What Is The American Dream?

What Is The American Dream?
by
David Schlecht

Since the days of Reagan, the American Dream has been recalibrated. We once believed that the American Dream was to live in a society that is upward mobile. In other words, to live in a society where you aren’t limited in life based on what class you were born into.

The Reagan years recalibrated the American Dream into getting as rich as you can regardless of who you have to hurt or destroy to make it. Greed became God. Even today, you hear of people pursuing a commercial theocracy. We went from being a “We” society to a “Me” society.

What is the American Dream today? What is your definition of the American Dream?

[poll id=”46″]

Some Times

Some Times
by
David Schlecht

Some times I get so frustrated with Republicans and Conservatives and Libertarians when they don’t put any effort into understanding more than one side of an issue.

How will we ever fix this country until we can come together and Obama and the Democrats have been trying relentlessly to work together and the Republicans have done nothing but try to derail any hope of recovery just for political gain.

The Republican Party has done such a good job of convincing their unthinking followers that anyone who disagrees with them is the enemy. No, I’m not calling all Republicans unthinking, I’m saying only the unthinking ones think everyone else is the enemy.

Honestly, if we can’t come together to fix this mess that both parties have bestowed on us, how will we ever get out of it? We need to agree on what has caused this mess in order to fix it and stop it from happening again. We Americans have come together and fixed it before the last time this happened. But coming together this time is more of an effort since half (arguably the majority) of America is now painted as the enemy.

I talk with many of my conservative friends and family and it’s like talking to someone in a foreign language at times. I honestly try to understand and find items of mutual agreement but all they seem to be looking for is an argument. It’s not about coming together.

How can we help heal this country while half of us are calling the other half names?

Cultivating Fear

Cultivating Fear

The Manipulation and Exploitation of Emotions

by
David Schlecht

Have you ever wondered how people and businesses and political parties can get otherwise intelligent people to do things contrary to their best interests? In this text I will illuminate some of the root causes of our most basic emotions and show how they can be purposely triggered repeatedly to achieve reliable results. With this information you can better spot attempts to manipulate your emotions and better prevent such attempts.

What are emotions?

What kinds of emotions we experience can vary widely but for the purpose of this text we will  investigate the most common and most easily exploitable, namely fear, jealousy, hate, and love. There are numerous other emotions and numerous other ways to exploit them but the concept is the same.

Our emotions, like our memory, are strengthened by repeated use. For example, the more our fear emotion is evoked, the easier it is to evoke it again. Being frightened by the same thing repeatedly will eventually desensitize us to the fear response from that stimulus, but invoking fear from a new stimulus is still easier with each successful fright.

The strengthening of the emotion and ease of triggering it is caused by the increased number and the strength of the neurons in our brains stimulated by each emotion. This is similar to learning through repetition as we all do in our younger school years.

We experience emotional fatigue when the same emotions are triggered too often. Different people have different thresholds before fatigue sets in.  The more emotional exploitation you can endure before becoming fatigued, the better candidate you are for those intent on exploiting it.

You have probably wondered why I selected this particular list of emotions to explain rather than some other list. If you did, then, good. There is some thought involved in which emotions best explain this phenomenon.

Fear

Fear is our most basic and most easily triggered emotion and as such is the most easily exploited. Typically, newborn babies do not experience fear. They can be startled by a sudden rush of sensation, such as loud noises, but there is no lasting emotion from the experience. As a child grows he learns that consequences follow events. It is the anticipation of the consequences that teaches a child fear.

The fear response does not require logic and, in fact, will often trigger contrary to logic. Most of us remember going through life with certain fears that we eventually realized were groundless. Some people can go their entire lifetimes with unfounded fears that they never successfully deal with. It is the fact this this emotion is so quick that we, as a species, have survived our history.

Fear is a repelling emotion. Its value is that it repels us from negative consequences.

It should be obvious from this that fear is the easiest emotion to induce and can be induced regardless of facts.

