Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time for Occupy Movement to Move On

Message Received. The Occupy movement accomplished the first step of what it set out to do. We have emphasized the tremendous economic disparity in this country and the undemocratic dominance of our government by big-money special interest groups. We have driven home the message that something needs to be done to address the inequality, inequity, and iniquity of our present social, political, and economic systems. So, what do we do and where do we go next to achieve our goals, whatever they may be?

We Need More Movement in Our Movement. America got that first message. Now people want to know what comes next. Surely it isn't just continued occupations, confrontations, demonstrations, protests, work blockages and civil disobedience, with the occasional violence and abuse of authority that accompanies such proceedings. But that is all they are seeing – both now and on the horizon. They see no change, no progress, no structure, and no plans. The second act so far has been mostly a repeat of the first act, and the audience is leaving in droves.

Our Methods Are Outweighing Our Message. Shutting down the Port of Oakland got a lot of press, but much of it came across as negative. When a veteran at an Oakland demonstration suffered a fractured skull, that was the news, not the message of the group. When anarchists defaced and destroyed both public and private property, that got the headlines, not the message of the movement. When cops flagrantly showered pepper spray on students in Berkeley and on and 84-year-old woman, that is what you saw and heard about on television, not the message of the movement. Marshall Mcluhan, who was born 100 years ago, once said “The medium is the message.” Unfortunately for our cause, the media being used by the Occupy movement to communicate their frustrations are mass protest and civil disobedience.

Where's the Beef Support! Recent polls demonstrate the the movement is losing is populist support. A USAToday/Gallup poll released in October reported that 20% of those polled disapprove of the way the movement is being conducted. In November, that percentage jumped to 31%, an increase of 55%. Approval during the same period dropped from 25% to only 20%, a decrease of 25%. Those are some shocking percentages for a movement that is trying to represent 99% of the population, and it does not bode well for the future of the movement if it does not get its act together.

Organizations Need Structure and Leadership. Any successful organization is needs to have a stated vision and mission, plus goals and objectives, and an organization to support them. This represents a charted course for the organization, something that is noticeably absent in its present state. . It also needs to have various checkpoints and milestones, much like a compass that ensures that the organization is on track toward its destination. And, of course, to carry the analogy a bit farther, there has to be a captain and a crew. Otherwise, the “ship” might as well be rudderless, because nobody will have specific responsibility to monitor the weather, set the sails, or steer the ship, and it will just flounder..

Democratic Decision Making? While the captain and crew could be selected democratically, day-to-day and minute-to-minute decisions have to be made by these people. It is not feasible or desirable to exercise the democratic process in every decision that must be made. You are likely to have decisions made based upon the whims of the group on a given day. Policies and long-term strategic and tactical plans can and probably should be made democratically. However, day-to-day management and decision making needs to be left to a leadership group. And that is another thing that is lacking at this point.

Role of “Leaders.” We need people who can unify, and speak for the interests of, the entire group, and not just for their own personal interests. We don't need people like Dylan Bozlee, of Hilo, Hawaii, who reported that he would rather travel across America than get a job. “Do I want to work?” he said. “Only if I wanted a home, wife, kids and a dog. If not, I think you’re ruining your life,” While everybody has a right to free speech, comments like this are taken up by the opposition as though they represent the Occupy group as a whole. The movement doesn't need comments like that. What is needed are leaders who can speak on behalf of the movement in an articulate and responsible manner. Bozlee, no matter how well-intentioned he may be, has played right into the hands of the movement's opposition.

Protection from Minority Views. Without some form of central leadership, the movement leaves itself wide open to being defined by the personal views, actions, and comments of individuals, rather than the group itself, and its perception devolves to the lowest common denominator. Whether it be the the socialists, the Marxists, the American Communists, the anarchists, or the Dylan Bozlees of the movement, these people are feeding the opposition, not helping the cause, and their effect needs to be diminished.

A spokesperson could also help explain elements of the movement that some people find questionable or objectionable, and could meet with authorities and government officials and possibly even create a spirit of understanding and cooperation, rather than misunderstanding and coercion.

Another View from the Outside. Byron Williams put it quite well in his column in the San Jose Mercury News:

“Without leadership that controls the message in a way most can understand, offering tangible solutions, providing guidance and sustaining morale when frustration consumes emotion, the Occupy movements will be vanquished into the flames of the first phase, leaving a few to brag about the several weeks their efforts to have a leaderless movement dominated the news cycle.

.Personally, I think there should be a national leader or leadership group, with a similar arrangement in each of the major city groups. Smaller groups, at their option, may decide on a form of leadership that best suite their needs and direction.

Why Is Our Congress So Dysfunctional?

A Reading Guide:

Lois Beckett at ProPublica has compiled an excellent list of articles dealing with why our two political parties in Congress are constantly engaged in death grips on one another and just won't let go. Here are some brief excerpts from some if the articles (with some added boldface emphasis from me).

