Getting Smarter About Politics

I guess the question is, what has to happen before a great many progressives figure out that what they think about politics doesn’t work? I mean, we started losing in 1972, and we’ve continued losing ever since; over the course of 43 years, at what point do we figure out that how we think about politics doesn’t get us the progress of government we all want?

The_Cap_of_a_Fool_fits_the_Head_of_a_DunceWe even have a stellar example of what we can do in order to get a progressive government. It’s called the Obama campaign, especially in 2008. That campaign was a progressive campaign; it was a classic, in that it promoted the idea that we could do great things with government, and make people’s lives better. He won in the first landslide a Democrat has experienced since 1964, with the largest turnout since 1968 and yet within one election cycle, progressives apparently forgot that lesson and reverted back to negativity and attacking Democrats.

Seriously, how could anyone who considers themselves politically savvy believe that negativity about Democrats is going to get us anything except more Republicans in office? And yet, before Obama even took office, the professional left and the PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) started attacking him for crap. The loudest segment of the progressive movement was already declaring his presidency a failure because he chose Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, forgetting the basic political reality that it’s the President who sets economic policy, not the Treasury Secretary; not that they evaluated Gethner fairly, anyway. They even went after him for his choice for the Christian pastor who gave the invocation. How can anyone expect to be taken seriously, politically speaking, when you are criticizing the president of the United States for not choosing “the right pastor” to say a prayer at his inauguration? Continue reading

The REAL Problem with McKinney

I am so incredibly troubled by the incident in McKinney, Texas last week that I can’t see straight. And I do not mean the incident itself. I’m talking about the coverage of the incident, and the overall discussion of the incident.

For a minute, take race out of it. If you read this blog, I know you can; you’re smart. Look at the video without the lens of race.

Imagine those are your kids and their friends. Even before the most notorious action in the video, the officer is abusive and is treating these people as if they don’t count. A person who took an oath to protect the community, who works for the people in that community, should just be allowed to hurl obscenities at children? Yes, I know; they’ve all heard them before and some of them probably use them a lot. That’s beside the point. Police are supposed to set an example. If they’re not capable of that, they shouldn’t be police officers. Period. I know for a fact I could never be a police officer because I have little patience with stupidity, and as a cop I would see too much of it, including much from other cops. So, I don’t become a cop. I write.

But let’s put the race back in for a minute, because it matters. And lets talk about the most notorious part of this video, in which the police officer is manhandling a beautiful little 15-year-old girl. If you can imagine that cop would do that with a tall, lean blonde white girl, you have a hell of an imagination, and no sense of history. Continue reading

The Answers Are Never THAT Clear!

There is no issue that can be stated in black and white terms. None. Zero. Zilch.

Every issue anyone can name has a number of shades of grey, and it is really not possible to take a yes/no, either/or stance on anything and be accurate about it. I know a lot of people on the professional left think they sound smart when they talk about fossil fuels and carbon in absolute terms, but they really don’t. I mean, yes, we have to work our way toward using less fossil fuels, but it’s not as simple as ditching all of our cars and carbon-producing power plants tomorrow. Yet, many of the arguments you hear and read from the pro left sound like that’s possible.

PUB1Likewise, most of the PUB (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) and professional left arguments against the Trans-Pacific Partnership sound almost as ridiculous; they’re often left versions of right-wing absolutist arguments, and they’re not any smarter, really. I’ll get to that in a bit. For now, let’s talk about the intersection of fossil fuels, carbon and climate change, shall we?

Among the absolutist arguments I have been hearing lately are the following (these are paraphrased, but pretty close to exact quotes):

  • President Obama is violating his own admonition to Republicans he made in 2012 about drilling for oil by, well, drilling for oil.
  • Advocating for more drilling means we can’t wean ourselves off fossil fuels.
  • Because scientists say the best way to cut carbon usage is to leave it in the ground, we should leave everything in the ground.
  • By becoming one of the largest oil producers in the world once again, we undermine our overall goal, which should be to stop using fossil fuels.

