Tag Archives: Democrats

A “Coarse” Correction…

Well it’s certainly not the outcome I’d hoped for. Nor expected. In fact, in my wildest dreams I didn’t think this clown would be elected president. I thought we were better than that…actually I still do (see below). Before I get to the heart of the matter though, I have to say, I’m not ENTIRELY surprised. Since the advent of “hate” style politics championed by Ronald Reagan, through the advent of Faux News and the unbridled partisan vitriol of Karl Rove and the like, we have seen a burgeoning class of disaffected, generally poorly educated, voters that feel as if the system needs to change. I agree. It does. But electing a misogynistic, racist, sexual predator with absolutely no qualifications did not seem to be the way to do it…or was it?

I am very angry at those that voted for this change. By voting for the candidate of the KKK you have effectively endorsed the antithesis of every principle that our nation was founded on. I am most sad today for those young men and woman who so bravely sacrificed their lives…that today a reality show clown will be their commander-in-chief.

But despite all this there are silver linings. The majority voted against this hatred. And although the electoral college will elect Trump, perhaps the next four years is our wake up call. If it is not…if it does inspire you to take action and correct this mess we find ourselves in…well then, we deserve this.

I for one plan to take action. I will NOT let this country go down in flames unchallenged. I have often disagreed with Michael Moore, but his insight on this election, and specifically the pathos that carried Trump to victory is startling.

And Moore provides his own call to action. One that I personally plan on implementing. Now:

Morning After To-Do List:
1. Take over the Democratic Party and return it to the people. They have failed us miserably.
2. Fire all pundits, predictors, pollsters and anyone else in the media who had a narrative they wouldn’t let go of and refused to listen to or acknowledge what was really going on. Those same bloviators will now tell us we must “heal the divide” and “come together.” They will pull more hooey like that out of their ass in the days to come. Turn them off.
3. Any Democratic member of Congress who didn’t wake up this morning ready to fight, resist and obstruct in the way Republicans did against President Obama every day for eight full years must step out of the way and let those of us who know the score lead the way in stopping the meanness and the madness that’s about to begin.
4. Everyone must stop saying they are “stunned” and “shocked”. What you mean to say is that you were in a bubble and weren’t paying attention to your fellow Americans and their despair. YEARS of being neglected by both parties, the anger and the need for revenge against the system only grew. Along came a TV star they liked whose plan was to destroy both parties and tell them all “You’re fired!” Trump’s victory is no surprise. He was never a joke. Treating him as one only strengthened him. He is both a creature and a creation of the media and the media will never own that.
5. You must say this sentence to everyone you meet today: “HILLARY CLINTON WON THE POPULAR VOTE!” The MAJORITY of our fellow Americans preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Period. Fact. If you woke up this morning thinking you live in an effed-up country, you don’t. The majority of your fellow Americans wanted Hillary, not Trump. The only reason he’s president is because of an arcane, insane 18th-century idea called the Electoral College. Until we change that, we’ll continue to have presidents we didn’t elect and didn’t want. You live in a country where a majority of its citizens have said they believe there’s climate change, they believe women should be paid the same as men, they want a debt-free college education, they don’t want us invading countries, they want a raise in the minimum wage and they want a single-payer true universal health care system. None of that has changed. We live in a country where the majority agree with the “liberal” position. We just lack the liberal leadership to make that happen (see: #1 above).

Let’s try to get this all done by noon today.
— Michael Moore

Thank you Mr. Moore…let’s get on this folks…before this “coarse” correction becomes a way of life.


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.

 

 


It’s Time for Moderate Republicans to Act…

Just as it has been extraordinary helpful in the court of public opinion for Islamic leaders to condemn the actions of Daesh as neither aligned with the tenets of their religion, nor in fact, Islamic in any real way, shape, or form, it is also important for moderate Republicans to distance themselves from the present state of their party.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced today that the Senate Republicans would take the unprecedented step of failing to even consider any Supreme Court Nominee proffered by President Obama. In other words, strictly in the name of partisan politics, the Republicans are picking up their ball and going home. They are acting childishly on an issue of great, indeed constitutional, importance. Last time I checked, the sitting president is president until he is not.

