Category Archives: Important Ideas

How Can We Get the United States Back to Normal?

Created July 30, 2021

“America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”

–Ronald Reagan

The world is waiting to see how this unprecedented drama comes out. Billions of people had high hopes that America would lead the world to a fair break democracy for all. Now it’s looking like the whole idea of democracy is failing and the brutal bosses are restoring their clutches on the whole planet. The tyrants who used to wear masks as monarchies now wear different masks but they still get their way, one way or the other. They buy it, or threaten, or kill, but nothing stands in their way. Apparently not even the legal government of the USA. Because that legal government is no longer one thing, it’s two things:

  1. People who truly believe in what America is all about.
  2. People who only care about themselves and are betting on the Republican party, led by a splinter arm, to take over the country and maybe one day the world by using perfectly legal means, through their cleverness in gaming those legal rules.

It’s my best estimate based on studying survey results from Pew, Gallup, Dynata and others, that at least 86% of Americans do not back this splinter sub-party within the Republican party, we back America, democracy, equality, freedom, justice, truth, science, and perennial human values.

However, some of the 86% are loyal to the Republican party, it is deeply ingrained, all joining-group phenomena build upon the primal human need to belong, and simply out of loyalty these people have been giving their support to the individuals who are driving this bus.

The tools the drivers are using were not in the U.S. Constitution, but introduced a long time ago by politicians anyway, and now filibuster and gerrymandering are treated as American as applesauce. Filibuster being in place, it stops legislation which could otherwise depose both of these tools. In the next midterm elections coming up soon, prognosticators believe that the Republican party, although a minority, will take possibly permanent or at least multi-decade control of the U.S.A.

We have already seen how, at a time which was premature for a successful coup d’etat (voter restriction laws not yet in place, gerrymandering potentials not yet fully exploited), Trump attempted to remain president and got dangerously close to doing it, and retains his freedom to continue to translate the Trump-Republican sub-party ideas for popular allegiance. How much harder will such people fight to keep their control later on if they manage to ever lose an election again despite the use of false stories through all the media, filibuster, gerrymandering, State level voter rights restrictions, sponsored militias (possible but not proven yet), infiltrated police departments and armed services, and local intimidation.

How can we get back to being the beacon for righteousness for the world? It is not by standing helplessly by and allowing it to continue to be driven by a very small minority that prove by their actions they don’t care at all that they are breaching their oaths of office:

“I, ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.””

The Constitution contains the 15th Amendment:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

The people who have proposed voting restrictions, blatantly designed to disenfranchise minority voters, have clearly breached their solemn oaths. All of these conspirators in a coup d’etat plot, anyone who stayed in a room where words were heard conveying this plan to sufficiently game the system and pack the courts and use every foul means available to gain and retain absolute power over a free people despite knowing themselves to be a minority, are traitors to the American Dream.

“Seditious Conspiracy” has already been mentioned by prosecutors in the cases against Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Florida 3%ers who are known to have coordinated their insurgency at the Capitol. We have to open our minds to wider consideration of such charges as investigators continue to trace the causes of the insurrection, from low places to high.

In this citizen’s opinion, they are traitors, guilty of treason; this is not intended as hyperbole. The indications of treason, to me, are disseminating false information in the media, undermining Americans’ self-belief and the world’s belief in us and in our elections, our Constitution, and our vaccines, causing large scale deaths and encouraging authoritarian foreign governments to escalate cyberattacks on the U.S. and other threats to the security of the world. We ought to overcome our hesitation to call a spade a spade and a traitor a traitor. If this is not treason, nothing is treason. They have lowered our chances to lead the world to democracy. Severely lowered them. They are not only traitors to the U.S.A., they are traitors to the human race.

If evidence is found sufficient for legal action, alleged conspirators ought to be removed at least temporarily from Federal and State office until the court decides what outcome is right and proper on a person-by-person basis. In Congress, these suspended lawmakers must be replaced by someone in the Republican party who has not disseminated false information or in any other way evidenced failure to keep their oath of office.

We should welcome people who have been acting solely out of loyalty, when they rediscover where their true loyalty lies, to the true America, the bastion for freedom and truth, for telling it like it is, for brotherhood and sisterhood, for practical idealism, for working together and reaching the best decisions under majority rule as the major principle that makes all the rest possible.

