For a More Progressively Evolving Society

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Capitalism in Three Spheres

Capitalism in Three Spheres

While trying to fight against any sort of exploitation, first we must have a clear understanding of the nature of the exploitation.  Today human society is subjected to ruthless exploitation by contemporary capitalists.  Capitalist exploitation has brought humanity to the brink of disaster by spreading its exploitative tentacles into every aspect of human life.

According to PROUT, capitalist exploitation is perpetuated in three spheres – the physical sphere, which we are well aware of, and the intellectual and spiritual spheres.  Each of these types of capitalist exploitation is equally dangerous.

To solve the problem of capitalist exploitation in the physical sphere, we will have to ensure that the movement of money does not become restricted or immobile in the hands of a few capitalists.  The present economic system should be thoroughly transformed, and a comprehensive and completely new economic system should be built in its place.  In this new system money will not be restricted or immobile in the hands of a few capitalists.  The more the optimum mobility of money is kept unrestricted, the more it will strengthen and invigorate the socio-economic life of the collective body.

Intellectual Capitalism

In the psychic sphere there is a noticeable lack of motivation and effort on the part of intelligent and educated people at present to properly utilize their acquired knowledge for the collective welfare.  This is the psychology of an apathetic and elitist class who do not like to move from their privileged position to work for the welfare of the common people.  This psychology gives rise to a special type of intellectual capitalism.

Intellectual capitalism causes several pressing problems in society.  First, the literacy skills of a large part of the population are not developed.  Secondly, the socio-economic consciousness of the indigenous people is not encouraged.  Thirdly, unhealthy inferiority complexes and fear complexes influence the minds of the people so that they are kept psychically weak.  Fourthly, the intellectual and moral development of human beings is hindered, so intellectual backwardness and irrationality become rampant in society.  Finally, narrow sentiments like geo-sentiment and socio-sentiment start exerting a destructive influence on society.  Consequently, intellectual exploitation, dogmatic theories and doctrines, and religious superstition and rituals become widespread.

Intellectual inertia has assumed dangerous proportions.  Taking advantage of this intellectual stagnancy, rapacious capitalists deviously spread a subtle web of exploitation and suck the vitality of society.  Through this process capitalists are able to perpetuate their insidious rule of exploitation.

People have been loudly protesting against capitalism for a long time, and on numerous occasions have launched agitations against capitalist exploitation.  Remaining vigilant about people’s dissatisfaction with the capitalist system, capitalists have continually changed their methods of exploitation.  For instance, they have bought off disgruntled intellectuals and used them as tools of exploitation in their economic schemes.

Capitalism has always adapted to changing circumstances.  Thus we see that in different periods there have been different forms of capitalist exploitation such as feudalism, laissez-faire capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, mixed economy, multinational corporations, etc.  Today even communism, which was once a deadly weapon against capitalist exploitation, has become a blunt and obsolete tool.

Psycho-economic exploitation is the latest form of dangerous and all-devouring capitalist exploitation.  It is a special type of exploitation which first weakens and paralyses people psychologically in various ways, and then exploits them economically.  Some of the methods of psycho-economic exploitation include:

the suppression of the indigenous language and culture of local people;

the extensive propagation of pseudo-culture, exemplified by pornographic literature which debases people’s mind and particularly undermines the vitality of the youth;

the imposition of numerous restrictions on women, forcing them to be economically dependent on men;

an unpsychological education system with frequent political interference by vested interests;

the negation of dharma in the name of secularism;

the balkanization of society into numerous castes and groups;

the damaging of society by the use of unnatural and harmful methods of birth control;

placing the control of different mass media, such as newspapers, radio and television, in the hands of capitalists. 

Both intellectual exploitation and psycho-economic exploitation are great dangers to the human race today.

To counteract this threat, powerful popular sentiments will have to be generated immediately for the liberation of intellect.  For this, the first requisite factor is that intellectuals must keep their intellects pure and unblemished.  Casting aside all their inertia and prejudices, intellectuals will have to mix with the common people and engage themselves in their welfare.  They will have to assist the common people in their development and extend their support to all anti-exploitation movements.  This approach will help to root out exploitation, stabilize the structure of society and expand the intellectual standard of the common people.  Human society will move forward to a brilliant future with rapid steps.

Spiritual Capitalism

Besides the physical and intellectual spheres, capitalism also exists in the spiritual realm.  Some people neglect their family and society and go to caves in the mountains and perform arduous penance to fulfil their longing for spiritual emancipation.  Because of their selfishness, they keep spiritual knowledge to themselves and do not bother to arouse spiritual awareness in individual and collective life.  This is capitalism in the spiritual sphere.  It is ultravires to the very spirit of spiritual practices, which is:

Self-realization and service to humanity.

To a spiritualist, everything – right from the Creator down to a small blade of grass – is the manifestation of Supreme Consciousness.  The state of equanimity is one of the main characteristics of spirituality.  Without attaining this quality, one cannot establish oneselves in the supreme state, and one’s movement towards Supreme Consciousness will be hindered at every step.  In ancient times many people found themselves in this tragic predicament.

Genuine spiritual practice is the birthright of all people.  In all spheres of collective life – economic, political, social, etc. – a scientific and rational outlook is essential.  The inculcation of cardinal human values is an urgent necessity.  This is the demand of the age.  Because such higher values are lacking in social life, there are many incongruities and confusions in society.

Today there is an urgent need for an all-round spiritual revolution in individual and collective life under the leadership of a group of accomplished and idealistic leaders.  These leaders should be endowed with spiritual power, and their ideology should be based on the solid rock of spirituality.  Such highly qualified leaders are called sadvipras.  They will ensure social progress in all countries in all ages.

All genuine spiritualists will have to adjust with the level of the dusty earth inspired by the spontaneous love of their hearts.  They will have to share the wealth of their developed intellects with others to lighten the sorrows and sufferings of humanity.  Through their guidance and leadership, human thinking will take a new turn and move along an entirely new path.  The latent spiritual power in human beings will be awakened.  Through their effort and inspiration, the new people of a new generation will be armed with a bold new optimism and vision of the future, and march forward triumphantly.  

Explore this and other articles covering alternative economics, ethical leadership, economic democracy, and a society without the weal and woe of social and economic vicissitudes HERE
How does PROUT compare or contrast with capitalism or communism?  Explore the answers HERE

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How the American Media Helped the GOP Become An International Humiliation

A Cavalcade of Preposterous Bimbonics ... for Your Entertainment:  Vote Moron November 2012!


When a political party suffers a “political lobotomy” in public during election season, the entire nation’s reputation suffers. 

