Saturday, June 30, 2007

Some disturbing passages from Stephenwolf

These bother me because there have been so many comparisoms to USA of today and 1930's Germany....some are bogus of course, but then there's this description of reading a newspaper column:

"It is remarkable, all that men can swallow. For a good ten minutes I read a newspaper. I allowed the spirit of an irresponsible man who chews and munches anothers words in his mouth and then gives them out again, undigested , to enter my soul through my eyes."

He could just as well be describing a David Broder column or perhaps even one of Judith Miller's infamous pre-invasion columns of the New York Times.

And then, there's the the music he heard coming from one of the imfamous caberets

One half of the music, the melody, was all pomade and sugar and sentimentality. The other half was savage, tempermental and vigorous. Yet the two went together artlessly well and made a whole. It was the music of decline.

He could also have been talking about listenig to any to any top 40 station on your car radio.

These disturb me very much

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ranting on Cheney..

Yeah...there's big news about to break down in Madison about a new Democratic Senate sponsored Health Plan but while we're waiting for those details I thought I'd take the opportunity to pile on with the rest of the denizens of Left Blogsylvania on the Cheney revelations.

He's worse than we ever thought...well, some of us who were claiming to be more "moderate" anyway thought he just COULDN'T be as bad as our collegues were making him out to be.

About the interogation techniques.... it seems Cheney was behind that's from the MSNBC link

"...From that moment, well before previous accounts have suggested, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials."

And that's not all he was instrumental in....apparently he cut agencies out of the loop, kept documents secret from key individuals (like the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor) and even spyed on White House Officials.....nice guy huh?

From Powerline (retch)

According to the report, before the end of the very day on which we were attacked, Cheney had put together a legal team consisting of David Addington (Cheney's counsel), Alberto Gonzales, Tim Flanagan (Deputy White Counsel), and John Yoo of the Justice Department. Cheney's team promptly came up with the "authorization for the use of military of force" that Congress approved on Sept. 18. Soon thereafter, it put into place, with the president's approval, the program under which the NSA intercepted communications by al Qaeda into the U.S. without a warrant.In doing so, Cheney kept various bureaucracies out of the loop. For example, he excluded John Bellinger, the ranking national security legal advisor in the White House, as well as the State Department's legal team. Cheney and his team also out-maneuvered Bellinger and others when they persuaded President Bush to treat captured al Qaeda fighters as unlawful combatants with no rights under the Geneva Conventions

But even so, Powerline bloggers think this is admirable...

The Post points out that Cheney's efforts to bypass large chunks of the bureaucracy were inconsistent with his own philosophy for White House decision-making, as he had articulated it on various occasions in the past. Under the extraordinary circumstances created by 9/11, I find it commendable that Cheney did not feel wedded to his prior, hyper-cautious approach -- let's call it "growing in office."

Tbogg has the right take on it:

"I've said before that these are the kind of people who start pondering cannibalism when the motor on the boat conks out ten feet from shore."

Cheney is the most disgusting individual ever to hold public office in the United States. This man deserves to be impeached even more so than Bush, who comes off in the Post article...well, let TBogg describe it again.

"War criminal isn't strong enough term for Dick Cheney. One thing that comes through loud and clear is how gutless people in the Bush Administration were, and are, as Dick Cheney and David Addington continually rat-fucked them. George Bush, on the other hand, comes across a mindless non-entity within his own administration. That's not exactly news. "

I think I'm beginning to like Kucinich and his impeachment ideas...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

About Skepticism.....

I'll confess that it was pure serendipity that the Santayana quote came in so handy during the last week...both in terms of writing on Len Hart's Existentialist Cowboy blog and also in my "real life".

When I found it appropriate to The Cowboy's blog after having used it in public discourse just a few days before, I became very troubled that it had the same application and wondered aloud if it was truly a coincidence, or perhaps an all too human tendency to seek out that which you are fond of and apply it in every and all circumstances, or, maybe it is that skepticism and or the lack of it is a key to working ourselves out of the messes (micro and macro) we find ourselves in today.

