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June 27, 2011

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Please, lets hear more about Jon Huntsman and what he brings to the party. Is there baggage? What about his "get it DONE" track record? Is he willing to duke it out with at least some of the public enemies, like Wall St., Banksters, Big Pharma, NRA and the Military/Industrial-mongers?

Gore's piece was wonderful and inspiring, but he's already been taken out by the right-wing slime machine. He probably wasn't naive about what would happen to him getting into this role. He had to know his advocacy would result in a relentless attack on his character and motives. Even so, it's been breathtakingly cynical. Several years ago, Gore had written a book called The Assault on Reason. It was pure Gore, well-written but occasionally ponderous in that earnest and academic style of his. I watched a newsmaker interview on The News Hour with Gore where he was subject to a brutal cross-examination not by some right-wing apparatchik but Gwen Ifill! Apparently even suggesting our country might be going off the rails was too much for the guardians of our discourse.

I think this goes a long way to pointing out why empirical liberalism is in such terrible shape in America. The left used to tell stories that were easily comprehensible. Indeed, you could even call the stories fairy tales since they oversimplified reality for the sake of a powerful narrative. Liberals stopped telling stories and people stopped understanding liberals. The stories that made sense to them came from the right (the whole Culture War scam). And so Americans voted for what they understood even as their own well-being and the nation's grew steadily worse.

Obama's bully pulpit is gathering dust as right-wing culture warriors dominate the airwaves. Everything is the fault of liberals! And there's no counter-narrative that might suggest to voters their chains are being yanked by charlatans and liars. Even when Republicans tell stories that offend people, they still can win because what they're saying is so emotionally powerful.

There's a sense that Obama's presidency is pointless but this isn't entirely true. He could veto the worst of right-wing excesses in the next Congress (the Senate by that time will be Republican). He can appoint moderates to the Supreme Court (whereas even a President Romney would have to appoint hard-right judges). And he might buy us some time as we figure out how to maintain a regulatory framework in a nation convinced that regulations "cost jobs".

This isn't a clarion call to greatness. It's an SOS about democracy or what remains of it in our ignorance-is-bliss nation. I think Romney would probably be a competent and instinctively moderate president but his victory next year would be a disaster because of the train he's pulling. You can tell what it would look like by listening to Rush Limbaugh for five minutes or reading The Arizona Republic editorial page. These people are zealots. They've been waging a civil war against multiculturalism, environmentalism, empiricism, and social democracy since early Reagan. If they win, it's over.

If Romney is the GOP nominee, Obama will have a very difficult road to 270. If it's someone else (say Bachmann or some other nut), Obama should probably prevail. Huntsman cannot win the nomination this year (the rule of primogeniture is nearly ironclad among Republicans) but he could possibly position himself for 2016 if Obama wins re-election.

I think Soleri is onto to something deep when he talks about telling stories. These days, I read more science journalism than just about any other news. And the scientific insights (detective stories if you will) coming along repeatedly show the role of narrative as the stuff at the core of our humanity.

We tell stories. And always have. Since before Homer. That little voice you call "you" is forever laying down narrative. Your ego is a consistent story. Your long term memory is "stored" as stories. Your dreams are stories. Jon Talton makes a living telling stories. Alzheimer's is the taking away of one's stories. Your obit is your condensed story. I am telling you a story right now...

Fox News also tells a story. It bangs keyboards and pounds out videos that reinforce its narrative. It never self doubts its story. It permits no dissent. Stories told this way can grow in power. They can get entrenched. One such Fox News story is that the "Stimulus Failed". Rove is spending millions entrenching that bald lie of a tale...

So when Jon asks: "So how does President Hoover put together the electoral map this time?", the answer is partly to be found in Soleri's comment: "Liberals stopped telling stories and people stopped understanding liberals."

So what story should be at the heart of Liberalism or Progressivism? That is the question. It has to be compelling. It has to be simple. It should be true.

Jon suggests the eco-tale of Global Warming. I'd add to that the growing inequality of wealth. Robert Reich is perhaps telling that story better than anyone else. And trying to simplify it to its core plot points.

