Tag Archives: current-events

The Threat of Idiocracy

Exactly ten years ago—in 2006—filmmaker Mike Judge released a movie called Idiocracy. The movie, a satirical comedy, tells the tale of an America of the future, a nation of anti-intellectuals—idiots—governed by former professional wrestler President Camacho. The outlandish plot and dystopian vision of America was heralded by some as a nascent vision of our future … our distant future. However, the presidential aspirations of Donald Trump and the response to it,  may have fast-forwarded this notion: “Trump’s blatantly anti-intellectual, boorish persona is so over the top, it has drawn multiple comparisons to that of pro-wrestler-turned-president Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho in Mike Judge’s eerily prescient satire, 2006’s Idiocracy” (Perry). In fact, no less than the author of the screenplay weighed in last February with this tweet: “I never expected #idiocracy to become a documentary” (Cohen).

When businessman and reality television personality Donald Trump announced he was entering the 2016 presidential contest, a majority of political pundits gave Mr. Trump very little chance of winning the nomination of the Republican Party—much less winning the presidency. Today, as the nation stands at the precipice of Mr. Trump as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, it is instructive to look back into history and compare the tactics of other destructive demagogues who shared the same vitriol being spewed by Mr. Trump during his march on Pennsylvania Avenue. Has our republic devolved to the point where we as a nation are ready to elect a man who can, arguably, be described as non-presidential? And ultimately, what has been (and will be) the effect of a Trump presidency on our republic? The answers are clear: A Donald Trump presidency would be a dangerous step back in our nation’s history and must not be allowed to come to fruition.

The ascendancy of the Trump phenomenon has surprised some politicos and pundits. The brash nature of the man and his lack of political experience, on the surface, make him a weak candidate for responsible political office, much less as leader of the free world. The rhetoric of Mr. Trump and been vitriolic and at times dangerous. Examples include his call for a ban on Muslims entering the country and his promise to pay the legal fees of any supporter who attacks protestors at his campaign rallies.  However, this type of invective speech doesn’t occur in a vacuum—there is a receptive audience for it, as his growing base of support shows: “There is a lot of anger in the electorate, which Trump’s victory reflects” (Davidson).

It is precisely this anger and perceived disenfranchisement that Mr. Trump skillfully exploits. There is a large segment of the population that is, generally, uneducated—and frankly afraid—afraid that the government will come for their guns, their churches, and their livelihoods. These are fears that have no foundation in rational discourse, fears that are flamed by demagogues like Mr. Trump who are motivated less by conviction and more by sheer ego. In his book The Art of the Deal, Mr. Trump unabashedly rants about his deal-making prowess, often at the expense of the means necessary to attain the ends: “I wasn’t satisfied just to earn a good living. I was looking to make a statement. I was out to build something monumental—something worth a big effort” (Blair).  This brash, devil-may-care attitude has struck a chord. President Obama’s former campaign manager David Axelrod said “Donald Trump has a phenomenal sense of his audience” (Chotiner).

In the 1950s there was a similar audience, an audience that feared the encroachment of communism and the rise of the Soviet Union. And there was a man then too—a Senator from Wisconsin named Joseph McCarthy—who also had a clear sense of his audience. Sen. McCarthy skillfully exploited the fears of the era to fuel his rise to prominence within the US Senate, and his place on the national stage. His tactics led to the creation of the word McCarthyism; “Today, McCarthyism is used to describe any public accusation of disloyalty without real proof” (Fitzgerald 84). Ironically (or predictably to some), Mr. Trump has called for a wall to be constructed to keep out what he describes as Mexican drug runners and rapists’. Furthermore, he has advocated denying Muslims entry into the US based on their religious faith alone. At no time has Mr. Trump provided any real evidence to back up his claims; and the media has been generally unwilling to effectively challenge him on this inflammatory rhetoric—just as the media was unwilling to do so in the incipient stages of McCarthyism.