Top international news magazine Spiegel (think Europe’s version of Time or Newsweek) ran an article written by Marc Pitzke calling the Republicans a farce who are ruining our country’s reputation.  The article is entitled, ‘The Republicans’ Farcical Candidates; A Club of Liars, Demagogues and Ignoramuses.’ In this article, Mr. Pitzke writes what our press here won’t:
The US Republican race is dominated by ignorance, lies and scandals.  The current crop of candidates has shown such a basic lack of knowledge that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein.  The Grand Old Party is ruining the entire country’s reputation.
We knew it was true, but it hurts to read it.  We won’t often read such stark condemnations in the mainstream press here. 

It probably helps that Spiegel has “most likely the world’s largest fact checking operation”.  Yes, Virginia, their press actually checks facts unlike ours, who reports what both sides have “said” and the runs away, eagerly clutching their invite to John McCain’s ranch party like an hysterical tween Twilight fan waiting for Edward.  This is the same American press that jumped in to defend Fox News from President Obama’s easily and obviously true charge that it was not a news outlet.

The American press has twisted themselves into self-effacing, obsequious contortions of false equivalence in order to appease conservatives until they’ve become an embarrassing parody of a political entourage rather than a functioning fourth estate.  Our press are also quite cozy with their corporate bosses who like our news to be so conservatively “balanced” that it tips over with lies and distortions.

Now, thanks to the press, we are “debating” science versus belief as if both are equally factual, which is not the same thing as debating the merits of science versus belief or the necessity of either or the choice, even, of faith over proof.  No, we are drowning in an avalanche of deliberately and cynically invoked stupidity that threatens our nation’s standing among other civilized nations; while we are debate if people walked among dinosaurs other nations get on with the business of addressing serious matters. 

Republicans have humiliated America internationally time and time again.  Whether it was monosyllabic Neanderthal Jim Inhofe in Copenhagen charging that climate change was a hoax sold by liberal elites in Hollywood or a winking Sarah Palin’s treasonous siren call of hatred in China, the hits have kept coming.

Meanwhile, certain other Republicans couldn’t travel to certain countries lest they be arrested for international war crimes, and still the party held its head high and blustered poutrage from their imaginary moral high ground and the American press hunkered down in their bunker of neurotic, co-dependent GOP-pleasing, endlessly apologizing to the outraged Republicans at their first whine of wolf. 

The toxic Tea Party brew of Old Testament bigotry and hatred combined perfectly with the Koch brothers neo-Bircher agenda to create a neo-Fascist corporatized and glossily worshiped stupidity. 

Held captive by our collective numbing and dumbing down, we were barely shocked when union members were blamed for Wall Street’s destruction of economic opportunity.  We had been prepared through years of merely “reporting what they said” versus fact checking reality, and so we fought an uphill battle against a Luntzian meme sold to us from Fox but trickled into the mainstream by the Republican Fan Club of the mainstream press who know that Republicans hold grudges.  Access is King.

We were told all points of view were equal.  But of course, that’s not true.  In the free market of ideas and intelligence, some people are actually smarter than others and some theories are actually supported by evidence.  Both of these things should matter when you’re leading the free world if its exceptionalism you crave and meritocracy you tout.

Cowering in shame from Right wing charges of elitism, the press ensured that we were ripe for this year’s clown show.  The press now demands that we all lower ourselves in a disingenuous and phony show of respect for the “values” of conservatives (adultery, ethics violations, sexual harassment and Randian death wishes for the poor).  This press is so steeped in back-stabbing condescension combined with blindly ambitious self-service as to embarrass the watcher.  The press knows better, but they’re happy to go along with the notion that the “ideas” emanating from the most uneducated bigots among us deserve equal air space with the Nobel Laureates. 

We call this American exceptionalism because it keeps us from noticing that any chance we had at exceptionalism is now gone, swept away with a distorted capitalistic system meant to enrich the most unethical players instead of the hardest workers.  So died the American dream of economic opportunity.  The press distracts from this reality by suggesting that Rick Perry or Herman Cain are presidential material, which is a pat on the head to the deliberately dumbed down among us lest they notice how they got screwed.

Yes, you too can be president, see nothing is a matter of merit anymore!  Even the most recent study showing that watching Fox makes you more ignorant than watching no news will not convince the Fox Followers that they are being used.

It is only now that “serious minded” (the quotation marks are for their cynical silence in public during the last 3 years, pretending they didn’t see where their party was going) Republicans such as Peggy Noonan and George Will are speaking the truth that the press dares to point out factual inaccuracies in Republican debates.  Noonan, calling the line up a “freakshow,” has been perhaps most blunt.  Are they to be congratulated for finally daring to speak up, only after they see their party in real political peril? 

It didn’t serve the Republicans for the press to speak the truth and so the “serious thinkers” among the conservatives ignored the glaring break from reality as the Tea Party charged the President with socialism.  It suited them then, but three years later, they don’t like the result. 

And so now they have started to denounce the party, as if they didn’t see this coming when they themselves conspired to sell the public on the absurdity that Healthcare reform was socialism.  The pied pipers in the mainstream media are taking their cues and gingerly beginning to call out minor problems with the Republican candidates as if there were any way to do the utter horror show of stupidity justice in one correction.

One imagines the mainstream journalist seeing him or herself as the brave warrior daring to fact check a Republican, when in fact they were given the green light to do so and without such permission would have remained silently complicit in the ruination of this country, bowing down to charges of sexism and liberal bias while selling the entire country down the river of revivalist tent, snake oil mediocrity passing itself off as Republican ideology. 

We laugh at the current crop of Republicans the way some people laugh at a funeral; the horror so unreal as to be incomprehensible, the grief for our nation suppressed with a thin layer of hope that this is an anomaly.  But of course, it’s not.

Republican party leaders must surely be amazed in private at their ability to sell us anything; even they must be shocked and somewhat saddened that they have gotten away with it all.

The mainstream media knows that most of the Republican candidates ooze hubris the way only a small mind looking for a quick slice of spoiled American pie can.  They know that a party running grifters, con artists and carnival barkers as Presidential material shouldn’t be giving a sane President a run for his money — and wouldn’t be, if only they had done their jobs.

But without a horse race the financials of a corporate press look glum.  So we are taken along the for the ride of the relentless struggle for the lowest point to which the Republicans can sink without dying, aided and abetted by the mainstream press.

The fact that any of these candidates, save Jon Huntsman, are taken seriously is an alarming indicator of the imminent fall of America.  We’ve been dragged down kicking and screaming by a Right wing so attached to its own superiority that it refused to acknowledge when it was wrong.

