Political World


When I started this site, I resolved not to get political.  But since we live in a world that’s becoming more and more political by the day, and the stakes are getting higher even as the politics get stupider and more surreal, I can’t help but react.

And trust me, while I know that the Democrats have some serious issues, the bulk of the idiocy belongs with the Republicans.  The clown car wreck that is their field of candidates this year would be hysterically funny if not so scary.

For the life of me, I can’t understand what makes so many normal and good people support these clowns and believe in the same tired clichés.  Like:

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people:”

This one is getting into semantics, as most murders require a weapon. As weapons go, nothing is as cheap, efficient, or as effective as a gun.  Case in point:  I’m not aware of there ever having been a drive-by stabbing, or a mass strangulation.

On why we don’t need universal background checks: “We just need to enforce the laws that already exist.”

The problem is, if I am murdered by a deranged psychotic who would have been denied a gun purchase had background checks been conducted, good work in arresting and convicting the murderer. The only problem is this is all a bit too late for me, as I‘ll be dead and unable to join in the post-trial cake and ice cream celebration.

“There will always be bad people who do bad things, there’s nothing you can do:”

I heard this from a gun-rights enthusiast immediately after the slaughter of 26 innocent victims, twenty of them children of six or seven years of age, at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. This same guy is also a vocal anti-abortion, or “pro-life” advocate that is in favor of criminalizing women and health care workers who participate in abortions.  Apparently, they are pro-life until the child leaves the womb; once they are among us they are on their own.  I’m sorry, but any society that can’t take care of six or seven year old children is a complete and total failure.  Plain and simple. And when the anger and horror we feel when such an incident occurs is overridden by ideological or political talking points, then we are no longer human.

From the only consistency is in our inconsistency department – perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the modern Republican is how easily they give up on supposedly deeply held convictions.  Some examples:

The constitution is sacred and must be protected against knee-jerk activism.

The second amendment is feverishly defended against any proposed legislation that might in the broadest imaginable interpretation have the slightest impact on the public’s right to bear arms, yet calls by candidates to ban Muslims and to deny citizen ship to “anchor babies” that clearly violate first and fourteenth amendment rights, go unchallenged and have become key planks in the evolving 2016 Republican platform. Donald Trump has actually spoken out in favor of the state sponsored murder of innocent family members of suspected terrorists.

Big government is not to be trusted and has no business in the private lives of citizens.

A long held fundamental tenet of U.S. conservative political philosophy that is conveniently overlooked when it fits the narrative they want to tell.  Fears of terrorists that are spread and exaggerated are used as excuses for the government, who supposedly can’t be trusted with the simplest administrative duties, to collect private information (see the “Patriot Act”) of private citizens.

The real question should be which should we distrust more, big government or big business? With the legalized purchase of our government, the lines between the two have been blurred to the point that government of, by and for the people doesn’t exist any more.

Fear mongering

I swear, despite all of their tough talk, Republicans have to be the biggest wimps in the world.  I’ve never met a bunch that is so afraid of so many different things.  From having to take a gun with them everywhere they go for fear of an encounter with the menacing hoody wearing black man to violating basic constitutional rights at the sight of a man wearing a turban, there is nothing (except, strangely, guns) they aren’t frightened of.

Misplaced fear

Of course, not all fears are irrational.   For example, what should be feared more:  the gun violence that caused 406,496 American deaths between 2001 to 2013 or the acts of terrorism which caused 3,380 deaths (more than 2,900 of them on the same day, 9/11) over the same time frame? It seems obvious that the one that is more than 100 times larger, the one that killed more than 84 Americans per day in that time frame, should get the bulk of the attention.  Yet, for example, in the immediate aftermath of the San Bernardino tragedy, when the fourteen people killed were still thought to be victims of another random mass shooting, the silence of the Republican presidential candidates was deafening.  Once it was determined that the assassins had ties to ISIS, the reaction became loud and shrill.  Republican leaders only care about victims when they can be used to spread their false narrative,  that people of darker colors and different faiths are to be feared, when actually it’s their own divisive and careless policies that have left so many of us isolated and divided, and armed and dangerous, distrustful and afraid of one another.

