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Should Domenici Retire Now?

Senator Pete Domenici was diagnosed with Pick’s Disease, a progressive and aggressive form of dementia.  It is unknown when he received the disease, or at what stage the disease is in.

However, it is always fatal, and it always affects insight, judgment and behavior.

Given the known disease progression and prognosis (fatal, usually within five years), should Domenici retire now instead of planning to serve out the remainder of his term until 2009?

A Man With A Vision

Last evening I sat in Boston’s Old South Meeting House, where the cradle of dissent and free speech rocked this country.  The shades of Sam Adams, John Hancock, Phyllis Wheatley and others cast shadows over visitors and urge them to listen and to speak. Although I have passed by the Meeting House many times, I had not been inside until yesterday.

I shivered to think at what risk, at what peril and at what price the dissenters of that time incurred in order to speak truth to power and to question the inherent right of King George to infringe upon their freedom, their liberty and their right to self-governance.

Charlie Savage was leading a lecture and discussion of his new book, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.

Charlie spoke to his pursuit of the history and mystery of the presidential signing statements, the recalcitrance of the current crop of presidential candidates to speak to what they believe about inherent and concentrated executive power, and what they intend to do about it and with it if elected to office.

But he also spoke about the genesis of the unitary executive idea, and all roads lead to Cheney. 

Old South Meeting House

I left this site a few hours ago and return to find not discussions about Burma, nothing about the torture and terrorism revelations today, but essay after essay discussing Daily Kos.

So what and who cares?

How is discussing another blog’s meta significant to the events and mission of this site?

If the mission gets sidetracked by constantly rubber necking in other blogs’ business, then it doesn’t really serve as the mission.

How is it that discussing an oil company advert. receives hundreds of comments and the investment of time, while several well-researched and presented essays are virtually ignored here?

We all of us have limited resources, and it is becoming evident where the interests are on this blog.  Those interests are not trending toward broad, deep and well-referenced discussions of politics, policy and issues.

And yes, I’m cranky about this, because it’s important.

Is this a site for pie fights and meta and trivia and overriding silliness?

Is it a site from which to rubber neck other blogs?

Or is it a site that really encourages “blogging the future” and mandates “being excellent to each other”?

To that end, if you are at all interested, I wrote about Charlie Savage’s discussion of his new book which just possibly has some application to today’s revelations about Bush and Cheney’s program of torture and terrorism.

If you’re not, please let me know that as well, so that I don’t waste my very limited resources where they aren’t valued.

You Live In A Terrorist State

You live in the most powerful terrorist state on Earth.  Yes, YOU! You, too, over there, shaking your head in denial. You, as well, holding the sign not in my name.

Your Constitution is not a valid representation of your system of government.  You are ruled by two fascist dictators.  They are waging was using you as their raw materials.

They are torturing your fellow citizens and anyone they catch in their traps of human misery.

Take a good look at the definitions around state-sponsored terrorism and then read the excerpts from the New York Times story by Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen.

One and the same.

State Sponsored Terrorism

Is there a difference between terrorism and the use of specific tactics that exploit fear and terror by authorities normally considered “legitimate”? Nations and states often resort to violence to influence segments of their population, or rely on coercive aspects of state institutions. Just like the idea of equating any act of military force with terrorism described above, there are those who equate any use of government power or authority versus any part of the population as terrorism. This view also blurs the lines of what is and is not terrorism, as it elevates outcomes over intentions. Suppression of a riot by law enforcement personnel may in fact expose some of the population (the rioters) to violence and fear, but with the intent to protect the larger civil order. On the other hand, abuse of the prerogative of legitimized violence by the authorities is a crime.

But there are times when national governments will become involved in terrorism, or utilize terror to accomplish the objectives of governments or individual rulers. Most often, terrorism is equated with “non-state actors”, or groups that are not responsible to a sovereign government. However, internal security forces can use terror to aid in repressing dissent, and intelligence or military organizations perform acts of terror designed to further a state’s policy or diplomatic efforts abroad.

They intentionally, deliberately and willfully lie to you.