Instead of reassessing what it means to be a conservative post Bush-debacle, conservatives put a flashier cross on their ideas, more supercilious padding on their epistemic closure and jacked up the hate and division; hence creating the farcical show we’re all being subjected to today.

And they wonder how they got here while we wonder how we let them ruin this country and cause us international embarrassment.

The press won’t stop greedily licking the crazy crumbs off of the Republicans’ floor long enough to have even a moment of clarity, but since the GOP’s political death comes painfully dished out over numerous humiliatingly-televised debates, the press will cover the bleeding demagogues of the Republican Party just as they did Anna Nicole’s death. 
They will never discuss their complicity in allowing the Republican Party to become the sad clown it is today, let alone behave as the fourth estate should.

The big show goes on, as the foundation of our nation caves under the inestimable weight of the collective ignorance and hubris.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#OWS: Occupy Wall Street Resource Guide

The Occupy Wall Street protest movement began in New York City’s Zuccotti Park in September of 2011. The movement has grown and spread throughout the country. On their website, they describe the movement as a non-violent fight, “against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.”

This library guide was created as an informational tool on the continuing movement. We decided to include mostly material that contains frequently updated aggregated media updates. While we would like to offer you the best information available, we cannot claim that some of these are not free of bias so please peruse the following information with a critical eye. If you feel an important resource may have been overlooked, please let us know and we will consider adding it to the list.

From the Movement

Occupy Wall Street: Frequently updated webpage
We Are the 99%: Photos and descriptions from those supporting the movement
Common Dreams: Occupy USA Coverage: News, video and twitter updates as they occur

Related Groups

Occupy Together: Aggregates Occupy Wall Street events and other events in solidarity with the movement
Occupy Global: Unifying vision for Occupy movements
Interoccupation Communication: Enables communication among Occupy movements
Beginners Guide Video from Bristol, UK: Occupy movement in the UK

Local Group Sites

Occupy Baltimore
Occupy D.C.

News Outlets

New York Times: Topic page updated with the latest developments and linking to other New York Times content Manhattan Local News: Local New York news outlet
Salon: Topic page updated with the latest stories
News Articles in Academic Search & MasterFILE: TU Community –Login to view News articles through the databases


Associated Press: Photographs of the Occupy Movement: TU Community –Login to view News articles through the databases
Flickr: More photographs from the Occupy Movement

Charts, Graphs & Statistics

Occupy Wall Street Overview: An Infographic
Who is Occupy Wall Street?: An Inforgraphic
Occupy Design: Building a Visual Language for the 99 Percent: Grassroots project connecting designers with on-the-ground demonstrators in the Occupy Together movement
Wealth, Income, and Power in the U.S.: An Infographic
Wealth & Income Inequality: From Mother Jones

Social Media

YouTube –OccupyTVNY

Miscellaneous Items

Gallup Poll on Occupy Wall Street from October 18, 2011: U.S. opinion of Occupy Wall Street
EPI (Economic Policy Institute) Report on Occupy Wall Street from October 26, 2011
Pew Research Center on Occupy Wall Street from October 19, 2011
Internet Archive: Occupy Wall Street: Collection of media about Occupy Wall Street and related movements
Podcast: What is Occupy Wall Street?: From NPR
Ways to Teach about OCW: From the New York Times blog Portal for data, analysis, and commentary on wealth and income disparity from the Institute for Policy Studies

Opposing View Points

The Heritage Foundation: The Conservative’s Guide to the Occupy Wall Street Protests: Research and educational institution for conservative public policies
We Are the 53%: Photos and descriptions from those against the movement Conservative news, politics, opinion, breaking news analysis, and commentary. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Political Dimension of PROUT: Partyless, Compartmental Democracy

Political democracy, as it is practiced in the world today, has a record of mixed success, and has failed to solve certain existential problems due to the absence of economic democracy.  Loftily defined as "Government of the people, for the people, and by the people," political democracy is simply majority rule.  And when vested interests are able to influence voters and politicians, whether by coercion, propaganda, bribery or clever manipulation of the media, it is easy to see that the real interests of even the majority are not always served.  Similarly, under the influence of clever speeches and poor education, unqualified or corrupt leaders may be elected.  While running the risk of underestimating people's power of self governance, it is important to realize that majority decision making is not free of blemishes, especially when politicians are bought and corporate media leaves voters poorly educated regarding the issues.

PROUT recognizes that certain prerequisites are necessary for a successful political democracy.  Political candidates must be ethical, educated, and socially conscious.  Voters must also demand ethical behavior of their leaders and have the requisite education and socio-economic consciousness to make rational decisions.  Thus a high standard of impartial education is necessary to ensure that democracy is successful. 

Presently money, intra-party status, and media portrayal have more to do with the success or failure of a candidate at the polls than does his or her position on issues and standard of behavior.  In many countries, votes are bought and sold openly and corruption is the rule rather than the exception.  It is often impossible for moral people to even dent the realm of politics.  In the so-called developed countries, the situation is only little better, as financial and political control of the mass media and poor socio-economic consciousness prevail.

A further problem with the present system of political democracy is that as candidates are dependent upon campaign contributions from the wealthy, in most instances, they end up catering to the demands of those influential sections of society.  This means that the decisions taken by the leaders in a "democratic" country do not necessarily reflect the best interests of society as a whole.  Political leaders are forced to serve powerful corporate interest groups, even immoral hypocrites, who have tremendous financial influence.  They are unable to maintain their offices if they cross such people.  And due to continual pressure to canvass for funding, the role of money in politics is paramount

The system of political parties seems also to have significant defects.  Candidate qualifications, personal integrity, and the spirit of social service play secondary roles to party status and seniority.  Candidates are forced to abide by party policies and cannot effectively combat elections without party endorsement.  In this way, political parties are also controlled by monied interests.  For these reasons, PROUT advocates a system of partyless democracy

Under PROUT's system, independent political candidates would be required to state their platform policies in black-and-white.  Failure to implement such programs could result in termination from office so as to prevent politicians from making empty promises for the sake of an election.  A partyless system is of paramount importance for lessening corruption.  Of course, it is natural that like minded people will associate and work together out of common interest.  Indeed, it would be impossible to enact any positive measures independently.  Yet, it is clear that the current formality of party affiliation has significant drawbacks.  A more balanced approach without the formalities of party name and the necessity of party endorsement may alleviate such problems. 

