Toward a More Rational Gun Control Debate

When the subject is guns, everyone just gets crazy sometimes. That’s cool; it’s a tough subject and it’s very emotional. And the reason it’s an emotional is because the purpose of guns is to take lives. Not just human lives, of course; a lot of people who love animals are also emotional about the concept of hunting.

The problem with the gun “debate” is the same as with all other political arguments, in that it seems to be dominated by the extremists on both sides.

On the one hand, you have gunloons, who make up an alternate “Second Amendment” out of whole cloth and who characterize gun control as “gun grabbing” and act as if we’re directing our efforts at the guns themselves. These are the same people who love to say, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and other meaningless platitudes, just because they worship the gun more than human lives. If you think I’m exaggerating, consider this Tweet from the NRA last night:

One of these measures would have prevented the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida from easily getting a gun and killing 17 children and injuring a couple dozen more.  Of course, the ban on bump stocks may have at least reduced the number of people who were killed and wounded in the massacre in Las Vegas. And how many people are killed because they can just go out, buy a gun and shoot someone while they are pissed off? However, the important thing to understand about the issue of gun control is, this isn’t about “preventing crime,” it’s about SAVING LIVES.

To be fair, there are many on our side who can be just as emotional and irrational, however, which is why the gun issue sounds more contentious than it has to be most of the time. We are not going to ban all guns, nor is there a need to ban all guns. There are currently close to 300 million guns out there among us; to think that we can ban them all and just melt them all down defies logic and good sense.

And yet, that’s the debate, if you listen to it passively. One side argues about banning all guns and the other side argues a non-existent absolute right to own and carry any type of gun they choose. One side argues that guns are “the problem,” while the other side argues that guns are “no problem.” Neither of those positions makes any rational sense.

Obviously, when the debate is between two irrational arguments, it’s going to be contentious because both arguments fail to deal with the actual problem, which has to do with responsibility and saving lives.

Yes, that’s right. The entire gun debate really comes down to two very logical concepts, neither of which are addressed by either side in the gun debate we always hear about. They are:

1. Guns are killing machines. 

2. How do we make sure those who have guns are responsible for them.

Before we can have a rational debate on gun policy, we have to actually agree on what the issues are. The first thing we have to agree on is the purpose of a gun, which is to kill something. If you’re a hunter and you like to shoot certain animals, you may actually be providing a service. Hunting thins populations and actually prevents animals from dying in the most gruesome manner possible. If everyone stopped hunting, deer and elk populations would far exceed the food supply, and many would starve to death. However, while hunters are providing a service, in a way, they also have to recognize that shooting other beings, like their fellow hunters, is always a possibility. Therefore, it is necessary for them to be responsible with their gun. Going into woods with a shotgun and drinking a case of beer before and during the hunt, is a recipe for disaster, for example. That gun and that ammunition are designed to tear apart the flesh of living beings, and all gun owners should understand that and act accordingly.

When someone picks up a gun, they are responsible for whatever happens with that. There are simply no accidents with guns. If you have a gun and you point it at something and pull the trigger, you are responsible for whatever happens. If you are cleaning the gun and it goes off and shoots someone, even you, that is because you were irresponsible with it. If you forget to check the chamber before cleaning, you shouldn’t be able to avoid responsibility.

It’s like any other consumer product. When Takata Corporation decided to use ammonium nitrate in their inflators and that ammonium nitrate turned out to degrade and spray shrapnel all over the cabin, thus killing people the airbags were supposed to keep safe, they don’t get to avoid responsibility by claiming “they didn’t know,” and a gun owner can’t do so, either.

Negligence is not the same as an accident. And yet, gunloons love to point out accidents and suicides as proof that guns aren’t really dangerous.

And that is the heart of the real gun control argument. We simply have to recognize that guns are killing machines and regulate them accordingly.

While a lot of gunloons love to point out (rightfully) that most gun owners are responsible, that is beside the point. We don’t regulate to account for normal use of anything, we regulate to account for the exception. We have OSHA laws not because most employers want their workers to die, we have OSHA laws to account for those who simply don’t care or who place profits above lives. When the assholes at the NRA claim a few extremely minor measures passed by the Florida legislature last week will not prevent crime, they miss the point. The issue is not “preventing crime,” it’s saving lives. Guns are lethal when used properly, and our Constitution mandates that government do all they can to keep us as safe as possible. And the fact is, our governments do almost nothing to make sure these killing machines are not misused or get into the hands of the wrong people.

The issue is safety. If I want to buy certain types of allergy medicine, I have to go to a pharmacist, who then has a legal obligation to swipe my driver’s license, which then goes into a database to make sure I don’t buy “too much,” which means enough of it to make shitloads of crystal meth. Yet, while I can’t buy Sudafed without making sure I can’t buy enough to get people addicted to meth, an 18-year-old sociopath who has been a trouble maker since at least middle school is able to go into a store and buy an AR-15 with enough accessories to get it to shoot 45 rounds per minute, enough magazines to go on shooting for an hour and enough ammunition to kill and/or maim almost three dozen students at a high school and give hundreds of other students a level of PTSD comparable to war veterans who have seen battle.

This is what gun control is about. It’s about recognizing that the only rational reason to own any gun is to kill something when necessary, whether that’s a deer during a regulated hunting trip or a home invader. When used properly, guns kill and they have no other useful purpose. And let’s be clear; military-style assault weapons have no place in any civilized setting. An unadorned AR-15 is a single-shot rifle, but it’s possible to accessorize it to become an efficient killing machine.

As you saw from the statistics I posted yesterday, about 200 people are shot in this country PER DAY. And about 96 of them are killed with guns PER DAY. When Takata Corporation-made airbags claimed a half-dozen victims, we started recalling and replacing them in cars. When the number of deaths from crystal meth reached 3,000 per year, the government started controlling access to pseudoephedrine to reduce the possibility of making meth. When deaths from PPA, a drug that was once used to treat hay fever, rose to a few hundred over a few years, they banned it from the over-the-counter market.

Yet, today, 100,000 people a year are shot with a gun and about 33,000 of them die from it every year, and we have one side calling for an impractical ban and the other side claiming we can do nothing because of their ignorant misinterpretation of the Second Amendment and a gun lobby that only cares about sales figures and doesn’t care one whit about saving lives.

Because both sides are completely irrational, the rational among us have to take control of this debate and insert logic into it. Having more guns does not mean greater safety; that is completely illogical. At best, more guns means more “accidents,” and that means more unnecessary deaths. The more guns there are, the more guns will be left lying out where a toddler can play with it and shoot himself or someone else.

On the other hand, most farmers and ranchers are armed with shotguns and pistols, and there are few incidents in which a farmer has gone into a school and shot several dozen students. I have been around gun owners most of my life and I have never felt threatened, therefore, the idea of getting rid of all the guns is equally as insane.

We need common sense. This is what we need, in my opinion:

  • Every gun buyer should be subject to a thorough background check.
  • Every gun should be registered and tracked. Think of it as a “pink slip” for each gun, so that we know who owns what at a given time.
  • Every gun owner should be licensed, to make sure they know the basics of gun safety.
  • Every gun owner should be held responsible for the firearms that are registered to them, including keeping it in a safe and out of the reach of others, especially small children and the mentally ill.
  • Every gun owner should be held responsible for the damage done by their gun, including insurance.
  • Every gun owner should have to report a stolen gun immediately. They should also have to record every transfer of ownership and background check the person they’re selling to.
  • Gun owners should be subject to limits on ammunition. No one should be able to easily accumulate thousands of rounds of bullets without law enforcement knowing about it.
  • And all gun makers should be subject to the same level of liability as the manufacturers of any other consumer product. Right now, the makers of toasters have more stringent standards than the makers of guns and that is also insane.

The only way we should all be talking about guns is rationally and with common sense. Everyone needs to be responsible, not reactionary.

What to Do About Guns

On Wednesday, there was another school shooting, this time at a high school in Florida. This time, instead of the shooter cowardly blowing his own head off, this one was caught and will face trial. Once more, we are being bombarded with “reasons why this happened.” There is the contingent who believe we should ban all guns, of course, which is insane, but equally insane is the contingent who believes “it’s because the man was mentally ill. We have to take mental illness more seriously.” The sad part is, neither contingent seems capable of realizing that BOTH elements are present and a problem. Put it this way; women suffer from mental illness at least as often as men, yet 98% of mass shooters are men. Mental health coverage would help, but it’s only part of the problem.

However, there’s a third problem, and that is the same apathy and complacency that placed the bonehead Donald Trump in the White House. Yesterday, a bunch of the kids from Douglas High School who survived the shooting on Valentine’s Day got together and addressed the real problem. We have failed our kids. We have allowed the gun culture to take over our government and have their own way. I know it is tempting to blame the NRA, but no. The NRA is evil and a bunch of lying creeps, but it is the Republican Party who has decided to place the NRA’s needs ahead of the needs of the people. In turn, it is our tendency to encourage non-voting that has kept the GOP in power long past their sell-by date.

One thing I have always tried to do with this blog is to stick to arguments that are certified or at least easily provable with a relatively easy Google search. And a basic fact is, we need laws and regulations to cover everything in society that has the potential to harm us. Yet, we have very few laws related to gun safety and security.  The basis for all law, even laws regarding murder, rape and robbery, aren’t actually meant to keep everyone in line, just the bad people. The vast majority of people will never even think of murdering or raping someone, even in the absence of a law. If they repealed the laws against murder and rape tomorrow, it’s unlikely anyone reading this post would just go out and kill someone or rape someone because it was legal.  However, these laws do have an impact on the number of rapes and murders and they make people a lot more careful. A recent study showed that incidents of texting and driving were 17% higher in the few states that don’t have a ban than in the majority states that do. The purpose of a law is to encourage potentially irresponsible people to be more responsible and to act in a way that benefits society.

And that is why we need better gun laws.

And to the gunloons who may happen upon this, I did not say “more” gun laws. The issue isn’t about quantity, but quality. The vast majority of gun owners are responsible, decent citizens, who keep their weapons in a safe, responsible manner. However, the current state of gun laws does not encourage irresponsible gun owners to be more responsible, and that is the main purpose of regulations. As of this moment, virtually anyone can get a gun, including people who, legally speaking, are not allowed to have one. In addition, that means people who probably shouldn’t have one. They can’t walk into a federally licensed gun dealer’s shop and buy one without a background check, but the background check isn’t comprehensive enough,  as evidenced by the fact that the Florida shooter, who had serious social problems, at the very least, had no problem getting an AR-15 and all the accessories to make it semi-automatic, capable of shooting 45 rounds per minute.

