13 to go: The odious Professional Left, Part 1

Hey! Did you know I’m apparently an “Obamabot”? It’s supposed to be an insult; the label has been bestowed upon me many times by professional lefties and PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade). I have to tell you, though, I’m in good company. Some of the smartest people I know are “Obamabots.” Why wouldn’t they be? Look at everything he’s done, despite unprecedented obstruction, and compare it to the people who constantly whine about him.

For the record, I don’t agree with President Obama on absolutely everything, and never have. But I do trust him, and trust that he has the country’s best interests at heart when he embarks on anything. He’s level-headed and smart, and he has more information than the rest of us on most situations, so I understand that one reason we may disagree is because he has more information than I do. And so far, there have been no disasters, so my instincts about Obama seem to be right on. Except for Benghazi, there have been no terrible events, and the country is progressing. Could it be progressing more quickly? Of course. But you can look to the GOP House if you really have to blame someone for the slow pace of economic recovery. 

I’m proud to be an “Obamabot,” because he’s actually done a stellar job. Unfortunately, the professional left (meaning those bloggers and other lefty media types who make a living peddling their “liberal” opinions) seems to be all too happy helping the Republican Right Wing keep on winning elections, and preventing any more progress than the President can eke out on his own. It seems as if every GOP attack ad talks about “Obama’s failed policies.” However, you’ll note that none of those ads articulates what those “failed policies” are. They don’t have to, because the professional left has always been more than willing to articulate them for everyone. Here, we have the most potentially progressive president in a generation or more, and the most vocally “progressive” side of the aisle is more than willing and able to point up all of his faults. In doing so, they offer an able assist to the GOP in their ultimate goal, which is to depress turnout, and make their “base” votes count more.

It’s actually part of a pattern, and it undermines the entire progressive movement, because it keeps Republicans in power. The professional left seems to think Republicans are successful because they all think in lockstep, and they want all progressives to think in lockstep as well. By attacking the President repeatedly, and attacking every Democrat who doesn’t hold a purely left wing position on every issue they have created a tightrope so narrow that the only candidates who could survive it are those who represent solidly liberal districts. And let me assure you, there are not 218 of those. There are also not 30-35 solidly liberal states, which makes it difficult to get a 60-vote majority in the Senate.

Once more, it’s hard to believe I have to write this out loud, but we live in a democracy. Okay, a “democratic republic.” That means a candidate needs the most votes to get into a governmental body that makes law and policy, and those laws and policies that we claim we want passed can only be passed if a majority in that body agree to it and the executive signs it. On the federal level, that means 218 Representatves in the House and at least 60 (for the time being) in the Senate. It’s been 44 years since Democrats have had that, and for 30 of the last 34 years, Republicans have controlled enough of the government to block progress. And might I say, they’ve done that very well.

So, why are so many professional lefties and PUBs complaining about Democrats being “spineless,’ and chiding them for “not doing enough”? How are they supposed to do progressive things if the GOP controls the government? Who do they imagine is supposed to do all of these “progressive” things, if the GOP is in a position to block them right now, and has been for a generation. A lot of these types of progressives hate it when I point this out, but 34 years of neocon-dominated politics has made the populous move somewhat to the right. Many of the attitudes we convinced people were right back in the post-war era have been altered by a generation of GOP-dominated politics. “No taxes, no regulation” has been the rule for 34 years. Why would that surprise anyone? Think about it; the people who were born when Reagan was elected and the GOP took over the Senate are 34 now. The people who were just starting to vote are in their 40s and 50s. Those who were over 45 when Reagan was elected are dead now. Why would anyone think our politics should simply “be progressive” after so long? The country has moved right, and it will take time to shift t left again. But we cant do that id we don’t align with a majority party, and work within it to get better people elected. Some on the professional left can’t seem to grasp the concept that having all of the “correct progressive positions” regarding issues does not make you “progressive.” You actually have to do something to actually make progressive policies happen. That means supporting the best majority possible. We live in a country with 34 years of neocon influence in its background. If you don’t get that some Democrats will be a little farther to the right than you may like, well, you don’t get politics. Politics is what the people make of it. And in a democracy like ours, that means (hopefully) ALL of the people. Just as important now is getting the Republicans out of the majority.

