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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Did the messenger manipulate the message?


More disturbing than the NSA leaker Edward Snowden is the coordinated apparatus that encouraged him to unlawfully infiltrate U.S. intelligence programs before he even sought employment with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.  This coordinated apparatus is arguably the same, or an affiliated group that is supporting Mr. Snowden as a fugitive from justice.

Many people are influenced by the media regarding the characterization of Edward Snowden and functionally believe whatever they are told to believe by whichever media industrial complex to which they subscribe.

Based upon Mr. Snowden’s admissions, a cursory examination of the law indisputably delineates his violations of law, and clearly shows that he was not in compliance with the laws that would provide him with any exemption under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 [(S. 743, HR. 3289) in the 112th Congress.]  

Indeed, Mr. Snowden went light-years beyond any legal definition of complying with the Federal Whistleblowers statute, not the least of which is evidenced by his [admitted] compilation of U.S. secrets for the sole purpose of blackmailing the United States with the threatened release of said secrets, knowingly causing irreparable harm to national security.  

It is important to point out that the lions share of Mr. Snowden’s compilation of U.S. national security secrets have nothing to do with his [claimed] whistle blowing regarding the NSA surveillance programs. Finally, Mr. Snowden fled the jurisdiction of the United States, which suggests that his claim of benevolence to the U.S. citizenship strains credibility.

Julian Assange is an Australian editor, activist, publisher and journalist.  He is best known as the editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks.

Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian reported former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of government surveillance programs during his video interview with Snowden in Hong Kong, after Snowden fled U.S. Jurisdiction.

It is highly significant to note that Greenwald, who is an attorney and purports to be a journalist, was communicating with Edward Snowden before Snowden applied for a position with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The self-proclaimed titles of publisher, editor and journalist conterminously provide the individual with some of the most powerful protections afforded under the United States Constitution.  Virtually anyone can claim the title of journalist, irrespective of his or her credentials, and in spite of potentially nefarious intentions.

Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian Newspaper were romancing Edward Snowden for months prior to Mr. Snowden soliciting and accepting a position with Booz Allen Hamilton - a position that gave him access to a plethora of top-secret information, including highly classified information that was far beyond the scope of his security clearance and job description.

It seems clear at this juncture that prior to Mr. Snowden even soliciting employment with Booz Allen Hamilton, Mr. Greenwald was arguably encouraging Mr. Snowden to develop a deliberate plan to gather and subsequently leak our nation’s most classified information.  Mr. Greenwald was clearly complicit in the crimes committed by Edward Snowden (under the law).  Some might argue that Mr. Greenwald was the leader of the entire operation while Mr. Snowden was simply a vehicle that Mr. Greenwald used to further his own agendas.  Based upon Mr. Snowden’s background, education and experience, it is entirely conceivable that he was influenced and manipulated by an individual who purported to be a journalist and bolstered his influence with his [disingenuous] legal prowess as an attorney. 

For a true journalist, the story should have been the sloppy security that would enable a twenty-nine-year-old hacker to access such sensitive information that was not within the scope of his job responsibilities, and clearly outside of his area of security.  

Much the same as we occasionally see journalist’s breach airport security only to report the weakest links in the chain, the story regarding lax security and a possible need to open a discussion regarding NSA surveillance programs could have been examined without compromising national security.  

It would not be journalism if the enactment of breaching airport security were allowed to carry on to the actual hijacking and destruction of an aircraft.  By analogy, that is however what Messrs Greenwald and Snowden did.  Fully exposing security breaches or questionable surveillance programs does not require the destruction of the country’s entire national security apparatus. And, this is an apparatus that, albeit needs refinement, has kept the nation safer. The cost of Messrs Snowden and Greenwald’s irresponsible and criminal activities has compromised U.S. national security, has made the nation less safe and has cost the U.S. taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars.

The demarcation point between journalism and criminal activity is pretty clear in the example of exposing airport security vulnerabilities.  There is a hazy demarcation point between journalism and breaching our national security, thereby endangering our country.  This demarcation point needs to be clarified with respect to [alleged] journalists romancing individuals to solicit employment within our nation’s security community for the intentional and premeditated purpose of espionage.

Just as our justice department did during the 1960’s and 70’s battle to bring down the Cosa Nostra criminal empire, the justice department and the U.S. intelligence community might consider granting immunity to minnows like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.  Young impressionable and malleable individuals like Messrs Snowden and Manning could reduce their legal exposure in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who are in the leadership of the coordinated apparatus that is infiltrating our intelligence systems and compromising our national security.  To this day, Manning and Snowden do not genuinely know why they did what they did, except for what they were told, why they did what they did.

The syndicate that exists today is not dissimilar to the Cosa Nostra of yesteryear, which was the genesis of laws governing the operation of “enterprises” without brick and mortar facilities, but that clearly exist and have a pattern of activity that is found to be criminal under other sections of the United States Code.  The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act) was legislation specifically enacted to combat criminally operated shadow organizations.

There is a striking similarity between Cosa Nostra and the existent enterprise that, although fractured in its organization, can arguably be all encompassed and entitled “WikiLeaks.”   

The Cosa Nostra hid behind a blanket of secrecy, which was enhanced and enforced through intimidation and violence. Today’s WikiLeaks enterprise is completely out in the open, enjoying what is historically an impenetrable shield provided by the First and probably the Fourth Amendments, as well as a variety of outdated international law, which was intended to provide asylum for those who are politically persecuted, but has curiously expanded to provide fugitives from justice with sanctuary. 

If he genuinely wants to be a hero, Edward Snowden should release information regarding his communications with Glenn Greenwald prior to Snowden’s application for employment with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.  

It is possible that Snowden could become a hero were he to return to the United States and engage in the debate about the NSA surveillance programs, and to make a fully transparent disclosure regarding the possible influence and manipulation by some individuals who may be using the First Amendment as a license to conduct clandestine operations that are clearly detrimental to the national security of the United States.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Exploding U.S. Prison Population - Who is to blame?

I frequently read statistics that report the number of people in U.S. prisons.  Recent Department of Justice statistics report that the population of prisoners in federal and state prisons and local jails is a little over 2.3 million.  Even more frequently, I read how the United States has the largest prison population, and the greatest number of persons incarcerated per capita than any other civilized nation.  In-fact, the U.S. prison population exceeds the combined prison populations of several other nations.

Blame for the U.S. prison population seems to include the failed war on drugs, elected judges running on a “tough on crime” platform that forces them to give out harsher sentences, mandatory sentencing guidelines, recidivism resulting from the corrections systems’ failure to prepare people for release, the prison industrial complex, allegations of racism because of the disproportionate racial composition of incarcerated persons, and other similar influences.  No one discounts these as contributing factors to our expanding prison population.

The statistics are probably fairly accurate.  Compiling statistics is valuable for determining trends and whether the solutions implemented to resolve a problem are achieving their desired objectives. However, recording or citing statistics does nothing to identify the core cause of the problem, or for discovering solutions that directly resolve the problem.  

Given the fact that the prison population continues to increase disproportionately in relation to the population of the nation, we might conclude that the core problem is still elusive, and despite the efforts and capital being spent on our corrections system, the numbers suggest that we are funding symptoms as opposed to resolving core problems.

Many people might conclude that the corrections system is to blame, particularly for the high rate of recidivism.  I might argue that we are blaming the messenger, since it is the Justice Department and the corrections system that are reporting the statistics. Perhaps more importantly, we tend to place blame on whoever had last possession in the chain of custody.

Some career professionals working within the DOJ and corrections system suggest that the blame lies with our failed education system.  

If our education system is such a failure, how do we explain the tens-of-thousands of kids each year who graduate from public schools and are accepted into colleges and universities that have substantially high entrance standards?  Albeit there is always room for improvement, calling our public education system a failure is a red hearing with regard to this discussion.

It is impossible to solve a problem by treating symptoms.  Yet, when a problem arises, it is the symptoms, not the problem, that jumps out and slaps us in the face.

