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Posts Tagged ‘Liberal’

Bruce Gray was in the perfect position at the perfect time. With the secrets he learned by pointing his Truth Ray at people behind the scenes, he never had a problem working his way into virtually any event, and newsrooms were no different. This time he was off to the right, in the dark, with a clipboard in his left hand hiding the ray guy underneath it in the right.

The last couple of seconds were counted down silently, with gestures from a man with a headset on.

“I am MT Heded and this is Erin B. Tweenthyiers,” the tall dark man said as the blond beside him smiled broadly on demand. “You’re watching Pox News. This hour we’re looking into the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which marries the business interests of 11 nations – Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei – with those of the United States.”

“I smell jobs, plenty of jobs,” said Erin buoyantly. “Isn’t it exciting when the world comes together for everyone’s benefit?”

Then she took a quick in-breath. Ray had fired up a medium dose, good for 90 seconds of truth with absolutely no recollection. The instantaneous effect was immediately evident.

“I know that they don’t usually want us to read up on things we talk about, but on this I did. The TPP should be called the Trans-Pacific Plundering agreement. Because that’s what partner countries are allowing corporations to do, calling out regulatory forces as barriers to maximum profits. Then the TPP itself holds member nations to the verdicts of their corporate tribunals and demands that governments make up the lost profits that ‘excessive’ regulation cuts into.”

“That’s very interesting, Erin. Now here’s a word from Pampers, the Golden Years Edition,” MT said looking straight ahead until they were clear. “What the hell was that?”

“Golden Years? Seriously? Can’t they see what’s ‘golden’ here?” Erin said, oblivious.

“Erin, that was damn close to tipping our hand,” MT said sternly. “Luckily the eyeballs of our principle viewers gloss over when they hear ‘regulatory.’ And confessing that we’re not supposed to learn about what we’re talking about?”

“Well, it’s true, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is. And it’s a secret.”

“Erin. A moment please,” said a voice in Erin’s hidden earpiece.

“Oh hi Bill,” she said, examining some of her hair. “What’s up?”

“You imbecile! You can’t discredit the TPP because the billionaires behind our sponsors will make tens of billions more if this goes through.”

“So. How many billions does anybody need? Even half of one would be fine with me.”

“Well, you’re not going to get there doing stunts like this. We hired you because you’re cute, articulate, and good at reading a teleprompter. That’s all we need from you. No thinking necessary, got it? Now stick with the script.”

“Okay.”

The fingers went down in front of her.

“And we’re back. With the TPP, all the barriers to free trade will be a thing of the past. America will finally experience the free market at its finest,” Erin read. But then she turned her head. “Doesn’t Obama want this? I thought we were supposed to detest anything Obama supports. How do we get around that? Nobody’s given me the proper phrases yet.”

Then something popped in her head again, and she swiveled around to the teleprompter. “Today at the US Capitol, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell spoke on behalf of Fast Track, the mechanism where, in the interest in expediency, the TPP agreement could be confirmed in the Senate on a simple up or down vote with no filibusters or amendments.”

Then they cut to the McConnell, as droll as ever. While Erin waited for her next cue, Bruce adjusted his Truth Ray to the lightest setting, good for 30 seconds of truth. But in this instance, the “victim” does have recall over what he or she has just said.

“Senate majority leader Harry Reid has promised to fight Fast Track, but we fully expect him to cave,” Erin said ending with a slight cock of her head from the incoming jolt. “I see what you mean, MT, McConnell really does look like a turtle. But he sure lies real well, I’ll give him that. He’s a stud when it comes to hogwash. Does anybody really buy-” and she snapped back and finished her sentence as best she could, putting her years of damage control to the test. Usually it was in reaction to a guest or live report, not from her own mouth. “Buy that Mitch McConnell is soft on free trade? I think he’s leading the pack.”

