Showing posts with label Dictatorship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dictatorship. Show all posts

November 23, 2016

The Political Spectrum

(Click to Enlarge Graphic)

Even though the election is over...divisiveness in America is as high as ever, if not at all time highs.

We're seeing it hurtfully in terms of bias, bigotry, and hate all around us:

- Protests, outright hostility, and violence (some sponsored) between left and right.

- Murders of police officers and African Americans betwixt the rise of Black Lives Matter.

- Calls for justice to "Lock her up" and defiant calls of "Not my President!"

- Labeling of people as bigots and racists amidst calls to "Make America Great Again."

- Conspiracy theories of links with Russia juxtaposed with Wikileaks of collusion against Bernie Sanders

- Powerful political machines, operatives, media handlers, fundraising, advertising, and big data to "get out the vote" for your candidate. 

- The blue wall falling in the election as working-class whites abandoned the party they felt abandoned them.

- Gender glass ceilings, pay differentials, and inequality going up against the hope of a first female President of the United States. 

- Growing income and wealth inequality of the elites and trade imbalances with other nations amidst Occupy Wall Street and a nostalgia to return our manufacturing, jobs, and main street to America. 

Divisiveness of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, wealth and more are showing up in the positioning of people along the broad political spectrum. 

This spectrum spans from ultimate control and dictatorship to outright chaos and anarchy, and with lots of options in between. 

So where do you fall on the political spectrum yesterday, today, and how about tomorrow? ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 13, 2015

Freedom Is Worth It

This was a photo I took of a sign in my daughter's old high school.

It says, "Respect for Self, Others, and the Environment."

That is a great principle, which I was reminded of today in sitting for an IT certification exam--how lucky we are to live in a country that affords us respect to be ourselves...to speak, write, and practice as we believe. 

In this case, the certification exam was typically given on Saturday, but as a Sabbath observer, I was able to provide a request for an accommodation, and was able to take the exam this morning, Sunday.

What was absolutely amazing to me though going for the exam at this designated fancy facility, in Washington, D.C.--and with two proctors--was that I was the only one taking the exam today.

This was not just some lip-service tolerance for differences, but rather true respect for diversity, even when it's not convenient and it is costly. 

I have got to say, how grateful I am to be part of a society where we are free to be who we are--what can be more amazing than that?

I feel this all the more when we are at a time in history when still so many in the world are battling dictatorships, demagogues, terrorist and corrupt regimes that impose harsh restrictions, censorship, monitoring, and severe punishments on those who don't follow the dictates of the authority holding power. 

When we fight those restrictive regimes--from ISIS to Communism--that are looking not just to hold, but to spread their clutches on power and abuses of freedom--we are really fighting to be who we are and that is a serious fight worth having. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 6, 2014

Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS


Ok, so Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS are a true recipe for global disaster. 

GLOBAL THREATS: With Chocolate Putin, we have the old Cold War back again (or maybe it was never really gone) with nation states facing off and state-of-the-art weapons galore such as thermonuclear ICBMs onshore, offshore, and aloft. And with Lemon ISIS, we have extremists posing a new level of terrorist threats such that we have never seen before with beheadings, crucifixions, and mass killings, and the potential for (very) dirty bombs. 

PSYCHOLOGICAL INTIMIDATION: While Chocolate Putin still denies his troops are even in Ukraine or that they all along wanted to harbor Snowden, Lemon ISIS tells the whole world they seek to establish a caliphate across the Middle East. Either way the psychological impact is to confuse and scare.

OPPRESSION OF THE PEOPLE: Both Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS declare that the people (along with their territory) in their sights are really wanting it--Ukrainians, Georgians, the Baltic States and Poland want to be Russian and maybe really are, while ISIS declares that good Muslims really want to live under strict Sharia law. The victims are not victims, they are willing participants in their own takeover. 

RULING BY AUTOCRACY: Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS rule by dictatorship with a supreme leader or all powerful president, the people must follow or be put in the gulag or hung by a tree limb. Either way, you will obey, freedoms begone, and the collective will be better off for it. 

The list of ingredients and description for world chaos and terror can go on and on here...but the point is that we are facing enemies that are digging in to inflict serious metabolic harm on us. 

While some may like chocolate Putin or Lemon ISIS, the results of closing our eyes to the calorie count will be catastrophic to a peaceful world order. 

