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    America s happiness index at new low

     

    The other day it occurred to me that during Ronald Reagan’s run for the Presidency he created a “Misery Index”. This index represented a total of the rate of inflation, plus the prime rate, as an indicator of how the American people felt about how they were doing. No one has suggested resurrecting this index in recent years. My thought was to create a “Happiness Index”. How happy are you with the leadership of the country. The problem is that other than taking an outright poll, how do you determine happiness? Could you merely ask people if they are happy, or not with the way things are going? Think about it for a moment, and try to objectively look at what’s been going on the last couple of years. For the last fifty years, the Republican Party successfully presented itself as the people’s choice for as a strong anti-communist party versus the former Soviet threat. Republican President after President was elected on the basis of toughness versus communism. By 1992, communism was no longer an issue as Russia, and the satellites went democratic, and the Berlin Wall had fallen. Suddenly, the Republican Party felt its foreign policy legs come out from under it. The communist bogeyman which was real since 1917 was no longer an issue. A sitting Republican President, George HW Bush was defeated handily by Democratic Candidate, Bill Clinton who had NO foreign policy experience, or even an understanding of things foreign. During the campaign that followed, foreign policy was a NON-ISSUE. There was no communist bogeyman for the Republicans to pin their hopes on. The tragedy of 9/11 changed everything. When the tragedy struck, the current President of the United States was handed terrorism on a silver platter as an issue. Terrorism could then be used as a replacement for communism as the next boogeyman. Anti-terrorism would serve as the underpinning of the Republican Party the same way anti-communism served for over 70 years. The President attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan who had harbored Osama Bin Laden, and his allies for years. When it came to finishing the job, and surrounding Osama in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan, we let this mass murderer get away by leaving the job to foreign hired mercenaries, the anti Taliban Afkan nationals. I assume we simply did not want to take the American manpower losses that might have been demanded. The President then committed the American army and wealth to destroying the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Our entry to this war was based on false premises. There were no weapons of mass destruction. We are now left with chaos and civil war in that country, and no EXIT STRATEGY. As Americans, not one of us, including the President has any idea how this war will finish. He, the President has now placed our country in the same position as we were in during Viet Nam - Quagmire. When Americans enter a war, they need to know the objective. During WW II, it was the taking of Berlin in Europe, or the fall of Tokyo in Japan. In Viet Nam, there was no mission, except the ephemeral objective of keeping South Viet Nam from going communist. What does that mean? Depending on how you calculate it, the Viet Nam war went on for about 15 years. How long will Iraq take? I believe the President has been notified by the American people in the recent Congressional election that he is on a “short leash” when it comes to Iraq. What is the objective in Iraq? It can’t be democracy any longer. These people do not understand democracy as we understand it. The concept of democracy in that part of the world has not existed in thousands of years. Democracy is everybody’s SECOND choice in Iraq. The Shia and Sunni’s are killing each other on a daily basis in large numbers, some of which are unreported. Good, decent American troops, none of which are sons of any member of Congress, are dying in a war without an objective, except for “Stay the Course”. These policies should be unacceptable to all of us as Americans. The Republican Party in Congress was a surrogate for President Bush in this election. The voters could not vent their ANGER at President Bush direct. The electorate chose instead, to vent their pent-up anger towards Republican incumbents, who took a “thumping” as the President said. Yes there were other issues like corruption, but Iraq was the emotional issue. Had President Bush been up for re-election, he would have been soundly defeated by even a paraplegic blind mute this time around. Let’s get back to that “happiness index” I spoke about in the beginning of this article. Are any of us happier with the progress of our country over the last six years than we were before that period? Are we more optimistic about the future of our country now than we were a few years ago? Do any of us believe we are headed in the right direction, or even where we are headed at all? I believe we are now facing MASSIVE UNRESOLVED PROBLEMS that if not addressed will get worse, and our present leadership is not even aware that they exist. America has moved from a farming economy pre 1900, to a manufacturing economy in the 20th century. It must now complete the move from a manufacturing economy, to a services / post industrial society in this the 21st century. This is going to be a tough move with big unanticipated downdrafts that can knock us for an economic loop. China and the Asian rim want to manufacture everything, leaving us with nothing. Some of our brand name companies are more than willing to accommodate them. Nike manufactures nothing – everything comes from Asia. The massive oil companies in this country including Exxon, and others manufacture nothing – they are strictly distribution and marketing entities. GM and Ford can not compete against Asian manufacturing, and then there’s Wal-Mart, which really functions as a distribution arm for China. Eighty percent of everything Wal-Mart sells comes from China. This President does not have his eye on the ball, and we are in danger of losing our economic fire power in the next decade. He is asleep at the switch, and must realize that we can no longer afford the loss of precious lives, and national wealth on wars without objectives in countries that none of us have ever been to. We do not have a “Happiness Index” in this country, but if we did, I believe we are near a low in our emotional happiness in this country. Things have to change, and they have to change in a hurry. Time is NOT on our side. Other countries want to eat our economy for lunch, and displace us as the world’s only remaining superpower. This President would do well to act his act together, and start thinking about how to maintain national economic wellbeing in the face of the coming foreign economic threats that are looming. Richard Stoyeck

