Watching Gaddafi’s Madness

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

It’s said that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi presents an excellent example of this tendency. One could illustrate this fact through the usual means: by talking about how Gaddafi started out not half-bad and ended up a maniac. How he initially ensured the oil wealth of Libya went to the people of Libya, and how he ended up being overthrown by those same people.

But a picture is worth a thousand words.

This is young Gaddafi, back when he just took over control of Libya.

The man here is very different from the image of Gaddafi that the world is used to seeing. Gaddafi actually looks quite compelling here. He is charismatic and undeniably handsome, probably more handsome than a good majority of human males. This was before Gaddafi had been in power for a while.

Compare this to the Gaddafi we all knew and loved.

Not so handsome anymore.

One can see the effect of decades of absolute power just by looking at Gaddafi’s face. There is a peculiar effect that holding power has on the way people look (one can see it on the faces of many American politicians).  Gaddafi has the look of a man unused to being disobeyed or questioned. There is an air of manic about his eyes. It’s the look of a man who has held absolute, unquestioned power for too long.

One hopes that the next leader of Libya will not have that look.

 

 

Why Our Nobles Betray Us

As Robert the Bruce explains to Wallace in the movie, "They have much to lose." You see, those nobles profited from the status quo of that time. Wallace means to up end that status quo. It's naïve to think that they will help him because they love their country. Of course, they will work against him because they don't want to lose their status, power and riches. That status quo might suck for everyone else, but it's great for them.

And so it is with our nobles today. We keep expecting the politicians and the mainstream press to do the right thing. That is profoundly naive. Why is a television anchor making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year going to look to change the system? He loves the system. The system pays the bills.

That's even truer of our politicians. The status quo got them elected. The status quo will get them - and their staffers - great salaries when they retire and become lobbyists. They'd have to be crazy to change the system that put them up on top.

That's why change must come from outside the system. We keep waiting for the Obama administration to bring us the change they promised. What are we, children? The current system got Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, etc. where they are. They have gotten to the pinnacle of power by playing within that system. They've made millions in that system. That's why they have no intention of actually upending it. They just want to tweak it and do exactly what Obama said he wouldn't do if he got elected - play the Washington game just a little better.

This doesn't mean you give up all hope. There are some good guys in DC. I recently talked to a House staffer who said that Senator Franken's staff is excellent. The staff is so important because they are the ones who actually write the bills. I asked him why Franken's staff was better than the others. And he had a simple answer - they don't plan to work as lobbyists in DC when they're done serving in his office.

It's not just the honest senators that should give you hope. What should give you the most hope is that the motivations of people are actually quite simple. So, we can change the results by changing the incentives.

For example, if we pay the campaign expenses of politicians instead of letting the lobbyists pay them, then the politicians might actually work for us. If we ban the politicians and their staff from working as lobbyists, they might not have as much incentive to sell us out.

I know the people inside DC think that last proposal is absolute heresy. How would they get rich if they can't work as lobbyists? And that's precisely what the problem is. They're getting rich at our expense. We're crazy to allow this system to continue.

The nobles will never change it. This is how they got to where they are. This is how they maintain their power and salaries. We have to make them change it. And as William Wallace found out, you can only do that from the outside and by not listening to the establishment that has different (and almost exact opposite) motivations as you do.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks

Follow The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

Why Our Nobles Betray Us

As Robert the Bruce explains to Wallace in the movie, "They have much to lose." You see, those nobles profited from the status quo of that time. Wallace means to up end that status quo. It's naïve to think that they will help him because they love their country. Of course, they will work against him because they don't want to lose their status, power and riches. That status quo might suck for everyone else, but it's great for them.

And so it is with our nobles today. We keep expecting the politicians and the mainstream press to do the right thing. That is profoundly naive. Why is a television anchor making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year going to look to change the system? He loves the system. The system pays the bills.

That's even truer of our politicians. The status quo got them elected. The status quo will get them - and their staffers - great salaries when they retire and become lobbyists. They'd have to be crazy to change the system that put them up on top.

That's why change must come from outside the system. We keep waiting for the Obama administration to bring us the change they promised. What are we, children? The current system got Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, etc. where they are. They have gotten to the pinnacle of power by playing within that system. They've made millions in that system. That's why they have no intention of actually upending it. They just want to tweak it and do exactly what Obama said he wouldn't do if he got elected - play the Washington game just a little better.

This doesn't mean you give up all hope. There are some good guys in DC. I recently talked to a House staffer who said that Senator Franken's staff is excellent. The staff is so important because they are the ones who actually write the bills. I asked him why Franken's staff was better than the others. And he had a simple answer - they don't plan to work as lobbyists in DC when they're done serving in his office.

It's not just the honest senators that should give you hope. What should give you the most hope is that the motivations of people are actually quite simple. So, we can change the results by changing the incentives.

For example, if we pay the campaign expenses of politicians instead of letting the lobbyists pay them, then the politicians might actually work for us. If we ban the politicians and their staff from working as lobbyists, they might not have as much incentive to sell us out.

