postimg
Jun 2012 27

by Steven Whitney

“One man, one vote” loosely incorporates the founding principles of our country and the exaltation of the individual. The democratic notion behind it is that every single voter is equal – no more, no less – to every other voter. Legally, it is the basis of “equal representation” over which the original Tea Party (“No Taxation Without Representation”) rebelled in 1773, a decisive shot across Britain’s bow that led to the Revolutionary War. In emerging nations and in those with similar revolutions, it has since become a slogan for universal suffrage.

Of course, from the beginning it was more fantasy than fact, more a rallying cry than a real policy. In our first national elections, only white male adult property-owners were allowed to vote. Slaves couldn’t vote. Women couldn’t vote. Native Americans couldn’t vote. New immigrants, white or not, were discouraged from voting by the strongest possible means.

In 1850, property and tax restrictions were removed so all white adult males were, by law, eligible to vote (although immigrants still found it hard to cast a ballot).

Twenty years later, the 15th Amendment paved the way for former slaves (and adult males of any race) to vote. This gave rise to Jim Crow literacy tests and poll tax requirements in many states that successfully targeted minorities.

It was only in 1920 that adult women got the vote. And in 1924, Native Americans – ironically, the original Americans – were also granted voting rights.

But despite the 15th Amendment, it wasn’t until the 1950 Civil Rights Act and 1965’s Voting Rights Act that all adult American citizens actually held the right to vote, free of any tests and/or taxes that might exclude them.

Does that mean “one man, one vote” finally became a reality?

In theory and law, yes. In local and state elections, we do have equanimity, even as certain states under Republican leadership, like Florida, try their damndest to suppress minority voters.

But because our founders created a Federalist Society more than a truly democratic ideal, there exists one remaining restraint to equal voting that has been with us from the beginning and never repealed – the Electoral College that decides each and every Presidential election.

The Electoral College is comprised of “electors” from states and the District of Columbia. The number of electors for each state is decided by the total population of individual states as determined every ten years by the Census (the same formula used in determining the number of Representatives in the House) plus 2 electors for each state (to match their seats in the Senate). California, our most populous state, receives 53 electors based on population plus 2 for their Senate representation; Wyoming, our least populated state, receives 1 elector based on population plus 2 for each Senator. That’s 538 electoral votes in all, with 270 needed to win.

A tie at 269 sends the deciding vote to the newly elected House, where each state casts 1 vote until a candidate receives a majority.

This system was instituted by our founding fathers to protect the interests of rural states and, at first glance, it appears fair. But it was initiated at a time when America was a small nation with only 16 states – Virginia and Pennsylvania the largest at just over 110,000 “free white male adults” each – pretty much evenly divided between urban and rural. In the first contested Presidential election in 1796 – Washington had previously run unopposed – the total number of popular votes was 66,841 for the entire country, fewer votes cast than in my own small Congressional district today.

In 2012, it is sorely outdated and the cause of much inequality. Take California, with a population of well over 37 million. Then group together the 20 states lowest in population – Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont, North and South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah – for a combined total population of just over 32 million. In a representative democracy, and by dint of population, California should have just one or perhaps two more electors than those 20 states combined.

But because each state gets a uniform 2 electors above and beyond their census-calculated electors, the 20 smallest states, with a combined population of 5½ million less than California, actually have 40 “extra” electors to the Golden State’s 2, a plurality of 38 additional electors from small rural states that are largely Republican strongholds.

How is it fair that 5½ million fewer people are granted 64% more electoral votes in determining the course of our future? Does that sound like equal representation – “one man, one vote?” Or is it just another example of a rigged game?

This grievous imbalance was fully taken into account when Republicans of the 1970s first devised their “Southern Strategy.” And without those “extra” votes, George Bush would have handily lost the 2000 election, even with Florida in his pocket…meaning no Bush Tax Cuts, no Iraq “Shock and Awe,” no renditions or torture, no national security state, and no Dick Cheney.

There are only two viable options to fix the system. The first, and most democratic, is to decide the Presidential race, like all others, by the majority of the popular vote. The second, less egalitarian but still fairer than the present system, is to eliminate the two “extra” votes for each state, bringing the electoral vote down to 436 (the same number as the House membership plus 1 for D.C.) with only 219 needed to win. Only by these two adjustments would one vote anywhere in the U.S. be equal to a vote anywhere else in the country.