They take away your homes, they force to you to buy worthless insurance policies.  They deny you life saving health care.  They force worthless school curriculae on your children.

They deny children, the elderly, the mentally ill and the vulnerable access to safe shelter, to reliable transportation, to nutritious food and to basic health care.

What are you doing about this?

Bush Kills Children

This morning, behind closed doors, George W. Bush vetoed the SCHIP legislation.  Millions of children are already denied access to essential and affordable health care.  Tens of thousands of children suffer preventable health problems and die preventable deaths.

Follow me beneath the fold to read what Child Killer Bush said about our children, and what the facts are behind his intentional lies and distortions.

Whistle Blowing Primer

Today I am selling my laptop if the prospective buyer actually buys. 

Everything else I own is in storage and it is all for sale.  I haven’t found buyers for it, and none of it has any real value. 

But it’s what’s left after whistle blowing and experiencing years of retaliation. 

I use it to sell in order to pay for places to stay, as I am homeless, permanently jobless and have no ability to compete for jobs playing by your rules. 

What is retaliation? 

To me, it has included an active threat of death, being shot at, experiencing extreme isolation, ostracism, shunning, defamation, stalking, theft, and fraud.  The least of it has been promises that I will never work again.

I am only sharing this here because progressives so easily and loudly proclaim the duty of people to whistle blow.  I don’t believe there is any real understanding of the dangerousness of that act, nor of the consequences which rain down on the person who does try to speak truth to power.

Whistleblowers have been likened to bees: a whistleblowing employee has only one sting to use, and using it may well lead to career suicide. In a survey of 87 American whistleblowers from both public service and private industry all but one experienced retaliation, with those employed longer experiencing more. Whistleblowers face economic and emotional deprivation, victimisation, and personal abuse and they receive little help from statutory authorities.

  Better off dead is not an exaggeration of the fate of whistle blowers.  There is no charity or respite for us.  Most of us die early deaths, from the research that is done. 

How could we not? 

The typical whistleblower’s health is very poor. In a survey I did in 1993, reported in the British Medical Journal (1), 29 of the 35 subjects had an average of 3.6 symptoms at the time of the survey. Though high, this was less than the average of 5.3 at the time they blew the whistle. The most common were difficulty sleeping, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and feelings of guilt and unworthiness. They also suffered from nervous diarrhoea, trouble breathing, stomach problems, loss of appetite, loss of weight, high blood pressure, palpitations, hair loss, grinding teeth, nightmares, headaches, tiredness, weeping, tremor, urinary frequency, ‘stress’, and ‘loss of trust’. Fifteen subjects (i.e. over half of those with symptoms) were now on medication they had not been on before blowing the whistle – for depression, stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure.

The reason for this poor state of health is clear. They had suffered intense victimization at work, being made redundant, demoted, dismissed, or pressured to resign; their position was abolished, or they were transferred. While still in the workplace they were isolated, physically and personally; were given impossible tasks to perform, menial work, or no work at all; were subjected to constant scrutiny and verbal abuse, forced to see psychiatrists, threatened with defamation actions and disciplinary actions; were constantly criticised, fined, subjected to internal inquiries, adverse reports; and received death and other threats. The most common outcome was to resign because of ill health caused by the victimization. The treatment they receive appears to be standard, and is described in more detail, for example, by Bill de Maria in his large survey of Queensland whistleblowers. (2)

As a result of what happened they also suffered severe financial loss. Only eight of the 35 subjects had not suffered any loss of income; in twelve cases their income was reduced by over 75%. They faced large medical, other, and particularly legal costs, and in over half the cases their estimated total financial loss was in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Families disappear.  Wherever we go, people literally turn their backs, or they attack.  Friends – who are those phantoms?  We are sitting ducks just because we played by the rules which are also in place to kill us and our knowledge.  Trust which is stripped from us will never return.  We are less than human. 

The very ethical framework which caused us to speak truth to power over the recognition of authority figures to direct unethical and illegal behavior causes us to be seen as – in the terms you use frequently – nuts and wacko. 

