Category Archives: Commentary

Atma’s LA Voting Guide – 2012

A virtue driven analysis of election day options

What goes into choosing sides? To begin with it is important to acknowledge the need for opposing views. Debate and discourse on matters of societal importance are important. Deliberation provides the opportunity to strengthen good ideas and exposes weakness and flaws in the logic of bad ones. A robust exchange between philosophies that are left, right, and center is also a prophylactic to fascism and totalitarianism.

With that in mind how might one go about deciding what side they are on?

  • Should we side with those who have the most passion? Perhaps not since passion could be attributed to good acting and not necessarily wise counsel.
  • Should we go with what feels right? This is probably a bad idea since it assumes that our cultural conditioning, and the state of our nervous system (source of emotions) are the best arbitrators of political science. They are not and history has proven this (think National Socialist Workers Party, or Cultural Revolution).
  • Should we rely, as the cliché states, on the courage of our conviction? The problem with that is life is so complex and changes so quickly. This fast pace of changing life usually out paces the rate at which personal convictions can change.When we fall behind intellectually we are left with the irrational ideology of ‘believing in what I believe’; a very poor substitute for clear thinking.

In order to rise above all this we must in the words of William James, be dedicated to the obstinate pursuit of clear thinking. This is a multifaceted practice. It requires courage (which involves being comfortable with the discomfort of not knowing). Courage or fearlessness will allow you to question your assumptions. Assumption questioning is the super-human feat that breaks down barriers, spurs innovation, expands consciousness and empowers both the individual and the collective to succeed.

In evaluating the politicians and propositions I will combine face reading, game theory, and historical antecedents. Face reading is a means of arriving at a psychological diagnosis based on the way a subject has reacted and interacted emotionally with his or her environment.  Game theory is a method of studying strategic decision-making. Historical antecedents are a review of what has happened before in similar situations or with similar people. In this way I hope to build on psychological, logical and philosophical evidence.This is how I have attempted to evaluate the options facing my fellow Los Angelenos.

In addition to this I have used virtue as a standard for valuing the merit of an idea. This is not a black and white process. It is more like a hierarchy of ideas. Some ideas are better than others. So if you agree that compassion is a better idea than selfishness, honesty is a better idea than deception, and courage is a better idea than anxiety, you will most likely appreciate my suggestions. To put it another way, “It is the thinking person’s job to be on the side of the exploited.”

Atma’s Voting Guide –

United States President – ?!
In this case I cannot offer a suggestion between Barack and Romney. After evaluating them both against all standards of virtue they both fall way short of being likely to bring this country to its full potential and secure the rights  of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans.  Although between the two Mr. Romney scored lower on most aspects of virtue (particularly in sincerity and compassion). Obama also failed on a number of points (he shouldn’t have killed innocent kids or diminished the rights of US citizens). Although he is the lesser of two evils, I cannot vote for him in good conscience.  Because I reside in California I can have the luxury of a protest vote (most likely will go to the Green or Peace and Freedom). For people living in swing states I understand they may not feel comfortable with that option. But California will certainly go blue.

U.S Senate – DIANNE FEINSTEIN
I’m not a huge fan, but her opponent is a flawed, inexperienced candidate with a very muddled thinking process.

Proposition 30 (taxes for education)  – YES
Whether this one passes or 38 passes the majority wins – it means more money for education

Proposition 31 (more power for bureaucrats) – NO
This one is a poor idea to increase government authority without insuring the best interests of all.

Proposition 32 (curbs political spending) – NO
This is too little-too late in the fight over business spending on politics. First we must undo the effect of the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizens United’ disaster and then work our way down. This is simply an anti-union effort.

Proposition 33 C(car insurance discount) – NO
The car insurance industry scam. This is a most disingenuous plan to reform car insurance. It could also add a financial burden to young drivers, poor drivers, and new drivers.

Proposition 34 (death penalty) – YES
In a utopian society the death penalty could be a karmically justified. In these United States it is an instrument of injustice aimed at the poor, and the dark-skinned. California should drop it.

Proposition 35 (anti-human trafficking) – YES
Kind of hard to say no to this. I did take a look at the proposition and it is very poorly written and worded. Laws like this can become a slippery soap. But still… hard to say no.

Proposition 36 (fix the 3 strikes law) – YES
This was long over due. We do not want to live in a state where a person could be sentenced to life in prison for stealing a piece of pizza (it happened).