Supporters of the electoral system say that it prevents urban-centric victories, but at the same time they cannot explain why a candidate winning with fewer popular votes is either democratic or fair. They also state that the Electoral College encourages stability through the 2-party system without understanding that many citizens feel the 2-party system is more stale than stable – and that, ironically enough, when the electoral system was devised, American was divided into many parties, not just two. Lastly, they argue that it maintains the federal character of our nation without apparently realizing that it was just this “federalist” notion under which only property-owning white male adults were allowed to vote.

Detractors often point to the fact that of 123 democracies in the world today, ours is the only nation still using this antiquated system, the only one in which the candidate receiving a majority of the popular vote can lose the election (a la Al Gore in 2000). And that instead of favoring the smallest states, a popular vote counts all votes equally…and, dare I say it, democratically.

A popular vote solves other problems as well. It allows the federal government to penalize states that attempt to disenfranchise voters. It would boost voter turnout and participation and give 3rd parties a more active, nationwide platform. And in one fell swoop, it would both eliminate the insane focus on so-called swing states and do away with all the red state / blue state crap forever, which in turn would return us to a United States of America.

There is, of course, no time to put changes into effect this year…especially since Republicans shudder at the mere mention of a nationwide referendum on any issue. But perhaps sometime in the not too distant future we can set for the course for a truly equal voting standard.

Until then, the next time you ask yourself why the vote of a racist, gun-totin’, meth-smokin’, homophobic cracker who fucks donkeys while screaming “Praise Jesus!” is worth more than yours, look no further than the electoral scam.

Related Posts:
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

postimg
Jun 2012 23

by Blogbot

This Sunday (June 24th at 10 PM PST) on SuicideGirls Radio, in celebration of Pride month we welcome three guests who have enlightened views on what it means to love. Filmmaker Cassie Jaye (Daddy I Do and Right To Love) and inspirational speaker and lifestyle coach Jesse Brune will be joining SG radio host Nicole Powers (SG’s Managing Ed) and co-hosts Darrah de jour (SG’s Red, White & Femme post-feminist sex & sensuality columnist) and Moxie Suicide (SG model and self proclaimed sexpert) live in studio. Acclaimed author Inga Muscio (Rose: Llove in Violent Times and Cunt: A Declaration of Independence) will also be joining us by phone.

Listen to the world’s leading naked radio show live on Sunday nights from 10 PM til Midnight on suicidegirlsradio.indie1031.com/
(Hit the top right “listen Live” button!)

For updates on all things SG Radio-related, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

[..]

postimg
Jun 2012 20

by Steven Whitney

It may seem odd that a 2½ minute video documenting an experiment with capuchin monkeys serves as the starting point of what is essentially a political blog. But often when things like human behavior and voting patterns don’t make sense, it’s useful to go back to the basics, to look beneath the surface to examine the mechanisms that create both predictable results and their often irrational anomalies.

The truth is, politics may be just as much about sociology – the way different groups
behave and interact – as it is about ideology and demographics. Today, we evaluate candidates, their actions, and their parties mostly within the context of a 24/7 news-cycle that inevitably creates a tabloid sensibility. And sometimes it’s necessary to pull back to a wider view to gain better perspective.

Eminent primatologist and ethologist Frans de Waal has devoted much of his life to the study of morality in animals. The recognized standard that de Waal employs to measure animal behavior is the Two Pillars of Basic Morality – one representing Reciprocity (sharing and fairness); the other signifying Empathy (compassion and concern for others).

In the video, two Capuchin monkeys in adjoining Plexiglas cages are given the same task – to take a small rock and hand it through an opening to their handler – after which they receive a reward. But the reward is on two levels – a slice of cucumber, an adequate tidbit, and a grape, a much better and more nourishing treat. When both monkeys receive the cucumber, all is good. But when one is given a grape and the other gets only a cucumber, the second rebels – stomping his hand and hurling the cucumber back at the handler. He’d rather have no reward than an inequitable one.

Other basic tests show that when one monkey is given a large number of nuts or grapes and another gets none, the rewards are shared instead of hoarded by one. These results (and others showing shared work) have been replicated hundreds of times in tests given throughout the world with a variety of animals – elephants, dogs, dolphins, and many more – providing evidence that an innate (or genetic) fairness and willingness to cooperate is widespread in the animal kingdom. On an evolutionary level, this ingrained attribute of fairness – of sharing both rewards and workloads – is how species and communities thrive. Indeed, Jane Goodall – the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees – views primates as nothing less than our moral ancestors.

