This is what advertising would look like if liberals ever decided to toss off political correctness and come out fighting:


Why I Don't Give Money to NPR

First, I have friends who work for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and they are wonderful people who are doing the right thing for the right reason. They aren't the problem, they work for the problem. If public radio's mismanagement somehow managed to shoot the organization in the foot, that foot became infected, and the institution died, my friends would miss the jobs they had, the mission they thought they were serving, and the community they tried to serve would be lessened by their loss. I once worked for Guidant Corporation. Many people working inside many giant disorganizations have higher goals, a sense of mission, hopes to be providing value and, even, saving lives with the company's products. Having been in meetings with the Guidant executives and hearing their concerns, I know the company's employees who had morals and values would have been disappointed to learn that their mismanagers are rarely more sophisticated or motivated any differently than other white collar criminals. Like most white collar criminals, they got away with a fortune and no responsibility for the wreckage they left behind. Law enforcement doesn't have the skills, the funding, or the interest in pursuing corporate criminals unless they screw up and steal from the 1%.The fact is, good people often work for for evil people because they (the good people) are incredible optimists and hope for the best in face of all evidence.

When my kids were young, 35 years ago, we listened to Nebraska Public Radio a lot. They grew up listening to great BBC and US radio programs like the Monty Python Show, Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Zero Hour, Le Show, Earplay, NPR Playhouse, A Prairie Home Companion, and rebroadcasts of old US radio dramas like Johnny Dollar and Suspense. We didn't have a television in the house and NPR was important to our household for all of our electronic media entertainment, news, and just to pass the time. College interns who worked in my lab learned to talk Hitchhiker's Guide dialog to communicate. We ran the program every day and there was damn little conversation in the lab while the show was on. When the local station reran the Pythons, we had listening parties where most of the party'ers could quote the lines; accent intact. From 1973 to 2000, I was a reliable contributor to my local Public Radio stations; from Lincoln, Nebraska to Santa Monica, California, to Denver, Colorado, to St. Paul, Minnesota. Even when we didn't have much money, we always found a couple hundred dollars to give to our local stations.

The 90's were the beginning of the end for NPR. Along with the phony morals outrage about Clinton's blow jobs, the Repuglicans were hammering at the "liberal bias" of public media, doing everything they could to eliminate any public funding on media not firmly on their side. To Repuglicans, "liberal" means anything reality-based. Federal funding dropped and, to make up for the loss of revenue, National Public Radio began to take on corporate advertising, disguised as "sponsorships." Those sponsorships and the fear NPR's mismanagement had that their oversized salaries might be impacted by even less federal investment in public information have shifted the information we get dramatically. (Yes, I know their annual salaries are barely a week's coffee allowance for Rush, Beck, and the MSM regular talking heads. But I don't listen to those idiots at all, ever.) My first strong impression of Minnesota Public radio's (MPR) shift was when Jesse Ventura was running for Minnesota Governor. Ventura was "allowed" about one word out of ten, compared to his Democratic and Repuglican opponents. Four years later, the candidate Ventura recommended for his replacement, Tim Penny, wasn't even allowed to participate in the MPR debates. It was obvious that MPR belonged to the two parties and the state's corporations and my interest in "local radio" has declined in direct proportion to local radio's disinterest in local communities. The bigger the public radio organization becomes, the less connected to the local community they are.

For years, I have used Public Radio as my wake-up alarm. For the last ten years, that has mostly served to get me out of bed pissed off. In the 2006-2007 period, hearing NPR's "financial experts" jabber about how our failing, phoney economy was in great shape because home ownership was at an all-time high did that job. This year, the non-stop conservative commentary and propaganda is putting on the finishing touches. A few days ago, I woke up to what was purported to be a random selection of uncommitted voters in Ohio. What they interviewed were several die-hard Romney idiots, including one bimbo who was voting for Romney because Ryan "is cute." If that's the most non-committed NPR can get, they might as well become a Faux News subsidiary.