Of course, if a buyer wants a gun without a background check, they can respond to a classified ad, or buy one from a guy on a street corner or a flea market or yard sale, or any number of ways, and no one is required to do a background check. By the way, right after 20 innocent babies in kindergarten and first grade were gunned down in cold blood by another “mentally ill” person, Democrats proposed a bill that would have fixed that and the majority Republican Party killed it, even though every poll showed more than 90 percent of Americans supported the concept. Right now, thanks to the NRA bought-and-paid-for Republicans, there is no recording and tracking of most gun sales. A gun can be sold and resold and go through 20-30 hands without anyone knowing who owned it or who has it now. Therefore, when a gun is used in a crime, or used by a toddler to shoot his parents, or used by a seven-year-old to shoot a classmate, or used by a teenager to shoot himself, or used by a son to shoot up the school where his mother works as a teacher, there is no way to trace its ownership. Not only that, but while the purchase of certain types of allergy medicines requires the pharmacy to swipe my driver’s license and limit me to a couple boxes every week, if I want to buy a gun, I only have to “know a guy” and hand him the cash. I can go online and use a credit card, a PayPal account, or the gift card Aunt Martha got me for Christmas and there is nothing stopping me.

That’s the problem. Having laws against felons owning guns sounds great, but It’s necessary to have regulations in place to allow for enforcement of that law. It is also absolutely necessary to at least try to make irresponsible gun owners act responsibly, in a way that benefits society. All guns should be registered and tracked and every sale should be recorded and the owner of each and every gun should be responsible for whatever happens to or with it, which can’t happen until we know who has what and what happens to it subsequent to sale. We currently don’t register guns at all. Many people think we do, but that’s wrong. We record initial sales, but there is no registry. Put simply, it’s technically against the law for a felon to own and carry a firearm, but law enforcement has no way of knowing when it happens, so what’s the purpose of that law?

Another thing that’s bothersome about current law is that we have no way to know if the person carrying the gun is properly trained and skilled enough to use it responsibly. I know this may come as a shock to many people, but you don’t just buy a gun, point it at someone or something, and shoot. There’s a reason for firing ranges; people need to learn how to use it properly and they need to practice. Since there are no legal requirements for ownership, there is no way to know if the asshole walking around Target with an AR-15 strapped to his sorry ass has even the slightest idea how to use it. We’re supposed to see him carrying his weapon and just assume he won’t ever purposely or accidentally shoot our kids or us with it.

See the problem?

And no, it’s not the guns, folks; it’s about the people with guns. When we see a cop with a gun in his holster walking into the McDonalds for lunch, we’re not worried because we have a reasonable expectation (I use that phrase advisedly, my Black friends) that they won’t likely open fire and kill people. They have also been trained and we assume a certain level of competence. I can’t say the same about some redneck Trump voter waiting in line at the Subway. He can do anything to anyone, and I have no level of confidence that this jerk is sane and competent.

Think about it: guns have less regulation surrounding them than a toaster, for crap’s sake. And while it’s possible to kill someone with a toaster, it’s not the purpose of the toaster.

This is what needs to happen, if we are to fulfill our promise to our children and everyone else in society regarding the gun culture:

  • All guns should be equipped with all available safety features, such as “smart gun” technology that prevents anyone but the owner from firing the gun.
  • There should be categories of guns and those with a primary purpose of killing people should not be sold to the public. Rednecks with MAGA caps should not be allowed to roam free with a military style weapon.
  • Gun, gun accessory and ammunition makers should never be allowed to advertise their wares based on its ability to produce carnage.
  • No gun maker should be protected from liability; that should be up to a judge and jury, based on the evidence.
  • Every gun has to be registered. Like a car, every gun should come with a “pink slip” of sorts, and every time that gun changes hands, it should be tracked.
  • If a gun is stolen, it should be reported as soon as the theft is discovered. If not, the owner should be held liable for the damage done.
  • All gun owners and carriers should be licensed. That means everyone who wants to buy a gun should have to go through a background check, including an evaluation of their basic competence and ability to handle a gun.
  • All gun owners should have to insure their gun and be subject to occasional inspections, especially if they have kids, to make sure their guns are secure.
  • Only standard ammunition should be sold, not “cop killer” bullets or others designed to maximize damage.
  • All ammunition sales should be recorded and tracked. If someone has 4,000 rounds of ammunition and 23 guns, there is no way local police should be unaware of that fact.

Again, I recognize that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and do not have to be told to lock up their guns and keep them away from their children. Most gun owners will never do anything bad with their weapon on purpose. But it should bother us that there is nothing enforcing responsibility on that one percent of gun owners who make the other 99% look bad. It’s not a bad thing for society to know that, if you’re carrying a weapon, they can be reasonably certain that you’re responsible with it. It’s also reasonable for society to expect that a gun is made as safely as possible. If you think of gun deaths only in terms of homicides, you are missing the key. Most gun deaths in this country are accidents and suicides, and all of the steps above can lessen those numbers drastically, as well as reducing the number of mass shootings.

Should we hav

How Progressives Can Own the Gun Control Issue

I’d like to start by saying two things:

It’s simply not enough to be mad about the fact that our kids are not safe in schools.

You can shove your “thoughts and prayers” straight up your ass, especially if you’re a Republican.

For the 13th time this year – and we’re only 45 days in – there has been a shooting incident at a school in the United States of America. And in the 24 hours since it started, Republican politicians have been falling all over themselves to show just how concerned they are. Most of them give their “thoughts and prayers,” of course, but then they add that “gun control” would have done nothing to prevent it, which is pure NRA-sponsored bullshit.

Every one of these stories gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. I weep for what is happening to my country, because I can’t help but imagine my son at that age facing such terror. And then I get pissed because I am always bombarded with the bullshit arguments like the classic “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and the variation on that, “We have to stop the people; guns are just the tools. Going after the tools won’t stop this.”  It’s the best they can do, because even the staunchest gunloon knows deep down there is no excuse for allowing a pissed off 19 year old to walk into a gun store and walk out with a gun and enough ammunition to shoot nearly three dozen children.

As liberals, we should be winning this issue. Almost everyone in the country agrees with us on common sense gun control by now. So, why do we keep losing out? Why can’t we get the most basic gun control passed?

If you’ve been reading for a while, you should know what I am about to say. It’s because a lot of (mostly white and well-off) progressives truly suck at politics. As late as yesterday, just before the shootings, a Bernie Stan was trying to convince me that Democrats and Republicans suffer from the same political uselessness. They don’t see the Republican Party as hopelessly corrupt and downright anti-American and they see the Democrats as basically carbon copies of Republicans and they promote the concept that BOTH major political parties are the problem, which is absurd. Not only is that inaccurate, but it’

There is also the problem of messaging, as in, progressives essentially have no sense of what a political message should look or sound like. When many such progressives and professional lefties found out the carnage was caused by an assault rifle, some screamed, “We have to immediately ban all AR-15s,” as if all assault weapons in existence will suddenly disappear if that happens. Banning AR-15s and other military-style weapons is, at best, a tiny little bandage on what has become a gaping societal wound. Then, there are those who think the solution has something to do with “addressing mental health issues,” as if all “mental health issues” are the same.

The problem comes with the professional left’s desire for a simple solution to this problem. Put simply, there is no such thing. Part of the problem requires us to address what we all call the “gun culture.” You can’t do that with a law banning certain guns. In fact, a case can be made that, if we had a  great gun control structure in place, people could own anything they wanted and we’d still be safer. We gave to solve a societal problem using a political solution, which means we have to make people have hope and feel safe, so they don’t feel the need to stockpile weapons in their homes.

We were actually on our way to becoming that progressive country back in the 1960s, but too many progressives lost their way and dropped out of mainstream politics. Well, guess what? It is time or ALL of you to drop back into the mainstream. If you dream of a third party, then create one. However, you can’t start with president; you have to start with local school boards and work your way up. In the meantime, stop ceding all arguments to the far right wing GOP. The key issue in the gun control argument is the easy access to guns by people who simply should not have a gun. People who are angry about something should not be able to go to a gun shop and walk out with a weapon as easily as the rest of us go to Target and buy a toaster. However, we also have to deal with the concept that many Americans equate having a gun with personal safety.

And yes, we have all seen the statistics. We all know about the Kellerman Study, which says that it is FAR more likely that a gun in the home will kill someone who lives there than an intruder. That should be common sense. However, some people lead with emotion.  For whatever reason, our society has come to believe that having a gun means a greater level of personal safety, in part because the right wing mindset has overtaken the country over the last 40 years, in part because our side keeps handing them elections. The Republican mindset has resulted in spending cuts that blow off the government’s responsibility to keep us safe. Instead, they spend far too much on drug interdiction. Police agencies nationwide spend too much time on drugs and not enough on things that actually matter. Republicans also put too many laws on the books about personal behavior, and not enough about things that kill us, in part because they owe a major debt to the NRA.

The press isn’t helping. The complete lack of responsibility on the part of the press to provide perspective on every issue means every problem we have these days is exacerbated by a lack of perspective. That means, with every tragedy, the population tends to overreact. Every time there’s a mass shooting, progressives talk about gun control for a week, while right wingers buy lots more guns. The press makes everyone, left and right, feel as if we’re under siege.

 

Progressives and liberals; 2018 is our chance to begin to change everything, although it will take a major change in our own mindset to make it happen. Our problem is that many progressives see every issue through a prism, wherein each individual event is separate from every other event, and every issue stands on its own as a problem with a simple solution.

Welcome to the real world, liberals.

We have to build a progressive country, with a progressive mindset. That starts with getting the right people elected. At this point in time, that means Democrats. That means getting directly involved in the politics as it actually exists, and crafting a change in attitude on everything. Right wingers have dominated the political landscape for a generation, so we must recognize that and realize the profound effect that influence has had on the thought processes of the average American. We must change that mindset.

