Tag Archives: Republicans

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…

 


Why Truth Matters

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Stop what you’re doing right now and tell me which way is north.

Not sure? OK, grab your smartphone and access your compass app…this should do it.

What does this have to do with truth? The question: “Which way is north” refers to a baseline or default direction from which we measure the other elements/directions within that world.

In other words, within our socio-political world, the abrogation of truth has led to a warping of our moral compass…a dangerous precedent.

Without a frame of reference, the short shrift we increasingly give truth is denigrating our ability to hold ourselves, our society, and our leaders accountable to the truth; to that element of our existence that allows us to judge right and wrong. To that precious commodity that allows us, as a society, to call out those who would harm us and declare “this is wrong”.

When we play fast and loose with the truth, we lose the moral high-ground.

Case in point:  the political assassination of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov.

It doesn’t take an individual with a degree in international relations, criminology, or Soviet history to surmise that Putin is holding the metaphorical (if not literal) smoking gun.

In another era, our government, our media, our so-called political “leaders” could, in good faith, call out the modern day Russian Czar Putin on this travesty of justice. While Putin is many things (among them sociopathic) he is not stupid. He must realize the American government, media, and Congress don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to claiming the moral high-ground. In fact, he’s already spun the assassination as the work of American agents.

Sigh.

Let’s take our government first. Yes, we’ve never been fortunate to have a completely transparent government, but as the heroic revelations of Edward Snowden have illuminated, our government is actively and aggressively lying to the folks that empower and employ them…you and me.

And what of the media? The fifth estate formerly occupied by luminaries such as Murrow and Cronkite…

Those luminaries have been replaced by America’s most trusted news source, Fox News.

If this doesn’t cause you concern, stop reading now and return to whichever reality show of the moment or televised pursuit you are watching and please increase your cholesterol intake. If it does concern you, take heart. When was the last time those individuals who are truly curious, consumers of real news, watched network news anyway. I’m encouraged by the fact that there is a large portion of the country that was not included in this poll. At least I desperately, if not naively, cling to this hope.

And finally, what of our most precious representatives in Congress? You know, those individuals whose very existence is based upon their ability to accept corporate donations and spew whatever soundbite adds to those campaign contributions. Still not with me? These are the folks who are currently walking the razor’s edge of treason by undermining the constitution and the executive branch with respect to the Iranian nuclear enrichment talks. Fine upstanding individuals who wouldn’t know a moral compass if it hit them in their fat coffers.

Those who live in glass houses simply can’t throw stones and we are quickly becoming the inhabitants of the largest glass mansion in the (and I use this word cautiously) “civilized” world.

 


“If You Don’t Dump Obamacare, I’m Gonna Take My Government and Go Home”

So says the Rand Paul’s and Ted Cruz’s of the world.

That is if your world happens to include extremist Tea Party wing nuts. Yes…wing nuts.

I’m okay if you advocate smaller government and lower taxes. I’m okay if you prefer a more conservative social agenda.

I can even stomach views that to me are patently uninformed and socially irresponsible.

I’m not okay with you taking your vote and going home. NOT legislating. NOT compromising. NOT seeking a solution.

Agreed, we liberals let you walk over us for some time since the Reagan era, and right now my man Obama has no real reason to kowtow to your fanatic demands.

Obama was reelected. The MAJORITY of voters want Obamacare. That you don’t is immaterial. We liberals suffered through two terms of arguably the most inept president in history (W). You need to compromise and vote for a budget…NOW.

The Republican party has been hijacked by the Tea Party extremist. And that makes me sad for them. I believe a healthy democracy thrives when there is a vital difference of opinions–a political yin/yang.

What we have here are a conglomeration of politicos so out of touch with reality that for them to throw a tantrum and shut down the government is no big deal. But it is…it’s a damn big deal for those federal employees not receiving their paychecks. For those CITIZENS…you remember them…those members of our “supposed” representative form of government that YOU WORK FOR…those citizens who are suffering because of your childish philosophical tantrums.

Enough.

Grow up or get the hell out. NOW.


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.


Is There a Better Wingman than Biden?

I think we can all agree V.P. Joe Biden owned Sen. Paul Ryan tonight.  It was a masterful performance, in my view blending common sense with a personal style that engendered him to Main Street throughout the night.

He effectively illustrated the lack of truth that has become a hallmark of the Romney campaign.  Every time Ryan offered up another misstatement, it landed in Biden’s wheelhouse and he used his Louisville slugger to knock it out of the studio.

These debates are generally an exercise in mental masturbation for those of us entrenched in our positions.  I loved Biden tonight and I’m sure the Romney supporters will spin the debate in their favor.  What I think was unique was the clarity with which Biden dismantled the spin machine that Ryan brought to the table.

That Biden’s tone and experience overwhelmed Ryan was apparent and I really do need to give props to Ryan for handling the ass whooping that he received with class and a modicum of composure.  I may have been reduced to tears had I been in Ryan’s position.

If I’m that voter on the fence, with an open mind, I’m pretty sure enough doubt was introduced into the forum to make me question not only Romney’s integrity vis-a-vis his wavering posititions, but his lack of clarity on his budget.  And don’t even get me started on Biden’s experience on foreign policy and military matters.  Ryan simply had no credibility on those issues and his master has none.  This was very apparent tonight.

Biden’s response to the final question on how his Catholic faith informed his political views, was a complex and masterful treatise on the Obama administration’s position on this and other social issues.

I, again am posting this at the termination of the debate before I am completely twisted by the spin machines so consider my opinions as such…


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…


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