Congress’ approval ratings are abysmal, and the failure of the congressional“super committee to find a compromise on reducing the national debt has set off a new round of recriminations.
… Democrat Max Baucus of Montana, told the Washington Post, “We’re at a time in American history where everybody's afraid — afraid of losing their job — to move toward the center.”
… Congress has actually taken a turn for the worse — more gridlock, more grandstanding, less compromise to get things done.
Old rules are being used in newly aggressive, partisan ways, and routine Congressional activities have become politicized ...
The use of filibusters to block votes in the Senate used to be a last-ditch tactic, but in 2010 Republicans were filibustering even routine Democratic initiatives, effectively paralyzing the Senate .
The confirmation process of many of the president’s nominees  has also lagged, creating gaps in the Treasury and Federal Reserve, leaving regulatory agencies without leaders..
It has also resulted in prolonged judicial vacancies, which has sparked criticism from the Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who said that the delays are impairing the judicial system.
Norman Ornstein’s Foreign Policy article, Worst. Congress. Ever.” provides a helpful overview of what’s the matter with Congress, from a man who’s been a Congressional expert for decades.
Members of Congress are raising money instead of building working relationships in DC
In the Boston Review’s Fixing Congress issue, Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee (recently named the House’s “last moderate” by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera) published a detailed chronology of how fundraising has changed Congress. Cooper notes that campaigns now cost millions of dollars, and that members of Congress are expected to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in party dues, as well as make large donations to other candidates in their party.
George Packer’s New Yorker story on dysfunction in the Senate — perhaps the most vivid and comprehensive take on this issue—also elaborates what kind of impact fund-raising pressure has on senators. “Of any free time you have, I would say fifty per cent, maybe even more,” is spent on fund-raising, one senator told Packer. “It sucks up time that a senator ought to be spending getting to know other senators, working on issues ...” 
William J. Bennett argues: “Don't mistake broken government for the growing pains of a democratic republic.”
Lois Beckett's complete article, along with reference sources, can be found at ProPublica's Reading Guide: Why Is Congress So Dysfunctional?

Coming Up

How Congress Has Occupied Wall Street.
                    Big Problems with Our Two-Party System

Elections :Heart of Democracy or Height of Hypocrisy?

In Presidential Debates, Duopoly Reigns

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How Pursuit of Profits Kills Innovation and the U.S. Economy

Clayton Christenson, a  Harvard Business School professor was one of the speakers at last month's IT Symposium.  In his address, he hit on one of the major problems with our economy and how it affects our tremendous loss of talent, innovation, and jobs.  Here are a few of his comments:
Christensen retells the story of how Dell Computers progressively lopped off low-value segments of its PC operation to the Taiwan-based firm ASUSTek — the motherboard, the assembly of the computer, the management of the supply chain and finally the design of the computer. In each case Dell accepted the proposal because in each case its profitability improved: its costs declined and its revenues stayed the same. At the end of the process, however, Dell was little more than a brand, while ASUSTeK can—and does—now offer a cheaper, better computer to Best Buy at lower cost.

Christensen also describes the impact of foreign outsourcing on many other companies, including the steel companies, the automakers, the oil companies, the pharmaceuticals, and now even software development. These firms are steadily becoming primarily marketing agencies and brands: they are lopping off the expertise that is needed to make anything anymore.  In the process, major segments of the US economy have been lost, in some cases, forever.

Christensen even suggests that in slavishly following such thinking, Wall Street analysts have outsourced their brains.

“They still think they are in charge, but they aren’t. They have outsourced their brains without realizing it. Which is a sad thing.”

In essence, we are not just outsourcing our jobs, but our ingenuity, our innovation, and our expertise, thereby building up those elements in foreign countries to a point where they become our competitors and can beat us because they now have all the expertise, production capability and supply chains for components.

At one point, the US was the leader in electronics manufacturing. Now, very little of this industry is centered here, and we have devolved into being little more than an electronics distributor. Outsourcing has brought profits to American companies, their executives, and their stockholders, but at the expense of our country's workers and its economy.

If we are to provide more jobs for American workers, we will have to address this aspect of free enterprise and highly regulate it -- for the survival of our country.

(If you are interested in reading the full article, written by Steve Denning, it can be found at Forbes, but the essence of Christensen's address that I wanted to emphasize is pretty much contained above.) 

Coming Up:
                    An Open Letter to the One Percenters

Duopoly and Wealth: The Ties that Bind
   Political Duopoly: Working Partner of the Plutocracy

Plutocracy to Plutonomy: From Bad to Worse!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Time for an OWS Reality Check

The following items have deeply disturbed me and have haunted me for the past couple of days. I would like to address them here. For the first item, I will cite the first three paragraphs of an article from Public Policy Polling, (with some added emphasis of my own) and then offer my comments.