Every single one of those arguments is asinine on its face, because they all require that we all ignore the reality of the day. Continue reading

The Future of Liberalism: Where is the Liberal Message?

Why do we fail so much, when we know, almost instinctively, that more people are on our side, politically speaking? More importantly, why do so few liberals seem to notice that we are failing?

BushKiss2Once again, the reasons are deceptively simple. People really are on our side, for the most part. Who wouldn’t be? I mean, for God’s sake; liberals and progressives want cleaner air and water, we want to switch away from dirty oil and coal to much cleaner solar, wind and geothermal. We want American children to have a better education. We want the workplace to be more egalitarian. We want the markets to be open and free and we want everyone to have the opportunity to do something great, for themselves and their families. We want every family that works to be paid fairly, at a wage that allows them to live without stressing over such things as how they’ll pay for food or a place to live. We believe healthcare is a right, and that no one should face losing everything because someone they may not even know sneezed in their vicinity and made them ill. We think food should be priced fairly and be healthy and as disease-free as possible. We think consumer products should be safe. And for God’s sake, we not only want those who are religious and those who are not to be free of the tyranny of those who think their religion and that everyone should be able to walk around freely, with little or no fear of being shot by anyone, especially police, unless they pose an imminent threat to someone else. Continue reading

The Future of Liberalism: Nature Abhors a Vacuum

When did we get to this point?

Clown CarI mean, look at the Republican Klown Kar for a clue. At some point, when everyone thinking of running actually throws their pointy little hat into the ring, we will have the richest vein of comedic gold in American history, and absolutely no one who can be looked at seriously as a contender for the White House. The closest one is the brother of the worst president in American history, by far, and the son of another president who is undoubtedly in the bottom five. It’s been that way for a while, because what Republicans believe is nothing even close to mainstream.

Consider: Just over just the past few weeks, we’ve seen the following; Continue reading

Help Create a Network of Progressives for Common Sense

GOP Klown KarYou can really tell who the professional left are these days. While the rest of us are seeing things like what’s happened in Baltimore… and New York… and Chicago… and Ferguson… and trying to learn how we can make a difference in the world, pro lefties are all over Bernie Sanders. Really. It just happened. When the story about the Baltimore prosecutor indicting some cops over Freddie Gray’s death, several PUBs/emos and pro lefties were posting screeds on why we need Bernie Sanders as president. I shit you not.

Now, I love Bernie. In a perfect world, he’d make a good president. And I’m glad he will be adding to the debate, as will Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb. But we live in a democracy that even has a difficult time electing someone center-left – a far lefty like Sanders has zero chance of doing more than being heard. If we really want to do something, we need to get Bernie and Elizabeth Warren a majority Democratic Senate and House, so that they can actually pass laws. That means, stop trashing Hillary, and stop supporting Bernie so damn hard that your panties will bunch when he doesn’t win the nomination.

Go here to help us create a new, unicorn-free liberal network.

Continue reading

Why is this Happening in Baltimore?

FreddieGrayPrecinctProtestI grew up in Baltimore. When I say “in Baltimore,” well, like most other white people, I mean the suburbs, although I was a lot closer to the city than most people I knew at the time. My high school, which was in Baltimore County, was literally walking distance from the city line. (Just as a point of reference, Baltimore City and Baltimore County are two entirely separate entities.) We used to occasionally break the rules (Gasp! One of my teachers will read this!) and go up to Gino’s on Patapsco Avenue, which was in the city, when we didn’t feel like cafeteria food. My parents’ first home was in the County, but only about a mile from the city line, their second was about a half mile inside the city, the third was about two blocks away from that Gino’s and the last house they bought there was in Arbutus, a little hamlet that still, to this day, looks like Mayberry, even though it’s about a 20 minute bus ride from downtown Baltimore.