Jealousy

Unlike fear, jealousy is not a base emotion. This emotion requires thought. This emotion also requires fear as a catalyst. How does one become jealous? Jealousy comes from fear of having to do without. From fear it can evolve into greed where we demand that other do without just so we can benefit. At its most fundamental level, jealousy is just a short distance away from fear.

Where fear is a repelling emotion which repels us from harmful consequences, jealousy can start as repelling and can become more of an attracting emotion as it evolves into greed.

Anger and Hatred

These emotions are both by-products of fear so neither are base emotions. Where anger is a reactive emotion, hatred is a proactive emotion. Anger requires a certain amount of logic. It is only after we have decided what the consequences may be that we become angry over the cause.

Hatred, on the other hand, is an emotion based on fear of future actions and future and possibly imagined consequences.

Obviously both these emotions require some level of thought.

Love

Love is typically associated with sensations associated with certain hormones in the bloodstream. A newborn baby may feel the emotion of love while cuddling with a parent or most commonly, while breastfeeding. The mother also typically feels the emotional bond.

There are also other hormones that trigger this emotion, some related to sexual intercourse such as oxytocin.

As most romantics will tell you, there’s more to love than physiology, and I agree. There is a huge amount of thought required to process the emotion of love outside the physiological level and that, though pertinent, is far outside the realm of this text.

Where the previous three emotions are typically repelling, love is attractive.

Comparing these four emotions, you can see that three are fear based and are strong due to their necessary role in keeping us alive. Still, in the long run, love can help us overcome all the other emotions and thus can be the strongest.

Exploitation

As we have seen, fear based emotions are repulsive so we try to avoid conditions that cause the fear. If the unethical exploiter can push the fear button in you and redirect your repulsion to another cause, your quick fear response will typically fire before you have had a chance to evaluate the real cause. If this happens more than once then the displacement to the new imagined cause will become more solid and easier to associate with that fear.

There is a multi-billion dollar industry that provides this exact service. We teach orators how to get the crowd worked up and riled up and all full of fear and tell the crowd, “it’s them, over there, who are causing the problem.” In such an emotionally charged environment such as a great speech or a rally, it’s easy to get caught up in the fear without realizing what’s causing it.

Once you’ve been lured in by the fear tactic, it’s an easy step for someone to not only say it’s them people over there, but let’s all hate and fear them. It’s easy to get a crowd riled up enough to go get the torches and pitch forks. It takes some skill to work the crowd up just enough to get them to take the fear and hatred home and act on it outside the rally.

As we’ve learned, people get fatigued from fearing all the time so the way to keep the fear fresh in the followers’ minds is to change the fear. This is why you will see leaders manipulating their people by swapping one fear for another at regular intervals. One great orator went from pushing the hate and fear buttons because of Jews, then it was because of those carrying bad genes (handicapped citizens), to fearing communism and then back to the Jews. Can you guess who this was? His tactics are obvious in hind sight.

To take another obvious example, notice how the American Republican Party induces fear of “illegal aliens are taking your jobs” or “the illegal aliens are breeding us out of existence” only to ignore this fear for a couple months while they’re ginning up fear of the socialists in the Democratic Party that we should all fear and hate, only to find that a few months later they’re preaching fear and hatred of abortion mongers and then it’s back to the illegals.

By bringing in fresh new fears regularly, those intent on exploiting our emotions keep up perpetually hooked on fear and hatred.

Just to be fair, the Democratic party uses plenty of fear tactics as well but since the Democratic voters don’t have over-stimulated fear neurons, the tactics don’t have the same impact. That’s why controlling Democratic voters is so often referred to as herding cats.

What You Can Do

All is not lost. There are things that you can do to minimize the impact these unethical fear merchants have on you. The first line of defense is the old rule of counting to 10. Don’t succumb to non-immediate fear without first stopping and taking a breath and counting to 10. Then, ask yourself if someone is trying to take advantage of your emotions.