Occupy Wall Street Favor Fading 

“The Occupy Wall Street movement is not wearing well with voters across the country. Only 33% now say that they are supportive of its goals, compared to 45% who say they oppose them. That represents an 12 point shift in the wrong direction for the movement's support compared to a month ago when 35% of voters said they supported it and 36% were opposed. Most notably independents have gone from supporting Occupy Wall Street's goals 39/34, to opposing them 34/42.

Voters don't care for the Tea Party either, with 42% saying they support its goals, as compared to 45% who oppose them.  But asked whether they have a higher opinion of the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street movement the Tea Party wins out 43-37, representing a flip from last month when Occupy Wall Street won out 40-37 on that question. With independents, the difference is even greater, withe a prior 43-34 split favoring the Occupy movement to a 44-40 split favoring the Tea Party.

I don't think the bad poll numbers for Occupy Wall Street reflect Americans being unconcerned with wealth inequality.  Polling we did in some key swing states earlier this year found overwhelming support for raising taxes on people who make over $150,000 a year. In late September we found that 73% of voters supported the 'Buffett rule' with only 16% opposed.  And in October we found that Senators resistant to raising taxes on those who make more than a million dollars a year could pay a price at the polls. I don't think any of that has changed- what the downturn in Occupy Wall Street's image suggests is that voters are seeing the movement as more about the 'Occupy' than the 'Wall Street.'  The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.”

If you were to use Google to search on the words “OWS,” “hurts,” “the,” “99,” and “percent,” you would get 264 million. hits That number amounts to almost 85% of our 313 million population. Does it prove anything? From an absolute standpoint, the answer is “no.” Can it be indicative of a public relations problem? For that question, the answer is definitely “yes.”

I acknowledge that many of the messages don't really deal with OWS hurting the 99 percent, but just happen to contain all of those those words somewhere in their text. But an enormous number of them do pertain to the fact that the movement is having a great negative impact on the 99%, and probably many, many times more than they are having on the 1%.

And I also recognize that many of the hits are the same or essentially the same message, just repeated on different sites, but they are still added exposure to the public that does nothing to help the movement's cause, and does a great deal to damage it.


It is time for the movement to address this question: “Are our methods obscuring our message?” Or, even worse: “Are our methods sabotaging our message?”And they also need to ask themselves if further demonstrations will actually help their cause or hurt it.

One thing in the PPP poll that I think is particularly thought-provoking is the comment “...what the downturn in Occupy Wall Street's image suggests is that voters are seeing the movement as more about 'Occupy' and less about 'Wall Street."  The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.

With regard to all the press saying that our demonstrations are hurting the the 99%, I also unfortunately have to agree. I constantly ask myself how a very small percentage of the 99% can preach democracy for all, and then perform very undemocratic acts that interfere with the livelihoods of others in the 99% who did not give their consent. For a few, it may be a sacrifice that they are willing to make. However, for the majority, it is another hardship heaped on all the other hardships they face in our country today.

There is an old saying the “Any publicity is good publicity.” However, most of the media coverage deals with the sensational side of the news and not what is behind that news. They show pictures of huge mobs of people occupying the streets, blocking traffic and restricting access to businesses and work sites, thereby fomenting political and social unrest. Fighting between the police ans some demonstrators makes a big splash, regardless of who was right or wrong – which is frequently as much a matter of personal opinion than established fact. In this case, most of the news generated by the protests comes across as bad for the movement. While the movement seems to be gaining in numbers of demonstrators, we may be losing the battle for the rest of the 99%, whose numbers are far greater than the demonstrators and, without whom we cannot succeed in our goals..

When all is said and done, I have to question whether the end justifies the means if it is going to alienate the very people whose interests the Occupy movement claims to represent. I believe that it is time for a reality check, and probably even a change in tactics, if they are going to survive their opposition and achieve their goals.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Direction for the Occupy Movement

The Occupy Movement at the Crossroads. We have completed our first mission and delivered our message. We are the 99%, and we want to get corruption out of a government that has fed Wall Street, the corporate mega-corporations and the super-wealthy at the expense of its middle and lower economic classes.. The American people have heard us and have responded resoundingly. Even the top 1% have heard us and are virtually begging Congress to increase their contributions to help alleviate the financial problems that beset our country. As one of them said, if Congress ended the Bush-era tax cuts it would affect him and his fellow millionaires"about as much as a dead fly interrupts a picnic."

What Have We Accomplished? The mission of the occupation movement was get the attention of the American people; to open their eyes, ears, and minds to what has been going on around them for decades; to get to them our message of corruption and the need for reform; to comfort them in knowing that they are not alone; and to let them know that together we have the power to effect changes that will make a difference in their lives and in the lives of all who come after them. We have done all of this. We have brought our case to the court of public opinion. We are the plaintiffs; our government is the defendant; the American people are our jury; and history will be our judge. Now we need to decide how to plead our case in such a manner as to bring about a favorable verdict. for our country and its people. This mission has been accomplished.