If you go to his website you'll see a speech, down the right margin a bit, that he gave recently to the CA Democratic party. It is a brilliant 30 minutes. And at the top you'll see the short story version: "The Truth About the Economy in 2 Minutes and 15 Seconds”.

But Reich is leaving out an incredible part of the story of income inequality. And that part comes again from what the most recently breaking science is telling us about ourselves. Namely that income inequality makes everyone unhappy. Even rich people. This is stunning stuff. And I'll look to share it with you when the moment seems appropriate.

Or if you...
This story to be continued...


http://robertreich.org/

The right wingers have done an amazingly effective job of slandering everything remotely progressive! I wish the left had a good narrative. But Obama's main strength is his unrelenting centrism. Count on the GOP to self-destruct with the crazies! Voters still prefer the devil they know.

As my other faculties diminish, I rely more and more on my gut. It tells me that John Huntsman just might rise above the charlatan and the crazies to resonate with The Silent Majority. While he is neither elegant nor smoothly articulate, there is something REAL about him when he talks of common sense stuff like nation-building and rising above our BS.
Lest you think I'm delusional, these are the same instincts that caused me to pull a lot of chips out of the market in fall of 2007 and reach out to the wonderful widow (now my wife) from a single photo posted on an online dating service.

Without a valid, foundational vision, stories are only fairy tales. The last valid vision for the future of an America with a future was provided by Jimmy Carter. Ironically, part of the core of the Tea Party message resembles President Carter's call for austerity and discipline. Yet, whereas Carter's vision was for a shared regimen, the Libertarian disease that infects the Tea Party too obviously leads to further inequities.

Welcome to modern Greece.

The Neo-Cons believe peace will kill us, so in this the last of the great empires, war is the ultimate product. The US cannot figure out how to run an economy without war. The word war doesn’t work for you, then try actions and operations. However it’s about to end for the neo-cons of the world as they will find themselves as actual participants in the last war, the war about finite resources. “Manunkind” will be reduced in great numbers. Population growth will cease. The planet will survive. Some see the return of Tribalism, possibly led by women.

Story telling reminds me of a line in Three Days of the Condor by a CIA official reference the Agencies role “we play games. What if?” “What do you think the people will want?” The answer, what oil provides. Hence our role in the Middle East. Although 36 years old this movie is right to point today.

The danger in Story telling reminds me of my early religious days and how I got tossed out of the church at nine for laughing at the Sunday school tales. I fear in story telling the biggest and best liar wins. Rush Limbaugh is a modern day Elmer Gantry and the tent on fire in this story is the US in flames. And if you believe Rush and his ilk, the liberals struck the match. However to me Rush smells strongly of Phosphorus. Does he really believe in a single United States or would he really prefer separate nations. The Rushes of the world are not Aaron Burr but really dangerous and in my opinion traitorous individuals that are drowning out the voice of reason. The voice that no one hears in the rush to get mine.

Cal, the problem with storytelling is that the biggest liars ALREADY won. They won because most people are allergic to complexity, nuance, and ambiguity. Those values, btw, are liberal, which as a liberal I not only support but embody. I want society to be open and cosmopolitan. I want people to be sophisticated and ironic. That's my tribe! But it comes with a political price since most people don't share these values. They want their tribal identity to be based on what they know, say, white skin, Jesus, driving, fast food, and Americanism.

A liberal story would remind these people how this nation got prosperous by checking unbridled wealth and, indeed, redistributing it. This story has little guys (David) and big guys (Goliath). It has victims (minorities) and victimizers (a cruel majority). It would remind people who are nostalgic for Mayberry that the liberals got Aunt Bea her Social Security check, Opie his school lunch, Floyd his Medicare, and Gomer his GI Bill. Conservatives didn't do this. Liberals did. And now conservatives want to take these away.

The problem, of course, is that stories are just that. But absent a countervailing myth to the dominant one (Liberals ruined everything!), this country will continue drifting further and further to the right. At some point, democracy itself collapses. We're getting awfully close as it is.

Here's something to chew on: a documentary from the great Adam Curtis, The Power of Nightmares. There are three parts here, all compelling because they tell a story about a story. We all believe stories but it's the story you don't know that controls you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGo1DqmfHjY


Here is the push email I received from Huntsman:

My name is Jon Huntsman, and I write to introduce myself and ask you to support my candidacy for president of the United States.

