The Only Way to Fight With Right Wingers… Don’t.

No BSEvery once in a while, I get the itch to just dive into a right-wing hornet’s nest and poke them mercilessly. It’s admittedly little more than an ego boost after a tough week; these people are not only ignorant, they’re proud of their ignorance and disdainful of anyone who actually has knowledge of something. But what you should know about them is, they are here to distract you. They are here for one purpose; to make sure they become the message, and a real progressive message, such as there is, will be lost in a cacophony of shouting and negativity.

Yes, I get it; sometimes it’s fun and you just want to let loose and scream at a moron. That’s fine, but you can’t afford to dwell on it; we have to let go and focus on our agenda.

There are two major reasons for the swarm of right wingers we see. One is easy to spot; the entire Republican Party has been taken over by a psychotic fringe, and they can only win elections by depressing turnout, so they say stupid shit because they know regular people will be disgusted by it and they’ll be less likely to show up at the polls. They also know that people from our side will fall all over themselves to point out how stupid they are, and even more regular people will be dissuaded from voting.

The other is a bit harder to spot; it’s money. They share a delusion that, by successfully smearing liberals and pushing the most ridiculous misinformation they can think of, they can out-crazy all of the other nutbags for a chance at a piece of the sow’s purse that low-lifes like the Koch Brothers dangle in front of them. The believe, if they’re nasty enough, the right’s financiers will move them out of that single-wide and they won’t have to eat ramen for dinner. 

Whatever it is, they're against it

Whatever it is, they’re against it

In other words, a bunch of broke ne’er-do-wells have taken to Twitter, Facebook and the comment sections of a number of websites and blogs, to either spread Republican talking points far and wide or to smear anyone with a liberal viewpoint. In some cases, they have actually broken the law in order to complain about “liberals” breaking the law. Take the recent fake video about Planned Parenthood, for example. In order to make people think a Planned Parenthood bigwig is selling fetal parts on the black market, or some such nonsense, they were forced to re-edit some video in a way that could be considered slander under the right circumstances.

The real problem that we have to deal with, of course, comes with our culpability in the propagation of these dimwits. There really is a way to make them less influential, even if we can’t make them all go away, and the solution is deceptively simple;

Ignore them.

Right wing morons are like The Blob; the more attention we pay to them, the more energy they derive from it and the bigger they become. You have to realize that the right-winger’s level of popularity is directly related to how much liberals openly hate them. The madder they get us, and the more we fight with them, the more popular they become. Nothing gives a right-winger wood like knowing that liberals can’t stand them. Do you know why Donald Trump is leading the GOP Klown Kar?Listen to what they say; they refer to him as someone who “tells it like it is.” Every time we treat him as something more than a buffoon, we feed them.  

The best way to take away the right wing’s power is to stop feeding them. I block all right wing (and some left wing) trolls and Sad Unicornother clowns reflexively on social media, and even in the comment section of this blog. We should be developing a progressive message for the American people, and engaging in pissing contests with them distracts us from that. If something they say starts to catch on, of course we should refute it, but we should refute it by simply telling the truth; there’s no need to restate their argument and give it even more traction. Instead, form an opposite statement that is true and work to magnify that instead.  

Here are some basic tips for dealing with right-wingers and troll-types in general:

  1. Ignore people who try to goad you into fighting with them. The fighting helps them, hurts progressives.
  2. Approach everyone online with the same caution you would use in real life. It’s far too easy for people to create a fake persona on the Internet these days. Feel free to Google them; if there is little or no history, add a bit of extra caution to the mix. Instead of “exposing” them later, it’s more rational to ignore them now and for good, and it will lead to more peace of mind. On Twitter, I have even taken to pre-emptively blocking them when I see them arguing with someone else I respect. 
  3. That said, don’t be paranoid. Our two biggest downfalls are paranoia and arrogance; arrogance breeds paranoia, and both cause us to do stupid things, and it’s those stupid things that get us in trouble. Think Clinton/Lewinsky for a clue as to what I mean. 
  4. When someone says something about you personally, and it doesn’t rise to the level of defamation, ignore it and never retaliate. Retaliation causes the situation to escalate and escalation only serves their nefarious purpose, which is to keep you too distracted to inform people of the truth. The old “sticks and stones” adage comes to mind. Besides, retaliation isn’t always a rational act, and often leads us to do or say stupid things, that can actually do more harm than good. 
  5. As with anything, step back and look at the situation from a wide perspective. Don’t blow it up into something it’s not. Think about the worst thing that can happen, and it’s probably not so bad. Take a deep breath, count to ten and consider the consequences of what you want to do. Then, move on, because it’s not worth it. 
  6. Most importantly, focus on what we have to do and what we have to accomplish. It’s not just about electing another Democrat to replace President Obama or getting a Democratic Congress; it has to be about vanquishing the right wing message by drowning it out with our own. It’s about getting the Republican Party out of there, because their entire goal is not allowing anything to happen that might be positive. Liberals have to play offense, and get the message out, which we can’t do if we’re obsessed with playing defense against people who don’t even know where the ball is. 
  7. Stop worrying about what THEY do, and start paying greater attention to what YOU are doing as an individual, and what WE are doing, as a movement. 

