One Key to Victory: Stop the Perpetual Anger

I’ve never understood why so many progressives seem so angry. Perhaps it’s because I’m rarely angry myself. Anger doesn’t make things better for anyone but the angry person, and even that is rare, and almost never lasts.

In politics, anger is poisonous. It’s impossible to stress this enough; progressives cannot win without aligning ourselves with moderate voters, and almost no moderate voters are motivated by anger. In fact, they tend to be repulsed by displays of anger and tend to react to it with disgust. They can’t stand the right wing, mostly because their politics is repulsive, but also because they’re always angry about something. When we act much like the Republicans, always speaking negatively about everything, they react the same way, and more often than not, they stay home.That works for the current GOP; in fact, their main electoral strategy is to drive down turnout to make the votes from their “base”

What works for the right wing actually works against us. Continue reading

Cutting the Crap on the Snowden Q & A With the Guardian

If the Guardian wants to salvage any credibility at all, they need to jettison Glenn Greenwald. They should also apologize for giving this guy free rein, with no editorial control. It’s one thing to set up a blog and let him blather on with his opinions. But a news organization can’t be this sloppy when it comes to actual news operations.

Edward Snowden, who gave Greenwald a “scoop” that’s been melting since he “scooped” it, granted Greenwald and the Guardian a “Q & A session” to explain questions that people have about him. Now, think about this a minute. First of all, the Guardian is supposed to report news stories, not become them. Greenwald and the Guardian are already more of a story than the “news’ about an NSA surveillance regimen that has been conducted in the open for about seven years. There’s really no “news” here. Not only that, but Greenwald’s tendency toward inaccuracy should be sending editors over there into apoplectic fits. For example, take a look at how he begins his introduction to the Q&A:

It is the interview the world’s media organisations have been chasing for more than a week, but instead Edward Snowden is giving Guardian readers the exclusive.

First of all, it’s not an interview. Taking questions from random, anonymous people is NOT an interview, for the same reason they don’t call press conferences “interviews.” Second of all, we don’t know that “the world’s media organisations” have been chasing Snowden for an interview. But if they catch him and actually interview him, it will be his first. Continue reading

Snowden’s No Hero, Greenwald’s No Journalist

I have been writing and rewriting an article about Edward Snowden for several days, in part because the story just keeps changing daily. As more details emerge, the story could very well change again and again and again. This is one reason Snowden is not a hero, and why Glenn Greenwald is not a journalist. Facts don’t change, and journalism is about facts.

There are so many reasons Edward Snowden is not a hero. Let’s start with the fact that heroes don’t flee. People with principles don’t flee. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela spent time incarcerated for standing up for the values they claimed believe in. Today’s so-called “heroes,” like Snowden and Julian Assange, seek asylum from justice. That’s not heroism.

Heroes also don’t lie. His first statements seemed to imply he was an analyst who was fed up with “spying” on people, when in fact, he was basically an IT guy, who saw a lot of top secret documents, but was not in on the meetings that would have put the documents into their proper context, and he probably knew none of the people who were actually analyzing the data.

He’s also not a “hero” because of what he revealed, which was nothing, really. The NSA is data mining metadata from phone calls, without even knowing who owns each number. And they are doing so with oversight from Congress. What else do we need? We can’t possibly demand to know every detail of the program, because if we know them, then the bad guys know them, too. Continue reading

Glenn Greenwald’s Anti-Obama Vendetta Continues

There was a time when I really wished I could understand what drives Glenn Greenwald’s hatred of President Obama. But then, I realized. I really don’t care. I just wish his editors would be a little more discerning with his use of links and, um, “facts.” I used to be able to count on the UK Guardian as an unwavering, very dependable news source, but it’s becoming more difficult to do so, when they hire people like Greenwald to write for them.

First of all, they portray Greenwald as a progressive or liberal, and I don’t see him that way at all. But that isn’t what really bothers me about Greenwald. The most bothersome thing is the way he uses suppositions and facts interchangeably, as if they’re equal.