Yes, we will have to change gun laws, to make it easier for law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. But to do that, we’ll have to lose the “ban on guns” concept that tends to shut off debate. Mental health care is an issue, but that, too, will require a progressive change in mindset.  We have to build a society in which violence is unacceptable as a solution to a problem. For example, it’s disturbing that so many gunloons lump protection of their “stuff” in with the protection of their families as their rationale for needing the protection of a gun. If shooting someone to death to protect your big screen tv is acceptable by a large number of Americans, then you can’t say guns are the whole problem at all.

We also need to end the drug war, so that police can concentrate on actually keeping us safe. Ending the drug war would probably cut our gun-death rate by a large number, anyway, as well as provide us with more revenue to expand Obamacare and make mental health services available to even more people.

There is so much to do, progressives, and we’re the people to do it. We have the ideas, the only question is, can we create the political will to actually put them into action. I’ll be discussing ways to do that going forward.

We have to do this, for the children.

Looking For Something to Read? Two Books Now Available for Pre-Sale, Cheap!

I have TWO new e-books coming out on March 1 and, because I can use the money and the progressive movement could use more guidance, I am making them available for pre-order starting today. Both will sell for $9.99 when they are officially released, but you can pre-order each for $7.99, or pre-order both books for $15.

There Are No Unicorns

This is a book full of great strategies for winning elections, which is the key thing that really matters. This is a no-holds-barred look at the current progressive movement, including unvarnished looks at the unicorn progressive sector and how the professional left is ultimately prolonging the Republicans’ domination of the process. Included are chapters on how unicorn progressives and the professional left were just as complicit as the Russians in handing the last election to Trump, as well as one discussing why hanging onto the older folks is no way to move the Democrats forward. Like I said; this book is blunt, and confronts many ingrained truths about where the progressive movement has been, where it is going and how we can get there and create a truly liberal, progressive country.

The Second Coming

This is a novel that could be the most blasphemous book ever written. It takes on religion and the silliness of the current obsession with it. There is one entire chapter explaining the neoconservative movement and why its ideology makes no sense, but this is largely a non-political tome. It’s just a lot of fun and, becauase it takes place in the future, there are necessarily predictions about where we may be headed, both technologically and otherwise.

I guarantee you will love both these books. They are being edited thoroughly now, and will be ready to be sent to you no later than March 1. They are available for Kindle and virtually every other e-book format available, and in just about every e-book store, including Kindle.

To pre-order, click one of the buttons below, and the book or books will arrive in your email on or before March 1. And thank you.

 


There Are No Unicorns

 


The Second Coming



Both Books


To the GOP: “You’re Fired!”

I don’t plan to watch the State of the Union tomorrow night. It will be the first time in my life, that I can remember. One reason is, I already know the state of the union; it’s cloudy with a chance of meatballs batshit crazy. I know this because a former TV reality show host and a lifelong dickhead is sitting in the White House and pretending he knows how to “be president,” even though he still has no idea what the job entails.

The are other reasons I can’t watch this speech.

The speech will be carefully crafted by right wing morons who are capable of sitting around a table and telling the country just how wonderful their “boss” is, even though every single one of THEM has referred to him as an idiot at least several times during his one year in office. A few of them added the modifier “fucking” to it, even. Trump will read what is on the TelePrompTer and, afterward, a series of pundits – one from each “news” network and a dozen or so from Fake News Fox – will tell us how “presidential” he looked. I mean, unless he ad libs and refers to Senator Schumer as “Chucky” again or he reads a few of his Tweets. They will do this, despite the fact that he is In no way presidential, by any yardstick. He doesn’t get to wear the moniker just because he gives one speech without completely fucking it up. And since hearing that will make me mad and my TV is relatively new and I don’t have the money to replace it, I’d rather err on the side of caution and just read about it hours after.

I should be happier about things, of course. There is a great chance this will be his only State of the Union speech. It’s even possible it will be the last speech until his resignation. And yes, I know; many people think he will never resign because of his narcissism, but I think he’ll have to because of his narcissism. I doubt he will face a trial in the Senate; he has zero courage and a trial and a guilty verdict would hurt his brand. If he can resign and skip the embarrassment, he will.

I should also be stoked because it is clearer than ever that the current Republican Party is drawing its last breaths as we speak. They are signing their own death warrant, even though many don’t seem to notice. That just makes it all the more precious. They simply refuse to go against the weakest presidential candidate they have ever nominated and the worst president in US history, and supoorting his sorry ass is causing them more damage than they could ever imagine. Hell, last week, it was revealed that Trump ordered Robert Mueller fired last June, and not a single prominent Republican has bothered to call him on that. Instead, the GOP media machine, led by Sean Hannity, denied the story until it was confirmed, and then tried to pretend it was no big deal. And this is at a time when all signs already point to a massive blue wave this November. I mean, there have already been more than two dozen Republican retirement announcements so far, yet they will not contradict Trump, nor will they even criticize him for his stupidest moves. Instead, they adopt moronic Alex Jones-style conspiracy theories and run with them and they kiss the ample asses of the Trump faithful, most of whom almost never vote.

All these insane stories about “secret societies” within the FBI? All this talk about “deep state” excesses and stories about the “gubmint” trying to kill us all? These are not the types of things designed to warm the cockles of a majority of voters. Shit; back 40-50 years ago, this type of crap was relegated to rural radio stations in the middle of the “Deep South,” and the people spouting this bullshit were considered fringe, even among rural rednecks. And that was long ago; in an age where it is okay to be a person of color, or gay, that kind of crap is even MORE fringe-worthy, besides being cringe-worthy.

I’m a lifelong liberal. Do you realize how much it pisses me off to have to defend the FBI and CIA? Yet, I have to do so, because the people who work with them are, above all, actual patriots. They are trying to protect this country, but the current version of the Republican Party and the media are turning them into cartoon characters. It’s hard to believe Republican leaders once took great pride in protecting the intelligence community from left-wing conspiracy theories. The FBI under J Edgar Hoover was a horrible organization, but it’s reformed significantly since then, and individual agents are not usually bad people. It has also been a long time since the CIA last overthrew a leader and replaced them with a US-friendly dictator. And while the FBI does lean to the right, and sometimes agents go a bit overboard and forget the Bill of Rights, they’re not generally fascists. Right now, a great many decent Republicans are rolling over in their graves, I guarantee. And their party is dying right before our eyes, as long as progressives don’t blow it.

Whereas Trump and his closest followers believe they are destroying “big government,” what is actually happening is, they are making government less efficient and less effective, which only serves to piss people off. They are also standing constitutional norms and governmental traditions on their head. Godwin’s Law has had to be suspended because valid comparisons really can be made between what’s happening now and what happened in Germany in the 1930s. And with Republicans having to fight back against charges of being like Hitler and Stalin, they can’t even begin to pay attention to governing. In one way, that’s a good thing; they are great at getting enough voters to stay home to allow them to steal elections, but they truly suck at actual governance. It’s no wonder; how can anyone govern well, when their central theme is that government can’t possibly work and do anything for the people?

What is really sad is, while Trump and the cronies and lickspittle faithful in the White House are in full panic mode, most in the Republican Party are not feeling the same pressure. They should be. If they cared about the country (they don’t), and they cared about running the government and doing right by the American people, they would be in full panic mode, as well. The simplest way to take the pressure off would be to pass articles of impeachment, which would be very easy right now. However, the Republican Party won’t even think about it. There are rumors that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is considering retirement. Apparently, these snowflakes would rather quit than stand up to a “president” who has virtually zero political power and absolutely zero political skills.

If the GOP wants to know how to begin a recovery, the answer is actually quite easy. First of all, they need to re-take the oath of office they took last January. Then, they need to actually fulfill that promise, to support and defend the Constitution. There is no way anyone in government should stand by, watch and do nothing when a “president” orders virtually everyone in his Cabinet, as well as many people working in federal agencies, to take a loyalty oath to him. They do not work for him, they work for us, just as he does. They certainly shouldn’t sit back and watch as that same “president” fires an FBI Director and orders an end to an investigation of his national security adviser, who has since pleaded guilty to a crime.

In other words, there is plenty of evidence now to impeach Trump. We don’t have to wait for Mueller; the evidence is there now. I mean, Lord Donny admitted to Lester Holt of NBC that he obstructed justice when he fired Comey. He also made the same admission to a Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the United States. It’s on the record. Let’s be clear; Republicans are complicit in everything that makes Trump the worst president in American history. At the first signs of incompetence, congressional Republicans should have walked the mile or so to the White House and taught Lord Donny about his job and, when he continued to show an inability to do the job, thye should have begun impeachment. Incompetence is a valid grounds for impeachment; after all, that’s the actual definition of “misdemeanors” used in the Constitution.

The Republican Party is dying, and I couldn’t be happier. However, they’ve come back from the dead before, so our job is still the same; encourage higher turnout during the primaries and in the General Election and out them out of our misery.

No Democrat is Anything Like a Republican.

The cluelessness of the unicorn left has been in full flower over the past week, at least in my Twitter feed. Over the past few days, a few of them have decided to take me to task for my support of Doug Jones, who pulled off the largest upset in decades in the race to replace one Jefferson Beauregard Sessions in the U.S. Senate from Alabama. In all of their insipid “glory,” these complete idiots (a few were trolls, but not all) have decided to use both working brain cells to inform me that Senator Jones from Alabama was “basically a Republican.” They all pointed out the same one or two votes as examples to supposedly prove their point. In other words, they once again demonstrated the abject stupidity that has marked the number one reason why progressives have been stuck in neutral for decades. Yes, Doug Jones is more conservative than, say, Kamala Harris. But then, he represents Alabama, so get a clue.