So, in addition to economic democracy, PROUT advocates a democratic political system with certain modifications.  PROUT favors the three branch system of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial with the addition of an independent Financial or Public Exchequer department.  This is an important addition that would monitor federal spending and publicize the strengths and weaknesses of government programs.  This department would keep the accounts of the other three departments.  All of these departments should function independently.

It should also be stressed that there should be no political involvement in economic affairs by the central governments, as the economic system is to be decentralized.  Local governments would be responsible for the running of certain key industries, but for this purpose, independent managers would be hired.  Key industries would not be run by politicians, whose skills are much different. 

[Be sure to review Basic Design Principles and other links to your right.] 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Voices of the Occupation: What they'll take away

On Tuesday, in the hours before Occupy L.A. was ejected from the grounds of City Hall, Margot Roosevelt photographed participants and interviewed them about what had brought them to the protest and what message they hoped people would take away from it.  Their statements have been edited for length.

Allan-LasleyAllen Lasley, 26

Anaheim HillsMy mother was a single parent for me and my sister.  When I was young, she was going to college and working two jobs — at McDonald's and at a dry cleaners.  She still had to steal food. I was 4 years old when I realized something was seriously wrong.

Every experience I've had since then has been struggling to survive.  I went into the Marine Corps when I was 17.  I did two tours in Iraq.  I came back realizing how messed up this country is, how we fight unjust wars for political assets.

In my head, as a kid, I thought if you work hard, you can achieve the American dream. I'd worked my entire life.  But now I spend 12 hours a day filling out applications.  I go to the unemployment office.  My resume is on I've never been called to an interview.  Not one time.  I've lived at homeless shelters even though I get some military benefits.

I came to be a part of changing humanity for the better.  When I first came down here I stayed up all night.  I wanted to see what kind of people were here.  The most intelligent people I ever met reside here.  Everybody has the same story of getting screwed over by the government.  Many veterans have gone through what I have and can't find work.  That is the No. 1 thing for most people.  There are just no jobs. I came here and these people gave me hope for humanity I had never felt before.

What people should take away is that we the people are the powers that be.

I believe power should be used to create equality.  We want a level playing field.  We don't want a small percentage of people to control everything going on around us.

Matt-WegnerMatt Wegner, 53

Lake Arrowhead

I was foreclosed on.  That is partly why I'm here.  I'll never own again.  I refused to renew my [real estate] broker's license after seeing people foreclosed on and pushed into the street.  I can no longer ethically practice real estate.

I've been wearing this sign on my back:   “Greed is a Disease.”  It is a sickness.  It is destroying the lives of people.  What is the opposite?  Generosity.  We have to stop taking and start giving.  That is the mind shift I am trying to bring to the world.

I was hoping Villaraigosa would be the first mayor to say, “We are on your side,” rather than sending police to say, “Oh, we are going to evict you.”  You can't evict an idea.  You can't handcuff the truth.

Kern-MasserKern Masser, 18

Originally from Bakersfield, but then moved to his sister's place in Eureka

A lot of things are wrong.  I tried to get a job after high school and no one would hire me because I had never had a job before.  It is an endless cycle.  I applied for 20 jobs in six months.  I can't go to school because there's no way I could pay for the tuition.  I'd like to learn.  I like gardening but don't know how to do it.

But change can happen.  People are trying to fight the 1%.  People will look back at how bad things are now and say, “I'm glad we did that.”

Michael-BassilasMichael Basillas, 26
San Diego

What made me join [Occupy L.A.] was to find a place where I could have a conversation about social, political and economic injustice in this country.  Our system favors the 1%.  That is not sustainable for the citizens of the U.S.  It's good to know you have other people that feel the same way.

I worked at HSBC [Bank] in the accounting department for three years.  They let us go because they needed to outsource the jobs.  So how do I pay my bills? I'm not going to wait until I'm homeless on the streets to fight for change.

Government power is an illusion.  We placed them there.  We can always take it away from them.  Occupy is trying to figure out how. I'm a Republican — but a radical Republican.  I don't like high taxes, but if you pay taxes, you want to know it is going to the betterment of people.  You want to know it is going toward things like health insurance. I don't have health insurance.  It is too expensive.

Joseph-ThomasJoseph Thomas, 50

Los Angeles

I was raised political.  My mother adored Robert Kennedy.  My father hated Richard Nixon.  We talked about politics over dinner.  My parents made clear to me:  If you take social justice seriously, you have to be political.  I'm here because I see our world is being broken.  My generation has a responsibility to do something about it.  I'd like to think even if I were living in a mansion in Bel-Air, I would come here.

The message?  It's that politics matters.  It is not peripheral.  If you want to build a better world, you have to engage in the political process.  We need to build a kinder, gentler world. I'd like to see a change in U.S. foreign policy.  The U.S. has a dismal record in supporting brutal people across the globe.  I'd like to see the Occupy movement be a force for democracy and social change.

Vivian-OrtizVivian Ortiz, 19

Grand Junction, Colo., attending photography school in North Hollywood

After I came here to school and went into debt, I found out my school is unaccredited. It is part of a corporate chain.  They were good at making themselves seem like a legitimate school.  But now I'm stuck.

A lot of people say, “The economy sucks, and I'm not going to do anything about it.”  I'm here to hopefully make a change.  I want to have a more stable future than what I'm having right now.  I want people to look back on [Occupy L.A] with a positive light.  Everyone came with their own issues.  But the major thing is that something is wrong with society.  People want their voices to be heard.  Me personally?  I want to get a proper education and not be in debt forever because of it.

Carina-ClementeCarina Clemente, 24


I went to Cal State Long Beach.  I graduated with a major in psychology and theater.  I was laid off a year ago.  I've been trying to find work since then.  I've spent five or six hours a day filling out applications and looking for work.  But I only got contract jobs teaching theater classes and doing temp administration work.

I came out of curiosity.  I didn't have an initial plan.  The first day there were different focus groups.  We came up with the idea of the People's Collective University.  We held classes around political, social and economic justice, sustainability and community needs.  We are making plans to expand into neighborhoods.  The idea is to provide an alternative education model.  We are focusing on the ideas of Paulo Freire, the Brazilian educator.  He came up with a “popular education” based on mutual respect and using the personal experiences of students.

My experience through the collective university is that we have knowledge to share and can educate each other.  We don't have to rely on the repressive education system.  We can build together.  We had classes on nonviolent direct training, on working-class unity, on healthcare inequality, on ending racism and white privilege, on addressing the role of patriarchy.  Just having honest discussions, people were able to get a different perspective.  People got a chance to understand each other.