The combination of my unique vision and experience in addition to the fire to take on the challenges we face, would allow me to lead our nation to renewed prosperity and security.

You deserve to know exactly where I stand on various issues that may concern you. My record is strong and clear.

First, I am 100% pro life.

I proudly signed every pro life piece of legislation that came across my desk as governor. Every piece.

No doubts... no explanations... no flip flops... no inconsistencies... 100% pro life now and forever.

Second, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.

I believe every law abiding American has the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

No doubts... no explanations... no flip flops... no inconsistencies... 100% supportive of the Second Amendment.

Third, I believe in limited spending, low taxes and limited debt.

As Governor of Utah, I passed the largest tax cut in history, cut spending and reduced Utah's debt. At the peak of a recession, we helped grow Utah's rainy day fund while leading Utah to a #1 "Best State for Business" ranking. It's time for America to have a leader who will tame the beast known as the federal government.

No doubts... no explanations... no flip flops... no inconsistencies... 100% fiscal conservative.

If you share these values, I am asking you for your support in this campaign.

-----

SO...same old right-wing culture-war, "economic freedom" crap.

Oh lord; I'm still digesting that email from Huntsman: How sad it is that some of our fellow Americans feel so unsafe that they arm themselves with assault rifles. Do they truly feel a need to arm themselves in America? I know I am somewhat hypocritical here because I had been raised around firearms, learned to shoot, and did so in the military; however, at home and on the streets of our country I feel that this right isn't so important in our modern and urban society. I don't feel threatened here at home, don't look over my shoulder "just in case" and it seems that having such open gun laws is the antithesis to the peaceful nation we all want.

On the presidential note, I'm still holding out for an Obama victory and in that term, believe he will flex his real muscle. Now can Congress and the Senate be returned to Democrats? Doubtful. But just how far can Republicans take their fight for the über-rich without causing some stirring of braincells in even the most ardent Fox News viewer? If Bachmann or any other Republican wins the presidency in 2012, I just might join Rick Perry and his stadium prayer group in Texas; but this time I'll ask that some traditional rain dance ceremonies be included. We'll make it a multicultural/multi-religious event.

OK! Uncle! I defer to reality! But it will be very interesting to see if Huntsman pulls ahead of the pack. Romney's had more divergent positions than the Kama Sutra . . .

morecleanair, I find Huntsman fairly impressive as a politician. That said, there would never be a good reason to vote for him since he's a Republican. He would have to curry favor with the zealots on all key issues. His appointments would be vetted by far-right interest groups who would want their shock troops stacked at all levels in his administration. His Supreme Court nominations would be as far-right as Bush's. He's not insane like Bachmann but his presidency would likely be just as disastrous. Ultimately, it's not a matter of the individual politician anymore. As we've found out with Obama, there's less and less leeway for the would-be Great Man to control events. Our government is now captive not just to an oligarchy but a permanent cabal of very powerful insiders. The coup is virtually complete. It's why Obama's foreign policy is nearly indistinguishable from Bush's. I'm voting for Obama next year but I'm under no delusion that he can rescue us. At best, he might keep the worst craziness at bay for a few more years.

I guess the heat got you all.
I was back on S Mt at 5 AM.
Pollution is still god awful.

ANY Republican will win in 2012 without significant improvements in the job and growth situation.

The Obama administration attempts to mimic the Clinton administration's move to the center to win re-election. The economic circumstances now however are different from the 1990's.

The economic downturn now is much worse, arising from a global financial crisis and bank panic. There is no technology build out to create new jobs and promote economic growth independent of monetary and fiscal policy. Demographics with the boomer population on the cusp of retirement is far different from the go-go years of the 1990's.

Since the election of Obama the Democrats have responded to the economic downturn as if it were a post World War II garden variety recession. Focusing on major health care instead of the economic situation has been a costly error. Low taxes are good for growth long term but given the current economic realities, true infrastructure spending is essential to put people to work today.

The Obama administration hopes for re-election by attempting to move to the middle and by placating Republicans. The voters are looking for strong leadership more than watered down compromise and Obama has not projected that to the voters who matter.

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