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Election Results Early

Monday, November 5th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/2312435878/In January, 2008, when I was writing Leadership Turn, I wrote that politicians aren’t leaders.

We have no leaders, let alone statesmen, just ideologues, elected by like-minded ideologues, who care only about getting reelected, bringing government money back to their constituency and making lucrative connections in the event they aren’t reelected or are caught by term limits.

The following month I considered the difference between politicians and statesmen.

Politicians talk it — Statesmen walk it
Politicians run to win — Statesmen run to serve
Politicians are ideologues — Statesmen are open-minded
Politicians, “it’s all about me” — Statesmen, “it’s all about them”
Politicians focus on the next election — Statesmen focus on the future

In 2010 I reprised parts from them in another post about the idiocy of ideology.

Einstein also said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Americans must be insane; we will go to the polls flip the party in charge and expect different results.
Based on the past, what we will get is a different ideology that screws up differently, not better results.

Sadly, nothing much has changed in the intervening years; a notion that will be proved tomorrow.

Please note that much of the interest and value in these posts is found in the comments and discussion they generated.

Flickr image credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Quotable Quotes: Campaigns of the Founding Fathers

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/2866174300/Are you as disgusted with political campaigning as I am?

The lies and slurs are tiresome no matter who you like, because, as we all know, the other side always lies.

Some feel the lies and attacks are far worse than ever before and long to return to a more civilized political era, such as that of our founding fathers.

The good news is that the lies and attacks aren’t worse, just more frequent.

The bad news is that our founding fathers were as bad if not worse.

And the prime mud, then as now, involved race and religion.

In 1796 and 1800 John Adams supporters accused Thomas Jefferson of being “godless” as well as sleeping with a slave.

“God and a religious president, or Jefferson and no God!” (…) Jefferson versus Adams may also have the dubious distinction of being the first time the so-called race card was played.

The information comes from a fascinating article that provides the rest of today’s quotes, along with excellent commentary and a sample of political cartoons that are markedly harsher than today’s.

As is frequently the case when it comes to politics, our perceptions about political election history are more a function of misconceptions colored by wishful thinking.

Flickr image credit: By Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Quotable Quotes: I Hate Politics 4

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

2344967308_a5409437aa_qHere is the fourth installment of comments about politics; if you missed the previous ones you may find them here 1, 2, and 3. You’ll notice I named the third one “I Hate Politics 3,” which was actually an error, but one I like, so I’m going to continue using it.

Politicians come from varied backgrounds; in times past most were lawyers, but these days they are truly anything; or, as Robert Louis Stevenson so aptly puts it, Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.

Gore Vidal adds a telling comment to that with which I totally agree, Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.

As campaigns heat up the zingers always fly thicker and faster; one of the best came from Adlai Stevenson, in a 1952 campaign speech, I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.

Some lies never die (even when they should) and some of the nastiest seem to hang around forever (BTW, nasty isn’t a new trend as some seem to think, but more on that another week.) Our old friend Anonymous made a good point when he said, Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.

It’s hard to argue with the wisdom of Will Rogers, especially this little gem, If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these  acceptance speeches there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.

Have a great rest-of-the-weekend and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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Expand Your Mind: Who Pays Taxes?

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Tomorrow is T day (if you aren’t prepared I hope you have filed your extension), so it seemed like a good time to look at who pays what.

No new books meant President Obama’s income is down nearly a million, but he still paid 20%.

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, reported adjusted gross income of $789,674 in 2011 and paid just over 20 percent of it to the federal government in taxes.

Whereas Mitt Romney is paying 6% less tax on approximately 27 times more income.

He paid 13.9 percent in taxes on income of $21.7 million for 2010 and about the same rate for the not fully completed 2011 returns.

The current tax code is 5,296 pages long vs. 27 when it was written. The majority of the additional 5,969 pages are descriptions and explanations of how to legally cheat on your taxes.

If economists ran the tax system, there would be virtually no exemptions or loopholes. Instead, businesses, rich people, Congressmen and attorneys spend a shockingly large amount of time lobbying for tax breaks or exploiting the ones that exist.

For those who are seriously wealthy, like Ronald S. Lauder, an Estée Lauder heir worth more than $3.1 billion, beating the tax man while indulging your passions is an ongoing effort.

As is often the case with his activities, just beneath the surface was a shrewd use of the United States tax code.