The similarities between Mr. Trump and Sen. McCarthy are obvious and frightening. In my lifetime, I never imagined I would see the rise of a personality so deeply entwined with the hatred and vitriol of McCarthy. As the son of parents who witnessed this destruction first-hand, I feel an obligation to sound the klaxon and remind my fellow citizens of the parallels being played out in our current political arena. I was merely a child during the successive presidential campaigns of Governor George Wallace of Alabama, but I have distinct memories of my parents expressing their feelings of anger and disappointment that such a racist individual—an unapologetic segregationist—could advance as far as he did each time. I am clearly not alone in my concern:

Trump is increasingly more George Wallace than Ronald Reagan; his outbursts against establishment politics and undocumented immigrants have few limits. Trump’s raw message particularly resonates with those Americans who have stomached a decade of economic loss and social displacement. It is an American paradox that billionaire Trump so effectively channels George Wallace’s blue-collar, everyman appeal and message. (Williams)

In fact, the line between Mr. Trump and Governor Wallace is short indeed:

“I love that he’s talking in everybody else’s language. He’s not trying to be politically correct”…THAT response is simply an update from one of Mr. Wallace’s 1968 followers…”He tells it like it is and if it offends some government bureaucrats and loudmouth civil rights agitators, so what? He’s standing up and fighting for real Americans.” (Carter)

 These soundbites are irresistible to the ratings-hungry news media and further advance the ill-informed and racist’s views of the speaker. But to the blue-collar workers, struggling to make ends meet and seeing their jobs in danger of being shipped overseas, this rhetoric feeds into their paranoia and gives them an icon to rally around… just as Gov. George Wallace did in the 60s and early 70s. This is their president. This is the individual telling them what they want to hear—rationality and facts be damned. That Trump has no political experience is a bonus to them—he’s an outsider. That he is not presidential at all is even better—he’s one of us.

It’s hard to imagine Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office and subsequently being Commander in Chief of the world’s largest military force. This is the man who has participated in Wrestlemania events (an activity hardly considered to be statesman-like behavior). This is the man that has encouraged physical violence at his campaign rallies. This is the man who consistently spews racist views. Yes, this could be our next president. While character is not specifically mentioned as a qualification for being president in our Constitution, common sense, a sense of decorum, and downright decency should be qualities the voter considers when electing a president. Consider the following statements from candidate Trump: “Listen, you motherfuckers, we’re going to tax you 25 percent! … This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop…Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it!” (Bailey). Presidential language and sentiment indeed—FDR, Eisenhower, and even Republican stalwart Ronald Reagan would surely blanch at the possibility of this man sharing their throne in the Oval Office.

In addition to the national disgrace that would be a Trump presidency as the result of his actions and rhetoric, it’s wise to consider the psychology of the man hoping to have his finger on the nuclear button. Is the man so recklessly and childishly calling on his followers to assault those peaceful demonstrators who disagree with him, able to maturely control our armed forces—indeed have to power to annihilate our planet? “When he lost, he would say he won; when he won, he would say he won more. A psychologist might call such behavior narcissistic, egotistical, and, no doubt, a sign of hidden insecurity” (Blair). However, a proper clinical diagnosis can certainly not be made based purely upon the rhetoric of a political candidate. As many Trump supporters will eagerly claim, Mr. Trump is not, in fact, a racist, a misogynist, or any of the other titles that seem to fit him so well. They claim that Mr. Trump is a brilliant political strategist with his finger on the pulse of the population. And they may be right: “For all his theatrics, Trump has caused a stampede in the Republican Party and he’s done this using a classic, class-based divide-and-rule strategy” (Trubowitz).

In the context of today’s media free-for-all climate, it is certain that many voters are influenced by broadcast media outlets such as Fox and MSNBC. Neither of these networks can be, arguably, described as unbiased sources of information. In 1987, when the FCC Fairness Doctrine (a requirement that broadcast news be honest and balanced) was gutted, the landscape of the so-called news media took on an entirely different meaning. News producers were now free to openly cultivate what they had surreptitiously sought for years—ratings—and the resultant advertising revenue that followed. “If it bleeds it leads” was the cry of the media now, and sensationalism was the order of the day. Candidate Trump is the logical extension of this denigration of the fourth estate. A man with reality-show credentials and a personality larger than life, Trump exploits the media in an unaffected manner like no other candidate. The louder, more boorish his behavior, the bigger the rating and the more electoral support he gains. Trump is well known for his sophomoric Twitter rants; and now, scholarly research has shown it to be quite effective: “We…evaluated the effects of Trump’s tweeting activity on the growth of his followers…the more he tweeted the faster his follower camp grew. Lastly, we measured the effects of two Trump-initiated controversies. Based on our data, neither one is hurting his campaign” (Wang et al. 4).

