Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Occupy" and the use of language

To take this one step further, I believe it will be especially important for anyone discussing one of the issues at the heart of "Occupy," the issue of corporate personhood, to be sure they use the right pronouns to distinguish between people and corporations.  There must be a clear distinction in order to take control of the narrative on this issue. To be sure there is no question of the difference between a non living entity, such as a corporation,  and a person; the pronouns "who" and "that" must be used properly. They must not be interchanged as is done so often in common usage, even by those in broadcasting, who should know better. When these pronouns are switched around, the line between humans and inanimate objects becomes less distinct. The use use of "who" implies human-like qualities to the entity described. The last thing anyone who supports the idea of Occupy wants to do is infer that a corporation has "human" qualities. Corporations are always "that," in order to be sure they are never given the status of "human," in these discussions.

Those who speak to others about Occupy need to be on their toes more than ever when they encounter those who may be unsure about, or are hostile toward, the Occupy movement. If they cannot speak properly; cannot put thoughts into coherent, grammatically correct sentences; the people they wish to influence to become supporters of Occupy will dismiss them as idiots. There is a dichotomy in this; at a time when there appears to be derision for intellectuals or so-called "experts," people will still be judged by their ability to speak (and write) properly. It's a fine line, and a hard one to figure out, but I'd guess that you could still use proper grammar and avoid the "high falutin" language that some folks are skeptical of; thereby not getting yourself labeled as one of the expert types that caused the mess.  Becoming aware of and in tune with your "audience" will help you choose the right words.

Thursday, December 22, 2011 Be Skeptical, be Very Skeptical.

With the Citizens United ruling of 2010,  which corporations are funding elections right now will be next to impossible to know, but it isn't as hard to figure out as it seems. Since we know that old dogs aren't doing anything new, and our current political offerings are guys who have been around Congress and state legislatures for eons; finding out which corporations put them into office in the first place will take a little work, but won't be the impossible task that Citizens United intended.

Prior to 2010, Federal Election laws required everyone who ran for office to report what monies they got and where that money came from. It was intended that the public have access to this info, so it is available for elections through 2009 from the Federal Election Commission.  So, once you figure out which corporations gave money to your specific elected official prior to 2009, you can presume that those same corporations are doing so now, unless said corporations are out of business, or your specific candidate gives a full accounting and does not take money from superpacs. Corporations can still give directly to a campaign, but the invention of the "Superpac" that can get money from anywhere and not have to say where it came from is what we have to fear the most. Superpacs can donate the money they raise to anything, including to a specific candidate. Once that money has been laundered through the superpac, its original source does not ever have to be revealed, and may really be impossible to find. That is what was intended when the unnamed corporations got together and formed Citizens United. We don't even know which corporations belong to Citizens United, shielding those corporations from possible economic fallout.

This long election cycle has given us plenty of time to see the candidates in action and listen to what they have to say. This has been very revealing. Many of the candidates have shown us in the things they have said what they really believe,  but we  have to be very attentive to these things... and understand the "coding." An example of this is Buddy Roemer, former governor of Louisiana (88-92) and currently running for president as a Republican on an election reform platform. He may be the first of the Americans Elect candidates. On the surface, Mr Roemer looks like a very good alternative to the other candidates out there. It looks like he is being excluded from the Republican debates because of what he is saying about campaign finance, and that may make him appealing to some voters who might otherwise vote for another candidate. Further review, and especially a careful listen to what he said on MSNBC's program "UP! with Chris Hayes,"  about mortgages and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reveal another thing altogether. (12/12/11 show) He has the same view as the rest of the Republicans who want to dismantle them because they believe that "certain people should not be allowed to own homes," that Newt Gingrich also revealed in his tirade about federal policy with Fannie and Freddie "forcing lenders to make loans to people with no history of ever paying anybody anything," as the reason the mortgage market imploded. With the evidence now revealing that 65% of minority borrowers who were otherwise credit worthy enough to obtain conventional financing but were given sub-prime loans because of the bigger commissions, that statement is at the very least suspect, and is more likely, disguised bigotry.

While some folks lament this long election cycle, I do not. The longer these candidates have to show us what they really believe, the more they look like the wolves they are....