I don’t understand this idea that elections many “progressives’ seem to have, that elections are simply unnecessary nuisances. You can’t complain about taking away voting rights, and then turn around and give more power to the party that takes away voting rights. Pro lefties constantly help Republicans win election by helping them depress turnout, and then seem shocked – shocked, I say! – when Republicans try to do right wing things.

It’s important that we help Democrats run the government. Let’s be clear;  marches and protests didn’t give women the right to vote; legislation did. Blacks didn’t get equal rights (on paper) because of marches and protests; they got it through the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act and affirmative action statutes. Title IX was a law, not the name of a branch of the SDS. Medicare wasn’t created by a voice vote by “we, the people.” The Vietnam War didn’t end because of marches and protests; it ended because the American people tossed out the elected officials who started that mess, and elected new officials with the political courage to end it.  Of course, it also works the other way, too, as we’ve seen now for 34 years. When the wrong people get elected, we lose things we fought hard for. Workers’ and union rights have been severely weakened, and the right to vote has been under attack for years.We’re probably about 1-2 steps away from women losing their reproductive rights. We finally got the beginnings of a universal health care system, but it’s weaker than it should be. However, we’ll never strengthen it until we get rid of the Republicans in Congress and the states. 

Yet, with two weeks to go before the midterm elections, and the possibility of handing the entire Congress over to Republicans, the professional left is still whining about and trashing Democrats. They love to use the term, “spineless,” because the PUBs who gve them money love the word, but in the 111th Congress, the Democratic House passed hundreds of bills (here’s a sample of some of them), many of them very progressive, that were blocked by 40-41 Republicans in the Senate. That doesn’t sound “spineless” at all. Though the solution was fewer Republicans, the professional left went after Democrats who weren’t perfect, most of them lost, and for the last four years, Congress has been the worst. These “progressives” are actually responsible for givin us the Tea Party, since every Blue Dog Democrat who lost was replaced by one.

The most prominent professional left media types have a lot of people snowed. They portray themselves as the ultimate progressives, based on their stances on issues. But many of the most influential blogs in the “liberal blogosphere” are run by relatively wealthy white people. Among the most prominent (and those who tend to be the most dogmatic) include:

  • a Manhattan litigation lawyer for a high-powered firm and former right winger who at some point had a “change of heart”;
  • a wealthy socialite who was once married to a gay far right Republican, who at some point had a “change of heart”;
  • a movie producer and author who made millions producing and writing extremely sensational music, movies and books before turning the same talents to writing about politics, out of boredom;
  • a lawyer and former acolyte of a notoriously right wing Congressperson who at some point had a “change of heart”.  

I’m not using names, because it’s not pertinent  it’s not personal, and I don’t want to drive traffic to them. There’s nothing wrong with being a lawyer, movie producer or author; some of my best friends are one or all of those. I also don’t have a problem with changes of heart. But doesn’t it seem strange that so many of the most prominent and loudest voices within “the professional left” used to be right wingers? I’m not talking about just leaning a bit to the right, mind you; these folks were right wingers. What’s worse is, these professional left “media types bring a right wing style of politics to the left, and it’s killing the progressive movement. Let the idiots on the far right decide who’s a RINO; the Democratic Party is and always has been a big tent, and the term DINO doesn’t fit, especially right now, with the GOP being so radicalized.

If I hear/read one more of these idiots tell me how some Democrats are “Democrat-lite,” I’m going to scream. If you can point to one Democrat who would fit into the current incarnation of the Republican Party, well, you have one hell of an imagination, because such a person doesn’t exist. The complaints about Blue Dogs that rattle around among professional lefties and PUBs have no basis in reality. They are equating the Democratic Party of today with the Republican Party of today, while envisioning the Republican Party of the 1940s. I know this, because they always quote Truman, who said, “Given a choice between a fake Republican and a real one, the public will choose the real Republican every time.” But he said back in 1946.  At the time, the GOP had a right-leaning wing, but it also had a variety of viewpoints represented. In 1946, a large number of African-Americans were Republican, because it was still “the party of Lincoln,” in some respects. But now? In 2014? Even Ronald Reagan would have a hard time making it in today’s GOP because he was “too liberal.”  

