Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Want Your Vote

The senior Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, is vacating his seat in order to be appointed the nation's Secretary of State. In the meantime, a mad rush is on from both political parties to fill the void. As one might expect in the Commonwealth, such hoary political names as Kennedy and Weld are being bandied about as potential replacements. And, then, of course, there is the freshly vanquished interim Senator, Scott Brown, who, word has it, will also be tossing his undistinguished hat into the ring. Frankly, even though this is just a matter of bad luck for denizens of Massachusetts, the prospect of having to face yet another another ghastly election season feels just a tad punitive. I, for one, inspired perhaps by the mysterious synergy of my own personal idiosyncrasies with the fearsome zeitgeist known as The Mayan Apocalypse, am less than thrilled . Which brings me to this:

How would you respond to the following appeal if it was made to you in the form of a document delivered to your front door, or one handed to you as you walked down the street, or, perhaps, if it was made available to you in the form of a flyer on the wall at your favorite local haunt? Would you ignore it or read it, at least in part? And, if so, what would be the chance that you would do anything substantial as a result? So, without further ado, here 'tis:                  
                                                   Edwardo For Massachusetts Senator

Welcome to my campaign. This post constitutes my first act towards running for Senator of Massachusetts. Before acquainting you with my political orientation and legislative agenda, I'd like to tell you who I am and provide you with some personal details that may be of interest to you as you consider my candidacy.

First and foremost, I'm a private citizen with absolutely no background in politics. The closest I have ever come to politics was an introductory political science course in college and some brief campaigning for Bruce Babbitt two decades ago. To some of you this may not matter, for others, it will provide an immediate disqualification to my candidacy. For most of you I hope my status as a bona fide outsider is refreshing news.

I recently turned fifty, and live in_______with my wife______and my two children__________ and our pug_______.  I'm a musician/composer by training, though I haven't worked as a music teacher for a number of years.  Last, but not least, I’m in reasonably good health.


Through much of recorded human history the realm of politics and government has been viewed by many with a mixture of awe and revulsion. There is ample justification for this attitude since the acquisition and exercise of power has all too often been in the service of less than noble motives. And while I don't wish to belabor the point, or, worse, cast myself as being above it all- I'm not- I would simply like to point out what is probably already apparent to many of you which is that our present brand of politics and government here in the United States is, sadly, no exception to the proverbial rule. 

To some degree, the lamentable state of our national politics and government has impelled me towards an improbable run for office. Things must be pretty bad for that to happen, because, if you knew me, you’d recognize that I'm not a natural politician. I’m neither interested nor gifted in the art of being popular. Nor am I the sort of person who acts to bolster confidence in an enterprise at the expense of giving an unvarnished report that runs the risk of upsetting the apple cart. Fortunately, we don’t need more public servants that excel at public relations on behalf of themselves and a broken political system.  

                                                                  My Appeal to You

If you agree with me that we as a nation, particularly at the federal level, have strayed into unacceptable political practices, and that, as a result, government has become severely compromised, I have good news for you. Things can still be turned around. Profound improvement is within our reach. But in order to succeed the voting public must reject the usual cast of revolving door political operators offered up at each election cycle. Whatever their nominal political stripe may be, these well known cast of characters are all, by definition, captives of the present deeply corrupt, bogus two party system. And if anything has been demonstrated over the last generation of politics, it is that no authentic reform will be generated by those who reside within the system.  

                                                                  The Agenda

Given the emphasis I place on the necessity of dramatic political reform, I think it's fitting to begin this long (but by no means exhaustive) legislative “to do” list with the following planks.

                                                               Shortened Elections

On could easily underestimate the inherent harm being done to our society by an atmosphere of relentless political campaigning. Election seasons have become agonizingly long and exorbitantly expensive even as they are increasingly tedious and devoid of substance. By itself, the enormously time consuming nature of campaigns for federal office insures that politics are captive to moneyed interests, and that a high level of government functioning is unattainable. Limiting campaigns to no more than nine weeks from beginning to end means far fewer funds will be required to run campaigns, and that, by itself, would act as a great leveler of the political playing field. Thrown into the bargain we would end the insidious condition whereby we now select and elect candidates whose primary qualifications are that of a fundraiser first, a campaigner second, and a trusted and competent legislator or executive a distant third. This state of affairs is completely antithetical to decent government, and it can be corrected by creating conditions that remove the influence of moneyed interests from politics.

                                                                 Term Limits

It is axiomatic that very few incumbents lose hold of their seats. With few exceptions this is to no one’s benefit. Holding office was never intended to be a career, let alone a lifelong gravy train, but that is what it has become for those who are well connected and/or sufficiently wealthy to run winning political campaigns. In concert with the reduction in the amount of time set aside for elections, removing the possibility of lifelong tenure for elected officials will erode the overbearing influence of the special interest/lobbyist juggernaut that presently has a stranglehold on the actions of the political class. Last, but not necessarily least, by enacting term limits for legislators we will attract a different caliber of person to public service, namely someone who is committed to the idea of public service as an end in itself and likewise believes that it is the sole reason to seek, attain, and hold public office.

                                                          The Popular Vote
With respect to Presidential elections, the Electoral College system must be replaced by the popular vote. At one time the Electoral College had a certain logic operating in its favor, but, in our time, it simply leads to egregiously skewed contests where candidates spend inordinate amounts of time, money, and effort in a handful of key “battleground” states.  It is past time to decide Presidential elections by means of the popular vote. 