         
    America s spiritual history the impulse that gave birth to a nation

     

    When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to assert its right to freely exist as an independent society, unhampered by restrictions by a governmental authority that is far away and that does not have its best interests at heart, then it behooves that society and that people to express, in words that are clear and cogent, the reasons for its removal from the authority which it has labored under. This removal, rather than being an act of defiance and provocation, is an act of self-affirmation and of positive movement toward a future in which the governed shall govern their own communities and society, and in which the voice of the people shall be heard. There can be no just government without this kind of representation and without this kind of flow between government and governed, and to this end the Republic of the United States of America must seek to separate itself from the ruling authority of Britain, whose history, culture, purpose, and expectations are very different from our own, and who, in the opinion of many, hold and seek to perpetuate policies that are deleterious to the wellbeing of the newly-founded communities of this young Republic. We ask the people of the world who observe this time with us, to rest assured that we are not making a declaration against monarchy or against any other kind of leadership or rulership that works effectively and justly to serve the needs of the people. We are stating an underlying principle firmly, clearly, and with specific intention, namely, that government must proceed with the consent of the governed in order to be just, and that the process of representation of those who are governed by those whom they choose to represent them is an essential and critical part of any just and stable society. We ask the people of the world to recognize our newly burgeoning efforts at self-government and self-representation, so that we may join with other peoples in common purpose, and so that we may create communication with our neighbors and friends that may be mutually beneficial. The fact that we are newly founded and are an offshoot of a nation with a great and proud history, does not mean that we must be identified solely with these historical roots. Rather, we seek to be identified on our own terms in relation to what we can offer to others at this point in time, and what others can offer to us. We extend our hands in friendship to the peoples of the world who seek justice and freedom for their societies and peoples, and declare that we will not rest, we will not lower our advancing interest in liberty and justice, until every citizen of this newly founded Republic of America shall feel that they are adequately represented in a government of their choosing, and that their voice can and will be heard. It is only by bringing ultimate authority of choice back to the people who are governed that a truly democratic society can exist, and it is with this aim in mind that we set forth these principles today, that shall henceforth be known as the Declaration of Independence.

