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Guest Writer Ron Williams again… Attorney, Businessman and Citizen

It is clear to even the most casual observer that the sole political agenda of the Republican Party is to prevent the reelection of Pres. Barack Obama. It is equally clear that it is the absolute, single-minded focus of the Far Right of the Republican Party to prevent the reelection of a Black Man, any black, as President of the United States.

Thus, for nearly two years, as the President negotiated health-care with the Republican Party, those negotiations were futile, because no matter what would have been offered by this President the answer from this Republican Party would have been “no”. It is clear that no matter what initiative this President put forward, the Republican Party answer would always have been “no.”

And today, we see the Republican Party, and in particular the Far Right portion of that party, deciding to attach items on their political agenda to the debt ceiling bill as a means to further weaken the president and as a means to move their political agenda forward. As a political strategy, the move is almost brilliant. They were able to attack Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (three programs that the Republican Party has been attempting to repeal sent each of them were first adopted) while at the same time further demonstrating the weakness of this President.

The mistake President Obama continues to make is to attempt to negotiate substantive programs with a group of people whose agenda is not to negotiate on those programs, but to attack the man himself. They will never negotiate to yes until they have used the so-called negotiations to attack the President (demonstrating his weakness) and until they have also gotten what concessions they otherwise wanted.

I predicted when this whole debt limit “crisis” began that the Republican Party would string this out until the end of July, after they had extracted significant concessions from the President and the Democratic Party, that is they had gotten as much as they could based on the time limit left. I am being somewhat facetious when I suggest that if these negotiations continued much longer, President Obama would eventually have negotiated away the entire Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.

It is telling that the Republican Party started these negotiations stating that there could be no revenue increasing tax changes that would affect the wealthy. And that exactly where they ended. How can you have negotiations when one side gives up nothing in the other side makes all the concessions? That because their whole purpose of the Republican Party was to use the debt ceiling issue as a means of moving their political agenda forward with demonstrating their basic weakness of President Obama. And the Democratic Party and this President let them.

What Barack Obama should have said to the first overture from the Far Right that they would not agree to raise the debt ceiling unless there were major cuts to the various social programs, was “no.” He should have simply stated that he would veto any legislation that came across his desk that did anything other than simply raise the debt ceiling. And then stopped negotiating. Whenever they said “well let’s talk about this,” his response should have been “there is nothing to talk about.”

The President should have said, “I’ve told you my position. Congress, you do what you feel you need to do. If you want to pass legislation that has provisions other than raising the national debt attached to it, do so. I will veto it. And if you choose to then put the full faith and credit of the United States government at risk because you want to attach non-relevant politically motivated subject matter on what should be otherwise routine legislation, do so, but I will not be a party to this game-playing”.

If he had said that from day one, and then stuck to his guns,, this so-called crisis would’ve gone way. Then should he want to discuss modification of Medicare, Medicaid and/or Social Security that could have been done in conversation along with tax code changes.

The president has got to learn to stand up. If he doesn’t he will be a one term president. As it is, he is losing his base and maybe a one term president in any event. It may already be too late.

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With all the hyped and real charisma that can be mustered concerning a NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement, two of my favorites were inducted last week.   Yes, some of the presentations were better than others but it may be that way based on which player was your favorite person to follow or scorn.   You saw it all on TV.  You were treated to the stories, the emotions, the commitments and sometimes the confessions that came forth.  Almost to a person, each claimed that they were who was now standing in front of that elite group, family, friends and invited quests due to the hardships they experienced and overcame along the way.

Here are some of the statements from Deion Sanders:

“I made a pledge to myself.  I don’t care what it takes.  I’m not going to do anything illegal.  But my mama is never going to have to work another day of her life someday.”

“When you told me what I couldn’t do; when you told me what I didn’t do; when you told me what I’d never be, I saw …”

There were equally compelling statements by Shannon Sharp and sometimes even poetic descriptions of living in poverty in a leaking cinderblock house in Glennville, Georgia, where his existence was hard, unforgiving and marginalized:

“I didn’t want my kids to live one hour in the life that I had, let alone a day.  … [I] got them to a life they never would’ve enjoyed had it not been for that” [the costs to his family…]

No, there was going to be no country cooked raccoon, opossum, squirrel and turtle. He committed then and there that…

“I’m not gonna have to eat that when I become an adult.”