Take his latest column, regarding Obama’s nomination of James Comey as director of the FBI. Greenwald, as usual, uses the column as a vehicle for tooting his own horn, and to make an unsubstantiated attack against President Obama. First, he tries to establish himself as an expert on the covert activities of the Bush Administration, because he’s written about it many times. Now, I would never belittle that. I actually find much of the information on the NSA spying program to be very credible. Yet, he seems to have chosen to ignore his own notes in some spots, only to remember them later, when he’s pretty sure readers have stopped reading. In this article, he makes statements about Comey that are simply not supported by available evidence, and then contradicts himself. In fact, after he starts like a house afire, and essentially blames Cowey for the downfall of civil rights, by the end of the article, he pretty much admits that Obama could have chosen much worse.  

The question I keep asking myself is, where are his editors? He’s not writing for his own personal blog; he’s representing a truly good news organization.  Why does he get to tell outright lies and then contradict himself later within the same column.

For example, this is from his column; Continue reading

GOP Can’t Find Time to Create Jobs, But Can Vote 37 Times to Repeal Obamacare

In the space of less than two and a half years, Republicans in Congress have voted to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act a whopping 36 times. Here's a list of these attempts. Each of them includes a link to the votes on each bill, so you can see who voted for this nonsense.

This past week, they voted for a 37th time to repeal Obamacare. And you should care about this issue, because it says two things about the Republican Party. The fact that they insist on wasting time passing 37 bills they know will never become law (can you even imagine Democrats in the Senate passing or Obama signing such a thing?) is something that should concern voters. And the fact that they seem to want to return the health care system to where it was should really make you mad. 

Our health care system was broken. And it was broken precisely because it treated health care as a privilege, when it's actually a right. If you become sick enough, you are entitled to see a doctor, regardless of your wealth or lack of same

There are a few things that should not be subject to the volatility of the "free market," and health insurance  is one. It is because we operate under the delusion that health insurance is a "free market" that we spend more than anyone else in the world on health care, and yet sit mired in 37th place in world health statistics.  Our health statistics are more in line with Cuba and Albania than Germany, France and Canada, and the reason is the way we treat health insurance. 

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Getting Over Our GOP-Warped Concept of Investment

Under President Obama's guidance, the economy is definitely improving. The stock market is breaking records; the Dow has more than doubled since we hit bottom on the Bush recession, and the S&P is also breaking records. The housing market has largely recovered, and we're back on track, albeit this time as a saner pace. 

We could be doing a lot better, if not for Republican obstruction. There are still too many people out of work, even as the Republican House continues to sit on a massive jobs bill that is coming up on its second anniversary. 

But while the problems we have right now are largely the fault of the current Republican Party, a lot of it comes from our warped sense of the concept of "investment," in which we demand that our investments bring huge, quick financial returns, without concern for a solid, sustainable future. It shouldn't even be controversial to make the switch from fossil fuels to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources; it's common sense. It may not make us a boatload of money now, but over the course of our lives, the payoff for such a conversion will be enormous. And that's the problem. We only look at financial profit as "success," and we seem unable to look beyond the next quarter or the next year. 

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Wishing for Perfection, You Usually Get the Opposite, Like the GOP

I guess I'll never understand this quest for political perfection that so many liberals seem to think is so appealing.  The most imperfect Republican politicians in our history have been holding down the fort for the better part of 40 years; at what point do we figure out we're doing something wrong? If we're so pure of heart, righteous and virtuous, and that is what makes us worthy of winning elections, why do we keep losing? 

The answer is clear, if you're willing to listen to it. Right wing Republicans are willing to accept less than perfect from their point of view, while we most certainly are not.  

Let me re-state that. MOST liberals get it, and are willing to accept imperfection. A small but significant number of liberals refuse to accept anything less than perfection, despite the fact that perfect liberals have never had a majority in any national political body in our history. For all of the lionization of FDR, JFK and even LBJ by such progressives, none of those men could win an election these days, because these people would never encourage anyone to vote for them.  