(Source Photo for Lemon ISIS is Andy Blumenthal and for Chocolate Putin is here with attribution to jlib)
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July 18, 2014

Movement For Human Rights



IF

1) you are a dissident living in a country that suppresses basic human rights

OR

2) you are a person seeking to help others suffering under authoritarian regimes

THEN

consider signing up at Movements.org, an organization that connects people in need of human rights help with those wanting to provide assistance. 

After you create a profile, which is given a star rating depending on a vetting process, you can post requests for help or offers of services to help others. 

Available services for "advice, contacts, training, and services," include those from:

- Lawyers
- Journalists
- Technologists
- Translators
- Policy Makers

The great Soviet Jewish dissident, Natan Sharansky, who spent 10 years imprisoned in a tortuous gulag, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Movement.org is a "transformative approach to an old problem" for collecting and trying to get information on human-rights abuses to reach the free world and to seek justice and freedom. 

While dictators looks to suppress freedom of speech and information flow, social media is combating it, and Movements was provided a grant from Google, I believe, to do just that. ;-)
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March 30, 2014

Corporate Dictators Gone Wild

Interesting book review in the Wall Street Journal on Moments of Impact--corporate strategy meetings. 

The authors, Ertel and Solomon, see strategy meetings as critical for "to confront radical challenges" "cope with fast-changing threats", and confront competition.


It is an opportunity to:


- Look at the big picture, including industry trends.


- Hear different points of view from as broad array of perspectives as possible (instead of the usual "fences and silos" that prevail in corporate life).


- Decide to change ("Creative Adaptation") or to stay with tried and true strategies ("stick to their knitting").


The book reviewer, Adrian Woolridge, though has a much more skeptical view of these strategy sessions calling them "dull, unstructured time-sucks" and "more often than not, [they're] a huge waste of time":


Why?


- They produce "airy-fairy nonsense."


- Rather than abandoning the corporate hierarchy, the sessions anchor in "status hierarchy."


- Outside strategy "experts" brought in "are nothing more than cliche-mongers."


- The "games" are silly and non-impactful.


- Often rather than strategic conversations, we get "lazy consensus," where decisions are driven by senior managers with a bone to pick or a reorganization in mind.


What's the truth...as usual, somewhere in between these 2 states of idealism and cynicism.


We can choose to take planning seriously to bring people together to solve problems creatively and gain consensus and commitment or we can use strategy as bogus cheerleading sessions and to manipulate the sheep to do what the seniors already know they want.


If we really work as a team to press forward then we can accomplish great things through our diversity and strength, but if strategy is nothing but corporate dictators gone wild, then the cause is already lost to the competition.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 19, 2013

Eyes Wide Shut


It is the first and foremost duty of every nation to protect its people and safeguard the values upon which it stands.

Therefore, as I watch the news unfold every day, I am left incredulous at some of our actions that seem to defy this basic notion.

Maybe, I am not seeing the bigger picture, but…

A dozen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by “fundamentalists,” “extremists,” and our declared “War on Terrorism,” we, by our actions, seem to be supporting (tacitly and at times more overtly) those very same extremists that seek our destruction.

Here are some examples:

1) IRAN – Relations thaw and we begin reconciliation with arch enemy Iran (the #1 world sponsor of terrorism) and consider removing sanctions and even considering to allow nuclear capability to remain Iran leaving long time allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE scratching their heads, and Iranians still shouting “Death to America!”

2) SYRIA – We ostensibly support and arms rebels in Syria, yet these rebels fighting Assad (who is no great character himself and allegedly uses chemical weapons on his own people) are aligned with large elements of extremists to include designated terror organization Hezbollah fighting in the thousands in Syria, as well as arch-enemy Al Qaeda!

3) EGYPT - The Egyptian military overthrows Morsi and the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood (aligned with designated terrorist organization Hamas) and the military resumes protection of non-Muslims, including the Christian community, yet we penalize Egypt and withhold military aid to those who just reestablished secular government.

4) IRAQ – We overthrow the Sunni-government of Saddam Hussein, a counterweight (albeit a ruthless dictator) to Iran’s fundamentalist Shiite leadership, and thereby create a virtual greater Shiite Kingdom in the Middle East, and then we pull out our military abandoning gains that were hard fought with the blood of our military men and women and gold from our national treasury.

5) LIBYA – We provide scant support for the overthrow of terrorist dictator Gaddafi, and when fundamentalists attack and kill our Ambassador and others in Benghazi, our military response is muted and the attackers continue to roam free, rather than be speedily tracked down “dead or alive.”