Proposition 37 – YES
My friends would all be upset if I said no to this. But I read the proposition and it is very poorly written, and will not fully accomplish what everyone promoting it is hoping for. Still, who wants to be on the same side as Monsanto.

Proposition 38 (higher taxes) – YES
Similar to prop 30, the money goes to schools, while this will not solve our educational and economic problems in California, it won’t make them worse. (If both props pass the one with the most votes goes forward, not both of them.)

Proposition 39  (the Amazon tax) – YES
This makes national companies that do business in CA pay up for the right. We deserve the money and it may help the local economy.

Proposition 40 (redistricting)  – YES
The issue was settled by the state supreme court, but you can still vote yes and send the message that a voter-approved citizens commission was a good idea.

US House District 33 – HENRY WAXMAN

Los Angeles County District Attorney – JACKIE LACEY
She is so much better a person than Alan Jackson.

LA County Measure A (county assessor) – NO
Let’s keep it democratic.

LA County Measure B (condoms for porn stars) – YES
If nothing else just to mess with an industry that degrades women and nurtures pedophillia

LA County Measure J (better metro/subways) – YES
The caveat here is that we also need a bill to ensure that bus riders would not be negatively affected by this bill

So there you have it. I am not doing this because you are not smart enough to figure it out for yourself. I am doing it because I thought you might like the benefit of my 25 years of analyzing politics, media, and policy making.(And maybe you were too lazy to do all the research 😉  next year start out earlier O,o)

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Why I am joining the Tea Party

I have had enough of trying to think and talk about what needs to be done. Now it is time to go with what I feel (frustrated). I have been a liberal lefty for a long time, and I’m tired of not getting any traction. It might be nice to see things get done for once. Maybe it is time to let the poor fend for themselves. After all,  if they had just worked harder they would be further ahead. Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry will create clear lines between the haves and the have-nots. But maybe that will make life easier, and I certainly won’t have to worry about what side I am on. I am tall, white and male; the trifecta of blessed in America.

With more deregulation and less government interference the odds of my getting ahead in America go up. Should I be penalized because somebody else was born poor and black, or in the wrong country? And I know it makes no economic sense but demonizing illegal immigrants is going to improve pride in America because at least we are standing up for our rights. If we let a bunch of busboys and gardeners have their way we lose sight of what make America great: we are a nation of rules and rule followers. Without rules we will have chaos, with rules we can focus on what is important, getting ahead and getting laid. Yes I said that. Let’s be honest getting some is the American Dream.

I for one am willing to put up with a little more inequality, if you can’t cut it and turn violent, well that’s what the prison system is for. A system, by the way, that should be privatized, so that American entrepreneurs can turn the sweat of those who couldn’t cut it into a healthy profit. Profits create jobs for those who deserve them.

Maybe it is time to give a world that is anti-intellectual, anti-art, and pro-patriotic a chance. Then we can focus on family values and for families without healthcare and housing we can all chip in and bring back volunteerism. We can take care of our own – just like the olden days; we don’t need a government telling us what to do. And we can stop worrying about the myth of climate change. There is nothing in wrong with the environment that can’t be fixed by free enterprise. Industry isn’t going to ruin its own back yard.

Join me in this growing political movement where the objections of the left can be overcome by believing in what we believe. In this new world order the courage of our convictions is all that matters. We are not alone we have FOX news on our side and many members of congress. But our great hope is the weak-willed liberals.  They are lazy and apathetic. They are not organized and have no sustainable new movement to carry them forward. They lack a clear voice, leadership, and a commitment to make their goals and values clear to the majority of Americans.

That’s why I am joining the tea party: less thought, more vitriol. It just feels right.

Sincerely,

Bobby Smile

Proud American

September 11, 2011

Obama does Osama

This is why I didn’t vote for Obama and why Hollywood scripts should not guide foreign policy

First two personal assertions:

1)      Barack Obama is not the pathetic and intellectually incurious enabler of criminal doctrine that his predecessor G.W. Bush was. And he is certainly not the dark and Machiavellian spook that Bush senior was.  Cleary Obama is more affable and intellectually competent than GW.

Consequently, I prefer him over Bush the way I prefer a cautious panther to a rabid hyena. In other words, I find Obama potentially dangerous, albeit more reserved. After all in voting record and substantive policy practices Obama is not widely different from his predecessors. And he is arguably not bucking the status quo and putting us on a more humane and compassionate path.