 

 

After the true conspirators have been weeded out and it is once again possible to function under the U.S. Constitution without filibuster, gerrymandering, or any other loopholes that can be gamed by traitorous actors, we can decide together how to refine the Constitution itself so as to ensure majority rule prevails, such as by elimination of the Electoral College (or by means of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact), and by some adjustment to the equality of States in the Senate. Both of these Constitutional rules are evidence that our Founders were worried that unbounded democracy could lead to bad outcomes, given the fact that most people at the time lacked education (still true today). So they built in rules to provide a cushion: the Electoral College and States’ equality in the Senate. However they did not fully visualize how those cushions could undermine the entire structure of the World’s Greatest Most Daring Experiment. In this century two presidential elections were won (by George W. Bush and Donald Trump) despite the popular vote going the other way (that also happened three other times in U.S. history). In 1776 the difference in population between the most and least populous States was only 12 to 1; today it is more than 62 to 1. A person in California’s vote is worth only 1/62nd of a person in Wyoming in terms of Senate voting. If the Founders had been even more clairvoyant than they were, there might have been codicils to adjust for the uneven growth of the nation.

So many great heroes gave their lives to give us this, the greatest and realistically ONLY hope in the world for a fairer society on this planet. In a short time we have managed to smear ourselves with the excrement of falsity, fascism, paralysis, racism, sheer lunacy, hate, violence, power madness, unmitigated greed, abject stupidity, and a taste level that even P.T. Barnum would sneer at. We can rebound as quickly as we plummeted. We lost every battle in WWII for years but in the end our victory with our allies was inevitable. We are supposed to win. It’s in the cards, in the heavens, in the script. Good triumphs over Evil. Always preceded by a dramatic rise in Evil which seems to be winning and the odds of success seem miniscule. Here we are again.

OVER THE TOP! (What Americans and allies said in WWI before leaving their trenches to face almost certain death. But we won. And we will win this one too. It is our Mission.)

That these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

–Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, November 19, 1863

 

Best to all,

Bill

What’s a Non-Trump Republican to Do?

Created June 25, 2021

The latest (May 17-19) Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that 53% of Republicans still believe the 2020 election was stolen, down from 68% in a January 28 poll. The stolen election belief appears to be dropping about a percentage point a week. A straight-line extrapolation suggests that pollsters may soon find that the majority of Republican voters no longer believe the election was stolen.

Many of those who “changed beliefs” in the 17-week period may actually never have truly believed, but their party loyalty caused them to adopt that stance. Making a more accurate projection requires being able to make an accurate estimate of how many of the original 68% were actually loyalty driven rather than true believers. Why? Because beliefs are extremely hard and slow to change, whereas postures may be easily changed overnight.

Assuming for the sake of argument that two-thirds of the original 68% were loyalty believers and a third true believers. If that were the case, all other things being equal (which they never are), about 30 weeks from now (mid-December 2021) the percent of Republicans who say they still believe the 2020 election was stolen may be down to 23%, where it could remain for a long time.

But I would bet against it going down that far that fast, especially given the mid-term elections coming up. Those upcoming elections are the main reason the party is clinging so desperately to what almost everyone else sees as a big lie. And why the Grand Old Party is doing what it can to interfere with Democrats voting in those elections, despite the obvious risks of driving away support from all but the most fanatical Republican core.

This is all so sad.

Saddest of all for the remaining Republicans who are aghast at the behavior of their party but who feel impotent to do anything to save the party.

Psychiatrists might tend to explain the current official actions of the party as an attempt to rationalize the recent past and remove the black eye that Trump gave the GOP in the eyes of most of humanity.

But as a parent, if you heard your son or daughter saying things that were untrue and non-credible as a way of covering their ass for something they had done, what would you say to them?

Most parents would say, “If you keep doing that, no one will believe or respect you, and people will avoid you. You better fess up as soon as possible, people will forgive and respect you for doing that, and in the end you will gain much more by confession than you would gain by trying to keep up pretenses forever.”

It’s not too late for “normal” Republicans to raise their hands. That’s the best thing for the party, for Americans, and for the world.

The downside scenario for clearheaded Republicans is for the party to be split into two parties, which could happen if, for example, that 53% stat above for any reason gets locked in and doesn’t change at all for the rest of the year. Eventually the other 47% is going to have to start thinking about the long term, and some will bail and become independents (this has begun). Natural leaders will step up and it could cause party fission.

A new party might call itself the Independent Party. Or it could call itself The Center, implying the mental freedom of a Moderate without religious attachment to either progressive or conservative knee-jerks. How it positioned itself would drive how big it became.

But it wouldn’t matter. The remnant parties would find it very hard to make their way against the Democrat party because of relative sizes. The story would become one of backroom attempts to re-form coalition between the pieces of the GOP. That is what the Republican party is headed toward if it continues to use duplicity and guile in such utterly obvious ways. The fessing up scenario is the only way out.