One message is, we have the power to provide for ourselves.  We are intelligent and capable enough to do so, regardless of formal institutional education.

Gabriel Marantz, 25


I came as a response to corporate greed and social, political and economic injustice.  It is time for us to restore our democracy and have real representation for reasonable taxation.  This movement gives a sense of hope in our ability to make change. Going to the ballot box is not enough.  Until we change and reform the corruption of the political system at its core, we can't have a government that represents us.  By volunteering [in the campaigns of Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich], I was [able to] have an effect in getting someone elected, but getting one elected official into office is not enough.  We are not a true democracy anymore.  The disparity in wealth is saddening.  To do nothing is just not an option for my soul.

We should abolish private financing in all federal elections and get rid of perks and gifts to politicians.  We need a constitutional amendment that says corporations are not people and money is not free speech.  I want a lot of things, [including] serious electoral reform.   [We should] abolish the electoral college.  Elections should be on national holidays so everyone can get there without restrictions.  [We need to] make government more representative.

Rachel-BuliskyRachel Bulisky, 29

Recent transplant to Los Angeles from New Jersey

I have an accessory line,  I do necklaces.  But I haven't made anything lately because I'm homeless.  I have a BA in fine arts from Montclair State in New Jersey.  Now I'm $20,000 in debt and I'm on the street.  I majored in artistic welding.  But you need electricity and a blowtorch.  So now I do wire wrapping in my tent.  I used to sell in Venice, [but the store] got shut down.

I was on a bus. I saw all these tents.  I got off to see what was going on.  Someone asked if I needed a place, and gave me a tent.  At the same time, these people were protesting all the things I hate.  The government is totally messed up.  Everybody here can agree on one thing:  Things are not right.  There are a lot of frustrated people and nowhere to go with that.  There's a lot of energy.  It's not like we all say the same thing.  It is a meeting ground and a shelter where we can all throw around ideas.

There have been a lot of beautiful moments.  It's been a meeting place of brilliant minds.  At least in one place, we're trying to work it out.  I learned how to crochet here.  We started a crochet circle.  We were making handbags out of scraps of materials.  It was a lot of fun.

J.D.-McConnellJ.D. Mcconnell, 33

Recently moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles

I came to get money out of politics.  We have a system of legalized bribery and political puppeteering.  Before, I was not feeling like I had a political voice.  This is the first time I've felt like I had a voice.  If you get enough people together, you really can be heard.

 Allan-EatonAllan Eaton, 33


The key issue is our economic and financial situation.  It is important that we do the most we can to bring attention to it, so future generations won't see the noose getting tighter and tighter around their necks.  It seems like a class war.  The wealth has been unequally distributed and too many people are losing their homes.  Too many are homeless.  Too many veterans are coming home from war and not getting the treatment they need.

I gave up a job [to join Occupy L.A.].  I found an occupation.  Separating myself from my work life, social life, home life, I see more of who I am.  I have separated myself from everything I know.  Sometimes it is weird.  I'm used to getting up and going to work.  Seeing the spectators.  Having a social life, going to hear music, bands.  Getting beers with friends.  Shooting billiards.  All those things are of so little significance.  This is more important for the future of this country.

The message is economic justice. That is it. 

GOP Supercommittee Member Admits Bush Tax Cuts Didn’t Create Jobs, Can’t Explain Why

By Pat Garofalo on Dec 4, 2011  

Republicans this week filibustered a Democratic plan to extend a soon-to-expire payroll tax cut, objecting to the fact that the extension was paid for by implementing a small surtax on income in excess of $1 million.  To justify their objection to taxing the wealthy, Republicans have revived their false claim that taxing the rich amounts to taxing small business owners and job creators.

Bloomberg’s Al Hunt asked Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) — who represented the GOP on the fiscal supercommittee that failed to craft a deficit reduction package — to explain this viewpoint, considering that more jobs were created under the Clinton administration and its higher taxes on the rich than were created following the Bush tax cuts.  Upton admitted that “I don’t know specifically the answer to that question,” nonsensically pointing to Friday’s jobs report instead of trying to argue the premise of Hunt’s question:
HUNT: Why under those pre-Bush tax cut tax rates did the economy do so well in the ‘90s?  And why under the Bush tax rates, less for the wealthy, to do so poorly in this decade?

UPTON: Well, a couple things.  One, spending went up, Al, the wars.  I mean, that’s trillions of dollars.  And also there was no change in the entitlements.  And we also know -

HUNT: But that shouldn’t hurt the economy.  That shouldn’t hurt economic growth.

UPTON: Yeah, but that impacts the debt and the deficit.

HUNT: But I’m asking, why did the economy grow a lot?  Why were more jobs created in the previous decade under higher taxes than in this decade under lower taxes?

UPTON: I don’t know specifically the answer to that question.  I can – I can maybe merit a guess.  But, I mean, in large part is because our job – we lost jobs.  I mean, look at the jobs report that came out this last week, three-hundred- some-thousand people actually stopped looking for jobs.
Watch it:

As Center for American Progress Director of Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden found, “in the past 60 years, job growth has actually been greater in years when the top income tax rate was much higher than it is now.”  In fact, “if you ranked each year since 1950 by overall job growth, the top five years would all boast marginal tax rates at 70 percent or higher.”  The GOP, as Upton displays, simply has no explanation for these facts.

In a Bloomberg op-ed, wealthy investor Nick Hanauer also blew a hole in the GOP’s line of thinking, writing, “I can start a business based on a great idea, and initially hire dozens or hundreds of people.  But if no one can afford to buy what I have to sell, my business will soon fail and all those jobs will evaporate.  That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs.”  The GOP would do well to take note.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Enemies Within: The 20 Most Dangerous Conservatives And Their Organizations

America has enemies. Not just abroad, but within our shores as well. And our domestic enemies, as it turns out, are MORE dangerous and destructive than the terrorists could ever hope to be. Because while the terrorists want to destroy us, the following people and their organizations are doing far more damage.


America has enemies. Not just abroad, but within our shores as well. And our domestic enemies, as it turns out, are MORE dangerous and destructive than the terrorists could ever hope to be. Because while the terrorists want to destroy us, the following people and their organizations are doing far more damage.

1. Roger Ailes: The President of Fox News keeps the right-wing mouth piece biased and unbalanced. He literally proposed a right-wing news network as a propaganda tool to use during the Nixon Administration. And now, Fox News makes every effort to slander Democrats, lie to the public, and support conservative groups, activists and politicians at all costs.

Want to tell Ailes what you think of him? Feel free to contact Fox News Channel by mail, phone, or email.