Mixed Effects of Our Efforts. The message of the 99% has been heard. Many, if not most of the American people, have felt our anger and our angst. Many thousands have rallied to our cries – with both personal and financial support. A small handful of protesters has grown into a mass of more than 100,000. Nowhere in the past four decades has the power and strength of democracy been better demonstrated and felt. However, the message many of our fellow citizens have heard is not the true message we would have liked them to receive. In many cases, they have understood it in only the broadest sense. In other cases, they have misunderstood the message altogether or have been led to misunderstand it by elements bent on subverting our efforts. They feel that we are attacking Wall Street, our government, and the 1%, instead of the inequality, inequity, and iniquity that they represent. Beyond that, our messages have gone in 100 different directions, lacking any clear or coherent focus, thus creating the impression among many that we are not united in what we seek. And I am sure that this also keeps major portions of the 99% from fully backing our goals.

In addition, our occupations have had a negative effect on some of the very 99% we choose to represent, creating in some areas a backlash against our cause. Our tactics have been hurting small businesses and ordinary citizens for more that they are the big corporations or the wealthy top 1%. If we did $100 million in damage to the income of a major business, they would hardly feel it among their billions of dollars of profit. But, if we wreaked only $1 million in damages to a local community, thousands of our fellow citizens would feel it. That is not good. If one does a Google search on Occupy hurts the 99 percent, you will get almost 25 million hits.

Do We Continue the Occupations? The answer to this is a resounding NO! They have served their purpose. We have the attention of our jury. There is no need to hammer our message over and over to them. That will serve no useful purpose and it can, in fact, have the opposite effect of what we strive to accomplish. Our occupation of parks and corporate entities is getting old and starting to wear thin with a lot of Americans. Fighting to continue our occupation diverts from our primary cause to reform our government and reclaim our democracy. If we continue to occupy public spaces and blockade corporate interests we will rapidly become “yesterday's news,” if we haven't already For many, we have already worn out our welcome. See Occupy Wall Street Favor Fading and Voters moving against Occupy movement.

There Is Also the Matter of Image. The image many Americans have of the occupiers is that of a bunch of well-intentioned, rag-tag young people who lack a specific goal and have no direction. The parks are crowded and messy, which projects a negative image for our movement. Dissenters have described them as being unsafe and unsanitary, claiming that people there are urinating and defecating in public, dealing and using drugs, and and engaging in other undesirable activities. This is not the kind of image that we want to project We want to be people that the American public can identify with and feel comfortable with. We want to turn them on with our cause, not turn them off because of negative perceptions.

Additional Benefits. By moving on from the occupation phase, we can sleep comfortably in our own comfortable beds each night, awaken refreshed from a good night's sleep, shower or bathe in the comfort of our own facilities, wear clean clothes every day, and be more rested for the next day's activities, without fear of being confronted in the middle of the night by hundreds of peace officers.

Time for the Next Step. We have awakened the sleeping eagle of democracy; and now we need to determine the direction in which it needs to soar. We need now to mobilize, organize and galvanize those who are in agreement with our cause and get them into our fold. They can be active or inactive, they can be vocal or silent; they can march or stand on the sidelines. But we still want them to support us in spirit and in word, and to register their support so that we can add them to our swelling numbers.

Time for Change – Mobilize America The time is right for us to move beyond the Occupy Wall Street phase to something ore like a Mobilize America phase. We may want a new name to indicate that we are shedding the old image for a new one – one of evolving change. We want to show the country and the world that we are maturing into a truly national movement, rather than a bunch of autonomous regional groups, and that we stand united for progressive change on behalf of our country – a movement in which all Americans can share and become a part of history in the making. I can see this being followed later by something like a Restore Democracy phase. However, we can cross that bridge when we come to it (and hope that it is not one of the hundreds that have a severely damaged infrastructure).

Next Step – Organize. Instead of having a couple hundred separate and independent entities doing their own thing their own way, it is time for us to find the strength that comes with unity – not just in purpose but also in practice and in tactics. This comes from the 3 C's – communication, coordination, and cooperation.

Communication. We need to be able to speak with one voice. Each of us has certain issues that we feel need to be addressed. However, when public representatives or members of the press want to interact with any of the group, they have no official source or spokesperson to contact. Consequently, they are likely to pick people at random and get their individual stories, problems, and needs. In so doing, our groups are getting painted with the feedback of individuals who may not be representative of the organization as a whole or who do not project the best image for the group. Yet, this is the face the public sees,and they judge us by that feedback.

