move from competition to cooperation in all our affairs.
  4. A balancing of masculine and feminine energy, where women and men reach parity in authority and power.
  5. A move toward a society motivated more by compassion than by fear.
  6. A fundamental change in attitudes among a majority of the world’s people and their leaders

Four of my 2012 predictions also continue to remain active, while taking a lot longer to materialize than I anticipated at the time. I’ll keep these on the list again this year.

1.) The Republican Party will begin to move from reactionary conservative ideology to libertarian positions. The Christian conservatives will continue to fade from power, as the party moves away from controlling individual behavior toward getting the government out of people’s personal business.

2.) The U.S. economy will recover faster than expected, despite the best efforts of the Republicans to delay the recovery until after the election. Unemployment will remain high, however, as population growth continues to level off and we adjust to fundamental changes in the way we are employed.

3.) The last of the world’s totalitarian governments will end. Burma is already moving in that direction. The military government in Egypt will be removed, as will the violent regime in Syria. The governments of Iran, North Korea, and Cuba will all collapse, although not all in the same way.

4.) Even more secrets and hidden behavior will be exposed than we saw last year.

Here’s what else to expect this year:

1.) While 2013 was a year of full moon behavior as the world’s population adjusted to the new planetary alignment with the cosmos, 2014 will be a year of consolidation and reorganization. Expect to see dictatorial leaders continue to fall, and more compassionate leaders like Pope Francis emerge.

2.) Old energy organizations and ways of thinking that are based on fear, domination, violence, and control will begin failing in spectacular ways. As their adherents become increasingly frustrated and angry, they will react with violence, often taking out others who happen to be in their way.

3.) Republicans will take control of both houses of congress, as a result of widespread apathy among young voters, coupled with voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering, and outright fraud in states controlled by Republicans.

Now I will go out on a limb and predict what I see happening over the next three years if the ultra-conservatives take over the government.

1.) Newly empowered congressional conservatives will run amok with their narrow, regressive, and mean-spirited policies. They will initiate action to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Medicare, environmental protection laws, and other socially responsible programs. They will vote to invade Syria, Iran, and North Korea. Public reaction and the Democratic President will limit their effectiveness, but the result will be devastating to the national economy and the country’s world image.

2.) As a consequence, the U.S. economy will be severely damaged and could collapse in 2015, resulting in a severe depression, soaring unemployment, poverty, and crime. The repercussions would affect the entire world economy. Violent demonstrations could erupt across the country.

3.) Voter reaction in 2016 will be swift and brutal, removing conservative Republicans from office in all but the reddest of states. The repudiation of the Republican platform will leave that party so weak that it will have to completely reformulate itself before returning to national prominence.

4.) The newly elected liberal government will revert to the progressive tax structure of the 1950s in a desperate attempt to refinance the government and stimulate an economic recovery. Social safety net programs will be reinstated and expanded. Medicare will be restructured to replace the ACA and cover everybody. The military and NASA will be severely cut back. Most importantly, these actions will be supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans across the country.

This will be a year of big surprises, however, and the conservative takeover might not happen. If the Democrats regain the House or maintain the status quo, the Republican Party might survive long enough to remodel itself into a viable alternative for enlightened voters.

An old Chinese curse says “May you live in interesting times”. Here’s to a string of interesting years (and a fervent hope that I’m wrong about this year’s election).

October 12, 2013 – All Hail the TEA Party

Three years ago I predicted that the TEA Party would destroy the Republican Party. That was not a brilliant epiphany; just an obvious statement by a long time student of human behavior. While state and local Republicans will survive to screw up some more, the national party is effectively on life support.

Ironically, the TEA Party’s strength comes not from numbers—it is a small minority of a minority party—but from the very effective efforts of state Republicans to manipulate voting through gerrymandering. While both major parties use this undemocratic practice to gain advantages over the other, Republicans have taken it to such extremes that many congressional districts have become solidly conservative.

The irony here is that these districts have become so radically right-wing that they assure reelection of representatives who cannot compromise or cooperate in any way, even with other Republicans. As a result, they have crippled the ability of more moderate and reasonable Republicans to accomplish their objectives.

The Republican title will probably survive, but just as today’s Republican Party is very different from that of my parent’s generation, tomorrow’s Republican Party will be very different from today’s.

A generation from now, there will be very little ideological difference between the parties. There will likely be more than two parties. They will all be anti-war, racially and ethnically inclusive, and far more compassionate toward the less fortunate members of society than even the Democrats are today. They will all be equally balanced and accepting of both genders.

Differences between party ideologies will be much more subtle than now. While one party might continue to emphasize individual initiative and responsibility, as the Republicans do now, another party might focus on the benefits of collective action, as the Democrats do. The TEA party whackos will fade, as have so many radical movements before them.

In the meantime, none of us should get our BVDs in a bunch over the craziness in D.C. The energy of our planet has changed. The generation of voters now coming of age is far more enlightened and balanced than their parents and grandparents. They will bring the changes we need to create a society of peace and plenty sooner than you might expect.

April 9, 2013 – Margaret Thatcher

As the United Kingdom’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher cracked an ancient glass ceiling. Rather than bringing feminine compassion to her office, however, she continued to rule in the same vicious, mean-spirited manner as her conservative male predecessors.

Thatcher was a classic example of a baby soul over her head with authority. She had not progressed far enough on the path to enlightenment to comprehend the massive complexity of the issues before her; nor did she understand the potentially disastrous side effects of her simplistic decisions and ham-fisted actions.

Her comically absurd Falklands war, her fiscal austerity, and her Henny-Penny bluster were all aspects of old-school thinking that are no longer supported by the new planetary energy.

The next generation of leaders will bring a woman to power in London who will lead rather than rule, and who will truly balance masculine and feminine attributes. Margaret Thatcher is gone and our world is quickly becoming a better place.