At some point, these geniuses have to ask themselves a couple of really simple questions:

  1. First, under what alternate universe is a Democrat who “only” votes with other Democrats 86-90 percent of the time “basically a Republican”? I mean, Republicans vote with Democrats roughly zero percent of the time AND they propose the most despicable legislation one can imagine. There are no actual similarities between a Democrat from a very red state like Alabama and any Republican in the current party. None. No matter how much your professional left minders tell you what you’re supposed to think, when they tell you Senator Doug Jones is the same as Senator Roy Moore would have been, whip out your common sense for a change and tell them to piss off.
  2. The second question is, what’s the fucking point? If you’re going to sit there on Twitter or Facebook and claim stupid shit, at some point, you have to ask yourself what you hope to gain from that. By trashing Doug Jones and insinuating he is basically the same as Republican Roy Moore, you should at least have an end game for such stupidity. The reality is, there is nothing to be gained by trashing Democrats and falsely insinuating they are basically the same as Republicans. And since there is no point, you should give up politics and discuss something else, because you’re not qualified. And if the answer to the question is, “we have to tell the truth,” then you really need to shut the fuck up. First off, it’s not the truth. Unicorn and professional lefties lie every time they try to claim major similarities between the two parties. They have never been the same, but right now, the Republicans are the most corrupt and anti-American political party in US history and and the Democrats aren’t even close.

It’s bad enough we have to listen to egomaniacal right wingers; why do we have to listen to left wingers who are just as devoted to their own egos? The answer is, we don’t. I’m done with all of them. The Bernie Hardcores can kiss my ass. The unicorn progressives can take their “Chicken Little” act and shove it straight up their narrow asses. And the professional left – well, if they want to make a living with their pseudo-progressive bullshit, they need to understand that 95% of all progressives are actually mainstream. Most are in the Democratic Party, and most are actually close to the middle. And if you think you can’t be a “centrist” AND progressive, then you don’t know the meaning or either words. I mean, moving the country to the center would be an improvement over what we have right now, and since the root of “progressive” is “progress,” well…

Let’s make a few things clear:

  • A Democrat from Alabama or any other red state, or a red district in a blue state will NEVER be as “progressive” as one of your heroes. To expect it is purely childish.
  • When you advocate for a far left white liberal to win in a 55% Republican/right wing district, you are going to lose. Every time. If you manage to win the primary, you will lose the general.
  • Speaking of which, if your far left white liberal who says all the right things loses in the primary, you need to line up behind the Democrat.
  • There are TWO viable political parties in this country, at the federal, state and municipal levels. Voting for an independent or a “third party” right now is a vote for the GOP. If you haven’t figured that out after two terms of Bush and one of Trump, you are irretrievably stupid, so just shut up.
  • The “two party system” is not the result of conspiracy, it’s math. In our system, you can’t really have more than two viable parties. Many countries with our system only have one, so feel grateful.
  • For more than a half century, the Republican Party has been recruiting the farthest-right assholes in our country and they have allowed them to become their base. If you don’t support Democrats, you are essentially supporting them.
  • Right now, the Republicans are trying to destroy everything we love about this country and it didn’t start with Trump.
  • Using the term “Republican Lite” is a sign of pure political ignorance. There is no such thing.
  • The purge of “Blue Dogs” that occurred in 2010 and 2014 was just insane. That is what created the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus. It’s also a contributing factor to getting Trump. Most Blue Dogs voted with Democrats more than 90 percent of the time and none voted with them less than 70 percent. I challenge any professional lefty to point to a Republican replacement for a “Blue Dog” who had a more progressive voting record than the “Blue Dog.”
  • If you think “Bernie would have won” in 2016, you’re an idiot. If you think his chance of winning in 2020 is more than about 5 percent, you are delusional and need a new hobby.

If your criticism of a Democrat has no point, shut up. If it only serves your own ego, please shut up. And if you think any Democrat is as bad as or worse than any Republican at this time, you really need to shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down. More people are sick of this shit than you can possibly imagine. Don’t take my word for it; get out of your bubble and look around you.

No, Democrats did not “Cave.”

This idea that the Democrats “caved” on the truly shitty deal to reopen the government is such a stupid one, it’s hard to put into words. It shows an anti-Democratic bias that is completely out of place right now, especially among the left. Perhaps there was a time when it made sense to be anti-Democratic Party (although I can’t think of one), but right now is absolutely not the time. Right now, we have a Republican Party that is absolutely dysfunctional. They can’t run government, but they’re also cruel to the American people. It’s not just about Trump, although Trump is most certainly a symptom of just how bad the minority political party has become, especially over the last decade or two.

There was no “cave” on the part of Democrats here. Those who say that are just lying. The GOP held two demographic groups hostage in this shutdown drama, and they lost on both. Democrats got a six-year extension of the CHIP program AND they got a public commitment to consider a new DACA bill before February 8, or the government will shut down again. How is any of that a win for the Republicans? Yes, they got the government back open, but it never should have been closed in the first place. It’s purely irresponsible and it’s all on the GOP. If we care about this country, we have to make that crystal clear to everyone.

Yes, I agree with most people that the DACA part of the deal is tenuous because we can’t trust Republicans. Yes, there is a likelihood they will renege on the DACA part of the deal, but you know what? If and when that happens, we deal with them. And we don’t deal with Democrats for believing Republicans. We deal with the fact that Republicans simply never tell the truth and they always back out of the promises they make. That is what we should be doing all the time.

Politics is the art of compromise. I know you’ve heard that cliche before, but sometimes, cliches are true. No one in the history of politics and democracy has ever received 100 percent of everything they want. The left wing and right wing do not understand this. They want everything they want and they see compromise as weakness. They use childish words like “cave” to describe a party that compromises because they don’t seem to realize that getting 55 percent of what you want is better than getting 25 percent. They take the position that anything less than 100 percent is unacceptable and they take the concept of a “fight” so literally, they think anything short of a knockout is unacceptable. Those professional lefties who were all over the media claiming Democrats “caved” should consider that is the exact word Donald Trump used. This is a man with the least sophisticated political sense of anyone in public life. Do you really want to sound like him?

Could the Democrats have gotten more? Possibly. But they got an extension of CHIP and they got a commitment on DACA. And if Republicans break that commitment, then we have another opportunity to smack them in November.

We have a lot to do, but there is nothing more important than ridding the government at all levels of as many current Republicans as we can manage. When professional lefties and unicorn progressives whine and cry about how horrible Democrats are, it becomes harder to accomplish that feat. We can’t afford to have Republicans in government anymore, so stop lying about Democrats. They didn’t cave.

The Issue is STILL Universal Healthcare

I seem to have set off a firestorm on Twitter today because I said something that is undeniably true, but I added a word I should not have. I’ll explain that later on. For now, allow me to explain why being “single-payer or bust” is narrow-minded and unrealistic.

This is still the only country in the world in which someone can get sick or injured through no fault of their own and see the fruits of their entire working life be laid to waste. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the number of medical bill-related bankruptcies has dropped precipitously, but it’s still a problem because some people don’t get insurance for a variety of reasons. The problem comes with our tendency to treat healthcare the same way we treat every consumer product in this country. It’s possible to never buy a TV, a toaster or even a car in your life, but no one will avoid needing healthcare at some point, even at the very end. You also can’t choose when you will need it. I mean, if we could schedule the bus to hit us a week from Friday, we could shop around and get the best deal on a hospital. If we knew when we were going to get the flu, we could make an appointment ahead of time and avoid the ED.

That is our problem. Healthcare is not a consumer product or a commodity, and it is not something we can plan for, so we buy insurance. Unfortunately, because it’s unpredictable, because some people think they’re immortal and choose not to get insurance, and because equipment and treatment advances are so expensive, healthcare is very expensive. Healthcare is technically a right, although we don’t treat it as such. When you arrive at the ED with your arm falling off, medical personnel have an obligation to re-attach it. If you are in great pain, they have an obligation to relieve your pain. If you have a chronic condition that could kill you, doctors are required to treat it.

So, here’s the problem. We all have the right to emergency or urgent care, but there is no mechanism in our system to make sure we can pay for it, except insurance. Because a significant number of people either can’t get insurance or choose not to buy insurance, a lot of people can’t pay their bill. Meanwhile, insurance companies are trying to make a profit, doctors, clinics and hospitals are all trying to make a profit, and medical care is very expensive. The only way to solve this problem is by making sure everyone has ready access to healthcare of all types whenever they decide to go to a doctor AND ALSO have the ability to pay the bill.

Healthcare should be an absolute right in all cases and everyone should have health insurance as a matter of course. Every bill should be paid and no one should lose their house or their livelihood because they got sick at the “wrong time.” No family should ever have to hold a fundraiser to pay for medical expenses. In other words, universal health insurance should be the law of the land. If you are in the country, you shouldn’t have to think twice about going to the doctor because you don’t have any money.

Most other industrialized countries have this as a feature of their society. If you are a citizen of almost every other major country, if you get sick, you go to a doctor and the bill will be paid. However, what you should know is, most countries who do this do not do so with a single, government-funded or government-run insurance system. In other words, whereas almost all advanced countries in the world guarantee health insurance, very few of them are single-payer systems. Therefore, this whole “single-payer-or-bust” movement is very puzzling.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against single-payer, I am for whatever works to get us to where nearly every other advanced nation in the world is. The issue is universal health care. If we can get there through a single-payer system, great. If we can get there through a heavily regulated private insurance market, that’s fine, too. If we have to employ a hybrid system, great. The thing is, the issue is getting everyone access to affordable health care, not focusing on one version of that and failing repeatedly.

Look; we have a great start with the Affordable Care Act. We now have a mechanism through which most people can afford to buy insurance at a price they can afford. The increased regulation gets rid of most of the abuses private insurance used to be guilty of in the past, and the vast majority of bills get paid. Does the ACA need work? Hell yes, it does. When it was passed, no one thought we were finished. There should be a public insurance option, which will not only provide inexpensive insurance to the poor, but also spread the risk more thinly, which is good for the private insurers.

All in all, though, the ACA is a good start.

Of course, the same segment of unicorn progressives and professional lefties who agree now screaming “Medicare for All!” And “Single-Payer or Bust” are primarily responsible for the election losses in 2010 and 2014, thus handing Congress to Republicans and thereby killing any chances for improving the ACA, so one has to wonder why they are screaming so loud now about things we can’t possibly get with the GOP in charge.

As I noted at the beginning of this piece, I used a word I shouldn’t have used on Twitter. The word is “white.” The ability to focus your lame efforts on “single payer” as the be-all and end-all of healthcare financing and insurance is a function of privilege. On Twitter, I said “white privilege,” but I misstated things. It’s a function of privilege. It is a luxury to think that way.

