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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Enterprise Incident(s)

The Enterprise Incident(s),
Why Corporations Cannot Be Trusted to Self-Regulate,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

~ George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume I, Reason in Common Sense, Chapter XII, "Flux and Constancy in Human Nature," Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905


Some of my readers already know, and others may have guessed from avatars I use in various places online, that I greatly enjoyed an episode of Star Trek (The Original Series) with the title of "The Enterprise Incident."  Indeed, it is my favorite episode of all the Trek series.  As a young child, watching the show for the first time (forty-eight years ago this evening when it was first broadcast on 27 September 1968), I do not recall my response to the episode.  I was too young at the time to have much self-awareness or to remember much of what I was like then.  However, having watched The Original Series (hereafter referred to as "TOS") in syndication for most of my life since then (and now having the entire series on DVD), "TEI" became my favorite episode from a rather early age.  The Romulan commander in that episode (unnamed in the show or the script, but called variously "Di'on Charvon," "Liviana Charvanek," and "Praetor Thea" in the various novels which expanded upon the episode in subsequent years, and portrayed by the actress Joanne Linville) was someone I aspired to be, in some sense, and part of the reason for this, I must confess, is because Spock (Leonard Nimoy) was so damned hot!  But part of it was also because she was a woman with authority, in charge of not merely one ship, but a wing of at least three ships.

For those who don't remember, in this episode, Commander t'Charvon sought to seduce Spock with two goals in mind (at least as far as the episode revealed):  she wanted him, and she wanted the Enterprise, which had violated the treaty between the United Federation of Planets and the Romulan Star Empire by entering and crossing the Federation-Romulan Neutral Zone into Romulan territory.  As the story played out, Spock deceived her, but only in part (as was revealed in the scene in the turbolift near the end).  She did win his heart, but not his loyalty to the Romulan Star Empire;  he did not and would not betray the Federation, and it was revealed also that the entire incident of the Enterprise entering Romulan territory had been a ruse ordered by Starfleet, in order to effect the theft of the new cloaking device then being used by the Romulans, an act, that is to say, of military espionage.

It is, therefore, with some annoyance that I write this particular blog post and give it this title.  I would far rather anything I write which borrows this title be about more pleasant things than the subject matter of this blog post.  Nevertheless, as some of my readers have noticed, I have recently begun a series of posts with the titles of episodes of TOS ("The Alternative Factor," "Bread and Circuses," and "For the World Is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky"), and I mean to continue that, for a bit longer at least;  some of the episode titles would be challenging to apply to the sort of blogging I have been doing over the past several months, concerned primarily with social, political, and economic matters.  I cannot see doing a series of posts with titles borrowed from TOS episodes without including the title of my favorite episode, but the only way of which I can conceive doing so at present is to do a post on incidents involving enterprise in the economic sense, and, to tie it (tenuously) to the ideas of the episode, what I will discuss in this post will concern corporate crime, including theft.


The word "enterprise" is defined by the Oxford Online Dictionaries, for our purposes, as "a business or company," or "entrepreneurial economic activity."  We can of course substitute "a corporation" for "a  business" or "a company," they being synonymous.

Ayn Rand (born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum) was a Russian woman who emigrated to the United States in 1926, aged 21 years.  When she was 12, the Russian Empire fell in the February Revolution, which was followed some months later by the October Revolution, which brought the Bolsheviks to power.  Rand supported the February Revolution.  After the Bosheviks came to power later in 1917, her family's shop was seized and nationalized, which, according to her followers, resulted in "crushing poverty" for the family.  As a consequence of the Bolsheviks coming to power, however, Russian universities were opened to women, and a sixteen-year-old Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum was in the first group of women to enroll in Petrograd State University.  She and many other "bourgeois" students were purged from the university shortly before graduation, but complaints by foreign scientists visiting the Soviet Union resulted in her (and other purged students) being allowed to complete her work and graduate.  Sometime before this, she had decided to call herself "Ayn Rand" as a nom-de-plume.

After coming to the United States, and eventually getting published, Rand began to fancy herself a philosopher.  Now, this is something I know a fair amount about, having gotten my BA with a double major, and one of those majors was Philosophy, in which my focus was Logic and the history of ideas (as is the usual course of study in undergraduate Philosophy departments these days).  I read a few of Rand's works as an undergrad (not for any class, but on my own initiative), but by no means all, finding them rather unsatisfactory in the philosophical concepts put forth in the pages.  In later years, I learned more about her life, and her attitudes.  Ayn Rand apparently firmly believed that the Soviet Union was a communist nation, and could never get over the facticity (or baggage, if you will) of her family having lost their shop and the subsequent "squalor."  Her "philosophy," then, was influenced by these two things, and she became a staunch opponent of what she thought was Communism and Socialism, conflating the two into a conception of "Collectivism," and based, as she assumed, on a tribalist notion as distinct from Individualism.  The Soviet Union named itself the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics," and made use of much Marxist and other socialist rhetoric, and was generally portrayed as communist in the West, so perhaps she should not be faulted too much for believing this to be the case.  However, a philosopher ought to examine rhetoric and seek to know if it be true or no.  Not only is "the People's Democratic Republic of China" not democratic, but "the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" was never socialist, much less communist, and while Tribalism is not radically individualistic, neither is it radically collectivistic (nor, for that matter, is all Socialism collectivist), but rather, Tribalism in its economic aspects is a form of Cooperativism.

Among Ayn Rand's ideas was the notion that any government regulation of corporate activities was undesirable, and she attempted to make virtues of greed and selfishness, regarding altruism as a vice.  A full criticism of her "philosophy," which she named "Objectivism," is beyond the scope of this blog post (if the reader would like to see more thorough criticism of her ideas, I can recommend Adam Lee's two-part series of articles published by Alter-Net:  "10 Things I Learned About the World from Ayn Rand's Insane "Atlas Shrugged'," and "10 Things I Discovered About Ayn Rand's Addled Brain After Reading 'Atlas Shrugged';"  and for a criticism of her ideas in practice, I can recommend Edwin Lyngar's article, "My libertarian vacation nightmare: How Ayn Rand, Ron Paul & their groupies were all debunked," published by Salon), nor is it my intention here (or anywhere else) to defend the USSR (or actual Communism -- however, conflating all forms of Socialism with Marxism is intellectually dishonest, and there are forms of Socialism which are considerably different from Marx's version).  At some point in the near future, I intend to discuss Socialism in greater detail, perhaps as part of a larger discussion of economic theories including Communism, Capitalism, Mercantilism, Feudalism, and Tribalism, but this will have to come after a discussion of the distinctions between Progressivism and Liberalism, because in talking about economic theories, I will have to go into distinctions between, say, Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy (the former is more in tune with progressive ideals, while the latter is more in tune with liberal ideals).

Corporate Criminal Incidents

Twenty years and three days ago, on 24 September 1996, Pete Wilson, then Governor of California, signed AB 1890, the Electric Energy Restructuring bill, into law, it having been passed by the California Legislature without a single dissenting vote.  AB 1890 was supposed to dispense with utility monopolies in California, opening the market and thereby, theoretically, lowering costs to consumers.  What happened in actuality was deregulation of the electric energy industry, massive consumer abuse by the industry, and unbridled greed which led to rolling blackouts and price gouging, which has forever after been associated with the name "the Enron scandal."  Who can forget the Enron traders' callous references to having stolen "all that money ... from those poor grandmothers in California," who were personified as "Grandma Millie" in tapes and transcripts of calls released to the media?  There were eventually hearings and lawsuits, government prosecution and incarceration and/or fining of at least some of the guilty.  The CEO of Enron, however, Ken Lay, escaped the justice of man by dying from a heart attack while on vacation at his summer house in Colorado, three months before he was to be sentenced, having been found guilty on ten counts of securities fraud;  his conviction was therefore posthumously vacated.  One would think (hope, even) that the state government of California, as well as citizens of California and the rest of the nation, would have learned from this experiment in deregulation.   But Jerry Brown is the current Governor of California, and while he may have been at one time somewhat progressive, today he is a cog in the establishment, and that means, among other things, that the state government's control over the industry is once again being questioned and put at risk.