Secondly, any time someone is trying to stir up your fear emotion, cover your wallet and get ready. A fear that comes from outside you, one that has been sold to you is almost certain to be manipulation. That means it’s time to really stop and evaluate and more than anything, research the facts that the fear merchant is peddling. This isn’t to say that all fear merchants are false. Sometimes people really do have to get others educated to the risks.

And, most importantly, realize that everyone is vulnerable to these tactics. Those who are the most vulnerable to unethical salesmen are those who feel they have nothing to fear. If you think you’re immune to the tactics, you’re the easiest target.

For Want of a Nail

For Want of a Nail
by
David Schlecht

For want of a nail the shoe was lost
For want of a shoe the horse was lost
For want of a horse the rider was lost
For want of a rider the  battle was lost
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost
All for the want of a nail.

Have you been to the DMV lately? How long did you spend there? Do you realize that for little more than a $1.25 annually in taxes you could have more offices and shorter waits? But, no, the conservatives have convinced us that we want lower and lower taxes.

So where does this mad race to the bottom end? When we have the cheapest government money can buy? Hello Somalia.

Are we getting to be such cheapskates that we don’t want to pay the price of a nail and will let the kingdom fall? We will gripe and complain about having to spend hours in line at the DMV but will complain even louder about having to pay an additional $1.25 to build more offices.

When will America wake up and realize the conservative ways are not in America’s best interests? Hacking away at our social safety net while giving the billionaires a free ride doesn’t help anyone but the rich. Stripping  our government oversight agencies are giving the billionaire foreign corporations a free ride while we Americans pay for their pollution and illnesses. We feel worse and worse about ourselves as we let the poor, elderly, and sick suffer.

But, still we let the media (representing the rich) get us riled up about considerably less important things like where they’re building a mosque or whether there’s an illegal alien having a baby while hundreds of millions of our jobs are shipped over seas. As long as we’re distracted the billionaires get richer and we get poorer.

When will it end? Will we let the kingdom fall for the want of a nail or will we wake up from this media-induced coma  and start refusing the failed conservative policies?

What is Wrong With Nevada?

What is Wrong With Nevada?
by
David Schlecht

Nevada has been voting for republican governors for over a decade and during that decade Nevada has lost ground in so many ways it’s hard to keep count. But, let’s give it a try.

Nevada has become one of the lowest paid states in the union. Nevada has become one of the lowest in union membership. Nevada has become one of the least educated with the country’s worst schools and the highest dropout rates. Nevada has become the country’s leader in home foreclosures. Nevada has become the most unemployed and the longest unemployed. There are more things Nevada is leading on but this list should be long enough for anyone to realize we’re in trouble here in Nevada.

Nevada was not in this bad condition before the last 10 years of republican governors. All the ills defined above can be directly attributed to republican policies. The rest of the country has suffered from the past 30 years of failed conservative policies like free trade (brought to us in part by a democratic president, Clinton), smaller government, union busting, attacks on the minimum wage and other social safety nets like welfare and unemployment, higher taxes on the middle class and lower taxes on the rich. Nevada has been a proving ground for conservative policies for the past 10 years and look what has happened to Nevada.

You can be sure you’ll hear the same foolish argument by the conservatives about how it would all have worked perfectly if we had just pushed through these failed policies harder and faster. But, nobody is really believing this stuff anymore.

So why, then, is Nevada still voting for republican Governors? Isn’t it time we all came to our senses and said republican policies don’t work and ejected the republicans causing this disaster?

More Important Than The President

More Important Than The President
by
Captain Jack

The US government is made up of three separate branches, the president, congress, and the supreme court. The system is supposed to be made up of checks and balances. The primary control was to be the Congress. They have the purse strings and can decide to fund or starve any programs defined by the courts (which should never happen but don’t be surprised) or by the president. That’s a whole lot of power.

Originally, the president was to have very little power. Over time, though, the presidents have been taking more and more power to themselves. GW Bush was the closest we’ve come to a “unitary executive”, or dictator, as Bush would call it.