Where does the professional left derive their authority? As progressives, we advocate for the poor, the sick, the children and all of those who have been treated badly by our society. We count among our numbers black and brown people, single mothers, the working class, unions, welfare recipients, and the poor, among others. Where do wealthy white former right wingers get off telling the people in those categories they’re not “real progressives” because they don’t conform to their idea of what every progressive should believe? And if you think they don’t do that, consider the level of Obama-bashing that’s come out of the far left media over the last six years. Consider that my advocacy for the Affordable Care Act was unrelenting, and for a long time, the professional left took me to task for it. Many of them even called for Democrats to vote against it, because it didn’t have a “public option.” In other words, these so-called “progressives” (again, many of them former right wingers) advocated to deny 30 million people access to health insurance, because of something they couldn’t even define. 

That’s not progressive. Sorry.

More tomorrow…

17 to go: Flashback: A Wakeup Call for Progressive Thinkers

I first posted this on May 12, 2004 on my original blog, The Daily Weasel. The original received an overwhelmingly positive response. With two-and-a-half weeks to go before this very important election, It’s something to think about again. Some elements are dated, such as the part where we have to elect John Kerry, but the core idea is still valid. Do NOT call yourself a progressive if all you have is the right positions on specific issues, but you’re not doing what needs to be done to get the best people elected. Not the PERFECT people, the BEST people. 

Politics in a democracy is about winning. If you’re not winning, it doesn’t matter how right you think you are. 

A Wake-Up Call for Progressive Thinkers

by Milt Shook

Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re a progressive. (Face it; if you’re reading this web site, the odds are pretty good that you at least think of yourself that way.)

As a “progressive,” I know you say you want social justice and freedom for all, regardless of race, creed or sexual preference. I know you want everyone in the United States to have an equal shot at the American dream, that no one should be held back because of his or her skin color or gender. You want to preserve a woman’s right to reproductive choice, and you think any couple who wants to get married should be able to. You think that clean air and clean water are our birthright, and should be protected to the greatest extent possible. You think the poor should have a safety net that actually takes good care of them in times of financial stress. And no one – and I mean NO ONE – should have to be unhealthy because they don’t have access to insurance, or be forced into bankruptcy because they get sick.

Am I close on these? Good. That’s how I feel, and I’m glad you feel that way. You know what else? I think the majority of Americans, if presented with our case just that way, would be on our side. So the question I have is, why are so many “progressives” moving the country to the right, by voting and working against the Democratic Party?

I can hear the expletives fly now. “What did he say?” you’re thinking. A lot of you think the Democratic and Republican Party are two sides of the same coin, and that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for the status quo. In a way, if you look at things in a superfluous manner, you’d be right. There are politicians from both parties who are corrupt, and arrogant. And corporate special interests have far too much pull in the electoral process. But let’s engage in a little Civics 101, and I’ll show you how you’re flat wrong when you characterize both major parties the same, and why you’re not really a progressive if you don’t support one of them.

We live in a democratic republic. We each vote for our representative every two years, and a senator two out of every three elections. In those elections, the person who gets the most votes wins. That means, if there are 5 million votes for the Senate, and the race is between two, the one who gets 2,500,001 wins. If three run, it could be less than that. If 12 people run, it’s possible that someone could get 10% of the vote and win election. That’s our system.

The presidential race is a little more complicated, but not too bad. Instead of voting for a candidate, you’re actually voting for an elector, who will then cast his or her vote in your honor.

But in either case, the one who gets the most votes gets to make public policy. The presidential candidate who gets the most electoral votes gets to appoint a Cabinet, which will oversee scads of new regulations, and judges who will administer the law in whichever way he sees fit.

The folks who get the second, third and fourth most votes get to go home and plan for a return to politics, go fishing, whatever. They have absolutely no say in policy, unless someone who won gives them a say.