FOX News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-301-3000

2. The Koch Brothers: Yes, there is more than one Koch brother, but rather than jotting down the same paragraph twice, it makes more sense to combine the two. Charles and David Koch are the owners of Koch Industries, a private oil and chemicals company. They have spent big money in elections and have pretty much bought and paid for all of Republicans that sit on the energy committee. They also have ties to The John Birch Society, of which their father was a founding member, and several other conservative think tanks and organizations including, Americans For Prosperity which David Koch leads as chairman, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Cato Institute. They helped create and fund the Tea Party and have been very influential in the watering down of environmental laws and the destruction of unions. If you really want to see the scope of their influence look at what is happening in Wisconsin and in the U.S. House of Representatives.

I know you must be dying to contact Koch Industries to give them your opinion, so here’s how you can do that.

Koch Industries, Inc.
P.O. Box 2256
Wichita, KS 67201-2256

3. Dick Armey: His FreedomWorks organization helped to create the Tea Party and he has worked closely with the Koch brothers. Armey’s organization seeks to deregulate and tear down reform. He opposed health care reform and is largely responsible for hatred, paranoia and anti-government sentiments displayed at town halls during the health care debate.

400 North Capitol Street, NW
Suite 765
Washington, DC 20001
Toll Free Phone: 1-888-564-6273
Local Phone: 202-783-3870
Fax: 202-942-7649 

4. Tom Donohue: The US Chamber Of Commerce President gained a hell of a lot more power in the wake of the Citizens United ruling. The Chamber is the largest conservative lobbying group in the country. Representing big corporations more than small businesses, the Chamber opposed health care reform and Wall Street reform. The group is in favor of tearing down any and every law designed to protect the American worker. Donohue once stated that “there are legitimate values in outsourcing — not only jobs, but work….” and once told unemployed people in Ohio to “stop whining”. So, not only is he for deregulation, he supports job killing policies. That is a double dose of dangerous.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20062-2000
Main Number: 202-659-6000
Phone: 1-800-638-6582

5. Tony Perkins: Perkins is the President of the Family Research Council, a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Council opposes abortion for any reason, believes homosexuality should be against the law, believes in teaching “intelligent design” in schools, and believes global warming is a hoax. FRC was listed as a hate group after it falsely linked gay males to pedophilia. It basically lobbies the government to make laws that govern our personal and private lives. The Council is a Christian Right-wing organization that has a heavy influence on the Republican Party, hence all the abortion laws being proposed by them.

Family Research Council
801 G Street, NW
Washington DC 20001
Phone: 1-800-225-4008

6. Pat Robertson: Robertson founded the Christian Coalition in 1989 and claims to be non-partisan. The problem with this claim is that it’s a bunch of crap. The Christian Coalition passes out “voter guides” in churches and yet is granted tax exempt status. It clearly supports a conservative agenda and is associated with Christian fundamentalism. It is yet another group that believes that America should be a Christian state. They are a threat to the Constitution.

Mailing address:
Christian Coalition of America
PO Box 37030
Washington, DC 20013-7030
Phone: 202-479-6900

7. Edwin Feulner, Jr.: Feulner is the President of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that took a leading role in the conservative movement during the 1980′s and continues to push conservative ideals today. The Foundation has strong ties to many Republican politicians, and many Heritage personnel members have gone on to serve in senior governmental roles. Not only does it stand by supply side economics and tax cuts for the rich and corporations which led to the current economic crisis, it also believes in a strong defense which has become more and more expensive. Heritage Foundation is also a part of the Koch Foundation Associate Program and is perhaps the most powerful public policy think tank on this list. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has taken money from the organization. It has far too much influence on American policy and that influence must be brought to an end.

The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington DC 20002-4999
Phone: 202-546-4400

8. Arthur Thompson: Thompson leads the radical right-wing John Birch Society, which is yet another organization that has Koch family connections. Founded in 1958 by Robert Welch, Jr., the John Birch Society is an anti-communism group that has pretty much denounced every liberal person and policy as socialist. It opposes the Civil Rights Act, the United Nations, and believes in immigration reduction. It aims to dismantle the Federal Reserve System and wants to return to the gold standard. The group is a sponsor of CPAC and is no longer exiled from the mainstream. Another interesting fact is that Fred Koch, father of the aforementioned Koch brothers, was a founding member.

John Birch Society
770 N. Westhill Blvd
Appleton, Wisconsin 54914
Phone: 920-749-3780

9. Rupert Murdoch: Known as “the man who owns the news”, Murdoch controls a vast media empire around the world including Fox News, The New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal here in America. Advertising his media outlets as “fair and balanced” Murdoch and his News Corporation relentlessly push conservative talking points and provide campaign donations to many Republicans running for various positions. News Corporation now has to answer for hacking cell phones and impeding investigations. Long the mouthpiece for Republican propaganda, Murdoch is a threat to Freedom of the Press and the foundations that keep America free.

If you want to contact News Corporation and tell them what you think of them, here is their contact information.

News Corporation
1211 Avenue of Americas
New York, New York 10036
Phone: 212-852-7000

10. Grover Norquist: Norquist is an especially dangerous individual. In fact, at the moment, he has the most influence on Republican congressmen. Republicans in the House and Senate refuse to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and Norquist and his group, Americans For Tax Reform, have made sure Republicans continue to do so. 235 members of the House and 41 Senators signed the Norquist pledge to not raise taxes and now our economic future hangs in the balance. Norquist is basically calling the shots and holding America hostage on behalf of the rich. And he isn’t even an elected official.

Americans for Tax Reform
722 12th Street, NW
Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Office: 202-785-0266
Fax: 202-785-0261

11. David Bossie: Citizens United isn’t just a bad Supreme Court ruling. Citizens United is the conservative organization that the conservative majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of in 2008. Founded in 1988, located near Capitol Hill, and led by President and Chairman David Bossie, Citizens United’s goals include withdrawal from the United Nations, and defeat of campaign finance laws, among others. They also produce “documentaries” that serve the conservative agenda. The group is mostly a threat because of their fight to allow corporate ownership of elections. The Koch brothers, and many conservative think tanks and organizations have flooded elections with cash since the ruling. The Supreme Court decision alone is enough to put this dangerous organization and Bossie on the list.

