Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Obama and Alinsky tactics

December 22, 2008

I’ve been reading people on the blogs insisting that Obama is using Alinsky “divide and conquer” tactics to keep everyone in chaos.  In my last post I explained why I don’t see the Alinsky “us vs them” technique as being the same as “divide and conquer”.  But beyond that, I also don’t think Obama is TRYING to make there be chaos.  Personally, I think he’d prefer all of us adore him and never, ever ask questions or challenge him in any way.  And definitely he doesn’t want to have to make decisions!  (I guess he went into the wrong line of work!)

I don’t believe that BO “wants” chaos, and I don’t think it’s a tactic he using. IMO, he doesn’t stand for ANYthing, so he just wants to throw crumbs to every group in an attempt to get them to support him or not fight him too hard.

Anger and complaints (perhaps what some seem as “chaos”) will invariably result. But I don’t think it’s his intention. I just think he doesn’t care. If he truly stood for something, he wouldn’t throw everybody crumbs – he’d have principles and stick by them.  He’d be a visionary, a leader.

I think he’s just campaigning already for 2012. He doesn’t have principles, he’s not into being a visionary – he just plays one on TV.  By reading off a teleprompter the words of a 26 year old sexist pig, Jon Fauvreau.

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“Alinsky tactics” and Obama

December 22, 2008

I think people have picked up the term “Alinsky tactics”, and they toss it around, but don’t really know what it means.  I don’t prefer his tactics, as they’re too “in your face” for my taste, but they’re NOT about “divide and conquer”.

 

Lots of poor and powerless people live their lives in misery, never speaking up or doing anything to change their fate.  They feel isolated and disempowered.

 

Alinksy spearheaded “conflict organizing”, which is the traditional form of community organizing.  He helped the people understand that they don’t have to live in misery, that they have rights, and that if they form a group with each other, they have more power than being alone.  Makes sense, right?

 

They would then use this community power to fight for better schools, to keep a waste dump from being put in their neighborhood, to get better wages, etc.  He brought those people together, he most definitely didn’t “divide” them, or seek to “conquer” them.

 

The criticisms in the community organizing field of the Alinsky method is that he frames things in the traditional way, that of “us vs. them” – meaning the little people vs. the big people.  The result is that gains that are won cause further animosity between the haves and have-nots – bridges are burned, further “collaboration” is not likely.  It’s in this way that I believe the “us vs. them” technique isn’t of long-term benefit.

 

So, Alinksy is not about “divide and conquer” (although I realize that’s what’s commonly said lately by people who haven’t studied community organizing).  Alinsky meant well, but many people, myself included, feel his methods aren’t best.  I think of his methods as “wining a battle, but losing the war”. 

 

When you use his method, you may win, but it’s a short-term, uni-faceted win.  Sort of like the mortgage loans they won for lower-income residents.  They forced their agenda and “won”, but now down the road those people are losing their homes.  It was a good idea to want more people to be homeowners, but you still have to take basic facts into account – such as, can they afford it!  So these tactics were only a short-term win. 

 

So, there are pros and cons to the Alinsky method, but it’s NOT about divide and conquer.  It IS about fostering an “us against them” mentality, in order to get poor people to feel empowered and try to do something for THEMSELVES, instead of complaining that no one ever HELPS them.

 

A more collaborative form of community organizing would have helped some poor people get homes, but only those who could afford the terms.  So the Alinsky method got a lot of people short-term “wins”, but a different method would get fewer people wins, but they’d be lasting, REAL wins.

 

There are more peaceful, collaborative ways to organize communities so that they can have ongoing negotiations between the community and the powers that be in that same community, so that future issues can be worked on collaboratively.  One of those ways is “consensus organizing”.  The “little people” and the “big people” are brought together, and they work together to find consensus.  It’s somewhat analogous to mediation, I’d say.  But everyone is working together to find a compromise in which enough of each side’s needs are met.  These people, because of the nature of their problem solving, can work together again in the future when new issues come up.  I guess you could say that it empowers BOTH sides, in their ability to work for their own interests while at the same time being empowered to work WITH each other.

