Current Events Presentation
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Third Saturday Seminar 2012-2013
Return of the Elders, Unleash your Wisdom

Session 07
"Power? Power? Whose power is it anyway?"

Curt Gibby

 Saturday, 20 April 2013
9:30AM til 12:00 noon

 Room B-102, (the usual place), Lone Star College - Montgomery
3200 College Park Drive - Conroe, TX - 77384 - 936.273.7000 


Even shortly after the Revolutionary War, naysayers, some well-meaning, were predicting that Democracy in America would be short-lived.  They just couldn’t see how a government of humans could hold this radical idea together and predicted a return to if not a monarchy, some dictatorial form of government.  I understand that Lafayette on his last visit to the United States to receive the thanks of a grateful country begged our leaders to do everything in their power to preserve our democracy, so it would become a model for other nations, and so it has.

However, our ability to exercise strong rational governance is no longer apparent.  We have become polemicized, stupid and gullible. Our forefathers put in writing a Constitution that masterfully created a balance of power and protected everyone against the excesses of the powerful, including the powerful institutions of the various levels of government as well as commercial and corporate interests.  In creating the Bill of Rights that provided this protection to the individual, along with the “balance of powers” it appears that we have created what political scientist Frank Fukuyama called 'vetocracies,' which I heard used last Thursday by  Moises Naim, the author of "The End of Power," as he was being interviewed by Ray Suarez of the PBS Newshour.  I felt that there was much in the discussion that would interest the Seminar.


And so I suggest we base our discussion on that interview:
Book Traces History and Decline of Political Power as Power of 'No' Rises

Moises Naim's new book, "The End of Power," aims to track the history of political power and answer why being in charge isn't what it used to be. Ray Suarez spoke with Naim, who is also a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, about why power is both harder to use and to keep today.

In the 21st century, is the power that comes with running things, governments, armies, religions, all that it used to be?

I strongly recommend that, if possible, you watch, listen to, or (read the transcript of) the interview online.  It is in two parts. 
This is the part that was broadcast. 

A continuation (part 2) is posted here.

Part 1 is 6 ½ minutes long, Part 2 is 3 ½ minutes, total 10 minutes

For further reading:

Too Much of a Good Thing, Peter Orzag
In an 1814 letter to John Taylor, John Adams wrote that “there never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” That may read today like an overstatement, but it is certainly true that our democracy finds itself facing a deep challenge

Moises Naim’s Web Site

  Why the people in power are increasingly powerless  Moisés Naím, March 01, 2013

Moises Naim is Venezuelan so you might find this article timely
  Hugo Chávez, R.I.P.: He Empowered the Poor and Gutted Venezuela Moisés Naim, March 05, 2013

'We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy' Jul 8, 2005
Omar Bakri Mohammed, is a Syrian-born cleric who has promoted and praised violence against Israel, America and Britain for years. In 2000, Bakri told Cybercast News Service in an interview: "We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy."

And as usual we will start with 45 minutes of Current events:

Boston Marathon Bombing.  Perhaps by the time we meet, we will have more details  Having grown up in a town next to Boston, I can relate to much of what is going on.  The media, in my opinion, are finally starting to produce pertinent information of what happened and how, which we hope will help make early detection efforts more reliable in the future. I know that TV reporters feel they have to say something even when there is really nothing to say and mindlessly  loop the short bits of video of the blast over and over which totally distort the viewers' perception.  It might have been more useful as the people and the responders began to get the situation back under control, to explain to the viewer what was going on.

It brought back memories of how the incessantly manically repetitive reporting and video looping by the media that followed 9-11 panicked our Congress, our children, and we, the public, into weakening our constitutional rights and being led like lemmings into a 10 year, multi-trillion dollar war in  Iraq and sacrificing  thousands of American lives and disabling of tens of thousands more, and  left over 100,000 Iraqis killed and disabled and really dissatisfied with us

There is a way to deal with terrorism, but it requires intelligence and wisdom, not panic, shooting wildly from the hip, and torture.  Let’s hope we realize that what are collateral damages to our side, are innocent children and loved ones to the other side.

The gun control bill will drop the “assault rifle” provision.  What’s left?  Mark Kelly on gun control bill: 'We do have a problem' with many senators” The husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an advocate of stricter gun laws, warned a fellow Arizonan of repercussions at the ballot box if he votes against a gun control measure to expand background checks. A lot of senators, said Mark Kelly, want a reason 'to get to no.'

Golly, I’ve almost forgotten about North Korea.  The mouse is still roaring.  New N. Korea threats against South, U.S. 
N. Korea issued new threats after protesters in Seoul burned effigies of the North's leaders and threatened retaliatory measures against S. Korea and "unspecified military countermeasures" unless the U.S. stops conducting military drills nearby.

Talk about forgotten – Iran says they had a good meeting  in March, but US and other participants walked out of the meeting. If you are interested in what is believed to be going on you can read the February report through the link above.


Public Service Announcements

Save the date(s) for

Lone Star College Election Board of Trustees and Bond  Election May 11, 2013
Board of Trustees election

$497 Million Bond Referendum

Saturday, May 11, 2013, Early Voting: April 29 - May 7

General Election 2014 Are you ready?  There is ONLY 1 Year, 8 Months and 17 Days until the next General Election,  
Do you know who you want to vote for?


Come, join the discussion! Let's see if there is hope!

2012 Fall Schedule of Classes

Academy for Lifelong Learning: LSC-Montgomery

Campus & Parking Map


You can fill out a registration form (at the end of the schedule PDF link above)
and submit it to us at

Continuing Education/ALL Office Building E (Room 205)
3200 College Park Dr.
Conroe, TX 77384

or get in touch directly

See you Saturday - Thanks for your support!

DON'T (be) PANIC(ked)

Curt Gibby
Director, Third Saturday Seminar
P. O Box 73207
Houston, Tx 77273
P.S. As usual if anything in this notice doesn't make sense, please let me know. (You won't be the first, I will appreciate it and say, "Thank you," Curt)