Citizens United
1006 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
Office: (202) 547-5420
Fax: (202) 547-5421

12. Tim LaHaye and Kenneth Cribb: Once again, you’ll notice that two people occupy this spot. After some thought, I decided this was necessary to avoid repetition. Tim Lahaye founded, and Kenneth Cribb is the current President of, the Council for National Policy. The CNP is a conservative organization for social conservative activists. Described by The New York Times as a “little-known group of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country,” the organization is perhaps the most powerful group on this list. Members include many who are already on this list such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, Phyllis Schlafly, and Edwin Feulner Jr. What makes this group particularly dangerous is that they support theocracy and Dominionism as national policy. They are also incredibly secretive and that’s scary all by itself.

CNP is apparently so secret that no address or phone number is available, so you’ll have to email them.

13. Steven J. Law: Law is President and CEO of American Crossroads, a conservative organization that has raised and spent tens of millions of dollars to defend and elect Republican candidates to federal office, and was very active in the 2010 U.S. midterm elections. Basically, Law and his group are listed because they have taken advantage of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision the most since the ruling. The Kochs and Karl Rove have connections with the group and are a major reason why the House is under GOP control.

American Crossroads
P.O. Box 34413
Washington, DC 20043
Phone: ( 202) 559-6428.

14. James Dobson: Dobson is the Family Talk radio personality and Family Research Council founder that contributes greatly to all the hate we see from conservatives. A frequent guest on Fox News, he is perhaps the most influential religious leader on the Christian-Right even though he has never been ordained. Dobson believes that women should only focus on mothering (and probably cooking too) and is totally against gay rights. He supports private schools and special tax privileges for religious schools. He opposes sex education and only supports abstinence as the only technique for pregnancy prevention. Dobson is on this list because he is the one that began all of the anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-education speeches that are now commonplace in the Republican Party.

Family Talk Radio
540 Elkton Drive
Suite 201
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Phone: 877-732-6825

15. Phyllis Schlafly: She is the only woman on this list. Undoubtedly, you may have thought that Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin would be, but they are not. I consider Palin and Bachmann mere pawns compared to Schlafly. As founder and President of the Eagle Forum, Schlafly opposes feminism and equal rights for women. Eagle Forum promotes a pro-life, anti-gay, anti-sex education, and anti-vaccination agenda that has contributed to the current wave of social conservative extremism in the Republican Party. She believes women should remain in the home and that there is no such things as marital rape. She is certainly the most influential woman in right-wing activism and as such, the most dangerous one too.

Eagle Forum
PO Box 618
Alton, IL 62002
Phone: 618-462-5415
Fax: 618-462-8909

16. David Keene: Up to now David Keene led the American Conservative Union, which is the oldest operating conservative lobbying organization in the country. The ACU runs the event known as CPAC and spends money on lobbying and political campaigns. Keene is still the current President of the National Rifle Association. Which is also a strong lobbying group that is virtually an arm of the Republican Party that glorifies guns and believes that people should be able to carry guns anywhere they go, even near the President of the United States. Keene is mostly on this list because of the NRA. The NRA used to actually serve a valid purpose but has since become a pro-Republican political organization that has mixed guns and politics. It makes them a danger to the political process.

The American Conservative Union
1007 Cameron Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-836-8602
Fax: 703-836-8606
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 1-800-672-3888

17. Tim Wildmon: Classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Family Association is headed by Tim Wildmon. AFA is just like every other conservative Christian group. It opposes abortion and gay rights, as well as other public policy goals such as deregulation of the oil industry and lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act. The group has actively boycotted just about any business that disagrees with them. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, the AFA released a video in which “God” tells a student that students were killed in schools because God isn’t allowed in schools anymore and blamed the shootings on abortion and lack of prayer in schools. AFA is against all other religions and has an obsession with Christmas, often boycotting companies that do not mention Christmas in their advertising. AFA is here on this list because they represent one of the biggest threats to intellectual and personal freedom in America.

Want to boycott AFA? Send them a “friendly” letter.

American Family Association
P.O. Box 3206
Tupelo, MS 38803

18. David Barton: Despite not having any history or law credentials David Barton passes himself off as an expert in early American history. Most of his claims have been disputed and written off as false by real historians. Barton’s organization is Wallbuilders, which seeks to destroy one the basic foundations of American life: the separation of church and state. Barton’s mission is to revise history in an effort to turn America into a Christian state with Biblical law instituted as the law of the land. He has also created false quotes to justify his claims. Barton is a danger to the history of America, the Constitution, and education.

PO Box 397
Aledo, TX 76008
Phone: 817-441-6044

19. Noble Ellington: American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC. The Council is basically a pay to play organization that carries the corporate agenda into state legislatures across the country. They work to end unions, end environmental and labor regulations, and end consumer protection laws. ALEC has been funded by the Koch brothers for two decades. The price for corporate participation is an ALEC membership fee of as much as $25,000. For that price, corporations are basically writing the legislation that you are currently seeing being proposed and implemented in Republican controlled states across the country.

American Legislative Exchange Council
1101 Vermont Ave. N.W., 11th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: 202-466-3800
Fax: 202-466-3801

20. Edward H. Crane: Crane is the founder and current leader of the Cato Institute. While they have supported some liberal policies and claim to abhor neo-conservatives, the Cato Institute does push many objectives that should make everyone cringe. Among the various policies that Cato supports, privatizing Social Security, abolishing the minimum wage, abolishing affirmative action, and some environmental regulations, are among them. Of course, it’s understandable why Cato holds these positions considering Charles Koch is chairman of the board and a major funding source. Even Rupert Murdoch had a place on the board at one point which connects the Kochs and the right-wing media.

Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington D.C. 20001-5403
Phone: 202-842-0200
Fax: 202-842-3490

And there you have it. All of these people and their organizations pose a serious threat to the American people. They target women, senior citizens, minorities, homosexuals, non-Christians, and American workers. So which person or organization is the most dangerous to democracy? The common thread throughout the list is the Koch brothers. They have ties to many of the people and organizations on the list and share many of the same goals. If one were to remove the Koch brothers from the equation an important source of funding and leadership would be eliminated from the conservative sphere. The Koch brothers are by far the biggest threat to American values and institutions. The truly evil thing about this group is that NONE of these monsters are elected by the people. Yet they have more power and influence over our elected officials and system of law and government, than we do.

Edited By: Alexis Atherton

GOP Leadership Contest: The Likeability Factor

Click header for original source

Pundits seem to love to profess multitudes of differing explanations for the see-sawing GOP leadership contest that has seen, respectively, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and now Newt Gingrich surge to the front of the pack in challenging Mitt Romney. These alternative explanations range from the simple to the complex, the realistic to the ridiculous. 