The long election cycle can give us time to investigate the purportedly non profit group Americans Elect, which was originally formed as a political group, but changed itsstatus to 501 3(c)4  group AFTER chairman Ackerman “donated” 1.5 million. This group has proposed an on line nomination process and trying to get that candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

There is criticism of the group and its processes,  but especially the failure to disclose its donors:

However, Fred Wertheimer, known for his work on campaign finance reform, said, "They must be trying to hide from the public who their donors are. This is a very strange way for a group to act that is complaining about the state of American politics". (from Wikipedia) I might not go that far, but I will say that any political group, candidate, or group of candidates wishing to stand out or distinguish themselves from others cannot continue the practices of previous candidates or parties, cannot hide behind the Citizens United decision, and cannot fail to disclose where their money is coming from. Americans Elect must show that their way of doing political business is not just "more of the same old #$%^," but is, in fact, a new way of doing political business in this country.

Americans Elect has succeeded in getting on the ballot in 13 states so far and is looking to find candidates to place on the ballot as Americans Elect candidates, not just at the presidential level, but at the state and local levels too. Just because that person (or those persons) are associated with Americans Elect does not mean we should not scrutinize them as we would any other candidate; in fact, I believe we should subject an Americans Elect candidate to an even more stringent microscope, if only to prevent us from being taken in by the "shiny new wrapper."

The Republicans appear to be in big trouble. It looks like there may be a number of candidates who would otherwise be on the Republican ticket but will not because they aren't hard line enough for that small segment of the party known as the "TEA Party." Because of this, we may find a number of those guys on the Americans Elect ticket. If this happens, we need to remember, Americans Elect ticket or not; that candidate is, first and foremost, whatever their party affiliation was before they became part of Americans Elect. Being on the Americans Elect ticket will not change that underlying philosophy. We will need to ask some hard questions or do some investigations to find out which corporations donated to their previous campaigns and demand open accounting of all Americans Elect candidates, to be sure they aren't getting corporate or Superpac money this time, that they are truly free to vote as their constituents want them to.

So, what does Ron Paul really think about Blacks, Jews, and Gays? Will we ever really know.

 Well, recent information revealed about Ron Paul, showing him to be a bigot in sheep's clothing underscores the importance of us (the electorate) doing our homework to find out who these people really are, what corporations are sponsoring them, and sharing that information with as many people as we can.

He either said those things, or allowed others to say those things under his byline because he agreed with the views presented. You don't let others use your byline if you don't agree with their views or opinions because, as editor/owner/publisher, you have an option to print things in your newsletter written by others. Whether you agree with their opinions won't be an issue as long as you gave the author of the commentary the proper credit, and you print a "disclaimer" saying that the "views expressed in the following commentary are not necessarily the views of the staff of the XYZ Gazette."  That way, 20 years later, when you are running for president and a reporter asks you about said newsletters; you can say that you printed divergent opinions in the hopes of fostering open discussion on controversial issues. That it was your job to make the newsletter worth reading, even if you didn't agree with what got printed in a specific newsletter. And that's what you did. Now, an on the ball reporter would notice that this answer still didn't provide the information they were looking for, and may still press you on the issue of whether you agreed with the bigoted opinions printed there, in which case, you'd still be on the hook for an answer to that. You'd still have a chance that said reporter wouldn't notice that you never didn't tell them what they really were looking to find out....

We have to conclude that he agreed with those statements because he did not preface these commentaries with any such disclaimer, or cite anyone other than himself as the author of the commentaries in question. As the person in charge, he is ultimately responsible for anything that was published in the newsletter in any case.  So, like the captain of the ship, he has to take responsibility for the things printed in those newsletters "on his watch," even if he didn't write them.

Walking out on the interview does not bode well for him to disavow himself of the views expressed, even though he stated as much.

12/22: A quick additional note 15 things Ron Paul would eliminate as unconstitutional if he were president: 

As you can see from the age of some of the video, unlike Gingrich and Romney, he has, without shame, been consistent; although some folks would say consistently wrong. And like Tarot cards or a palm reader, there is always something he will say that you like to hear. It is the balance of the message that you need to pay attention to.  Based on how consistent these videos show him to be on every other issue he has ever raised; it would be very hard to convince most anyone that he no longer holds the views espoused in his newsletters published in the same time period as some of these videos were taken.

Another update: Looks like he has joined the "Flip-flopper" brigade....