And he didn’t.  He committed at an early age that his family would never have a reason to endure that level of despair and poverty.  And they didn’t ever have to.  Both these heroes of mine made millions and provided for mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, brothers and friends in ways that made certain those individuals would not have to do what he did… to experience the elevated status that both were now experiencing.

But the power of consequences of those commitments was lost on their self-congratulation and entitlement.  I was hoping they heard their own voices but the lights were bright and those sitting there on folding chairs may not have sensed their missed opportunity, not of experiencing poverty but of commitment and dedication.

Each person in the audience that was provided for by these athletes would never know the thrill of victory or the despair from a loss.  No one wants to have that poverty and no one wants their children or family to struggle against all odds.
They hadn’t been ‘robbed’ by being provided for but in most ways their chance at learning and achieving great success was ‘short-circuited’.    There they were, Deion and Shannon, the pillars of self-reliance and perseverance having learned, struggled, and found success now entitling others to watch rather than start doing early and do what they did to succeed. Not necessarily football but anything…

Experiencing the consequences of commitment, focus and dedication is what the Hall of Fame members in all sports share.  Deion got the closest to describing the formula for his success by providing the components for “Prime.”  But, the $1500 plane ride to hear someone talk about how they prevailed is transitory and is known to induce a stupor similar to that of being stoned.

It was how Deion and Shannon handled the consequences of their struggles, their focus and their perseverance that got them there and nothing else.  It is what they did…  It would have been nice to know both understood that and to hear them say it loud so the fans that idolize them could hear it clearly that nothing is free and everything each of us values comes with a price.     Maybe next year.

http://theurbandaily.com/sports-news/theurbandailystaff1/deion-sanders-nfl-hall-of-fame-speech-video/

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from Ron Williams…

In the October 29, 2010, edition of the Wall Street Journal (The Potential Pitfalls of the Winning Big) reporter Gerald F. Seib wrote, “In an interview with National Journal out this week, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was asked what his party’s main political job will be after next week’s election. He gave a surprisingly stark answer: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

At a time when the country is fighting a major war, facing a severe economic recession that rivals the Great Depression, and having the largest federal deficits in the country’s history, it is telling to see that the focus of the Republican Party is not to address any of the great problems facing this country.  Rather, their focus is on politics as usual.

And the fact that the American public is about to give them the same Party and laid the groundwork for most of these problems seems to me say that we are a country of amnesiacs.  When President Bill Clinton left office we had budget surpluses, we were not at war with anyone, and the economy had not collapsed.

Then we had eight years of Republican governance.

The Republicans had control of the Executive Branch and both houses of Congress.  What did that get us?  The answer is two foreign wars, the budget deficits, and the beginnings of the great recession.  All were precipitated on the policies of the Bush administration and a Republican Congress.  The Republican governance approach was underfunded budget cuts for the very wealthy and deregulation of just about every industry. Now, it seems that both they, and apparently a significant portion of the American populace, have forgotten what a disaster Republican governance games this country and are prepared to allow the return of those same disastrous policies.

I fear for this country. Example, the governor of New Jersey has just canceled the Tunnel Project, and has ended a project needed for the future transportation needs of the Northeast region.  During the Great Depression it was just the sort of New Deal Projects that helped jumpstart this country out of the Great Depression.  Republican politicians these days cancel these projects.  We see Republican and Tea Party candidates stand their time sending racist and sexist e-mails around the country with others focus on anti-masturbation campaigns and witchcraft issues.

We see a Republican Party which has as one of its favorites ex-governor Sarah Palin, a politician who has yet to complete the term for any office she has been elected.  I’m amazed to think that anyone would support a politician who resigns from office midterm to pursue other financial interests and then expect you to support their election to the next higher office.  It is one thing to leave an office to run for a higher office, it is something else to quit an office to be a commentator on Fox News.  And Tea Party members want this woman to be our next president?

I despair for this country.  Democrats have had control of the Executive Branch and both houses of Congress for the last two years.  President Obama was elected on a campaign promise of putting forward major social and economic changes.  Instead of using that control in both houses and the Executive Branch to make good on these promises, President Obama and the leaders in the House and the Senate spent two years dickering with Republican Senate and House members (who was declared goal was to block every single legislative program with the express purpose of capturing more seats in the midterm elections.) And that is exactly what has happened.  Democrats have not had the guts to push their own agenda.  I believe they deserve to lose.  If you don’t have the courage of your convictions, then perhaps you use should not lead.