I would propose that the core problem that continues to exacerbate our expanding prison population is not a failed corrections or education system, or mandatory sentencing guidelines, the war on drugs, or racism.

The core problem is constitutional and the misinterpretation or adjudication of the Constitution and Bill of Rights by our legislature and judiciary, in many respects yielding to the pressure of the liberal left.

As a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I subscribe to many of the fundamentals of the liberal left. However, I have also concluded that the very people who shout the loudest about our expanding prison population may have contributed to its cause.

During a trip a several years ago to New York City, I visited the observation deck of the Empire State Building.  I found it interesting that there are fences surrounding the observation area with the top two feet of the fence leaning inward.  My suspicions were confirmed by the individual working at the facility- the barrier is to prevent people from jumping off of the building - anti-suicide fencing.  I had noticed similar fencing at observation areas in the Grand Canyon and various other scenic areas around the county.  Evidently, our government has determined that making suicide unlawful is not enough - it has erected mechanisms to help prevent violations of that law.

Over the past several of decades, there has been public debate regarding a person’s right to end their life, most notably with regard to doctor-assisted suicide for which Dr. Jack Kevorkian had sacrificed himself as the ambassador for the crusade.

Do you have the constitutional right to jump off a cliff and end your life?  Again, the question is clearly a debate that continues - with both sides providing zealous and coherent arguments.  What is clear, and there is likely consensus, is that you do not have the constitutional right to jump off the Empire State Building into a crowded street below.  Irrespective of your arguable right to end your life, you clearly do not have the right to endanger other people in the exercise of your rights - hence the reason for the laws banning suicide, and the fences.

Our laws and regulations, and the mechanisms invoked or erected to enforce various laws theoretically may infringe upon an individual’s rights, but are weighed against the potential violation of the rights of others.

There is one more component to briefly discuss before summarizing my conclusions from this brief discussion.

All mammals share the reptilian-level instincts to acquire the fundamental things they need for survival, which include food, shelter, and security, and reproduction of the species.  

Most mammals are born with the tools they require to hunt for food, build their shelters, and provide for their security.  They practice using their tools and instincts during adolescence while still under the umbrella of a teaching parent.  For example, if we look at lions, tigers and bears, their fundamental tools are claws and teeth, along with a certain level of intellect.

If we examine the human mammal, we are also endowed with instincts that are similar to our mammal cousins, and the same fundamental needs for food, shelter, security and reproduction.

Many mammals, including humans, are instinctively social, and form communities and societal structures within which there are rules and hierarchies.  We humans have evolved a societal structure that we commonly refer to as civilized society.  All societal groups work to serve their respective needs, utilizing the tools that they have available.

The needs and desires of lions, tigers and bears are satisfied with the tools they have - teeth and claws.  It would be an aberration for any of them to develop extraordinary needs or desires that would require tools beyond that which they have, or the skills that they acquire with experience.

However, we humans seem to develop additional needs and desires that extend far beyond our fundamental survival requirements.  We live in a society that promotes instant gratification, and in a capitalistic culture that survives and expands by creating a need that previously did not exist.  Our needs have evolved to include the need for a new iPhone, expensive clothing and accessories, or a new Cadillac Escalade.

Corresponding to the teeth and claws that are the primitive tools of our mammal cousins are guns and knives, which by analogy are equally primitive when compared to other tools available to achieve substantially the same objectives.

Among our many gifts as humans is our almost limitless ability to learn.  We have the unique ability to add tools to our tool chest through the process of education and experience.  Education is what separates us from our Neanderthal ancestors and from all of our mammal cousins.

Education provides us with the many tools necessary to navigate our societal structure and achieve the fulfillment of the innumerous extraordinary needs and desires we have developed as a species and as a culture.

Without the additional tools that are the by-product of education, we still have the desires for the iPhone, the Cadillac and a plethora of other products.  However, without the tools that we acquire through education, we are left with a struggle to fulfill these needs and desires by utilizing the only tools we have - teeth and claws - guns and knives, or other primitive or nefarious mechanisms.

Education is available from a variety of sources.  We can refer to the public and private education system in the United States as a formal education.  However, an individual can also acquire an education on the streets and in prison.  In either scenario, the fundamental purpose of education is to increase an individual’s collection of tools - the tools that they utilize for acquiring their needs and fulfilling their desires.

I believe that it is reasonable to conclude that a formal education is more beneficial to the welfare of the individual and to society as a whole.  Our society and world economy have become extraordinarily competitive environments.  Navigating our civilized society using socially acceptable methods requires a bare minimum of a high school education.  Further, some people argue that because our culture has become so technically advanced, it might be time to consider increasing a minimum high school education from 12 to 14 years.

All states have compulsory-attendance laws. However, the truancy departments charged with enforcement of these laws are frequently under-staffed and over-worked.  

Students cannot drop out of school until they turn 16 in most states and 18 in a few.  A few states have imposed penalties that include driver’s license revocation for minors who drop out, and they can also impose sanctions on the families of those students such as reduced welfare benefits.  Despite these penalties, these consequences have had a negligible effect on dropout rates.  The laws have been ineffective, and some civil liberty advocates suggest that forcing an individual to complete high school is an infringement on their civil rights.

Where individuals do not have the mental capacity to make informed decisions and sound judgments for themselves, a guardian must make these decisions for them.  Persons incapable of exercising sound judgment would obviously include individuals who suffer a mental handicap.  Where a guardian is unavailable or is incapable of rendering assistance, the government steps in.  As a society, we do not allow people to jump off a cliff, and the very desire to do so suggests a mental impairment.

The axiom, “if I only knew then what I know now,” clarifies why our culture should not allow anyone the option of dropping out of high school.  From the standpoint of survival within our societal structure, allowing an individual to drop out of high school is not much different than allowing them to jump off a cliff.  Giving an individual the option to simply decline a basic education functionally deprives them of the tools that are essential and prerequisite to navigating our expanding and complex economy as necessary to satisfy their basic needs, or to provide any of the other comforts available within or culture.

An individual of sixteen years does not have the capacity or judgment to make a decision that, if made incorrectly, will have catastrophic consequences.  At that age, a person simply does not know what he or she does not know.  The civil liberties of these young and impressionable people are not being infringed because civilized society decides that people will not be permitted the option of wallowing through life suffering the consequences of illiteracy.

For the sake of debate, I will stipulate that perhaps it is a violation of an individual’s rights to force him or her to complete a high school education.  Such individuals will still have the basic needs for survival, and they will still develop the extraordinary desires for many of the comforts available within our culture. These under educated individuals will still want the iPhone and Cadillac Escalade, and they will utilize the only tools they have to acquire it - teeth & claws / guns & knives.  Under this scenario, the individual is not jumping off of the cliff at the Grand Canyon to an empty gorge, but rather they are jumping off of the Empire State Building into a rush-hour crowd of people.  Many of the people below are going to suffer the consequences of an individual’s poor judgment, by a person whom those innocent and injured people had never even met.

The plethora of individuals whose rights are infringed because a person elects to drop out of high school is substantial.  Everyone else pays for the social programs to support these individuals.  In an increasing number of instances, we all pay for their incarceration in a prison system that places severe economic strains on many state budgets, not to mention the incalculable cost to victims.

Depending upon where an individual attends high school, the dropout rate ranges from 21% - 50% according to statistics released by the state departments of education.

Sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have been contributing factors to the expanding prison population in the United States. These are some factors that play a role regarding the United States having the largest prison population in the World.  These factors are only symptoms of an underlying systemic problem that, if it continues unresolved, will eventually cause a pivotal shift in our entire culture.

Drugs are sold and consumed predominantly by individuals who have no other tools to exploit to acquire their needs and fulfill their desires. Consumers of drugs frequently lack the tools to acquire the money necessary to maintain their habit, which accounts for a great deal of our nation’s increasing crime rates.

Irrespective of drug-related crimes, with dropout rates hitting 50% in some areas, simple arithmetic projects that within a generation or two, our nation will have jumped off of a cliff.