Let’s say you are a non-Trump Republican and want to do something about this, what is there for you to do about it? Create a movement. Call it anything you want, Republicans For Reality, or whatever.

But do it soon. Contact all the people you know (even non-Republicans can help, if you let them), license use of lists and compile the contact information for as many Republican officials and voters as you can, send out frequent eblasts of posts written by members of the movement. Raise money and run public service advertising.

Focus on the immediate future not on the past. Focus on what should be done, not on what should not be done. Don’t condemn anyone, get past all that, be the beacon of reason that will magnetize other Republicans to take off the Halloween masks and get down to the work of cooperation with all Americans and like-minded people everywhere to solve the pressing problems we all face together, which I won’t list here again as I know everybody knows the list already.

The one thing I advise above all else: if you really love the Republican party and want to see it rise again in public esteem (including self-esteem), if you want to see the Grand Old Party of Lincoln be able to attract new members from all social classes, stop the attempts to restrict voting rights. The blowback on that issue will sharply reverse recent trends of the party attracting lower-income people and minorities, and will turn off the many older people in the party who need the vote by mail option. A betrayal takes decades to heal, or centuries, or millennia. Restriction of voting rights is a betrayal of the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Republicans loyal to American Principles, Arise!

Love to all,

Bill

They Who Do Not Trust Enough, Shall Not Be Trusted

Created June 18, 2021

Trust levels have been going down for a long time. Distrust in the US government began dropping in 1958 and as we all know, today roughly one in six Americans (half to two thirds of Republicans, essentially) don’t trust the 2020 election.

It’s not just the government. People don’t trust the media, advertising, corporations in general, other people in general, they don’t trust themselves, the Universe or God.

It’s not 100%. There are probably over two billion people on the planet today who are still generally trusting. Unfortunately, most of them are probably little children.

In 1971, the first edition of Handbook of Children and The Media by Dorothy and Jerome Singer told the world that heavy viewers of television news are more likely to distrust the next stranger they met. In today’s agitprop circus of openly biased “news” channels and foulmouthed, vicious, people-cancelling social media, the distrust creation by media has gone way through the roof.

The original quote was “He who does not trust enough, shall not be trusted.” “They” has recently become used in the LBGTQIA+ community to replace “he” and “she”. The quote comes from Lao Tzu’s great work the Tao Te Ching, which also says:

If you open yourself to the Tao,
the Tao will eagerly welcome you.
If you open yourself to virtue,
virtue will become a part of you.
If you open yourself to loss,
the lost are glad to see you.

“When you do not trust people,
people will become untrustworthy.”

Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu Chapter 23, translated by JH McDonald

All religions at their core contain the notion that one must be open and trusting. Islam for example is centered around the idea of surrendering to God, trusting and having faith that God will take care of you. Hillel’s and Jesus’s Golden Rule includes trust among other ways you wish to be treated by others, therefore you must start by trusting them. Hinduism and Buddhism at their deepest levels teach that that next stranger you meet is you.

However, religion is another thing that most people don’t trust any more.

Even science is not trusted by an enormous minority!

Now that we have slid this far down the rabbit hole we don’t even trust that there is only one reality that exists, and partisan groups (and every user of the Internet) are allowed to make up their own realities.

Trust and fear are related. The more we fear, the less we trust. If we are rooted in a confidence that there is a benevolence behind the universe, fear drops away, and trust becomes possible; this is the state of mind in which one is open to receiving guidance from above, and Flow state occurs freely.

Very few of us are in that small group of which I am a member.

The advice I give in connection with trust is to have fearless respect for everyone. Respect and Kindness is the mode that elicits trust and cooperation toward common goals. In today’s environment that mode requires fearlessness, fatalistic acceptance of whatever may come from right action.

What if we can’t break out of our current mass headspace? It doesn’t look so promising for the good guys (“guys” used to cover all infinite variations of gender and sexual orientation).

Let’s face it, Trump has a lot to do with where we are on the planet right now. He may turn out to be one individual who has had almost as much effect on history as Jesus, but in the opposite direction. Nevertheless, for a group of professional politicians and like-minded behind the scenes power brokers, Trump is an addictive drug they cannot give up for fear that they will lose power.

It would be far better if the junkie could gather the self-discipline required to give up the drug, but we still don’t know how to get most junkies to do that.

If the half of the registered Republicans in the US who still lean that way do not come out of the coma and agree to trust the US government and its elections, there is no reason to believe that the rest of the world will trust the USA the way it did, ever again. People have long memories, and scars go deeper than the eye can see. The sooner we pull ourselves up out of the muck the quicker we will recover the trust of the world.