Similarly: “Trump’s supporters have continuously ranked among the most intolerant and least educated of voters—a point punctuated by Trump’s triumphant assertion, after winning this week’s Nevada caucus, that he loves ‘the poorly educated” (Perry). So the question arises: is it the man or is the man simply tapping into a nascent and dangerous ideology? Is America ready for a leader who expounds the virtues of intolerance? Regardless of the source, this homogenization of hatred must not be allowed to continue. In The Open Society and Its Enemies, renowned 20th century psychologist Karl Popper agrees: “We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal…” (qtd. in Hedges 1). Analyzed from this perspective, the blatant hate-speech and racist vitriol transcend the musings of a petulant man-child and indeed contributes to a damaging dialogue that slowly, but consistently, tears away at the fabric of rational public discourse.

This kind of negative discourse, the factions described by Hamilton et al in The Federalist Papers, are immune from the remedies described by our founding fathers. The safety net, the opposition mounted from rational members of society, is gradually being thwarted by the fear-mongering likes of Mr. Trump and some evangelical Christians:

…the myth peddled by the Christian Right about the American heartland: that here alone are family values and piety cherished, nurtured and protected. The so-called red states, which vote Republican and have large evangelical populations, have higher rates of murder, illegitimacy and teenage births than the so-called blue states… (Hedges 46)

These are the folks that our forefathers envisioned rising up against factions. Instead, they are being led down a path of fear and redemption by a presidential candidate that is far from presidential.

While the conventional political wisdom holds that Mr. Trump is unlikely to win the presidential election, the broader concern should be the effect his rise and his candidacy is having on our electorate. Movements like this don’t happen in a vacuum and there may well be long term effects from its success. While touted by conservatives as a great president, Ronald Reagan’s social and economic polices arguably set into motion destructive patterns within our society that remain today. It is also likely that the success of the Trump campaign and the resultant nearly complete lack of critical coverage by the major broadcast news organizations will be setting the plate for the next Trump … or McCarthy … or Wallace:

But there are striking similarities between Mr. Trump and George C. Wallace…The connections between the two — their rhetoric and their ability to fire up crowds — give us a better sense of what Trumpism will mean once he is gone from the campaign stage. After all, political losers as well as winners can shape the future. (Carter)

The damage done to the Republican Party will be the most immediate concern. Their lack of cohesiveness, not only in Congress, but in fielding effective countermeasures against one of their own is astonishing. This is a party in crisis; Mr. Trump has hijacked the party and the so-called Trump Train is racing full speed ahead into a chasm that will be very difficult for them escape: “The consequences for America and the world—if he wins, of course, but maybe even if he loses—are unknowable and perhaps unimaginable. The degree to which…he will also permanently deform American politics can only be speculated upon, but his primary victory will, decades from now, likely be seen as one of the defining events of 21st-century America” (Chotiner).

Perhaps another troubling sidebar to Mr. Trump’s candidacy has been the nearly widespread lack of critical coverage among the major broadcast new organizations. With the exception of partisan stalwarts Fox and MSNBC, the big three (ABC, NBC, CBS) as well as CNN have been generally easy on the candidate. It’s nearly impossible to imagine Mr. Trump’s rise in the era of Murrow and Cronkite. It simply wouldn’t happen. So that begs the question of whether we have entered, in the days after the repeal of the FCC Fairness Doctrine, an era of free-for-all politics. Will our political process be reduced to shouting matches and ad hominem attacks? Will our fourth estate complete their death knell and encourage this behavior to boost their stock prices? We may already be there: “And yet when people look back…a generation from now, our larger cultural response—at least as seen through our television media—will seem incomprehensible…there was hardly a whimper…the media have spent so long domesticating Trump that his victory no longer appeared momentous. He is the new normal” (Chotiner).