Still, the courts and Congress have the power to limit the over-reaches of the president. However, the Supreme Court has taken powers to itself that the other branches are unable to easily check and balance. The Supreme Court was not originally intended to be the final word in the land but it says it is and the rest of the country, representatives and voters alike, just ignore the power grab.

Never was it intended by our forefathers that the Supreme Court would be able to make stuff up like it does today. A simple case in point is the Citizen’s United VS the FEC case where the Supreme Court said corporations have the right to flood, absolutely monopolize the media with lies to corrupt elections. Think about that for a moment. Corporations can silence all of us by spending billions of dollars to flood the airwaves so the average multi-millionaire politician is unable to get his word out. Yes, that’s what the Supreme Court has decided.

Absolutely nowhere in the constitution will you find the word “corporation”. In other words, “we the people” are given all the rights except those noted in the constitution and corporations were to have none other than those provided by the individual states.

The premise of our country was “one man one vote” and “one man one voice”. Now, the Supreme Court has decided a case that is contrary to everything the constitution is about and there is nothing within reason that the president and Congress can do. The only solution to this is to either impeach the corrupt (yes, republican) Supreme Court judges or amend the constitution. This case was decided on a purely party line split with the republicans selling you and me down the river.

There have been many many thousands of constitutional amendments proposed but only a very few ever passed. Amending the constitution in an emergency is impossible. Even passing new laws to try to limit the damage caused by the republicans is unlikely to succeed because the court can just take the case and judge it unconstitutional to try to circumvent their damage.

In other words, the Supreme Court has become the dictators of the land and with the absolutely crazy activist republican judges showing nothing but contempt for the constitution and for we the people, our only reasonable choice is to impeach them. It is time to impeach the republican Supreme Court judges, which Congress can do immediately and clean up this mess. Then, given time, we can amend the constitution to say something like, any Supreme Court judge who is found to be as stupid and un-American as these will be drawn and quartered immediately. And, while we’re at it, we can pass an amendment which says, DUH, corporations aren’t people and don’t get rights of people. Well, obviously, we’ll have to clean up the court before we can even consider any other alternatives.

This is an emergency. With each election that we pass following the new court-defined laws, the less control you and I will have over our representatives. Call your representatives today and call the president today and say you want the justices impeached.

Stop The Greed

Stop The Greed

I got a plea from Senator John Cornyn today. Here’s what he has to say:

If the Democrats have their way, very soon our taxes will be going up.

They have been very busy in Washington spending your money on their radical liberal agenda. They have been financing these bloated government takeovers and spending programs by borrowing money from your children. We now have a more than $13 trillion national debt which is growing by an average of $6.534 billion per day. The American people have become outraged at this reckless and irresponsible path, and rather than dealing with their outrageous spending habits, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are going to try to pay for their agenda by taxing you.

In 2001 and 2003, Republicans passed into law the largest tax cut in American history, and lowered taxes for all Americans. But that tax relief is set to expire very soon, and the Democrats have no intention extending them. They want to raise your taxes in the middle of the biggest economic downturn in generations. And this isn’t just any tax hike, we are talking about a $3 trillion tax hike.

If you are single and make $30,000 a year, expect to see your taxes rise by $426. If you make $50,000, you will owe an additional $602. The expiration of this tax relief will mean less hiring by small business, a 50% cut in the child tax credit, a return of the marriage penalty and a 164% hike in the tax on dividends. What do you think this will mean for our economic recovery?

Don’t let them get away with it. Go to [some website], and sign our petition to tell the Democrats not to raise our taxes. Tell Congress you want them to extend the tax cuts before they expire at the end of this year.

Sincerely,

Senator John Cornyn
Chairman, NRSC

Honestly, John, don’t you feel any shame? Talk about greedy and shelfish. It’s about time you millionaires and billionaires started paying your fair share again. The American people WILL NOT ask Congress to extend your selfish tax cuts. America is paying the lowest taxes we have paid in centuries and our government is going broke while you millionaires and billionaires bring home more and more money. The disparity between the ultra rich and the rest of America is the worst it has been, ever! And, you want it to continue. You want more tax breaks for the rich while the country and the middle class disappear.