Neither our corrections nor our education systems are to blame for our nation’s robust prison population. The corrections system is doing the best it can with what it has to work with - 2.3 million people, of whom a substantial majority are functionally illiterate when measured against the literacy standards necessary to operate within the guidelines of our civilized society.

A high school education must be as mandatory as any of our most important and enforced public policies and laws.  Completion of a high school education must be demonstrated through a series of tests, not just because an individual has demonstrated the endurance to make it to the 12th grade.

The United States is becoming an increasingly illiterate culture when compared to just a couple of generations ago.  And, with high school dropout rates hitting 50%, it is only going to get worse.

Arguably, responsibility lies with parents.  However, when illiteracy is second, third and fourth generation, it is unreasonable to entrust the parents with the responsibility of ensuring their child’s education.

If not the parents, then who is going to accept responsibility to ensure that the current and subsequent generations of the nation’s children receive adequate education and tools to navigate a lifestyle in civilized society - orphanages or more social services?  

The cost to society to support an uneducated individual is far greater than any of the alternative options to ensure that all children become educated.

The solutions to the prison population, which will only continue to grow, can only come to fruition through public debate, followed by conclusions and difficult decisions in our legislature and judiciary.

Recidivism is not the problem.  Recidivism is a symptom.  The problems that contribute to crime and recidivism are much deeper.  Education and family structure have deteriorated substantially during my generation, and I would argue that these issues are at the very core.

The prison and correction systems need to stop tripping over themselves to buy the latest and greatest repackaged dysfunctional symptom-treating programs that contributed to the seventy percent recidivism rate, and start having a conversation that clearly identifies the underlying problems.

Our nation desperately needs to get back to basics and unconditionally require that every person achieve the minimum level of education necessary to navigate a dynamic civilized society.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting out of prison is easy. The challenge is staying out.

The first consideration an individual must contemplate when facing community re-entry after incarceration is whether or not he or she genuinely wants a different path in life.  

Changing your life path requires work, dedication and sacrifice.  If an individual is unwilling to put forth the effort and work that is necessary to change his or her life path, then that person will probably find the exercise of trying very frustrating.  

People who do not genuinely want to embrace a new life path, but feel some obligation to demonstrate that they are trying in an effort to appease the expectations of a spouse, family member, or parole officer, will arguably expend a great deal of energy manufacturing a plethora of excuses as to why the barriers to re-entry cannot be overcome.  The myriad of tortured excuses provides a convenient rationalization for an individual to not try very hard toward life path change, and it justifies why he or she is in life where he or she is – a sort of victim, that has somehow been singled out and persecuted, at least in his or her own mind.

If you’re happy with the path that you’re on and it is producing the results that you want for your life, then accept your future as being the result of your efforts.  However, if you are an individual who genuinely wants a new life path, but you wonder if putting forth the work and effort would just be an exercise in futility, worry no more.  

Hundreds of thousands of people who were released from prison and successfully re-entered mainstream society speak from experience.  If you put forth the genuine work, sacrifice and effort, you can succeed.  

Everyone seems to focus on the recidivism rates that statistically range from 65% to 70%.  Put another way, 30% to 35% never go back to prison because they make a successful reentry into mainstream society.  That percentage represents hundreds of thousands of people.

Successful community re-entry is largely dependent upon economics.  Living in civilized society requires money, and among the socially acceptable methods of acquiring money is through gainful employment that is expected to provide a steady income stream.

There are many important elements that we must consider when seeking employment.  We must seek employment opportunities for which we are qualified – not in our assessment, but rather, qualified in the employer’s judgment.  There are numerous aspects of our education, experience, character and persona that contribute to an employer’s assessment of our overall qualification for a particular position.

A single boilerplate resume sent to employers in disparate industries for a multitude of different positions is probably not very effective.  When an employer is recruiting to fill a particular position, that employer wants to locate an individual who appeals to the particulars of that position.  Your resume needs to be tailored by industry and position.  A successful employment search will likely require eight or ten variations of your resume, each customized to exploit those elements of your specific qualifications that appeal to the particulars and requirements of each opportunity.

In this day of the Internet and instant communication, many people have this delusion that filling out a couple of applications on the Internet, or sending in a few resumes via e-mail each day qualifies as a sincere job search.  It doesn’t.  A genuine job search requires a good deal more dedication.

Seeking employment, particularly in an economy where there are more people than jobs, requires a plan.  Don’t be discouraged though – there may be more people than there are jobs, but there are definitely more jobs than there are people with a plan to find a job.  

If a person takes the time to create a genuine employment acquisition plan, he or she absolutely will locate gainful employment.  On the other hand, if an individual is unwilling to put forth the effort to create an employment acquisition plan, then he or she can expect results that amount to little more than frustration.  Even worse, some people convince themselves that the limited results they realize from their lackadaisical search for employment provides them a convenient excuse that no one will hire them because of their background – suggesting that a felony conviction is some kind of total disability.  It isn’t a disability, but is does present some unique challenges – none that cannot be conquered if an individual is willing to press forward and not give up and quit.

Decide which industries and positions are of interest to you.  Begin with perhaps six industries and positions, and tailor resumes to each of those six positions.  Emphasize your education, experience, and how your personality is best suited for the particulars of each specific position.  When an employer reads your resume, you want them to see a match of your qualifications that fulfills the employer’s needs – not just another person seeking a paycheck.

The preceding is probably decent and fundamental guidance for the majority of people seeking gainful employment.   However, the individual who was recently released from jail or prison faces a unique set of challenges.  The fundamentals mentioned above are still important, but there are a number of other considerations for someone who carries a felony record.

As previously mentioned, the first consideration is: do you really want to change your life path?  Do you really want to become a member of mainstream society?  If you genuinely want to take a new life-path, then this process will not be a frustrating and painful drudgery. Rather, it will simply present interesting challenges that you can and will conquer.  A felony conviction or incarceration event does trigger some collateral damages, but a felony background is not a barrier to achieving a successful new life path. 

Many people who are released from prison are fundamentally brainwashed to believe that becoming a card-carrying member of mainstream society is an almost impossible mission.  That is a fallacy that is frequently proliferated by those who have been in, got out, and then came back – the recidivists.  Why would you even listen to an oratory regarding the challenges of community re-entry from someone who failed at re-entry?  That would be analogous to taking financial planning counseling from someone who just filed a personal bankruptcy.

If you have the desire to take a new life-path, then the fulfillment of your desire is going to require change – a kind of self-reinvention.  Change is difficult, especially after an individual is released from prison.  All of the temptations and all of the old friends are readily available when an individual is released.  In some respects, it is harder to get out then it is to be in, but not because of the “barriers” to re-entry.  The re-entry “barriers” are arguably overrated propaganda perpetuated by recidivists.  

Whether you have been an inmate in a prison, work in a prison, or work in the community re-entry profession, chances are that some of the people who have influenced your assessment regarding the insurmountable re-entry challenges are people who got out of prison and then returned – offering a laundry list of tortured excuses as to why the felony conviction prevented them from reentering mainstream society.  

With a recidivism rate of roughly 65%, that means that thirty-five percent of individuals who got out never came back.  Very, very few individuals in prison or individuals working in prisons or re-entry have had a comprehensive dialog with those individuals who got out, genuinely reentered mainstream society, and stayed out.  

“Genuinely re-entering mainstream society” is an important distinction.  Individuals who are released from prison and recidivate are not qualified to engage in a “how to make a successful community re-entry” dialog.  The veracity and effectiveness of those who are released and immediately find employment in an organization that is offering some kind of ex-offender re-entry assistance or counseling is questionable, or those who start a community re-entry non-profit organization right out of prison.  They have not done what all of their constituents are expected to do – re-enter mainstream society and locate a regular mainstream job. 

If the lifestyle of mainstream society is what you really want, stop listening to people who talk about successful community re-entry when they have no actual life experience, and start listening to that 35% who have succeeded at genuine re-entry into mainstream society.  If a new life as a member of mainstream society is genuinely what you want, you absolutely can have it.