Lest anyone think such excess is restricted to the energy industry (which I cannot imagine anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past 20 years assuming), the same capitalist motto is whispered in the ear of executives across the corporate world:  "Profit is success, and success is life!"  Witness, for example, the strange case of one Martin Shkreli, who raised the price to consumers of a life-saving HIV drug by 4000%, without any increase of cost to produce the drug and no justification for the price hike other than his own greed, news of which broke about a year ago, while the pharmaceutical industry tried to pretend that his price hike was somehow uncharacteristic of the industry as a whole.  Daraprim, the medication in question, was raised from $13.50 to  $700, per pill.  Nor did Shkreli start or stop with that single medicine, having previously owned a company which raised the consumer price of Thiola from $1.50 to $30 per pill in 2014, and went on in November of 2015 to buy a majority share in another pharmaceutical company, thereafter applying for exclusive right of sale to another medication.  In December of 2015, Shkreli was charged with securities fraud by the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and arrested by the FBI.  In February of 2016, he appeared before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the US House of Representatives, having been subpoenaed to answer questions about the Daraprim price increase.  Shkreli refused to answer questions, on the basis of the Fifth Amendment and on the advice of his counsel.  His behavior in the appearance, and his subsequent social media activity demonstrated what many believe (and I concur) to be an astounding level of hubris and sense of entitlement.  While his criminal case has not yet been decided, he has continued to profit in the meantime, although he is no longer CEO of Retrophin, Turing Pharmaceuticals, or KaloBios Pharmaceuticals.

Now, once again, you would think that people would learn from this example, even though his case has not yet been decided, simply by virtue of Shkreli's notoriety for a while as "the most hated man on the internet," due in no small measure to his price hikes of medications like Daraprim.  Yes, you would think, and hope, that others would have learned from Shkreli's sorry example.  Not so!  Enter Heather Bresch, daughter of Joe Manchin (former Governor of West Virginia, Democratic Super Delegate who supported Hillary Rodham Clinton's nomination for President by the Democratic National Convention, and current Senator from West Virginia to the US Senate) and CEO of Mylan, another pharmaceutical company, who saw to it that Mylan raised the price of the EpiPen, used to treat anaphylaxis, by 461-550% from the time the company secured the rights.  This price hike resulted in a 600% salary increase for Bresch.  The cost of an EpiPen in the United States is now as much as nine times higher than in other developed nations.  If this price hike were not malicious enough, Bresch's mother, Gayle Manchin, after becoming head of the National Association of State Boards of Education, encouraged states to require schools to purchase epinephrine auto-injectors, and the EpiPen, manufactured exclusively by Mylan, was nearly the only such product available.  In addition, while it could have been an honest mistake (although skepticism of such an explanation is perhaps warranted, given all that has been revealed already in this paragraph), Bresch did not give an accurate reckoning of profits to Congress during a recent House committee hearing.  And the most repulsive thing about all of this?  Anaphylaxis is deadly, the cost of manufacturing an EpiPen is rather small, and no justification for the price hike exists (unless, like Ayn Rand, you believe that greed is good, selfishness is a virtue, and altruism is a vice, and if you do, then may you swiftly reap what you sow).

Speaking of corporations which should have learned from the past, Wells Fargo should have remembered 2008, when, as a result of the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and banking "self-regulation" inspired by Alan Greenspan, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and was subsequently liquidated, the Federal government had to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bail out AIG, which it also took over, and the Dow fell more than 700 points in a single day.  These banking corporations had seen accounting scandals, high risk lending and investment in the bubble economy of the housing market, negligence, and malfeasance including "cooking the books."  But even these banking corporations should have known history well enough to know better, for bubble economies and deregulation were among the causes of the Great Depression.  But again, that old lie, "Profit is success and success is life!" was whispered around inside the heads of the executives, and they hoped to avoid being caught.  No concern for those who were exploited has been in evidence, lower level employees have been fired, and the executives believe that they will be able to enjoy their ill-gotten gains and escape any meaningful punishment.  Indeed, so far, the only punishment for Wells Fargo's crimes has been a record-breaking fine which, however, was paltry in light of their profits, and their CEO, John Stumpf, being yelled at by US Senator Elizabeth Warner (perhaps trying to recoup some of the credibility she lost by endorsing corrupt corporatist pimpette Hillary Clinton) and verbally chastised by Senator Robert Menendez, and Wells Fargo has, as might be expected, admitted no wrongdoing.  I am not the only one to point out that Wells Fargo and Mylan should have known something was wrong;  Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, said something similar on the 19th, in reference to more recent history.  Seth Meyers also alluded to the banking crisis of 2008 in reference to Wells Fargo's actions.  Jimmy Dore pointed out that this has been going on at Wells Fargo since 2011, a mere three years after the events of 2008, and that Wells Fargo stock initially went up following the revelation of the cheating (although it has dropped some since then):

Although Stumpf did accept responsibility and claims to be "deeply sorry" for the actions of Wells Fargo, he has not resigned, has not been fired, has not, in fact, been punished in any way.  Indeed, Carrie Tolstedt, head of the division responsible for overseeing the sector of Wells Fargo where the fake accounts were created, retired in July, with approximately $96.6 million in stock, stock options, and equity awards.  In 2015, Stumpf himself received $4 million in awards, on top of his salary, from Wells Fargo, in addition to base salary and other compensation, and in 2014, his salary was $2.8 million, on top of which he also received a $4 million cash bonus, and shares valued at $12.5 million, for a total of $19.3 million in "compensation" for the year.  Wells Fargo executives will retain their bonuses in spite of the scandal, and were Stumpf to retire, step down, or be fired, he would receive $123.6 million.  In spite of Stumpf's repeated insistence that the culture of Wells Fargo was not to blame for these criminal actions, not everyone agrees.  And to make matters worse, it turns out that Wells Fargo executive salaries were subsidized by US taxpayers.  Pissed off yet?  You should be.  Just make sure you're pissed off at the right people, and don't fall for their attempts to blame the little guy who has only crumbs:

In light of these abuses, Violation Tracker, the corporate crime and misconduct searchable database maintained by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs first, has been expanded and now highlights banking, consumer protection, false claims, environmental, health, safety, price-fixing and bribery cases initiated by 30 federal regulatory agencies and the Justice Department since 2010.  You can access Violation Tracker here.

But wait, there's more! ... although, at this point, I'm not sure we can take much more.  But yea, verily, there have been still more "enterprise incidents" in the recent news, not least of which is the blatant destruction of ancient sacred sites by the interests behind the Dakota Access Pipeline (hereafter called the DAPL), and the intransigent insistence on building the thing, crossing the Missouri River twice and going through a sacred tribal burial ground of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, despite massive public opposition, outcry, and protests.  The Department of Homeland Security (as if to cement its reputation as a government gaggle of fascist bully-boys intent on imposing the will of the corporate oligarchy on the people whether we want it or not) has been involved, cutting the water supply of the Sioux and others protesting (mostly other Native Americans, as well as environmentalists, anti-statists, anti-corporatists, and progressives), private security firms have used pepper spray on protesters and allowed their dogs to attack the protesters, and a sheriff's department has issued arrest warrants for Amy Goodman, a journalist who was simply covering the protests, as well as for Green Party presidential nominee Doctor Jill Stein for "vandalizing" the blade of a bulldozer (the spray paint she used on the blade would of course be worn away in the ordinary course of use of the 'dozer, so the charge of "vandalism" stretches the credibility of the sheriff's department) and "trespassing."