March 17, 2013 – The Republican Meltdown

Watching the Republican Party implode is both scary and entertaining. It’s scary because a healthy democracy must have more than one strong voice to represent all people; but it’s entertaining to watch the Party’s policies, statements, and leaders go from dumb to dumber to dumberer.

The Party will eventually re-emerge with a more inclusive libertarian platform, but not until it purges clowns like Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump; dimwits like Sarah Palin and Scott Walker; snakes like Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan; and the money-changers like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.

January 1, 2013 – Political Predictions

Last January I made my usual political predictions for the year. I missed one rather badly, but generally scored very well. Several of my predictions, however, are not yet done but moving along. Here is what I wrote:

A Democrat will be elected president but it might not be Barack Obama.

At the time President Obama did not look like a strong candidate and I thought he might step aside, a scenario that was later promoted by the New York Times.

Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for President and will get out of politics after losing the election.

Nailed that one!

The Democrats will regain the House of Representatives by a wide margin, but will lose their slim majority in the Senate. The Senate will then prevent anything positive from happening in Washington for two more years.

Way off on that one, except for the part about nothing positive happening for two more years. It will be the obstructionists in the house that do it, though, not the senate.

The Republican Party will begin to move from reactionary conservative ideology to libertarian ideology. The Christian conservatives will continue to fade from power, as the party moves away from controlling individual behavior toward getting the government out of people’s personal business.

This one still stands, but will take a few more years to fully evolve.

The U.S. economy will recover faster than expected, despite the best efforts of the Republicans to delay the recovery until after the election. Unemployment will remain high, however, as population growth continues to level off and we adjust to fundamental changes in the way we are employed.

Another direct hit.

The European Union will resolve its financial difficulties and emerge much stronger. It will also begin to make changes that move it further toward a single country.

And another. The establishment of a central bank was a major step toward union.

The last of the world’s totalitarian governments will end. Burma is already moving in that direction. The military government in Egypt will be removed, as will the violent regime in Syria. The governments of Iran, North Korea, and Cuba will all collapse, although not all in the same way.

This one is still very valid, just taking longer to materialize.

Even more secrets and hidden behavior will be exposed than we saw last year.

And yet another direct hit. Too many to list, but General Petraeus was the biggest.

Here’s what to expect this year:

Congress will adopt a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and explosive ammunition. They will not have the guts to make it retroactive, however, so the ban will have no effect whatsoever on the rash of gun violence in the country.

The TEA party Republicans will increasingly be seen to be at best un-American and at worst treasonous. They will eventually destroy the Republican Party as we have known it, and will continue to inflict significant damage on the United States government and economy. As a small minority of a minority party, they hold a disproportionate amount of power, thanks to red-state gerrymandering.

Nothing significant will come out of Washington this year.

The U.S. and European economies will continue to gradually improve now that the concepts of austerity and squeezing the little people have proven to make things worse. Both areas will begin addressing the evils of income disparity.

Violent gun crimes will continue to increase in the United States.

Severe weather and other natural disasters will continue world-wide. As these events become more common, people will be less surprised and begin to recognize how these events generate widespread compassion and bring people together.

The six major trends that I identified in my book What’s Happening will continue to evolve and become more evident. They are:

  1. A rise in personal independence and a rejection of traditional ideas.
  2. The revelation of secrets and the demand for integrity in all aspects of our lives.
  3. A move from competition to cooperation in all our affairs.
  4. A balancing of masculine and feminine energy, where women and men reach parity in authority and power.
  5. A move toward a society motivated more by compassion than by fear.
  6. A fundamental change in attitudes among a majority of the world’s people and their leaders

Here’s to another interesting year.

June 13, 2012 – Peculiar Politics

Something peculiar is happening in presidential politics. In recent weeks, some well-known conservatives have come out against Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Media mogul Rupert Murdock—whose Fox News channel has been Romney’s biggest booster—criticized Romney’s campaign strategy, and expressed doubt that he could beat President Obama.

The Wall Street Journal, also controlled by Murdock, ran an editorial that disparaged Romney. House Speaker John Boehner told a conservative audience that nobody loves Romney. It almost seems as if the Republican Party doesn’t want Mitt Romney to win this election. What is going on here?

I think it may be smart strategy. These critics know that Mitt Romney would be a very effective president. His record is consistent in regard to addressing problems and solving them. The critics also know that Romney answers to no one else and that his solutions might not align with their own plans.

The critics know that, as president, Romney would reduce social program benefits and raise eligibility requirements. But they also know that he would be equally brutal in cutting military spending and closing tax loopholes in order to lower the federal budget and the deficit. He might even return to income tax rates of the Reagan era.

Most importantly, they know that the world economy is in a downward spiral that is likely to make the U.S. recovery impossible in the next four years, regardless of who is sitting in the oval office. They would rather let Obama take the rap and then sweep in and take over the presidency and both houses of congress in 2016.

Mitt Romney may have changed his positions on many issues, but he has been very consistent in management style. He has repeatedly demonstrated no fear of sacred cows and political third rails. He gets the job done without regard to who gets hurt.

As founder and president of Bain Capital, Romney made a lot of money for his investors and himself. That was his job and he did it with the same intense focus and drive that he has brought to every other aspect of his life and career. He had no concern, however, for the thousands of workers and families that were ruined by his slash and burn approach to corporate turnarounds.

As CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 1999 winter Olympics, he purged that organization of long-standing corrupt practices and turned it around financially. He then just as quickly left the state. In solving its corruption problems, he exposed and humiliated some very powerful people.

When he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney had a summer house on Cape Cod. After being stuck too many times in traffic trying to cross the Cape Cod Canal, he ordered a redesign of one of the bridge approaches and got it built in record time.

To solve the problem of high costs faced by hospitals that are required to provide free care to uninsured patients, he instituted a public/private program that required everybody have medical insurance. At the time, this was a Republican initiative at the federal level and a problem of concern to Republicans in many other states.

The beauty of this program for conservatives is that it benefits the insurance companies by nearly doubling their health coverage business, and similarly benefits hospitals, doctors, and other medical providers who no longer have to treat as many uninsured patients.