There’s a reason they want us to be afraid of each other – it’s the divide and conquer strategy. If we fear and distrust our fellow citizens, it makes it easier for the rich and powerful they serve to grab an even bigger share of the pie.  We the people are right where they want us to be:  fighting each other for the crumbs that fall from their overstuffed mouths.

I’d argue that if we ever sat down and talked with each other, and listened, really listened, we’d realize we’re much more alike than different.  We’re all getting screwed, we’re all working harder and earning less, and we’re all paying more for basic services and falling deeper into debt.  It isn’t the hoody wearing black man or the Muslim or the Mexican we should be wary of, it’s the bankers and corporate officers who have put everything we own and value, our dreams and our future, our health and our families, up for grabs in one last fire sale. They are betting on their ability to keep us divided and hostile to one another until they can grab everything and leave us only the chewed and charred remains of heir gluttony.

We have two choices:  remain stupid and willing victims to their avarice and greed, or recognize what is being done to us and unite in opposition.

Revelations


Amidst all of the childish name calling and foot stomping that passed for the Republican debate on Saturday night, there were two revelatory moments, both courtesy of the front runner, the one and only “the Donald,” Donald Trump.

The first came in a confrontation with Jeb Bush, for whom Trump appears to have an almost pathological hatred. In the middle of the by now familiar “he’s so weak,” “he’s a loser” rants we’ve all come to know and love, something startlingly coherent came out of Trump’s mouth:  the fact that 9/11 occurred on George W. Bush’s watch, despite the fact that he’d been warned several times by intelligence reports that a strike from Al Qaida was imminent.

Now, outside of the Republican universe, none of this is news.  Everybody knows that, just like everybody knows that 15 minutes could save 15% on your car insurance.  But inside that fantasy world, where prosperity trickles down from the wealthy to the poor, where climate change is just a concoction of corrupt scientists, hearing these facts from the Republican front-runner was outrageous blasphemy.  “But George W. kept us safe,” has been the party line, somehow denying the undeniable fact that dubya was President in 2001.

The audience booed and hissed, and the candidates stumbled over themselves in response. Marco Rubio, perhaps the most deluded of the bunch, said in response that it was all Bill Clinton’s fault for not killing Osama Bin Laden when he had the chance, forgetting that in his eight years in office, Dubya didn’t kill Bin Laden, either, leaving that mission to Barack Obama, who finished it in two years or so.

The second moment came when Trump raised the issue of Sperry closing its manufacturing plant in Indianapolis and moving its operations to Mexico. Plant closings and their subsequent job losses are never discussed in Republican debates.  To do so would be to challenge the validity of the trickle-down anti-labor economics that remain the heart and soul of their free market faith, despite thirty years now of contrary evidence of the falseness of these theories.

Make no mistake about it – I think Donald Trump is a monster and a fascist, a megalomaniac who cannot be trusted with any power, let alone the presidency of the United States.  But even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then, and it’s inevitable that a blabber mouth like Trump will eventually stumble upon and utter some truth. The question is will his legion of brain dead followers wake up in time to question these and other tenets of their blind right wing faith.

Like the one where everything is Barack Obama’s fault.  How dare he sign those executive orders! That’s no way to govern!  When, in fact, it is the only way to govern, when the radical extreme right that is the Republican controlled senate refuses to do something – anything – to fulfill their constitutional obligation.  For example, in the past couple of weeks. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told Obama to not even bother submitting a budget, because his party will not even read it yet alone vote on it.  In the debates you hear Ted Cruz lamenting the shrinkage of the military, when it‘s actually the sequesters he engineered as a part of the government shutdowns he proposed that have cut military funding.