The bottom line on this is simple.

We have a mess to clean up, and we can’t do that if we continue stepping in it and tracking it everywhere. 

The Insanity of the GOP Approach to Deficits and Debt

The average American has a lot of debt these days, including a mortgage, a car loan, a few credit cards, perhaps some hospital bills; who knows? Debt has been a part of life for decades.

Evil GOPImagine you’re working and making $50,000 a year, and you’re suddenly hit with a debt of about $50,000. Too many of those who lived under the old health insurance system know exactly what I mean. You have two choices; you can eitherfile for bankruptcy or you can pay the debt. Because of the stigma bankruptcy carries to this day, most people will opt to pay the debt, but how would you do it, assuming you’re rational?

Of course, in the short term, you’ll cut back on food a little, and maybe lower the thermostat, buy fewer clothes; maybe cut off the cable and watch a lot of Netflix, but at that rate, you can imagine how long it would take you to pay off $50,000. Even if you could manage to save $500 a month, which would be extremely difficult for most people, with an interest rate of five percent, it would probably take 15-20 years to pay that off. More realistically, you’d probably save $200 a month, and the debt would hang on for far longer.  So, what do you do? Continue reading

The One Thing That Will Stop Bernie Sanders… His Supporters.

Let me start off by saying I love Bernie Sanders. He’s a good man, with a good political sense in many ways, although he is in no way perfect. He’s a really good Senator for the state of Vermont, and he’d also make a great candidate for president, except for two things…

Bernie buttonThe first one he can fix. He has a low profile, and most people don’t know who he is. I know this comes as a shock to his supporters, who drool over him as if he was a supermodel at a frat party, but most people really don’t know who he is. That can be addressed, but it would mean that he start with him and his supporters introducing himself to voters, to increase his name recognition and profile, rather than giving stump speeches. No one can only give stump speeches for 8-9 months and expect to do well in primaries; it doesn’t work that way. To win in the primaries, you have to build to a crescendo, and the way you do that is by getting your name out there first and listening to people and finding out what matters most to them and honing your campaign to meet that.

See, here’s the thing people need to realize about primaries; they’re not actually elections. You’re not choosing the president; you’re choosing the Democrat best able to beat whichever Republican emerges from that Klown Kar. It doesn’t matter what your ideals are or what a candidate says on the issues, it’s about who can win. Even if Sanders was to win, he’d still have the party create the platform. Passion doesn’t sell during primary season; voters are looked to competence and confidence. Having big crowds is great for the image to an extent, but when the candidate seems shocked by every huge crowd he sees, the positive effect is blunted. Consider Howard Dean in 2004; there was lots of enthusiasm for Dean, and he was looking to be a shoo-in as an upset winner of the Democratic nomination, until he screamed. Continue reading

Trump’s Candidacy Means GOP Death Knell, But…

I don’t think many people understand just how screwed the Republican Party is with Donald Trump in the race.

Trump obnoxious 2His mouth means there is absolutely no way he can ever be elected, and there’s little chance he’ll ever get the nomination. However, the GOP leadership find themselves between a rock and a hard place right now, and it’s beautiful to watch.

This isn’t a new development, either; it’s what happens when a political party pins its entire political hopes on an ever-shrinking group of voters that is extremely loyal, but completely batshit.

If it seems as if Republicans are afraid of Trump, they are, and there are a lot of reasons for it. For one thing, every vote that he gets makes it just a little harder for the party to put up a potentially strong candidate. Even though he’s not likely to get the nomination, he could end up as a potential “king maker” at the convention, so no one wants to get on his bad side. Plus, if they piss him off, he may be able to run a credible independent campaign that could make the 2016 election look like 1964 for the GOP.

The GOP has screwed itself royally by ceding more and more control of the party to an ever crazier right wing, and what’s happening with Trump has everything to do with the Party’s dependence on the Tea Party loons. Continue reading

Capitalism is not a Religion

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” – George Bernard Shaw

GOP VisionOne of the more childish and irritating concepts propagated by the current incarnation of the Republican Party is the notion that all regulations are so restrictive and confining that they inhibit freedom. This is demonstrably false, of course; most regulations actually enhance the freedom of businesses to do what they want. For example, rules against predatory commercial activity, if enforced, will keep a huge company – say, Walmart – from charging prices designed to put everyone else out of business. Keeping the prospect of doing business open to everyone is a good thing, is it not? Having a big box store displace 20 other small businesses actually strangles commerce; it doesn’t enhance it.