Even within a democracy, we need to have some structure, and this is one area in particular that needs to be addressed by each individual group and by the entity as a whole. Whether it is a public information or a public relations function, or something else, there needs to be a communications component for each group who can speak on behalf of the general assembly. This could be one person or a small group of people who are properly informed and articulate communicators, who can accurately represent each respective group and, eventually perhaps, someone or some function to represent the movement as a whole.

Coordination. Just as we need to have someone to represent the views of each general assembly, we also need to have somebody to coordinate with other assemblies to share ideas, plans, problems, and progress. The mayors of 18 cities have done that, so why shouldn't we? In doing so, we can become a more effective and more unified movement, doing things in common as we work toward our common goal..

Cooperation. Here, we need to address not just the cooperation between general assemblies in different cities. We need to be able to meet with representative of our communities to open dialogues with them. We need to know where they stand and why they feel the way they do. We need to be sensitive to their needs and how our actions impinge on their rights as Americans. We cannot just presume to know what is right for all people without getting input from those affected. We need Allies, not enemies.

This could be a representative group of members who can meet on behalf of the movement with city authorities, civic groups, and small businesses-- most of which fit under our umbrella of being part of the 99%. We can enjoy mutual cooperation in our efforts and move on to greater successes than might otherwise be achieved. If all sides openly listen to the others and if everybody speaks with a voice of reason, we should be able to resolve any differences peacefully and amicably, and come to some agreements that will benefit everybody. . Without meaningful communication, mutual understanding and cooperation, each side is likely to consider the other as a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution we all seek.

We can still have our meetings, our rallies, and our demonstrations. But we can no longer get away with appearing to be an angry mob, hurting local businesses and disrupting their patrons. They, too are part of the 99%, and most of them are well down the chain of command from their 1% overlords whom they probably have never even met. We need to gain broad community support and not lose any of it by making their lives more difficult .

We Need to Improve Our Image. When we demonstrate, we should project the appearance of the kinds of people that typical Americans can identify with, and not project ourselves as a rag-tag group of disorganized and unkempt ruffians. We should definitely not give our dissenters any reason to describe us as a mob of hippies.

Check Out the Vets. We can learn a lot by looking at the demonstration of the veterans. They were well-dressed, well-groomed, well organized, and they marched in a formation. Of course,they are military, and they have been trained to do that. But we don't have to do just the opposite.

Suggestions for Marches. It is time for us to change from loose demonstrations to organized marches. Marches are better received and don't look like or sound like something that can easily break into a riot at the slightest provocation. We can break into multiple groups, perhaps ten across and fifteen deep, marching and staying pretty much in step. The first group could have a color guard with a US flag as the centerpiece, flanked by the state flag of the state in which the demonstration is taking place, with another flag on the other side, representing the city or the name of our cause. The first row of each section of marchers could carry respectable-looking signs espousing a particular cause for that marching section. We could also invite police officers to march along side of us as escorts, to ensure that nothing got out of hand. They could also be right on the spot to summon other officers if someone decides to damage or vandalize any property. Wouldn't that be a nice thing to see police officers marching side-by-side with the demonstrators, protecting their free speech rights on one hand and the property rights of the businesses on the other hand?

Related Topics:

The Occupy
Movement Time for an OWS Reality Check

Time for Occupy Movement to Move On

NY Tax Plan: Occupy Wall Street Victory?

Is the Occupy Movement Running Amok?

"Occupy Oakland" No Longer Exists!

An Oakland Demonstrator's Open Letter
Occupy Movement: Rooted in Anarchy?

Monday, November 14, 2011

In Presidential Debates, the Duopoly Reigns Supreme

This blog entry is based upon information which can be found at Reclaim Democracy,, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

When the League of Voters justifiably withdrew in disgust their sponsorship of the presidential debates, the political duopoly (Republicans and Democrats) were only too happy to step in and fill the void. This provide them with the ability to maneuver and manipulate the debates to their collective best interests. Of course, in doing so, they were undermining the principles of democracy by exerting undue influence on the electoral process.

The Commission on Presidential Debates was a join creation of the duopoly intended to serve only the duopoly, and to freeze out any independent or third-party candidates who might pose a problem for them. This is somewhat analogous to having Pepsico and Coca-Cola dictating to the American public that they would have only two brands of soft drinks available to them: Coke And Pepsi – no 7-Up, no Dr. Pepper, no root beer, no other soft drinks whatsoever. .If you wanted to drink anything else, you would have to purchase it on the black market. I am sure the American public wouldn't stand for such behavior. However, they tolerate it, and probably aren't even aware that it exists, in the political arena.