Nor would running Trump again work to make the minority party what it used to be (it can only rise again through positive creativity). Most of the population doesn’t want that and they are not just going to lay down and allow a coup d’etat by 23 coercive State governments that are supposed to be representing their populations. The first thing that will happen if the restrictive voting laws are passed in those States is that Freedom Busses will be used, with Federal Marshalls, to bring minorities to the voting places and protect them from intimidation and make sure they can vote. There is no way that the chanters of the mantra “Stop The Steal” can pull off their own steal.

It’s reasonable for those whose power is slipping away to fear disempowerment. But the way to solve that is not authoritarian, dictatorial rule by force, or creation of domestic violent terrorist groups, where the many are ruled by the few – that is pushing the history clock too far back and will not be accepted. If we continue to go that way, we will have revolutions and a return to feudalism.

The thing we need the most today is clarity of thinking and feeling. We can’t go on living in dream worlds. We need each other. If we can cooperate in the spirit of rules-based international cooperation we will create something pretty close to utopia in our lifetimes.

Who cares if China gets to have the largest economy if our people are happier and more creative? What are the real values? Bragging rights for size of economy, or quality of life? Besides, if we bring back manufacturing and increase R&D, we can probably maintain all the economic leverage we will ever need.

Clarity. Note that many billionaires who have pledged to give away at least half their wealth want to give it apparently to anyone except the US government. Where’s the clarity in that?

United we stand, divided we fall.

May the Center Hold.

Bless you all,

Bill

Statement of Work

Created June 11, 2021

This is an SOW for the human race. It’s really an urgent request.

You see, it’s difficult to see something that is gigantic. Your mind has an automatic program for suppressing cognitive dissonance, especially during Acceleritis.

This is not any less threatening than all of those movies. This is the oncoming reality of those scary movies.

It’s time for each of us to stand up and pitch in.

Putting aside the petty grievances of the past.

This part is for philanthropists:

Think outside the box, it’s not business as usual right now.

Old reliable methods may need to be set aside during the emergency.

Where can your gifts do the most good?

After putting out the fires of old rivalries, Job Number One will be something like

  1. Bring all people in the world up to the current national average household income in the USA
  2. Do it respecting their desire to work for it, make fair deals, family education covered
  3. This is greenfield economic opportunity for everyone, if we go cold turkey on our addiction to dystopian expectations

In other words, if you can imagine for a second that the human addiction to violence might disappear suddenly, without having to think about that all the time, the development of the underdeveloped would be the natural magnet. That’s where the growth rate will be the most impressive, good for stock prices.

Only the violence and the addictive tendencies of the mind separate us, the human race, from stepping across the great divide, into seeing our wholeness, our connectivity, our oneness.

But if we could all be given that vision, wear that lens, for ten minutes, we would ask so what are we going to do instead? And self-realizing that there are excitingly vast possibilities in a future in which we can get along without hate, overt or covert.

The planet needs a lot of work, let’s get it organized and start to put it back together better than it ever was.

Is Our Democracy Worth Preserving?

Created May 21, 2021

If you consider human history from its earliest roots until today, too much of it is violent and tragic, causing Thomas Hobbes in the 1600s to write that human life is “nasty, brutish, and short.”

Until the democracies began to appear on the planet. To oversimplify, democratic governments protected the weak and poor from the strong and rich. Which gave the weak and poor a chance to grow strong and rich too.

This makes countries stronger. This makes the human race stronger.

I don’t think Ronald Reagan realized what he was doing when he institutionalized Neoliberalism as the new gold standard for democracies, purposely striving for non-interfering government, and giving to the strong, so the gifts could trickle down to the weak. I had voted for him and still like him despite his mistake.

Even the extremely conservative International Monetary Fund (IMF) has pointed out that neoliberalism did not work to improve the world’s economy nor the quality of life.

To answer the question raised in the title: Yes, I for one strongly support retaining our democracies and making them even better so that eventually everyone is living under the best conditions to bring out their talents for the enjoyment of all.

Surely it would be hard to say that the lands of authoritarian governments would be a better place to live, and to have one’s factories in, where there could be nationalization of the factories in case of war. Those who agree with me that we are all better off in a democracy, should bring American factories back to our own land, to help keep democracy going and growing.

President Biden, please consider taxing the rich but not raising taxes on corporations, merely closing the loopholes to ensure that corporate taxes are being paid. No one can be sure that a world agreement can be made on tax levels that will bring jobs back to America. Greater certainty can be had to go both ways, don’t raise corporate taxes, just close the loopholes, and at the same time seek world agreement on tax standards.