Okay, why am I giving readers a civics lesson? Because the left seems to have forgotten this very simple thing. I listen to Randi Rhodes on Air America most afternoons, and it seems that not a day or two goes by without some self-proclaimed “progressive” singing the praises of Ralph Nader, and asking why she doesn’t support him. The simple answer she gives – because he can’t win! – seems to fall on deaf ears in many cases. But that is the answer.

Think about it a minute. If I’m running for president, and I know damn well I’m never going to get more than 5% of the vote, I can say any damn thing I want to. I can say I’m going to eliminate the budget deficit by taxing the rich 90%. I can say I’m going to eliminate NAFTA and force US companies to rehire everyone they laid off in the last ten years. I can promise to quadruple CAFÉ standards and outlaw gasoline-driven cars. I can say all of that, and get so-called “progressives” all hot for my candidacy because I’m saying all of the right things, but in reality, I’m snowing you, because I know damn well I will NEVER have to come through with any of that. So, when you vote for me, you’re voting for hot air, and nothing more.

So, tell me; in what way does voting for hot air make you a “progressive”? Doesn’t being a progressive kind of require that we make actual progress at some point? Yeah, I know; both major parties are too beholden to special interests. I agree. But who’s better equipped to actually go after the problem; someone who owes his continued political survival to making progressives happy, or someone who blows smoke and makes all sorts of promises that he knows he’ll never have to keep?

You want to know why the right has been winning far too many elections? Of course, it’s because they get the most votes. Part of it’s because they will vote for anyone who will move them in the right direction, even if it’s in baby steps. Look at the reverence they show to Ronald Reagan. Reagan did little for them while he was in office, but they love him anyway, because he moved them a little bit in a direction opposite what they had convinced themselves they were used to. We could learn a little from that. We could also learn from the fact that not voting for someone is just like voting for his opponent in a two-person (who can win) race.

Okay. That’s the first lesson. The second one is just as important.

We have to take our case to the people. That’s right; those people. If we’re going to see progressive causes come to fruition, we have to force those who win to adopt our issues. And the best way to do that is to take them to the people. We used to know this stuff; what happened? Progressives actually got Richard Nixon to adopt OSHA rules, stop the draft and work to create the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, we’re looking at an electorate that is increasingly negative about such common-sense issues as affirmative action and abortion, and because of this, we are in danger of losing both.

And we are losing precisely because a large number of progressives –mostly white and not very poor – have abandoned the system and made demands that are not even within the realm of reality. You can’t achieve major sociological change with 5% of the electorate behind it. Ten times that many is far more realistic. And don’t look now, but whatever these “progressives” are doing, they’re not even winning over the folks we should be winning over. Blacks and minorities vote overwhelmingly Democratic. So do feminists. So do gays. So do the poor. What is it that you know that they do not? My guess would be, not very much.

So, here’s the strategy to beat back the right wing onslaught. First, we elect John Kerry, to get rid of the Keystone Kops in the White House. To allow them to continue for another four years would do more damage than we could repair in a generation. Then, after we elect Kerry, we make our appeal to the people, and create a groundswell of support for one issue after another. Think it’s difficult? It’s not. How could it be? You think clean air is a harder sell than increased pollution? Think universal health care is a harder sell than the travesty that is our current health care system? See my point? We have a golden opportunity, but only with the building blocks in place. We have to be realistic; we’re not ever going to have a hard core progressive majority in Congress, and we’re not going to be able to elect a hard core liberal as president. But what we CAN do it elect moderates who are receptive to taking stands on issues that move us in the right direction.

It’s time we all pulled together with the people we claim to be fighting for; the poor, the downtrodden, the elderly, and people who have not been able to fully participate in the system. We haven’t done that in a while. If you’re having visions of a major cultural revolution, well, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It kind of needs the culture to move it along.

Think about it…

18 to go: Stop the reactionary politics, progressives.

Progressives have been largely sidelined politically for more than 40 years, and one of the major reasons is our tendency to play politics in much the same way as the Right Wing Republican party. And one of the most ridiculous tendencies progressives have developed is our tendency to be purely reactionary about too many things.