It seems that is always someone else’s fault when someone recidivates, if you listen to the excuses some people offer when they return to prison.  The police were targeting them, their parole officer had it out for them, the judge had a burr, etc.  This group of recidivists refuses to accept personal accountability for their actions, and they justify themselves to everyone else by placing blame on everyone but he who stares back in the mirror.  If you are one of these individuals, you either don’t genuinely want to be a member of mainstream society, which is completely respectable, or you are making excuses.  If you are the latter, when you are alone and making an honest assessment, you know that all you are doing is making excuses to justify not doing the work and making the sacrifices necessary to engage yourself in mainstream society.  

If a person wants to become a card-carrying member of mainstream society, it is simply a choice.  The person who has made that choice to successfully re-enter mainstream society will do it with or without any assistance.  No one is saying that it is easy or a cakewalk.  It’s hard.  Life is hard.  Conversely, if a person has not made the conscious choice, then there is no amount of assistance that will cause them to successfully re-enter mainstream society.   Change begins with desire, and no one can trigger that desire except the subject individual.  An individual can be respected regardless of the choice he or she makes.  But, for your sake, just make a choice to either become a member of mainstream society or make a choice not to.  You will save yourself a lot of frustration.  And, if you don’t make either choice, the default is that you probably will not succeed at re-entry into mainstream society.

Some people seem to think that they can continue to play games on the side while functionally faking re-entry.  Re-entering mainstream society is not something about which you can be lukewarm.  Either decide to re-enter mainstream, or decide not to re-enter.  Make your choice and go with it.  But also realize that the benefits or consequences of your choice are the results of your choice.  

If you “sort-of” try to re-enter, you’re probably not going to be very successful, and the process will likely be frustrating.  Conversely, if you genuinely make the commitment, your likelihood of success is just about guaranteed.  Several hundred thousand other people are absolute proof that if a person makes the genuine commitment to legitimacy, they can have a healthy life of normalcy, and the rewards will be representative of the effort they put forth.

Many of the people who fail at re-entry are unsuccessful because of their own impatience.  Some people want instant gratification and are unwilling to do the work to get the prize.  No matter what you want out of life, or who you want to become, there is work to be done, and that holds true whether you are starting on even ground or from the bottom of the barrel.  Additionally, as you embark upon climbing your mountain, each new step generally has prerequisites.  You are not going to become a medical doctor without first taking a few courses in biology and chemistry.

Mainstream society incorporates a phenomenally wide field of endeavors.  An individual can chose from literally thousands of different professional directions.  There are some professions that may be limited because of a felony conviction.  A few limitations from among thousands of possible career directions are not barriers to re-entry.  

Get beyond the propaganda of re-entry and understand that the greatest barriers to re-entry are those that we create ourselves – not some concrete prejudice against formerly incarcerated individuals.  Don’t listen to the diatribes and excuses of those who have failed at re-entry and attempt to rationalize their demise with long-winded oratories about how a felony conviction prevented them from having any life in mainstream society.  

That isn’t to say that there aren’t some unique challenges associated with having a felony conviction.   There are, but none that will prevent a determined individual from achieving the life that they want.

One major consequence of a felony conviction is the loss of credibility, regardless of the nature of the conviction.  Even after you have served your sentence, completed your parole and made complete restitution, you functionally have zero credibility as a result of a felony conviction and/or having served time in prison, unless you have taken deliberate steps to repair your integrity.  

The vast majority of people are going to have a very natural skepticism of you, and they are going to have a low level of trust for you.  Anyone who has conquered this challenge knows this truth because they have lived this.  No, this is not double jeopardy, and it does not create some tortured argument for being a victim of employment discrimination.  It is just the way it is.  People are not going to risk their own jobs and personal security to take a risk on someone they don’t know from Adam, and whose most recent significant event in their life history was some kind of criminal behavior.  

Anyone who hypothesizes that an employer’s assessment of an applicant that is based upon the applicants history is unconstitutional or some form of discrimination is arguably pursuing such a crusade to rationalize the fact that they are unwilling to put forth the effort, sacrifice and hard work necessary to change, where after they would then judged on a more positive set of criteria.  

Indeed, felons can sit around sucking their thumbs because the conviction creates collateral damage and additional challenges, or they can suck-it-up, face and conquer those challenges, and move their lives forward.  

The credibility and trust issue very definitely can be changed.  But, it is not going to change by trying to change the perceptions of society, fighting for change in employment discrimination laws, or fabricating some tortured interpretation of the Constitution.  Your credibility and trustworthiness will change as a result of the changes you make in yourself.  Take responsibility for yourself and your actions, and you will begin the process of re-establishing your credibility.

Whether a person is a recently released ex-felon or a recent graduate from a university, people judge us based upon our last act.  Right or wrong, you will be judged based upon your most recent significant event in your life, no matter who you are.  

What events comprise the last chapter of your life?  If the last chapter of your life was committing a crime, being convicted, and spending time in prison or under supervision, then those are your most recent significant events upon which people will pass judgment.  Conversely, if the last chapter of your life incorporates maintaining a job, demonstrating that you are accountable, reliable, dependable and trustworthy, then you will be judged heavily upon those attributes, even if you have less flattering previous events in your past.  The key here is that you can change your most recent significant event – you can create a new last chapter in your life.  Once you do this, you will have greater opportunity.  

A major component to making a successful re-entry and in achieving and maintaining a rewarding mainstream lifestyle is remaining focused on the long-term objective as opposed to only thinking about where you are in life today.  It isn’t important what your first job is when you are released from prison, or whether or not you enjoy it.  All that is important, and the primary objective of that first job, is simply to create a new most recent significant event in your life, and to write that new last chapter in your life to help dilute the previous chapter.  You only need to create a new chapter where you demonstrate accountability, reliability, dependability and trustworthiness once.  Just do this one time, and you will find and seize new and greater opportunities and rewards.  

After you achieve a new most recent significant event in your life, you then work toward achieving another new most recent significant event, which supersedes the prior one.  Eventually, you will find that you have created dozens of positive new chapters in your life.  Each of the new chapters dilutes those old chapters regarding your convictions.  Eventually those old chapters are so diluted with positive progress that they become substantially insignificant dust in the wind.  

A major key to creating these new most recent significant events is patience.  It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be a cakewalk.  It will take dedication, time and perseverance.  It will be hard and it will require work.  However, the same is true for anyone who achieves anything significant in his or her life.  You only need to ask yourself if a legitimate lifestyle in mainstream society and all of the rich rewards it offers is something that you want, and if you are willing to put forth the effort and work to achieve it.  But, don’t say you can’t have it because of a felony or prison background.  That just simply is not true, and the evidence is the hundreds of thousands of people who comprise that 35% of individuals released from prison who never return as recidivists.

There is a public perception regarding a convicted felon.   Whether it is right or wrong, the general public has a tendency to paint all felons with a single brush.  Given that the increase in prison population tracks the increase in illiteracy and high school dropout rate, this comes as no surprise.  Candidly, mainstream society is sick and tired of having to live behind an ever-increasing number of locks, bars, and security systems that protect their physical property and other intangibles such as their identity and credit.  

Society’s tolerance for felons has become thinner.  You need to accept the fact that people who have a felony conviction are simply going be held to a higher standard.  You can either rise to the occasion, or you can just roll over and wet yourself, spending the rest of your life sucking your thumb, claiming that you are a victim of prejudice or discrimination.  Let’s all keep in mind that it was an individual’s own behavior that earned them a conviction.  So, rise to the occasion.  Records are broken by those who dream beyond the barriers.

Some people suggest that they will spend their life attempting to change the public’s perception regarding convicted felons.  Arguably, anyone who purports to dedicate their existence to such a crusade is using the public perception and their crusade to change it as an excuse not to put forth the effort to achieve a mainstream lifestyle.  None of us are going to change society or its perceptions to suit our particular needs.  The path of least resistance would be to change ourselves, not society.  The individual who has a criminal record is going to be held to a higher standard.  That individual must reinvent him or her self. 