Now it’s the Supreme Court vacancy left open by Justice Scalia’s passing.  Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who in the past has said his top priority was not to govern or serve his country, but to make sure that Obama was only a one term president, has already said that Obama shouldn’t even bother nominating a replacement for Scalia (per his constitutional duty) because the Republicans will shirk their constitutional duty and not even allow a vote to confirm or deny.  Cruz, McConnell and others have said Obama should pass on nominating until after the election, so the American people can have their say.  But they already did have their say, in 2012, when they elected Obama president.  The constitution is very clear on the responsibilities of both the executive and legislative branches in the process, and when he nominates a candidate, it won’t be Obama who is guilty of not faithfully executing his sworn duty.

It’s high time we recognize the damage that the Republican controlled senate has and continues to enact on our country. Like the spoiled children they are, they continue to throw their political tantrum over Barack Obama being elected president.  It’s been going on for almost eight years now, and the only way to shut them up will be to vote them out of office this November.

The Ideas of February


“Beware the Ides of March”

–  From Julius Caesar

It’s February again, and although it’s the shortest month of the calendar in terms of days, around here, with winter usually in its third or fourth month, it often feels like the longest month.  It’s the month when winter loses all of its romantic charm, and the white Christmas we dreamed of becomes a dirty and monotonous tedium.  The few days when the sun shines and thaws some small portion of the frozen landscape are cruel teases of the spring that will eventually come, and just when we’re given a tiny remembrance of the warm green season, a minuscule spec of hope, a February blizzard or bitter cold snap or both moves in, as inevitable as taxes, which we also begin preparing in February.

February is the month when cabin fever starts to set in, and we are left alone with our thoughts, which, for a brain like mine, is a dangerous thing.  You see, I’m nothing if not an ideas guy. I take pride in thinking outside of the box, although it’s cold out here, and I wish they’d let me back in.  I refuse to give in to the melancholy of the season and instead use this time to mediate deeply and harvest the fruits of the fertile garden, or compost heap (sometimes it’s not clear which one I am laboring in), that is my brain.  Here are some of the better ideas and keen observations I’ve come up with in Februaries past. We can only wait and see and hope what precious gems this February’s harvest will mine:

Idea #1, for law enforcement:  Develop a version of Crest or Colgate (whichever company outbids the other for my idea) with the added ingredient of Sodium Pentothal. It would be known as “Truth-paste

Idea #2, for treating mental illness – A sanitarium for psychotic Orthodontists – a “Dental Institution

Idea #3, product development / marketing: an all-natural, no preservative ingredient for baking called “Yeast of Eden.”

Idea #4, Quantum Physics: A ship capable of independent operation under water that is powered by a nuclear generator and shrunk down to a size smaller than an atom. It would, of course, be “a sub-atomic atomic sub

Idea #5, service, marketing: A service for working parents where we provide an owl to look after their children. The name of the service would be, “Hootenanny

Idea #6, health care for literary types: – a thin tube that is surgically installed to inject stories of pioneer life on the great plains directly into a patient’s bloodstream – a “Willa Catheter

Keen observation #1: When one gets overly stressed by adorable kittens or playful little bunnies, they would be suffering from “Acute Stress Disorder: “

Keen observation #2:  A person with an unrealistically elevated sense of self who is also obsessed with frozen waffles would be an “Eggomaniac.”

Keen observation #3:  An example of a repressed memory would he the time twenty three years ago when I paid twice for having my dress slacks ironed

Keen observation $4: A person obsessed with ventilation fans in the very top story of a home would be an attic fan fanatic.

Keen observation #5: Further proof that I am a rare and wonderful human being: This morning, I bought a block of Cheddar for no reason but to provide some companionship for the Provolone in my fridge. Now, it’s ProIHaveaFriend cheese

Keen observation #6: A person who suffers from an irrational fear of leaving the house while wearing a wool sweater would be suffering from angoraphobia