At the risk of simply indulging in this same game of choosing my favorite factor that is determining the outcome of this contest, I think the dominant factor is quite simply the likeability and personality of the candidates as expressed chiefly through the numerous debates as well as through the morning talk shows and other media appearances. Most of the factors the pundits identify seem to me to only be the type of thing that is persuasive to those who are quite knowledgeable about the minutiae of the political scene (ie the pundits themselves) while the simple question of whether the candidate presents themselves in a broadly likeable way dominates any more policy-centric focus. 

Take, for instance, the much heralded comments by Perry, timed near an inflection point in his demise, where he defended in-state tuition to illegal immigrants suggesting that one would be "heartless" not to support this (a wording he later apologized for). Conventional wisdom was that such a position with anathema to Republicans and hence precipitated his downfall. In some sense, we have a fairly clear counterexample since Newt Gingrich gave an even more extreme version also arguing for compassion towards illegal families who have been in the US a long time which struck a lot of amnesty-esque overtones. Yet Gingrich is still pushing strong in the polls as the sole remaining first tier candidate to take on Romney (as an aside, the reason he so prominently emphasized this is because of considering the general election and trying to appeal to moderate and Hispanic voters). However, I don't think we even need the counterexample to realize that such a narrow policy focused issue is quite unlikely to be a major factor in such a precipitous demise or even that this issue is necessarily something the casual conservative leaning person has even deeply thought about or cares all that much about. 

Let us follow the evolution of the race for the respective candidates from this perspective of focusing on likeability as illustrated principally in the debates. Here is the Dec 3rd aggregate from Real Clear Politics which shows the rise (and falls) of Bachmann, Perry, Cain and finally the rise of Gingrich against relatively flat projections for the frontrunner Romney and the third tier candidates, Santorum, Hunstman and Paul. 

Michele Bachmann:
Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry both came into the race with momentum. Bachmann has been a leader in some sense of the Tea Party caucus in Congress. Since one of the dominant divides in the Republican party has been between the establishment Republicans (of which Mitt Romney is a member) and the upstart Tea Party, Michele Bachmann entered with some momentum behind her that she may have been the Tea Party's de facto standard bearer in the nomination process. However, her debate performances were simply muted. They didn't contain much of the more extreme positions one might conventionally associate with her that would let her stand out form the field and simply came across as one of the pact. As in, her basic personality in the debates wasn't enough to established her as the clear Tea Party frontrunner and so she fell off in the polls - and so left the first Romney challenger. 

Rick Perry:
Rick Perry arrives next on the scene late but with enormous momentum, overnight jumping in the polls much higher than Bachmann ever had to front runner status given the excitement that he was the only one in the field with the establishment clout (as two term Governor of Texas, ala Bush) to challenge Romney. There are essentially three commonly established explanations for his fall. Firstly, the immigration comments mentioned above. Secondly, a series of gaffes made in the debates such as the infamous "oops" moment when he couldn't remember his talking point of the third department he was going to cut. I am very hesitant to think such minor gaffes have much relevancy. With so many debates, most people don't see any individual gaffe and I think people are usually pretty forgiving of a gaffe if they like a guy and only make a big deal of it when it is used to attack an enemy. 

The third explanation (which, to be fair, has been widely trumpeted) is simply that he has had terrible debate performances. This is certainly true. He simply has not come across as a likeable guy. Perhaps the best descriptor of his debate performances is 'feckless'. Maybe this isn't the sole factor, but it is to my mind a very large chunk of the explanation for his downfall and is sufficient to have caused it almost irrespective of anything else. 

Herman Cain:
Cain's rise is, I think, the best example of my thesis. He is clearly a likeable guy and came off very well in the debates. He was smiling, friendly, and cracking jokes that got more laughter than any other candidate. He spoke simply, concisely, and without the usual parlance and mannerisms of the politician. This isn't the only prescription to come off as likeable but it is a sufficient one. The timing was right and he picked up Perry's votes despite no one really thinking he ever stood much of a shot. 

A lot of his approach and attitude, however, only works in a zero scrutiny environment when others are not digging and attacking him. Thus, when the spotlight turned to him it wasn't so much that he failed to answer certain policy questions or the like, it is that he started coming off as defensive, guarded and shifty. As in, he stopped being likeable.

From a policy standpoint, Cain is quite interesting. One the one hand, he heavily promoted his 9 9 9 plan which is, if nothing else, an actual policy that, through concision and repetition, is easily understandable. So Cain might be considered very policy oriented in that supporting him is a little bit equivalent to supporting 9 9 9. On the other hand, outside of this he has been probably the least policy oriented of the candidates and rarely offers much of a substantive policy decision, often hedging his bets by saying things like that he would consult his Generals or his economic advisers without offering an actual policy. That a candidate like him rose so quickly without much substantive policy outside of 9 9 9 indicates one again how a policy focus can be largely irrelevant. 

As it turned out, he then got hit by a string of sex allegations which our society can't help but think is the biggest deal in the world. The latest involving and alleged long term affair right up to the present with phone records and money transfers would appeal to have locked in his demise as he has now "suspended" his campaign. I am of the opinion his downfall was close to inevitable anyways (and am a bit annoyed the sex allegations mean I won't be able to let time prove it for me). 

Newt Gingrich:
The current (and perhaps the last) runner up to Romney is Newt Gingrich. His rise is clearly very dependent on the timing, but again fundamentally stems from the fact that he came off as very likeable in the debates. This was a guy whose entire campaign staff had quit a couple months earlier and was in the low single digits poll wise. But he stepped into the debates and really shown as clearly the best or second best debater after Romney on the stage. It isn't just that he appears to be intelligent, intellectual even, or other such traits, it is predominantly that he appears to be genuinely likeable. Gingrich is sometimes characterized as acerbic, in a pejorative sense, but I think this attitude comes off more as that beloved no bullshit attitude that says it how it is which is often admired.

Partly because the Republican party as a whole has shifted considerably to the right since Gingrich was Speaker during the 90's (he was far right at the time), and partly because of his personal policy eccentricities, from a policy perspective Gingrich stands out considerably and flies against standard GOP orthodoxy of the day. However, it doesn't seem to matter if the polls are to be believed, which really underscores my view that personality, not policy, is the defining characteristic here.
Cain and Gingrich can both credit their rises to this likeability factor even though the reason why the two candidates are likeable are quite different. The important difference is that while Cain's likeability seems to vanish in conflict, Gingrich's is the type that remains and perhaps becomes even more prominent in the face of conflict. It is for this reason that I don't expect him to experience the kind of precipitous fall that the other experienced.

Ultimately, I would wish that it was indeed policy, not personalities, that dominated election contests. However, it would appear that the driver of polls is precisely the opposite.