Because humans are evolved from chimps, capuchins, and other primates, our DNA is 98.5% identical to theirs. And like them, our sense of morality and fairness is genetically embedded – we possess it from birth and then reinforce the concept of sharing at home, in daycare centers, and in early school grades. Ask almost anyone and they’ll tell you they believe in fairness and teach it to their children. Indeed, fairness in all things is a universal human ideal.

So how do Republicans, in actions instead of words, stack up against monkeys on the most basic moral standards?

At a time when America faces its biggest and most threatening economic crisis in 80 years – one that could negatively affect our country for decades – Republicans are thwarting all efforts by the President and Democrats to jump-start any sort of middle-class recovery. It’s not just a Do-Nothing congress, it’s the Stop-Anything-That-Might-Help-Democrats-Even-If-It-Helps-Our-Country platform that pollutes every word and deed of the GOP. When they’re not obstructing positive action through a record number of filibusters, they’re filing lawsuits against any reform (like Obamacare) initiated by the Democrats. They refuse to confirm a huge number of judges (who would ease the mind-numbing backlog in our courts) and high-level cabinet nominees, like Elizabeth Warren and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, to block any needed regulation or oversight. They cut taxes on the rich and want to plunk the full financial burden on the poor and what just a few years ago was the middle-class. They are not willing to make even the smallest token sacrifice for their country – not even one added penny in taxes for any billionaire. And if anyone questions their agenda or motives, they scream “Class Warfare!” or “Socialism!” – two Big Lies that are growing very thin.

For the last 30 years – no matter what they have said – Republicans have consistently acted to cut education, welfare, and seem hell-bent on reducing Disaster Relief and “reforming” (i.e. getting rid of) Social Security. They want to reduce the number of police, fireman, and teachers, thus risking our health and safety while at the same time limiting our children’s opportunity. They attack and try to defund any social program (like Planned Parenthood) that actually helps people. They have calculatedly and deliberately hijacked any attempt to properly fund government just to prove that it doesn’t work so they can choke it to death and hand all responsibility over to the corporations that they clearly favor over real-life people

Does this sound like a party that seeks and works in harmony toward the healthy growth and common welfare of the community-at-large? Or does it come off as a dysfunctional, dissonant, and destructive faction that places its party and money before its country and people?

Morality – the essence and practice of cooperation, empathy, fairness, and reciprocity – was long thought to be a solely human attribute. And since it contains a democratic as well as an ethical aspect, it is one of the cornerstones on which America was founded. But these days, even the most basic moral standards are sadly more evident in animals than in the Republican Party and its minions. To the frightening extent that if Mitt Romney and the GOP slate sweep the November elections, the rest of us will be better off living on the planet of the apes.

Related Posts:
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

postimg
Jun 2012 18

by Steven Whitney

On the June 8th edition of Real Time, Bill Maher took the Occupy movement to task. His was more of a pep talk than a scolding, but his message resounds clearly: If Occupy doesn’t start making a difference, and soon, it will become just another left-wing full-of-hope-fad that failed. And we Baby Boomers know all about revolutions and/or protests gone awry.

Ours was the love and peace generation –– Woodstock Nation, populated by flower children, hippies, and even Yippies (an outrageously theatrical political movement) –– who believed that to end the war in Vietnam “all you need is love.” We marched, occupied parks –– the term “flower children” originated in a Berkeley park that Governor Ronald Reagan wanted razed –– disrupted political conventions, got arrested (more than 13,000 in the D.C. May Day Protests of 1971 alone), performed street (guerilla) theatre, slid daisies down the barrels of rifles, sang, chanted, burned incense and candles, wore ankh necklaces, and visualized the end of war. Men burned draft cards and women burned bras. Protesters and students at Kent State and elsewhere were shot and killed. We raised awareness, got everyone’s attention –– “the whole world is watching” –– and it didn’t make a damn bit of difference. Well, we got better hair, better concerts, healthier (organic) food, and wider sexual freedom –– all good things. But the war ended only when the last American helicopter was chased out of Saigon by NVA troops –– no peace, no honor, just defeat. . . and more than 58,000 young American men and women KIA. The system stayed in place and Nixon started the slow erosion of confidence in our government.