If you've ever seen the classic film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” then you'll remember the scene in which the owner of Swamp Castle describes how he built it. The first two castles sank into the swamp, of course, as castles built on swamps are wont to do. But the third one, by God, stayed up (so far), quite possibly because it was sitting on the first two sunken castles. 

Go ahead and laugh, because it's funny. But there's also a lesson there. If you want to build something that lasts (and if you call yourself a progressive, that is exactly what you're supposed to do), you can’t ignore the foundation upon which it’s built. And for about 40 years now, the right wing has built one hell of a swamp.

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A PCTC Classic: With 11 Embassy Attacks Under Bush, Why Wasn’t the GOP Upset?

This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is having to go before the Republicans in Congress and help them in their grandstanding efforts with regard to the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. It’s the second set of hearings on this issue; the first round happened just before the election, when several Republicans thought they could help Willard Romney win the election by making Obama look bad. These hearings, on the other hand, are an attempt to make themselves look important, because we all know they’ll probably be no more productive than they were during the last session of Congress.

This morning’s pageant has featured Rand Paul suggesting that Mrs. Clinton would have been fired if he was president, an occurrence that, thankfully, will never happen. He also cited the Benghazi attack as the “greatest tragedy since 9/11.” Apparently, losing a few thousand troops in an unnecessary war in Iraq wasn’t a tragedy to him, but ask the families of the soldiers about that.

But the best exchange of the morning – the one that shows just how shallow and pointless these hearings are, came when Secretary Clinton schooled Senator Ron Johnson on what really matters here. He was all over the Republican talking points, all of which have been shown to be false. He starts with Susan Rice supposedly lying on “all the talk shows,” which has been proven wrong. After Secretary Clinton explains the State Department’s priorities in the wake of the attacks, Johnson then proffers the “simple phone call” talking point. AFTER she had explained why she did what she did. She thought getting medical help for the injured and letting the FBI investigate first was more important. and she’s right. Four people are dead, and even now, no one knows everything that may have happened. It often takes years to sort these things out. To imply that the State Department should have known every detail within days is ludicrous. It’s the Republican Party attempting to score political points and nothing more.

Here is the exchange between Secretary Clinton and Sen. Johnson. It’s so obvious he’s thinking of his party first:

 

We have to be sick of this by now, don’t we?

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It’s Not True That Zuckerberg is Trashing Obama, Supporting Keystone

I will be talking about this sort of thing a lot, because that's what this blog is ultimately about. This is the sort of thing that makes clear why you should always be skeptical about anything you read or hear in today's political climate. 

I woke up this morning, and saw the following Tweet in my timeline:

Blodget

Now, I do some work for a project that I'm not at liberty to talk about because it hasn't launched yet, but I recognized that the information in the Tweet and the accompanying article is completely out of character for Zuckerberg. I won't claim that Zuckerberg is a full on liberal, and his company's approach to privacy sucks. But his largest charitable/political contributions to date have gone to revive the Newark, New Jersey school system, and to help the poor in the Bay Area. The fact of the matter is, he's been trying to rehab his image since "The Social Network" became a hit, and this wouldn't do that. 

So, when someone makes a claim like the above, it makes me want to look deeper. And as I started digging, I found out that the group in question, FWD.us, is focused on three things; immigration, education and science. Many of the key players in this project actually have high profiles in the development of alternative energy sources, so the accusations made don't quite pass a smell test. 

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What Happened in West, Texas Says A Lot About GOP Values

The more I look at this industrial disaster in the small town of West, Texas, the more I'm reminded of just how vacuous and downright perverse the right wing Republican concepts of deregulation and "free markets" are. If you haven't been paying attention to this, you should, because it demonstrates just how far private companies will go to avoid regulation, how far GOP politicians in red states will go to "protect" those companies, and how hypocritical they are when it comes to their attitudes with regard to government spending.

If you think "it can't happen here," think again. The right wing mindset has weakened the protections we've created, to the point that the agencies we depend on to keep businesses honest are weaker than ever. 