“Up next, was Michelle Obama’s hashtag sign really a pre-plug for Steve Spielberg, whom some say already has the rights to the life stories of the abducted girls in Nigeria?” MT teased as they went to a hard break.

When the little red light went off and the lights dimmed slightly, Bill was right there in front of Erin. She didn’t have a clue why she said what she did, but still needed an explanation fast.

“Worst PMS ever,” she said with her best nauseous face, walking to her off-camera chair for a quick makeup brush-up.

“Bring some Midol to the set, STAT!” someone shouted.

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It was New Years Eve eve, and I had just one passenger left: a short run across town in Oakland that required a 45-minute logjam getting to the Bay Bridge from San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood.

Then that passenger was transferred to another driver, and I would no longer be subjected to the prolonged frustrations of getting to the Bay Bridge along with those that would use dying lanes to cut in front of hundreds. I would, though, have at least four hours added to my shift by bringing a passenger to southeast of Placerville in the Sierra foothills.

I didn’t mind. Places I haven’t been are always an adventure, and my passenger proved to be very good company. He had just finished his third dose of chemotherapy with another three to go in the coming weeks. It was a brain tumor that had previously been arrested years before.

In his late ’60s, he had been a successful lawyer, a partner in a firm that fought insurance companies. He was a particularly formidable foe, in that for years he had worded for insurance companies. He knew their angles, the framework of their methods of getting what they wanted which always ended with individuals missing out on what they deserved.

Then one day in 2009 he drove off the road. A brain seizure left him going straight when Highway 50 curved gently to the left. He went down a 20-foot embankment and hit a tree that probably kept him from visiting a business without using the designated entrances.

He didn’t wake up for eight hours. And when he was conscious he found out that he’d never drive again. The threat of seizures ended his driving privileges. And he loved to drive; he had had plenty of cars that were guaranteed to deliver copious amounts of adrenaline if asked. There was his split-window ’63 Corvette. A Sunbeam Tiger, a tiny sports car with a big V-8 wedged into it like a Shelby Cobra only smaller. And less manageable. His last high-performance car was an all-wheel-drive, turbocharged Dodge Stealth. It ruptured an oil line in Garberville, in redwoods country along the Eel River, a good 70 miles from anyone with the expertise and parts to fix it.

A lawyer without a driver’s license, or the means for a perpetual chauffeur, is like a pool hustler missing a hand. He retired, and his firm of 50 that he shared with a half-dozen partners imploded. Being right in the middle of a relocation, holding an expiring lease, probably helped make the decision easier.

Outside of the subject of cars, we talked about a lot. He used to ski at Stow, Vermont and raced at the same time on the mountain as Billy Kidd, one of America’s first skiing sensations on the international scene. We reminisced about skiing’s heroes of old, Franz Klammer, Pirmin Zurbriggen, and Herman Maier, and the amazement of witnessing their skills on ESPN back when they readily broadcast World Cup ski racing.

We talked about politics, with much in common. He was liberal too, in most ways except regarding gun restrictions. He was wary of the corporate control of the Republican Party, and didn’t want to see AK-47s banned because he saw that as being his last defense against a government that he saw that, in the wrong hands, would be more than willing to take away any remaining freedoms by force.

I understood his sentiment. And I voiced my take. As a liberal and a pacifist, I loath AK-47s and what they represent in our society: a pathway to indiscriminate killing. But on the other hand, I do understand the “second amendment” cries, particularly in light of my passenger’s perspective. But I do not see any logical reason for clips that can carry 30 rounds or more. The only place I can see these weapons used is on a shooting range, and limiting clips to 15 rounds isn’t that much of a hardship. Forcing gun enthusiasts to take a few seconds to change clips is a reasonable restriction, when the alternative is more people being killed on deadly days which are happening more and more frequently. And then I also floated the notion of putting serial numbers inside every single shell, which was an angle he hadn’t considered that made total sense to him.