It was the era that began the culture war that split America apart and still rages today. . . and it was the revolution that ultimately failed. It didn’t end any wars and it didn’t change America for the better. Indeed, we made it worse –– because we remained defiantly outside the mainstream, a nation that would have elected Robert Kennedy President in 1968 wound up with Nixon and Watergate, Ford, Reagan and Iran/Contra, the two Bushes (George the Elder and George the Stupid) and their Iraq fiascos, and a nation filled with crass capitalists who bought the system and kept it rigged. Down with Che and up with Gordon Gecko.

Obviously, raising consciousness or awareness wasn’t enough. Neither was singing, marching, dressing up in costumes, or any of the other creative means we utilized to spread the word. We had the right message, but –– to our everlasting shame –– we didn’t deliver it properly.

Many blamed drugs for short-circuiting our feel-good revolution. But even without drugs, the ‘60s revolution was doomed because we didn’t focus on reality, on how things work in the real world. All the peaceful protest in the world did not end the Vietnam debacle because Nixon and a Republican congress, backed by corporate war-profiteers, were in power. If we had not opted out, if we had concentrated on supporting Democrats –– from President on down –– in 1968, the war would have ended, Watergate would not have happened, and Republicans would not have had a nearly unbroken 28 years in power. Instead, our demonstrations and the resulting police riots at Chicago’s Democratic Convention that year scared the shit out of ordinary Americans –– the swing voters each party needs to win –– and they literally ran the other way.

Now we have a President who actually wants to end our extreme economic inequity. But we have a Republican party that blocks every effort in that direction.

At the same time, we have a huge and growing movement called Occupy that also wants to end our financial double standard. But Occupy is doggedly apolitical –– it doesn’t want to get involved. Occupy decries political parties and refuses to endorse candidates while encouraging its loosely-knit membership not to participate in the existing political system. It doesn’t want to change the system, it wants to replace it entirely. . . all the while remaining on the outside looking in.

It’s an understandable position – the Hippies and Yippies actually held much the same view. But it’s unrealistic and totally counter-productive to Occupy’s own goals. As we Boomers tragically discovered, it’s like sitting on the curb and watching Republicans march the American parade off the cliff.

It’s vital that Occupy not repeat our failures, and perhaps the best way is to learn from our mistakes. Like the unsuccessful Yippies, Occupy intentionally has no party affiliation, hierarchy or leadership. That’s certainly democratic, but who makes decisions and who speaks for you? Democracies need leaders –– hell, every revolution, every system of government needs leaders. Otherwise who inspires? Who mobilizes the millions of willing volunteers at your disposal?

Most importantly, you can get involved from both the outside and the inside – one doesn’t preclude the other. Just figure out the most effective strategies to get what you want. What’s at the top of your wish list? What are your top five positions? You must make it crystal clear for both yourselves and others what policies and positions you stand for. How do you propose changing a system that’s fixed from the top down? And how do you communicate that to swing voters?

Occupy should be the important political movement that America needs, but right now its policy of non-engagement is sadly evident. Just look at Wisconsin: Scott Walker –– a politician for and backed by the 1% if ever there was one –– won by a larger percentage of voters last week than he did before Occupy was born. What’s wrong with that equation?

What’s glaringly wrong is that Occupy wants to change things, but apparently doesn’t want to dirty its hands by participating in the albeit imperfect process currently in place, one that can nevertheless affect change. The $11 million that the Koch brothers donated to Walker might have been counteracted by the occupiers in the state had they mobilized fully, but instead Occupy by and large stood by and allowed money from the 1% decide the election. And Wisconsin is only a preview of coming attractions if Occupy remains on the political sidelines.

There is much moral clarity in the ideals Occupy cherishes. But only cowards shy away from their moral responsibility. More than two centuries ago, Irish philosopher Edmund Burke wrote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” It’s still true today. . . and the deliberate non-engagement of Occupy in party politics, is a de facto example of doing nothing.

So roll up your sleeves, Occupy – mobilize and swarm the neighborhoods of all 50 states. You need to make people understand the real issues at stake –– and that voting for what you view as the lesser of two evils is still better than not voting at all (and worse, aiding and abetting the GOP by default). You have to convince everyone in the 99% not only to vote but to vote in their own interests. If you want a better and fairer America, the first and most pragmatic step is to keep Obama in office and get rid of Congressional Republicans who are blocking his progressive agenda. You must figure out how to threaten Republican power bases in a meaningful way or nothing will change for the better.