2)      Neither this article nor any of my convictions have a disparaging attitude against soldiers who risk their lives to protect the lives of the innocent. It has always been my hope to use my research and work in industrial psychology and stress management to support and improve the way in which the warrior class is trained up. A class I believe will always be needed even in the best of times. But there are rules to war  and the way we abide by them defines us as people.

That said I can make the unpopular suggestion that the raid against Osama Bin Laden is nothing to cheer about. Yes, he was a bad man. Yes he deserved to be punished for exploiting religion to justify violence and murder. But there is a reason why we don’t approve of other governments illegally assassinating unpopular personalities. It is because contrary to the hormonally stimulating depictions in many Hollywood films, we as Americans (at least an overwhelming majority of us) do NOT believe in the doctrine that might makes right.  We want to be the land of the free, not the home of the Stasi or the KGB.

Each time we surrender to the emotionally appealing but ethically destructive lure of the ‘might makes right’ mentality, we take a step on to a slippery slope that ends in the destruction of the humane and uplifting fabric that if not in practice at least in principle has always been our defining value as country.

The concept that might makes right is central to any totalitarian regime and anathema to the land of they who would be free. It is the foundation of all racist movements and almost always leads to oppression and then genocide.

What makes us strong and free is our ability to be just and fair by resisting the emotionally easy displays of violence as a means to solve our problems. Destroying your enemies is understandable.  Destroying your enemies without becoming them is venerable.   This is why we win when we put off revenge for justice, and overcome rage with wisdom.

Remember we were the country that put off Stalin’s show trials and Churchill’s summary executions and brought the perpetrators of the Nazi regime to stand relatively bona fide trial in the city of Nuremberg. We set an important standard in that era, we were not afraid to be better than our enemies.

When we rally around the simplistic devices of a Hollywood action film as a means for assuaging our political fears we do not become stronger, braver or freer. Instead we are diminished; reduced to cowering animals that lash out at what they fear. Courage requires compassion or else it becomes just a subterfuge for despotism. This is why assassinating Osama was wrong and capturing him would have been the far more American thing to do.

As a people we should remember that (at least) philosophically we have always championed the opposite of might makes right. We are Americans and we have a duty to be the best example of all the important virtues; courage, kindness, and wisdom.

As Abe Lincoln said, “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it”

Face Reading from Left to Right [COMMENTARY]

Boxer vs. Fiorina & Brown vs. Whitman

Studies in the Devil You Know and the Devil You Don’t Want to Know

Barbara Boxer is the like the smart mom on the block who really cares about others but doesn’t actually trust or believe in anyone. This creates a dangerous internal duplicity that is not unlike someone who lovingly pats you on the head after you fall while muttering, “I knew you couldn’t do it”. As a politician she is a strong spokesperson for the less fortunate without actually having the strength of heart to do something for them because she doesn’t believe they deserve it or thinks they will just mess up any advantage they are given. This makes it unlikely that she will ever back any real fundamental change in society. She is not a bad person per se, she is just not a great person either.

Carly Fiorina reminds me of an alien entity that would care for her progeny until she felt they were no longer essential and then she would eat them. She is a person of affable demeanor, but most unpleasant character. It is hard to feel positive about her because she has such a dark disposition. Sadly she is one of those people who believe the end justifies the means. She is not empathically capable of understanding the full extent and implications of decisions she makes. This is a good quality in a ruthless dictator but not so good in a trusted civil servant.

Jerry Brown is like the wimpy kid who always wanted to get respect and became expert at conforming to the zeitgeist in pursuit of popularity. This is one reason he has been so successful in winning elections in the past. Unfortunately he does not have the strength, or courage to do what is needed to bring a nation-state like California back to full healthy functionality. He is like a TV show version of an expiring politician scrambling for the last hurrah that has always avoided him because he has lived a life of form over content. Like Senator Boxer he is also not a bad person, but he is certainly no civic hero.

Meg Whitman is such an off the charts negative person it is hard to know where to begin. She has many of the indicators on her face of person with antisocial personality disorder. She could be the poster child for the Nuovo School of Fascism. It is perfectly understandable why she would make an excellent CEO. Most corporations are essentially institutionalized forms of authoritarian, totalitarian states that have little interest in pluralism, egalitarianism, or rationalism; making Meg Whitman an ideal candidate to run such a state. It might not, however, be such a good idea to put her in charge of a republic that still has democratic ideals. It’s very poor thinking to assume that what makes a good C.E.O would translate into a functional civil servant. Ms. Whitman is the antithesis of what a political leader should be.