Honestly, John, isn’t it time you started paying your fair share? Isn’t it time we brought this country back to the prosperity we had before the conservatives like you started telling us that greed was good and that some day, even we may be millionaires if we just gave more money to the richest in America.

I’m sick of the lies and I’m sick of the greed and I’m sick of the rich taking advantage of us. Pay your taxes John and quit asking me to help you with your selfish quest to avoid paying your fair share. The rich are not paying their share and you want me to help continue the mistake? What do you take me and the rest of Americans for? Fools? No more!

Honestly, John. Should you really be in Congress? You don’t represent America. You should be ashamed!

The Folly of Extending Unemployment Benefits

The Folly of Extending Unemployment Benefits
by
Captain Jack

No, I’m not another one of those brain dead conservatives that think the best cure for high unemployment numbers is to let them starve to death. No, Sharron Angle, they’re not unemployed because they like starving. But, just extending unemployment benefits is more harmful than beneficial. Let me explain.

During the Republican Great Depression of the 1930s, many people were unemployed for so long that they became unemployable. There’s only so many years you can unsuccessfully apply for work in your profession before you quit trying. Sure, many of them tried alternative professions, such as selling apples or pencils on the street corners. But there’s not a big demand for menial labor like that.

So, what did all those people do back in those days? You guessed it, the same thing they’ll end up doing this time if we don’t fix the unemployment issue right away. They became chronically homeless. Do you remember the large number of homeless that were referred to as Hobos? Yes, a large number of people learned to live off the streets and off the land. None of them ever got assimilated back into society.

Giving people extended unemployment benefits doesn’t keep them employable. It makes them dependent on the benefits. The only long term solution to unemployment is more jobs. For every dollar spent on unemployment benefits, we need two dollars in jobs programs. The only way to keep the people employable is to keep them employed. That means jobs programs.

Too bad the republicans are killing every attempt at building jobs programs. The republican senators do not want to fix the economy, they want to benefit from it by stretching it out as long as they can. Just look at all the jobs programs that the republicans have voted against. It’s sickening, yet few republican voters realize it.

We need a whole lot more jobs programs and we need them immediately. Extending unemployment benefits without jobs will only make matters worse.

When Will They Ever Admit?

When Will They Ever Admit?
by
Captain Jack

To anyone not totally mesmerized by the right-wing media, it is obvious that the conservative policies of smaller government (no regulations), welfare for the rich, and free trade are destroying America. How could anyone really argue otherwise?

The conservatives were arguing non-stop about how global warming was a myth made up by the liberal commie hippies.

Now, here we are at a point where it is plain as day the folly of the conservative policies, yet they continue to preach the failed policies and their fooled followers just continue to follow along, unthinking.

When will the liars or the uneducated conservative followers ever admit they are wrong? When? Exactly what will it take before they admit they’re wrong?

If my conservative friends are any example there is no fact that will ever convince them that they are wrong. They even admit that. So why do we continue to bother to try to help them understand the facts? It’s time we left them for brain dead and moved on with the solutions to the past 30 years of failed conservative policies. They will never be able to help.

Obama’s Big Deficit

Obama’s Big Deficit
by
Captain Jack

I’ve heard one person after another explaining how Obama’s deficit is the biggest in history. I though I would look into this claim a little and see what I can find. Here’s is a quick graph from OffTheChartsBlog to show what the major contributors are to the deficit.

US Deficit
US Deficit

Take a look at the white area of the graph at the bottom. You see the small sliver of white? That is what the deficit would look like without the Bush years. In other words, take away the economic collapse Bush ushered in, take away the Bush tax cuts for billionaires, take away Bush’s misguided wars and what you have left is the small area at the bottom.

Of course, the TARP money is from the Bush years if you remember. TARP was already passed before Obama took office.

So, please, do yourself a favor and get in the habit of questioning the numbers and fears you hear spread by the right wing lie machine. It’s sole purpose is to take advantage of the uninformed. Don’t be one of them.