And that is why I can ignore NPR's constant begging for money without a blip on my conscience. I know a pile of crap when I hear it. I know that Minnesota Public Radio has enough money to acquire every available small radio station several states through its American Public Radio subsidiary. I know that I miss the real "public radio," the radio stations that were closely connected to local communities and gave us a load of local information with a little national BS and even more international news; lots of BBC, some CBC, and I felt closer to my community because of it. I don't get that from the conglomerates that NPR, APR, and MPR have become. I miss public radio, though.

Political Action

The rash of Karl Rove's presence in television has produced an unintended, but absolutely positive reaction in me. I was trying to watch a little football on Sunday and one of his corrupt pack of lies came on the television during a time out. I got up, turned the television off and haven't watched more than a few seconds of broadcast television since. No loss, there. It was just football and a bunch of stupid network crap occasionally interrupted by the end result of the idiot Citizens United Extreme court decision. I needed something to drive me away from the idiot tube. Rove gave it to me.

You have to wonder if all of the nation's reality-based citizens gave up on television because they didn't have patience for the Crossroads GPS lies and stupidity, how committed would the television networks be to paid political ads?


Welfare Queens

Mike Lofgren hits a lot of high notes from the vantage point of his experience behind the scenes in the Repuglican Party. His latest piece that analyzes the "welfare queens" that Willard Romney never talks about is right on target: Meet the Welfare Queens of the 1%: The Moochers Mitt Missed Work for the Pentagon.

To quote Mike, "Unlike the cases of Dimon or Blankfein, I doubt one American in a thousand knows who Wes Bush is. The CEO of Northrop Grumman, he made over $26 million last year, exceeding JPMorgan Chase's payout to Dimon, the highest paid bank CEO. In fact, the chiefs of the five largest Department of Defense (DoD) contracting firms hauled in $107 million combined, more than the top five bank CEOs (who limped in with a mere $75 million altogether). Yet somehow, this form of income redistribution through the medium of government manages to bounce off the consciousness of people like Romney and his supporters like Swedish peas off an Abrams tank."

The 1% are a lot more dependent on handouts than the 99% because rather than being "job creators" they are completely useless without the money and power for leverage. Put 'em in a Walmart, McDonald's, or Starbuck's uniform and watch them get fired on the first day. And Willard is one of them. He needed a $10M bailout back in the 90's to keep his BS "consulting business" from going belly-up.


Santorum and I . . . Agree?

After years of arguing that when Repuglicans say "elite" they mean "smart people," Rick Santorum puts his feet in his mouth and admits exactly that. Of course, his audience is exclusively moronic. So, no one got the joke(?). I was recently exposed to this double-speak when my son-in-law argued that the media is "liberal." It took a while to figure out that he meant "literate." He wasn't talking about the people who owned the media, but the people who actually have to write material for a public with a 3rd grade education to read. However, you have to read something more than large print self-help books to qualify as literate and that sort of activity poses the terrible risk that one might become liberal from exposure to knowledge. Don't worry, literacy isn't like gayness; it's not catching. You are safe.

Now, if Rick Perry, Willard Romney, Sarah Palin or one of the other Republican retards will just admit that reality has a liberal bias and that mathematics is too complicated to be used for things like budgeting, government planning, or moon shots.


Does This Work?

This Garrison Keilor routine came to me via Scott Malchow/Pete Johnson. It's an excerpt from Keillor's Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny as  "Guy Noir" observes kids in a coffee shop: 

"The place was crawling with art students from St. Paul Art School, Market Street (SPASMS), also known as Simply Pray And Send Money Soon, housed in the old Great Northern warehouse on Market Street . . . Kids with baggy low-slung pants and backward baseball caps and active vocabularies of about five hundred words . . . They all had glittery metal hanging from their eyebrows, eyelids, lips, earrings all around their ears, metal plugs in their noses and tongues--it looked like they had fallen face-first into the tackle box . . . 