But is this paradigm shift unhealthy? Some would argue that this form of rhetorical democracy is vital: “Civility is often the camouflage for hiding challenges to the big-government faction… the First Amendment does not protect merely decorous or genteel speech, but as the political rhetoric of American history shows, all manner of speech no matter how rude or uncivil” (Thornton). There is no question that the principles of rhetorical democracy must be protected and unlike Popper, I’m not advocating imprisonment of those merely expressing intolerance through speech. However, it is clear that the American political landscape has been changed by the Trump candidacy—our discourse has become not only uncivil, but it has pandered to our collective base instincts—our lowest common denominator is now enjoying an ascendancy heretofore rationally unimagined. It remains to be seen what the lasting effects of Mr. Trump’s candidacy will be; but it is incumbent upon all those who share a stake in the political system to think critically about what is happening and exercise lasting vigilance.

History has shown that our nation has survived the destructive likes of Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace. The parallels between those divisive figures and Mr. Trump have been well documented. Likewise, the crude and boorish behavior of candidate Trump has been on display throughout the current election cycle, and yet his appeal has grown exponentially. This begs the question of the effect the “Trump Factor” will have on our country and the electorate in general. A resounding, crushing defeat of Mr. Trump in the general presidential election will go a long way towards reclaiming not only the gravitas of the presidency, but will help send a message that appealing to the lowest common denominator is not the road to the White House. Maybe we can suspend the advent of Idiocracy for at least another generation.

Works Cited

Bailey, Jason. “Who Said It: Presidential Hopeful Donald Trump or ‘Idiocracy’ President       Camacho?” Flavorwire. Flavorpill Media, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 06 May 2016.

Blair, Gwenda. Donald Trump: The Candidate. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005. Google Books. Alphabet, Inc. Web. 06 May 2016.

Carter, Dan T. “What Donald Trump Owes George Wallace.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 09 Jan. 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

Chotiner, Isaac. “Donald Trump Is TV’s New Normal. That’s Insane.” Slate Magazine. The Slate Group, 03 May 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

Cohen, Etan (etanjc). “I never expected #idiocracy to become a documentary.” 24 Feb. 2016, 9:27 a.m. Tweet.

Davidson, Amy. “Why Cruz, and the G.O.P., Lost to Trump.” The New Yorker. Conde Nast,  04 May 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

Fitzgerald, Brian. McCarthyism: The Red Scare. Minneapolis: White-Thomson Publishing Ltd., 2007. Print.

Hedges, Chris. American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006. Print.

Idiocracy.  Dir. Mike Judge. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2006. Film.

Perry, Tod. “Idiocracy Writer Admits He May Have Predicted the Future.” GOOD Magazine. GOOD Worldwide Inc., 26 Feb. 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

Thornton, Bruce S. “Here’s Mud in Your Eye: Politics in Democracies Have Always Been Rough and Tumble, and We’re Better off Because of It.” Hoover Digest 1 (2016): 29+. Academic OneFile. Web. 7 May 2016.

Trubowitz, Peter. “How the “Trump Factor” Came to Dominate the 2016 Election.” LSE Research Online. LSE Research Online, 1 Mar. 2016. Web. 06 May 2016

Trump, Donald and Schwartz, Tony. The Art of the Deal. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987. Print.

Wang, Yu, Jiebo Luo, Richard Niemi, and Yuncheng Lee. “To Follow or Not to Follow: Analyzing the Growth Patterns of the Trumpists on Twitter. “To Follow or Not to Follow: Analyzing the Growth Patterns of the Trumpists on Twitter  (2016): 1-4. Google Scholar. Web. 6 May 2016.

Williams, Victor. “Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and a Disrupted Electoral College: High Unfavorable Ratings, Multi-Candidate General Election Ballots, and Pursuing the ‘Art of the Deal’ with Free-Agent Electors in December 2016”. Social Science Research Network. Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc., 4 Dec. 2015. Web. 6 May 2016.

 

 


If You’re Looking for Justice…

 

courtesy AP

courtesy AP

…please don’t look to the courts.  The so-called “Judicial System” is not.

I haven’t followed the Trayvon Martin case very closely because A) I had a feeling this was where we were headed and B) It became the kind of media even that I loathe.

So frankly,I’m writing from a position of limited information. I’m writing from emotion, without all the facts.

Trayvon Martin’s killer was acquitted tonight of murder. He claimed self-defense and the jury bought it.