Because there were no real protections in place to stop them, West Fertilizer was able to place two 12,000 gallon tanks of anhydrous ammonia onto their property, which was located near the center of the small town of West, Texas, population 2,800. They were about 1,500 feet from a school, a nursing home with 130 residents and a hospital, and practically in the middle of a residential district. They were only 3,000 feet from another school, and very close to a heavily travelled highway. 

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Sorry, But Max Baucus is About the Best We Can Expect From Montana, Politically

This week, Max Baucus of Montana announced his retirement after this term, and some progressives have been falling all over themselves congratulating themselves, and expressing nothing short of glee over losing him in the Senate.  

Be careful what you wish for, folks. 

Baucus is from Montana. Montana usually elects Democrats, but they're always conservative, based on the standards of many progressives, who like to label "RINOS." And who would expect anything different from Montana. Like the other 49 states, Montana is a unique entity, in that they are extremely independent. This is the problem with thinking in national terms; except for president, there is no national election. Baucus only represents Montana, and Montana politics is a mixed bag, at best. 

They are somewhat progressive on the environment, but if you think 90% of Montanans were probably in favor of universal background checks, you're likely mistaken. They are very much against any kind of gun control. While they were outspoken in their opposition to a "public option" because they don't want the federal government telling them what to do, they are one of the few states actively considering a single-payer system. They are a right to work state, but because of their colorful past history of corruption, they are extremely vocal against Citizens United. 

So, tell me. Is Montana conservative or liberal? 

Like all states, it's a mixed bag, although they lean more to the right overall.

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Stop Complaining About Dems. In 2014, Voters Will Still Only Have 2 Choices: Them or Disaster

I know many of the people who read this blog would love to see a "third party" pop up. Unfortunately, our system is built in such a way that all a third party does is weaken one of the other two. This is why the progressive movement keeps failing; we keep hoping for things that can't happen, and we look down on those things that can happen. 

It's important for everyone to realize that elections are the most important element in a democratic republic. They are the linchpin for everything. Marching and occupying is not, in itself, an expression of democracy. If such activism is not followed by effective campaign strategy that puts the best available people in office every single time, then it’s pretty much worthless.

That phrase is key. The BEST AVAILABLE candidate. In a democracy as diverse as ours, the best available candidate will almost never be far left, unless he or she represents a full-on left district. Sorry. 

I know, you don't want to hear that. But here's the thing; the reason there are so many right wingers in the government is because they've embraced the electoral process, and they've adopted, and virtually taken over a major political party, like parasites feeding from a host. And we can't really make progress until we get rid of them. We outnumber them; it should be easy.  Yet, it's not, because they tend to be parasites, using the political party apparatus to make themselves more powerful, while we flail on the outside, and expect the parties to do our bidding.

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The Truth About AUMF and NDAA

Several times throughout his presidency, President Obama has asserted that he has the power to use lethal means (presumably including drones) to take out al Qaeda and the Taliban. His lawyers and the Attorney General have affirmed his assertion that he has that power. 

And every time one of them asserts this power, a large number of very loud liberal pundits scream and yell and blame HIM for having that power and not denying that he has it. Apparently, he’s supposed to simply reject that power, and it will magically dissolve into nothingness. By claiming he doesn’t have that power, according to them, it will cease to exist, and we will all be safe and secure, and there will be no drones from now on, and all will be peaceful and right with the world, forever and ever.

Can I get an amen?

There’s just one problem, and it’s a pretty big one.

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The Veracity of Truth Podcast #16: Revealing the GOP’s Sequester End Game, GOP Minority Games

Welcome to the Veracity of Truth podcast. In this edition, I talk about the GOP's endgame with regard to the sequester, and their sudden attitude toward minorities and why it won't work. Also, taxes. Just taxes. 

2013-03-03 Veracity of Truth- The PCTC Podcast

Enjoy…

 

Politics 101 for the Far Left, Part Two… Lessons 6-10

Overall, strategy is far more important to moving the country forward than having the right positions on issues. This is because, in order to get anything progressive done, we have to win elections and get people into office who will at least be willing to listen to reason. That means accepting Democrats who aren't full-on progressives, at least for the time being, and it means learning how the political system works, so that we can use it to it's best effect.