I tend to think that the lack of skepticism is the problem. I can cite examples from my personal life in just the past two weeks where people in positions of leadership and authority have unquestionably....make that UN SKEPTICALLY swallowed information passed on to them and made broad, sweeping changes in policy (not to mention personnel) based upon information that was at best misleading and more likely...completely fabricated.

When did we quit thinking critically?

(More likely, when did we quit thinking altogether?)

Recently, I questioned a proposal being put before a public body with one of my colleagues, a female who possesses a MBA, (from a diploma-mill but we'll rant on that later) who dismissed my questions and objections with, "Well, I just suppose you're a negative individual, so I'll just have to ignore you or your negativism will affect me." My "negative questions" were, "What is the value of this project to the public?" and, "What problem are we actually trying to solve and is this the most cost-effective way to do it?" Supposedly, all we have to do is think "positive thoughts" and everything will be just fine. That is supposed to be a substitute for critical analysis of a proposal and testing of the premises upon which the solution is built (skepticism anybody?).

I can't take credit for this because I think another blogger coined the phrase, but it seems that the "Tinker Bell Complex" is running our country.. The other blogger (Digby, I think) coined the phrase in terms of the Iraq War Policy that the administration seems to be following, because just like in Peter Pan, if we clap our hands hard enough and say "I believe", Tinker Bell will come back to life (or we'll win in Iraq....depending on whether you're watching Peter Pan or George W. Bush...although admittedly it's hard to tell the difference.)

Skepticism isn't taught at the MBA diploma mills....just the latest management fads. One of the more ridiculous fads related to me recently was that a CEO came out of his office and stood in the middle of the "cube farm" where all the worker bees were slaving away, playing with a yo-yo. When his ....what do you call that? "Yo-Yo-ing"? had caught every body's attention, he calmly asked, "Hey guys, what are you thinking?" The person relating this to me was doing so only to highlight the "strange behavior" the boss was exhibiting but I'll bet dollars to donuts that this was some variation of a management fad of how to relate to your employees...probably an article in a business magazine. That fad is replacing good, old fashioned, openness, honesty and integrity on the part of management...any skeptical thinker would have responded with, "I think you're a shallow, incompetent asshole who's disrupting productive work."

I've ranted far too long and perhaps even lost focus....but before I leave I'll give a couple of rules to live by:

Question Authority....ESPECIALLY AUTHORITY!

Get it (whatever "it" happens to be ) in writing!

Do the math, even if it's hard. Make sure the numbers really add up.

Don't assume because a person has a title, that they are competent.
If they say they've got a degree (especially an MBA) ask them WHERE they got it.

Don't give up your chastity (skepticism) too early or to the first comer....otherwise you'll just be another corporate whore...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shameless Blogwhoring...

Yeah....I posted this in the comments section of The Existentialist Cowboy's blog....but I still like it....

Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer; there is nobility in preserving it coolly and proudly through long youth, until at last, in the ripeness of instinct and discretion it can be safely exchanged for fidelity and happiness. George Santayana, American Philosopher

When September 11 happened we carelessly squandered our chastity (skepticism) and let Bush have his way with us.

Our questioning of even his most outrageous claims (Osama and Saddam were in league with each other; The "smoking gun could be a mushroom shaped cloud) stopped altogether...

In short, we whored ourselves for patriotism...and we gave ourselves away at a shamefully cheap price.


"What did we learn Charlie Brown? What did we learn?"

Friday, June 15, 2007

Stress? What Stress?

I'll freely admit that I'm a stimulation freak...that is, I've got to have something going on all the time...I'm too restless to get into that whole "chill out" scene....

but there are times.....

When public issues come up that I'll worry about over and over again, and, truthfully, because I understand the lessons of A Man for All Seasons, I know that the art of "picking your battles" is sometimes a slow road to compromising your principles.........


Unfortunately I have a real life that goes beyond politics and involves finances, spouse, kid and everything else we trap ourselves into in this day and age. Real life also causes STRESS and worry...

It's been a rough three weeks and it "ain't over yet".