This “leadership caucus” is refusing to do their job. Out of spite. Plain and simple.

And yet…it’s seems that this egregious behavior is simply a symptom of a party in crisis. Witness the lack of cohesion in their ability to field a “real” candidate. What predictably filled the void is a carnival showman with no real allegiance to their party or core values, whatever those may be these days.

So they are left with impetuous men, so frightened by their ever loosening grip on power and influence, that all that is left is to make headlines; governance be damned.

In my estimation, the cracks first appeared in the Reagan administration, when, drunk with political power they began to dismantle some of the conventions of decorum that had existed for generations. When President Clinton was elected, they dropped any hint of propriety and Newt Gingrich became their rhetorical henchman. Finally, the Bush (not the good one) era brought us to fruition with the simply evil likes of Karl Rove.

And throughout this descent into madness, they were urged along by the burdening communications wing of this new Republican Party–Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and its mouthpiece, Fox News.

Think I’m exaggerating? Listen to this hot mic conversation of the Donald instructing the Fox “journalists” on how to best present his brand. I’m not so naive to believe that Democrats and other more liberal news organizations don’t also abdicate their fourth estate responsibilities, but in toto, I believe that even a man I truly despise, the Great Communicator, would take issue with the path they find themselves on.

They have forced a paradigm shift in the way our country is governed, and this Supreme Court power play has forced me to rethink who I will support in 2016. Do I stick to my ideals and vote my conscience, or am I forced to support the candidate that I know will go in the trenches, fight dirty, and hopefully humiliate these idiots. Not a choice I want to make, but one I may need to consider in this age of playground politics.

So I plead with you…the voices of moderation in the Republican Party: SPEAK UP…BE HEARD; don’t be afraid. There may just be some folks in the center and left that are willing to support your efforts at maturity and reconciliation.


He Whose Name Shall Not be Mentioned…

Of course I’m referring to the train wreck otherwise known as Donald Trump and his infantile pursuit of the title “Leader of the Free World”.

If you have seen the Mike Judge movie Idiocracy you may want to stop reading; you know where I’m going. If you have not, I implore you to view this masterpiece that, tragically, is playing itself out before our eyes.

At first viewing of the movie, I reasoned that it was plausible, indeed likely, sometime in the distant future. Trump, in his “bull-in-a-china-shop” manner, has hastened this demise of culture and politics.

In fairness to “The Donald”, he is simply the catalyst of a broken media system that relies on titillation rather than reasoned analysis and evaluation…formerly known as “news” and “op-eds.”

It’s been pretty well documented by others that Trump is simply reflecting a certain (and I PRAY, remote) segment of our population that is generally uneducated, or otherwise unwilling to analyze and research the complex issues affecting our society. Some are educated but simply lazy in that they, understandably, want change–someone “to stir things up.”

Yes, a Trump presidency would certainly do that–that we could recover is quite another question.

His ascendancy to front-runner status in his party amazes me. But then again, I dumped cable about a year ago and have received my news largely through various sources online and on the radio (NPR, PRI); but the other day while taking a break at work, I had occasion to see a TV in a nearby shop that was tuned to CNN, and for the entire hour that I ate my lunch, some sort of “panel” was discussing what I assumed was the topic of the “crawl”…that “The Donald” had engaged in playground name-calling of Ted Cruz. I don’t remember the exact specifics, but it was pedestrian and child-like at best.

30 years ago, the topic of the CNN crawl would not have even been a blip on the radar of CNN, or any self-respecting news organization. But today “if it bleeds it leads” has morphed into a mine field of political persuasion that infects the minds of ignorant voters (see Fox and MSNBC).