To make sure the best candidates win elections, and also to make sure the worst people don't win elections, we have to appeal to a majority, and we have to encourage turnout. To do that, we have to understand some basics. Here are a few more that are very important. 

Lesson #6:  Politics is a game of strategy, but political governance is different from political campaigning.  

As I said, it's good to get the right people elected, but it's oftentimes just as important to get the wrong people out. While governance affects the average person’s life in profound ways, it's important to understand that governance and politics are two separate concepts. In fact, one major reason the right wing is so ineffective while running government is that they don't understand this basic concept. Unfortunately, some progressives have a problem with it, too. Especially the professional left. 

When a politician is running for office, (s)he is working against the opposition party. They try to stake out ground and make a case why their brand of compromise will be better for the constituents in that state or district than the compromise reached by their opponent. Good candidates will make a case for themselves and attack the opposition's weaknesses. That is how campaign politics works. 

That is NOT how governance works. When actually governing the country, Democrats have to work WITH Republicans. They can sometimes go after someone who's blocking a bill, but for the most part, they make deals and try to attract votes for the issues they care about. You simply cannot expect politicians to go at each other inside the legislature the way they do on the campaign trail, and that's because…

Lesson #7: Politics is a game of strategy, but some strategies simply don’t work, like always “fighting.” 

For politicians, always "fighting" is actually a bad strategy, mostly because it's counterproductive. It's great for the right wing, because their main contention is that the government can't do anything right, and they're trying to prove themselves correct. But for everyone else, it doesn't work. That's why Democrats have won big in three of the last four elections, and it's why Congress has a single-digit approval rating. Fighting only appeals to the fringes; it's not a smart political strategy for politicians. 

It's OUR job to fight, but to fight for issues, not just against idiots. It's OUR job to make the electorate feel passionate about an issue, so that politicians know we have their backs. To expect it from politicians, who have to make deals with people of diverse views in order to get anything done, is to expect them to commit political suicide. Not many bills would pass if Democrats ran around calling Boehner and Cantor "poopyheads." Not much gets done now, precisely because that's what Republicans do, 24/7.  

Which leads to: 

Lesson #8: What works for the right wing simply does not work for progressives. Period. End of Story

One thing everyone needs to understand is that right wing politics really shouldn't work as well as it seems to. The reason they're successful in getting elected is because they receive a big, healthy assist from our side. And part of that is because we too often "fight" against them, and not for anything in particular. As a result of that "strategy," we often look as insane as the right wing. And let me assure you, the right wing giggles with glee every damn time. 

The Republican Party is a minority party. Right now, approximately 27% of voters identify as Republican. Their base, however, is rabid, and will vote for anyone with the GOP, if only for spite. So, how do they win? They win by making sure people who aren't rabidly Republican don't show up to vote. They try to depress turnout. Everything they do is to excite their rabid base AND to make those in the center disgusted with the whole scene, and unmotivated to vote. 

Yes, some of that effort goes to making voting more difficult and wiping "undesirables" off the voter rolls. But they don't do it for the reasons you think. Really; how many people who vote don't actually have a picture ID? A few hundred, at most, in most districts, but probably not enough to swing more than 1-2 Congressional elections. But there's another, underlying reason they do it. They do it because we react to it, and make noise that makes it sound to many swing voters as if their vote won't count. So they stay home, which gives the GOP a better chance. 

The right wing screams at us for a reason. Their base LOVES it when their politicians irritate us and make us mad; it's what they live for. It also discourages swing voters from even showing up on Election Day. 

The problem is, when we "fight back" the same way, it has the same effect. It excites their base and makes swing voters less likely to show up. See the problem? 

And that leads us to:

Lesson #9: More than anything, voters want to vote for something, not against everything. 

"We are the ones we have been waiting for," and "hope and change" were and are not just slogans. This is what voters are looking for. They want to be part of something, and they want to vote for solutions to problems they see around them. They're not motivated by the professional left's "outrage of the day" mentality; they want to know we can change the bad things around us and protect and strengthen the good things.