Romney is promising to repeal the similar federal insurance program, but unlike his conservative colleagues, he consistently says he wants to replace it with a better system. That better system is likely to be the plan that President Obama wanted all along, without all the poison pills inserted into the act by congressional conservatives.

Unlike most politicians, Mitt Romney is less motivated by ideology or a desire for power and prestige than by an overwhelming need to fix anything that he thinks is broken. He has shown that he is willing to pander to any group, spin facts beyond recognition, and boldly lie to achieve his goals. He cannot be bought, though, nor can he be controlled by the establishment or any political machine. And that may ultimately be his undoing.

Republicans and conservative independents will be voting in force this year, but they are more likely to be voting against President Obama than for Mitt Romney. And that may be just fine with the Republican Party leaders.

May 5, 2012 – Mitt Romney’s Voice

There is something about Mitt Romney that troubles me. It’s not his religion, for that has no bearing on his executive ability. It’s not his wealth, although that may be his ultimate downfall. And it’s not his political positions, because those will all change as needed to suit his purposes. What troubles me about Mitt Romney is his voice.

It took me a while to figure this out, but it is now obvious. There is something very strange about how Mitt Romney sounds, whether delivering a speech or participating in an interview. His voice is not conversational, as it would be if he were chatting over tea with old friends. Nor is it oratorical, as would befit a political leader. Instead it has a tone of inauthenticity. It is the voice of a person who knows that he is lying.

Of course, we are all accustomed to liars holding high office. Richard Nixon, who was a compulsive liar, did it with such skill that he fooled a lot of people for a long time. Bill Clinton was less convincing, like a teenager trying to explain why he didn’t do his homework. George W. Bush actually believed his lies. Mitt Romney doesn’t, and that may be a signal that he does not belong in the oval office.

Romney is highly intelligent, and may be more driven to succeed than anyone else in the public eye today. As CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 1999 winter Olympics, he purged that organization of long-standing corrupt practices and turned it around financially. His success in business might have been ruthless, but it met his goal of making money for himself and his investors.

As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney created a public/private partnership between the state and the insurance companies that has met with phenomenal success and became the model for the federal health insurance program. Ninety-eight percent of Massachusetts residents now have health insurance; the cost of medical care in the state is no longer rising at double-digit rates; and the resulting impact on the state budget was less than a two percent increase.

For those of us who live on Cape Cod, Governor Romney pulled off a political coup that affects our lives every day. Within the time of his tenure, he managed to replace the aging and traffic-snarling rotary circle at the Sagamore Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal with an efficient interchange. There is no question in my mind that Romney can get things done. I don’t trust what he saying, though, so do not know what he might do as President.

Romney makes a big deal of playing by the rules. At his core, however, he seems to have no sense of compassion for others, or even any understanding of the effects of his business decisions on the lives of thousands of ordinary hard-working people. This lack of a moral core allows him to twist, spin, and fabricate reality for his own ends, while his respect for the rules makes him uncomfortable, knowing that he is lying. That, in essence, may be the reason behind Mitt Romney’s strange sounding voice.

January 16, 2012

Jon Huntsman dropped out today. I greet this news with mixed feelings. Huntsman is the only one of the Republican cavalcade of clowns who has the maturity, experience, and potential to actually be a good president. He is also the one who could most easily defeat Barack Obama.

It seems obvious now that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. He was my governor here in Massachusetts so I know something of him. My daughters went to school with his sons.

Romney did two things right as governor. With the help of MIT economists he created a brilliant health insurance system that combines the best of government with the free market, and that became the model for the federal program. He also cleaned up a horrific traffic situation at the Cape Cod Canal, when he pushed to eliminate an archaic rotary circle at the Sagamore Bridge.

In my opinion, though, Mitt Romney is a robotic, amoral, narcissist – Donald Trump without the passion. He acts like a creation of the Disney animatronics shop. As I wrote in 2009, he meets the Barry Goldwater standard: deep down he’s shallow. For Romney, life is all about Mitt Romney. He plays by the rules but has no fundamental moral core or integrity. In every aspect he represents the reviled one percent.

Newt Gingrich is another delusional narcissist. He fancies himself an intellectual because he works at thinking a lot. Unfortunately, his thinking is neither very good nor very deep, and he certainly lacks any shred of integrity at any level. At heart he is just an immature playground bully.

Ron Paul, on the other hand, is a character. He may be the court jester of the race, but he is running with high integrity on a well-thought platform of beliefs. His desire for smaller government appeals to conservatives, while his passion for peace appeals to progressives. If Ron Paul were to run as a third party candidate, he could come in second, assuring another term for Obama and killing off what’s left of the Republican party as we know it.

Rick Santorum is something of an enigma. He speaks well and expresses the ideals that appeal to the Christian right wing, but has no possibility of being elected. He was not even reelected to the senate in his home district.

I am truly embarrassed for Rick Perry. The poor man clearly has some sort of problem with substance abuse. Why he is even in the race is peculiar. He obviously isn’t qualified to be dog catcher, much less President.

And I have to admit I do miss Michele Bachmann. Although I was troubled by her lack of elementary knowledge of history and science, I found her wildly distorted view of reality and outrageous pronouncements enormously entertaining. She may be the most delightfully unenlightened politician to emerge since Dan Quayle.

This promises to be an interesting year.

January 15, 2012

Back in August of 2010 I stopped writing my leftist rants and made a few predictions about the coming year. Here is what I wrote then:

The TEA Partiers will drown in their own bile, taking Sarah Palin with them, but not before doing a lot of damage to the Republican Party. Some will be elected to congress, only to harden the differences between the right and the left. The Democrats will benefit from this, but will still lose their ability to get anything done in either the house or the senate. Many incumbents of both parties will be ousted. The new Congress will be so divided and unable to do anything that the United States government might actually collapse, taking the entire world economy with it.