Except for one thing…the killer created the scenario requiring him to claim self-defense. Zimmerman doesn’t intervene…Martin lives.

There are a million nuances that can be parsed in this case and in this verdict, but I know this:  “Justice” wasn’t served tonight. What I also know is this: if I’m on that jury, from everything I’ve read to date, I vote not-guilty too.

Is it right? No. Is it justice? No. Am I following the proper jury instructions and considering only the evidence presented and objectively evaluating that evidence as it relates to my jury instructions? Yes, probably.

Folks, this isn’t about the jury anymore than it was the LAPD/Rodney King jury. I watched that trial every day until a verdict was delivered and I too would have found the cops not-guilty. Again…justice? No. Following proper jury instructions? Yes.

Until our legislators craft laws that allow a jury to consider real-world, common sense, yet objective evidence and legal procedure, we will continue to witness these grave injustices.

If you want justice, take that passion and contact your senator, your representative…get involved. Don’t sit on the sidelines and chirp away at how “unfair” it is.  You’re damn right it’s unfair but until you are willing to affect REAL change…it’s all just white noise perpetuated by the lazy to make themselves feel better.

Justice was most certainly not served tonight. What are YOU going to do?


When the Law and Homophobia Marry…

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So here’s the deal.  Back in the days of the caveman, I’m going to take a wild guess that there were not a whole lot of social values and mores in place that prevented same sex physical union.  Those poor neanderthals (excuse the pun) didn’t have the advantage of Fox News or the Westboro Baptist Church to tell them that fooling around with a person of the same gender was “perverted”.

Enter today’s neanderthals…well spoken men and women, some carrying legal briefs in their thick leather cases, telling us poor folks that this SCOTUS argument today really isn’t about discrimination, it’s about the rights of individual states to decide if they want to allow same-sex marriages.  They argue that if the judicial branch rules for same-sex marriage, it would be a blanket imposition of a social agenda on all 50 states…rather than letting the individual states decide for themselves.  A very attractive argument in my opinion. Except it’s flawed.

Flawed in this sense:  marriage, despite all their attempts to moralize it, is at its core, a legal contract.   Currently, we do not allow members of the same sex to enter into this legal contract.  By any definition, this is discrimination based on sexual preference.  End of story.

Spare me the emotional religious arguments that marriage is a sacrosanct union between a man and a woman.  It is not.  If it was, you would not need to obtain a government “license” to enter into it.  It is, again, simply a legal contract.  To continue to deny a segment of our population access to this contract and all the benefits and responsibilities it engenders, is no different than telling them they need to sit at the back of the bus…or to drink from another drinking fountain.

Enough.


Don’t Piss Off the Professor…

I’m 52 and going back to college.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been at this institute of higher learning.

34 years to be exact.  34 years ago, the perception I had of professors is apparently different from the one I have now.  I learned the hard way last night that professors are not perfect–don’t know everything–and get kinda pissy when you know more than they do.

I should have expected that 34 years of life experience and real-world education brings more to the classroom than the other undergrads I share elementary school desks with.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a know-it-all in any sense of the word, but one of the reasons I’m passionate about school is the opportunity to engage in an exchange of ideas and beliefs.

So last night, at the start of class, the Professor begins with a discussion of current events.  She led with the poor guy in Florida who was swallowed by the sink hole.  Sorry, Prof, but I can get this on American’s favorite infotainment news network–CNN, so I promptly changed the subject to the Attorney General’s unwillingness to rule out targeted Drone strikes on US citizens on US soil (he subsequently issued a statement recanting this).  She immediately became indignant and stated that she needed to know the context.  I briefly summarized the current debate over the Administration’s targeted killing program, and again, she hedged and seemed irritated and essentially dismissed my “current event”.

To say my ego was bruised is an understatement.  It took about an hour before I finally realized she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about and it apparently embarrassed her (speculation on my part, I admit).  Nonetheless it taught me a lesson.  I need to remember that Professors are human too and are subject to the same life stressors we all have and she may not have the same keen interest/passion in current events that I do.  Granted it is a US History class (1860-present) but hey, I’ll cut her some slack.  She’s a competent instructor with a passion for teaching and an engaging style.