In my own case, even though I kept as much evidence as possible, no one was interested in receiving it and doing anything with it.  So I acted ethically in a true vacuum. That’s the norm. 

There are few, if any, parties who are interested in acting on whistle blowers’ findings because to even acknowledge what is truth is dangerous. 

So I leave you with just an inkling of what happens when someone is even being encouraged to whistle blow with many more “protections” than I had (none). 

And a warning:  unless you are willing to stand up and with whistle blowers, you have no right to ask anyone to sacrifice his or her life for you. Because that’s exactly what it is – certain lethality.

That doesn’t mean spouting attaboys and way to go’s on blogs.  That means giving them jobs, sheltering them, supporting their legal expenses, and protecting them from physical and emotional harm.  It means not abandoning them after they have been used for their information and discarded not unlike rotting fruit. 

There is no effective whistle-blower protection system, and there needs to be.

Those with power – sometimes that’s legal power, political power and firepower – real weaponry, and deep pockets and resources are brought to bear – to oppress by any means available – those few of us who truly stand alone.  Here’s just a very tiny taste (pdf) of what whistle-blowing is like.  And Waxman’s admonishments to the contrary, there are no real protections for whistle-blowers.  We are on our own.  We have no lobby group, no movement, no supporters.  We have no one and less than nothing.  Remember that the next time you cockily and breezily demand whistle-blowing.

Remember – someday, it will be you.

The Grunts and Transformational Leadership

I had planned to provide another project management tool for your toolkit.

But, seeing as the response to essays which ask for actual – WORK – on the part of readers approaches zero, I’m not going to bother.

See – no commitment.  Just gimme some Bush bashing, some inane unfounded opinions, and some free wheeling swearing.

Cheap thrills abound on progressive blogs.

I asked before for links or leads to group blogs that address policy.  There were zero.

Folks, blogs are great for entertainment, sensation and outrage.  In these, they won’t fail to disappoint.

But if you want to make real change and act, then you have to do some real work and make real commitments.

The Questions

My two allotted essays today are going to focus on two pieces of the puzzle picture that is the progressive netroots movement.

This essay is going to review the essential questions that have been put forth of progressive blog authors about attributes, membership, functions, mission and agenda of the progressive netroots movement.

I am also requesting that you provide blockquotes and hyperlinks to pertinent comments across progressive blogs that you frequent in the comment thread here, so that they may be added to the body of this post as they are discovered.  The intent is to provide a broader and deeper range of coverage of questions which are important, fundamental and germane to a foundational wide discussion about the progressive netroots movement.

A caveat:  I am acting solely as a group facilitator in this endeavor.  I don’t have any interest, knowledge or aim at setting myself in a leadership role in the progressive netroots movement, whatever that entity is. I do have project management and leadership skills from my former career, and to the extent that I am still able, I am interested and willing to share them as a single framework within which to move forward.  You don’t have to participate.  You don’t have to agree with the framework.  It’s simply a tool and skill set that I’m sharing for your elective use.  Please don’t continue to accuse me of trying to usurp a leadership role.  There is a clear distinction between facilitating a process and leading an organization, movement or entity.  I am engaging in the former.

The sole reason that I am presenting concepts and examples of project management is that I continue to see stagnation in blogs, disaffection with the status quo, a deep frustration in the disconnect between the actions of s/elected representatives and the polled will of “we, the people”, and finally, it’s about the only “thing” I have left to be able to contribute.  Like the drummer boy, I’m just making some noise and hope that it has some utility. If it has no value for you, please ignore it and don’t condemn me for offering it.

Project Management Processes for the Netroots

Armando, Buhdy and ANKOSS are all speaking to leadership and the netroots. While Armando is coming at it from the perspective of questioning leadership failures, and Buhdy is addressing the role of blogs in the netroots development and influence, ANKOSS is taking a critical look at the role of corporations in oppressing the populace, of which the netroots is a subset.