That a schoolyard bully (and I hesitate to call him that, as today he called his earlier sexual liaisons his own “personal Vietnam”) can garner the attention that a generation ago would have been appropriately ignored is deeply disturbing to me.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m that old guy yelling at the kids to “get off my damn lawn”, but I think not. I still believe in propriety and decorum. And the deadly seriousness of the issues affecting our country call for an adult, not a child.

I still hope Idiocracy is a few generations away, as I don’t think I can bear to watch…

 


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.


Presidential Debate, Part Deux (and the new guy)…

(photo courtesy pbs.org)

Entering the debate tonight, I started to suspect that my guy, President Barack Obama, was a man defeated.

I’m not suggesting the guy is giving up, I’m suggesting that through the circumstances of his presidency, this man has lost his spark.  He’s lost the perhaps naive belief that REAL change is possible.  He’s been on the job for almost four years now and he found out that the entrenched bureaucracy in the beltway did not necessarily share his views in 2008.  What may have really pissed  him off was the nascent opposition from his own party.  Nancy Pelosi did not turn into the partner he had hoped.

I can’t say that I blame him, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the old Obama.  I think a lot of us miss that guy.  The question started to circulate after the last debate:  does this guy want this job?

I think he answered that question tonight.  I think he found a little of the old mojo tonight.  Not the same guy for sure.  Not the Obama of 2008 but the man wants the job.  I think he deeply believes in his ideology.  I think he believes he’s the right man for our country and I also believe, whether deep down he wants the job or not, he knows that a Romney administration would lead to disaster.  So maybe it’s a defensive reflex that is driving him now, but whatever…I’ll take it.

Whoever the new guy is that showed up at the debate tonight, I like him. I like the way he thinks, I like the way he acts.  I truly believe the President is a decent guy that strives to do the right thing…to build consensus where he can and to help as many people as he can. Perhaps a bit jaded, but compassionate and honest nonetheless.  I cannot say that about Romney without laughing out loud.  Those ideas simply do not equate with this man.  The man has proven to be a hula hoop of policy…spinning round and round and willing to change his positions, and play loose with the truth as it suits his needs and the polls.  The President was spot-on when he called him out on it and said it’s simply not true.

At the end of the day (night) I felt that President Obama did an admirable job of expressing his position in as truthful a manner as possible.  The fact checkers will record that Romney did not…again.


Fact Check Felonies…

The Federal Trade Commission regulates claims made by advertisers to ensure they are not misleading the public.  Congress has subpoena power and the ability to compel truthful testimony from witnesses called before them.  Federal and local elections are chock full of regulation.

Why can’t we compel candidates to tell the truth? Seriously…lock the bastards up for bald-faced lies.  On both sides of the aisle.

Think about it.  Our lives are full of regulation, we are protected from virtually every bad outcome through a cornucopia of rules, codes and regulations.  Why not force politicians to tell the truth…in advertising and in debates.  Enough with the bumper crop of “Fact Checking” sites…this is ridiculous folks.  I realize we live in a free society that values free speech but let’s face it…few of us actually care enough to “fact check” claims made by most politicians.

I submit that the impact these politicians have on our lives are every bit as important as knowing if our favorite drug causes rectal bleeding if used in excess.  Come on…let’s hold these suckers accountable to the truth.  Mandate honesty and let’s see how fast the tone of these campaigns change.

It wouldn’t be that hard really, simply hire one of the readily available fact checking warehouses to become an independent commission and allow the General Accounting Office to investigate and submit to the D.O.J. criminal charges.

God only knows what would happen if politicians were held to this standard.  They might actually become more accountable for their actions both pre and post-election.  They might not need to employ the “spin” machines that feed us their pabulum each night.

As crazy as this idea might sound, I don’t think it’s so far off the mark.  We, as the electorate, deserve honesty from our leaders. We demand it but do nothing to hold them accountable.  Quite the opposite, we encourage their lies (witness the recent Romney “bump” after his “liar, liar, pants-on-fire performance during the debate).