Except for that last bit of doom and gloom, I pretty well hit the nail on the head. Now it is 2012 and time for political reckoning. It is also the mid-point of a massive change in planetary energy that is moving our world from an age of fear and violence to an age of integrity and peaceful cooperation. Here are my predictions for this year.

A Democrat will be elected president but it might not be Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for President and will get out of politics after losing the election.

The Democrats will regain the House of Representatives by a wide margin, but will lose their slim majority in the Senate. The Senate will then prevent anything positive from happening in Washington for two more years.

The Republican Party will begin to move from reactionary conservative ideology to more libertarian principles. The Christian conservatives will continue to fade from power, as the party moves away from controlling individual behavior toward getting the government out of people’s personal business.

The U.S. economy will recover faster than expected, despite the best efforts of the Republicans to delay the recovery until after the election. Unemployment will remain high, however, as population growth continues to level off and we adjust to fundamental changes in the way we are employed.

The European Union will resolve its financial difficulties and emerge much stronger. It will also begin to make changes that move it further toward a single country.

The last of the world’s totalitarian governments will end. Burma is already moving in that direction. The military government in Egypt will be removed, as will the violent regime in Syria. The governments of Iran, North Korea, and Cuba will all collapse, although not all in the same way.

Even more secrets and hidden behavior will be exposed than we saw last year.

June 23, 2011 – Dumbing Down America

Watching the first debate of the Republican presidential wannabes made me wonder if any of these prospective candidates realize that the job might require some actual ability to govern. They all seem more interested in being Celebrity in Chief than in solving any of the serious problems facing our country. Of even greater concern is that this attitude is a product of a national trend that distains competent performance and stifles intelligent and informed discussion.

Karl Rove, the political architect of the last Republican administration, created a policy that empowered a portion of the electorate that is not well-educated and never learned to think critically about issues and ideas. Rove targeted Evangelical Christians and residents of rural regions, knowing that these groups would be less likely to question the party’s agenda than would more informed groups. He knew, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, that you can fool some of the people all of the time, so you start with them first.

Rove had an able stable of allies in the crew at Fox News. In their zeal to promote conservative political ideology and to discredit anybody and anything liberal, these propagandists consistently and flagrantly twist the truth and warp the news. They have led the movement to dumb down the electorate by focusing on sound bites over substance and delving deeply into inconsequential issues in order to distract people from more serious problems. They make no effort to present other sides—or any nuances—of controversy, and rarely interview real experts on the subjects at hand.

The radio talk show crowd also contributes to the problem using a simple rhetorical device that continues to work despite its obvious flaws. They take a statement by a liberal politician or  commentator and either separate it from the context in which it was made or twist it just a bit in a way that changes its meaning. They then rant for hours or days against the person who made the statement, often bringing in irrelevant issues that personally demean and undermine the credibility of the subject.

Both Fox News and the radio gasbags make liberal use of factoids. A factoid is a not a small fact, but a false fact. It is a statement that makes sense, sounds true, and becomes widely accepted as true by virtue of being published and repeatedly stated as true, but has no actual basis in fact. Recent examples include the beliefs that all Muslims are anti-American, that most crimes are  committed by illegal immigrants, and that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

The attitude of the Bush/Cheney/Rove administration that all educated thinkers are elite snobs and that ordinary people know how to get things done resulted in serious damage to the ability of the Federal government to operate effectively. Instead of selecting experienced experts to head key agencies, they appointed political associates and major contributors such as John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, and Michael “heckofajob” Brown.

As a result, more than eighty percent of the senior civil servants in federal agencies resigned, retired, or were fired for refusing to declare allegiance to the Republican Party during that administration. These are the people with the institutional history, working knowledge, and experience that make government work. Although those agencies are now headed by capable administrators, they struggle to accomplish their missions with inexperienced personnel and high vacancy rates.

Despite their lack of ideas about how to solve the serious problems facing the country, the Republican candidates find no shortage of complaints about the government. They rail against expansion of the bureaucracy, the size of the budget deficit, and the amount of Federal debt. There is no question that these are all major problems. The Democrats are equally concerned about them. If  solutions to these problems were as simple as the candidates portray them, those in charge would fix them today.

Ironically, all three of these problems are the direct result of policies and decisions made by the most recent Republican administration. During those eight years the Federal bureaucracy increased fifty percent, setting a new record for growth that surpassed the previous record, which was held by the Reagan administration. The budget deficit is a direct result of the massive tax cuts given to the wealthiest two percent of the population by the Bush administration, and of the cost of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which was actually related to the so-called war on terror.

The tax cuts and foreign invasions are also the primary factors behind the high government debt. The Federal bailouts of the financial and automotive industries, initiated by the Bush administration and expanded by the Obama administration, also contributed substantially to the debt problem, but kept the economy from falling into another deep recession. The economic collapse of 2008 might have been avoided, however, if the Bush administration had not deliberately backed away from enforcement of Federal regulation of the financial industry.

So how do we return intelligent discourse to the election process and competent management to our government? In light of all of these documented facts—and ignoring the media factoids—the solution to the problems of incompetent government, financial disasters, celebrity leadership and never-ending wars seems one of simple logic: stop electing Republicans to high public office.

January 13, 2011 – Tucson

It wasn’t political. It was not caused by hateful rhetoric. The Tucson massacre was the act of a single, angry, frustrated and emotionally damaged young man. When the facts emerge we will likely learn that Jared Loughner suffered a lifetime of emotional and physical abuse, and was taught a severely distorted view of reality, by a controlling, overbearing and sociopathic father.

The clueless nattering of Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Michelle Bachman and Christine O’Donnell may be insensitive and mean spirited, but does not carry any evil intent. For them, it’s all about them, and nothing more. They are not responsible for Tucson.

The vacuous talking heads on Fox News are simply doing their job, pushing the propaganda that supports the billionaire who pays them and his moneyed buddies who own the Republican Party. They are not responsible for Tucson.