Like everything in life, regulations should occur  in moderation, and there have been times governments have gone overboard with regulations, but used properly, they keep people honest and create a level playing field in the markets. When that happens, capitalism can breed strong innovation and create markets for products and services to make life better. The United States became an economic superpower because we learned to use the capitalist economic system to its greatest effect, and the world economy is growing and expanding largely by following our lead.

Unfortunately, what other countries learned from us, we seem to have forgotten during the Republican neocon era. Contrary to the modern Republican attitude, capitalism is not a religion, in which “the market” serves as its godhead. Republicans believe that players in a market will always accede to the wishes of their customers because that’s how they make money. Spare me that tripe. Continue reading

Why #BlackLivesMatter Can’t be Diluted, White People

BLM1I can’t believe I have to say this again. I mean, I’ve already explained “white privilege,” primarily because too many white people (and yes, I include a lot of white liberals in this group, I’m sad to say) think they know everything and never take the time to actually listen to what black people have to say. They think that, because they have a college education and perhaps took a couple of sociology courses, they understand the “black experience.”

No you don’t. You can’t. I can’t, you can’t; no white person can understand it. Therefore, it’s really important to sit the hell down and shut the hell up and listen. Even if you can’t understand everything, you can at least learn to empathize. If you’re white and you don’t think you have white privilege, you are blind and you need to re-take that college course. No, forget that; open up your eyes and ears and observe, and listen to what black people tell you about it. If you’re on Facebook and/or Twitter, you either don’t have any black friends or you don’t read anything they say. Of course, you can also look at the hashtag, #blacklivesmatter and read what random black people say about it, and you might learn something.

The fact that you “mean well” simply accounts for jack shit, got it? You have to DO well, too. And doing well for our black brothers and sisters often means shutting the hell up and listening to black people when they try to speak to you. The #Blacklivesmatter campaign is very important for everyone, not just black people. However, you might have to clear your mind and listen for a change.

The point they’re trying to make with that hashtag is that, right now, black lives are simply not very important in our society. You can’t even argue that point; by any objective standard, black lives are not considered valuable. There is a whole ideology — and right now, it runs Congress — that dismisses everything about black people and turns it into a caricature. If you read the rhetoric that comes from many white liberals, they’re only a bit better than the right wing; they act as if black people are helpless without us, and they need our help in order to make it in society, which is pure bullshit. They don’t need us! We ALL need EACH OTHER. We’re a society and community, for Chrissakes; we are all participants in this society and we all leane on one another to make it through this life. 

BLM2#Blacklivesmatter does not mean that other lives don’t matter; #AllLivesMatter is the most insulting hashtag possible, especially since it implies that black people have dismissed all other lives in saying that. If someone says “ice cream matters,” it doesn’t mean pie doesn’t count; it’s just an attempt to assert a fact that often doesn’t seem to be in evidence. Frankly, “All lives matter” sounds like white people whining. I mean, in this society, we have always matter; our white ancestors made sure of it. 

Once more, #BlackLivesMatter isn’t an attempt to marginalize whiny white people; it’s an attempt to get everyone to stop marginalizing black people, especially police and other authorities, but everyone.

That’s all. Get a grip, fellow white people.

Negative Campaigning Does Not Work… For Progressives

Negative campaign 1Many years ago, while I was in college (the second, more successful time, from 1995-1997), a professor who was very smart cited for one of my political science classes this “conventional wisdom” about how well negative campaigning works. He was absolutely certain of it, and he cited two big examples to “prove” his assertion; the LBJ “Daisy ad” from 1964 and the “Willie Horton” ad from 1988. Apparently, in both cases, one single ad from each campaign was sufficient to show us that the entirety of each campaign was negative and that the negativity was what won the election.

The problem was, I was already in my 30s and I had already worked in a lot of political campaigns by that point, and I had never seen any of the candidates I supported take on a negative tone. Sure, sometimes they had to defend themselves, but they never became negative against the other candidate, I’d say about 75% of the candidates I worked for won, so while I liked this professor, I was a bit more skeptical than the other students in the class, and I decided that was what my research paper would be about. Of course, I discussed the Johnson campaign in 1964 and the 1988 Bush campaign, but I added a number of others, as well. (I wish I could find that paper, but I’m going to consider re-doing it and updating it for the blog.)