 

In short, Alinsky tactics aren’t something “evil”.  It’s a way to empower the poor to fight for themselves.  I don’t feel it’s the best way to organize people, but I thought I should point out that it’s really misunderstood on the blogs. 

Palin and pro-choice

December 18, 2008

Because Palin is a conservative, is religious, and is against gay marriages, the liberals and feminists in unison all cried, “She’s anti-abortion!” (Burn her!  Kick her off the mainland!  Save us from her!  She’s not even a feminist!)

In this, their world of convenient, self-imposed dichotomies, letting a woman who doesn’t choose abortion in her own life loose on the world would be analogous to disintegrating “pro-choice”.  With their eyes wide shut, they failed to acknowledge  that while Palin chose birth/denied abortion for her own personal life, she was twice faced with the opportunity of denying abortion to her constituents.  Both times she vetoed the bill.  And that means that Palin is……….  wait for it…………wait for it……….. yes, that’s right, Palin is PRO-CHOICE!

Pro-choice is not synonymous with abortion, it’s just not.  Pro-choice means standing for a woman’s right to make her own decision.  Palin made her own decisions, and refrained from making that decision for others. 

I’m comfortable with that.

Some Bushisms

December 15, 2008

‘The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.’
              – George W. Bush

‘If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.’
              – George W. Bush

‘One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is ‘to be prepared’.’ 
              – George W. Bush


‘I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.’
              – George W. Bush

‘The future will be better tomorrow.’
              – George W. Bush

‘We’re going to have the best educated American people in the world.’
              – George W. Bush

‘I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.’
              – George W. Bush

‘We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe?
              – George W. Bush

‘Public speaking is very easy.’
              – George W. Bush


‘A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.’
              – George W. Bush

‘I have opinions of my own — strong opinions — but I don’t always agree with them.’
              – George W. Bush

‘We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.’
              – George W. Bush


‘For NASA, space is still a high priority.’
              – George W. Bush

‘Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teaches our children.’ 
              – George W. Bush

‘It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.’
              – George W. Bush

 

Is Blago “insane”?

December 15, 2008

I see a lot of people on the blogs equating “insane” with having a clinical, diagnosable issue.  As I understand it, “insane” is a legal term, and has to do with being able to tell right from wrong.

“Insane” isn’t a psychological term.  In psychology, there are Axis I disorders, only some of which have to do with not being in touch with reality.  The Axis II disorders are personality disorders, which many politicians may surely have (think narcissism!). 

But just because a politician may have narcissistic personality disorder, doesn’t mean they can’t tell right from wrong.  So having a clinical diagnosis isn’t necessarily the same as “insane” in the legal sense.

To me, Blago’s narcissism and “delusions” are related to his arrogance and sense of entitlement.  They may stem from a personality disorder, but it may be common among politicians.  And it’s certainly not a “get out of jail free” card!

Feel free to substitute “Obama” for “Blago” in the above paragraph.

The “reform candidate” who wasn’t

December 15, 2008

Obama was supposedly the “reform candidate” (even though he has never done anything to reform anything).  Of course, he didn’t have experience in ANYthing, but that didn’t matter to vulnerable followers needing a god to believe in, in these uncertain times. 

Obama was post-racial (which means race-baiting at every opportunity), he was transcendent, not a part of corrupt politics (but not only rose from the swamp of Chicago politics, but rose faster than any politician anywhere AND with no qualifications), and he was all about transparency (which means hiring law firms to keep his school records and birth certificate hidden, and obfuscating on his relationship with Rezko and Blagojavich).  It’s downright refreshing.

Hmmmm….  the reform platform is the exact same platform that Blagojavich ran on for governor of Illinois.  They SAY they are a reformer, then once in, they either participate in corruption or look the other way.  Both ways are illegal and immoral.

(And why is that governor hanging out in Chicago, anyway?  The capital of Illinois is in Springfield, way south of Chicago.)

Obama and the birth certificate issue

December 15, 2008

There are a lot of lawsuits out there, some at the US Supreme Court, alleging that Obama is not a natural born citizen.  Some assert that he was born in Kenya, some that he was born here but of dual English/American citizenship, and some assserting that his living in Indonesia led to his losing his American citzenship.  All of these options would negate any “natural born” status, required for any citizen to assume the presidency or vice presidency.