The hateful ramblings of Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and all of their clones on AM talk radio, are not responsible for Tucson. These people do not like anybody, even themselves. They embody the very essence of the definition of sociopath.

The media focus on inflammatory speech, however, is a good thing. Conservatives have pointed out that mudslinging is a political tradition dating back centuries. But only recently has it been blasted at us all day and night through our ever-present television and internet connections. There can be no question that our political and social discourse has become less civil and more contentious than ever before.

We do need to tone down the rhetoric and the volume. We do not need to do it in a way that inhibits free speech or the open expression of ideas and philosophies. What we need to do is to become more discerning in our selection and interpretation of what we hear. We need to think more critically, learn to better discern truth from fiction, or the distortion of truth into fiction.

The energy of our world has shifted. Fear and hatred are moving out and compassion is moving in. The old ways need to fail on their own, though, even if it requires brutal events to move those failures. This is what’s happening. Expect to see more Tucson type attacks, but watch for the compassion that emerges in response. That is our future.

Gabby Giffords is an intelligent, successful and powerful Jewish woman. Any one of these traits is enough to set off a misogynist; all of them in one person easily toppled an individual teetering on the knife edge between reason and insanity. She was not shot for her politics, but our politics may benefit from her injury.

August 5, 2010 – Moving on

It’s obviously been a while since I posted to this page. Here’s why: I found I was reacting poorly to the loony behavior of the political right and it was dragging me down. It is now time to move in a more positive direction. The energy of our world is changing and the old ways of thinking are falling away. These include any form of discrimination, secret and unethical behavior, and all fear-based activities. We are moving into an age of openness, acceptance and compassion. By mid-September I will begin a new page that focuses on the positive changes that I see ocurring in our world and our lives.

Wrapping up this series, here are my predictions for the next year or so: The TEA partiers will drown in their own bile, taking Sarah Palin with them, but not before doing a lot of damage to the Republican Party. Some will be elected to congress, only to harden the differences between the right and the left. The Democrats will benefit from this, but will still lose their ability to get anything done in either the house or the senate. Many incumbants of both parties will be ousted. The new Congress will be so divided and unable to do anything that the United States government might actually collapse, taking the entire world economy with it. A bleak assessment? Yes, but real. It may take total deststruction of what we have now to allow us to begin working together to create the kind of world that all of us really want.

April 23, 2010 – Tea Party Factoids

Norman Mailer first coined the word factoid to mean a false statement that becomes widely published and believed to be true. The word itself has become a factoid, widely published and believed to be a small fact. Just as a humanoid is not a small human but a fake human, a factoid is not a small fact but a fake fact.

An enormous factoid appeared this week in the form of a poll that found that the tea party supporters have above average levels of income and education. Puleeze! Give me a break! Here is a group of people not one of whom, leader or follower alike, can string three words into a coherent sentence, can discern truth from propaganda, or can demonstrate the merest whiff of understanding of what is going on in our world. These people are all financially failed, undereducated buffoons.

So how do we explain the poll results? They lied. These dingbats have repeatedly demonstrated that they have less respect for the truth than they hold for intelligent and educated leaders. In order to inflate the credibility of their wingnut opinions they also inflate the levels of their income and education. The pollsters have no way of fact-checking the answers they get. But these responses are so far off the mark they should never have been reported.

The operative word here is party. Tea party gatherings are more like tailgate parties than opportunities to express serious dissatisfaction with government policies and to generate creative solutions to real problems. The time has come to stop giving them so much free publicity and focus instead on the issues that have led to the frustration and anger expressed by these poor uneducated fools.

April 15, 2010 – Signs I’d Like to See

Yesterday’s TEA party rally in Boston drew about half the number of supporters expected. Screechin’ Sarah Palin delivered her usual bombast of senseless platitudes without a hint of substance. Comparisons were made with the original Boston Tea Party, which badly stretched the truth. That protest was by a group of tea merchants railing against taxation without representation; this one was by a group of malinformed misfits who aren’t quite sure what they are railing against.

As usual, though, this group had its share of silly signs touting the evils of socialism, questioning the legitimacy of a black president, and claiming that our freely elected government is taking over our lives. Here are some signs I’d like to see at a rally:

GET FACTS, NOT FOX

HUSH RUSH

SOCIALISM IS GOOD

CONSERVATIVES EAT THEIR YOUNG

HAVE SOMEONE READ THE CONSTITUTION TO YOU

PRACTICE KINDNESS

COMPASSION COUNTS

April 14, 2010 – The Boston TEA Party

The whacko wingnuts of the TEA Party Express have invaded Boston today, led by Screechin’ Sarah Palin. Their hero, Senator Scott Brown, won’t be there though. Brown remains an empty suit, but seems to be trying to find the center and doesn’t want to be associated with the dimwits who elected him.

The TEA party leaders also seem to be searching for an identity. Their original cry of Taxed Enough Already fails to ring true in a country with the lowest tax burden of all the developed nations in the world, and where forty percent of the population pays no income taxes at all.

Now they say they want to reform government: get rid of the partisan bickering and lack of cooperation, stop coddling the rich and powerful and bring back traditional moral values. These are noble goals, but they won’t be achieved by electing people that are even more conservative and intransigent than the dickheads they are trying to replace. To these folk, stopping the bickering means ousting anybody who does not think as they do.

Fortunately for the rest of us, the new world energy favors compassion over fear and, while fear-based conservative thinking may be hanging around for a while longer, it won’t work the way it once did. In the meantime, the mid-term election later this year will be a most interesting one. Buckle your seat belts, pour a cold one, and stand by for a wild ride.

February 12, 2010 – That Hopey Changey Thing

My favorite shrill airhead gave the keynote speech last weekend to a national gathering of people who don’t think too clearly and asked “How’s that hopey changey thing workin’ out for ya?” For me it’s a mixed bag. I am greatly relieved to have an intelligent, compassionate and thoughtful person at the helm, rather than someone who shoots from the hip and then tries to spin his way out of the unfortunate consequences of his decisions. A President who surrounds himself with experienced and knowledgeable advisors, rather than toadies and cronies. Someone who actually cares about the well being of every citizen.