You see, given the millions of people who have to deal with the healthcare system on a regular basis, the issue is making sure they don’t lose access to the care they need. They do not care HOW we create a universal health insurance system, just that we do. As long as their disabled child gets what they need to stay alive and as healthy as possible, how we set up the system to pay for it is a secondary concern. That means your screams of “single-payer” are falling on deaf ears, and a lot of blank stares. Of course, you might want to know what single payer is. It is not synonymous with “healthcare as a right.” It is system where the government sets up a single insurer, or “payer,” and that payer handles all the bills. It is but one possible way to set up a universal system. Is it the best? Maybe. However, since only a handful of countries insure people that way, it is a difficult case to make.

Last time: the issue is making sure anyone can see a doctor, whether or not they have money. How we pay for it is but one component of that.

Fixing the Problem With the Press

For some reason, I found myself awake earlier than usual this morning. Perhaps I was eager to begin the new year or something; who knows. Whatever the reason, I started perusing my Twitter feed. There, I once again came across the biggest problem with journalism today.

It started with a nice piece of basic “Twitter journalism” from Kenneth Vogel of the New York Times:

Once again, the Trump family and their organization are making chumps of all taxpayers, by using their status as public servants to personally enrich themselves, led by the creep-in-chief himself, one Donald J. Trump. If the press would report on all such instances, the public would be more familiar with this trend.

Then came the first response by another journalist of some note, Sam Stein, who is no slouch, usually, noting the hypothetical “Imagine President Hillary Clinton…” argument:

Kind of innocuous, to be sure, but there is no journalistic value in a hypothetical about Hillary Clinton being president, except to note that the right wing jumps on everything the Clintons do as proof that Democrats are as corrupt as they are. In other words, Sam makes an interesting observation, I suppose, but one with no real value, outside of a conversation piece around the dinner table with a crazy right wing uncle. Yes, we know; the right wing is obsessed with the Clintons and they jump on everything a Democrat does as if it is the most corrupt thing to happen in the history of the Republic. The real problem is, the press too often helps them do that.

Of course, what Sam Stein said begs the question; what are you, as a journalist, going to do about it?

But then came a response by none other than Ezra Klein, who is usually one of the finest minds in the journalistic community:

Seriously, check out that last line. “… at least while the opposition party is powerless.” This line is troubling, to say the least, because the ability to take down the powerful is not the job of the “opposition party,” it’s the job of the press.

This is why the press is so important, and why what journalists do matters. What Ezra Klein says here shows a major weakness in journalism. Too many reporters seem to believe that they report facts and someone else takes down the powerful, when that is not at all what happens. It is the job of the press to report everything, to note patterns and to keep the public informed. When the public is fully informed, they will put the pressure on the politicians and create conditions that are impossible for the party in power to ignore. If the press does its job, the GOP would be scared to death to ignore Trump’s corruption. Instead, the press is sitting around waiting for Robert Mueller to get through his investigation and putting everything on the Trump-Russia probe. And while they wait, the ongoing corruption and the pillaging of the Treasury for personal gain goes on unabated. See the problem?

Think a little; the last time a president was impeached, the press led the way, and the press informed the public, who determined at the time that a single sexual encounter in the Oval Office was not serious enough to derail a presidency that was otherwise great for everyone. Republicans went against the public and lost, as Bill Clinton’s approval ratings soared, even as the Republican Senate was trying him for having sex with an intern.

The same is true of Watergate. Democrats didn’t bring down Richard Nixon, the press did. The press reports made it clear there was a problem, and that led the Democratic Congress to hold hearings, to figure out what was going on. And let’s be clear about something else; at the time of Watergate, a lot of right wing politicians were still Democrats. There wasn’t yet the clear red/blue line of demarcation there is now. My point is, the “opposition party” wasn’t the key to Richard Nixon’s downfall, the press and the public were. Nixon resigned because there was no other way out where he could save face.

If the press was doing its actual job – the job they are given by the democratic system – they would have been on the constant and natural corruption of the Trump family from the very beginning. Donald Trump’s entire business career was built on a corrupt base, and an examination of his financial and business history would have made his corruption clear from the very beginning and it would have kept him away from the Republican nomination. I mean, it wasn’t like he was enormously popular, even among Republicans. In the early primaries, two-thirds of Republicans voted for someone else.

An accurate depiction of his business career would have revealed him as a terribly corrupt businessman. Instead, the entire press corps was apparently under orders to normalize him, repeat right wing smears about Hillary and to create a horse race. If the press had told the truth about Trump from the very beginning, we wouldn’t be here right now.

When someone as savvy as Ezra Klein says something like, “Trump keeps proving that if you simply refuse to be ashamed of your corruption and lying, there’s not much the media can do to you…” we have a serious problem. The Republican majority only wants power; they will never do anything about Trump on their own. However, if the press does its job, the public will know what is actually going on. They will know that Trump is enriching himself with every aspect of his presidency and it will motivate them to go to their Republican Congresscritters and do something.

The press is the key to everything. if they don’t realize this, then we have pinpointed the problem we need to fix. The only reason Trump is getting away with everything he’s doing is because no one is calling him on anything. “The media” is so intent on normalizing him, many press outlets are falling over themselves to make him fit into the presidency, when nothing he does actually falls into the traditional role of the position.

If journalists want to be lauded for their work, they will have to realize they have the power and the duty to hold those in power to account. The GOP will only act if they feel the necessary pressure and they will only feel pressure if the public applies that pressure. That’s the key; the importance of the press is to inform the public, so they act.

Every journalist wants to be Woodward and Bernstein, but they don’t seem to understand the basics. It’s time they learned.

What Do We Want to Be? Part III – The Importance of Hope

It is hard to believe this is a controversial statement, but given the amount of shit I receive every time I say it, it sure seems to be. Yet, I’m going to keep saying it, because it’s absolutely true:

The vast majority of voters are motivated by hope.

I know, I know; some progressives are incensed by that statement. Within minutes of posting this, I will be inundated with emails, Tweets and Facebook messages telling me some variation of, “That’s not true. *I* became an activist because I was pissed off.” Forget the inherent narcissism based in that, the statement is purely ignorant. Some people have as their motto: “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.” You know, as if being “pissed off” is some sort of virtue. Well, let me tell you a little secret.

Almost no one is motivated by anger. Not even you.

If you think “pissed off” people change the world, I would seriously suggest a gut check of your values. You might also perhaps stay the hell out of politics. Angry people do not change anything in a democracy. No one in his right mind becomes an activist out of anger. To be an effective activist, you have to address problems and fix them, which is damn near impossible when you’re Always pissed off. Expressing anger and negative emotion does nothing for anyone. Being able to recite all the problems with this country, world or government doesn’t make you an activist. I mean, seriously; anyone with half a brain and a phone or a laptop can post a half million Tweets over a decade about how pissed off they are about the state of the world; I’ve dealt with people like that before and their “activism” always comes apart upon examination. They’re legends in their own minds.

To be an actual activist, you have to get out there and try to fix things. There are many ways to do that, of course, but it does involve more than sitting on your ass and whining and being “pissed off.” For example, beginning about March of his year, I will start doing work for Democratic candidates, like writing up position papers, writing speeches and composing informative flyers and the like. Usually, I work for about 10-12, including many I have known since childhood, but this year, there are signs I could be doing it for twice as many this year. The Democrats’ recruiting class has been nothing short of incredible this time, and I look forward to helping them create a wave. And every single one of them will ask me to promote a hopeful theme because that is what works.

I am a lifelong progressive. And for a long time, I thought the way many white “progressives” think, in many ways. I would go onto message boards, Usenet and other fora and tell everyone who would listen what I thought the problems were in this country. The one area where I differed, however, was that I didn’t delude myself into believing there was a political group available to me other than the Democratic Party to get things done. Why would I? If you look at everything good that has been done in this country, it has always come from the Democratic Party.

Whereas a large number of white liberal “progressives” abandoned the Democratic Party almost 50 years ago and loudly proclaimed themselves as “independent,” and declared themselves politically superior to everyone else in the liberal space, the fact of the matter is, “independents” have never really gotten anything done in our political system. I mean, “progressive independents” always whine about the “two-party” system and proclaim it as too restrictive, but they have had nearly 50 years to build that “third party” they claim to covet, and they have not done so. There are currently 134 registered political parties in the United States right now, and the same two dominate everything and the other 132 feel fortunate to get one percent of the vote in almost every election.

Meanwhile, People of Color, immigrants, LGBTQ people and others feel at home in the Democratic Party and they work their asses off to bring hope to their people. They do this even as the same group of whiny white liberals work together to undermine everything because they seemingly believe hope is for suckers.

Well, hope is not for suckers, it is the lifeblood of any democratic system. For that matter, any liberal or progressive who is “pissed off” should really look inward far more. That is not how WE win elections. it is not how we win power and undo the damage Republicans and right wingers have been doing since at least 1980.

There is no doubt; the middle class and the working class have taken a beating over the last 50 years or so. In 1968, one adult could work at a relatively menial job and make enough to own a home and keep the family running well. People back then worked for the same company for their entire career and even unskilled labor paid enough to live on. Now, it is almost impossible for one adult to work and keep a family going. The minimum wage has not kept up with inflation and wages for most service jobs are barely sufficient to keep a single guy with no kids in his apartment and keeping up his car payments. It has become almost impossible for even one highly trained professional to raise an entire family on one salary. Just getting the education needed to become a professional can put someone in the poorhouse for a long time. I personally know lawyers who came out of law school making upwards of $125,000 per year who are still paying off their student loans 15 years later.

And forget being working class right now. That means working 80 hours a week just to pay the bills and having to use public transportation or figure out ways to keep your beater of a car working well enough to get you back and forth to work. It means needing SNAP (Food Stamps) just to make ends meet. It means being forced to work for assholes you don’t like and doing jobs you don’t want to do because one week without two full paychecks would spell disaster. And just for the record, those who live working class in the country are well aware of the problems they face; they don’t need college educated white liberals to tell them. Just saying…

Living in the current GOP-dominated era is not easy for anyone. We do need to solve these problems, but we can’t do that simply by being pissed off. We can’t fix these problems if everything that comes through as a “progressive message” is right out of the text of “Chicken Little.” When life is hard, people want to vote for hope. Hope is the key to everything. When you recite all of the problems of the world, you are actually making voters feel more likely to NOT want to vote.