"Poor kids. They'd talked their parents into fronting the dough for art school so the kiddos could prolong adolescence a few more years. That's what MFA means. My Fascinating Adolescence. It's the Montessori generation, so everybody wins a blue ribbon, everyone's ideas are valid, everyone is on a journey, we're all talented, all roads lead to Art. The girls dress like streetwalkers and the boys like drug dealers, and they adopt the slang of the black underworld, which they have no firsthand knowledge of, and they're okay with that. They're okay with not knowing much of anything. I envy them that. They had Ritalin and Prozac to smooth out the rough spots, and now they sit drinking expensive warm milk and building elaborate shrines to themselves on Facebook as they try to live creative lives and be free and do good in the world, which is why we need Mexicans to sneak across the border and mow our lawns and clean our toilets- so the kids can sit around looking in a mirror and feeling like artists, though none of them can so much as draw a pink petunia in  a plaster pot . . . " What's left out of this partial quote of Keilor's book (between the " . . . 's") is as funny, relevant, sad, and accurate as the bits Johnson included. It is all very reminiscent of Joseph Heller and I mean that in every good way possible. 

I know these kids. Not that long ago, I had a kid in one of my record lab classes who seemed to be waiting for some magical insight to clue him to the fact that the point of the class was to learn something. He, occasionally, appeared to be on the edge of grasping that concept, but always fell back to his normal position of acting clueless (or cool, depending on your perspective) and asking to be shown, once again, the things the other members of the class had down pat. A moment of clarification came to me at the end of a class when he accidentally dropped a few mic cables on the floor and spilled some other equipment. He glanced, dully, at the mess he'd made and continued out of the studio. 

I stopped him, saying "______ you know you're going to have to pick that stuff up, right?"

He responded with, "But it was an accident."

"I know that, but it's your accident. You have to pick it all up and re-wrap the cables. When you're done, drop it all off at the desk." And I left the room, but not the area because I wanted to be sure he actually did it.

After some moaning, he cleaned up his mess and ended up taking all of the equipment back to the front desk. I was baffled by the whole exchange until I realized that he'd probably never had to pick up after himself in his life. His mother, most likely, followed along behind him sweeping up his trash, putting away his clothes, solving his problems, bawling out the teachers who dared expect him to accomplish the same work as other students, and spoon feeding him when he was too tired or bored to feed himself. 

My wife calls this "the old parent syndrome": people who waited until they were middle-aged before having kids or, even worse, people who restarted their family life after a first, second, or fifth failure and decided to "get it right" by smothering their last chance old-sperm-and-egg-damaged offspring with attention and protection. This is the opposite end of traditional parenting, which demanded that parents have a gaggle of kids so that at least a couple would survive and thrive. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, although I won't likely get to be around for the final analysis. 

When I was a kid, as soon as were tall enough to reach the wheel and the pedals, lots of us were plopped on to a tractor seat, shown where the controls were, and pointed in the general direction of an empty field with the instruction, "Keep your rows straight and I'll come get you at dinner time." If we wanted money, we took on a paper route and learned how hard it is to get $2 out of adults at the end of the month. If we needed to get to baseball practice on the other side of town, we got on our bicycles and started pedaling early enough to get to practice on time. If we wanted a musical instrument or a rifle or ice cream, we saved up our paper route money and bought one or took a woodshop or machine or cooking class and made what we wanted. If we couldn't figure out what we wanted to do with our lives, we dropped out of school and got a job and supported ourselves. Even hippies in communes farmed, scrounged for grocery store throw-aways and scrounged a living working and panhandling. Can't make a living with one job, get two more. That's what coffee is for, right? Moving into your parents' basement after college just wasn't an option--practically or ethically--until the current generation of glow-in-the-dark boomerang slugs. 