The presidential debates are probably the single most powerful election tool for achieving our country's highest office. However, when it comes to the presidency, we might as well hang out a sign saying “Independent and Third Party Candidates Need Not Apply!” And we are deprived of their voices, their concepts and their proposals. Some of the best legislation in our country has come from independent and third-party sources.
Here are some comments from a multitude of disparate sources”

From the Media

"The debates are part of the unconscionable fraud that our political campaigns have become, a format that defies meaningful discourse. They should be charged with sabotaging the electoral process." – Walter Cronkite

"By deciding yesterday to exclude Ross Perot from this year's debates, the commission proved itself to be a tool of the two dominant parties rather than guardian of the public interest. This commission has no legal standing to monopolize debates, and it is time for some more fair-minded group to get into the business of sponsoring these important events." – New York Times editorial, 1996
"In dictatorships, it's common for political insiders to hinder or even silence non-establishment challengers. To do that in America , which supposedly champions open elections, is outrageous and intolerable. But that is just what the Commission on Presidential Debates has done. – Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel editorial

"The Commission on Presidential Debates is a corrupt stranglehold on our democracy." – Phil Donahue

From Republicans

"I'm for more open debates. I think the very concept of an elite commission deciding for the American people who deserves to be heard is profoundly wrong." – Newt Gingrich

"I want to see my party achieve victory based on what we have to offer this country and our ability to offer it with integrity. I don't want to see us achieve victory based on the fact that we are better at rigging the game than other people." – Alan Keyes

But if broadening participation in the debates increases public participation in our political process, that can only be good for America ." – Oliver North

" We really ought to stop trying to manipulate history before it's happened." – Clarence Page of The Chicago Tribune

"The debate commission is a corrupt duopoly." – Steve Forbes

From Democrats

"Where did these people come from to be final arbiters of free speech?" – John Culver, a former US senator and CPD director.

"It's fundamentally undemocratic. It's awfully close to corruption..If this group can arbitrarily rule that a billionaire who gets 20 million votes and qualifies for $30 million in election funds can't participate then God help the rest of us." – Jesse Jackson, after Ross Perot was excluded from the presidential debates in 1996

From Other Sources

  • "The Commission on Presidential Debates must be replaced if we want to have a democracy in this country." – John B. Anderson, former Republican Congressman and independent presidential candidate
Additional sources of information on the subject: Here, for the interested, are some additional sources of information on the Commission on Presidential Debates and its handling of them.
Coming Up:
                     Presidential Debates: Fraud or Farce?

Problems For Third-Party Candidates

Congress Ignores the Will of the People

We Must Drive Big Money Out of Politics!

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    The Quickest Way to Solve Our Problems?