Furthermore, in defiance of the judicial process then in play, the corporate interests behind the DAPL had a two-mile, 150-foot wide path bulldozed through the sacred burial ground on Labor Day Weekend, land which was being contested in Federal Court when the path was bulldozed through it, another in a long history of injustices against Native Americans.  On the Tuesday following the long weekend, 6 September 2016, a Federal Judge declined to order a halt to construction, instead requesting that Dakota Access LLC halt construction on only a small area in contention, pending a separate ruling to be issued later in the week.  The company agreed to the request.  This same Federal Judge, James Boasberg, on that Friday, the 9th, denied the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's request for an injunction against the DAPL, but then, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Department of Justice, and Department of the Army, issued this joint statement, which temporarily halted work on the DAPL on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe.  Also on the 6th, Democracy Now! reported on a new investigation which revealed more than two dozen major banks and financial institutions helping to fund the DAPL, among which are Bank of America Corporation, HSBC Holdings plc (held by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Ltd.), UBS AG (originally Union Bank of Switzerland), the Goldman Sachs Group, Wells Fargo & Co, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., as seen here:

Not only because of the  desecration of the sacred site of the Standing Rock Sioux, but also because of the potential ecological damage, the DAPL is ill-advised, as Doctor Jill Stein has pointed out.  Between 2010 and the middle of 2015, leaks or ruptures in US pipelines killed 80 people, injured 389 more, cost $2.8 billion in damages, and released toxic chemicals into soil, waterways, and the atmosphere, in numerous states, as documented by the Center for Effective Government.  Toxic chemicals released into soil and waterways may seep down into the aquifers, poisoning untapped reserves of what was formerly pure water.  Truly, as Doctor Jill Stein has said, we do not need to be building more pipelines, but dismantling those already in existence, and moving to clean, sustainable, renewable energy.  The outcome of the concerns around the DAPL remains uncertain.  For the moment, construction in a limited area has been halted, pending a determination about whether or not the government will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions on the matter.  Meanwhile, already back in May at the time the DAPL protests were gaining ground, the Obama administration quietly approved permits for two pipelines in Texas also owned by Energy Transfer Partners, and signed an agreement with Mexico forming the "US-Mexico Energy Business Council."  Instead of approving these potential ecological disasters, we could be using our time, labor, and resources to fix some of the ecological damage which has been done.

And looming in the background are the "free trade" pacts which President Obama has favored, and which Hillary Clinton will push if elected to succeed Obama, agreements which will devastate national sovereignty by relaxing regulations on corporations even more and even allow multinational corporations to sue national governments for "lost profits" over any legislation which might include GMO labeling, country-of-origin labeling, protection of the environment, minimum wage, pro-labor policies, anti-trust laws, and so on.

And if you think this is only about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the already-extant North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or even those and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), no;  there are others already prepared in case the TPP and TTIP fail:  the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).  It is not enough to be vigilant;  the corporate oligarchy has plans on top of plans on top of plans, and the money to hire thugs with pepper spray and attack dogs and bulldozers and more.  While we are focused on one abuse, they are already busily planning more.  When we have exhausted our bodies, minds, and financial resources fighting one abuse, they can simply hire more mercenaries and drones to enact their will while we recuperate and build back up our own finances which were expended in our previous resistance efforts.  Instead, we must focus our efforts, not on the symptoms, but on the root causes of these abuses;  we must change the system.  This cannot be done by voting for politicians who are part of that system;  we have to step out of line and elect those who have the interests of our nation and her states and people at heart.  We must end the two-party duopoly, a deception in which two seeming parties are in actuality but one, which is controlled by the same establishment of corporatist oligarchs who have steadily eroded our democratic republic for their own gain.  It's time.  Will you step out of line and vote for Doctor Jill Stein for President, and progressives down the ballot?  It's in our hands.  We can do it, if we stop being afraid.  Winning is impossible without the will to risk losing.

The title of the post comes from Star Trek (The Original Series), Season 3, episode 2;  episode 57 overall;  production code 59.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

For the World Is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky

For the World is Hollow,
and I Have Touched the Sky,
The Pernicious Deception of the Two Party System,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

"The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers.  Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so the American people can 'throw the rascals out' at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy."
~ Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope:  A History of the World in Our Time, pp. 1247-1248
(1966, The MacMillan Company, New York;  Second Printing, 1974, Wm. Morrison, Los Angeles)

The United States of America, in the year 2016 of the Common Era, has endured some years of polarization.  This polarization, we have been told, represents what some have named "culture wars."  The simplistic, one-dimensional single line continuum on which all possible perspectives have been reduced to "Left versus Right," with "Left" conflated with "Liberal," and "Right" conflated with "Conservative," has been the supposed explanation.  We are expected to believe that this polarization represents actual differences in worldview, and that the two sides are polar opposites, and are indeed poles apart.

In fact, however, not only is the single line continuum far too simplistic and limited to explain the many, many dimensions of perspective (of which a previous discussion here includes only seven), the two party system which has been the primary vehicle in which this polarization has been expressed is itself a deception, and a dangerous one at that.

"... perché lo universale degli uomini si pascono così di quel che pare come di quello che è: anzi, molte volte si muovono più per le cose che paiono che per quelle che sono."
~ Niccolò Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, Libro Primo, Capitolo 25

"... for the general mass of men are satisfied with appearances, as if they exist;  indeed many times they are most moved by the things which seem to be rather than by the things that are."
~ Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on the first Ten Books of Titus Livius, Book 1, Chapter 25
(my translation)

Rhetoric is one of the Classical Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences regarded as necessary for a free person (from the Latin word liberalis, which means in this context "of or pertaining to freedom;  dignified, honorable, befitting a free person," and which derives from the Latin word liber, meaning "free, unrestricted").  The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences were divided into the core, called the trivium (three ways, or three roads), and the lesser disciplines, which built upon the trivium, and were called the quadrivium (four ways).

The core trivium consisted of Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic (and the lesser disciplines of the quadrivium, with which we will not be concerned in this discussion, consisted of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy).  Grammar is of course the proper use of language in a mechanical sense.  Rhetoric is the art of persuasion.  Rhetoric itself consists of Debate and various forms of Public Speaking.  Its concern is with persuading another person, or group of persons, of a certain viewpoint.  Rhetoric is thus a contest of sorts, and the winning of such a contest is the successful persuasion of the audience.  Logic is a calculus of language, the study of correct and incorrect inference forms (or correct and erroneous methods of reasoning).  Its concern is not with persuasion, but of seeking understanding and truth.  Logic thus analyzes statements and arguments, and builds arguments from statements, in an effort to arrive at the goal of understanding and truth.  Logic also analyzes the language used in Rhetoric.

Our secondary schools require Grammar be taught and learned sufficiently to pass courses in the subject.  Some offer courses in Rhetoric.  Few give any training whatsoever in Logic, which nowadays is reserved to the college and the university.  Logic is not the same thing as "common sense."  What is considered "common sense" is often quite wrong.  Logic is a discipline;  indeed, Logic is a Pure Science, which is to say, a science depending on deductions from demonstrated truths (the only other Pure Science is Mathematics).  Logic is not, therefore, instinctive, but must be studied and practiced (and even a master logician will yet be fallible, but Logic itself is Pure, Objective, and Absolute).  Without training in Logic, the people are easily hoodwinked and led about by the flowery language and witticisms used in Rhetoric.  Logic should be a course required for graduation from secondary school, due to Logic's importance in maintaining a free society of free people, as over against those easily influenced by pretty speeches and led down the path to dystopian doom.