The lasting effect of Occupy will not be how many “likes” their various pages receive on Facebook, or how many re-tweets their accounts get on Twitter, or how many livestream views their citizen broadcasters rack up, or how many people occupy a park, a square, or even the Washington Mall. Occupy can only be judged on how it changes the face of a country in the midst of the greatest political crisis in its history. In the end, Occupy’s worth will be valued by how much it gets involved and directly affects what could be the most important election of our lives this November.

Up to now Occupy has been sitting on the sidelines preaching to the choir. But now it’s time to exit your tents, stop banging drums in circles, and get your political act together. Run from the dugout onto the playing field and exert your grass-roots power to pressure the only system we have into working for all of us.

The Boomers who largely failed are rooting for you to succeed. We want you to restore a true democracy. But if you don’t get involved –– and Republicans win by default –– then you can kiss your aspirations goodbye. Possibly forever.

There’s a lot of heat on Occupy right now. . . and there should be. You’ve got to prove to skeptics that you’ve got the goods to help build a better and fairer America.

It’s time to deliver.

[..]

postimg
Jun 2012 15

by Nicole Powers

“The problem is, from what I understand of Occupy, that because it’s so democratic, so many people have a say in what should go, that your messaging is just getting too beat to shit. The messaging has to be produced basically by one person or a very small group of people, no more than three or four, otherwise it just gets watered down.”
– George Parker on Occupy and marketing by committee

George Parker is a man who loves profanity almost as much as he hates the corporate fucktards and douchenozzles that stifle creativity in the advertising industry (Parker’s preferred pronominal profanities, not my own). In his popular “piss and vinegar” blog AdScam and his three books –Madscam, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, and his latest, Confessions of a Mad Man – the renowned British-born adman rails against the Big Dumb Agencies (BDAs) and the shareholder-serving corporations that consolidated, own, and suck the life out of them.

Self-described as “the last surviving Mad Man,” Parker landed at Cunard’s Pier 96 in New York to pursue his Madison Avenue dreams in an era when the cheapest way to cross the Atlantic was still by steamship. Having spent five debaucherous days of “non-stop drinking and shagging” aboard the Queen Mary, he arrived armed with a degree from the Manchester School of Art, a postgraduate scholarship from London’s Royal College of Art, a masters in bullshit from the University of Life, and a few hundred bucks. In the ensuing five decades, he rose through the ranks and has worked on countless major accounts both as a freelancer and in-house for some of the most prestigious agencies in the world including Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, Chiat Day, and J. Walter Thompson.

As the recipient of Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award, and with a career that spans five decades and multiple continents, Parker has more perspective than most when it comes to what’s wrong in today’s ad world. He’s repelled by the kind of suits that use jargon like “resonate” instead of “appeal” and who “interface” instead of “meet.” But, according to Parker, their crimes against humanity only begin with their choice of vocabulary. He hates the way they treat the American public like it has a collective IQ somewhere south of Jessica Simpson’s and their clients with the kind of contempt that should be reserved for the likes of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.

Talking of which, Parker also takes issue with the kind of one percenters who think it’s OK to treat themselves to Russian MiG 15 fighters (Larry Ellison of Oracle) and Boeing 767s (Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin) at their shareholders’ expense. To say Parker is moderately left wing is an understatement, since he never does anything – including Boddingtons – by halves. As such, he’s a rare beast in the advertising world, one that has lived life to the full yet has sense of decency, and a conscience.

Having been kind enough to call SuicideGirls “one of the best examples of a community based social networking site” in his excellent 2006 state-of-the-industry bible The Ubiquitous Persuaders (a book that serves as an update to Vance Packard’s 1957 classic The Hidden Persuaders), we were long overdue for a quality conversation with Parker. With the freshly minted Confessions of a Mad Man – a literary (and often times literal) romp through the industry as experienced by Parker – serving as an excuse, we called him up for a chat over drinks. In the interests of verisimilitude, ours was a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (cause we’re lightweights) and Parker’s was “a case of Pinot Noir” (because he’s not). During the course of our lengthy chinwag we discussed the decay of the American Dream, the not uncoincidental rise of political advertising, and how Occupy might best market itself and its efforts to stop the rot.

Read our exclusive interview with George Parker on SuicideGirls.com.

Page 30 of 76« First...1020...2829303132...405060...Last »