I’d like to throw up out another idea.  The netroots is a subset of the progressive movement, and it is a work-in-early-progress. To that end, here’s a project management proposal for meta netroots leadership, management and organizational development.  With any project management process, it’s akin to herding chickens, cats – or even libertarians! *g* Use this as recipe ingredients – subject to change to meet the tastes and preferences of the chef and the diners. Throw out what doesn’t work, innovate where that helps the process to move forward, and savor the contributions of the ingredients.

Cavest:  I am dyslexic, arthritic and myopic – the -Icks sometimes interfere with the cleanness of the writing, and so I re-read, continually edit and post essays that are works-in-progress.  Where commenters contribute, I try to incorporate those contributions into the essay and attribute accordingly.

Faux Fights and Leadership [UPDATED]

Since so many essayists and commenters are interested in the activities and consequences of people espousing ideology of false patriotism, dominionism, fundamentalism and other -isms, I thought I’d play with the principles a bit and explore what can be done to counteract the effects.

The framework of a preferred paradigm that I’m using is that of embracing the classic Roman virtues. Don’t remember them?  You’re not alone.

While there are many systems and classifications of virtues, I am going to refer solely to the Roman-defined virtues to avoid an overly lengthy and needlessly complicated presentation.  However, as far as I have been able to ascertain, any well-defined listing of socioculturally significant virtues is applicable to the following relationship of using virtues as a criteria by which to evaluate leadership attributes.

A caveat for those of you who aren’t familiar with my posts:  I am very dyslexic, myopic, and arthritic.  I re-read my posts and most often continue to edit them for wrong words, poor grammar and unclear sentences after I post. I appreciate it when readers point out errors, and I do my best to make posts works-in-progress which reflect commenters’ participation and contributions.

There are many scholarly texts which outline characteristics of cults and attributes of members. This isn’t a post to regurgitate or criticize those foundational works. I include them here to distinguish between genuine leadership and subliminal and detrimental group influence which morphs into group-speak, propaganda, social behavior norms and voter behavior.

Essentially, the things that most people look to cults to fill are factors of socialization:

  • Clear rules of membership
  • Delineation of US and OTHERS
  • Reward system for compliance
  • Punishment and threat of shunning/ostracism for noncompliance
  • Clear normative values

This post originally was going to compare the attributes of cults with today’s two major political parties in how they court voters, but I’m now going to hijack my own essay and speak to leadership values. Keep the attributes of cults handy in looking at attributes NOT to reward, enable or use in selecting political candidates.

Helping Hand False Prosthesis

When an individual is in distress, common advice is for him or her to reach out for help, to seek solace and resiliency in groups, and to keep a positive outlook.  These things are uttered as if they are ingredients in a recipe to a better life.  Bake them in the right proportions, and the dish that is created is a sure success.

Reality, though, is very different.  And perhaps shockingly, those who espouse progressive values – sometimes the most vocal – act in identical ways and with the same callous disregard – by offering phony offers of assistance.

The real message is the same: take care of yourself.  It can’t be that bad.  God helps those who help themselves.  God never gives you more than you can handle. I wish I could help you, but…. Here’s a number to call for a homeless shelter in my area – maybe they can tell you where you can find help wherever you are.  You need to learn how to beg.  You need to humble yourself.  It doesn’t matter what you think you need; I know what you need. There must be something wrong with you if you can’t get a job.

Fighting Faux

Since so many essayists and commenters are interested in the activities and consequences of people espousing ideology of false patriotism, dominionism, fundamentalism and other -isms, I thought I’d play with the principles a bit and explore what can be done to counteract the effects.

The framework of a preferred paradigm that I’m using is that of embracing the classic virtues. Don’t remember them?  You’re not alone.

But along with rediscovering our shared history, we might do worse than to rediscover and revisit the classic virtues.

A caveat for those of you who aren’t familiar with my posts:  I am very dyslexic, myopic, and arthritic.  I re-read my posts and most often continue to edit them for wrong words, poor grammar and unclear sentences after I post. I appreciate it when readers point our errors, and I do my best to make posts works-in-progress which reflect commenters’ participation and contributions.

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