Many individuals scrutinize their first job offer after release from prison based upon their age, experience and education.  People sometimes compare where they are in life with where other people of the same age are situated.  Using age to compare where two people are situated in life is not a valid barometer.  If you are 35 – 40-plus years old and still haven’t completed high school or the GED, then you simply have not done your part.   Furthermore, it really doesn’t matter how qualified you believe you are, how many college degrees you have or how much experience you have accumulated throughout your life.  If you were recently released from prison or recently convicted of a felony, then nothing previous to your incarceration or conviction matters for the immediate future.  It will later, but right now, it doesn’t.  All an employer is going to look at is your most recent significant event, irrespective of whether or not you have other stellar credentials.  

When an individual is first released from prison, in reality, they don’t need a job – they need a break.  If that is you, then you need to find a situation where someone can offer you an opportunity without their taking a risk.  In short, you need to look for a job that no one else wants.  If you’re looking for a job that is advertised, you have hundreds if not thousands of competitors applying for that same job.  When you are looking for a job that no one else wants, you have little or no competition.  

The fastest way to find a job that no one else wants is to canvass construction sites and industrial parks or areas.  Find a foreman and simply state the indisputable fact that you know he / she has a job on this site that people complain about every time it is assigned to them.  Simply state that that’s the job for which you are applying, that you’ll do a good job and you’ll never complain about it.  

Look, this first job is not forever, and it is not your career path.  It gives you an opportunity to get out into the workforce, interact with other people, and write that new life chapter – create that new most recent significant event to begin the process of diluting your unflattering history.  

If you approach five foremen with this proposition, on average, you will have three job offers.  If you don’t believe me, just do it to humor yourself.  But for certain, if you really want to embrace a new life path, this is a place to start.

As an employer myself, I have no problem hiring individuals right out of prison.  However, I am not going to take a risk and hire them into a position of trust whereby I could potentially have an exposure to loss.  But, I generally would not hire anyone directly into a position of trust where they are going to have the keys to the vault.  I can open a door.  What that individual does once they walk through that door is entirely up to him or her.  If they prove that they are trustworthy, accountable and dependable, and complete their assigned duties timely and accurately, then the probability of them receiving promotions and pay raises is excellent.

Don’t expect to be hired into a position of trust.  Whether you are trustworthy or not, if you were just released from prison, the perception is that your credibility is questionable.  Only you can change that perception by earning trust through behavior and the passage of time.  If you try to demand trust, it strains your credibility even further.  Just be patient and earn it by working to write that new most recent chapter in your life’s book.

An alternative option to finding a job is to consider self-employment.  This is a tough road to hoe, but it is a viable alternative.  More on that alternative in future posts.  

For now, work toward becoming a member of that 35% who never return to prison.  Take that job that no one else wants, and begin creating your new most recent significant event.

Records are broken by those who dream beyond the barriers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why did the Republican Party take a Shellacking?


Why did the republicans lose so dramatically on November 6, 2012?

Despite the obscene amounts of money that poured into republican campaigns, the republicans failed to take control of the United States Senate, as it guaranteed it would, and the Party lost its bid for the White House.

“He [Mitt Romney] was shell-shocked,” reported a senior staffer of the Romney campaign after the news networks called Ohio for Obama.  Karl Rove was demanding that Fox News rescind its call.

That “shell-shocked” comment speaks volumes as to why the republicans “took a shellacking,” which was first coined by the president following the 2010 mid-term election results.

We are now seeing Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and their marionettes trip over themselves to manufacture excuses that explain why November 6th was a “Shock and Awe” to the whole party, including its leadership and its entire constituency.  In addition to the excuse machine operating under nuclear power, Rove and Norquist are throwing the losing candidates under the bus and pointing the finger of blame on them.  Some people are curious, did these guys do any due-diligence and vetting of the candidates they poured hundreds of millions of dollars into before the election?

We were hearing for months that the polls were inaccurate - skewed with a far left lean.  Let’s examine the credentials of the people who were alleging that the polls were skewed toward the left.  Rush Limbaugh [attended] showed up for two semesters and one summer at Southeast Missouri State University.  According to his mother, “he flunked everything.”   Limbaugh has a long history of substance abuse.   Some people would question wisdom before taking counsel on anything beyond a date and time report from such an individual.

What exactly are Mr. Limbaugh’s credentials to interpret polling results?  Polling is a sophisticated science based upon data and mathematical algorithms.  Nate Silver, the founder of FiveThirtyEight.com, called every election with stunning accuracy.  Mr. Silver understands arithmetic.

“The polls are skewed” campaign rhetoric was parroted by virtually every right-wing talk show host - none of whom have any credible credentials for making such conclusive statements.  It’s much the same as Meat Loaf commenting on how to fix a struggling economy, as though the few brain cells remaining in his reptilian mind have even a scintilla of understanding of macroeconomics.

The propaganda from right-wing media will remain on Google for decades.  The right-wing media literally had its audience, and the candidates believing beyond any shadow of any doubt that the republicans would win all of the elections by a landslide.  Just Google: “how many seats did the republicans gain in 2012.”

The incentives of Karl Rove and Grover Norquist to report that the polls inaccurately favored a democratic victory were obvious - they wanted to continue taking money from their wealthy donors.  Let’s not forget that although Karl Rove and Grover Norquist purport to serve their wealthy constituents, that facade is really just window dressing to continue filling the donations based trough from which they feed themselves.  If that were not correct, then Messrs. Rove and Norquist should be willing to provide refunds.  It will be interesting to see if the wealthy republican donors can be duped again.

The conclusions that the republicans seem to have difficulty comprehending and accepting are that they were dead wrong.  If that were not the case, then the results would be 180 degrees opposite and Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney would be measuring for drapes for their new offices.

The fundamental reason the republican candidates, media and constituents were wrong was because of the phenomenally successful propaganda campaign facilitated by Karl Rove and Grover Norquist.  If the wealthy donors thought they were buying a propaganda campaign, they should send these gentlemen large bonus checks.  It was the most effective propaganda operation and con-job in the history of the World.

It is difficult to say who were on the “inside” of the propaganda campaign.  Were John Boehner and Mitch McConnell on the inside, or were they also just victims of the modern-day version of Jim Jones Kool-Aid?  There is certainly no denying that whoever was drinking the Norquist and Rove Kool-Aid committed suicide.

So what now for the Republican Party?

The current post-election agenda of denial is not going to solve any of the Republican Party’s problems.  In fact, I am quite sure that the far left Democrats would like nothing more than to see the Republicans continue down this denial and blame path, which is akin to a death march.

The Republican Party is currently beholden to Grover Norquist and Karl Rove for money, and to the likes of Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson because they control enormous flocks of voters who parrot anything they are told and vote in strict and blind obedience to these evangelists.  Despite the IRS Regulations that prohibit tax-exempt religious organizations from lobbying and participating in the political process, the politicians who receive the benefit place these people and organizations above the law.

The Republican Party glorifies a platform fundamentally comprised of social wedge issues that have nothing to do with managing a nation, but everything to do with generating emotion, much of which is based upon fear.  Countries are not governed by emotion, and that is becoming abundantly clear to the American public.

The Republican Party needs to distance itself from all of the above.  Yes, it needs to reinvent itself.

Women, youth, and minorities phenomenally rejected the Republican Party.  It only captured the angry white man, but even that is showing a declining allegiance.  The angry white man is declining both from attrition, but also because we are a better informed and socially connected society.  Racism and bigotry is being replaced with a populous that simply sees people as people, and believe that all people should be free to live their own life.

Today’s America does not want the government poking around in our bedrooms or our women’s bodies, and it is growing tired of the War on Drugs industrial complex that serves only to support the prison industrial complex.  The people spoke very loud and clear on November 6th.

Now Republicans, you can say that abandoning your entire extreme right-wing support group would cause you to lose elections.  I sympathize with your concern about losing elections.  May I suggest that you make a cursory review of the results you witnessed this past Tuesday?  If you continue to do the same thing, you are going to get the same results, and you will eventually face extinction.