Machiavelli tells us that the majority of people are satisfied with mere appearances as if they were realities, and are more usually motivated by that which seems than by that which is.  Politicians are well aware of this fact, and exploit it constantly, seeking to persuade the majority by pretty speeches, witty insults of their seeming opponents, and fallacious arguments (incorrect inference forms and faulty reasoning).  Were the people trained in Logic, such exploitation would require more effort.

Superficial differences are paraded before the mass of the voters, words are spoken (and sometimes yelled) by one contender for office and seized upon by another as a point of attack.  The contenders mock one another, construct rhetorical effigies made of straw out of their opponents' stated positions and then tear those straw men down, appeal to religion, appeal to prejudice, appeal to popular ideas, appeal to various emotions including patriotism and fear.  Each seeks to portray the other as "other," as different, as dangerous or insane or foolish or unqualified or stupid or misguided or incompetent, and seeks to contrast himself or herself from "the other."  All of this rhetorical effort, however, is mere bamboozling, for, no matter which candidate is elected, the policies enacted continue just as they did before, no matter which of the two main parties is in power.

Although overly simplified, the "Political Compass" scheme of graphing perspectives based on only two dimensions demonstrates the remarkable similarity between the candidates of the two main parties who make it to the general election.  Invariably for the past 16 years, the two main parties' candidates for President have fallen into the "Right-authoritarian" quadrant of their graph, as will be seen in the images below (unfortunately, the graph for the 2000 presidential candidates is no longer available on the site):

The caption under each image will take you to the page on which the original image is found, where you will be able to see also the graphs for the candidates from the primaries, as well as some commentary on the elections and candidates (the page for the 2004 election does not include a graph for the candidates in the primaries).  As you can see, Bush vs Kerry in 2004, Obama vs McCain in 2008, Obama vs Romney in 2012, and Clinton vs Trump in 2016, are all in the upper right quadrant, which is Right Wing Economics and Authoritarian on "Social" questions (I put "Social" in quotation marks as I disagree with the terminology;  "Social" is not a synonym for "Civil," and what is being measured in this scheme is not one's attitudes toward Society, but rather, toward Civil Liberties and Civil Rights).  What is most remarkable about the 2016 graph is the position of Hillary Clinton relative to the position of Donald Trump:  she is further to the Right on Economics, but less Authoritarian on "Social" questions.  The idea, however, that the Democratic Party is "the Left" is blatantly false.  It is, in fact, nothing but Rhetoric, especially in relation to the rest of the world, but even in America, actual Leftists do exist in the political contests.  Senator Bernie Sanders was much closer to Doctor Jill Stein than he is to Hillary Clinton.  Both Sanders and Stein are Leftists, while Hillary Clinton is a "Neoliberal," which is a term which describes a rather far Right Wing perspective on Economics.  Hillary is further to the Right than Trump, further to the Right than Romney, further to the Right than McCain, and about the same position as George W. Bush (although it is difficult to determine clearly, as the 2004 graph omits the graph lines) on both Economics and questions of Authoritarianism.  By contrast, while Trump  appears to be more authoritarian than Hillary, he is not as far to the Right.  It's not much of a contrast, however;  both are Right-authoritarians.  More contrast can be seen between those two and Bernie, who is a Left-centrist (in this sense, "centrist" means he's in the center on questions of "Social" libertarianism vs authoritarianism), but Bernie is no longer a candidate in this election.  Jill Stein offers an even greater contrast, as she is a Left-libertarian.  Gary Johnson is even further to the Right than Hillary Clinton, but more of a centrist on questions of "Social" libertarianism vs authoritarianism, with a lean into the "Social" libertarian realm, but not as "Socially" libertarian as Jill Stein.

We are left with an interesting conclusion, which takes us back to where we started, with the quote from Carroll Quigley:  the two main parties put on a show of being nearly diametrically opposed, but are actually very similar, and nowadays are both Right-authoritarian in perspective.  In this particular election, we have three Right Wingers (the Republican candidate Donald Trump, the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and the Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson) contending with one Leftist (the Green candidate Jill Stein).  The last time a Leftist was elected President was when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term in 1944 (Truman, JFK, LBJ, and Carter were all more Centrists in terms of Economics, and even FDR was barely a Leftist, being essentially what would be called a "Social Democrat" in Europe);  since 1981, when Ronald Reagan took office, the Presidents of the US have been increasingly Right Wing.  Even Richard Nixon was more of a Centrist in economic terms than Reagan and the subsequent Presidents (although he was very "Socially" authoritarian by the standards of his era).

This show which the two main parties put on has led to a detrimental polarization among the people, and the sad reality is that the polarization is not substantial, but superficial;  it concerns mere labels, "Democrat" and "Republican," and not any meaningful differences in terms of what the two parties actually attempt to do when in power.  This deception must end, lest we lurch ever further toward a Right-authoritarian dystopia.  We must reject the two party system and all for which it stands, for it is, in essence, a one party system masquerading as a two party system.  The so-called "two party system" is in fact, a managed democracy with elections which are devoid of substantive meaning.  This system cannot be changed from within, but must be rejected in favor of candidates who are not part of it.  We hunger for real change, for progress toward a better future.  The candidate who offers us hope and a real chance for that better future is Doctor Jill Stein.  It's in our hands.  Let us choose wisely.

The title of the post comes from Star Trek (The Original Series), Season 3, episode 8;  episode 63 overall;  production code 65.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses,
Survival and Distraction,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

"... iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se
continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,
panem et circenses. ..."
~ Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, Saturae, X, LXXVII-LXXXI

"... Already long ago, from when votes to none
we sold, we shed trusteeships;  for who gave once
command, consulships, legions, all things, now itself
restrains and two things only timidly hopes for,
bread and circuses ..."
~ Juvenal, Satires, 10, 77–81
(my translation)

As the Republica Romana declined toward what would be known as the Imperium Romanum, the politicians of the society approved laws to provide cheap food and entertainment to the masses.  This act was not one of benevolence, but rather, of greed and lust for power.  Ambition is made of sterner stuff than benevolence, after all.  By providing wheat, the bare necessity of nourishment, to the masses, the ambitious doled out a subsistence-level existence.  The masses could survive on such fare, but just survive.  But survival, the ambitious reckoned, would not be sufficient to prevent revolt;  something else would have to be done.  Entertainment has been, for a very long time, a form of escapism, a distraction from the cares and concerns of ordinary life, an opiate which allows those suffering to forget, for a moment, their suffering.  The politicians chose, therefore, to finance the Ludi, public games intended to entertain the populace, such as the ludi circenses, horse races in the circus ("circus" in Latin referred to a circular open-air venue for public events), as well as other forms of entertainment.  Again, this was not done for the benefit of the public, but rather, to distract the public, thereby allowing the ambitious to gain more political power.  By the time of the Roman poet Juvenal, the people had become disinterested in the affairs of state, concerning themselves rather, as he satirized, with only survival and entertainment, or in his turn of phrase, "bread and circuses."  Politics was left to the politicians.  The majority of the people took little to no heed of such things.

Juvenal lamented that the people had abdicated the responsibilities with which they were entrusted by the Elders who formed the first Senate of the Republic long ago, in favor of mere survival and distraction from the woes which, had they bothered with those responsibilities, they might have been able to eradicate.  Instead, the masses eagerly gave their votes to whomever gave them bread and circuses.