Take this week’s story on Alison Lundergan Grimes. All week, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were inundated with progressives complaining about the fact that the Democratic Party was pulling out of her race to focus on other races. There was reactionary screaming coming from progressives of all stripes, and all they managed to accomplish was to encourage a few more voters to stay away from the polls. You’d think the Democratic Party was killing their dog.

Let me explain this for you, reactionaries…

The race to beat Mitch McConnell is not the only one Democrats have to win. It would be symbolic, at best. I mean, if they beat McConnell, but they lose the Senate majority, what’s the point? There is a finite amount of cash available, and Grimes still has $6 million in her war chest, as of the beginning of October. How much more does she need? Also, the chances of Grimes winning have always been slim. I hope she wins, and I have no doubt her people will work their asses off, but if she wins at all, it will be a squeaker.

Of course, there’s another factor the reactionary left doesn’t realize. Earlier in the week, Grimes made a calculated decision not to say she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. When she did, the professional and reactionary left factions beat her up over it as much as the GOP did. There is a great likelihood all of the screaming coming from the left caused a drop in support that caused the DSCC to put their support elsewhere.

This is the problem with reactionary politics. It’s thoughtless, by definition, and it bring unexpected consequences.

First of all, Grimes’ strategy on admitting having voted for Obama is actually quite rational. First, she lives in Kentucky, so there’s that. But more than that, McConnell is so obsessed with Obama, her strategy brought out that obsession. As she said during the debate earlier this week, Obama’s not running, and how she voted is not an issue. And it really isn’t. But now, the reactionary far left has once again demonstrated that they don’t have Democrats’ backs, even as they call themselves “the Democratic base.” They scratch their heads over why Democrats don’t kiss their asses. This is why.

Once again, if you want to be part of the Democratic base, you have to have Democrats’ backs.

And seriously; how childish is it to whine and cry because she seemingly “dissed” President Obama? I didn’t see him all over the place crying about it, so why were the reactionaries?

Pavlovian responses to Professional Left stimuli does not make for a successful “movement.” The DSCC cutting off funding to a well-funded candidate is not something that should be concerning to rational progressives. We need to win a majority in the House and keep the one in the Senate; that’s a lot more important than one race.

Being reactionary is always a bad practice, in every part of your life. I know this because I used to be the king of the reactionaries. I make a lot more sense since I learned to calm down and take a long look at the entire playing field.

Politics is a game. I know some folks think of politics as some sort of “noble enterprise,” the sole purpose of which is to advance society for the betterment of mankind, or some like nonsense. It’s not. Politics in a democratic republic is the art of finding a way to get a majority behind the issues you find to be most important. It is a clash of 317 million “special interests,” with the result being, hopefully, a consensus that all can live with. If you’re a progressive who thinks our government will ever be a fully progressive enterprise, I have this bridge to sell you…

Many of the loudest voices coming from our side of the political aisle seem to have no concept of the gamesmanship that is politics. Some of it is ignorance, but I suspect some may be doing it solely to try to make a living with their blog. Many are purposely obtuse because they know you want to hear/read outrage, and it maximizes clicks and donations. Unfortunately, it makes us look like “them.” And let’s be clear; the right wing doesn’t win because it’s reactionary. They win because they’re able to make us look like them, and depress turnout.

Have you ever really examined how the GOP keeps their idiot “base” in line? They do it by mining the reactionary zeal contained in those millions of tiny brains. Seriously, does any rational human being truly think the biggest problems in this country are abortion, gay marriage, gun registration and high taxes? Have you seen the teabaggers? Here; take a look at them. Do these look or sound like rational people to you? If you agree they do not, then why would you want to look like them? Why would you think to be just like them would be a net plus for the progressive movement?

To win elections, we need a majority, and that means we need to work with Democrats, not against them. Berating Alison Grimes for not being far left enough is asinine. She’s running in KENTUCKY. She’s running to beat MITCH MCCONNELL. In what alternate universe do you imagine that state will elect a Senator who will be a bookend to Elizabeth Warren? It could happen in the future, but not without a whole lot of hard work.