As a liberal thinker, though, I would like to see more change. I want to see our government end the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, clamp down hard on Wall Street and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, return to the progressive taxes on the very wealthy that we had a generation ago, and offer health protection to everybody living in this country. It isn’t going to happen, but I’m still hopey.

January 27, 2010 – Real Power

Despite nearly bankrupting the country and severely eroding our rights, despite having a flagrantly anti-social platform, despite its fundamental corruption, and despite its long record of screwing the middle class to feed the super rich, the Republicans have an incredible advantage over the thinking people of this country: they control the propaganda machine.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, they keep the masses entertained and malinformed through Fox News and the raging sociopaths on talk radio. This is not free speech; this is subversion. If these people were simply disagreeing with liberal policies and pointing out errors made by their political opponents, that would be free speech. But that isn’t what they do. They demonize anybody of intelligence, compassion and ability, while twisting reality by exaggeration, distortion, innuendo and boldfaced lies. They feed on the fears and frustrations of people who don’t think too well or aren’t paying attention to what’s really happening in this country. They are destroying our democracy.

Plato predicted that democracy would fail for this very reason, but nobody listened to him either.

January 22, 2010 – Why I Dislike the Republican Party

Why do I dislike the Republicans so much? Because their leaders are fundamentally dishonest and immoral, utterly lacking in compassion, and promote policies and agendas that undermine our democracy, our safety, our financial and social well-being, and that threaten the future of our nation.

It hasn’t always been this way. I was born into a strongly conservative Republican family. My earliest votes were for Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon. It was Nixon who changed my party allegiance. When a President is so inherently immoral and corrupt that he is forced to resign in the face of certain impeachment, and when all of his top advisors are not only convicted, but actually serve years of hard jail time, you know there is a systemic problem that goes beyond just a few bad apples in the barrel.

My worst suspicions were confirmed during the Reagan administration. At the time, I was developing federally subsidized housing for elderly and handicapped residents. As a consequence of this position, I was invited to a private luncheon and tour of the Republican national headquarters in Washington, D.C. There I listened to the party leaders openly bragging about their dirty tricks and ways they were gaming the system. I was appalled. These people made the Mafia look like choirboys. They were unabashedly ruthless and unprincipled. They still are.

January 20, 2010 – A Letter to President Obama

A year ago today compassionate, thinking people throughout the world were filled with hope for our future. Last night you got a major slap down. You need to go back and reread your inaugural speech. You have been trying to work with your opponents, but that won’t work because all they care about is money and power and don’t give a stinking shit about this country. You have been trying to govern from the middle, which is a smart move in normal times, but won’t work now.

No, you have to take charge. Put aside health reform for now. Come back later with real reform that throttles the insurance and pharmaceutical moguls. Crack down hard on Wall Street. End the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of all, get everybody working again. Our world is changing and you know it. You cannot revive our economy by trying to resuscitate manufacturing and consumerism. That system died a natural death. You need to encourage individual initiative. Get people working to provide much needed services to those who cannot help themselves.

You inherited an unholy mess from the Cheney administration. They created a huge deficit and increased the size of the federal bureaucracy by half again. They destroyed our economy and opened a wide gulf between the very rich and everybody else. They became Osama Bin Laden’s closest allies in his mission to bankrupt our country and build an army of terrorists. Your mission is an impossible one. You won’t solve all the problems, but you need to make a much greater effort to get us moving again.

January 17, 2010 – Haiti

When I heard that Hillary Clinton was going to Haiti, I had visions of the Bush kid flying into New Orleans on Air Force One, standing cluelessly on a pile of rubble, and telling the world’s most incompetent bureaucrat that he did a “heckofajob”. I was relieved to hear that Mrs. Clinton chose instead to fly in on a cargo plane loaded with relief supplies and left with a load of U.S. citizens trying to get home. Her mission was not one of self-congratulations, despite her propensity to start every sentence with “I”, but one meant to assure the Haitian leaders that our government was prepared to help in any way we could, without interfering with their sovereignty.  Heckofajob, Hilly.

I had to turn off the radio yesterday though, after hearing a pompous ass on BBC berating the Haitian ambassador for not planning ahead and building earthquake-proof structures. He didn’t actually use the words stupid and lazy, but the thought was clearly there. I wanted to take him by the throat and scream “What part of abject poverty don’t you understand!” Haiti was once a prosperous country, but has been continually looted by a string of corrupt politicians who built personal fortunes on the backs of their subjects. The Haitians I have known are intelligent, decent, hard-working people. It wasn’t stupidity or sloth that brought the country down, it was the sort of government that we have seen from our own Republican party over the past forty years. If anything good can possibly result from this dreadful tragedy, it might be a warning to watch who we elect to power. We need capable leaders who know the meaning of compassion; the kind of compassion we have seen coming this week from all over the world, the BBC notwithstanding.

January 12, 2010 – Fox News

Fox News—the comedy channel for people with no sense of humor—has been making its own news lately. Its leader, Roger Ailes, caught a warning shot across his bow, then announced he had signed America’s most incoherent politician, Sarah Palin, as a political pundit. This is really getting good!

First, the warning shot: Ailes has been a superstar for his boss, Rupert Murdoch, by building a huge audience and raking in big money for the organization. Murdoch is getting along in years, though, and has been prepping his heirs to take over the shop. His son-in-law, Matthew Freud, publicly criticized Fox for its flagrant lack of fairness and balance. Freud is a very shrewd operator, who does nothing without Rupert’s explicit approval. So when he gives Ailes a slap upside the head, old Roger better start watching his back.

Fox News has built its success by pandering to the fears and ignorance of people who never learned to think critically. It has moved so far to the political right, however, that it has alienated the vast majority of people who can discern the difference between fact and fiction. When a news channel adopts the slogan “fair and balanced,” thinking people click the remote.