"Bread and circuses" have taken many forms since the Roman Republic degraded itself to the point at which it could easily be perverted from its original estate into the Roman Empire.  In our day, the fourth estate, once more important to the shaping and passage, or rejection,  of legislation than religious leaders, Senators, and Representatives, has degraded itself into a gaggle of propagandists shilling for their corporate masters' preferred political candidates.  Where once they were journalists, now they are pimps, distracting the masses from the activities of the legislators with insipid entertainment masquerading as news.  Where once they could inspire responsible citizens to fire off angry letters to their Representatives and Senators, who would then still concern themselves with the will of the people, now those "Members of Congress" who no longer refer to themselves as "Representatives," and the Senators, take little to no heed of sharply-worded communications from their constituents, but do as they will with deference paid only to their party's line, and to the lobbyists who grease their palms and feather their nests, while the "news" media outlets distract with the latest Hollywood scandal, celebrity divorce, or, when they are told to frighten the people, with the latest alleged terrorist act.  Fewer citizens care to pay attention to such "news," preferring rather to distract themselves with more honest entertainment, which is to say, entertainment which admits that it is entertainment.

Two-hundred and forty years ago, Thomas Jefferson put quill to paper and penned a Declaration, in which he enumerated the crimes of his government.  The populace took an interest in such things then, and were willing to fight, kill, and die in order to secure unto themselves and their descendants the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  They did not undertake such a thing with the notion that their descendants would abdicate their responsibilities to maintain such rights.  Today, those who expose government corruption and abuses are accused of treason, and must either flee in search of asylum or be locked up in solitary confinement and denied necessary medical care, even when the populace takes an interest and would see such persons as patriots.

We have bridges crumbling.  We have bridges being washed away by floods.  We have overpasses decaying.  We have highways which should have been widened long ago, and highways which need the yellow and white lines retouched.  We have a national infrastructure which is in decline.  Meanwhile, our government encourages industrialists to move their factories overseas and turn them into sweatshops.  Our government gives billions of tax monies to régimes which are guilty of crimes against humanity, and sends young people to fight in wars intended to further enrich the already obscenely wealthy, in the name of "security."

Our constitutional rights have been subverted by, among other things, the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001," more commonly known by its acronym, "USA PATRIOT Act."  Our law enforcement agencies and bureaus and departments ignore laws to let wealthy criminals go free, and shoot the unarmed poor whose hands are raised, and taser the mentally ill into cardiac arrest and toss them into cells to die without any concern or medical attention.  Our government spies on us, and spends billions on the Intelligence Community.  Our Supreme Justices declare that unlawful searches and seizures are lawful, in defiance of the Bill of Rights.  Clearly, we are no better off, and no safer, with the USA PATRIOT Act than we were before it was passed.  In spite of wads of cash given to the IC and laws like the USA PATRIOT Act which violate our constitutional rights, we have "intelligence errors" and "intelligence failures," and "erroneous assumptions," and "misjudgements," and "mistakes" now just as we did before.  Benjamin Franklin wrote:  "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  Clearly, our elected "representatives" who gave up our essential liberties to purchase a little temporary safety, have not only denied us our liberties, but also failed to deliver safety.  Clearly, the USA PATRIOT Act is impotent to achieve what it was supposedly designed to achieve, and should be repealed.

Meanwhile, we have football, and basketball, and baseball, and softball, and the Olympics, and television series and movies.  We also have the two-ring circus of the two-party system parading two of the worst possible candidates for President imaginable before us and insisting that we must choose one or the other, when either of them will only, largely, perpetuate the status quo, while (subtly or not) driving the nation further toward the dystopia of Neoliberal Economics (which deregulates corporations, disenfranchises labor, attempts to dismantle the social safety net, pisses on our heads and claims that it's rain trickling down from the wealthy) and Neoconservative interventionism (which is imperialism).  They'll drop a few token crumbs from the table, the barest minimum to pacify the frustrated citizenry, and they'll continue the circuses.  But they'll do nothing for the people.

We do have other options.  The reason the Bifurcation Fallacy is called "fallacy" is because it is an error in reasoning.  The division of all possible perspectives into two, which, subjected to actual analysis, are not really dissimilar at all except in superficialities, when there are other possibilities, and other actualities, is faulty reasoning.  It is, in short, an attempt to distract the people from realizing that other options exist.  The two-party system is itself a circus in the sense of distraction.

Do we choose a loudmouthed, posturing windbag who appeals rhetorically to the baser elements of society?  Do we choose a corrupt and lying devotee of corporatism with a history of promoting wars for profit and making what she claims are merely mistakes?  Do we reject that false dilemma for what it is, and instead elect someone who gives a damn?  Do we really believe that the orange man who plays golf with the corporate pimpette's husband is really so different from the pimpette, that he's a big bad wolf, a boogeyman not unlike Mussolini, while comforting ourselves with the lie that the pimpette is a "lesser" evil?  Or do we choose rather to elect someone for the greater good?  Do we numb ourselves to the gnawing hunger in our souls for more than mere bread, by the distraction of the circus?  Or do we take back our power by choosing to reject those who would give us nothing but bread and circuses, and instead accept someone who would give us a Green New Deal, putting our people back to work repairing the national infrastructure and moving us toward sustainable and renewable energy sources, someone who would hold the criminals to account, and recognize the whistle-blowers for the heroic patriots they are in fact, someone who would do away with indentured servitude entered into in exchange for an education, someone who would reject the economic practices which led to the Great Depression, someone who would fight corruption?

There is one person running for President today who stands for the Greater Good, who is not a "lesser" evil, nor an evil at all.  There is one person running for President who cares about this nation and her people.  There is one person running for President who believes that the Constitution says "We the People," and not "We the Wealthy."  There is one person running for President who will see to it that we have more than bread and circuses.  That one person is Doctor Jill Stein.  I am voting for her, and you should, too.

Note: The quote attributed to Cicero in one of the images in the text is actually from the essay “Of Bread and Circuses,” by Ben Moreel, published in The Freeman, 1 January 1956.

The title of the blog post comes from Star Trek (The Original Series), season 2, episode 25; episode 54 overall;  production code 43.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

The Alternative Factor

The Alternative Factor,
The Bifurcation Fallacy and Liberation,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

A spectre is haunting the oligarchy -- the spectre of a third party.  All the powers of the oligarchy have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre:  main stream media and government, Hillary and Donald, Democratic liberals and Republican reactionaries.

They tell us that we are weak, that we are few, that we cannot win.  They tell us that a vote for a third party is a wasted vote.  They characterize our decision as merely a protest vote.  They claim that by voting for the candidate we want, we are actually voting for an entirely different candidate.  They warn us that our vote will allow a victory by "the other."

They may call it "a protest vote" all they like, the fact is that there has never been a better time for it.  Masses of people are fed up with the establishment and the two establishment parties.  A greater chance to elect a Green Party candidate exists this year than ever before, a greater chance to deal a mortal wound to the hateful two-party system (or at least one of the two parties therein, which would open the door to dealing with that system itself).  They can call it "a protest vote," and in fact, it is a protest vote, but only in part.

The reason for such a vote is not only because the people do not want Hillary, nor only because she and the DNC stole the nomination from a candidate whom the people wanted;  the reason to vote for the third party candidate Doctor Jill Stein is not only because the two-party system is the product of a simplistic, limited and limiting Bifurcation Fallacy and the constant rehashing of Argumentum ad Metum.  Those things are certainly factors;  the author will not deny that and no reason exists why she should deny it.  But those are not the only factors.

The Progressive Left-libertarians, those who want progress, who reject the insane greed of the oligarchy, who affirm liberty over authoritarianism, really do support Doctor Jill Stein's plan and the platform of the Green Party.  They are tired of voting for an alleged "lesser evil."  They are tired of voting for this person whom they do not like in order to vote against this other person whom they dislike even more (nor is it clear in this year's election which of the two is the more unlikable or untrustworthy).  They want to vote for someone they like, for someone who stands for the same values they hold dear (and that damned sure isn't Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump).