I'm not saying there weren't deadbeats in the Boomer crowd, but I am saying they were the Limbaugh, George W. Bush, Moonpie Gingrich exeptions. Even Mitt Romney has paid a lot of money to create an illusion of his work ethic in business school (sort of a contradiction, I know). Like our parents, most of us got jobs in retail, manufacturing, service, sales, education, local or federal government, and a very few stayed in farming. After Reagan, a lot fewer were farmers (20,000,000 family farms fewer) and that occupation and farming communities are still vanishing at an astonishing rate

There is something incredibly irrational about going deeply into debt to extend adolescence. Going to college as a social activity is astoundingly stupid and, maybe, the ultimate expression of personal incompetence. If that isn't paying to have friends, I'm unclear on the concept (also true). College isn't for everyone. Some people are simply dumb. Some people are so driven that college only slows them down. A lot of us have to experience life a bit before we know what we want to study. College is not life, just as adolescence does not exist after puberty in real life. You can pretend to be a kid all the way into senility (Just ask Little George Bush), but you're still just a spoiled, useless kid. So, pick up after yourself, you worthless little prick. 

Why Wisconsin Should be Removed from the United States

Wisconsin, the home of Paul Ryan and Joe McCarthy, blows off the US Constitution and it's own state constitution in the interests of policing the police state. 


Words to Remember

"Every generation has its time to struggle. There are no green pastures." William Kunstler


Watching (and feeling sorry for) the Supreme Court

What a title, right? What kind of asshole could feel sorry for John Roberts, the Soprano's Tonys (Scalia and Kennedy), Charlie Thomas, Sammy Alito, and Sandy O'Connor (retired but still despised)? According to several polls, the US Supreme court has become one of the most despised government institutions in modern times. While the Warren Court was vilified by the nation's superstitious morons, the current court is hated by practically every intelligent person in the country.

An ABC poll found that 80% of the public thought the Extreme Court got it completely wrong with the goofy Citizens United clusterfuck.  Yeah, I know Congress makes about 2% of the population happy, but the thing with the Extremes is that smart people of all political sides think this group of screwball characters in dresses are retarded and criminally corrupted. They have overthrown a popular national election, appointed the worst President in the history of the country while tossing off a state's right to control and count votes and cancelling more than a half-million citizens' votes. They overthrew a Congressional attempt to eliminate corporate control of national and state elections and blew up the remainder of our democracy in exchange for direct bribes (Thomas) and indirect employment (Scalia and Alito) and profit. It would be hard to find a citizen with an IQ over 110 who considers this Extreme Court to be anything but criminal.

So, I sort of feel sorry for 'em. They are crooks, incompetent, traitors, and the epitome of evil, but you have to feel a little sorry for them because they will go down in history as a principle reason why this nation swirled down history's toilet into a place on the long list of failed empires. Future historians will shake their heads and wonder how a nation of 300 million could have tolerated such corruption, incompetence, and outright evil. The sorry lot will take their place next to Nero fiddling in Rome's flaming ruins and Napoleon and Hitler marching into Russia's war-machine crushing winters. Historically they will be, to put it simply, remembered as America's dumbest national court and the reason why kids read about what ended the American Century with a whimper and a splat.


Unproductive Waste

I spent a day with a kid who I had hoped would be specially productive in adulthood. Among a group of reasonably intelligent kids, he seemed like someone who might blossom into someone who might contribute something useful to our society. I don't see him often. In fact, I guess I have seen him less than a couple of times in the last couple of years, so I was surprised to find he'd not only dropped out of an engineering program because it was "too hard" but had a lifelong desire to be in "law enforcement." To a guy like me, that's like finding out that someone I thought I knew a little turned out to be a mafia hitman. Not that I'd be amazed that I'd misinterpreted that person's character, but I'd be amazed that someone with choices would choose to be so worthless to society.

Let's be honest, cops are a necessary evil; humans being the un-house-broken mostly-vicious animal that we are. Necessary evils, by design, tend to attract less-than-idea characters. In the case of a government so near to a police state, as our has become, the people inclined to enforce laws that are often harmful, unproductive, and unjust are usually just the sort of people who enjoy activities like the police riots at last year's Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Often exactly the kind of people you would not want to be in that sort of position. In fact, it's probably safe to say that anyone who wants the job shouldn't be allowed to have it. (Very much like politics, the military, and corporate management.)