We are a principled nation based on democracy, diversity, and human rights, and we have led the world in greatness towards those ideals.

We can win the peace through the righteousness of our cause, but as with Hitler, there is no placating avowed enemies of the ideals of freedom.

Why abandon longtime friends and allies, and coddle terrorists and those that seek the destruction of our nation and way of life?

"All that is needed for the forces of evil to Triumph is for enough good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Eneas De Troya)

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June 12, 2012

In Search of a True Patriot

This morning I saw Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota and professional wrestler, on Piers Morgan (CNN).

He was promoting his new book Democrips and ReBloodicans. 

He was comparing our two-party system to a bunch of L.A. street gangs!

On one hand, he sounded crazy—claiming our politicians were nothing but thugs --fighting each other to get and maintain street power, rather than doing the right thing for everyone in this country.

Yet, despite Ventura not being the most eloquent speaker, some of his craziness sounded spot on.

Politics has gotten way too political!

The politicians stick to their party lines—pointing fingers and denigrating the other side—for our country’s problems.  Each side claiming they can do better.

One side taxing and spending, the other side cutting both—both sides driving our countries finances over the financial cliff.

Dictators are driven by their desire to get and hold power as long as their military might and repression of the masses holds out. 

But democracy is supposed to be different—we are a nation that takes pride in looking at both sides of the equation and coming to a middle ground that makes the best sense for everyone.

What happened?

Each side has pushed things just a little too far and then farther—getting power and then abusing power for their aims, forgetting about compromise, and leaving the other side lying in wait for when they can pounce on their opponents and re-assume power to undue what the other has done and push ahead their agenda.

This is a vicious game of ping-pong, where a volley is never achieved, but rather each side treats every shot as their last.

Civility and political correctness has left the palace.

In its place, a desire to win power and keep power at all costs.

An infatuation with doing for themselves at the expense of others—all the while telling themselves, this is truly for the good of the country.

Or like they used to say on the TV show Hill Street Blues—“let’s do it to them, before they do it to us!”

A country cannot successfully govern, by doing and undoing or by looking out for only 1/2 of the constituents.

Some way must be found to restore leadership—where government is again recognized as by the people and for the people, where integrity is valued more than power, and where our country’s future prosperity and survival trumps a parties’ survival in the next election and their partisanship agendas.

The examples are almost too numerous to mention with our political parties locking horns while budget and tax showdowns loom, deficits continue to boom, government shutdowns are being groomed, healthcare reform is up for grabs, employment continues to sag, and we wax and wane between war and peace—now cyber and kinetic—in hot spots around the globe.

Civil war is such a strong term—and in the Civil War, this country saw the loss of more people than all the other wars we have been in combined. 

Again, we face a type of civil war, where one side is trying to beat the other rather than join forces in conquering our nation’s ills and building our capabilities.

The results can be a similar devastation where problems fester until they explode and lives are lost, not in one side picking up arms against the other, but because we self-destruct in our own greed and contempt.

Leadership bridges, not divides, from across the political spectrum and all our leaders are needed now more than ever.

Jesse you are a "crazy dog," but you say some things that are undeniable truth.

We need to look beyond the surface of unconventional people and hear the message that running politics like street gangs is a losing battle—but we can change rivalry to partnership if we see past the different colors, and instead focus on the red, white, and blue.

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

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December 23, 2011

Leadership, Beyond Brainwashing and Beatings

Leading by decree rather than merit usually means that the people are either beaten or brainwashed into submission--this is oddly reminiscent of the age-old question, which is mightier, the pen or the sword?

History is full of examples of tyrants, dictators, and monarchs (this goes for some bosses at work too) who take "the throne" putting anyone who opposes them to either be put to death or be "reeducated."

On one hand, the sword is straightforward though it comes in a thousand varieties--where those who oppose the ruler die:

- in open opposition on the battle field

- in public display in front of a firing squad, by hanging, or even by guillotine
- in more surreptitious ways such as with a knife in a back alley somewhere, languishing in a dungeon of old, thrown in a van from the streets with a hood over your head, or taken in the middle of the night never to be seen or heard from again, or even assassinated by anything from a well-placed bullet to a vial of radioactive poisoning


The sword of the dictator knows no mercy.

On the other hand, the pen is more shady and comes in but one form--where those who disagree with the power(s) that be are convinced to think otherwise. There are many examples from the gulag to the labor camp where reeducation, indoctrination, propaganda, brainwashing, hypnosis and other, harsher forms of mind control are employed.