Of course the NRA wouldn’t allow that to happen. That begs the question of what possible downside could there be for that action. And of course there is only one: ammo and gun manufacturers might see a slight decrease in sales. It’s a pity that change for the better always is clipped by the needs of a few to make just a tiny bit more money. The social benefits of being able to trace the original owners of every bullet don’t stand a chance against bloated profits these days.

When we finally got to the two-lane roads, the drive took on an entertaining rhythm. Like a slalom skier on a bunny slope, we dipped and swung through the night. Within a couple miles of his home, he started to tell me of a particularly senseless tragedy involving the roadway ahead.

Bad judgement and worse luck combined for fatal consequences. A 17-year-old boy was rip-roaring drunk at a party about a mile from his house. The good news: at least he didn’t drive home. The bad news: he attempted to walk home alone, dressed entirely in black. A couple hundred yards from his bedroom he passed out. He ended up in the middle of the road at a corner. A driver came down the hill as the road dipped then swung uphill to the right, and the darkened shape caught him by surprise.

Right then we came to the scene, with a wreath and weathered pictures, bows, and flowers attached to a tree across the road from the spot where a young life ended. It had happened a year ago. And no one ever gets a chance to forget.

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On my Facebook timeline, I found a post from a friend being circulated around originating from Fox News. The headline is, “Obama wants Marines to wear ‘girly’ hats.” Predictably, the comments from his post are aghast as folks take this characterization as absolute fact.

This is a classic example of Fox News, the New York Post, and likely the right-wing spin masters like Karl Rove and Frank Luntz, taking a minor story reframed by a humorous right-wing military blog and reporting it as fact.

Let’s start with the kernel of truth. The manufacturer of women’s dress Marine hats is going out of business. A replacement may require a redesign.

From there, the blog said that: “Thanks to a plan by President Obama to create a ‘unisex’ look for the Corps, officials are swapping out the Marines’ iconic caps – known as covers – with a new version that some have derided as so ‘girly’ that they would make the French blush.”

This section was reprinted virtually word for word in both Fox and Post coverage. With wording like that it was a dog-whistle grand slam in riling up the gullible, flag-waving masses. First, it pins Obama to emasculating the Marines, something manly men couldn’t stand for and were more than willing to believe because that fit the narrative that has been crafted for them over the last few years.

Second, notice that the word “plan” is used. This causes those looking for a commie plot to jump on whatever sliver of conspiracy theory could be imagined.

Then we have “girly” and “French blush.” Why not just say gay? I guess that generates very uncomfortable images in some men’s heads…

With the scope of the circulation fueled through Facebook, the Marines had to address it, deny that the president would have any part in the decision making process of hat design, and state flatly that: “The Marine Corps has zero intention of changing the male cover.”

Here was yet another chance for conservatives to encounter a thought process which could lead to seeing just how and why they’ve been played by Fox and the billionaires who pull the strings. They joined the outrage, pumped up by homophobia and subtle racism. Then they found out it wasn’t true but didn’t question anything about it. Do they think that all these disproven lies are just mistakes in reporting? How can they not see the pattern seems to be driven by specific motivation, targeting a particular reaction? And if they were to see that part of the underbelly of the beast, why can’t they connect the dots and see how their patriotism, conservatism, and even faith has been used against them to pad the agenda of billionaires?

Clueless and happily taken in yet again, these Nero Cons hear that whistle and jump through every conceptual hoop presented. Why? Because pride keeps them in line. Religion keeps them superior. And Rush keeps them in outrage, imprinting phrases designed to prevent actual thought, like “death tax.”

Last week’s ploy was ultimately another dog whistle moment for Fox that died quickly when truth spoiled the party, but the lie did its duty. It was destined to be discredited but not tainted, yet another shooting star in the murky sky of Fox’s fact-free universe.

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The industrial revolution brought us our current model for capitalism, and it has served us relatively well for over a century. Yes, the system has had its flaws, yet somehow we have always managed to recover.