If you do this, Mister President, you will also make it clear to millions of people that you are not a radical socialist, and that you are not trotting out old formulas.

If we want to preserve democracy, President Biden and the US government need to show compromise is possible, and the corporate tax is the most logical place to start.

Let’s remember that there is double taxation, first the corporation, and then again as some of corporate income is disbursed as income to individuals and families. That is one reason why it is an appropriate area in which to demonstrate ability to compromise.

My best to all,

Bill

 

What Is Conservatism?

Created May 14, 2021

The GOP did not start out to be a conservative party, but in our memories it has always been associated with conservatism. What is conservatism? It is conserving the value we have already created, and not risking it unnecessarily by taking steps believed to be progressive which might have hidden flaws.

In principle, it’s a good idea, and so is the idea of making things better. Ideally, if you have to have political parties at all (the US Constitution didn’t think so), lining the two parties up with conservative and progressive philosophies is a very sensible dichotomy. One can imagine them working together to produce an optimally balanced result.

But today, most of the leadership of the Republican party – about 4251 people – have moved away from conservatism. They are in fact much more radical than conservative. Radicalism can happen on the conservative end or the progressive end of the spectrum. The new radical right is even more dangerous to us and to our democracies than neoliberalism. The radical right is virtually a return to monarchy, the same kind of monarchy that was the enemy of the American Revolution: One Man Rule. It is an undoing of democracy as a failed experiment.

The more the world sees us quibbling with each other and paralyzed by filibuster, the more believable is the idea that democracy can never work.

Hitler kept the trains running on time. The cost of that benefit was the lives of 75 million people.

Yet today many of us are willing to set all that aside and go for a leader who can get things done, or at least convince millions of us that things are getting done.

The filibuster stalling during the Obama administration was the beginning of a breakdown that proved the system was not working. Filibuster and gerrymandering were largely the cause of that. Which only went downhill under Trump.

And yet Trump, the TV performer who used social media as mindlessly as millions of us, locked in on the basis of that gross rapport, a core following that today consists of 4251 people with enough power to retake the country plus (my estimate based on Pew and Gallup) 34 million Republicans who want Trump back. 34 million out of 239 million eligible voters. Definitely a minority.

We need philanthropists to sponsor an all-media education campaign to make sure that everyone understands what filibuster is, what gerrymandering is, and the voting rights issues behind today’s State-level rush to “fix” all future elections by making it harder to vote for people who are less likely to vote for the far-right Republicans, who are a minority.

Allowing mechanisms not in the Constitution which have demonstrated they can paralyze a government for an entire administration to continue is unacceptable. But until those “keep me in power” mechanisms are dismantled, they are a very large obstacle to their dismantlement!

Therefore, to let The People Speak For Themselves, those same philanthropists can help grassroots efforts toward referendums, and continuous State by State polling, to compare the wants of the citizens of each State, with the legislation being passed today in that State. These referendums (and polls where the referendums are thwarted at the State level) will demonstrate that a self-serving minority has gamed the system and is our new dictatorial government in the States where voting rights are today being set back after more than a half century of progress.*

This will expose States passing laws opposed by the majority of the people that they are supposed to be representing.

It is the 34 million slavish followers of Trump (and any radical kneejerk no-compromise people on the blue team) that need to be educated and to learn to think for themselves, and not echo the pronouncements of any one man (other than the sayings of great saints) or even the party line (multiple people), but to study the issues and reach their own independent conclusions.

An educational campaign can achieve those effects especially if it is in bite sized pieces and done with the quality that can be achieved by entertainment and advertising creatives and their research support.

Perhaps the federal government and the courts can achieve the restoration of order that is needed, but philanthropists who like to live in the USA, for reasons of enlightened self-interest ought to give money to support an educational campaign across all media to get people to think for themselves and study the facts not just believe what a politician tells them.

Especially focused around voting, filibuster, and gerrymandering, the three areas that radicals on both sides have abused for too long after creating filibuster and gerrymandering in the first place, none of that was what the Founders wrote into the Constitution.

The campaign needs to also explain what referendums are and how they work differently in each State.

A citizenry uninformed in relation to these foregoing subjects is easy prey for unscrupulous actors in high places.

It’s easy to just follow one man, it takes some of your time to study complex subjects, and millions of us are not disposed that way. Hence using the media to teach (in a non-partisan way and) in potent droplets is a logical communications strategy that is not being used enough today.

May the Middle Hold. May the extremes move toward the Center.

Best to all,

Bill

 

*True conservatives, by definition, would want to preserve progress made in the past. Someone who wants to erase past progress is a reactionary, one type of radical.