Yes Republicans, you can reinvent your Party, and I hope you do.  Yes, it will take time and you will forfeit a couple of election cycles.  But, once you are truly reinvented, you will be a force to be reckoned with, and that is what will serve our democracy.

Republicans, you need to revisit the policies of some of the real models like Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Gerald Ford, Colin Powell, Bob Dole, Nelson Rockefeller and pre-tea party John McCain.

Republicans, wake up.  Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson are doing you no favors.

As Governor Romney stated, it’s time for real change


Please read the plan to fix our nation by clicking the link below, and sign the petition from the link at the bottom of the article.

http://dave-koch.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-morning-after-nineteen-point-plan.html

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Dangerously Polarized Nation

We have become a Dangerously Polarized Nation.

Until the day after the election, I did not realize how dangerously polarized our country has become.  The polarization has gone well beyond rhetoric.  

People are making death threats and threatening other acts of violence against others simply because of their party affiliation.  



Even people who were once thought to have some semblance of a mind and intellectual prowess have shocked the civilized world.  For example, among his many delusional statements during this election cycle, Donald Trump called for a seemingly violent revolution immediately after the news networks called the election for President Obama.  Mr. Trump called for a revolution because the very democratic process that is the foundation of our democracy did not elect his chosen candidate.  We’ve even heard fast-food chicken peddlers inject their extremism ideology into the election, albeit at their own peril.

I personally have acquaintances of 15 or 20 years who have decidedly become hostile toward me because of party affiliation and ideology.  We have not had this level and volume of violent discussion during any time that I can cite in my four decades of following the political process.

My observations suggest the following explanation for the current and explosive division we are seeing in our nation.

You are your mind and your mind is you.  Your mind is what has been programmed into your brain.  You are what you think, and what you think is your core essence. 

Your brain is an organic computer that is not dissimilar to a PC computer.  Like a PC computer, your brain is the hardware.   Your mind is the operating system and software programs that are installed and running on that computer. 

At birth, our mind is pre-programmed or hardwired to perform basic life sustaining functions.  It regulates body temperature, controls heart rate, breathing, digestion, vision, hearing, touch, etc.  Beyond these basic functions, a new mind it is simply a blank hard drive or sponge eager to be programmed with software.

If a newborn were completely isolated from any societal structure or people, their computer would not evolve much beyond its reptilian level essential functions.  Some would argue that it would develop some of the higher advanced functions such as making and using tools, or an individual might become an idiot savant, which really is what a PC computer is without software.  I would not disagree.

Our software is installed on our brain from birth by parents, siblings, teachers, counselors, ministers, television, radio, friends, acquaintances, groups we interact with, peer groups and to a large extent, by the culture in which we are raised and live.  Much of the software installed on brain, which software collectively forms our mind is done so without us making a conscious and deliberate decision as to its benefit or detriment.

It is interesting that many people are more cognizant of what software and programs they install, and allow to be installed, on their PC computers than those programs they allow to be installed on the computer between their ears.  To quote Cher Sarkisian [Cher Bono], “People are more concerned with what they put in their car than what they put in their body.”  My point is similar.

Most people unconsciously permit unregulated programming of their mind via an open and unrestricted port, but they are very conscious and deliberate about what software they install on their PC computer. 

Most people who utilize their PC computer as a necessary tool have antivirus, firewall, spyware detection, directory washing, and various other software programs installed to insure that the computer operates at its optimum performance.  They do not allow the installation of any software that could cause the system to produce undesirable results, or that diminish its functionality or operating capacity.

Who we are, and what differentiates us from other people is the software that has been installed on our minds.  There are no other physical differences from one normal brain to another.  It is all about software.

When a dysfunctional program is installed on our PC computer, it produces dysfunctional results.  Garbage in -- Garbage out.  The mind is not dissimilar.  Thoughtful people filter and regulate what they allow into their mind (firewall and virus protection) by scrutinizing what they read and watch on television, with whom they interact, the cultures to which they belong, and how they spend their leisure time.  It is critical for a healthy mind to scrutinize what we allow to enter into our minds, or an individual could face the dilemma of garbage in - garbage out.

It is only over the past few decades that we have witnessed a sharp increase in juvenile crime.  What has changed in the programming of kids’ minds that correlates to this phenomenal change?  Could violence based video games have some influence?  Some experts argue that these violence-based games desensitize the mind to what would otherwise be a horrifying experience of committing a violent act against another person or animal.

Extreme examples include the Columbine Massacre, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shootings, the Gabrielle Giffords shootings and many, many more.  Not only were such incidents almost unheard of a few decades ago, these kind of incidents are becoming more frequent. 

Our civilized culture has existed in the United States for 236 years. Yet, it is only since the advent of violent video games that we are seeing such a dramatic and nefarious aberration in juvenile behavior.  This is not a discussion that I care to have hijacked with opinion regarding the Tony Perkins’ claims that there has been a decline in Bible reading or Christian fundamentalism.  We are a nation of diversity, including religious diversity.  That is not the central focus of this discussion, or the polarization in our nation.

Our nation has become polarized because of software and programming people are allowing to be installed on their mind.  This is occurring on the right and on the left.

The spokesperson(s) for the far right include such individuals as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter.  Those employed in the broadcast industry are fundamentally earning their living by supporting the agendas of Rupert Murdoch, and other wealthy media moguls.  On the left we have Keith Olbermann, Ed Shultz, Rachel Maddow, etc.  Both of these right and left media organizations are in business to make money via attracting an audience who will watch their toothpaste and soap commercials.  It’s a business, and we are simply the commodity that they sell to their advertisers.

The programming that comes from these “news” agencies is well coordinated and intended to shape the thinking if its audience.  Indeed, it is not at all uncommon to witness someone simply parrot the unverified statements of a Rush Limbaugh.  Even more dangerous, the coordinated programming of its constituency includes the creation of a variety of “buttons” that these media pundits can push to get a predictable reaction.  The anger button was pushed by all of the right leaning pundits, and it clearly worked because they have successfully installed the desired software on the minds of their audience.

Irrespective of which of these media anthologies you are inclined to rely upon for your information, if you are emphatic about your ideology, you are arguably spending too much time getting bias and spun information from one of these media influences.  A deliberate examination of your software and the source of your programming might be prudent.

An example of someone who is obviously emphatic about her ideology can be listened to at this link.

http://youtu.be/wLoqti0lzAw

Changing dysfunctional software on a PC computer is simple -- you delete it.  We however were not born with the delete key.  Changing software in the mind is more problematic and requires a good deal more effort than a few keystrokes. Experiences cannot be deleted.  They can however be diluted through a conscious diet of monitored mental stimulus in moderation.

There is no reason that We the People of this nation should not be able to have open and constructive discussions without one side pounding its fist and screaming real loud.  We all need to take a hard look at our bias, and who is benefiting from programming that bias into our minds.  We need to carefully measure and moderate input from obviously bias sources and get our information from news organizations and journalists that simply report the news.  There still are some Walter Cronkite’s among us, and with some digging, there is unbiased information available.

We all need to be the adults.  The people who need adult supervision from us are some our elected leaders.  They are the people who are creating the tension in our country, and it really is time that they put away their crayons and get to work.

The party that is currently in deep trouble of extinction is the Republican Party.  The Republican Party is in trouble because of its leadership. 

Immediately after President Obama was elected in the 2008 election, Mitch McConnell stated that the top priority of the Republican Party was to deny the President a second term.  The top priority of the United States Senate should have been the peoples business, but Senator McConnell only wanted to serve his own interests in hopes of capturing his dream - the Senate Majority Leader’s seat.

The Senator’s statement:  http://youtu.be/W-A09a_gHJc

Senator McConnell pursued an agenda of obstruction, misinformation and patent lies in an attempt to discredit the President, but a substantial majority of the American People were aware of the facts and voted accordingly.  The United States of America was held hostage in hopes that one man could achieve his dream position as the Senate Majority Leader.  We were simply his pawns.

If the Republican’s ever want to have a party that can win elections, its first priority is necessarily to elect a new minority leader in the Senate and let Mr. McConnell finish out his term.  Wake up Republicans, Mitch McConnell is doing you no favors. 