         
    American corporatism at its best

     

    Robert Redford and James Caan were right on the money. Back in 1975 my fiancйe prodded me to see two movies. Little did I know back then these two cinema releases were very foretelling about our nation’s future. In Three Days Of The Condor, Robert Redford, played a maverick CIA technician on the death list of the agency he serves. Cliff Robertson played the agent-in-charge of the CIA hit. The two argue next to the New York Time Building about whether an American army would ever invade the Middle East over oil. In the immediate post Watergate and Vietnam era it seemed unlikely this scenario would ever emerge in our lifetime. It was easy to dismiss the likelihood of that occurrence to Tinsel Town fantasy. And then we have the movie Rollerball starring James Caan. Other than its futuristic depiction of some national sports frenzy that was a cross between the NFL, NHL, and WWF, the only thing significant about the B-rated movie was its description of how America was governed in this future setting. In the movie America, and the world economy for that matter, is dominated and controlled by a few large global corporations. Corporate interests were the name of the game and all other societal needs and wants were subjugated. Three decades later, we find our nation in the Middle East with 135,000 troops and I don’t think anyone would debate the fact that large corporations are dominating our lives like never before. This is not to suggest that Hollywood producers are soothsayers or swamis. If that were the case, don’t watch the movie Soylent Green and two cheers for the American farmer. But at times Hollywood has a way of taking the pulse of the nation, peering into the future, and then trying to predict and project it through media. In reference to Rollerball, that takes us to the whole concept of “Corporatism”. Corporatism, as defined by Webster’s is “the organization of a society into industrial and professional corporations serving as organs of political representation and exercising control over persons and activities within their jurisdiction”. More recent and pungent examples of Corporatism would be the use of public housing authorities to “condemn” private property for commercial use. The U. S. Supreme Court recently upheld the notion that private developers, in concert with local and state government, can seize private homes to build commercial facilities. Large credit-card companies lobbied Congress hard to approve the new federal bankruptcy law which does nothing but shift the burden of individual misfortune from the financial giants to the citizenry. This was never meant to be. Bankruptcy laws were historically designed to give people and families a second chance. Now, one can lose their home because of credit card bills. These recent changes in the bankruptcy laws, a conspicuous lack of anti-takeover activity within the Justice Department, the unprecedented rise of the financial services industry, the political inaction in reference to Chinese product dumping in the U. S., the benign response to illegal immigration, and allowing massive job outsourcing, are all clear examples of the how corporate domination, sanctioned by our government, is stealing American jobs and ruining the lives of millions who fall in the middle class. The rise in the price of oil and gasoline has far exceeded the increase that one would expect under normal demand and supply conditions. This gouging has lined the pockets of the large oil companies at the expense of the average citizen. And one must ask, “why the decrease in gas prices just before the congressional elections”? Corporatism has now given way to “neo-corporatism”. Famed economists Philippe Schmitter and Gerhard Lehmbruch described modern neo-corporatism as the extracting of economic benefits from the citizens at large and then dividing these spoils among those social and private institutions sanctioned by the government to engage in such activity. The American public is now feeling that its own government has given way to the economic interest of the large corporations at their expense as corporate power continues to concentrate in fewer hands. Even traditional allies within our own hemisphere are now rejecting modern American corporatism as an economic model and a way of life where citizen welfare is subordinated to the corporate state. Castro and company have found “new life” in this resounding theme as far left communist leaning Latin leaders such as Hugo Chavez and Tabarй Vбzquez, among others, are winning elections based on this new anti-Washington platform. They are carrying their message to American’s own backyard as demonstrated in New York City six months ago. Hollywood needs to do a few more movies to see what the next 30 years will bring. Maybe they should be dubbed in Chinese just to play it safe.

         
    American politics and insurance

     