I don’t know what the truth is, but it’s all rather fishy.  On the one hand, the claims seem wild.  But on the other hand – why doesn’t Obama just prove his citizenship?  Why has he sealed all of his college records (do they show financial aid for a foreign student?), and why has he hired THREE law firms to keep this information private?  Why?

Furthermore, while the state of Hawaii has confirmed they have an original birth certificate for him, they didn’t verify that it was a Hawaiian birth certificate.  In Hawaii, you can get a birth certificate even though you were born somewhere else.  Why doesn’t Obama request that the original be released?  Why? 

At first I thought he was playing a game, wanting Hillary supporters to get all worked up in a lather, and then he would release the information and make them look like fools.  But all these months later…..  no proof.  Seems like he’s trying to hide something.  Even if it’s not a lack of citizenship, there must be something being hidden.  Why pay for law firms to fight off the law suits, and deal with all these citizens questioning you, when for a couple of bucks you could get the birth certificate and show it?

There is a short-form certificate on his website, although its appearance has changed in response to criticism.  For example, it was noted that birth certificate are mailed, and always have creases, which the posted one did not.  Poof!  Magically, the image grew creases.  Some experts have alleged the images on the net are forged.  I don’t know if they are or not, but it is true that an original birth certificate lists way more information than this short form certificate does – such as in which hospital someone is born.  The name of a hospital would be information for people to follow – therefore something to hide?  As of this date, all Hawaiian hospitals have been queried, and they can’t find one which has records of him being born there.  That’s fishy, too. 

This is the candidate who was going to reform politics as we know it, the candidate who was going to be honest and transparent?

Hammer and a nail – Indigo Girls

December 14, 2008

written by Emily Saliers

 

Clearing webs from the hovel
A blistered hand on the handle of a shovel
Ive been digging too deep
I always do
I see my face on the surface
I look a lot like narcissus
A dark abyss of an emptiness
Standing on the edge of a drowning blue

I look behind my ears for the green
And even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes
I gotta get out of bed
Get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands
Not just my head
I think myself in a jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand
And a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth
If you want a rose

I had a lot of good intentions
Sit around for fifty years
And then collect a pension
Started seeing the road to hell
And just where it starts
But my life is more than a vision
The sweetest part is acting
After making a decision
Started seeing the whole
As a sum of its parts

And I look behind my ears for the green
And even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes
Gotta get out of bed
Get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands
Not just my head
I think myself in a jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand
And a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth
If you want a rose

My life is part of the global life
Id found myself becoming more immobile
When Id think a little girl in the world
Cant do anything
A distant nation my community
And a street person my responsibility
If I have a care in the world
I have a gift to bring

I look behind my ears for the green
Even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes
I gotta get out of bed
Get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands
Not just my head
I think myself in a jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand
And a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth
If you want a rose

Dialogue – Chicago

December 14, 2008

Part 1                                     Dialogue – parts one and two

 

Are you optimistic ‘bout the way that things are going?

                  No, I never ever think of it at all

 

Don’t you ever worry, when you see what’s going down?

                   Well, I try to mind my business, that is, no business at all.

 

When it’s time to function as a feeling human being

Will your bachelor of arts help you get by?

                   I hope to study further, a few more years or so

                   I also hope to keep a steady high

 

Will you try to change things

Use the power that you have, the power of a million new ideas?

                   What is this power you speak of and this need for things to change?

                    I always thought that everything was fine, everything is fine.

 

Don’t you feel repression just closing in around?

                    No, the campus here is very, very free.

 

Don’t it make you angry the way war is dragging on?

                     Well, I hope the president knows what he’s into,

                      I don’t know, ooh, I just don’t know.

 

Don’t you ever see starvation in the city where you live?

All the needless hunger, all the needless pain?

                       I haven’t been there lately, the country is so fine

                       But my neighbors don’t seem hungry, ‘cause they haven’t got the time,

                       haven’t got the time.

 

Thank you for the talk, you know you really eased my mind

I was troubled by the shape of things to come.