The Party’s second priority is to revisit your platform and focus on the genuine constitutional obligations that the politicians have toward governmental operations.  Eradicate the entire wedge driving social issues that are promoted by all of the Tony Perkins of the country, which belong in the home and the church - but not in our government.  Get the Republican Party our of our bedrooms and out of women’s vaginas.

Please read the article at the link below, and if you are inclined, sign the petition that is linked from the bottom of that article.

http://dave-koch.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-morning-after-nineteen-point-plan.html

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The morning after. A nineteen-point plan for progress.

The morning after.  A nineteen-point plan for progress.


Dear Messrs. Boehner and McConnell:

Fours years ago, you [Mr. McConnell] stated that the primary focus of the Republican Party is to deny President Obama a second term. 

Mr. McConnell, those statements were not just indelicate, as you had been advised, they were an admission that you would lead our United States Senate in a direction that was diametrically opposed to your obligations and commitments under your oath of office.  Both of you gentlemen have abused the powers of your office with reckless disregard for the interests of the American People.

We are no longer a Nation dominated by angry white racist bigoted men who control an electorate of easily frightened and manipulated religious extremists.  We are a brown nation that is tolerant and accepting of all people, as was envisioned by the drafters of our United States Constitution and clearly expressed in the 14th Amendment thereof.

You two have been among the primary architects of a nefarious plan, and you have led an agenda of intentional and deliberate deception, misinformation and obstructionism that has further damaged our economy and our nation.

You knowingly and with malice refused to participate in any positive measures that would rehabilitate the economic catastrophe that you directly participated in creating during the George W. Bush administration.

You facilitated your twisted and perverted agendas through a campaign of fear mongering, and then blatantly lying to a constituency of people who simply do not have the time to investigate the veracity of your statements. 

You facilitated a campaign, which suggested that the President did nothing to repair the economic mess that you participated in creating.  You are clearly aware, and now the entire electorate will be made aware of your patently fallacious claims.

On November 6, 2012, you gentlemen were sent a very strong message that this is not a white America, and that your allegiances to Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers, and the likes of Tony Perkins, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are intolerable to the American electorate - a constituency that you apparently do not even know.  Gentlemen, this is the 21st - not the 19th Century.

Although it is certainly conceivable that Governor Rick Scott dreamt up his repugnant voter suppression agendas on his own, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted simply does not possess the intellectual prowess to have implemented the criminal activities we saw come from his office on his own.  Your enterprise had great influence, and that shall come out.

You gentlemen have made yourselves marionettes for Grover Norquist and Karl Rove, and their very big money contributors.  On November 6, 2012 you learned that the American electorate is far more powerful than your entire supporter network combined.

Although you gentlemen had hoped to annihilate our democratic process and replace it with an agenda of appointment to office by the privileged, our democracy survived your vicious attack on November 6, 2012.

November 6, 2012 reaffirmed that we are a Nation of the people, by the people and for the people. We the People still have the power to vote, and our votes are not for sale.

Gentlemen, in case you were unaware, you are now on notice that We the People are your bosses.  You can consider this your employee warning report.  We will now be supervising you and the company you keep, and whether or not your behavior improves toward facilitating the interests of the United States of America.  November 6, 2012 was your employee evaluation.  Consider yourselves on electoral probation.

Be aware that you will be closely monitored and supervised by roughly 60,432,728 registered voters, all of whom will participate in your next re-election campaign, with many of them visiting your district during your bid for re-election.  Should you fail to follow the explicit instructions being provided to you by your bosses, you may be subject to impeachment and removal from office by an action facilitated by the aforementioned sixty million voters, thereby forfeiting your retirement pension and health benefits, as well as other sanctions that may present themselves.


Your job assignment moving forward includes the following nineteen (19) specific objectives.

1. You will be cooperative in passing and implementing legislation that is in our nation’s best interest, which is proposed by the elected leader of our Nation, President Barack Obama.

2. You will initiate and support investigations, which include, but are not limited to the following.  You will be forthright in cooperating with all legitimate efforts to expose unethical or criminal activities by Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Sheldon Alelson, Governor Rick Scott and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

3. We the People have elected Barack Obama to select the next Supreme Court Justices, which unless you can provide indisputable evidence supporting a denial, we expect you to approve expeditiously.

4. You will pass legislation that rescinds the ruling handed down by the United States Supreme Court in the Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission.

5.  You will support Wall Street reform as reasonably proposed by the leader We the People have re-elected, President Barack Obama.

6. You will support a progressive tax code that increases taxes on those with incomes over $250,000 per year, and you will not increase taxes on anyone with an income less than $250,000 per year.

7. You will support a reformed energy policy that weans our nation off of foreign oil.

8. You will support an environmental policy that facilitates a reduction in greenhouse gases and helps to cool a warming planet.

9. You will support a reformed education policy that makes educational opportunity available to all citizens.

10. You will support making health care available to all citizens that is substantially similar to the health care available to Members of Congress, or alternatively you will forfeit your own health care.

11. You will support the strenuous enforcement of all current laws and IRS regulations that prohibit political expression or participation by all tax-exempt religious organizations, and you will suspend the tax-exempt status retroactively for any religious organization(s) that have violated any such provisions.

12. You will suspend the lobbyist licensure of Grover Norquist and Karl Rove, and all of their staff and subordinates pending the outcome of a full investigation into their activities by the United States Department of Justice.

14. You will publicly disclose the facts that the current debt and deficit facing our nation was created as a result of the reckless disregard of economic regulation, and the starting of two unnecessary wars during the George W. Bush administration, all of which the two of you sanctioned.

14. You will constructively cooperate with the President and participate in the creation and passing of legislation that provides economic stimulus that creates good paying jobs in the United States.

15. You will pass legislation that penalizes corporations that send American jobs out of our country, and that awards companies that create jobs, or repatriates jobs to the United States.

16. You will pass legislation that severely sanctions any Member of the United States House of Representatives or Senate for facilitating or participating in a frivolous action or investigation.  Said sanctions shall pierce any immunity of office and shall inure to the individual personally.

17. You shall initiate an investigation into whether or not any seated justice of the United States Supreme Court, or family member has received any monetary or economic benefit, either directly or indirectly, that could be considered any conflict of interest with their duties of office.

18. You will initiate and pass legislation that ensures that the Federal elections Commission is and remains a non-partisan department of government, and provides the Federal Election Commission all powers over all elections, including the power to supersede any decisions made by any other federal or state government official, and the Commission shall have all authority to enforce its powers, including the power to arrest and detain.

19. You will pass legislation as necessary during the lame duck session to increase the Nation’s debt ceiling without condition.

You will support these and other reasonable initiatives toward facilitating the best interests of our nation, or we will find someone who will.

Get to work gentlemen.  Quantifiable progress is expected on all of these points by December 31, 2012.  Your performance shall be scrutinized and evaluated on a continuing basis until further notice.

Sincerely, 

We the People


Please sign the petition at the link below.
 

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/915/723/494/messrs-boehner-and-mcconnell-job-assignments/
 


.

Monday, November 5, 2012

ELECTION EVE - November 5, 2012. What’s next?

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ELECTION EVE - November 5, 2012.  What’s next?

Tomorrow night I’m ordering not one, but two, large, double cheese deep dish, stuffed crust vegi Pizza Hut pan pizzas and an eight pack of diet soda since I’m watching my weight.  ;-)  It’s going to be a long night, but for many, it is also going to be a celebration watching the election results come in that show a clear victory for President Obama.

I am personally going to savor watching the dreams of Sheldon Adelson shattered as the investigation into his corrupt criminal enterprise intensifies with no hope of staving off the DOJ, and not even the glimmer of a chance of a presidential pardon, as he had hoped to purchase with his $100 million contribution to Mitt Romney.