Signing on Sarah Palin takes the hypocrisy to new heights. It will be fun to watch this ditsy airhead go up against the intelligence, wit and compassion displayed by the likes of Rachel Maddow, Campbell Brown and Cokie Roberts. I have long championed the idea of giving people like Sarah Palin a greater voice, so as to better expose their mean-spirited and anti-social ideas. I would rather see her making a fool of herself on television than sitting in a position of power where she could do real damage. 

January 4, 2010 – Incompetence

I think it was Will Rogers who said that the Republicans campaign on a platform that says government is incompetent, and then when elected go on to prove it. They seem to have gotten even better at that lately. This is not good for our safety or well-being.

Having suffered under several incompetent managers over the course of a long career, I have noticed several characteristics common to all of them.

  • They do not realize they are incompetent.
  • They do not recognize competence in others.
  • They mistrust creative or highly educated people.
  • They reward loyalty above all else.
  • They drive away competent help.
  • They adopt popular catch phrases and overuse them.
  • They believe their positions convey upon them knowledge and wisdom.
  • They think it is more important to make a quick decision than the best one.
  • They do not know the difference between a good decision and a bad one.
  • Their incompetence can adversely affect an organization long after they are gone.

Our nation is now suffering the effects of incompetent government. While most of the people in the top jobs are now quite capable, the second tier managers—the people who actually get things done—don’t have the depth of knowledge, experience and institutional history necessary to do their work well. Over the last decade, more than eight out of ten of their predecessors either retired, resigned or were fired for lack of allegiance to the Republican party.

The best we can do now is to keep the Republicans from regaining power until our government agencies can rebuild a cadre of competent managers and recover from the damage done by the disastrously incompetent leadership of the 1990s.

December 23, 2009 – At The End of The Day

Aaaargh! It’s a good thing I live alone because nobody can hear my primordial scream every time I hear a politician, general, or other commentator use the term at the end of the day. Anybody who has suffered under an incompetent supervisor knows that one universal characteristic of incompetent people is their use of clichés like this one. When those words come out, the speaker is admitting to be a person who has never had an original idea, who does not think clearly or well, who never learned to think critically, and who is most certainly wrong in whatever viewpoint he or she is stating. The time has come to fire these nincompoops and end the days of this awful collection of words.

December 17, 2009  – Health Care

I ran into an elderly neighbor at the market yesterday. Bob is a retired banker who usually goes to Florida for the winter. He hasn’t left yet, though, because he nearly died of a bleeding ulcer and is on medication that keeps him too off-balance to travel. Bob’s medical problems are not a result of his age or activity, however; they both come from side effects to medications. His problems certainly give him something to talk about, though, and ought to give the rest of us something to think about.

While our legislators dither around the edges of health care reform, refusing to touch the real problems, our nation is sinking into an economic and social morass that separates us from every other developed country in the world. We have the best medical system, but our health care is by far the most expensive, least available, and of worse quality than most other civilized countries. Until we recognize that universal health care is a proper government function, and until we develop the backbone to rein in the insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers, nothing will change.

We have become a nation that celebrates illness. We revel in it, identify with it, and seem to believe that we need expensive drugs, invasive tests, and dangerous procedures in order to live long enough to be a burden to our families. When nine out of ten people over age sixty-five take daily prescription drugs to prevent diseases they do not have or to counter side effects of other drugs, you know we have a system that is severely out of whack.

The time has come to take a whole different approach to health and wellness: treat the root causes. Nearly every illness and accident we experience has a psychological basis. Whether it’s an escape from stress or an unbearable situation, or an overwhelming need for attention, illness is not a normal condition. It’s time for each of us to take charge of our health. Decide to be well. Stop celebrating illness. Take medications only to treat conditions, not to prevent them. Avoid invasive tests and unnecessary medical procedures. Deal with the stress and imbalances in your life that lead to disease. Our nation’s health depends on it.

November 11, 2009 – Veteran’s Day

I am officially a Viet Nam era veteran, although I never left the states during my three-year tour of active duty. I was fortunate to have been accepted into the U.S. Coast Guard and commissioned as a reserve officer after completing Officer Candidate School. The alternative for me was to leave the country, as I would have refused to kill anyone for the sole benefit of our political leaders. Most of my classmates at OCS felt the same way. You might say we were patriotic consciencious objectors. We wanted to save lives, not end them. My Coast Guard experience was a good one, and my anti-war opinions have only grown stronger in the forty years since leaving active duty.

War is obsolete. It has been for some time now. We no longer need to have enemies that must be defeated by killing their soldiers and occupying their territory. Murder by government is no less evil than murder by individuals. Shows of power without understanding prove nothing. As the ability to communicate our thoughts and ideas instantaneously to any location has developed, we can now literally talk with anybody anywhere at any time about any subject.

Terrorism has become the most frightening form of warfare, as we have not figured out how to combat it. Traditional military action not only does not work against terrorism, it tends to encourage and abet its spread. International leaders seem to be at a loss as to how to do anything about terror. As long as they continue to posture as warriors, however, they are destined to fail. Opposing force with force is somewhat akin to responding to a child’s tantrum by screaming and stamping our feet.

Clearly, a new approach to this problem is needed. Evidence is building that the root of the frustration and anger that leads individuals to become involved in terrorist groups and activities is not so much religious extremism, but extreme poverty. Once we begin to understand the motivation behind the behavior and deal with the root causes instead of the symptoms, we may begin to see the problem abate.

We may someday see the complete abandonment of military force worldwide. Our problems are no longer national; they are now global, and so is our ability to solve them. We now know how to identify the root causes of conflicts and deal with them as we move from a culture of fear to one of reason. Force is the only tool that warriors have to control others. The time has come to stop screaming and stamping our feet and to begin thinking clearly and speaking softly.