I know the people inside DC think that last proposal is absolute heresy. How would they get rich if they can't work as lobbyists? And that's precisely what the problem is. They're getting rich at our expense. We're crazy to allow this system to continue.

The nobles will never change it. This is how they got to where they are. This is how they maintain their power and salaries. We have to make them change it. And as William Wallace found out, you can only do that from the outside and by not listening to the establishment that has different (and almost exact opposite) motivations as you do.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks

Follow The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

How to Pick Alterantive Energy Winners

Picking the Winners Just because it's green and a good idea, isn't a guarantee it will succeed reaching the marketplace, much less reach commercialization, writes Joseph Lado in an article for EVWorld.com

The picture above is of Apollo 15's astronaut James Irwin with the first lunar rover on the Mare Imbrium. It has been nearly 40 years since man drove an electric vehicle on the moon, much less mined it for Helium 3.

What I Will Do If....

For many years I lived in Illinois, I never voted for a major party until 2004.  Illinois was never a swing state, and I was deeply committed to the necessity of introducing a third-party into our political system.  I voted for Kerry in 2004 simply to add to his popular vote margin, I knew my vote would not add anything to the electoral math, but if he lost, I at least wanted to potentially help open debate into the flaws of the electoral college system.

In 2005, I moved to Wisconsin, a major swing state.  I developed an emotional choice for a candidate very early on in the process (after Iowa and New Hampshire, when everything was wide open), and even toyed with the idea of not voting for any other candidate should they get nominated.*  I would simply go third party again.

But then I began to think a little more about why I actually cared enough to vote Democrat, in a non-swing state, in the 2004 election.  The ability of the executive branch to "guide" policy had twice affected me directly, and affected my family in even greater regard.  The Bush energy policy completely destroyed some major progress an Environmental Law firm I briefly worked for had made in combating energy pollution and encouraging green power production.  Later, as a high school teacher of 16-21 year old drop-outs, we saw our enrollment explode as "push-outs," kids with weak test scores and low reading and math levels, were bumped from the major public schools through No Child Left Behind.  In my family, I have one brother and a brother-in-law who both served two tours, one of which was through stop-loss.  Both thankfully came home to their very concerned, exhausted and rightfully anxious families.

These anecdotal experiences reminded me of how many spheres of daily life are influenced by the ability of the executive branch to "guide" policy, both internationally and in the domestically.  Here's a quick rundown of the cabinet for those needing a refresher (I sure did):

Secretary of Homeland Security
Secretary of Veteran Affairs
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Interior
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of Treasury
Secretary of State
Attorney General

These are all the spheres of daily life in which the executive branch has direct ability to re-formulate, re-interpret, and guide the path of the United States and its citizens.  This does not even include the 6,000 federal appointments a president is allowed to make before taking office and the potential 8,000 more positions which may be filled during his tenure, these include such positions as the heads of agencies, such as the FBI, CDC, and EPA.  Each of these positions have their own, distinct, powers and abilities to alter the course of policy, enforcement, standards, and daily life/existence, sometimes WITHOUT any major changes to legislation or the rules of the land.  Everything from Caribou migration maps to information on condoms has been affected by the "guidance" of the executive branch, and it is important to remember the subtle ways power is exercised even outside of the major and visible ideological battlegrounds such as the war, reproductive rights, or environment.

I have not even mentioned the more obvious powers.  The ability to choose ambassadors, judges in federal court system.  Nor have I mentioned the major role of the president in creating Foreign Policy and his sole ability to engage in ANY kind of treaty negotiation, including global commitments to energy, food, poverty, AIDS, etc.  This reflection of mine didn't even, at the time, include what I consider my larger responsibilities to my community, society, and planet.

My realization, in effect, was that my decision to vote or not vote for a particular democrat would have a ripple effect, again, throughout different and potentially unanticipated aspects of my and my family's life.  I don't necessarily like the all the platforms of any democrat, and I certainly think they are just as vulnerable to idiocy, corruption and false populism as the republicans, but I have also learned that I will likely be affected by the decisions of any president.  As much as I am loathe to be caught in the lesser-evil dichotomy which this political system has produced, it is nonetheless where I find myself.  The US system is truly a "with-us-or-against-us" system, a non-vote or third party vote is just as useful to the enemies of my principles as my voting directly for them.

Effectively, in a system I find heavily flawed, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  This is as close to partisanship as I think I will even come.  I certainly don't like this circumstance, and I constantly wish our system provide for more political voice, but I also won't ignore this reality of governmentality or play into its calculations.

*Just to get speculation out of the way, I decided to support Obama, who I and my high school students had met during his 2004 Senate run against Alan Keyes, and who I have grown to respect for my own reasons over these last 5 years.  This debate which I had, mostly with my wife and in my own head, occurred in February before Super Tuesday, I simply found some parallels with much of the current rhetoric about "what I will do if..." and thought I'd rely my own experience with the same question.  Post is cross-listed on Kos.

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