Yes, for those who are unaware, one of the largest contributors to the Romney campaign is Sheldon Adelson who will likely be charged, tried and convicted on a variety of money laundering, racketeering, corrupt and criminal activities.  Adelson did not donate one hundred million dollars to Romney out of benevolence or love of country.  He made that investment because he is scared to death of spending the rest of his life in prison, which is quite likely what he will face under a continued Obama Justice Department that is dedicated to the pursuit of justice.  -- Behind every great fortune there is a crime - BALZAC - This quote appears in the first pages of Book 1 of The Godfather.

Tomorrow night will restore our faith that our elections cannot be bought even with the hundreds of millions poured into our political campaigns by Adelson, Bill and David Koch, and all of the Grover Norquist and Karl Rove cronies who expect to profit from their enormous financial contributions.  Indeed, it will be good for the country, in fact the world, to see Norquist and Rove lose credibility even within their perverted circles of influence.

This has been an exhausting election cycle for those people who have remained genuinely informed, through sources other than the Rupert Murdoch tools that regurgitate his propaganda so he can pander to his supporters.  Murdoch has been key to taking a phenomenally tortured ideology and repackaging it to look like the Republican Party.  This is not the Republican Party of leaders such as Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Colin Powell, Bob Dole and Nelson Rockefeller.

What we see being masqueraded as the Republican Party simply is not.  This Imposter Party is basically the very wealthy and greedy who have hijacked the Republican Party, and then recruited a variety of social agenda misfits to scare the electorate to the polls.

The cast of characters include the right-wing Christian extremists, the likes of Mike Huckabee and Tony Perkins to help corral the flock and promote the platform through a campaign of fantasy based fear, which is fundamentally designed to ingrain the doctrine that thou shalt believe everything we say, and thou shalt question nothing, or thou will be cast into the eternal pit of fire and brimstone where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The architects of this Imposter Party then appeals to the uninformed and ignorant demographic by adding a dash of bigotry, racism and hate into the mix courtesy of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, exacerbated with the celebrity endorsements of none other then Ted Nugent and Meat Loaf, which really has to make a statement to anyone who has any cognitive ability.  Top it all off with awarding the bid to be the Imposter Party’s publicist to Rupert Murdoch, and they have all of the fundamental ingredients to manipulate the easily frightened low information voter.

In an attempt to provide some kind of credibility for the few followers who have some semblance of a mind, there are a few celebrity individuals who are perceptively credible, because at one time they were.   A cursory examination of some of these endorsements would reveal that the only real difference between Jack Welch and Donald Trump is that one of them is a billiard ball with fur.  Beyond that, both of these characters strain credibility to the point that rational people simply dismiss them as senile, angry, racist, bigoted grumpy old white men.

With regard to the religious influences, many people argue that the tax-exempt status for all religious organizations that in any way violate the policies regarding political participation should be expelled retroactive.  I am among those who believe the IRS regulations should be strenuously enforced.

The accelerated wealth-building agenda we have witnessed is very recent, and was phenomenally exacerbated during the Bush 43 administration.  As a small example, the mega-super yachts that are being built and bought today did not even exist pre-Bush 43 because there was no market that could afford them.  The primary goal of the hijacked Republican Party is simple - increase profits from the military, drug war, and prison industrial complexes, privatize profits and socialize loses.  Success was achieved during September 2008.

Grover Norquist made it crystal clear that his wealthy contributors do not want a real president.

"All we have to do is replace Obama. ...  We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate. [...]

Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared."
- Grover Norquist

See the video here:  http://youtu.be/6wYYX0mZsQA

What calls itself the Republican Party today would be happy electing a potted plant to the office of President.  The Party clearly found their hollow and plastic malleable man in Mitt Romney.

The Party that is masquerading as the Republican Party is the epitome of hypocrisy.  Let’s examine the policies that this alleged party purports to advance, like promoting democracy and nation building.

Iraq held its first free election, which had a fair representation of all groups on January 30, 2005.  The Iraq elections were as politically iconic for George W. Bush as was the "Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, which was second only to the President's arrival on the carrier in full military flight gear.

The photo-op of Iraq’s elections were substantially important to Bush in support of the administrations' nation building and spreading democracy agendas, which were a second term opening promise of Bush (circa, January 2005).  More importantly, Iraq’s elections purportedly confirmed Bush’s successful implementation of a democracy, and therefore his newest justification for the war in Iraq.  This was George W’s third tortured attempt at arriving at a rationalization for invading a sovereign nation, and many believe it strained the administration’s credibility even further.

We all remember the iconic photos of the Iraqi people with purple dye on their fingers, and what appeared to be a well-organized and efficient process of voting.

Following the elections, President Bush was quoted: "resounding success" and "the world is hearing the voice of freedom" [from the Middle East.]  "By participating in free elections, the Iraqi people have firmly rejected the anti- democratic ideology of the terrorists…"

If we would have seen the kind of voter suppression in Iraq that we are currently seeing nationwide, and particularly in The States of Ohio and Florida, George W. and all of his republican NeoCon’s would have blown a gasket, and there is a good likelihood that we would have witnessed a “Shock and Awe” that would have made the invasion of Iraq look like a couple of kids playing with firecrackers and sparklers.

It appears that we need to do some nation building here at home, and we clearly need to take a hard look at promoting democracy in the United States of America.

So what’s next?

An Obama victory is obvious on this election eve.  Is the Democratic Party perfect?  Hardly!  Reform is necessary if our derailed democracy is to be preserved.  We will never see real change with a tea party or independent party platform that simply promotes another self-serving agenda by violating some provisions of the Constitution to support a tortured interpretation of other provisions.  Running these independent candidates that garner a few percent of the vote is clearly an exercise in futility.  It might make us feel good to cast a protest vote, but it achieves absolutely no solutions.

Clearly, if a person wants to travel from point A to point B, they must first identify where point A is, and how they arrived at point A.

How did our nation arrive at a point where money and corruption has permeated our political process to its very core?

We are a nation of laws, which are fundamentally based upon a magical document called the United States Constitution.  These laws are made by our legislature, but checked for constitutionality by our judiciary.

Our executive and legislative branches of government have fallen under great criticism.  However, our judicial branch seems to feel that it is immune to public scrutiny.  It isn’t immune because the constitution gives the people the power of impeachment and removal from office.

State Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court Justices can hold their offices during “good behavior.”  If the barometer to measure good behavior is the same for seated justices as it is for all United States citizens, then we can make a determination as to whether the current Supreme Court Justices have exercised good behavior.  This would clearly be a reasonable comparative since our nation supports the doctrine that no one is above the law.

The influence of corporate money is pretty blatant with regard to  state Supreme Court races.  It takes a little more investigative prowess to find how the U.S. Supreme Court justices have been influenced by the very wealthy.  Nevertheless, it is occurring, and the evidence does exist.

In the case of Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission, counsel for Citizens United argued in relevant part that corporations should be able to contribute unlimited amounts of money to the political process because corporations are people and have equal rights under the First Amendment.  The rational is that media organizations, which are corporations, have the First Amendment protected ability to give unlimited opinion and have unlimited influence during the political process.  Some would suggest that this argument is a red herring.  If a corporation wanted to compete with a media organization and its influence, it could start or buy a media organization, as have individuals like Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch.  It would cost less than what has been spent in a single election cycle.

Why was Citizens United decided along straight party lines, as was the Bush v. Gore case during the 2000 election?

Anyone who is paying attention must wonder how many different constitutions are used by the U.S. Supreme Court Justices.  It is interesting that some justices can constitutionally make an agonized interpretation of the First Amendment to award rights to corporations that are the same as the First Amendment rights for people, yet on the other hand, these same Justices do not believe that real people of differing orientation have the same rights under the Fourteenth Amendment as those people who fall within these Justices personal and political theology and ideology.

Once again, it’s along straight party lines.

A Reform Party is clearly necessary if we are to preserve our democracy.  Every branch of government has been corrupted with money, and the judicial branch is simply acting as a facilitator for the politics of the legislative and executive branches, both on the national and state levels.

If point B is a rehabilitated political system resulting in a government of the people, by the people and for the people, we must first recognize that point A is a corrupted judiciary.  Revolutionary changes here will repair a wounded nation.