In that pointless discussion with a mindless kid, I brought up the fact that I believe a good portion of our "law enforcement" business is about persecuting unimportant victim-less crimes and avoiding chasing down the criminals who do the most damage to society. Wikipedia lists among this group of activities: "traffic citations and violations of laws concerning public decency, and include public drunkenness, illicit drug use, vagrancy, speeding and public nudity." In fact, Wikipedia's section on victimless crime is unusually good and complete with all arguments and a good bit of history. Surprise!

Of course, the real reason most of us "hate cops" is that nobody likes a tax collector. Even tax collectors hate tax collectors. Since our governments have been disabled by Repuglican inability to figure out that taxes pay for stuff, cops have been retasked with the job of handing out as many fines as possible for insignificant "offenses" while ignoring real crime and the most vicious predators. And that's why we hate them.


How Dangerous Are They?

The Teabag men and women are approaching scary. Maybe they zipped by it so fast that I missed the turning point. They carry and display guns at their rallies; and I mean big guns, automatic weapons fit for a murderous trip to the local high school or synagogue. The offer "prayers" of the sort pictured at right:
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
This is, of course, yet another example of how rarely the Golden Rule is obeyed in the Bible and an even stronger piece of evidence that Christians are still Jews Who Dislike Jews; in other words, Old Testament fans who like the idea of a Christ but who don’t care much for the things he was reported to have said.
This collection of unpatriotic, anti-democratic traitors could quickly pass from praying for the death of the President to making their crazy predictions come true. Since the Bushies stuffed so much of the federal bureaucracy full of similar nutballs, it's not hard to imagine another inside job like the Kennedy assassinations. The Secret Service has a terrible record of providing pitiful to non-existent protection for liberal, Democratic Presidents. You'd think they might be just a little biased. The CIA is outright traitorous, self-interested, and works against the best interests of everyone but the oil companies and other corrupt corporations. If the general population is willing to be this overt in their desire to overthrow an elected government, the chances are good that it will be done.

Before the last presidential election, Boston Legal's brilliant writers produced a farce-logical argument that might actually be the best hope the world has to resolve the mess the US has created in the world. 
Alan Shore and Denny Crane on Boston Legal:
Alan: "Okay, give me two reasons you're going to vote for McCain."

Denny: "If McCain wins, he'll help save the salmon... The wild salmon stocks in Canada are threatened by the climate change, fishing routing, sea lice... Once the salmon go, there goes half the ecosystem. I don't need to tell you."

Alan: "And... McCain will save them?"

Denny: "Not directly. But the push would. If McCain wins, it's like a third term of Bush. And a lot of Americans would immigrate to Canada. The smart ones. And the intelligence level of Canada goes up. They'll figure out how to save the salmon."

Alan: "... And the second reason?"

Denny: "Women are easier during a Republican administration. It's a fact. During Democratic regimes, volunteerism goes up, and you get a lot of women running around for this cause and that. They start to think they have something to say. Republicans tend to reinforce the idea that a woman's place is in the home, on her back. And not even taking into account all the women that would be depressed if McCain won. Sad girls are easy girls. I don't need to tell you. They're lonely. Salmon and women, in the end it's all about spawning. Drill, baby, drill."

Alan: "Salmon and Sex How did McCain miss that campaign slogan?"


Obsoleting Capitalism

Bertrand Russell said, "Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.” The last 30 years have given us a long, painful example of this capitalist principle. Since Reagan, the "fortunate" have had their way with American democracy. The result is a decimated education system that only the children of the wealthy can afford, a vanishing middle class, a crushed economy with little hope of reversing those misfortunes, and a government that only serves the interests of the richest 1%. The followers of that crazy Russian pervert, Ayn Rand, created a greedy, selfish, cynical, faux-religious neo-con movement that has purged the country of the rule of law, fair elections, and the future. This should have been no surprise.