But the parameters have changed for the 21st century. From Reagonomics through the Bush era we’ve received a near lethal dose of the worst aspects of capitalism. The current level of corporate power would make even robber barons jealous. And finally America has woken up to this. Between the Occupy movement and the recent elections, the rumblings towards fixing a broken model have grown louder and gone more mainstream.

The problem with capitalism as it now stands is that large multinationals have a disproportionate influence on politics, media, the economy, the environment, and the middle class. Through their lobbyists and other tools of influence, they have slanted the tax, anti-trust, and environmental laws further in their favor, creating a class of super-wealthy where the top 1% in America hold 65% of all wealth.

Throughout time, massive income disparity between the haves and have-nots has been at the core of how civilizations collapse. Our current corporatist tendencies push us towards that brink; it’s a downward spiral that is hard to break.

This is how runaway capitalism can be our downfall, and its a hard rut to crawl out of. Since a corporation’s key goal is to maximize profits, CEOs and board members have a fiduciary responsibility to game the system through lobbyists who carve out exemptions and deductions in the tax codes.

But what if we find a way to use the forces of each CEO’s own greed to help benefit society rather than leech from it? What if tax rates vary dramatically dependent on how well a corporation treats its employees, its physical neighbors, the environment, and society as a whole through the quality of its products or services?

Sounds good, you may be thinking. But how do we get there?

The idea I’m putting out there is my model for socio-capitalism where we remake the tax code so that companies that have the most benevolent “social footprint” can get their tax rates down to 14%, while those that retain business as usual have their taxes max out at 38%. What determines which end of the spectrum they fall on is the SPI, the  Social Partner Index, which attempts to quantify and balance out the factors that lead to a corporation being a force for good not a force for greed.  The parameters that lead to a high score are:

  • fair wages for workers, middle management
  • good working conditions in US and in overseas manufacturing plants
  • worker retention, percentage of employees with benefits
  • declining percentage of jobs overseas
  • business practices in regards to fair competition
  • ecological footprint
  • footprint of their physical home office on their community
  • track record of the quality of their product or services
  • integrity and honesty in advertising

These parameters will be weighted in importance as well as over time.

Bonus points are given for:

  • high quality day care
  • job sharing without reductions in benefits for either party
  • moving manufacturing jobs back to the US
  • charitable aid in their home office community
  • paying some or all taxes that were avoided through offshore tax havens

Points are taken away for:

  • lobbying history if they have achieved a tax or monopoly advantage through corruption
  • superPAC contribution history with greater weight given the more deceptive the messaging used
  • dodging taxes through offshore tax havens
  • records of discrimination and/or sexual abuse
  • buying off and burying competing technologies

Bear in mind that all these parameters are not only judged in current time for a corporation, but also in their business practices throughout the decades. But a corporation’s dark past has a half-life. If the CEO and all board members get the boot, part of a company’s legacy can be excluded from the SPI right away. Over time less and less of its malevolent past will drag down the numbers as new evidence of change is realized. In this format the slate can be wiped clean in a linear fashion over four years – but no sooner. The ticking clock will provide additional incentive.

Still, a CEO may just decide that it’s not worth the effort to make America a better place. His company will make less money, but he’ll keep on doing just fine. This is where his greed comes into play, though:  corporate charters will be rewritten so the company’s SPI and the maximum CEO pay are directly proportional.

Those are the tools. Here are the parameters on how we can apply these policies in a transition towards socio-capitalism:

  • No businesses with an annual gross of less than $400 million are subject to these rules
  • The Society Partner Index (SPI) is created to rate how detrimental a mega-corporation’s influence is. The parameters are judged by impartial panels both inside and outside the industry, as well as by consumers doing direct business with them.
  • The tax rates of a corporation are tied directly to their SPI, AS ARE THE MAXIMUM SALARIES OF THEIR CEOs and BOARD MEMBERS.
  • Use this tax and compensation index. If a corporation has an SPI among the bottom 40% within their industry, the corporation pays a 38% tax rate and the CEO’s salary is capped at $8 million. From that level to the top 30%, a corporation’s tax rate is 32% and CEO salary is capped at $14 million. From the top 30 to the top 10%, the tax rate is 27% and the CEO maxes out at $20 million. If their SPI is within that top ten percent, their tax rate is 22% and CEO pay can reach a max of $28 million. And if they have the best SPI within their industry, their tax rate is 14%, and the CEO salary can max out at $40 million. It’s harnessing greed for good.