I hasten to add that everything on The Agenda that follows from here rests on enacting the above political reforms. On the surface it may seem that finding a workable solution to, for example, the Federal Government’s deplorable fiscal and financial condition is more important than, say, enacting term limits, but without the necessary systemic political reforms all the other items on The Agenda will have little chance of being passed. At this point, our political system is so badly corroded it will admit very little in the way of constructive change until such time as the system itself is overhauled. Any candidate for higher office who does not openly acknowledge this set of circumstances and subsequently pledge to reform the system as their top priority is, whether they mean to be or not, part of the problem, and does not deserve your vote. 

                                                                 To be continued

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm Baaaack!

I may not be better than ever though. In the meantime, I'm going to pledge to my erstwhile dear readers who have, quite sensibly, long since deserted my barren little blog, that I am planning to post one sumptuous piece a month. Should that initiative go reasonably well-don't ask how I will know if it goes well- I will endeavor to post once a fortnight. The Peter Principle, broadly defined may, at that stage, rear its ugly head and throw me back to a once a month offering, but now I'm getting just a tad ahead of myself.

So much has happened in our world since my last post, many months ago, though the changes have mostly been of the sort that may best be defined as beneath the surface. We are presently faced with a Presidential election that occurs in approximately two weeks, and, depending on which poll one subscribes to, what is left of the voting public that still subscribes to the worthiness of Presidential elections seems to be split down the middle regarding who they would prefer to hold executive power come 2013. I know I won't be part of the cult of votism where The Presidential election is concerned, but I will likely participate in the local referendum questions.

Suffice it to say that my view is that the trajectory of the course the U.S.S. USA is on will not markedly change regardless of who is nominally manning the helm come January.  There's just no room to maneuver any more as politics simply won't allow for the sort of bold, not to say draconian, responses that are required to address, for example, the government's seemingly intractable indebtedness. Enacting genuine solutions, as opposed to counterfeit ones, will be left to other actors, and, forces, and in their wake, nothing more than plentifully hollow excuses will be proffered by our political class.

In that light, if you haven't made preparations for the cataclysmic finale that will signify the bitter end of the dollar's global hegemony, I urge you to get with the program, pronto. After all, large swaths of the rest of the world have been preparing for the none too pleasant denouement of the greenback's reserve currency status for a number of years. That is, after all, what all the bi-lateral currency swap agreements that have been erected by and between a plethora of nations of all sizes and shapes are about. When the dollar reaches the event horizon of the looming financial system black hole that, with each passing week, draws ever closer, folks in other lands would like to be able to continue conducting trade for life's necessities. This is the proximate reason for the aforesaid agreements that are cropping up across the globe with all the dizzying frequency of dandelions growing in one's front (or back) yard after a heavy, spring rain.

With respect to timing, my view is that when The Europeans show some demonstrable progress in addressing the key issue that plagues them, namely how to stop living beyond their means via chronic debt expansion, all eyes will turn towards the U.S. and its own grotesque collection of financial excesses. My best guess for a time frame for a great reckoning on these shores is the middle of the decade whether or not the EZ gets things sorted. If, for example, the EZ manages to get a proposed banking union up and running by this coming year, the time line for the U.S. Gotterdammerung will accelerate. But, make no mistake, the train has long since left the station and is now well down the tracks. All that is in doubt is the ETA.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Vampire Squid and The Morgue

Two of the biggest swinging dick firms that still remain in the once vaunted Wall Street arena are Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. Over the last forty eight hours, in what strikes this onlooker as something of a fantastic temporal correlation, two public testimonials have appeared that excoriate the two aforesaid firms for profoundly unethical- or, perhaps more properly, thoroughly immoral- conduct. Unless you have lived under a very large and non porous rock for several years, if not longer, the perfidy of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan hardly comes as news. However, one devoutly hopes that whatever the intentions are of the authors of these very public jeremiads-more on that shortly- their damning admissions of (non specified) criminality will, in time, represent something of a watershed event.

In the meantime, pardon me if I detect the not so faint whiff of a rat, especially where the Goldman revelations are concerned. Greg Smith, the former Goldman Executive, makes various claims regarding the true nature of his erstwhile firm. Unfortunately a number of them strain credulity, not the least of which is that, in the not so distant past, Goldman Sachs operated at the highest levels of ethical conduct, systematically choosing "to do the right thing" in its dealings with its clients and other business partners. This will no doubt be news to folks such as Matt Taibbi, who, approximately two years ago, famously dubbed Goldman Sachs The Vampire Squid in response to their numerous misdeeds going back generations. How is it possible that such longstanding and systematic vile behavior, so well chronicled by Mr. Taibbi, has only recently become known to Mr. Smith? What's more, where is the evidence of the culture of do gooding that Mr. Smith purports to have, until only relatively recently, been subverted? To encapsulate, the New York Times op-ed written by Mr. Smith almost seems like a clever recasting of the essence of Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs is not the instinctively rapacious firm we thought (we knew) it was, but, rather, an avuncular outfit that lost its way due to some poor stewardship by CEO Lloyd "We're doing God's work" Blankfein who allowed a few- or maybe a few more than a few-bad apples to spoil what once was a bastion of rectitude. We can only hope that (should this be a very clever attempt to take pressure off Goldman by having a critical number of the public now believe that by dint of a few key firings The Vampire Squid can be transformed into a -name your favorite warm and fuzzy creature) such a gambit will fail. In the meantime, as always, we would do well to be more than a little reticent to buy whatever Goldman, or even a self professed, disaffected, ex Goldman man, is selling.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Fear for the future
As you live in a present
Undone by the past