September 15, 2009 – Hitler’s New Army

What is it about these people who liken President Obama to Hitler? They obviously know nothing about Hitler and how he rose to power. If they did, they would realize that he was freely elected to office by people just like them who were suffering the effects of an economic depression; who were angry, confused, and looking for somebody to blame. Back then it was the Jews; today it’s immigrants.

Hitler was not a socialist; he was a fascist. Socialists believe that government should assure that everyone has enough to eat, adequate shelter, and access to basic health care and education. Fascists want to control everyone’s thinking and behavior. These wingnuts seem to miss these distinctions.

They scream that government control of health care takes away their freedom of choice. They insist that both taxes and deficits are too high. And they blame Obama. Where were these people when the Cheney administration was monitoring their emails and phone conversations? Why didn’t they scream when Bush slashed the taxes of the wealthiest one percent of the population? Where was the march on Washington when our leaders invaded Iraq?

Obama is no threat to our freedoms or our finances, but these misinformed loudmouths undermine the very benefits and protections that we all enjoy. They don’t read, never learned to think critically, and believe the sociopathic babble they hear from the propagandists on talk radio and Fox News.

The good news is that the antics of this group are so childish and outlandish that they pose little risk of convincing a majority of the electorate to follow their path. They are also facing a fundamental shift in thinking that is sweeping the world. As President Obama said in his inaugural speech, they are on the wrong side of history.

August 11, 2009 – Republicans

Whatever happened to the Republican Party? When I was young it was the party of the partricians – educated and refined people – while the Democrats were mostly crude working stiffs. Things began to change, though, about the time that Richard Nixon was elected. That’s when the thugs took over. Party leadership moved from its classic position of thoughtful patriotism to a focus on power for its own sake and taking care of special interests that benefit those who hold the power. Campaigning began to be a full-time effort, continuing between election cycles.

At the same time, the Democrats shot themselves in the foot politically by successfully adopting civil rights legislation. The bigots and the uneducated masses that had been the party’s base left in droves, switching the entire South from blue to red in a single election cycle. The Democratic Party had taken a giant step toward socially advancing the country and paid a dear price for its effort. The Republicans gained a huge new base that could be easily manipulated by the party leaders to advance their priorities favoring the wealthy and powerful.

Under Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party branded itself as the party of new ideas. More recently it became known as the party of no ideas. Since losing its power in the last election, it has just been the party of no. Lately it seems to be the party of doh! Now represented by ditzy airheads like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, sociopathic gasbags like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, and brilliantly evil gnomes likes Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, Republican discourse has degenerated into shouts, threats and mindless violence.

Educated, compassionate and informed voters have abandoned the party. The remaining base consists primarily of frightened, angry and confused people who never developed their intellectual capacities nor learned to think critically. Karl Rove actively recruited Christian fundamentalists because he knew they would believe anything they are told, and support anyone who gives them a voice, even when the party’s actions consistently run counter to their own best interests. Southern voters, who never let go of the principles of apartheid, still hang in there. Residents of the mountain states, including Alaska, seem to have been drawn to those areas because they have trouble getting along with people in more urban regions. They remain Republican because the party has pandered to their obsessions over gun rights and individual freedom. Rove’s strategy of enlisting people who don’t think well has backfired, though, and given license to the truly stupid: the teabaggers, birthers, and town-hallers who are now defining the party.

At this point the Republicans are only about twenty percent of the electorate, but hold forty percent of the representation in Washington. They still have a solid toe-hold on power, but need to rebuild their base to survive. That won’t happen, though, unless and until they give up their notions of winning by any means and move back toward taking an honest interest in the good of the nation and all of its inhabitants.

July 28, 2009 – Sarah Palin & Mitt Romney

I adore Sarah Palin. I hope she runs for President in 2012. Don’t get me wrong. I sit as far to the left politically as she sits to the right. I think she has about as much  intellectual acuity as Paris Hilton and far less political savvy. I can’t stand listening to her strident voice, but am entertained by her incredible ability to mix metaphors, aphorisms and sound bites into unintelligible piles of meaningless speeches. If she runs for the presidential nomination in 2012, though, she will attract the vote of many of the remaining republicans who never vote for anyone smarter than they are. By siphoning off those votes, she will force any serious conservative candidate, such as Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee, to spend far more money and energy on the primary race than they might have without her influence. And the more they talk, the more they expose the hypocrisy and meanness of their form of conservative thinking.

When Mitt Romney was Governor here in Massachusetts, he did two remarkable things that greatly benefitted our state: The first was to institute a universal health insurance system that covers everybody and has become a model for the federal system now under consideration. The second was to spend most of his tenure traveling out of state to build his name recognition for his presidential run. We could use another governor like him. On the down side, however, Romney may be the most robotic and incompassionate person to ever run for high office. The purpose of life for him is all about – and only about – money, fame, and material things. Deep down, he really is shallow, to paraphrase Barry Goldwater’s greatest sound bite. When Romney runs again we might check his birth certificate to be sure he was not created in a Disney automatronics workshop.

July 22, 2009 – A Christian Nation?

Word came from Texas last week that the state board of education seeks to codify the mistaken belief that the United States was founded by Christians and that this is therefore a Christian country. Here is the truth: the earliest English Puritans who invaded this country set up theocratic colonial governments based on policies that were remarkably similar to those of the Taliban in Afghanistan. John Winthrop defined the purpose of the Massachusetts Bay Colony government as being to enforce the laws of God. He decreed that democracy is a corruption of God’s will and that a woman must stay “in the place God had set her”. They exiled, tortured or executed those who held contrary beliefs.

A century and a half later, however, the leaders of the American revolution who drafted the United States Constitution emphasized the need to separate church from state in all matters, except for the protection of religious freedom. These men, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and my own very distant cousin Thomas Paine, all had Christian backgrounds, but defined themselves as Deists. They worshiped a single God, but did not buy into the Christian mythology. The United States is not, and never was, a Christian nation, and it is essential that we not let any religion dominate or infiltrate our government, in order to preserve our freedom to think and worship as we wish.