Do you see how greed will drive a race to the top instead of a race to the bottom? Wages, benefits, and the middle class will be strengthened. Politicians that embrace this new path will take control, and the largest American corporations will strive to become the best they can be. And being that their competitive practices will be under scrutiny with financial ramifications, small and mid-range businesses will be able to thrive, eroding inherent monopolies. Families will see a more secure future, and overseas America will again embody a model society to be admired.

Now there’s a lot that will need to be fleshed out, and opposition to overcome, in realizing this vision. And it will take a Democratically controlled House to start the wheels in motion. But let’s start the dialog and the planning now, because this end game might be what today’s college kids eventually see as the path to maximizing the implementation of their dreams.

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The Occupy movement in most towns has already achieved their primary goal:  draw media attention to showcase their power of numbers and the might of their convictions.

But these occupations have huge potential to do even more, and they’ve got the organizational structure and protest signs to manifest this. What if they added the Socratic method to their messaging, presenting stats and evidence to support their assertions? Rather than present a stationary, amorphous mob, what if they were to station small groups on consecutive street corners along ALL different outbound commute arteries? Now they wouldn’t be relying on media to get their point across, they’d be delivering it in well-defined terms directly to motorists bogged down in traffic leading to every freeway or bridge onramp.

Occupiers, this is how the concept of miniprotesting can drastically expand the scope of your causes, and add the power to convince to your messaging arsenal. Here’s how miniprotesting works in a nutshell:

Miniprotests are made up of three small groups of four spread out over three consecutive street corners. Each group within this protest string has someone in its center holding a 30″ x 40″ main sign at waist level. The three folks around the central miniprotester hold traditional signs overhead. That way the focus of passing motorists will be on the three main signs at eye level which provide a running message like the old Berma Shave rural roadside ads. This format allows a few seconds (or minutes if traffic is really bad) for folks to digest each part of the message before they see the next.

See more details at:

http://miniprotests.com

So here is a miniprotesting main sign inscription set that could give many factions of the Occupy movement a voice on the streets. It also unifies all causes under the umbrella of the Fair America Platform. It would look like this:

The main sign for corner #1:

Occupiers Support the Fair America Platform

Tax Fairness:  Restore Fair Taxation of Millionaires

End Tax Free Offshore Loopholes for B of A, Exxon/Mobil

Job Fairness:  Restore Unions, Eliminate Tax Breaks for Offshoring

The folks behind the person holding this central sign could have overhead signs saying things like, “Support ‘1000 Families’ Top Tax Tier” and “GOP Union Busting Stomping On Middle Class” and “GOP Betrayed American Workers With Offshoring Surge.” Of course, there are likely to be many signs on topic made up by Occupiers already. But since 120 can produce ten completely separate protest strings leading to commute bottlenecks all over town, those folks will have choices as to where they want to go. All miniprotests can have the same main signs, or you can have each with a different topic. And with the latter you can rotate messages by location and save printing costs.

Another couple of signs can be shown anywhere, regardless of topic:  “A Fair America. What’s Un-American About That?” and “The 99% Just Want a Fair America.”

The main sign for corner #2:

Occupiers Support the Fair America Platform

Fair Elections:  Paper Ballots Hand Counted, Public Campaign Funding Only

Fair Representation: Overturn Citizen’s United, Curb Lobbying Excesses

Fair Business Practices:  Restore Oversight Over Industry and Wall St.