Friday, June 08, 2007

a visit with Stephenwolf

Thanks to some references from The Existentialist Cowboy, I found akindred spirit...who sums up the way I feel most of the time....

he writes:

"...And, in fact if the world is right, if this music of the cafes', these massed enjoyments and these Americanized men who are pleased with so little, are right, then I am wrong, I am crazy. I am in truth, the Stephenwolf I often call myself; that beast astray that finds neither home nor joy nor nourishment in a world that is strange and incomprehensible to him."

Hermann Hesse

Earlier he part...

"For what I always hated and detested and cursed above all things was this contentment, this healthiness and comfort, this carefully preserved and optimism of the middle classes, this fat and prosperous brood of mediocrity."

How strange...I have never read Stephenwolf, and yet these thoughts that ran rampant in my childhood..(I clearly remember these feelings at a time and place when I was 10 years old!) ..these thoughts that I passed off as a personal psychosis to be hidden in a dark cellar of my mind and never exposed to the light of day....they've been in print since long, long before I was born.....and even though I know Hesse was writing of pre-WWII Germany, I find his thoughts disturbingly current...I see the images he portrayed in the late 20's and early 30's clearly identifiable today...

It is disturbing.

But if I keep reading....maybe there's an answer....


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

One-two punch........

What a week!

As some of you know we (okay "I") were/was deeply involved in the issue with the State party chair.

He resigned his position as a lobbyist on Saturday.

Here's the surprise: I/we probably didn't have anything to do with it.

I suspect that the motivation for his resignation came from a "higher" source and I can only speculate as to where that might have been but I won't do so openly. Lee Rayburn at WXXM, The Mic 92.1 had some very interesting thoughts on what happened at the 2nd CD Convention in Beloit last Saturday. Here's his entry:

Saturday 06-02-2007 6:16pm CT I think I may have been the ONLY member of the media in attendance at today's 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin's Democratic Convention at Beloit College. State Democratic Chairman Joe Wineke began this morning by announcing that he has resigned his lobbyist position with AT&T. As a result, two resolutions from the 2nd CD asking Wineke to step down were taken off the table. Because I had publicly disapproved of his apparent conflict of interest, he kept telling me that I should know better. Hopefully, he'll join us on the radio, I'll ask him about it & we can move forward together. During one of the elections for officers, there were accusations of ballot-stuffing which forced a recount. The accusations ended up being unfounded. I will have the full story for you with accompanying audio on Monday morning. Seriously, I can't wait...

I'm starting to think the resignation was a one-two punch combination. I think the "higher authority" (whoever that may have been) saw that the 2nd CD was ready to a pass more than one resolution and that it was likely to get to the floor of the State Convention and turn into a nasty little fight that would pit the Madison-Milwaukee complex against the "Outstate" interests and the party didn't want any part of that kind of fight.

If that's the locals were just a sideshow.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Circles within Circles...


It just never stops.

I suppose I could avoid the stresses of being an activist by simply...well...NOT BEING AN ACTIVIST.

I don't know if I could live with myself though.......

This week is going to be full of activities and issues and I'm going to plow right into them head-on...

btw: The Party Chair resigned his lobbying position on Saturday. Our meeting with him was best described as "contentious" and personally one of the most difficult encounters I've experienced in years. But the only thing that remains now is to prevent this from happening in the future.

Local issues are starting to seep in under the woodwork. I'm going to dive right in and get at them...

Just a quick observation though.......

I've had lots of opportunities to talk with the people of my district recently and they tell me I'm doing a good job and they are asking me to do a lot of the things that I'm already doing. In short, my assessment of their wants and needs is pretty accurate....


When it comes time to charge the machine gun nest are they behind me?

Will they be behind me if I stick my neck out...even though they've told me that's what they want?

I've been in this business a long time and I know that only a precious few will take the time and effort to come to a meeting to support their/your position when the proverbial manure hits the ventilation shaft.....I'm getting old enough now to be a little cautious...maybe even tackle the big issues again and again and again.

Hmmmm....wonder what "Mayor Al" would say about that?