To make matters worse, the reactionary crap is almost always just plain WRONG. Facts have a liberal bias, but reactionaries rarely have facts to back them up, because they haven’t taken the time to consider them. As I noted above; Grimes wasn’t dissing Obama, she was trying to show that McConnell is obsessed and irrational about Obama, and reactionary progressives attacked her for it. Intelligent people sit back and wait to see what happens in order to discover actual facts; reacting precludes that process.

And for those of you who suggest we can’t wait until they actually vote on the proposal, no one is asking you to. But at this point in time, the Democratic proposal is just a notion. It is not a bill, it is not a debate, and frankly, it’s in no danger of becoming law, anyway. So the next time you decide to pour righteous indignation onto an “issue,” think a little. If it can’t possibly become law, why would they propose it?

There is not just one possible reason Grimes may have refused to answer how she voted. There are many. Perhaps she’s trying to get McConnell to discuss issues, and to note that Obama isn’t an issue. Perhaps she’s trying to prevent the GOP from running her answer as a sound bite for the last three weeks of the campaign. Yet, the narrative was about her refusing to “be a Democrat” and embrace the President. There is also more than one reason why the DSCC decided to cut off support, as noted above, and one of them may have been a sudden drop in support from the far left.

Why is it necessary for every Democratic candidate to kiss far left ass to get support from the professional left, the PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) and the reactionaries? There are TWO candidates in that race; why would any aupposed “progressive” equivocate on their support of Grimes over McConnell?

Politics is the art of compromise. It’s not about winning 100%, or even 75%; it’s about winning 51% or, if you’re really good, 55%. You’re not going to get much more than that without a lot of work that makes our issues mainstream. And “mainstream” seems to be an insult to many on the reactionary left. To get to that 51%, sometimes you have to play the game, and that means playing poker a little bit better than the other guys. That’s what Grimes was doing, and that’s what the reactionary wing of the progressive movement is unable to see.

Let’s stop the reactionary BS, and get better at politics, please. This election shouldn’t even be close.

21 (three weeks) to go: Be a better news consumer!

Did you know the word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary?

Before you go look that up to prove me wrong, you should look up two other words that are necessary for intelligent news viewing:

Skepticism and discernment.

There may be some good information in a television talking head show or a political talk radio show, but such programs are not “news.” In some cases, the hosts may be reporters, but as they’re offering an opinion, they are not being journalists, but pundits. There can be some journalism behind it, but it is not, in and of itself, journalism.

There is nothing wrong with punditry. News analysis can useful, and I don’t fault those who engage in it. Sometimes, listening to the opinion of someone you trust can help you understand issues more completely.  For example, Walter Cronkite’s punditry on Vietnam was probably key to most folks understanding what a complete mess that was. But you have to accept opinion for what it is, and learn to extract the nuggets of “fact,” and use your intelligence to determine their veracity.

There is a lot of great journalism out there, on just about every subject, But it seems to be buried these days underneath a mountain of opinion. Cable news really isn’t “news”  much of the time these days, and I’m not just talking about Fox. Journalism is hard work, and done well, it can uncover the truth and make our lives better. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to call oneself a “journalist” these days, and it shouldn’t be. Someone with a great penchant for researching on Google or LexisNexis, and piecing facts together is not an “investigative journalist.” Think about it a minute. If I’m searching Google and LexisNexis online, I’m finding sources that other people have already researched and written about. Sitting in a villa in Brazil and opining on hundreds of thousands of supposedly secret documents dumped in your lap and releasing them is not in and of itself “investigative journalism.” That’s true, even if a billionaire has decided to buy you a blog.

We have a responsibility as consumers of news. While the journalist does the hard work of uncovering the story, it’s our job to make sure others know about it. We also have a duty to get the story right, so we have to check the story’s veracity before we pass it on as “fact.” A real reporter enters a story with nothing but questions, and will never publish a story until he or she has solid answers to a number of questions that matter. Don’t ever trust a “news story” that asks more questions than it answers. A real news story doesn’t ask questions, it provides solid, provable answers. Continue reading

22 to go: Outrage does not motivate voters.

An apparent specialty of the professional left and PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) is their innate ability to manufacture outrage.  If you frequent lefty blogs and Twitter streams, you’ll see that the demands for outrage are unrelenting. They are always searching for subjects that might piss you off, because that’s what they think gets you reading day after day. Every time I Tweet my list of Obama accomplishments, a few “liberals insist on whining about it.