I believe the 2008 and 2010 election cycles are based on the electorate crying out for leadership. I think most of us feel the country has been headed in the wrong direction for the last ten years and wanted a change. They asked for that with the election of President Obama.  He has failed to deliver.  For example, the health care bill did not go far enough.  He did not cause runaway health-care costs to be reduced for the average Of American.  He spent too much time dickering with the healthcare industry (the folks who are causing the cost run-up in the first place) and with Republicans (again those people whose only goal in life is to recapture the presidency).

It is the same thing with re-regulation and control of the financial industries. The regulations being put in place today are being written by the same group of Ivy League financiers that gave us the problem in the first place. The regulations do not go far enough in controlling this industry. The American public knows it and is angry.

Last year, there was an uproar when the same bankers who caused the financial meltdown were being awarded large bonuses. In answer to this outcry, the Ivy League financiers trotted out the argument that the bonuses had to be paid because of “contractual obligations”. The problem is that we all knew that the Ivy League financiers knew about these large contractual bonuses when they were negotiating the bailout of these major banks.

During this bailout, detailed contracts were being renegotiated and new terms set in place. These individual contracts, with their large salaries and their scheduled large bonuses, could have and should have been renegotiated at that time. If an individual refused to accept these renegotiated terms, then their employment could have and should have been terminated. With economy as tough as it was unsure that they would have accepted those terms.

Further, with all of the layoffs in the financial industry, it goes without saying that finding well-qualified individuals to fill the spots of those who quit would not be hard to come by. This is what happens to the steelworker, on a file clerk or even the PhD executive. In this economy, there’s always someone willing to take the job in a lower, more reasonable, salary and to forgo bonuses. If this wasn’t, so it seemed like politics as usual. And this is going to cost the Democrats in the election.

It is activity like this that is fueling the anger on the Right, and that the lack of enthusiasm on the Left.

I would not despair if the Republican Party had more to offer than tax cuts for the wealthy and the slashing of any program that supports the elderly, poor or the disabled and a return to the deregulation of any and all industry. These programs have proven to be disastrous and there’s no reason to believe that going back to them would do anything other than bring on more of the same.

I would not despair if the Democratic Party could find its way clear to have the courage of its beliefs and fight for their policies as hard as the Republicans fight for theirs.   But it seems as if the Democrats won’t, so I despair.

[Ron Williams is a frequent quest writer on this site.  He is a former attorney and a current Texan living in a free country with changing contingencies.]

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[By Ron Williams, former attorney, Texas native, patriot and a frequent contributor to free press expression and open forum debates of note.]

Tea Party candidate for Connecticut Senate, Christine O’Donnell, recently stated in her debate with fellow candidate Chris Coons that the Constitution, as written, provides that the government shall not interfere with the establishment or operation of the church, but that there is no prohibition against the church being involved in the operation of the state.  This is a most interesting interpretation of the Constitution.

This is an interpretation you hear many right wing conservatives espouse when they attempt to get government to somehow sponsor a church event or have the government provide money to support some church organized activity.  The most common of these activities is probably getting the government to pay for private church operated schools.

Some conservatives espouse in the opinion that the government should be operated on strict principles of Christianity.  After all, they argue that this government was formed on the principles of Christianity, so why should its daily operation not be based on those Christian principles?

There is a name for democratic governments, where religious principles dominate.  They are called theocracies.  One example of a religious-based “theocracy” is Iran.  So if taken who its logical conclusion, as in Iran, the President of the United States, Congress and the Courts would all look to the pronouncements of a religious leader in interpreting the Constitution and in the implementation of any law.

If you are okay with that proposition, we then come to the next question.  Christian beliefs will dominate government actions.  Now, which version of Christianity will that be?  Will it be the Mormons, so we can look to Utah for government principles?  What about the Catholic Church.  Catholics certainly are certainly Christians.  That means we would look to the Pope for the operation of the American government is interesting that even in Italy, with all of its Catholics, the Pope still does not run the Italian government,  But it seems that this would be okay with our conservative right wing brethren.  If not Catholics, which branch of Gentile Christianity gets to call the shots?

Of course, I believe that when the right wing conservatives talk about applying Christian principles to the American government, what they really mean on their Christian principles.  They believe that they get to decide what the rules are, what the laws are and how the government should operate.