                      Well, if you had my outlook your feelings would be numb

                       You’d always think that everything was fine, everything was fine.

 

Part 2

 

We can make it happen, we can make it happen, we can make it happen

We can change the world now, we can change the world now, we can change the world

             Now

We can save the children, we can save the children

We can make it better, we can make it better, we can make it better

We can make it happen, we can make it happen, we can make it happen

We can save the children, we can save the children, we can save the children

We can make it happen, we can make it happen, we can make it happen….

May 2006 posts

December 14, 2008

Are “patriotism” and “war” synonymous?

 From May, 2006

Patriotism is:

…driving a fuel-efficient vehicle
…donating blood
…being an active and caring part of your neighborhood
…treating your less advantaged neighbor with respect
…supporting local farmers and merchants
…fighting for better schools for all neighborhoods
…volunteering in your community
…taking care of the environment
…appreciating the diversity of your fellow Americans
…mediating peaceful compromises with those around you
…being one with the world not superior to it.

Patriotism is exemplified by our personal lifestyle choices, not by our actions in a foreign country.

How did we let this administration define “patriotism” as being synonymous with “war”? 

The new Christianity without Jesus

 Humans are capable of a wide range of cognitive and emotional expression.
We can be aggressive, tender, introspective, competitive, peaceful, emotive, judgmental, or caring. At some point early in human development, however, societies became patriarchal, and strength and power became the most valued qualities.

Although women and men are more alike than different (more differences are found within gender than between genders), patriarchal societies tended to exaggerate and encourage those differences. Work was divided along gender lines, as were the human qualities we are all capable of. Females were assigned the more peaceful, communicative, and emotive qualities, while males were assigned the more aggressive, stoic, and cognitive qualities. Just as women were considered inferior to men, so the qualities assigned to them were considered inferior and unimportant.

An alternative approach would have been to let everyone develop all of their human abilities and express each one depending on the situation, such as showing nurturance to a crying baby or showing competition when in a race, regardless of gender. People would exhibit varying constellations of the different human abilities, but it would be based on their individual personality, not on their gender. Feminism enabled many women and men to move past their proscribed gender roles, but our collective societal beliefs still cling to the past.

A comparison can be made to the God of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New Testament. God is presented as similar to the masculine gender identity; he appears arrogant, interested in his own power, judgmental, and advocates aggressive solutions, speaking of “an eye for an eye”. Jesus, on the other hand, has qualities representative of the feminine gender identity. He was humble, and he spoke of “turning the other cheek”, taking care of the poor (nurturance and compassion), and accepting diversity. He is emotive and does not seem invested in his own power.

More interesting – and disturbing – is that our current Christian political leaders seem to have substituted God’s “masculine” identity for Jesus’ “feminine” identity. Our guiding “moral” principles seem now to revolve around aggressive national power (“my country right or wrong” and “might makes right”), self-centered personal power (“I’m going to make my own financial fortune and I don’t care about the less advantaged”), and discriminatory social power (let’s take rights away from people who are different than I am”).

We are still a patriarchy, and there is still a stigma of inferiority attached to so-called “feminine” qualities. Power is still seen as the most valued human quality and war is glorified. Could this be part of the reason that Christianity has been “de-feminized” ? The world is quickly becoming an extremely volatile place, and a cowboy administration based on a “masculinized” morality seems likely to further fan the flames, particularly as recognized states are increasingly resorting to terrorist tactics of pre-emption, disproportunate retaliation, and indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

As a secularist, I don’t believe that religion belongs in government, but if we must have it for two more years, I’d prefer our “Christian” leaders start focusing on what Jesus stood for. A government that focused on Jesus’ values, rather than on religious identification and power, may very likely be able to prevent World War 3. We need to finally agree that humans are capable of a range of behaviors, stop glorifying and overusing our “masculine” abilities, and start appreciating those behaviors previously assigned to the “feminine gender identity”. Those “feminine” qualities might literally be the saving grace for our world.

Such a shift would open up to us a whole new worldview, and enable us to finally envision (and desire) prevention of conflict, as well as non-violent resolution of grievances. A good place to start would be to address the poverty that most of the world’s citizens live in. Jesus would like that.