I just need to remember to that not everybody see the world through my lenses…and moderate my expectations in junior college while maintaining my enthusiasm for learning.


Dear Mr. Obama…

Obama And Biden Sworn In During Official Ceremony

…I congratulate you on your second term (I voted for you) and I join you in celebrating your inauguration today.  You presented us with another beautiful speech today…filled as always with hope, inspiration and the promise of a better world.

It is, in fact, your words and your promises that have moved me like no other President in my 51 years.  You are my J.F.K.  And I believe you are a good man.  I continue to believe you are a decent man who believes the words coming from within you.  I need to believe this, because you see Mr. President, I am deeply disturbed about some of the events that have transpired during your presidency.  Events, policies and executive orders that betray your words; indeed policies that betray the hope you have instilled within us.

Why, sir, are we confronted with the following deep and fundamental threats to our liberty that you so eloquently champion?

  • The National Defense Authorization Act (N.D.A.A.) allows the military to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected of supporting terrorism.  Due process? You ceded to congressional republicans on this one at the expense of our civil liberties Mr. President. A precedent was set and a frightening one at that.  As you rightfully championed the civil rights of LGBT Americans today, you have quietly usurped the core rights of all of us when you signed this Act.
  •  A policy certainly begun by another administration but exponentially expanded during yours, the use of unmanned drones continues to concern me.  I am in favor of minimizing risks to our troops through the use of this technology and am certainly far from prude when it comes to the sad necessity of collateral damage within the framework of the rules of war.  What raises the hair on the back of my neck is the seeming escalation of these so-called “targeted killings”.  I am more than happy to give you my trust when it comes to carrying out the business of war and protecting our country, but enough flags have been independently raised about this program that I believe you owe the American people an appropriate justification for the continued use and parameters of the program.
  • Aaron Swartz.  Your Justice Department presides over a system of law that is flawed and unfair at best.  The tragic death of Mr. Swartz represents the very worst of our system of jurisprudence and the inherent lack of balance within the halls of justice throughout our land.  Was his death collateral damage of N.D.A.A.?  Or just the predictable fallout of a broken system run amok?
  • I thoroughly applaud your efforts at reducing the tragic mass shootings such as Sandy Hook.  But as a liberal gun owner and supporter of the second amendment, I ask that you approach this issue pragmatically.  Ending these tragedies is the ultimate goal…please be realistic about the manner in which you approach the issue.  Guns, in and of themselves are simply instruments used by madmen to attain their sociopathic goal.  If banning weapons would solve the issue alone, I would support it.  It will not. Please continue to explore a multi-pronged social approach to this issue.  If it continues to be a “gun” issue, more of our fellow citizens will be lost.

I truly have no idea what it’s like to walk a few feet in your shoes.  The pressures, demands, politics, compromise and secret briefings about horrible topics, must take their toll.  I’d like to believe that in this second term, you will reward us with a glimpse of the guy you have promised, and who we want you to be:  a compassionate, strong, rightful leader who puts others ahead of his own interest.

God speed Mr. President and best of luck over the next four years…

 


Bathed in Shades of Gray

Photo courtesy therightnewz.com

Photo courtesy therightnewz.com

That Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs murdered 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins is not in dispute.  By extension, that makes him a murderer.  Yet this murderer was memorialized by some this Sunday as the Chiefs played their regularly scheduled game against the Carolina Panthers.  Wisely, the Chiefs held a moment of silence for “victims of domestic violence”.  This man murdered his girlfriend and orphaned their infant child…he then forever traumatized his coach and other members of the team by shooting himself in the head…in front of those folks.

Here’s the thing.  A lot of his friends and family are in an unfathomable amount of pain tonight for an individual that has been otherwise been described as a fine young man.  This incident defines tragedy.

That he’s a murderer makes it very difficult to mourn his death.  At what point does the ‘degree’ of murder render the perpetrator worthy of sympathy.  He’s a good guy but murders his girlfriend.  Is that somehow “better” than the murder committed in the commission of a crime or the serial killer?  Probably but the element of qualifying the murder is somehow nauseating at its core.