The problem with Manufactured Outrage™ is, while it might make for a decent marketing tool to other outraged lefties, it’s useless as a political tool. And with about three weeks to go before an election Democrats have to win if progressives are going to salvage something from the most progressive president we’ve seen in our lifetimes, our goal has to be to get the most votes. Manufactured Outrage™ has the OPPOSITE effect.

There’s the cognitive dissonance that permeates the PUB segment of the progressive movement. They are apparently just like right wingers, in that THEY are motivated by anger and outrage, so they think everyone is. As usual, they are wrong. Only those who occupy the far left and right ends of the political spectrum are motivated by outrage. The vast majority of voters are actually de-motivated by outrage and anger. They want government to work, and they want to elect people they see as competent. The reason so many people stay home these days is because they don’t see anyone as competent, because all of the rhetoric is negative. Negative works for the right wing; it works against everyone else. Continue reading

Toward a better understanding of religion: Muslim edition

I rarely talk about my personal religious beliefs, because they’re, well, personal. They’re supposed to be, too, according to most religions. Just saying…

Basically, I don’t believe in religion. I’m not a full-fledged atheist, because I admit I don’t know enough. None of us does. For Chrissakes, people; after millions of years, we just discovered the universe a few hundred years ago, and we haven’t even begun to explore other stars or planets. As I suggest in my novel, “Not Another Savior,” how do we know we’re not part of some experiment in a lab by a “creator” named Phineas? How do we know we humans don’t keep blowing up planets, and this is our third or fourth try? The answer is, we don’t, which makes strident religionists and strident atheists roughly the same to me. You don’t know anything, really, so stop pretending you do. The “Big Bang” is as valid a possibility as any, and evolution is just a fact of life; one we see every day. Like I said; we don’t know anything, really. Continue reading

25 to Go: Our energy future is green, but not with the GOP in charge

One way you know the current incarnation of the Republican Party is just plain nuts comes when they continue to complain about the stimulus package passed by Democrats and Obama in 2009. One thing that bill did and continues to do, is to greatly increase our investment in clean energy production, which is the future. The issue is climate change, but it’s also everyday life. We need energy; there is no denying it. And the reality is, we will never, ever meet our needs through drilling and fracking everywhere we can.

Oil is not the future, it’s the past. And it’s not the past just because gasoline is permanently more than $3 per gallon, and is due to go to $5 per gallon within a decade. One major reason fossil fuels are the past is because more people are using more energy, and we can’t survive in a world in which 7 billion people drive internal combustion engines, and use fossil fuels to generate the electricity we need. We have to figure out how to balance our production and use of energy with the need for clean air, wholesome, nutritious food and a clean and a plentiful supply of water.

Because everything in nature works in harmony, we have to produce what we need, while disturbing as little of the natural world as possible. It doesn’t whether you “believe” in climate change or not. It doesn’t matter how many jobs, companies and countries are “dependent” on the extraction of fossil fuels for their economic needs. This is about nothing less than the survival of the human race. Continue reading

26 to Go: What Republicans have done, Part I

Here’s a (partial) list of things Republicans have done over the last four years, despite the fact that they continue to ask that you vote for them. (And for those who are supposedly on our side, but who insist that Democrats are “just as bad,” I would note that “the Democrats” haven’t initiated anything near as odious as these…)