The average voter lives the stuff we claim to care about every day. They know just as much about the travails of daily living in this neocon- dominated country as we do. They are not "low info voters" just because they don't know the same things we think we know. 

President Obama won twice because he understands this. Most Democratic politicians understand this, as well. In fact, I think most progressives understand this. But the professional left and their minions seem unable to understand this basic premise, and think that, because they're motivated by outrage and continuous crises, everyone else must be, too. This couldn't be further from the truth. Most people are repelled by outrage. Most voters want to live in peace, and they want politicians to worry about issues, and engage in problem-solving activities for them. That's why they elect them.  

One of the biggest problem many progressives have is the "political junkie" effect. Again, because some immerse themselves in "news," they assume they're smarter than everyone else. The effect of this tends to be to treat every bit of political minutiae as important, creating something of a "micro-political" effect. 

Which leads to: 

Lesson #8: The overall meme of the debate is far more important than playing micro-politics.

I used to be a "political news junkie." It's a hard habit to break, but it's very necessary if we're to have political success. Some of the reasons will come in later "lessons," but generally, the problem is this:

Imagine you’re about the leave work, and you’re wondering whether or not you should take your umbrella, so you ask a co-worker if they think it might rain. Which answer are you likely to consider most helpful?

“According to the weather service, it’s not supposed to rain until Friday"?

Or perhaps,

“I don’t know, but I do know the air is dirtier now than it was 20 years ago, the sun's rays are much harsher than they used to be, and the world will probably become uninhabitable in 10 years.”?

Obviously, the first answer is a lot more helpful. But to many swing voters, the rhetoric coming from the left side of the debate sounds like the second answer; a lot of useless information that may be true, but not at all helpful. The second response is that usually dispensed by "political junkies." 

"Political junkies" aren't really political junkies at all; they're "news" junkies. And they tend to lack perspective, for a very basic reason. The news isn't real life, especially nowadays. Even in the greatest of journalistic climates, an event becomes news precisely because it's unusual. What happens to most people never makes it onto the news. Or, if it does, you have to dig for it. 

But in this journalistic climate, everything seems geared toward getting the most eyes and ears, while imparting important information seems to be an afterthought, if it's thought of at all. And that's not just the case with cable news. Most professional left blogs and other "sources" are looking to become the "most popular" source for progressive "news junkies," because it leads to more ad revenue. And let's be real; most "news" these days is actually opinion, which is always colored by the presenter's perspective. There is a lot of raw information out there, if you dig for it, but news junkies tend to just watch whatever appeals to them, and rarely look to find out whether or not what they're being told is true. While such news junkies make fun of Fox News denizens, there is often little difference between what Fox News does, and what much of the professional left propagates. 

If you're a news junkie, step back. Talk to actual people. Look elsewhere to verify what you see or hear, and by all means, understand that most people don't see the same things you might, and they're not "low info" because they don't. 

The average voter doesn’t have time to sit and watch news constantly, or to watch every single thing the government does. Many of them are supposed to be the people we progressives are most concerned about; the families working three jobs just to make the rent and put food on the table. They don't have the time or the inclination to pay attention to every detail they only listen to the overall meme. In 2008 and 2012, they voted for Barack Obama because of his positive message They stayed home in droves in 2010 because the overall message of that election was “Democrats suck.” When both sides are screaming “Democrats suck!” what message do you imagine these folks take away from the “debate,” such as it is?

They don't obsess over details, and the fact that you do doesn't make you smarter. They don't know or care what a "Blue Dog" is. They didn't hear "Blue Dog" in 2010, they heard "Democrat." That is, some of them heard that. Many of them didn't hear anything, because both sides were screaming at each other. Let the far right scream. We can't afford to. We're not like them, and swing voters aren't like them, either. 

Put simply, we have to play politics smarter. And news junkies aren't actually smarter than others.

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The next lessons will be about the actual politics of governing, and how things work. The news junkies will want to pay attention, because what the "news" people tell you about how politics actually works is often based on preconceptions, and not on reality. It's time we dealt with reality. See you next time.