On Sunday Night Football on NBC, Bob Costas used the tragedy to pontificate on the merits of gun control.  Costas quoted a Jason Whitlock article that explicitly stated that if not for the handgun, Belcher and Perkins are alive.  This argument, while understandable in the wake of the sadness, is patently wrong.  Again, we are blaming an inanimate object for murder.  We are giving a tool the ability to take a life while completely absolving the user of the tool for any wrongdoing.  It’s an easy argument to make at times like this but so inherently wrong that is consistently threatens to forever ignore the root causes of violence, especially the domestic variety.

I’m not naive.  I realize the that presence of a handgun ups the ante in any violent or tense situation.  But then again so does the politically correct hunting rifle.  Or the ever available kitchen knife.  Or more commonly the automobile.  If we are to eliminate gun violence we must eliminate all guns.  And that simply will not happen until complete control of the nations arsenal can be guaranteed…and it won’t.

The shades of gray surrounding this murder illustrate the complexity of our modern world on many levels.  Sadly, at the end of the day, a young man and a young woman are dead…and their child will grow up without them.  This didn’t have to happen.


The Silent Majority No More.

I confess…ye of little faith.  I didn’t think we’d do it.  I bought into the notion that our nation had turned into a cacophony of illiterate voices led by the pundits at Fox.

I was wrong.  There is still a slight majority of educated, critical thinking voters willing to make their votes heard and yet again turn back the tide of idiocracy that still threatens our republic.

Thank you…to each of you that voted.  And if you didn’t vote for my guy, thank you for participating in our democracy and I strongly urge you to seek out a new source of news in the next four years.  I’ve shut off MSNBC and Current and I would ask you to do the same.  Shut off Fox…unsubscribe to the WSJ and the Washington Times.  Find a moderate voice that produces facts not hyperbole.

Republicans:  To be legitimate in the future, purge your party of the Tea Party extremist and find the voice of reason within you midst, evaluate your core beliefs and seek out that candidate.  If you do so you will remain vital, but now, you are a rudderless ship.

Democrats:  Stop the BS…get to work and build a consensus.  If you are obstructed, call them on their BS and make a case for removing the obstructionist.  Stop compromising your core beliefs to score political points but do be willing to find common ground and work with the moderate Republicans.  Expose the extremist.  Educate the uninformed and be willing to take political risks to do it.

President Obama:  Lead this country with the fire and passion you demonstrated in your speech last night.  We miss it and our nation needs that.  Engage the people…let your cabinet lead…communicate more.  You are a good man.  Don’t be afraid to take chances…now is the time!

Thank you.


Pins and Needles

Seriously, it shouldn’t be this close.  I shouldn’t be this stressed.  How is it possible that my President is even in a race with a lying Neanderthal who literally will say anything to get elected?

I blame my guy, Obama.  You had four years to make your case.  Clearly, you failed.  Oh, I don’t think your policies failed, but you clearly underestimated the stupidity of the electorate and the power and influence of Fox “News”.  We all need to take this threat seriously and Mr. President, you need to take the lead.

If you are elected, use the next four years (among other things) to educate your constituency and your haters…don’t compromise if you truly believe in your platform as you have promised, and use your bully pulpit to call out these fundamental wing nuts for what they are, unpatriotic psychopaths with an agenda that will throw our country into chaos.

Pissed much?  Yeah, just a little.  I’m really disappointed that I live in a country that sustains an organization like Fox that serves no other purpose than to advance the ideological and economic agenda of corporate America and the entitled, rich white men at the helm.  It disgusts me.  Oh, now I’m a socialist?  I prefer pragmatist with a heart.

Please President Obama, if you squeak this one out, use your lame duck term to do your best to put an end to this hatred.  Call it what it is…expose the truth for the conspiracy that it is.  If you don’t, we are destined to suffer again like this in four more years.


The Politics of Stupid

I first noticed that it was okay to be stupid at the local level, in my city council during the 90’s. There was a local housewife that had won a seat on the council on the “anti-incumbent” platform and she proceeded to dumb down our local politics for generations to come. What do I mean? I mean the kind of stupid that is stupid for stupid’s sake. Confused? Me too.