There should be no problem rustling up signs to complement these themes.

Corner #3:

What’s Un-American About

Asking for a Fair America?

Those That Fight a Fair America

Are Pandering to Corporate Titans, Billionaires

Now bear in mind that these signs take a few seconds to read, so the choices for protest string locations should culminate right at onramps. They can also have spurs where duplicates of the first and second signs can be along both north and south approaches, with sign #3 being the hub for both on one corner. And in rural towns, miniprotests should be spread across corners with three consecutive stop signs.

Another thing about using miniprotests in tandem with Occupy events is that it lowers the threshold for people who want to participate but can’t spare the time or are not wild about sleeping outdoors. And because each group is just four people, no permits are required and police have no legal justification for interfering.

Occupy groups can temporarily expand their numbers in this manner by promoting the miniprotest locations while being specific about the causes at each corner along each protest string.

See more about the Fair America Platform, and make suggestions to modify it if you like, at:

https://progtodd.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/create-the-fair-america-party-as-a-place-where-democrats-and-disgruntled-republicans-can-share-common-ground/

Please note that the URL reflects the Fair America Party that I originally proposed. I’ve backed off that stance, looking to instead promote a Fair America Platform that Democrats and logical Republicans can stand behind.

Let’s say that you’re an Occupier and you think this idea has merit. Where do you take it from here? Well the first step is to propose this idea to the Occupy event’s on-site assembly (often happening several nights a week) and ask that a committee be formed on site to handle the logistics. When the Miniprotesting Committee meets, either volunteer to be its spokesperson or aid the person who is voted into that role.

Any miniprotest can be put together in about an hour. This way if Rush or Boehner or Cain throws out a blatant lie, you can disprove it that afternoon with main sign inscription sets showing stats to shred their fabrications and throw light on WHY and for whom they lied.

The flow goes like this:

  1. Type your  main sign inscriptions into your computer, expanding your margins to the full width of the document in portrait mode. They should be in Arial, with lines spaced about 1.5 apart. The less text for each individual sign, the larger the font can be.
  2. Determine the best locations for your protest strings based on traffic patterns, proximity to mass transit, and number of participants
  3. Email your main signs as a single document to your local FedEx Kinko’s and have them print them out on their 36” roll paper. They should expand the original image to the largest size possible to fit the width of the paper, generally around 400% of the original.
  4. Go to Staples for the 30” x 40” foam core signboard conveniently sold in packs of three. Bring your pocket knife so you can cut two rectangular hand holds at the top of each.
  5. At Kinko’s trim your three signs on their wide cutters and affix the inscriptions using Scotch tape
  6. Meet up with your fellow miniprotesters at the location where the final signs are to be. Disperse main signs, getting someone’s phone number within each group. Also have somebody with a video camera across the street near the center of your protest string to capture any confrontations or happy motorists on the same page.

If your Occupy group is fairly small, you can enlist volunteers through tweets, emails, local message board posts, Meetups if you have an official one in your locale, or Occupytogether.org. The more locally based the better, though.

So now Occupiers have a new tool to expand their voices beyond a city block. More specific topics can be addressed on different days. The miniprotesting format can also be used for other focused actions in town, shaming a politician and his followers prior to a town hall meeting or standing along all inbound arteries to the home offices of a tax-dodging multinational corporation.

The Staples and FedEx Kinko’s costs can be added to your website’s calls for support along with food and toiletries. You’re already there. Now you can do more with your time, people, and passion.

And I will do everything I can to help the process. Please contact me, Todd, through the miniprotests.com website via the About Us tab. Also on miniprotests.com you’ll see a vast array of miniprotesting main sign inscription sets and how to concoct your own to support your own slogans.

The Occupy movements are all peaceful, and the miniprotesting theme mirrors that by avoiding abusive language. The miniprotesting motto is: On the Streets WE ARE HOPE. Please take your opportunity to embody that and feel the momentum as it grows day by day.

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