One example of this might be the issue of abortion.  One of the great tenets of the right wing movement is to be use the size and influence of government.  They want to get government out of their lives.  Whether or not to have an abortion is one of the most intimate and difficult decisions a woman can make.  Then they would turn around and take the most intimate decision away from women.  Right wing conservative would use the government to interfere in the intimate private lives of women.  Explain to me how that is getting the government out of American citizen’s lives?

So what we come to, I believe, is that the people who call for the integration of church and state don’t really believe in democracy at all.  They believe in a government run on their principles regardless of the feelings, beliefs, attitudes and opinions of other citizens.

And that is what is scary.  A group of people who call themselves patriots who in fact are doing everything they can to destroy our current democracy.  I believe we have to be careful of groups like this.  What happened in Mussolini’s Italy and 1930’s Germany.  You get some group who come into power via a democratic election, only to run the government based on their narrow political agenda.  Real democracy is kicked to the curb.  All the citizens then are required to follow the dictates of this new moral majority that control the government.

As a side note, notice how right wing Christians seem to cluster themselves around our military academies.  Also, we should take note of the investigation surrounding the command structure at the Air Force Academy which has been investigated for proselytizing the Academy’s cadets

You say it could not happen here.  And why not?  If you believe I am being extreme to accuse these Christian right wing so-called “patriots” of being actually anti-American?  Well go ask them how they feel about a government operated on Christian principles, and watch him say YES.  Then ask them how they feel about those Christian principles being dictated by the Catholic Church.

I believe right wing Christian conservative are a danger to our democracy and should be recognized as such.  A true patriot accepts the fact other patriots will have a slightly different view of democracy and allow those principles to be acknowledged in the operation of the democracy.  The beliefs of these right wing zealots show that they do not believe in that sort of free democracy.

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Historically, the search for a way to describe the mechanics of what is going on out there in the world and how it impacts what is going on with organisms [sometimes referenced as “the mind”, personality, cognition, consciousness, intuition, etc.] is that the fields of psychology have always used metaphors, similes, and analogies, in part, because most of the areas morphed out of philosophy, religion and literature.

Clearly for Descartes, mechanisms [particularly clocks and hydraulics] were big at the time and from there it wasn’t a stretch to embrace the naturalistic model, then the disease model, then the computer analogies, all the while not letting go of the metaphors, analogies, and similes that preceded it.

Yes, don’t forget the impact of the 70’s drug culture on 40+ years of speculation on consciousness, the inner self, higher self, etc.

The outcome of much of the theory and speculation was increased awareness at the cost of precision.  All three influences are with us today as embedded vernacular, imagery, and rationales’ applied to the understanding of organisms.  We still embrace the vernacular and the idioms of Freud as if they were true, valid or valuable.  At another level, these approaches are embraced and morph as needed because there is little to replace them that the populace could cling to considering Western Judo-Christian history, laws, and sometimes even a bully Western philosophical interpretation of all matters. The terms, concepts, etc., work because they explain behavior to many that are clueless and communication-less without such pop-snarkness, having otherwise to depend on greater superstition, folklore and ‘commonsense’ explanations than they currently do.  Said more succinctly, while the theory of mind may keep us from looking at the causes of behavior, it has some value, more than other Freudian alternatives or those endless literature dumps proposed by philosophy, theology and sociology.

As metaphors are wont to do, they work to make intangibly complex relationships more tangible, understandable, usable and communicable.  Science has not had a history of doing that well either so the result is there is little pragmatic value change in understanding what the heck is going on out there and ‘in’ there if science doesn’t make cases well enough.

The lay vocabulary we end up using is residue that provides consistent, sometimes vivid equivalents for concepts until the understanding of relationships and patterns can get sorted out.   A MAJOR problem comes from the reification of those terms like mind, need, motivation, personality, evil, addiction, intuition, etc., such that they are never scientifically challenged or shown to be what they are; a trail of metaphysical left-overs from philosophy, theoretical speculations and dependence on analogies, similes, and metaphors.

Unfortunately, the metaphor has become reified to the extreme by the world’s citizens and, through the conditioning we all used to get an education, became the reality of what it was a ‘place holder’ for. We’ve all seen it over and over: what had been an incomplete story-like example became the “thing” studied, described, interacted with before suddenly becoming raison d’être.