When you’re having a difficult time paying the bills, which is more likely to attract a vote; a recitation of all their problems or a promise to fix them? The answer is easy. REALLY EASY. It’s why Bernie lost so badly in the Democratic primary in 2016; he had no solutions to anything and he didn’t sell hope. In fact, his recitation of problems was eerily similar to Donald Trump’s.

And let’s be clear about something else; the right wing Republican Party does not win because of their message. They don’t actually win at all. They don’t win, Democrats lose, in part because the progressive rhetoric turns people off and makes them not want to vote. That is the only way they can “win.” Hillary Clinton did not lose because the Republican message attracted more people, she “lost” because turnout was 47 percent, not because she was a “failed candidate.” If anything, white “progressives” failed her, the Democratic Party and the country.

Look; the root word of “progressive” is “progress,” and progress is an overwhelmingly positive concept. So, why does the white, far-left progressive message always seem so dire? We’re supposed to be the ideology of hope. Look at what we claim to want to create;

  • We want to set up living wages for everyone, so that everyone who works is able to pay their bills.
  • We want a minimum wage that reflects the reality of today’s economy. Some may think that’s $15, while $11 would keep us in line with the minimum in 1968. Either way, it should be higher.
  • We want everyone to have access to healthcare when they need it, without having to worry about losing everything they have ever worked for.
  • We want everyone to have access to the education they need to follow their dreams, whatever they are, without having to lose their home at some point down the road.
  • We want everyone in this country to be treated equally, with respect and dignity.
  • We want to build a system of justice in which everyone has equal rights under the law.
  • We want a law enforcement system in which everyone treats everyone in the country with the proper dignity and respect and no one has to fear death by cop because of who they are.
  • We want a safety net for the poor that acknowledges the realities of the capitalist system, in which some people are left out through necessity.
  • We want to create a system that provides a minimum income level for everyone, reflecting the loss of jobs that is looming with automation.
  • We want a system of regulation that makes the playing field equal and accessible for everyone and that places health and safety above profit.
  • We want a system of labor that places everyone on an equal footing and lessens the current master-serf relationship that is developing in the employer-employee dynamic.

Where is the negativity in all that? We HOPE we can create all these things. None of that is negative, so why do we so often seem negative in our approach. Again, this is not common among all progressives, just the white, well-off, college educated ones who think they’re smarter than everyone else.

Our country was built on hope. We became the most powerful nation on the planet because of hope. After World War II, we used hope to build a society that was the envy of the world. Now, under Republican rule, we “hope” we can survive the Trump debacle. But that is still hope.

We have an example of how important hope is. His name is Barack Hussein Obama. Obama ran his two campaigns based entirely on hope and optimism, and he won both in a walk. Not only that, but Democrats gained seats both times. The 2008 and 2012 elections featured the highest turnout since 1968. His entire message was hopeful and his presidency was eternally hopeful. But instead of embracing him and the hope he stood for, the progressive movement attacked him and the Democrats incessantly, thereby handing the entire Congress and most state governments right back to the GOP.

President Obama still puts hope at the top of his wish list. This weekend, he Tweeted the following thread:

We do not live in a third world cesspool, as Trump and Bernie Sanders would like you to believe. Best of all, while there are a lot of problems, they are all fixable, as long as we don’t instigate a nuclear war. However, to get everything done, we all have to work from a perspective of hope. Hope is what motivates the most voters and, let’s face it; hope is what progressives and liberals are supposed to sell. We want to once again be a nation that all other nations look up to, and we can’t do that without hope.

What Do We Want to Be? Part II – Fiscal Responsibility

There is no bigger joke in the body politic of the United States than when a Republican touts “fiscal responsibility.” They have no concept of what it means to be fiscally responsible and they treat tax dollars as both the product of massive thievery as well as their own personal lucre, which they are allowed to do with as they wish.

It’s especially hilarious when they complain about the national debt and deficits. It’s funny because they are responsible for virtually all of the debt and whenever they’re in charge, they explode the budget deficit and force us into borrowing massive amounts of money to pay for those activities we want the government to perform. For example, most of our lives would be hell without Social Security and Medicare; we would all have to care for our parents and our kids would have to eventually take care of us without them. Those two trust funds we have set up for both have never added a dime to any deficit and they have never contributed to the debt. And yet, Republicans have spent most of the last 40 years running up the deficit and using the Social Security and Medicare trust funds to make the deficit look smaller.

In other words, the Republican Party loves to whine about the debt, but they think nothing of borrowing against the trust funds, which puts them in greater danger than otherwise would be the case.

What does it mean to be fiscally responsible with government? It means making sure your government is collecting enough revenue to pay for everything you want them to do, as well as everything they need to do. That means keeping taxes high enough to pay for everything, including a reasonable amount on “defense,” or protection, as well as critical programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. And since climate change is a fact and it’s happening, we should be doing all we can to alleviate that, and also deal with its effects in the meantime, including increasing numbers of devastating storms and increasing instances of wildfire.

The Republican Party, however, has no concept of fiscal responsibility. Hell; they don’t seem to accept responsibility for anything. However, on the fiscal side, this is getting dangerous. For fiscal year 2017, our budget deficit was $662 billion, and yet, for 2018 and beyond, the GOP fell all over themselves to pass a tax bill that adds at least $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. And that number is, pardon the expression, conservative. It uses economic growth figures that are absurd; averaging between 3-4% per year in GDP growth. In the history of this republic, we have never sustained that kind of GDP growth over ten years. Ever. More than likely, we will be returned to deficits of $1 trillion per year, which is about 5% of GDP per year. Call me crazy, but when the debt increases faster than GDP growth, there’s a problem.

That is especially a problem when the economy is doing well. And this marks the most irresponsible aspect of the GOP approach to economy. When the economy is doing well, you should reduce the debt or even run a surplus and save for that rainy day we all know is coming. You’re supposed to run deficits only when the economy is in the crapper. At one time, we liberals and Democrats designed a government that takes care of us when we hit difficult economic times through no fault of our own. We are supposed to get unemployment when we lose our jobs due to cutbacks or layoffs, in part because we pay for that. We also get workers’ compensation when we are injured on the job. Again, it’s because we pay for that. Likewise, we get at least some retirement money and health insurance after we have finished our career, because we pay for that, too.

We pay taxes to pay for the benefits we get from our government. That includes roads and schools, bridges and public transportation, but it also includes a court system and law enforcement system that protects us from criminals and gives us a forum when we have a dispute with someone else. Paying taxes is as much a civi duty as serving on a jury or voting. Yet, when you listen to Republicans talk about taxes, they talk about “confiscation” and they try to cut them. of course, they only cut taxes for those who can already afford to pay them.

When you see a “president” like Lord Donny or George W. Bush talk about cutting taxes at a time when we are borrowing roughly 20 percent of our federal budget, that is purely irresponsible. When you see them raising the defense budget or starting a war or two at the same time they are talking about tax cuts for the very rich, that is purely irresponsible. When Lord Donny took office, the deficit for FY2017 was already projected to reach $550 billion, but ended up around $660 billion. In part, that is because the interest we pay on the debt already accrued runs about $450 billion. Given that more than 90% of that $450 billion is due to Republicans cutting taxes while spending like drunken sailors, one would think they would be more concerned about this problem, but then, that would require them to be fiscally responsible and they are not that at all.

As liberals, we should want to create a nation that is fiscally responsible. That means electing Democrats. Fiscal responsibility doesn’t just mean collecting the taxes we need to pay for everything; it also means using our tax money to help those who find themselves in difficult circumstances, and to prevent economic tragedy when we can.

For example, the Affordable Care Act is purely fiscally responsible. It keeps health insurance affordable for almost everyone, which means medical bills get paid. That means doctors and hospitals always get paid and no one has to pick up the slack for anyone else without insurance. Killing them health insurance mandate is purely irresponsible, because it’s based on an assumption that healthy people don’t need insurance because they will never get sick or injured. What will happen is, healthy people will forego insurance, their bills won’t get paid and caregivers will have to raise prices to make up for those who can’t pay. That means everyone else’s medical costs will rise, their insurance premiums will rise, and we will eventually go back to the system we had before, which was unsustainable.

It is also fiscally responsible to put together a comprehensive welfare system. It is a fact that capitalism requires a steady supply of available workers, which means there will always be a number of people unable to get a job. Those people still need to spend money to keep the economy moving, so we should always have a safety net in place for those people. Will some people abuse that? Of course. However, right now, we have a situation in which three quarters of people living in poverty have no access to cash assistance. If you want to know why crime seems high in this country, well, that’s a pretty good reason.

The fiscal irresponsibility of Republicans extends to many areas. For example, the crippling debt our government puts people in when they decide to go to college and make themselves hirable is one of the great shames of our society. The problem is, Republicans seem incapable of seeing any government spending as “investment.” And that, my friends, is fiscally irresponsible. Everything we spend in our lives carries with it a return of some sort. Yet, when the GOP runs our government, they pinch our pennies and don’t care about the return. They cut funds to states, the states then increase tuition. They cut funds available for student financial aid and force them to borrow more money at high interest rates, and then penalize them when they cannot pay.

Think about that a minute. An inner city kid borrows $75,000 to attend a state school for four years, so they can make more from their career, and pay more taxes. Yet, in the GOP view of government, the increased taxes aren’t enough, so they also have to charge interest and assess penalties on the money they are forced to borrow because Republicans cut their availability.

That is not fiscally responsible. It’s especially irresponsible when you are cutting the taxes of the corporation that may end up hiring this person. In other words, how is it in any way responsible to burden new taxpayer with higher taxes, interest and fees, while giving their employer a break? And please don’t tell me that’s “trickle-down” because ”supply side economics” has never worked anytime the GOP has tried it. And let’s face it; when you keep applying the same tired theories to economics, even after they are proven non-starters, how is that responsible?

It’s time for government to always be fiscally responsible. That means a government that invests in everything from people to alternative fuels, to mitigation of climate change, to helping our people recover from disaster, natural or otherwise, and to do everything to make sure no one ever has to go bankrupt for getting sick. Cut taxes during hard times and raise them when times are good. Put money away for hard times and recognize that hard time always come.

Vote Democratic and we’ll return to the fiscal responsibility that used to be the hallmark of the progressive movement.