I’m really not in favor of the next layer of bureaucracy that this would create, but I am in favor of legislation that comes nearer to requiring pols to be truthful…what is your solution?


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…


His Smile Said It All…

(courtesy DailyBeast.com)

That moment in the debate when they were discussing financial reforms, and moderator Jim Lehrer cuts off Romney who is again bullying for extra time.  Lehrer cuts him off with “let’s not”…the crowd erupts in laughter and the camera pans to Obama who has the biggest, most welcoming smile you can imagine.  This moment defined the tone of tonight’s debate.

I’ll admit, Romney scored points by not inadvertently writing-off the other 53% of the country, and by definition, this give him a win tonight.  But after not tripping over his own feet, the difference in the tone of the debate was one of style rather than substance. Sadly, most people could care less about substance. Polls confirm this. Both candidates fed the wonks (and I’m among them) with plenty of meat for consumption. What ALL of us could see, was a President and a spoiled child demanding attention at the dinner table.

I’ll admit bias from the gate, but the tone Romney affected was shrill at best, while the President appeared…well…Presidential. It’s a core principle of these debates for the incumbent not to get baited into any emotional arguments and not only did Obama succeed on that point, but he appeared to channel the appearance of a long-suffering, all-knowing parent dealing with an overly emotional petulant child.

Romney’s debate prep team did a good job.  He dutifully spouted out a number of homogenized messages, although sometimes at inappropriate times considering the flow of the moment, but overall, he got his message across.  He just didn’t look that comfortable doing it.  He didn’t look presidential.  Hell, he didn’t even look like a C.E.O. in my estimation.

This was Obama’s debate to lose. Romney walked in as a underachiever and an average performance would be exalted as a big win.  Realizing this, I was worried that Obama could lose big should he make any significant mistakes. He didn’t and in my estimation won big on both substance and style. This won’t sway Romney’s base just as surely as Romney didn’t sway Obama’s base.

The question is this…did the snarky attitude that Romney displayed play well with the undecided and independents.  Did his anti-big government misinformation appeal to that demographic.  I don’t know…I don’t think it appealed to them enough to make a difference but I do know this.  We Obama supporters CANNOT rest on our laurels and underestimate the stupidity of the electorate. VOTE.


Oh Barack…wherefore art thou?

http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2012/09/05/transcript-bill-clinton-remarks/sxrJlqezqxuW46UgYOkvDO/story.html

Bam! Bazinga! Booyah!  That’s what I’ve been waiting for.  For the President to get off his ass and respond to the hyperbole being slung at him by the right-wing nut jobs.  We got it from the President last night…only…

It wasn’t the current President.  No, the man who finally laid to rest all the BS from the Tea Partiers, the Hannity/Beck wannabees and the far right-wing of the conservatives, was ex-President Bill Clinton.

In a speech that can only be described as masterful, Clinton cogently outlined, piece by piece, the argument for reelecting Barack Obama. The argument for voting for the Democratic platform vs. the Republican platform.  The argument for doing the right thing and moving our country forward rather than backward.  The reality of the last four years versus the mythology.  The arithmetic.

I am disappointed on a daily basis by the retro-neanderthal ideology spewed by the dominant factions of the Republican party.  I SO wish there was a moderate element in that organization that could gain traction…hell if they could feature someone with an ounce of common sense and some compassion, I might even vote for him/her.  But all I see and hear are extremes.  I actually pity the moderate Republicans.  There are a lot of good people who cringe when Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney deliver their “non” fact based pitch.  I know I am when the Democrats do the same.  There was a lot of crap slung in Charlotte by my party last night and I recoil from it.

But when Clinton took the stage…the tears started.  The same tears that flowed four years ago in Denver when I was energized by the promise Barack Obama offered.  I want that back…I want that energy and enthusiasm and that commitment to do the right thing.  Stand by your principles man and stand up for what you have accomplished.  Bill has…and you can tonight.  Don’t let us down…

 


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