Adam Smith, a founder of capitalist philosophy, believed the market's "invisible hand" would magically distributed goods and services fairly and rationally. A fundamental belief of capitalism is that the wealthy deserve their good fortune, even when wealth is inherited or when it is gained through criminal or antisocial or functionally useless behavior. The problem with unrestrained capitalism is that it is a sociopathic economic system that defeats democracy, decency, and justic. The concentrating of wealth in the hands of a tiny minority of mostly idle, inbred children of past generations of capitalists is a culture-destroying concept. At the beginning of the 21st Century, more than half of the wealthiest people in the country have inherited their wealth. The richest 1% own more of the country's treasure than does the bottom 95%. One of the prime reasons the United States was created was to escape the contamination and corruption of Europe's class system. Today, we are infected by exactly the class segregation and privledge the country was created to escape. Again, no one should be surprised.

Many of the folks who trust in blind faith that "market magic" will create a just society also believe in a plethoria of superstitions. “The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason,” so said Ben Franklin. Imagining that capitalism will, someday, reverse its greedy, destructive path is an act of faith that defies reason. John Keynes decimated that argument with sound analysis, "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone." That statement stands and the primary reason that Keynesian Economics are reviled by the Faux News crowd. It highlights their innate venality and holds it to the light of reason and justice. Corporations are, by nature, psychopathic and corrosive to democracy, justice, and the social and physical environment. Corporations are a core feature of capitalism. The existence of corporations, alone, is reason to distrust capitalism. Like corporations, inherited wealth and power has a long history of contaminating the societies where inheritance determines success. The "great cultures" of history have all fallen because they decided that luck of birth rather than sweat of achievement was the better contribution to society.

In my life, the worst people I've ever met have been corporate directors, VPs, and CEO's-and-CE-whatevers. I've sat in a room with a group of these psychos while they argued about the effects of notifying patients of the possible life-threatening danger their implanted medical devices presented. No, the execs weren't worried about the patients. They were worried about the effect notification would have on their stock options. No, they weren't "a few bad apples. They were typical of the sort of person who floats to the top of the corporate toilet bowl in every corporation in the world. The "wrong side of the tracks" is a phrase that is supposed to describe the poor side of town, but if it were used to describe where the worst characters in a community live it would always point to the wealthy.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Americans have fallen for the fantasy that capitalism has a moral superiority over socialism. “Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true.” Fran Lebowitz summed up the great East-West battle, "In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy." The only thing that matters is democracy and anything that opposes democracy is the enemy of the people. Suck on that.


A Wise Move

In a country where stupid is the new intellectual, it probably pays to be flexible. In Minnesota, we learned that one price of giving credibility to the right wing press is that ordinary people of good will are driven from government. Their replacements will be the usual suspects of "professional politicians" who masquerade as actual human beings; Pawlenty, for example. The chances that other actual human beings will follow Ventura into politics becomes vanishingly lower every year. The corporate media protects its own, ruthlessly.

The multiple standards the wingnut press applies to abusing government is amusing, at best, and treasonous on average. For example, in our last state election both of our corporate paper media outlets decided that picking on Tommy Emmer's history of drinking and driving and his perverted family's even worse character is out-of-line and irrelevant to the election of a governor. The fact that this candidate has a terrible personal record and that he is, apparently, not much of a parent or role model for his son was pretty obviously important information for those who expect their government's leaders to be honest, responsible, reasonably moral, and accountable. Emmer clearly had none of those qualities.

If the local media had not gone after Ventura at every opportunity for considerably fewer and less serious activities, there might be some credibility in their behavior. Since they pulled out every gun they owned to discredit our first citizen governor in decades, their bias has been easily identified. Pawlenty, who had the Minnesota version of Reagan's "Teflon coating," was a blatant corporate shill from the moment he entered politics. Hell, he lived off the income he made "on the board" for a crooked cell phone company for his two years of "unemployment" between 2003 and 2005, when he took office as the state's governor. NewTel Holdings and their subsidiary, New Access, paid Pawlenty $4,500-a-month to pretend to be a "consultant and legal adviser," although even Pawlenty couldn't remember doing anything specific for New Access and "didn't view that as my job" during the period. How many real humans can knock down $54k/year doing so little that the effort was less than inconsequential?