    Sorry to disappoint you, but there is no such thing. There are no quick fixes for problems as huge and as complex as the ones facing us today. What has grown over a period of 200+ years, and has been especially exacerbated during the past 30 years, cannot be solved in just a few years.
    Treat the Problem, Not the Symptoms. You can't get rid of weeds simply by cutting off their leaves or branches, or even their stalks. You have to attack them at their roots. And that is what we have to do here. We cannot afford to accept just piecemeal solutions. We need to get to the root of the problems, starting with Congress. Corporations are not on this list at this point, because, if we can reform Congress, then we should be able to get them to take care of reforming the corporations. We need a Congress that is once again responsive to the will and needs of the American people as our Constitution intended.
    Members of Congress Need to Be Our First Priority. Why? Because they are the root of so many of our major problems. They pass laws that affect major parts of the Administrative branch, corporate America, the fifty states, and the citizens they are elected to represent. In addition, they control the taxes; authorize appropriations, pass budgets; approve appointments to judicial and administrative positions; approve treaties; declare war (supposedly), and have the responsibility for impeachment of federal officers including the president and vice-president, along with many other responsibilities. They are the source of tremendous power. When it works well, things bode well for the country. But, when the members fail at their job, they are a tremendous disappointment, and the country suffers. That is the situation we now must face.
    Nobody Likes Congress but Congress. If you are a member of Congress, it appears that the only friends you might have outside of your family are your fellow party members in Congress and a small smattering of your constituents. Here is how the picture is painted, based upon many polls that have been taken.
    • The New York Times/CBS poll in October, 2011, reported that Congress had an approval rating of just 9% and a disapproval rating of a whopping 84%.
    • Gallup poll results released on December 9, 2011 indicate that:76% of registered voters say that most members of Congress do not deserve to be re-elected, and only 20% felt they should be re-elected. (These are record high and low numbers for this question in polls over the past 19 years.)
    • The Rasmussen poll released this month reported that "a solid plurality continue to believe that most Members of Congress are guilty of corruption."
    • Another Rasmussen poll in 2009 reported that 74% of Americans trust their own judgment more than Congress' when it comes to the economy.
    • That same poll revealed that only13% trust the average Congress member's. judgment more than their own, and 12% are not sure who knows best.
    • That Rasmussen poll also found that 57% would vote to replace the entire Congress and start all over again.
    • A 2010 Rasmussen poll revealed that 41% said that people selected randomly from a phone book would be better than Congress. 
    Holy Failure, Batman!  These perceptions constitute a very strong indictment of Congress. It is dysfunctional to the point of being an international embarrassment. Yet, our federal legislators don't really seem to care about how they are perceived by the electorate or the world.. They continue to go about their business of blocking major legislation, threatening to bring down the country's economy and shutting down the government, while they play chicken games with the other party and pass such critical legislation as declaring pizza to be a vegetable.
    Who Are These People? These are the chosen few from our entire population who have been elected to represent the interests of the American people, and they promise great things for the country when they are campaigning. However …
    • Once in office, their first loyalty is to themselves and ensuring that they get reelected.
    • Next is their allegiance is to their political parties in trying to ensure that enough of their members get elected to facilitate pushing their political agendas through their legislation.
    • Third are their financial backers – the corporations and the super-rich who contribute heavily to their campaigns, and who run ads supporting their anointed candidate while excoriating his or her opponent.
    • Fourth come the people who voted for them.
    • And dead last come the rest of the people in the country whose best interests they are also supposed to represent.
    Don't They Listen to the People?  No. Most members of Congress ignore most letters, e-mails, tweets, Facebook postings and phone calls. At best, they will have a staff member pore through them and pull out any that might be of particular interest or value to the representative They only care about people who happen to support their positions or carry promises of substantial campaign support. Politicians also don't pay attention to polls, which are valid expressions of the public will. They are likely to tell you that “polls don't vote; people do.” So, they ignore the polls, which are valid expressions of the public will, just as they do the people themselves. In so doing, they are ignoring the democratic principles upon which this country was founded. 
    Can't Congress Fix This Situation? Congress could fix it, but it lacks any desire or incentive to do so. After all, they are the ones responsible for creating it in the first place by taking money from special interests and paying them back in the form of legislation that is favorable to them. Expecting them to fix it of their own volition would be like asking drug addicts to cure themselves.They will have to be threatened with the only thing that can grab their attention and hold it -- the threat of losing their political positions. 
    But We Still Have Power. The average citizen has very little influence over introducing or passing any particular legislation. Unfortunately, that kind of power comes mostly with money. But we want to change that, and we can, because our power comes from the people and their right to vote, and those trump all the corrupt money in politics today. They may have hundreds of companies and rich people sending them money, but the people have millions of voters that count for far more power at the place that matters most – the ballot box. . This is the only place where we have an equal footing with the power brokers. This is where we can send a real and powerful message that can scare some sense into our legislators. Here's the strategy.
    Get to the Source. The only way to eliminate the problems with our government is to eliminate the sources of the problem -- the representatives, the money, the financial plutocracy, and the political duopoly. And it can all be done at the ballot box.  If we can change the representatives, we will be well on our way to restoring democracy.
    Consider the Meaning and Value of Your Vote. Remember, whenever you place an X next to a candidate's name,you are saying that you are FOR that candidate.  You are supporting his or her candidacy.  If you are voting for an incumbent, you are supporting a continuation of the same corrupt politics in Washington that is the source of our problem..
    Even in you don't vote for an incumbent, but vote instead for another member of the same party, you are still voting for a continuation of business as usual, because that party member will soon become just another cog in the party machinery who will do the bidding of his (or her) party and financial backers.  And we just perpetuate the problem.
    Here Is My Proposal. Very simply, cast your votes as protest votes. Here's how to really get the attention of Washington and its party politicians.
    In the primary elections, don't vote to re-elect any incumbents, unless those candidates are truly committed to and have pledged to eliminate (not just regulate) money in politics and to be responsive to the American people above all other interests -- corporate, political, or personal..This may be difficult for some voters to do because more than 90% of the voting populations vote for incumbents without regard to their legislative record. We need to overcome this pro-incumbent bias if we truly want to fix Washington  and restore democracy.
    What about our own representatives? This is another hurdle we will have to leap. Although 76% of the people feel that most members of Congress don't deserve to be re-elected, still 53% feel that their own representatives do deserve to be re-elected. This is another bias we need to overcome for the good of our country. More than half of the voters in this country refuse to believe that their own representatives deserve to be re-elected. Yet virtually every one of them is part of the problem just as much as the others. If we vote for our own representatives, we are also part of the problem, because we are allowing the dysfunction in Washington to continue.  If we were to “gore everybody's ox but their own,” we would effect no change whatsoever, and just perpetuate the fiasco we now have.  It is crucially important to make a strong statement through our vote to the politicians and the country as a whole.
    In the general election, vote for “the lesser of two evils.” I have always held that, if you vote for the lesser of two evils, you are still voting for evil. However, the general election is the decisive one, and it may not always be best to vote against incumbents or members of the two major parties. I regret that, in some cases, we might have to bite our tongues and grit our teeth and vote for the “lesser evil.”
    Voting for someone who is, say, 40% “bad” for our country is still better than voting for somebody who is 60% “bad.” We might not want to vote for a third party or independent candidate here, unless he or she has a legitimate chance of winning the election, but the two major parties have seen to it that third party candidates are so marginalized that they have virtually no chance of being elected to any major offices. Rather than casting a “spoiler” vote in this case, and possibly allow the worse of the two major party candidates to succeed, I would have to side with the “lesser of the two evils.”  Here is a chart outlining the various options and my recommendations on how to vote in each case.