What Do We Want to Be? Part I

As a lifelong progressive who really, truly wants to live in the greatest country in the world, I find both the progressive movement and the country at a crossroads. There are two fundamental questions that we as a movement must ask and answer if we are to finally be successful. Think about it; how can we create the country we’d like to be, if we don’t know what that means?

What sort of country do we want to be?

And what are we willing to do to get there?

If your answer to the first question was “a progressive country,” you really need to sit down and read this series because you don’t know how politics works. You’re the reason the progressive movement has had problems for a generation. This may come as a shock to many of you, but there is no single definition of “progressive.”

It’s time we decided on a path for the country. Just as importantly, it’s time we decided on what we are willing to do to get where we need to be. And no, unicorn progressives, I am not going to get into the weeds with you and talk about specific policies that you have decided are the keys to creating a progressive country. If you can look around you and think that’s an important thing to do, I have to assume you’re wearing political blinders. After all, you’ve been doing that for 50 years and where has it gotten us? As usual. I’m talking about the basic philosophical question we all should answer;

How do we envision the land of the free and the home of the brave“?

In other words, do we want to live in a country that puts people first and does what it can to make lives easier for anyone? Or would we rather live in a country where everyone has to fend for themselves and it’s every man for himself? As a progressive, the answer seems easy, but is it? If the answer is so easy, then why are we so goddamned inept at politics? I mean, since 1980, which is almost 40 years now, we have stood by and watched as a major political party with no moral standards and absolutely zero principles has taken over the entire federal government and a majority of state governments. Meanwhile, a small-but-loud group of progressives running around like Chicken Little, warning the electorate of all sorts of dire consequences for electing scumbags to government, yet doing nothing to make sure the best possible candidates win and the worst lose. They spend all their time calling the only sane major political party, the Democratic Party, all sorts of names and trash their candidates, thus making it more likely Republicans win. Then, after they sabotage Democrats, they blame Democrats for their loss, taking zero credit themselves. Not only that, but they also proclaim themselves psychic, as in “Bernie would have won.”

Sorry, but no, he wouldn’t have. And if you sincerely believe he would have, then you are irredeemably clueless about how politics works. That’s why I am writing this; it’s for you. Read and learn.

Right now, the current Republican Party is running hundreds of governments at all levels into the ground, which is only possible because they run almost the whole show. Because of that, millions of lives have been rendered absolutely miserable. And for what? So that professional lefties and unicorn progressives can massage their own egos by portraying Bernie Sanders as a saint and Hillary Clinton as the devil incarnate.

Think about it; when you listen to the professional left and the unicorn progressives, they portray themselves as more righteous and more principled than us. However, what principles are they playing to when they allow an asshole like Donald Trump to squeak into the presidency, aided and abetted by majorities in the House and Senate? They like to whine about the unfairness of the “two-party system” and long for a third alternative, and yet, 50 years after they broke from the Democratic Party, they have yet to make a serious try at creating a viable third party.

But I digress. Again, what kind of country do we want to live in? And what are we willing to do to get there?

It sure as hell can’t be the government we have now.

Consider; the previous government, which apparently didn’t count because it’s leader was a Black man, promised children who were brought here illegally but grew up here as Americans that they would never have to “go back” to a country they never knew. Now, the leaders in the Republican Party have suddenly reversed course and told them they can no longer stay, after all. I don’t care if it’s technically legal or not; it is purely immoral to kick Americans out of the country for the perceived “sins” of their parents.

The government of this country has to be truthful, if nothing else. If one government acknowledges the rights of people living in the United States of America, a later government has to honor those promises and shouldn’t be able to withdraw its support because it doesn’t fit into their ideology. We have to be a country that is honest, that tells the truth and keeps his promises.

We also cannot live in a country that praises itself as “the greatest country in the world” and encourage people to come here to find freedom, and then turn around and kick them in the ass when they try to come here. People who have lived here as Americans have been blocked from re-entering the country because of questions about their status as “real Americans,” as if that’s a thing. Just because the immoral Republican Party thinks their “base” wants that.

Consider: With this latest GOP Tax Scam, we are once again the only country in the world that doesn’t provide health care to anyone who needs it without having to worry about going bankrupt. Thanks to the current Republican Party, throughout 2017, people who finally were able to find affordable health insurance after decades of being denied, had to worry that the Republican Party would take away their insurance and make it unaffordable again.

We have to acknowledge healthcare as a civil right and make sure that everyone has easy access to doctors when they need one, without having to worry about losing everything they have worked for in their lives. And no, that does not mean “single payer.” It CAN mean single payer, but then, if we create a single-payer system and the current GOP wins another election after we do, guess what will be on the chopping block when they’re in charge?

Consider: One of our two major parties – the Republican Party – has lined up behind a two-bit millionaire amoral grifter whose cult following just happens to be made up of their base, even though dozens of women have accused him of sexual assault and he has admitted to sexual assault on a national TV show. He even bragged about it. A large portion of their “base,” Evangelical Christians, have supported him from the beginning, despite the fact that everything about Donald Trump lines up opposite everything Jesus stood for.

That same Republican Party was so desperate to hang onto one Senate seat in deep red Alabama that they lined up behind and fully supported an amoral man who has been credibly accused of taking sexual advantage of teen girls when he was in his 30s. I mean, the man was banned from a shopping mall; do you know how depraved you have to be for that to happen? He’s also been kicked out of his judgeship twice and he thinks his version of the Constitution supersedes any other version, including the  document itself. As of now, there are at least 3-4 Republicans in Congress who have sexually harassed or assaulted women, and the current GOP refuses to do anything about them because they have decided votes and winning are more important than the soul of the nation.

Is it too much to ask that our politicians and elected officials uphold a moral standard that the rest of us have agreed to as part of the social contract? They represent us; is this who we want standing up for us as our surrogates in government? Isn’t it time we started upholding basic standards of decency and decorum? I actually feel bad that I supported Bill Clinton after he admitted having sex with Monica Lewinsky because our quiet assent made that kind of thing okay. It’s not okay. Grown men dropping their pants and showing their genitals to everyone else in the room should not be a difficult standard to uphold and yet, these days, it seems to be. And yes, people in both parties do it, but Democrats who do are shamed and lose their careers, while Republicans who do the same are never addressed.

It’s time to being a sense of decorum to government and society, but more importantly, we have to treat everyone in the workplace equally and with the same level of respect, regardless of any physical factor. It doesn’t matter if they are a man or a woman, gay or straight, black, brown or white; everyone should be entitled to a basic level of respect until such time as they prove unworthy by their behavior.

Consider: the entire Republican Party has been running the country as if the only demographic group that deserves rights are straight white males. The key word there is “straight.” They have always wanted to make being gay illegal and they believe that a store owner’s non-existent right to not serve gay people is more important than the gay person’s right to be served. Current Republicans don’t think women should have the same rights as men and they scoff at the very idea that unarmed black men should have the right to not be shot and killed by police. They don’t even believe black NFL players should have the right to kneel in protest during the national anthem, although they seem to have no problem with white athletes who are accused of domestic violence.

In this country, rights should be sacred, but the sanctity of rights is a balance. For example, while current Republicans treat the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as optional, they treat the Second Amendment as if it was a holy relic that no one should ever question. The result is, five years after 26 people, including 20 small children younger than 7, were gunned down at an elementary school in Connecticut, the right to obtain a gun and use it any way they want is safer than ever, while no one else is safer. In fact, the man who gunned down those children was mentally ill, and the Republican Party has made it easier for mentally ill people to get guns. For that matter, in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, the Democtratic president brought forth a few mild changes to gun policy to make a repeat of the tragedy less likely, and it was summarily rejected by the GOP. A bill that would have expanded background checks on gun purchasers, which was supported by NINETY-TWO PERCENT of the American public, including a large majority of gun owners, was nevertheless rejected by the GOP.

That is right; in reality the major party Republicans represent EIGHT PERCENT of the American people, and yet, they keep winning elections because professional lefties and unicorn progressives would rather fight over the imperfections of the Democratic Party and the perceived “flaws” of Hillary Clinton than actually make the country a better place.

This country should be a relatively safe country, where no one who is mentally ill should be able to acquire an arsenal and an unlimited supply of bullets. The right to be able to walk or drive down the street or attend a concert or a museum exhibit with a minimal chance of being shot and killed, should be at least as important as the right to keep and bear arms, which is actually not as absolute as the current GOP pretends. Every other industrialized country in the world has mastered the balance between protection and safety, which is why our gun homicide rate is far higher than any major country on the planet.

The question is,

What do we want this country to be? 

In the next segment, we’ll talk about Middle Class Rot, which has been caused solely by Republicans, aided and abetted by unicorn progressives and professional lefties.

Lessons Learned?

I absolutely love it when I am proven right. However, my glee has nothing to do with my being right. I am a progressive and I want to see the country move forward. When Democrats win, we move forward; it’s really that simple. Hell; our grandparents and great grandparents figured that out in 1932, after 3 years of a Republican-caused economic depression took everything from everyone. They blamed Republicans and wouldn’t let them win another election until the 1950s. And then, when they let them in and they proceeded to cause what would be called a mild recession these days, they were banished from the federal government for another 30 years. Then came the Baby Boomer white liberals. I’ll get back to that, except to say this to millennials; if you are looking to Baby Boomer white liberals for guidance, read a history book.

Yesterday, with the victory of Democrat Doug Jones over pervert Roy Moore, most of us should have seen a sea change. As was the case after the Crash of 1929, it is clear that many voters have become tired of the current Republican Party and its shenanigans. Imagine an entire political party that wins too many elections, does absolutely nothing and then brags about it. Wait – you don’t have to imagine it; these days, it’s everywhere. Despite the fact that this is the most radical and uncompromising political entity in this country and despite the fact that everything they say and do goes against what the United States of America is supposed to be about, they occupy the White House, they run Congress and they control a supermajority of state legislatures and governorships.

Keep in mind, the GOP is a minority party. In fact, by most estimates, they control just under one-quarter of the electorate. That means we have the potential to rein in a majority of the other three-quarters and win every election. And yet, as a movement, progressives have been largely hapless. Why is that, do you think?