Throughout my early childhood, most of my extended family lived in Baltimore City. My grandmother and an aunt and uncle lived near St. Agnes Hospital, which is across Patapsco Avenue from the former Cardinal Gibbons High School,  which was once the site of the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. If that sounds familiar, it’s where Babe Ruth went to school and learned to play baseball. My grandfather went there, too, albeit a few years after the Babe, but enough to establish my Baltimore pedigree. My grandmother, father and aunt grew up in a neighborhood north of Patterson Park, and I visited a lot when I was a kid, so I recognize the neighborhood to this day. My mother grew up in a neighborhood on the west side that was demolished a long time ago. Continue reading

The Future of the US Lies in Labor Unions

I’ve pointed out in great detail in a number of other posts that the United States is nowhere near broke. Despite the best efforts of the Republican Party, we are still the richest nation in the world, and the dollar is still the most stable currency in the world economy. What makes our country seem broke at times is Republicans incredibly irresponsible stewardship of our government and the economy. (And yes, right wingers, both of those are related.)

Look at what happened to Wisconsin after Koch-backed Republicans took over the state. What’s the first thing they did – well, after they cut the hell out of the budget and reduced taxes on the rich, I mean? They tried to kill the teacher’s union. Why would they do that? They claimed it was to save the state lots of money, but that isn’t very likely, since union teachers pay taxes, the people they buy goods and services from pay taxes and taxes are what make government work.

When Republicans took over, the state of Wisconsin spent less than the national average on education, they had a below-average pupil-teacher ratio (which is a good thing), and test scores were well above average. Their graduation rate was a very high 89.6%; well above the national average 71%. Meanwhile, The average public school teacher in Wisconsin made $52,644 per year, according to the NEA; entry-level teachers made around $36,000, and those with 20 years experience or more making as much as $69,000 per year, depending on the district.  That’s decent money, but it doesn’t make them the Koch Brothers; I wonder how many Wisconsin Republicans would handle 20-25 of those kids for upwards of 40-50 hours a week at that rate? Not many, I’m guessing. Continue reading

Why Hillary Bashing is a Stupid Idea

HillfaceI am a progressive. If you don’t agree with that assessment of me, well, you have a problem, not me. But that’s not what this is about. I have to admit that I am a little worried about much of what I hear and read coming from liberals about Hillary Clinton, especially since she announced yesterday.

Now, let me start by saying that I won’t be supporting her in the primaries. I’m already supporting someone else. And yes, there will be a full slate of Democratic candidates by the middle of next month. There will be people to support other than Hillary Clinton, and that’s a good thing.

What is not a good thing is this notion that many liberals seem to have, that the only way someone can win is by trashing the leading candidate in the primaries. Sorry, but that’s how the right wing thinks; it’s the reason they’ve been trashing Obama for eight years now. In reality, if the only way your candidate can win is by tearing down Hillary Clinton, you’re supporting a pretty bad candidate. Continue reading

GOP Partisanship Has Truly Jumped the Shark

HydraWhat the Republican Party is doing these days with regard to foreign policy is nothing short of disgusting, and it is, dare I say, “un-American.” I know, many people hate that term, and I’m one of them, but sometimes it fits. The federal government is supposed to protect the people from foreign powers, yet the actions of the current Congress are actually putting us in greater danger.

Look, I think most Americans have to agree that the concept of partisanship has jumped the shark when most members of a major political party in this country actually side with the Supreme Leader of Iran over the President of the United States.

I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. We have people like John McCain saying things like, “I think  you’re going to find out that they had never agreed to the things that John Kerry claimed that they had,” in response to Ayatollah Khamenei’s suggestion that the United States had “misinterpreted” Iran’s intentions during the talks. We also have Lindsey Graham saying something similar, when he said, “The Ayatollah and President Obama appear to be talking about two separate agreements and unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised.” Continue reading