    Primary Election Candidate Type Political Party Voting Recommendations*

    #1 Incumbent Republican Vote for either the Independent candidate or the Third Party candidate, or write in a candidate of your choice, but do not vote for either the Republican or the Democratic candidate.

    Challenger Democrat

    Challenger Independent or 3rd Party

    #2 Incumbent Democrat Vote for either the Independent or Third Party candidate, or write in a candidate of your choice, but do not vote for either the Republican or Democratic candidate.

    Challenger Republican

    Challenger Independent or 3rd Party

    #3 Incumbent Republican Either write in a candidate of your choice or don't vote for this position at all.

    Challenger Democrat

    #4 Incumbent Democrat Either write in a candidate of your choice or don't vote for this position at all.

    Challenger Republican

    General Election Candidate Type Political Party Voting Recommendations*

    #1 Incumbent Republican Vote for a challenger (preferably an Independent or Third Party candidate and not the incumbent). However, if this presents a conflict for you, vote your conscience.

    Challenger Democrat

    Challenger Independent or 3rd Party

    #2 Incumbent Democrat Vote for a challenger (preferably an Independent or Third Party candidate) and not the incumbent. However, if this presents a conflict for you, vote your conscience.

    Challenger Republican

    Challenger Independent or 3rd Party

    #3 Incumbent Republican If only major party candidates are offered  don't vote for either candidate. However, if this presents a conflict for you, vote your conscience.

    Challenger Democrat

    #4 Incumbent DemocratIf only major party candidates are offered  don't vote for either candidate. However, if this presents a conflict for you, vote your conscience.

    Challenger Republican

    *These recommendations are based upon the belief that Congress (a political duopoly) is bought off by big-money and special interest groups (the plutocracy), that their legislation tends to favor these interests, that they no longer serve the American people as the Constitution provides, and that 76% of Americans believe that they need to be replaced. This is essential for the good of our country and the survival of democracy.
    Be Patient. Our problems weren't all created in one year. They grew over the past 30 years, and they cannot be solved in one year. We can't cure all of our ills in one election but it is a start, and when those still in office see all the protest votes going to independents and third-party candidates in the primaries, it should certainly serve notice to them that they had better shape up and change things or we may be coming for them in the next election.
    Will Your Vote be Wasted? Absolutely not! By voting in this manner, you are voting for a new and better America and to return democracy to the American people! To what more patriotic use could your vote be put? The only wasted votes are for those cast for candidates who will continue the ways of the past 30 years and lead our country down the path to ruination.
    A SPECIAL MESSAGE TO NON-VOTERS . There are many reasons why people don't vote, and I won't even attempt to enumerate them. However, I want to stress the importance of voting in the upcoming elections – especially the primaries. Regular voters may be justifiably reluctant to vote against incumbents or for independents or third-party candidates. They don't want to feel that they are being “spoilers” or that they are wasting their votes. That's where non-voters can make their voices heard in a manner that can really deliver a message to our country's “leaders.” A full 22% (48 million) of eligible Americans are not registered. Another 23% (50.2 million) are registered, but vote rarely. And still another 20% (43.7 million) are registered but vote intermittently. That leaves the bulk of the decision-making up to only 35% (76.4 million) of the population. In the 2010 general elections, only 41.6% (90.8 million) of the eligible voters actually cast ballots. This means that the will of 58.4% (127.5 million) of the eligible population (218.3 million) was not represented in the outcome of the elections.
    NON-VOTERS: Have Your Voice Heard Like It Has Never Been Heard Before.  If you are a non-voter, or even a rare or intermittent voter, this is the time for you to vote, make your vote count, and have your voice heard. We need to send a strong message to elected officials that we are fed up with doing business as usual, with a Congress that puts the best interest of its party and financial backers above those of the people. The more protest votes we can get, the stronger will be our message. The stronger our message is, the more likely they are to respond to our discontent, because we can and will threaten their political careers unless they make some major changes.
    A Final Note. Most of the same problems we have at the national level are also rampant throughout most of our states as well. If that is the case in your state, I strongly encourage you to use these same tactics in your state elections for governor or state legislature. They are the breeding ground for future national politicians, and we might as well get them on our side now, before they ever come into power on a national level :