Well, let me start by sharing with you a Tweet I encountered this morning. It is by a white liberal and something of a “progressive icon,” James Zogby:

How does someone with a college degree, who spends so much time working around politics and analyzing politics, get the current climate so wrong? Look, I’ve spent a little time in Alabama; the people down there are so nice, it can be difficult to remember that even the nicest and sweetest of them think black people have the mark of Cain and were lucky to be slaves, that the loss of Jim Crow was a terrible tragedy and a “loss to their way of life.” I don’t want to say white supremacy has a majority down there, but the Klan barely has to hide in Alabama. Before they shifted their support to the Republican Party, they elected people like George Wallace and the Dixiecrats. In fact, the only reason they are Republican now is because the GOP encouraged them to reject the Democratic Party for passing the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. And since when do evangelicals maintain a set of principles or even follow the teachings of Jesus Christ?

Alabama is about three-quarters white and I don’t think it’s a great exaggeration to say that more than half think white people are superior, and they feel roughly the same way about Islam that they feel about Jews, Catholics and Mormons; that they are “cultists. As for “homophobia,” a majority of Alabamans still think sodomy should earn someone a jail term, even though I’m certain many of them pretty much force their wives to engage in it on a regular basis, and they believe homosexuality is an “abomination.” And Alabama is usually among the top ten states when it comes to domestic violence, including physical abuse and rape. (Source)

So, why would anyone say about Alabama that Democrats “ought to be able to win” and expect to be taken seriously?

This is among the most destructive thought processes fat too many white liberals have. Many unicorn lefties, like the Bernie Stans, Young Turks and most of the rest of the professional left, seem to have a fantasy that they know exactly what “should” motivate everyone about everything. These white liberals benefit greatly from white privilege, yet they are taken aback when you remind them of this. They are out of touch and they have no idea how many people they alienate with their attitude. Consider; when Hillary Clinton won the Alabama primary (and numerous others) with about 78 percent of the vote, Bernie Stans didn’t congratulate her. Instead, they dismissed this primary and the others in the South as “the old confederacy,” as if Democrats in Alabama and the rest of the south don’t count.

Look at the comparison of Alabama with Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. These purity progressives simultaneously believe they have no influence in any election, while also knowing exactly what Democrats have to do to win everywhere. It’s truly amazing.

See, more than one factor led to Trump being in a position to steal the 2016 election:

  • Russia, Trump, Stein and perhaps others, likely colluded to poison the well against Hillary Clinton;
  • Voter suppression tactics probably cost her a significant number of votes;
  • The constant refrains of “both parties are the same” and other insane rhetoric depressed turnout;
  • The constant lies and insinuations about Hillary Clinton’s honesty and integrity probably caused some to switch their votes to other candidates, or stay home.

See, unicorn lefties, you trashed Hillary Clinton for TWO SOLID YEARS. She “lost” the electoral college by less than 88,000 votes total in three swing states. You don’t get to absolve yourself of responsibility for that just because you VOTED for her, if you did. According to exit polls, 10 percent of Bernie voters went with Trump, Stein or Johnson in the General. That comes to more than 88,000 votes, I’m pretty sure.

Here’s the lesson everyone needs to learn from yesterday’s win. The only lesson.

Doug Jones is in no way a “purely progressive” candidate. He is a moderate, at best. And that is okay. That is the best Democrats will ever get from Alabama.

Let me repeat! You will NEVER get a Bernie Sanders or an Al Franken from Alabama, at least in a statewide race.

What was missing from yesterday’s election was the constant bitching from the professional left about Jones not being “pure enough.” That made a lot of difference. The same thing happened in 2008 and 2012, and we got two terms of the exceptional Barack Obama as president. In 2010 and 2014, the pro and unicorn left reverted to form and handed the federal government and a supermajority of state governments to the GOP.

That’s the lesson. We all have to support Democrats. Period. At least for a while. There is no choice. When we drop the constant (and usually unfair and false) criticism of Democrats, we win and the Republican right wing loses. Lose the purity bullshit. No Democrat will ever be pure, but the government doesn’t function under Republicans. That has to be the priority. Trying to purify the Democratic Party is a fool’s errand, especially when they’re in the minority everywhere.

Yesterday, purity politics was put aside, and we WON, in what is easily one of the top three reddest states in the union. That means, we can win everywhere.

Even Republicans Are Getting Tired of This…

There is a tendency on the part of most “political junkies” to lump everyone in a political party or a political subgroup together, as if all tens of millions of people who register that way are largely the same. We suggest they are all of singular mind, as if they have all been cloned from their leadership. That would be okay, as far as it goes, but the reality is, it damages the politics to think that way. The key to political success lies in nuance. When we adopt a “one-size-fits-all” attitude to politics, we tend to create polarization where there really is none.

I am sometimes guilty of this, too, although I try hard not to be. When I call the Republican Party useless and anti-American, I am talking about the results of their policies and the politics of their leadership. I know a great many Republicans. I come across them in my daily life and they are not all as evil as their votes would indicate. Most of the Republicans I know who voted for Trump last year did so because they deluded themselves into believing this is the Donald Trump of 20 years ago, who was not nearly as crazy as the current version. They thought he was a con man, but that he couldn’t possibly be as bad as he sounded. I know of a lot of Republicans who now regret their vote for Trump and are just as sickened by him than most progressives, if not more so.

Consider the Roy Moore debacle. While most Republicans in power have largely been silent on the issue of Moore’s proclivity for teenage girls, a significant number have spoken up. Recently, 70 evangelical pastors in Alabama published a letter excoriating “Christian” voters who are thinking of voting for Moore just to gain a seat. Several Republican members of Congress have also condemned the RNC for its full-throated support for Moore, as well as Trump’s support. However, what seems to have gone under the radar is the significant monetary hit the Republican Party is taking for the support of child molester Roy Moore.

During a recent fundraising dinner for big money donors, a number of huge Republican donors promised to withhold donations until the Party did something to reverse the major hit their reputation has taken since the nomination of Trump, culminating in the nomination of Roy Moore and the discovery of his perverse attraction to teenage girls. (Source) In other words, there are growing signs that even a large number of Republicans are getting tired of where their party is headed.

The worm is turning. The only question is whether or not we have the political intelligence to take advantage of that.

So far, I’m not sure we can. I hope I’m wrong.

When They Go Low…

Among many on the left, a theme has once again reared its ugly head over the last few days, and it’s a potentially destructive one. You see, they think Al Franken has been victimized by the general “wimpiness” of the Democratic Party.  They claim Democrats don’t “fight,” which means Democrats don’t hit back when the GOP right wing hits them.

It is this sort of thing that lies at the heart of why we lose most times. We can’t be like the right wing and expect to win. We have to be the exact opposite of them if we expect to attract enough people to the polls to end the GOP scourge. The key is Election Day turnout.

On Twitter this morning, one person even suggested we “go low” when they pull whatever it was that they imagined was pulled on Al Franken. This is nonsense, as can be proven when we look back at successful Democratic politicians since 1932. Go ahead; name one of them who aimed low to meet a Republican dirty trick and then won. The sole exception I can think of is the LBJ Daisy ad, and that only aired once. You might find another stray example, but the most successful Democratic politicians of our time, like Jimmy Carter, Bill (and Hillary) Clinton and, especially, Barack Obama, never went low.

And they don’t go low for a very simple reason. Going low does not attract voters. In fact, it encourages them to stay home. Think a second; if the right wing is so wretched, and our side acts just as wretched, don’t we reinforce the notion that both parties are basically the same? And if they’re the same, what’s supposed to encourage someone on the fence to go out on a cold November day, brave long lines and possibly take three buses to the polling place? If it doesn’t matter who they vote for, what’s the point, right?

See, while the current incarnation of the Republican Party features people who will vote for anyone who represents their party, they only make up about a quarter of the electorate. That gives us the other three quarters who aren’t batshit crazy and who are potential votes for the Democrats. Most of them are not crazy about the current GOP. Most also don’t have the time or inclination to sit in front of the computer and watch and talk about news all day, so all they see is the general trend. Therefore, when they see the right wing idiots getting in the gutter toward us, they hate it. Now, if they hate the Republican right when they act like assholes, why would any rational liberal think they would LOVE it coming from us?

The number one thing every “political junkie” or “news junkie” has to understand is that the number one strategy of the Republican Party for the last half-century has been to depress the vote. That’s right; everything they do is with the express purpose of making more and more people not want to vote. That’s not an exaggeration; here is the father of the modern Republican Party explaining their strategy way back in 1980:

Look at what he said and mull it over:

“Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

That’s what I keep telling you. Republicans can only win when fewer people turn out to vote. And the results bear that out. Before 1970, turnout was always in the 60% range during presidential elections and about 50% in midterms. Since then, turnout is usually around 50% for presidential years and about 37-39% for mid-terms. When Barack Obama won, turnout was 58% and 56% in 2008 and 2012; the highest since 1968. In 2010 and 2014, however, it was about 37% both times and we squandered our advantage in Congress.

The lesson you should learn from all this is, when President and Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high,” they weren’t being idealistic clods; they were articulating a valid strategy for electoral success for Democrats and the entire progressive movement. I know, it is always tempting, when someone targets a hero like Al Franken, your first instinct is to kick their ass. Unfortunately, the spectacle of watching the left and right fight with each other makes a lot of people stay home, which is great for the opposition.

I know many of you have a lot of passion and you’re turned on, in a way, by watching our side fight the right wing. However, you should also think rationally and realize that not everyone feels the same way. Many voters we liberals supposedly advocate for are working two low-paying jobs, taking care of the kids and shuttling back and forth between trips to the supermarket and Target and soccer practice; they do not have the luxury of parking themselves in front of MSNBC all day while they flit back and forth between offering their opinions on Facebook and Twitter. They only have the time to listen around the edges, so when the only image of politics they have is the far left and the far right bitching at them and telling them it doesn’t matter who they vote for, or even that their vote likely won’t count, why would you assume they will take a couple of buses and endure a long line on a cold, possibly rainy night to go vote?

No matter how low Republicans go, let THEM go low. We need to maintain the high ground because that is what makes people want to cast a ballot. And that is how we win. We have the two biggest elections in the history of the country in 2018 and 2020 and, for once, that is no exaggeration. In 2020, there will be a census, and we have to make sure Democrats control redistricting, in addition to making sure sane people control the White House and Congress. Winning elections is the only thing that matters right now, which means encouraging turnout is everything. Be positive.