Just in case you are wondering, here’s some intel on what catches the eye of those who pay in the 15% tax bracket.

Neiman Marcus sold out of pewter-color Ferraris (luggage set matching the interior included) at $395,000 each within 50 minutes of making 10 of them available through its “fantasy” holiday catalog late last month.

But in the great scheme of US taxation, Romney’s 14% is still significantly higher than many of our large corporations pay, especially those in the so-called “Dirty Thirty.”

In January, the two organizations identified 30 corporations whose cumulative profit was $164 billion from 2008 to 2011. These corporations didn’t just avoid paying taxes — they actually collected $10.6 billion in tax rebates, according to the groups. They were dubbed the “Dirty Thirty.”

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

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Quotable Quotes: Gifts from Spam

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

3035341452_4266122a46_mAsk anybody with a blog and they will tell you that while Akismet does a great job of catching spam, making sure that real comments weren’t also caught is a nuisance; especially if you let it go too long. Most spam comments are stupid, meaningless or boring, but lately one spambot has been leaving quotes, so I copied the last batch to share with you today; Plato’s and Asimov’s were pure serendipity from other places.

With the Republican primary in full throttle I thought this comment by Edward R. Murrow was very appropriate; note that it applies equally well to the Democrats, “When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”

Politicians on all sides of the spectrum have been providing a constant supply of sexual peccadilloes and we can than Henry Kissinger for providing a succinct explanation of why, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

Throughout history sexual peccadilloes have been dominantly the province of men, which may have led to Lady Nancy Astor’s scathing judgment, “I married beneath me. All women do.”

Centuries apart, Plato and George Dorsey offered similar opinions on the same subject,

  • Plato “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
  • George Dorsey: “Play is the beginning of knowledge.”

That’s an attitude that ties closely with Dale Carnegie’s thought, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Finally, whether globally or locally, humans had best take heed of Isaac Asimov’s words or nothing will be solved in time, “If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”

Not bad for spam.

(My apologies, I forgot to click Publish!)

Image credit: arnold | inuyaki

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President’s Day

Monday, February 20th, 2012

3768271343_f2337500c8_mHappy President’s Day.

Sad to say that the quality of those in the office over the last 50 years has gone seriously downhill from the quality of the first 50.

Several years ago I wrote

We have no leaders, let alone statesmen, just ideologues, elected by like-minded ideologues, who care only about getting reelected, bringing government money back to their constituency and making lucrative connections in the event they aren’t reelected or are caught by term limits.

and have added to and reposted the full original a couple of times (be sure to check out the link to the original comments).

Based on the current political activity it’s not likely to improve any time soon (this applies to both Houses of Congress, as well as state, regional and local races).

Ideology is the primary lens through which all actions are viewed and any real value to the country and its citizenry is a distant second.

What are your thoughts? What can be done to change this?

Flickr image credit: Kurt Magoon

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Quotable Quotes: More H. L. Mencken

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

As I promised last week, today is a “tour of Mencken’s irreverent view of politics and democracy that will provide great zingers for holiday get-togethers and leave you chuckling.”

Let’s start with democracy, since everyone seems to agree that it’s a good thing. Of course, definitions vary and Mencken offers some great choices in case you haven’t settled on one.

I’ll start with a basic definition and get more sarcastic from there, Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

Mencken didn’t think much of “the people” and my guess is no county was excepted from this scathing comment, Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

Hand-in-glove with that thought is this one, Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

He also said, Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses. Not only worship, but elect; we jackasses keep electing jackals—party be damned.

Of course, you can’t expect a lot more when Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.

Finally, Mencken sums up his attitude towards democracy thusly, I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing.

Now on to the politics and politicians.

Again, we’ll start with a definition, A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

He also said, A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. It’s hard to disagree with that comment, too.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that politicians of all stripes say anything to get elected; it’s nothing new, Mencken noticed it, too, If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

2012 is a presidential election year and the show has already begun, A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

Let’s end with one final definition along with the reason for it. Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

And the reason? Each party steals so many articles of faith from the other, and the candidates spend so much time making each other’s speeches, that by the time election day is past there is nothing much to do save turn the sitting rascals out and let a new gang in.

Image credit: Wikipedia

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A Political Lesson: You’re Fired!

Monday, April 11th, 2011

5440002785_390b7c22f1_m“You’re fired!”