As a child of Holocaust survivors, who lived through the Hitler rein of terror, I am keenly aware of the devastating impact that dictators can have by sword and by pen. Hitler (may his soul be cursed forever) used both to achieve and hold power, sending millions to die in concentration camps and brainwashing a generation of Germans into believing his rhetoric of hatred, superiority, and megalomaniac ideals for world domination.

This week, watching power pass in North Korea from father to son, now for a third generation gripping unto the leadership mantle there, the potential for abuse is certainly present, but there is certainly also the opportunity for positive change. It remains to be seen who this new leader really is and what he will stand for--especially since he is so young--only age 28 or 29.

Previously, I had read about the sword being used to hold unto power in that country with horrifying prison camps, such as the infamous Camp 22 with 50,000 prisoners (many of them political opponents) living under the most inhumane conditions.

This week, I watched on the news and YouTube, citizens apparently wailing over the death of their leader there--and I wondered with the people starving and living in one of the poorest and most isolated nations in the world, are they really that brainwashed to believe in the absolute greatness (almost like a deity) of their leader or was this whole display staged?

In 2010, the son, was given the rank of a 4-Star General--yet supposedly he doesn't have any military experience.

This week, in the son's first week in power, he was given the title "Outstanding Leader"--even before having the chance to lead.

Today, I read in the Wall Street Journal (23 December 2011) how the "Propaganda and Agitation" department there is working to "quickly bolster [the] new leader's legitimacy." According to the article, their responsibility is "for filing North Koreans' minds with awe, devotion, and unswerving respect for the dictatorial dynasty."

While propaganda and force can create yet another generation whose will is bent to serve its leader, my hope and prayer is that we have a possibility for a new way of thinking and leadership in North Korea, and in many other countries around the world today.

Wielding power can be an opportunity to show benevolence, encourage freedom, and win people over through the power of ideas rather than by physical or mental coercion.

(All opinions my own)

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January 30, 2010

Diplomacy and the Pitfalls of Dictatorship

Let's say yes to sound governance, and no to absolute power...

Power is a strange thing: the more you have, the more you want – it’s never enough. It’s an addiction of the soul that often results in poor decision-making and project failure.

I remember a teacher in high school that used to repeat to us the maxim that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Obviously someone has to be in charge and get things done, but there is more than one way to achieve results:

The first and crudest method that we have seen since the dawn of humankind is dictatorship. This is the aforementioned tendency for those in power to collect it, savor it, and protect it—and to want to wield it alone. Often those with power, not enlightened by the benefits of sharing and “checks and balances,” like to hold decision-making power for themselves. While perhaps made “in consultation” with others, it is their decision and theirs alone to make. Thus, decisions by the individual are more subjective, prone to mistakes, and driven as much by gut, intuition, and personal whim as by real facts. Furthermore, those who have to carry out the decisions do not understand them as well and are not as committed to their success because they weren’t fully part of the process.

A better method is diplomacy, when we work with others to strategize, collaborate, and vet decisions. Working with others in this way may often costs more in terms of time and effort upfront to “work though the issues,” but invariably these result in better and less-costly decisions being made in the long run. Diplomacy works especially well when the group you are working with is diverse and can bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to the table. You end up seeing things in ways that you would have missed otherwise.

Working through the decision process with others on a governance body (councils, boards, committees)—with individuals representing the universe of our stakeholders—provides a solid mechanism for all perspectives to be heard and for decisions to be scrutinized and challenged before being implemented. This is what good governance is all about.

Of course, there are occasions when diplomacy may fail and governance bodies may become dysfunctional. When groups fail to work together, dictators can sweep in and take over or, on the other hand, there can result endless bickering, a state of analysis paralysis, and no decisions being made at all. This is why governance must be well defined, structured, have an end-to-end process, and clear roles and responsibilities.

Although sometimes dictators can be brilliant and effective in getting things done and we can all think of business leaders who fit this style, too often these individuals can become drenched in their own “absolute power”—falling victim to ego and selfishness, and making decisions that are not in the best interest of the organization. This is a condition that must be countered with solid, structured organizational governance, in which decision-makers work with others collaboratively and share in the decision-making process, and the collective interests and those of the organization as a whole are put above those of the individual. In this way, diplomacy protects us from the whims and errors of dictatorship.

This is one of the nice things about our system of government, where despite the many strong differences of opinion and results that we may not always agree with, the system of checks and balances results in governance by the people for the people, where everybody has a chance to participate and be heard.


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