There is no bridge between pragmatism and articulated science.  If one can’t use what science provides people – even academia – will embellish what they have and use it it as they have for centuries.   Traditions allow us to avoid the constant assessment tasks that are needed.You know the old saw,

insanity is doing the same things over and over and expected the results to be different’ (-Einstein or W. Deming; take your pick) 

By embracing those states that come to keep us comfortable and un-questioning, only those events we subjectively or theatrically sense as catastrophic will generate uncomfortable questions that when answered will make a difference.

Thus, for you to entertain changing your sense of how anything works, business, families, social networks, corporations, football teams, etc. (you get the idea) you’ll need to get fired, get shunned, get de-friended, get passed over, lose the Super Bowl, and many other things equivalent to a kick in the ass.  When that happens, most of us change our perspective a wee bit after we get up… others just continue to blame or claim the world is evil, unkind, gone mad, filled with greed before setting out to get restitution, get even or get a lawyer.

How’s that last option working?

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A long time coming… read the full essay here.

Their theft had shown that under each other’s influence they could be impulsive and unscrupulous. Could they also—no matter how unbelievable it seemed—be violent?

contingencies…

And yes, he’d written a school paper about a man in a black trenchcoat who brutally murders nine students. But we’d never seen that paper. (Although it had alarmed his English teacher enough to bring it to our attention, when we asked to see the paper at a parent-teacher conference, she didn’t have it with her. Nor did she describe the contents beyond calling them “disturbing.” At the conference—where we discussed many things, including books in the curriculum, Gen X versus Gen Y learners, and the ’60s folk song “Four Strong Winds”—we agreed that she would show the paper to Dylan’s guidance counselor; if he thought it was a problem, one of them would contact me. I never heard from them.)

Easy to wonder why no one thought to bring up details of the paper but remember until Columbine, there wasn’t some obvious trenchcoated kids killing peers stereotype….  the essay might have been “run of the mill” disturbing…

I think I believed that if I loved someone as deeply as I loved him, I would know if he were in trouble. My maternal instincts would keep him safe. But I didn’t know. And my instincts weren’t enough. And the fact that I never saw tragedy coming is still almost inconceivable to me.

And that’s just it… it’s extremely complicated and no one is to blame.

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Though the argument between Gladwell and Anderson is fun to read and stimulating it completely misses the point of why Anderson is wrong about Free and why the newspaper industry is having trouble.

“Information wants to be free” doesn’t mean free as in beer… it is free as in freedom.  Even putting it in that context that line has nothing to do with what’s going on in media.

The ad model has crumbled for broadcast TV and newspapers and magazines.  It doesn’t mean that advertising globally is over or that charging for content or supporting content via advertising has crumbled.  It is the failure of the cost structures of the troubled media.  Ads simply don’t make the money they used to for these organizations.  Why?  Well, as we’ve discussed many times on this blog and elsewhere, because advertisers really know how to count eyeballs and transactions now.  That puts pricing pressure on campaigns (especially long term deals and premium upfronts).

Why can’t Youtube make money?  Plenty of advertisers put ads on youtube.  No users click or respond to them.  Not enough to cover the $360 million a year bandwidth bill.   It would be pretty easy to actually turn a profit with Youtube.  It would just have to stop being so Youtube-ish – i.e. get rid of the fluff content, make more ambitious ads, etc. etc.  I’m sure that will happen once Google feels like Youtube can’t be significantly touched from easy competition.  I’m sure this will happen soon.

This whole thing about making everything free or whatever.  It’s hogwash.  People pay for stuff they value.  They click on ads that don’t suck and are relevant.  The newspaper industry, as its old model stands, needs to change.  Big deal.  It will.  yes there will be micro publishing and competition from bloggers and all that.  Big deal.

I never really believed in the long tail either.  Every company I’ve seen financials for that bet on the long tail hasn’t made a dime.  If you look on itunes and amazon and shopping sites and news sites it’s still the hits that make the money.  And hits cost money to make. and people value them, so they buy them.  This applies to music, movies, articles, books, celebrities, products…. i’m not saying you can’t make money from the long tail… you can… but that’s like comparing making money from hotdog carts (the long tail of lunch) to running a multi-national chain like mcdonald’s (hits!).  or maybe not. but hopefully you get my point.

I do agree with Gladwell on one point – there are no iron clad laws… except maybe one.. there are no iron clad laws.

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