    Many Americans have many more complaints with the American government and politics, and how ill-prepared the government was for helping American citizens before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina struck is only one example. However, it is apparent that the American government and the politics that surround it are not just sitting around waiting for the next disaster to strike – they have been making preparations, and not just for natural disasters such as hurricanes. Natural disasters are not the only emergencies in which organizations have been founded to help citizens when insurance policies are nonexistent, or not enough; organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA, have stepped in and helped during troubled times. However, past terrorist attacks, and present risks of terrorist attacks, have prompted the federal government to get involved and pass the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, also known as TRIA. TRIA may not be an organization like FEMA, but the act is designed arrange a provisional program that makes sure both citizens and insurance companies are prepared – as prepared as can be – in the event of a terrorism attack. TRIA does this by guaranteeing that the federal government will share the costs of losses due to terrorism attacks with insurance companies. This helps ensure that insurance companies will not, for lack of better terms, run out of money. It also helps ensure that American citizens provided with the help they needs, as well as be compensated for their losses. Insurance companies were not adequately prepared for the financial losses that resulted from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and had to rely heavily on reinsurers, companies that make available insurance to insurance companies, to help pay the cost of damages. Now that TRIA is in effect, insurance companies are at less risk for being inadequately funded. Plus, the time it takes to underwrite an insurance policy is reduced since the losses have been reduced.

         
    American presidential campaigns the need for a new vision

     

    The current article is the first part of a series on America's spiritual history and soul-identity. A subject like "America's Presidential Campaigns" that is so 'of the world' might be construed as relating only to political life, but that would be incorrect. What relates to consciousness is part of our spiritual life, as is what relates to the operation of light and darkness, and what relates to the vision we hold for the future. ________________ In every area in which consciousness exists, the possibility is also present to make choices that are more or less moral concerning thought and behavior, and to bring every aspect of one's thinking into the highest light. In relation to the national political scene, there is much unconsciousness that operates on all levels, and much manipulation that takes place by those who have a vested interest in shaping a particular outcome or in presenting things in a particular way. This is the domain in which darkness has a chance to influence outcomes. It is the area of vulnerability produced by the fact that people are asleep or unaware in relation to what is going on so that the shaping of opinion is done silently, covertly, and is not perceived by most or not until much later on. One of the arenas in which this shaping of consciousness takes place is within American presidential campaigns. More than a year before a presidential election, candidates begin to step into place to position themselves for the available political and financial support that is necessary in order to run a national campaign. Generally, they have begun this process long before this. It used to be that presidential campaigns were much shorter. However, over time, the influence of media has created a watchfulness and anticipation in relation to potential candidates that extends longer and longer into pre-campaign planning. This watchfulness has contributed greatly to the success or failure of candidates, especially in states where they are not well-known and where extensive media coverage is needed, as well as personal appearance, so that former 'unknowns' can become someone familiar. Within presidential campaigns, the role of media has become as important as the content of a candidate's message – a message which may come to affect the lives of an entire nation. In any campaign, there is the content of a candidate's message, and there is the shape of that message. More and more in recent years, the shaping of a message has been handled by media experts who offer a package that includes forming, shaping, promoting, and assessing the impact of any message. This is a process that is costly, but perceived as necessary in order to create a sense within the public of being able to selectively choose between rivals in an electoral race. There was a time in which content was given more weight than appearance, when debates actually took place, with those listening paying close attention to the positions being advocated and the principles behind them. This is in contrast to the focus, today, which is often on the way in which things are said, or the personal quality of charm or likeability that a candidate possesses. Aspects of personality and character have always been part of an electoral process, but they did not form the center. Today, they are at the center. And because they are at the center, a candidate in a presidential election must be presented to the public in as appealing a way as a movie star. The effect of every image-variable needs to be considered so that the public can receive the desired impression. This shift in focus is due to several factors – the first, and perhaps most important, being the complexity and multi-layered nature of most national issues today which do not allow for a clear-cut presentation of positions or approaches to problem solving; the second, the technological advances that have made media instantly accessible across the country so that literally nothing that a candidate does goes unnoticed. All of the involvement of media with national campaigns involves a high cost to candidates. But the burgeoning cost is not only related to this. It is also related to the need that candidates have to travel across the country and back many, many times, hosting events and attending others in order to interact with the public, especially in key electoral states. This grueling process of meeting all who are essential to meet at local and state levels requires a great deal of stamina on a candidate's part. It also requires a great deal of money. And, in the competitive arena in which politics and personality have merged, if a rival candidate has become visible in states 1, 2, 3, and 4, then it is incumbent upon his competitors to also create a similar kind of visibility. In this way, more and more is being asked of candidates in terms of making personal appearances, because the standard for what is possible during an election campaign has been raised in order to create greater positive publicity for those who choose to run. Let us not forget that there is another way that one could conceive of and run a national campaign. It is the way of integrity and of focus. It relies on communicating more about issues and less about personalities, and it also involves reducing media's role in campaigns and therefore the amount of campaign spending. Such a campaign could take place in a much shorter space of time with far less cost to all concerned. Instead of taking years, it could be undertaken within one year, with primaries, whose dates are variable, more closely spaced together (See note). These changes would not allow each candidate to do all that is presently being done with respect to creating a public image. Instead, there would need to be more content-focused debates between candidates, and the public would need to reflect more, employing both reason and intuition, and to rely on appearance less, in order to be responsive to such discussions. Furthermore, if the stature of the presidency remained one of honor, leadership, and accountability – more in line with those who act on behalf of their constituency rather than as a separate entity, then both the glamour and the risk involved in electing a President could be less. Becoming aware and using one's vote wisely is the responsibility of democracy and part of what it means to be a citizen. Were campaigns shorter and more focused, less reliant on celebrity and more on content, we would see a different kind of democracy in action when it came time to elect a new president. And because the cost of running such a campaign would be less, many more qualified people would be able to enter the public arena with their own ideas and visions for the future, enabling this country to more truly become a representative democracy, in keeping with its historical, constitutional, and spiritual foundation. _____________ Note: In relation to presidential primaries, dates are established by each state and are subject to change. Currently, primaries take place between Jan. and May of the election year. "Establishing the date for a Presidential primary, and determining the type of Presidential primary held, varies from state to state. This is due to differences in state statutes, party constitutions, party rules and regulations, party by-laws, and delegate selection plans. In some states, a caucus and/or convention may be held instead of a Presidential primary election. Other states may use a combination of both caucuses and primaries for delegate selection." From: "2000 Presidential Primary Dates" – Federal Election Commission