    • In October  2013, they shut down the government for 17 days, and claimed they were doing it to get Democrats to repeal Obamacare, which could not happen because signups had already begun. In addition, this stunt by these “fiscal conservatives” cost taxpayers $24 billion. (Source) When the vote to reopen the government was held, 144 Republicans voted to keep it closed, even though everyone would be paid everything they were owed. (Source)
    • That same 144 House Republicans who voted to keep the government closed also voted to default on the national debt, which would have ruined the credit of the United States. This is not just bad fiscal policy, but also a violation of the Constitution they swore to uphold. (Source, includes a list of names, most of whom want to be reelected.)
    • They cut funding for Benghazi security. which more than likely led to the security problems that these same Republicans have been using as a political football for two years, in a lame attempt to blame Obama. (Source)
    • The only possible reason we may have a more difficult time fighting the Ebola virus is because Republicans have cut more than $600 million from the budgets of federal health agencies, especially the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For example, in 2011, the GOP cur $156 million from the CDC’s budget for immunization and respiratory diseases. (Source) Overall, the CDC’s budget, which was $6.467 billion for fiscal year 2010, had dropped to $5.432  billion for fiscal year 2013, post-sequester, before the first budget to pass in more than five years restored some of the cuts, to $5.882 billion. (Source)
    • Republicans also attempted to cut funding to fight Ebola a months ago. (Source) Thankfully, the level of funding was later restored.
    • Republicans have also rejected several Surgeon General nominees, so we have no Surgeon General as we start seeing Ebola cases and we head into flu season. (Source)
    • Many (certainly not all) of the problems the Secret Service has experienced in recent years can be lain at the feet of Republicans, whose sequester cuts have forced the agency to cut staff by 550 in recent years, thus leaving it below “optimum levels.” (Source)
    • At the same time they campaign on a claim that we haven’t recovered from the Great Recession, which they caused, Republicans cut $39 billion from Food Stamps. (Source)
    • The number of outbreaks of incidences of foodborne illness have increased precipitously in recent years, and one of the main reasons is the massive cutting by Republicans, including massive cuts to the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), as well as the FDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which takes a strong role in testing ocean waters for safety, especially in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. (Source)

This is (part)) of their record. At what point do we make voters understand that a vote for these people is a vote for these types of policies. This and my article detailing what they’ve done to the states they’re in charge of point to the entire party being a disaster. There is no way these people should be winning. And make no mistake; they don’t win because so many people vote for them, they win because too many people stay home.

27 to go: We need to make government better, not perfect

Seriously? This is what the GOP stands for. We can't beat this?
Seriously? This is what the GOP stands for. We can’t beat this?

Why does this seem as if some progressives have no clue that Republicans have been running things since 1981? Just as importantly, why do they seem to have no clue that the main reason our government is crappy right now is because a small but significant portion of the progressive movement won’t accept anything short of perfection, even though such a thing is unattainable.

I’ll never understand this quest for political perfection. I’m probably one of the most idealistic people you’ll ever meet. I believe that we as a country can do a whole lot better and can take care of everyone within our borders, as well as some beyond our borders who need us desperately. However, I also realize that what I want and what I can get are two different things. Idealism and fantasy are not the same as reality. Of course, no matter how idealistic you are, if you’re not doing anything that will actually get progress on issues and policies you claim to care about, are you really progressive? For 30 of the past 34 years, the opposite of perfect – Republicans – have either been running our government, or have held enough seats to block any sort of progress that we might want to make. when do these progressive perfectionists figure out that something is wrong, and that their tactics simply do not work?

We had a 34 year period after World War II in which progressives and Democrats worked closely together and made amazing strides, building the strongest economy in the world, in which middle-class became huge, and the vast majority of people were well off. In addition to the economic gains we made, we made enormous strides with regard to civil rights. suddenly, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, certain groups of progressives simply stopped working with Democrats. Beginning with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Republicans have been in charge for all but four years, and the same group of progressives works against Democrats as hard as they work against Republicans, and look how far backward we have gone. Continue reading

28 (four weeks) to go: Vote for Democrats, because Republicans are just plain nuts

Most of the following happened within just the last week or two. I want you to think about these within the context of the ridiculous meme that says both parties are essentially the same.  I keep hearing this absurdity, and that we need some sort of “third-party” to rescue us all from the problems in government these days. the thing is, every single one of these comes from the right side of the aisle, and they are all despicable. I been looking, and I can’t find anything similar coming from anyone on the Democratic side of the aisle. Therefore, it’s puzzling that so many “political junkies” insist that both parties are basically the same.

But start with the Ebola virus. One side of the aisle (guess which) is trying hard to stoke excessive amounts of fear and trepidation when it comes to the virus, and they are using it to continue their agenda against black and brown people. consider the following tweets from Todd Kincannon: Continue reading