To write the paper, I accessed articles from the period to show that, in 1964, the infamous “Daisy” ad, while memorable, was an anomaly. It only aired once; on September 7, 1964, a full two months before the election, and Johnson was already trouncing Goldwater, with polling showing him with 65% support. He won two months later with 61% of the vote. (Source) Therefore, it’s damn near impossible to claim that LBJ won because of the the Daisy ad; Goldwater was never going to win. Here is the Daisy ad: Continue reading

Religious Rights Are Irrelevant in the Public Sphere

The right wing has taken over the Republican Party almost completely, and it shows. Look at the crowded GOP field, and you’ll know immediately why we call it the Klown Kar. There are maybe 2-3 candidates in that field who have more than about a 5% chance of becoming president, and the only candidate in the field who wouldn’t be a complete embarrassment to the party, George Pataki, is having a difficult time polling at 1%.

One of the best examples of just how incredibly concrete-headed the Republican base is comes with their reaction to the decision that came down a couple weeks ago regarding the bakery in Gresham, Oregon that refused to make a cake for a same-sex commitment ceremony/wedding. (Basically, it was a wedding, but the state wasn’t recognizing them at the time.) The goal of the lesbian couple was to reinforce their commitment to the two special needs foster children they were adopting, that their parents would always be there for them.

Anyway, the state of Oregon has a law on the books that prohibits discrimination against anyone because they’re gay. I’m not going to go into the whole story, I am just going to get to the punchline; in a decision reached a couple months ago, and reinforced on July 2 after an appeal, the Oregon government published an order (here) that awarded the lesbian couple $135,000 in damages (NOT a fine, damages!) because of everything that happened to them. (In addition to the discrimination, the owners of the bakery also doxxed the couple, posting their name address and phone number on their Facebook page and talking about the case on national radio and TV, so there was a lot of damage done.) Continue reading

How to Win on Climate Change

One of the main purposes of this blog is to correct the record, but it has a secondary purpose, as well; I want toPUBs win elections and get the current incarnation of the Republican Party out of power and restore sanity to government. And one major reason we keep losing is because we don’t have a cogent message to present to voters. Instead, we see the outrage in an action someone takes or something someone says and because we’re outraged, we expect that everyone else is also outraged. Then, when someone isn’t sufficiently outraged, many on our side become outraged at the lack of outrage because, dammit, they should have been outraged.

If the above seems confusing, well… now you know what most voters think when our professional left and their perpetual outrage machine comes at them. It’s also a key reason so many of them they stay home on Election Day. Of course, the professional left and the PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade — that strain of lefties who keeps demanding a unicorn that farts glitter and express their constant disapproval when they only get a thoroughbred to vote for) believe that everyone should feel a duty to vote and anyone who doesn’t is abdicating their civil responsibility, so they are summarily dismissed as unimportant and the current incarnation of Republicans marches to victory after victory.

There is no greater example of our political failure than when it comes to climate change. Continue reading

Republicans Have One Strategy; Fight It

I’ve been saying it for years, and sometimes I feel like I’m banging my head against a cement wall. Last year, in a speech, President Obama said the following:

“The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud. … There are well-organized and well-funded efforts to undo [the] gains (of the civil rights movement). … Just as inequality feeds on justice, opportunity requires justice, and justice requires the right to vote.” (Source)

Republicans have one overarching strategy, and that is to drive down the vote. For example, have you ever noticed that Republicans only talk about Voter ID and attempt to purge Democratic voters during election years?  You don’t hear them talking about it now; they aren’t pushing all kinds of measures now; they wait until just before the election to do it. I mean, if their goal was actually to pass these measures and keep people from voting, this would be the perfect time, right? What you need to understand is that Republicans don’t pass voter ID laws and take other measures to suppress voters for the reasons you think. How many people in, say, Pennsylvania do you imagine are walking around without identification and intend to vote? Perhaps 20-30,000? In a state with nearly 13 million people, that’s not enough to swing an election. 

On the other hand…

When they propose outrageous things, one thing the GOP can count on is a swift, strong, sustained reaction from progressives. We spend so much of our time fighting “voter suppression” that we probably have a net greater negative effect on most elections than any actual voter suppression action Republicans take. Think about it. If a million or so Pennsylvanians are trying to decide whether to take an hour or two off from one of the three jobs they need to make ends meet, and we convince them they’ll be turned away when they get to the polls, many, if not most, will decide not to vote. In other words, we end up helping the right do their dastardly deed, which is to drive good people away from the polls, and make it more possible that the people of Pennsylvania, who are 60% Democratic, continue with majority-Republican representation. Continue reading