Donald Trump has made those two words made famous since the start of his reality show, but they had power long before that.

‘You’re fired’ are fearsome words; words no one wants to hear form their boss.

They are the ultimate power source for managers, especially those who practice a top-down, command and control style.

The amount of research that has proven that approach to be passé is too great to be cited here (but it is easily googled). And the one place ‘you’re fired’ has never cut any ice is in politics.

It cuts no ice because those in a position to say it have no one to say it to other than their own staff.

Unlike corporate bosses, politicians can’t fire those who disagree with them; who actively work to undermine their vision; who publicly heckle and harangue them.

But at all levels, local, state and national, you see dozens of people running for office whose main qualification is having run a successful business.

Donald Trump is (IMO) a hilarious example of this.

Can you imagine him trying to manage Congress, since he couldn’t fire members that didn’t toe his line? And while Presidents do have that power over their Cabinet members, the political fallout from firing one is enormous.

No matter what political flavor you prefer, consider the applicability of the environment from which they are coming and the political environment to which they want to go.

It’s likely that the higher they were on the corporate or small biz ladder the less likely they will deal well with their loss of power and the reality of today’s politics.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5440002785/

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Oddball Facts: Laws

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

3044867827_6e619a0f80_m

Do you sometimes get the feeling that the folks who populate our legislatures, no matter the party, either sit on their brains or just don’t bother bring them to work?

I often hear people wishing that someone of intelligence would run; someone of substance like those that their parents or grandparents talk about.

Apparently our politicians have been sitting or forgetting for a lot longer than people realize, so the good old days may not be all that great.

Of course, people break the law all the time—and sometimes that’s a good thing.

In 1760 Philadelphia passed a law making it illegal to put pretzels in bags. I wonder if they sold them in boxes…

Baseball took a major hit in Oklahoma, where it is illegal to the ball over the fence or out of a ballpark. If still enforced I wonder if it would cut down on steroid use…

Driving has generated many laws since autos were invented and here are some of my favorites.

California law prohibits a woman from driving a car while dressed in a housecoat. I wonder what kind of dress was banned for men…

California may sound sexist and petty, but lawmakers in Tennessee and New York obviously have absolutely no faith in their constituents. What makes me so sure?

Tennessee has a statute making it illegal to drive a car while sleeping.

And if that isn’t silly enough, in New York it’s against the law for a blind person to drive a car. I wonder if they can legally drive other types of transportation…

A real favorite dates back to 1930 when the great state of Virginia passed a law that prohibits corrupt practices or bribery by any person other than political candidates. I wonder when that law was extended to the rest of the citizens…

But it is California that takes the cake California, where dirty dancing was (probably) invented, has a statute dating back to 1925 that makes it illegal to wiggle while dancing. I wonder if that extends to walking and other forms of locomotion…

One caveat, it’s possible that some of these laws have been repealed and others could be urban legends, but as far as know they are real.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/biscuitsmlp/3044867827/

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Leadership’s Future: Awful Acts in Politics

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

vote-and-winMy apologies if there has been too much politics lately, but you have to admit it’s difficult to avoid when so much of it is tied to “leadership” issues.

Or the lack thereof.

I rarely read op-ed pieces, but the title caught my, Awful, Awfuler, Awfulest; wouldn’t you click on that?

The author, Gail Collins, had written an article debating which state had the worst “leaders” running for election and chose Nevada as the winner.

Immediately, there were outcries from voters who believed their state had been unfairly overlooked on the dreadfulness meter.

Maine has a candidate for governor whose wife and kids live in their “primary residence” in Florida (the the other house is in Maine); Missouri has honors as the state with the least variety, 26 different candidates since 1980 from just two families; Florida has the dubious honor of a gubernatorial candidate whose company was fined $1.7 billion for fraudulent Medicare billing.

She says that in Net York’s race one candidate seems to tie every issue to his opponent’s sex life, while the main opponent doesn’t talk at all and a minor one is a self-proclaimed madam.

Nevada still won and you’ll have to click the link to learn why. (Hint: One of the candidates claims that Dearborn, Mich., and Frankford, Texas (a ghost town) are governed under Sharia, which is Islamic law.)  And take a moment to read some of the 229 comments for more hilarious examples and observations.

Why do we continue to accept acts from those in public service that we would condemn in other circumstances?

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/1807572441/

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