To learn more about face reading visit, ‘How to Read Faces’.

Terror in Times Square

Islamic militant terrorism is a Muslim problem. American military and diplomatic efforts, while necessary, will not succeed. Even now American forces, Nato troops and Pakistani soldiers are chasing down militant types with great determination. Most of the time, the hunted extremists disperse and disappear in a very cockroach like manner. Hiding amongst the population (or in caves) they simply wait for further opportunities to pursue their agenda. In some cases wrongheaded military action like the invasion of Iraq actually makes things worse. (In September of 2006 a combined National Intelligence Estimate by 16 US intelligence services concluded that the invasion of Iraq has led to an increase in global terrorism.) In the long run western involvement will probably make things worse. A long term significant solution must come from the ranks of the Islamic. Furthermore, this solution will have to be spiritual if not religious in scope.

The beauty of Islam is that at its heart, it is a peace loving and devotional religion. Consider this important quote from their scripture, “Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if one has killed all humankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if one has saved the life of all humankind.”(Al-Ma’idah 5:32)

Islam is also a deeply ingrained culture. The nature of Islam as religion and culture dictates that the solution and leadership needed to solve this problem come from one of their own. For this a new Muslim hero is needed. One who will champion the ideals of Islam and will fearlessly denounce those would selectively abrogate the true teachings and goals of Islam. The Muslim nations need a kind and courageous hero who is willing to describe those killers of innocents as traitors and offenders to the great Mohamed.

As frustrating and scary as the recent New York near misses are if we want to see the terroristic chicanery cease and desist then we should hope and pray that some brave new hero emerges from the millions of intelligent and peace seeking true believers of Islam.

Is there anything we can do besides hope and pray? Sure! Step out of your culture and get to know the Muslims in your community. Dialoguing, sharing life experiences, just getting to know one another is a valuable step. Another important way non-Muslims can encourage an outcome-where any sign of direct involvement can be construed as a tainting influence-is by setting the example. When any one person acts with kindness and courage in their culture it will have an impact on the consciousness of others. This is the legacy of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Elie Wiesel, Aung San Suu Kyi…

We have ample opportunity these days to stand up to intolerance, exploitation, and ignorance.

What ideas do you have for exemplifying courage and kindness?

Face Reading for Relationships… Tiger vs Jesse

Women, do you know what to look for to avoid getting dogged by your choice of soul mate?

Men, do you know how to check your own psych profile to find out if you have the tell-tale signs of a womanizer? (Hint: your ongoing behavior and deepest desires are recorded on your face.)

What we have in these two men are classic but distinctly different womanizers. A womanizer is someone who can’t stop flirting with, obsessing with, and getting in bed with women. It is not a sex addiction (although sometimes that can be a simultaneous problem). Womanizing, also known as being a selfish-callous-dick when it comes to women, is a compulsion to prove and to experience your own ability to attract the opposite sex. The womanizer has a powerful psychological need for emotional conquest. He is driven by an insatiable urge to be needed and to feel worthy by being needed.

While this problem is common to many men, what is of greater concern is the degree of the problem. Some man may have the inclination toward womanizing but have enough internal resources to override those impulses. Others will succumb; as in the case of our two subjects of discussion, Messrs. Woods and James.
Most of the information about behavior towards women is located in the lower parts of the face. But to fully understand the implications of any such evidence it has to be evaluated based on what is going on in and around the eyes.
Much of what drives this heart breaking behavior is a combination anger and self loathing, in Jesse’s case he never developed a trusting and fulfilling bond with his mother and always felt like he wasn’t good enough to satisfy or impress her.

Tiger on the other has all the marks of the “family emblem”, a guilt ridden compulsive succeeder, combined with the “peck’s bad boy” persona – slow self destructor addict.

While I am sure both of their wives would have liked to know this before they started down that road, based on the women’s readings only Ms. Bullock might have listened. Ms. Elin Woods might have had an inkling but probably would have thought she had what it took to “save” or “fix” him. Sadly she is programmed to choose fatalistic relationships. For Ms. Bullock there would have been hope had she known how to see what is so obvious to the face reader.

This is why I teach face reading to people. It is in part to arm both men and women in the battle with the unconscious mind which has the capacity to sabotage so much of what we are trying to get right. I strongly believe that everyone can develop this skill and learn to use it to improve the way one navigates through life. It is a wonderful and healing thing to see the world as it is and not how we wish it to be.

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Learn more about face reading at How to Read Faces

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