This woman would attack the incumbents positions with absolutely no facts, relying solely on fear-mongering and pandering to the lowest common denominator…the base fears of her constituency. The exasperation shown by her fellow council members was “proof” that they were conspiring to bring the apocalypse to our fair city. Every word out of her mouth was incendiary and provocative…utterly devoid of fact. And yet she won another term…and another…and was hailed as the “peoples” candidate.

Enter Sarah Palin and her down-home brand of stupid…her “I can see Russia from my porch” brand of stupid. And it landed in the wheelhouse of that segment of our population that thinks stupid is something to aspire to. They label our medial “elite” because it dares to look beyond the rhetoric and they disenfranchise any opposing voices who strive for truth as “liberals with no family values”.

How did we become okay with this kind of stupid. One word: lazy. That’s right, we looked the other way as these neocons bull-rushed their way into national prominence and gained actual political traction. We have only ourselves to blame for our inaction. That “Honey Boo Boo” is a popular television program in my country is an indictment of not only our culture, but a reflection of our collective political intelligence. It’s okay to be stupid…we’ve allowed it to fester, and now that it’s metastasizing, we shake our heads in disbelief.

The Vice Presidential debate was a great example of the new and improved stupid. Biden was attacked for displaying incredulity at the bald-faced lies spewed by Ryan and moderator Martha Raddatz was eviscerated for daring to be a “journalist” and asking probing questions. And we were okay with these criticisms.

I say enough is enough. It’s time to call stupid what it is…stupid. It’s time to stop being lazy and call out those pols and commentators who continue to spread the politics of stupid. Really, let’s enhance our national debate, let’s bring some intelligence, thoughtfulness and critical thinking back to the table. Let’s just say no when the easy way, the stupid way, is to blindly accept the sound bites from all parties. Let’s end the politics of stupid before it ends us…


The New “Civil” War…

Retro is big these days…from fashion to politics. Yes, I said politics. The Civil War is back…emphasis on “civil” but the similarities between the issues that divided our country 150+ years ago are right around the corner.

The first salvo was fired by Reagan and his brand of “you don’t have to be smart to be President” style of leadership. This was followed by a much more vile pattern of behavior by one Karl Rove.  The master of dirty politics. The savant of “the ends justify the means”…both men shortsightedly employing short-term solutions for long-term problems.

Demagogues. It doesn’t matter if they lie as long as the electorate buys it…and it’s what you want to hear. Many argue that our current President falls into that category to which I respond…wrong…simply…wrong.  That argument is another among many twisted by the Rove/Fox/Hannity spin machine.  Truth doesn’t matter anymore.  Witness Romney’s debate “win”.

I’m a liberal.  I’m unlikely to be persuaded by your right-wing point of view.  I’m even less likely to be persuaded by it if you come at me with misinformation, intimidation and name-calling.  My opinion clearly is at odds with a portion of this country.  30 years ago that would be called a two-party system.  Today, my opinion opens me up to personal attack and charges of disloyalty to my country and plain stupidity.

I don’t troll the websites of Republicans or other people with whom my views diverge.  At times however I do have occasion to see their comments and views and it scares the living hell out of me.  Perhaps they feel that way about my views, but I don’t feel the need to post my opinions of them on their websites.  I’d like to but I don’t.  For one thing, it’s a waste of time. I’m not going to change their opinion by posting provocative content. For another thing, it’s disrespectful to the process.  A process that not so long ago used to be a great deal more “civil” than it is today. Responsibility for that can be primarily assigned to the Karl Rove’s of the world.  You may disagree with that, but, sadly for you…it is one of those pesky, socially verifiable facts that Rove and Fox “News” have ingratiated this culture of hate into our political discourse.

I work a full-time job and am a single parent.  I don’t have nearly as much time to fact check and investigate the prescient political issues as I would like and I suspect I am the rule rather than the exception.  So most of us gravitate to those individuals and institutions that “feel” right.  For me, that’s the Democratic and socially liberal platform…and the godsend that is Jon Stewart.  For you, it may be Fox and the conservative platform.  Here’s the deal…we probably both don’t have time to independently verify our facts, so to that end, rather than engage in the self-defeating exercise of personal criticism, let’s make reasoned arguments from our heart, and do our best to not let our passion eclipse our humanity or sense of community.

If we don’t follow this path, I am truly afraid that the “civil” war will become another Civil War…


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