The little DNC who cried "Wolf!" has proven itself to be false.  While they point their fingers at the big orange blowhard and yell "Fascist" and "bigot" and "sexist" and "racist" and "Neo-Nazi," the DNC has blatantly violated every principle of democracy.  While howling about "Russian hackers," the DNC has not been able to deny the facts revealed by those persons, whomever they may be and whatever their nationality may be.  That they were hacked is irrelevant in light of what has come to light as a result.  The DNC is a gang of thugs with their own bigotry and sexism and racism, and their own species of Fascism.

The DNC has threatened the people with Trump if they don't vote for Hillary.  This has been merely the latest in a long line of appeals to fear.  Is Trump a desirable President?  By no means.  However, that does not mean that Hillary is any more desirable as President.  During the primary election, they considered smear tactics against Bernie Sanders on the grounds that he may be an Atheist, as if his religion or lack thereof were anything worthy of consideration.  Trump has railed against Muslims, but Muslims have been in America since before the American Revolution.  This is America;  the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of and from religion to her citizens, in the First Amendment.  The Constitution itself rejects any sort of religious litmus test for public office in Article VI, Clause 3.

When the public has opposed Hillary, they have been accused of being "sexists" and "misogynists."  How can a person who supports Jill Stein against Hillary Clinton be sexist or misogynistic?  All throughout her campaigns, Hillary's team have attempted to muddy the waters by accusing her opponents of sexism, but now that some of her opponents are supporting another woman instead of her, that avenue of attack is closed to her supporters.  Instead, they have attacked a medical doctor who studied and later taught medicine at Harvard University, accusing her of being an anti-vaxxer or pandering to anti-vaxxers or being anti-scientific in general.  Doctor Stein has answered all of these lies several times.  The DNC, while pointing to racist speech by Trump, referred to Hispanic voters as "taco bowl voters."  Little difference is apparent between Trump and Hillary on questions of bigotry, racism, and sexism.  Voters should reject Emily's List because someone's chromosomal sex or gender identity is irrelevant to a decision to vote for or against that person, but Hillary's team seems to think that she should be President because she's a woman.  Indeed, a woman President would be nice, but Hillary Clinton is not the right woman for that job.  Jill Stein is, but if there were a better candidate who were male, the people should vote for that candidate.  Neither Hillary nor Jill should be President simply because they are women, but by the same token, the fact of their being women should not be a disqualification in any voter's mind.  Matriarchy is not an improvement on patriarchy.  Both should be rejected in favor of equality.

A Bifurcation Fallacy is the presentation of two and only two options, when additional options exist.  The two-party system, ensconced in the corridors of political power, leads to many claiming that only two choices exist.  They claim that no third party can win.  Such a claim is pure propaganda.  A third party will win, when the voters stop believing this lie and start supporting and voting for third party candidates.  A company's stock value falls when stockholders panic and unload their stock on the market.  A third party loses when voters are terrorized into the belief that the third party has no chance, and presented with a "lesser evil" narrative.  However, a "lesser evil" is still evil.  And the two establishment parties will continue to put forth undesirable candidates, as long as the people continue to elect one or the other of those parties.

There are those who fear that a third party candidate cannot win.  They see the biased polls which exclude millennials, which are conducted via telephone (landlines only, at a time when more and more people are getting rid of their landlines in preference for mobile communication).  But what are the numbers?  Add 26 (the percentage of registered Republicans) to 17 (the percentage of registered Democrats who supported Hillary during the primaries).  If the reader should come up with a number different from 43, the reader must do it again.  Now add another 6 to account for the percentage of registered voters who supported Bernie in the primaries and fell in line to vote for Hillary.  The reader will get 49, right?  Right.  Now then, add 8 (the percentage of registered voters who supported Bernie in the primaries and have continued the political revolution by switching their support to Jill Stein) to 43 (the percentage of registered voters who are registered independent, no party preference, or as members of one or another "third" party).  The sum is 51.  51 is greater than 26, greater than 17 (or 23), and even greater than 49. Those are numbers.

Now, of course, that 51% are not all going to vote for Doctor Stein, but neither are all of those 26% going to vote for Trump, nor all of those 23% going to vote for Hillary.  Be afraid, drones of the Queen (wanna)Bee.  Be very afraid.  Your old order is crumbling, precisely because of this same Bifurcation Fallacy and Argumentum ad Metum which the two-party duopoly has trotted out every four years for decades, and of which the majority of voters in the nation are more than tired.

Trump talks crap;  it's a common thing in NYC.  Hillary has already done things far worse than anything Trump has done, and has done things he has only talked about.  Hillary has no comprehension of the life of the average person, she has no empathy, she can't even accept responsibility for her own acts when caught red-handed, but instead tries to shift the blame onto someone else.  If you cave to the politics of fear, you will only perpetuate the broken system that got us to this point in the first place.  Stop being afraid.  We have the power, because we have the numbers; now let us realize that we have the numbers and use our power to end this corrupt two-party system once and for all.

The only way to stop this is to step out of line, stop listening to the appeal to fear, realize that other choices exist, and select one of those other choices.  This year is that time, time to reject the inane and fallacious lie that only two choices exist, when either of those choices will only perpetuate the oligarchy and the entire establishment which is poisoning sea, land, and sky, allowing the already insanely and obscenely wealthy to steal more and more wealth while others struggle or starve, ignoring the crumbling infrastructure of our nation, enacting policies which do little or nothing to bring jobs to the people, forcing young people into lives of indentured servitude to bankers in exchange for an education, locking people up in for-profit prisons where they become part of forced labor (slavery) for non-violent crimes, allowing insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies to further enrich themselves at the expense of the ill who go into debt and lose what little they had, killing competition in favor of monopolies, disenfranchising labor unions, allowing the oligarchy to buy elections, ... the list goes on.  This year it is time at last to step out of line and reject the "lesser" evil and choose the greater good.  It's in our hands.  Only we can save ourselves.

The title of the post comes from Star Trek (The Original Series), Season 1, episode 27;  episode 27 overall;  production code 20.

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I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.  No challenge of ownership is intended or implied.
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Friday, September 16, 2016

Remember What We Fight Against, and What We Fight For

Remember What We Fight Against,
And What We Fight For,
A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? (Part 7),
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

Remember what we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.

"Brothers and sisters, this is the nation we can create when we stand together, and not let people divide us.  They have unlimited sums of money.  They own much of this country.  They control much of the media.  They are very powerful.  But we have something they do not have.  We have a united people."
~ Senator Bernie Sanders, telling us what we are fighting against

The Hillary Clinton campaign is opening a new initiative to attempt to discourage us from supporting Dr. Jill Stein, as reported in this article in The New York Times yesterday.  As before, with their "Correct the Record" effort (which most of us recognize as "Corrupt the Record"), this will be another legion of paid trolls offering harassment and illogical talking points, with what the Hillary campaign hopes will be a heavy dose of "Public Relations" rhetoric (propaganda), but which will more likely be the same sort of intellectually challenged thuggery as we saw last time, with pornography and outrageous conspiracy theories presented on sites and social networks which support Doctor Jill Stein.  They will likely repeat the same old smears about Dr Stein which the Hillary campaign has tried in the past.  They will be pushing the narrative of "the big bad Trump" heavily.  They will be promoting the debunked bullshit about how Nader supposedly caused the election of Dubya.  They will highlight the positive record of Hillary, while ignoring all the negatives, because the Hillary campaign believes we're all just poor, stupid, uninformed kids who don't know who she is.  They will plead and beg and threaten and cajole and promise, but they are LIARS working for a LIAR.