You can work for any number of crooked corporations, above and below the surface, and our corporate media stays in love with you, The more you know about Pawlenty, the less a working class voter should like him, so the media made sure we knew as little as possible. So, Emmer's kid gets drunk and decorates a drunken coed with penis pictures and he's off limits. A disgruntled state employee invents a tale of Ventura's son having parties in a building that Ventura closed during his term of office, and the media is all over it. Pawlenty gets a paycheck for doing nothing, by his own admission, from a corporation that was convicted of conning citizens out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges and that fact literally vanishes from his public biography. Ventura used some of his spare time to be an XFL broadcaster and the media goes nuts. In his spare time, a resource a governor apparently has plenty of, Pawlenty vanished from the state after he began campaigning for President a year before he left his Minnesota office and it wasn't a blip in our media's outlook, although Pawlenty left the state massively in debt with the worst employment statistics since the last Great Depression.

Our local governments are becoming just as infested by "professional corporate politicians." The media leaves out the middle term of the proper description, because "professional politician" doesn't excite the "wrong kind of reaction" the way the full name might. In a democracy, there is no such thing as a professional politician because elected officials serve the will of the public. In our corporatocracy, there are politicians who are professional in the worst sense of the word: "participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs." These paid and captured employees of corporate America are as disinterested in the future of the country and their communities as are the big box stores that Pawlenty and his ilk believe the country should imitate; "look toward a Sam's Club approach to government by providing value at a low cost." Democracy and Wal-Mart have nothing in common, just as the corporate model and democracy have always been at odds.

In the end, it appears that real humans will disappear from politics and we'll be left with the professionals. You'd think that even someone as committed to the ideals of politics as Obama would have second thoughts after a single term. Ventura probably left us with the perfect model for citizen-politicians: win, accidentally; fight like hell with everyone inbred in the system; leave while you still have a soul; finally, any time you have an audience, remind the public of how fuckin' stupid they were to let you go. Characters like Pawlenty, who have done nothing but suck the public tit their whole lives, don't have that option. Without political life, they aren't live at all. Citizen politicians can always go back to their real life, but if they don't do it quickly they'll lose that option and become "professional politicians" or, as they should be known, full-time deadbeats. 


Looking for a Perfect Market for Software?

Since the earliest days of the Rat's Eye View (#34, 2000), I argued that "The Rat's Eye Business Rule #1: No business is more than necessarily smarter than its customers." One of the best examples is in business software. I do not mean Quicken's Home and Office or Quicken Books or Microsoft Office or any one of the mass marketed programs that are intended for professional use but are sold to all of us. I mean the specialty software software designed for the biggest suckers in business: businesses. The bigger the business, the dumber the customer.

I've experienced this several times in my business career. The first time went back to the days (1967) of punchcards and hardwired business computers. That was followed by suffering with college computer systems in the 70's, Gerber and HP's godawful CAD systems in the 70's & 80's, the horrendous misery of IBM's quality management software with two medical devices companies (1990's), and most recently I'm all the way back to my own beginnings having to use the POS software that colleges buy. This past week, I heard exactly the same story from a middle manager in Minnesota's state government.

In particular, my own most resent misery has been caused by, first, the disorganized coding disaster produced by SonisWeb followed by an even bigger catastrophe misnamed CampusVue from Computer Management Corp. Both of these companies have done a fine job of targeting the function that most "educational institutions" are most concerned with: income management and customer/student tracking. However, these programs completely neglect the primary function of an educational facility; classroom management. From recording attendance to administering, scoring, and storing exams and final grades, these programs appear to have been written by a first semester, computer science student no more recently than 1975. Even worse, every "upgrade" blows away more useful features, blocks instructor access from classroom information, and adds more keystrokes to instructor's interaction with the already cumbersome and incompetent software.

You might wonder how such poorly written software can find customers? Easy. Administration buys the crap and administration has no clue what goes on in the classroom. You can't get a dumber customer than one who doesn't use the product or know what it's used for. What passes for "management" in today's dysfunctional organizations is so busy packing its pockets with "performance bonuses" for awful performance that nobody has an eye on operations or the bottom line or the future. That is pretty obviously a formula for disaster.