         
    Another look at indians native americans amerindians

     

    Native Americans are often cast in the role of victims of White aggression and unbridled avarice-driven or gratuitous violence, especially in the territories known collectively today as the United States. But the first massacre was perpetrated by Indians in the British colony Jamestown, in Virginia in 1622. They slaughtered 347 white men, women and children on that occasion. Europeans are also accused of importing pathogens, disease causing agents, such as smallpox and measles, malaria and yellow fever. Indigenous people had no immunological resistance to these illnesses as they were never exposed to them. But recent findings by a team of anthropologists, economists and paleopathologists who have completed a massive study of the health of people living in the Western Hemisphere in the last 7,000 years - suggest that Native American's health was severely run down long before the Europeans delivered the coup de grace. The researchers analyzed more than 12,500 skeletons - half of them pre-Columbian - from 65 sites in North and South America for evidence of infections, malnutrition and other health problems. The study - "The Backbone of History: Health and Nutrition in the Western Hemisphere", edited by Dr. Richard H. Steckel and Dr. Jerome C. Rose - discovered that the haleness of Native-Americans declined markedly in the 1000 years before Columbus "discovered" them. The vast majority of the skeletons showed telltale signs of advanced degenerative joint disease, deteriorating dental health, stature, anemia, arrested tissue development, infections and trauma from injuries. These were attributed by the participants to limited diets and urban congestion. People became shorter and died earlier - on average at age 35 - as the centuries passed. "Pre-Columbian populations were among the healthiest and the least healthy in our sample," Dr. Steckel and Dr. Rose said. "While pre-Columbian natives may have lived in a disease environment substantially different from that in other parts of the globe, the original inhabitants also brought with them, or evolved with, enough pathogens to create chronic conditions of ill health under conditions of systematic agriculture and urban living." Moreover, there are signs that diseases hitherto thought to have been introduced by the white explorers were actually indigenous.1,000-year-old Peruvian mummies, for instance, were found to have been infected with tuberculosis in their lungs.