Ralph Nader did not lose the election for Al Gore in 2000.  Al Gore lost the election for Al Gore in 2000.  He had the personality of a dead fish, he did not inspire, he did not make his case.  Everything the Democrats said about 2000, then and now, hinged on the general election in Florida.  They will tell you that 1% of Democrats in Florida voted for Ralph Nader, and that if that 1% had voted for Gore, Gore would have won.  What the Democrats do not tell you is that 13% of Democrats in Florida voted for George W. Bush in 2000.  Nader did not lose the election for Gore.  Gore did not inspire Florida Democrats to vote for him.  Gore lost the election all by himself.  Ron Chusid, in the Liberal Values blog, took on the discredited bullshit about Nader in the post, "Debunking the Ralph Nader Scare Tactics For Supporting The Lesser Evil."  Tony Schinella, in the Politizine blog, took on the actual numbers and showed the lie for what it is, in his post, "DEBUNKING THE MYTH:  Ralph Nader didn't cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000."  You can also read Jim Hightower's analysis of the nationwide election results at Salon, here.  No, Ralph Nader is not to blame.  Establishment Democrats have no-one to blame but themselves, but like their beloved Hillary blaming Russia for leaking emails which expose negatives in Hillary's past (as well as collusion between her campaign and the DNC), they cannot bring themselves to admit fault, and have tried to blame others for their own mistakes and wrongdoing.

Now, in 2016, vast swathes of the electorate are sick to death of the establishment and the two establishment parties.  Record numbers of voters do not want Hillary Clinton OR Donald Trump to win.  Those voting for Hillary are mostly voting against Trump, and those voting for Trump are mostly voting against Hillary.  The exceptions, those who genuinely support the candidate, are the dyed-in-the-wool, unthinking partisan types, who vote party as a matter of course, without much analysis of the candidates or what they stand for, nor their records.
26% of Americans registered to vote are registered as Republicans.
17% of Americans registered to vote are registered as Democrats and support Hillary Clinton.
14% of Americans registered to vote supported Bernie Sanders during the primary election.  Of those, more than half have switched their support to Jill Stein following the Democratic National Convention.
43% of Americans registered to vote are registered as independent, no party preference, or as a member of a third party.

We have the numbers.  We just need to get the information about the Green Party platform and Dr Jill Stein's plan out, and we need to stand firm, reject the scare tactics and the Bifurcation fallacy.

But let's talk about that 2000 election again, or rather, the result thereof.  George W. Bush became President.  I need not remind you all of the disaster that was, but something which is not so well known is that much of what happened while "Dubya" was President was planned, over a year before the fact.  If you're not familiar with the Project for the New American Century, you can read up on it at Wikipedia, at SourceWatch, and at Information Clearing House.  Many PNAC personnel were given appointments in Dubya's cabinet.  What you should really know, however, is that, in September of 2000, the PNAC published a paper called "Rebuilding America's Defenses" in which plans for Afghanistan and Iraq were laid out, almost a year before the events of 11 September 2001, the covert insertion of the CIA's Special Activities Division into Afghanistan on 26 September 2001 as a precursor to a larger invasion, and the passage of the "USA PATRIOT Act" on 26 October 2001.  On 20 March 2003, based on what are now described as "intelligence failures," the US invaded Iraq.  The results of all of these actions include the spread of "al-Qaeda" to other Islamic nations.  You can read or download (and then read) "Rebuilding America's Defences" from this archive.

It doesn't end there.  On 21 March 2011, with the full support (and urging) of then-Secretary Hillary Clinton, the US under Obama's leadership, and the UK under Cameron's leadership, together with other NATO forces, invaded Libya and killed Muammar Gaddafi.  According to a UK parliamentary foreign-affairs committee report, the UK's involvement in this was based on “erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding” of the situation there, as reported in an article published by The Wall Street Journal.  One of the results of this was the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012.  Among other results of this destabilization of Libya was the establishment of al-Qaeda in Libya and the rise of Daesh (which is more commonly known as "ISIS," "ISIL," "IS," or "the Islamic State," but "Daesh" is a much more accurate name for them, its meaning in Arabic being "a group of bigots who impose their will on others," as discussed by Alice Guthrie in this post).

In 2012, an article discussing the PNAC was published in Global Research, speculating that the next US invasion would be an invasion of Syria.

Established in February of 2007, the CNAS, or Center for a New American Security, includes several former members of the PNAC (which ceased function in 2006).  The CNAS is closely associated with Hillary Clinton.  In May of 2016, the CNAS published a paper called "Extending American Power," which you can read, or download (and then read), here.  Among other things, this paper points fingers at Russia, engages in revisionist history concerning the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and demands régime change in Syria.  Mrs Clinton has been rattling a saber at Russia for a while now, and has been pushing for a "no fly" zone over Syria, as well as the CNAS goal of régime change in Syria.  The CNAS also strongly supports the TPP and the TPIP.  You may draw your own conclusions from this information.  I'm sure you've guessed that my conclusions, based on her Neoconservative tendencies to support Israel and promote wars for oil, is that she intends to invade Syria if she's elected President.  This conclusion is also upheld by the revelation of a Clinton email (thanks to WikiLeaks), in which it is said that "The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad."  You can view the email here.

I could go on talking about Hillary's record, her numerous claims to have made "a mistake," or that she "misspoke," and her rampant twisting of the truth.  The conclusion is either 1. she's telling the truth and is terribly incompetent, 2. she's lying, 3. the Transverse Sinus Thrombosis from which she suffers has caused brain damage and she honestly does not remember what she did or said, or 4. some combination of the first three conclusions.  Regardless of which of those conclusions correct, she is not qualified for or worthy of the office of President of the United States of America.

She will lead the US into more of the "endless war" which began under George W. Bush.  That much is a given, assuming she will live long enough to do so (but we'll come back to her health momentarily).  Her perspective on imperialism/interventionism or non-interventionism is identical to that of any other Neoconservative.

On questions of Economics, she has demonstrated a firm commitment to continuing the Neoliberalism which her husband embraced, which has in fact characterized every US President since Ronald Reagan took office.  She supports the TPP, in spite of her more recent rhetoric to which she was pushed by Bernie Sanders and Berners to whom she had intended to appeal.  However, her selection of Tim Kaine as her Vice Presidential running mate indicates that she has only changed the tune, but not the substance, of her message.  She will push the TPP if she be elected and take office.  And that's not all.  Her campaign contributions came from the "too big to fail" banking industry, Wall Street, the petroleum industry, the for-profit prison industry, and other representatives of the establishment corporatocracy.  These contributions are well documented.  She will not rein in Wall Street or high-risk lending or the oil companies.  She will not impose regulations, but relax them.  She exported fracking around the world and won't be doing anything to stop it if elected.  She will not, in short, do a damned thing to combat global warming or economic injustice, but will instead continue the status quo of business as usual.  In short, Hillary Clinton is a Republican, regardless of her running as a Democrat.

Now, about Mrs Clinton's health, a lot of her supporters have howled that all this concern is nothing but "right wing conspiracy theory."  Yet, following the events of 11 September 2016, when she "passed out" or "fainted" leaving the 9/11 Memorial service in NYC, even the main stream media, which has heretofore been all in for Hillary, yes, even they began to ask questions (including no less a Hillary propaganda outlet than The Washington Post itself, which has previously fallen over itself to lick Mrs Clinton's boot).  About the same time, more Clinton emails were leaked by the hacker "Guccifer 2.0," and included therein was this email, originally sent on 4 January 2013, from Huma Abedin to Hillary Clinton, in which Ms Abedin quotes an article by Doctor Marc Siegel, discussing Hillary's condition, "Right Transverse Sinus Thrombosis," and urging that the media practice respect for Mrs Clinton's privacy and restraint in their reporting.  Now, the source being a hacker, some of the Hillary supporters are likely to reject it as a forgery or some kind of conspiracy theory, but the fact is that it was a response to a piece done by ABC News on 31 December 2012, which CONFIRMED this diagnosis and which you can read (and watch an accompanying video for) here.  Since that ABC News piece and the subsequent article by Dr Siegel, we've heard little or nothing from the main stream media about "Transverse Sinus Thrombosis," especially in connection with Hillary Clinton.

So what exactly is this condition, "Transverse Sinus Thrombosis"?  Let's see what the American Heart Association has to say.  In an article published on 12 July 2012 in one of their journals, the journal named Stroke, Volume 43, Number 7, we find some explanation.  The article, titled "Differentiation of Transverse Sinus Thrombosis From Congenitally Atretic Cerebral Transverse Sinus With CT," explains as follows:

Thrombosis of the cerebral dural venous sinuses is an uncommon but potentially devastating cause of stroke, which has a predilection for women and the young.

Now you say, "Well, that's great, Giovanna, but what difference does that make?  What does it mean?  What are the symptoms and possible complications?"

I'm glad you asked.  Johns Hopkins tells us the symptoms and possible complications, in this article:

Symptoms of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis may vary, depending on the location of the thrombus. Responding quickly to these symptoms makes it more possible to recover.
These are the physical symptoms that may occur:
Blurred vision
Fainting or loss of consciousness
Loss of control over movement in part of the body
Complications of venous sinus thrombosis include:
Impaired speech
Difficulty moving parts of the body
Problems with vision
Increased fluid pressure inside the skull
Pressure on nerves
Brain injury
Developmental delay

"Okay, okay," you say, "that does sound pretty bad, but the same article points out that she can live just fine under proper medical supervision."  Yes, yes it does.  Under proper medical supervision.

"Well, what difference does it make anyway!?" you demand.  Indeed, what difference does it make?  Well, let's consider what would happen if Mrs Clinton died in office.  We all know the answer.  Her Vice President would take over.  Do you know much about Tim Kaine?  An article published on 14 September 2016 in The Huffington Post suggests that we ought to be very concerned with Hillary's health, precisely because of who Tim Kaine is.  The article, linked here, says, among other things:


As Kaine stated repeatedly in campaign ads when running for Governor – which used the catchphrase “these are my values and that’s what I believe” – “I’m conservative.” ...

He is a man who stood with George W. Bush on Iraq, professing to “share the President’s view,” and continued as a champion for neoconservative imperialism as a Senator. Kaine led the effort to get Congressional approval for the use of military force against ISIS, which to that point had been ongoing illegally, mocking opponents as “afraid.” He has advocated for the enactment of a “safe zone” in Syria which would “need US military assets to protect it,” – put another way, ‘ground troops’ – and in a time of ostensible non-proliferation supports strengthening America’s nuclear capability.

As a pro-coal Governor, and the Senator who co-sponsored legislation to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling, Kaine has been an environmental antagonist, often drawing criticism from activists and related organizations.

... For Tim Kaine, trade deals continuing the labor (not to mention sovereignty)-crushing legacy of NAFTA are “something I feel really passionate about.” As Governor he sent letters of support for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement and others, voted to fast-track the TPP as a Senator, and was passionate enough to critique the “loser’s mentality” of those who opposed this agenda.

And while Donald Trump throws around “loser” as an insult from a man who told people they were fired on television, Tim Kaine does so as a politician who oversaw the execution of 11 people as Governor. ... Tim Kaine has definitively been a ‘tough on crime’ politician.

Well, certain types of crime, at least. As a Senator, Kaine has been a great crusader for bank deregulation. He voted for a bill which would roll back the already modest Dodd-Frank regulations, standing in opposition to colleagues such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and earlier this year, according to Politico, was “part of a lobbyist-driven effort to help banks dodge consumer protection standards and regulations to prevent banks from destroying our economy.”


Yeah, I would have to say her health is an important consideration.  Unless, you know, you want to vote for someone who has absolutely no reservations about describing himself as a "conservative," a word much misused these days, when what it describes should be more accurately named "social reactionary" or "would-be theocrat" or "Far Right Wing Extremist."

"But, but, but ... TRUMP!!!"  So fucking what?  Did you not pay attention to those numbers up there?  Hillary cannot win in a fair and honest election against Trump, and that is what really ought to scare you, instead of the Hillary campfire host's dark fairy tale of the big bad wolf (or the big orange blowhard).  This is the same dark fairy tale the Democrats have been spinning for decades already, "Vote for our candidate or you'll get this horrible fascist evil, even though our candidate is not really that inspiring."  It's the same shit every four years, the "Lesser Evil" narrative.  The Argumentum ad Metum.  Always always always, present the candidate of the Republicans as Hitler or Mussolini, in order to terrorize the people into voting for the Democratic candidate, and totally ignore any other possible choices.  Didn't work so well in 2000, did it?  Or 2004, for that matter.  The only reasons Obama won in 2008 and 2012 were the historical precedent of electing our first Black President and the fact of his charisma.  I hate to break it to ya, but Hillary ain't got no charisma.  She's so obviously a fake that most people not only refuse to trust her, they actively dislike her.

"But, but, but, ... A WOMAN PRESIDENT!!!"  Yeah, that would be nice, if it were the right woman.  Hillary isn't the right woman.

"Oh, I see, so you're just a sexist and a misogynist!"  No, toots, I'm a woman myself, and no, I don't have any "internalized misogyny."  I just think Hillary Clinton is a tremendously shitty choice for President, and her uterus, her chromosomes, and her gender identity have nothing to do with it.  But, you know, I am supporting a woman for President.  So that "sexist and misogynist" line isn't remotely realistic, and you know it.  You're just making yourselves look like bigoted idiots with that.  It's past time to stop shrieking that line, which was tried back in 2008, too, and it didn't work then, either.  It also cheapens the terms when you apply them to anyone who disagrees with you on any given issue, which is part of the reason so many people have in recent years rejected the label "Feminist," because the loudest voices in Feminism these days are the "safe space" snowflakes who accuse any dissenters of being "sexist" and "misogynistic" and "homophobic" and "transphobic" and "transmisogynistic."  For the record, I'm Bisexual, and I used to be a Moderator in an LGBTI support group, till it was shut down by the host, who shut down all groups at their site at the same time, for reasons I have not been told.  Bear false witness against someone else.  I don't buy your Third Wave Authoritarianism which you think is "Feminism."  I'm old enough to remember Second Wave Feminism, and when I listen to Feminists (and I do), the ones I listen to are Second Wave Feminists, not self-righteous and ill-informed busybodies like bell hooks and Anita Sarkeesian.  I'm not a supporter of Emily's List.  I vote for a person because of what they stand for, not because of their chromosomal sex or gender identity.

And so let me make it plain to you, that we are not merely fighting against both Trump and Hillary and the Establishment which they both represent, but we are fighting for something, too.

"The unique thing about the Green Party is that we are the one national party that is not corrupted by corporate money, by lobbyist money, or by super PACs, so we have the unique ability to actually stand up for what it is that the American people want, what everyday people want, that is, we have a jobs emergency, and we call for an emergency jobs program that will actually solve the emergency climate change that we are seeing in the floods and the fires and the heatwaves across this country that are so painful to watch right now.  This is what the future looks like, if we don't stand up and start doing something about it.  We're the one party that is actually calling for cancellation of student debt and bailing out a generation of young people ... make higher education free, and healthcare as a human right, and create a welcoming path to citizenship, end police violence, and a foreign policy that's based on international law, human rights, and economic justice."
~ Doctor Jill Stein, telling us what we are fighting for

Stand firm, Berners.  Keep that Fire BERNing Green.  Stand for what is right.  Stop being afraid.  Reject the politics of fear.  Reject the Bifurcation Fallacy.  If there were ever a year in which a third party candidate has a real chance to win the presidency, it is 2016.  THIS is our moment.  THIS is our chance.  THIS is what we MUST do.  WE are the revolution.  WE are "The Bern."  Hillary hopes to unleash a storm upon us, but WE are the storm which will wash away the corrupt establishment.