         
    Another look at mahatma gandhi

     

    Many myths abound about Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand known as Mahatma "Great Souled") Gandhi (1869-1948). He was not born to a poor Indian family. His father was dewan (chief minister) of Porbandar, the capital of a small principality in Gujarat in western India under British suzerainty. He later became dewan of Rajkot. He married at the age of 13 and was a mediocre student. In his adolescence he defied his repressive environment by petty thieving, meat eating, smoking, and professed atheism. Until the age of 18 He spoke very little English. His main language was Gujarati. He wanted to be a medical doctor - more precisely, a surgeon. His family forced his to study law. His first political activity was as a member of the executive committee of the London Vegetarian Society. He went to South Africa because he couldn't find work in India. He was a poor lawyer, in both senses of the word. He suffered from stage fright. The "Encyclopedia Britannica" describes his first days there: "Africa was to present to Gandhi challenges and opportunities that he could hardly have conceived. In a Durban court, he was asked by the European magistrate to take off his turban; he refused and left the courtroom. A few days later, while traveling to Pretoria, he was unceremoniously thrown out of a first-class railway compartment and left shivering and brooding at Pietermaritzburg Station; in the further course of the journey he was beaten up by the white driver of a stagecoach because he would not travel on the footboard to make room for a European passenger; and finally he was barred from hotels reserved "for Europeans only." These humiliations were the daily lot of Indian traders and labourers in Natal who had learned to pocket them with the same resignation with which they pocketed their meagre earnings." He was about to sail to London when he read about a bill to deprive the Indians of their right to vote. He decided to stay. It is in Johannesburg, South Africa that his first civil disobedience ("Satyagraha") campaign was staged - not in India. Gandhi's life was at peril many times. He was almost lynched in Durban as early as January 1897. He was assassinated in 1948. He was not a pacifist. Nor was he anti-British. When the Boer war broke out, he organized a volunteer corps of 11,000 Indians to defend the British colony of Natal.

         
    Ar15 rifle

     

    The M16/AR15 has been the firearm of choice for the U. S. military for a long time. It is lightweight, accurate and reliable. The military uses the 5.56mm NATO round; the civilian version uses a .223 round. A lot of the civilian AR15s will shoot both rounds. The original manufacturer of the AR15 for the military was Armalite which later sold all of the rights to the AR15 to Colt. Colt Manufacturing is one of the highest quality AR15's on the market. They have been building the assault rifle for a long time and perfected this gun. They ran into some trouble with labor strikes and suffered from some quality issues in the 1980's. They lost the U. S. military contract and had to refocus its efforts. Since the restructuring Colt came back on the market with the 1911 pistol and the AR15. Heavy competition has sprung up in the AR15 market. There are many manufacturers such as Bushmaster AR15, DPMS, Rock River Arms AR15, Stag and Olympic. Bushmaster surpassed Colt for AR15 sales in the civilian market. They have cheaper AR15s offered in there line, but Colt has still sold its quality line of AR15s. The AR15 is much like the First model T's Ford produced. It has uniform parts and can easily be broken down and rebuilt. Many different types of 'uppers' can be installed quickly and easily with just 2 pins. They range from .22 uppers to .50 cal uppers. Many of the favorite conversion are the 9mm and .45 caliber uppers. Along with many different calibers you can get just about any length barrel you want. Some stats allow super short barrels. The most common size is 16' with a 1/9 twist rate, but there are many 20' and 24' long range barrels for varmint hunting. With the modular design, grips, rails, sights, handles and stocks can be customized for the owner. Depending on what you want to do, from target plinking to coyote hunting, you can deck out the AR15 to your needs.

         
     
         
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