War is a series of battles, but is always about a bigger prize. The I Ching warns of this, and every hunter knows: watch with your eyes, listen with your ears. Know where you are and what’s ahead before you make your next step.
War has two goals: 1) win; take away, tie up or use up options to bring defeat to your enemies and put people, resources and authority under your control; 2) a new system; alter the methods and positions of power, both as a deterrent and control.
Without guns, America is witnessing a political civil war. It’s not loose talk or noise. It is advanced by legislative procedures that breach trust, crater resources, and weaken the entire Republic. It leaves opponents without a defense. It accumulates power for a well funded, fortressed minority. Its losses embolden its backers and voters.
Let’s look at the logic of the healthcare-government funding fight: why will Republicans not eliminate tax credits for Big Oil not tied to life or death, or cut defense? Why will they endanger the lives of citizens by denying healthcare in the name of freedom and jobs?
Because healthcare is only a flag; as in battles of old when the the object was to bring down the flag and the courageous flag holder—the battle within the battle—healthcare is one of the main dynamics of changes the GOP targeted in their march and attacks to restrict opportunity and install limits on personal liberty, especially for women.
Flag and flag holder: on the day that marked his greatest success, perhaps the greatest day of his presidency, Barack Obama was forced to watch the government he was elected to head shut down.
That government, while he has held its flag, tightened equal pay requirements, protected financial consumers, increased Wall Street oversight, enabled people with intra-gender sexual preferences to serve openly in the military, provided middle class tax cuts, cleaned up the Gulf, and developed a working agreement to end the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
America rejects the New Orleans idea of the spy boy; it doesn’t seem to want a President with forward vision. It’s too busy looking backward, or stuck in the present. The national character is one of passion, excited by the unexpected, without realizing these moments are often planned.
Like a magician’s act.
Republicans have leveraged this naive view of politics into skillful deceptions, with the assistance of media’s commitment to the doctrine of false equivalency. Media reports a world that lacks comparisons, outcomes and consequences, and in the name of fairness, only reports narratives of blame.
The media didn’t widely report some Republicans in the House ran on the intent of shutting government down. Republicans blitzed the flag and flag holder, the people’s government and its elected President. If they didn’t get the flag, they took up the siege.
A few spy boys took note: A New York Times commenter on Paul Krugman’s blog wrote:
“None of this is about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare; It is about whose legacy this legislation stands to benefit: A black man.”
It’s also about how easily he has dismantled their most cherished myths and took power that was for so long in the grip of their hands. So, chagrined at losing their mojo, they confuse their decline with insolence. But they are impertinent about the basics we expect of national elected officials. As the Washington Post put in an editorial:
“Pay the bills and try not to embarrass us in front of the world.”
Publicly and privately, these officials have named and targeted government the enemy. And before day one, these officials and their financiers questioned, at every level that involves rumor and error, Barack Obama’s constitutional right to be President.
Hardball MSNBC show host Chris Matthews had the following exchange with Rep. Steve King (R-NY) this week:
MATTHEWS: I’ve had members, they know who they are, they say — ‘I really can’t say with these lips that this man, Barack Obama, was elected President.’ They choke on that. How many are there in Congress on your side that represent that rejectionist front? [...]
KING: I would say there are probably 30 or 40 who are like that. As there were a number of Democrats who felt that way about George W. Bush, and going back to when you and I first met, Republicans who felt that way about Bill Clinton… This is a very dangerous aspect to our government… The fact that we have people who are willing to demonize the President of the United States because he’s from a different party… and now, obviously, with President Obama, it’s definitely there.
Texas Governor Rick Perry said implementing Obamacare is a felony.
So, in the riving throes of contempt, the GOP wants to show that America can do without government and nothing bad will happen. It is a near-sighted approach to power, because, in fact, government manages the long term. The drift of environmental poisons, food safety, federal land, highway safety, air traffic, weather reports, passports and a host of other invisible services dampen short-term shocks by effective long-range planning.
Government has a positive, sustaining impact on our lives. So nothing will happen today. Or likely, tomorrow.
But that’s not the point! The short term is safe not because we don’t need government, but because government has worked effectively to make it secure. Continue reading The Spoils of War: For One Side, Healthcare; For the Other, an Incurable Condition
If you are a politician, lying, whether deliberate, inadvertent, accidental, unintentionally, for effect or on purpose should be punishable as treason, with a minimum sentence of 50 years, spent translating Chinese press releases. Lies affect more than facts; lies affect the sequence of actions that politics follows, the causes and courses that the nation pursues, and the way resistance is formed. Important but often overlooked, lies create distraction and massive waste.
Not that anybody believes the lie, but lying gives others the power and approval to lie. That’s its political magic: lying enables itself, whether we believe or not!
When it comes to lies, Democrats focus on belief; Republicans focus on its social power. Refuting a lie doesn’t diminish its power; lying appeals to a false freedom that flaunts the rules.
Today, 9/11, a day that should be honored by a reverence for truth and its associated virtues of sacrifice and love, will be a signature day for lies held under the breath of those who recall the national grief.
Today, no Republicans will come forth to admit that he or she has attacked women by trying to weaken rape laws, falsely creating new definitions of rape, or denying women the option of abortion in the case of rape. They will not admit that their pseudo-science was an assault in itself. They will not acknowledge trying to exclude Native American women from the protections of the Violence Against Women Act in a false issue of sovereignty that granted white men impunity to rape Indian women on reservations—native land.
Today, no Republican will come forth to admit that he or she lied in their attacks on social security as bankrupt, insolvent, out-of-date, unsustainable or an entitlement. It is paid for by payroll taxes and solvent until 2037. Minor tweaks, rising its income cap, would easily keep it fully funded.
Today, no Republican will come forward to confess their errors on global warning.
Today, no Republicans will speak up to admit that their party’s small government philosophy has engaged in some large government grabs, including ongoing attempts to take over the airport in Charlotte, NC (owned by the city, with decades of positive revenues), and the water system in Asheville, NC.
In the face of non-existent fraud, today, no Republican will admit that the true purpose of restricting early voting, precinct locations and the use of provisional ballots is to restrict ballot access for minorities. Continue reading Proclaim 9/11 As a Day For Truth
The Republican Party is mounting a four-front attack. Have Democratic strategic thinkers taken note? Is the Party coordinating a response? Does it have its own plan?
Part one of the Republican attack is distraction, intended to produce public disengagement. Its centerpiece is a national public relations campaign that government is inept and bad, bloated, and should be shut down. Republican affiliates spend a great deal of time crafting and spreading talking points out of context that justify and reinforce this idea. Examples (think Solyndra—but not defense contract overruns!) are presented as widespread proof of government’s failure, while successes (the internet, Medicaid’s low cost versus the private sector, Social Security’s low overhead) are ignored.
Part two is to redefine the purpose of the federal government. This includes dismantling federal regulatory authority, especially in finance and the environment, but also in food, drugs and taxes. It includes increasing the private sector take, from defense to health, with a strong eye on the gilded pot of social security, one of the world’s largest hoards of government wealth as a line item with dedicated taxes.
Part three is to seize control of states. Republicans now control 30 of 50 state governments. These have become single-party states, operating a political economy build on cronyism, lowering wages and educational standards, and tax breaks to corporations, not local businesses. States are becoming nation-states, recruiting and selling corporate opportunity, sometimes in virtually secrecy. Who knows Google is in Goose Creek, SC?
Part four is abrogating the rights of citizens. From personal liberty to political participation, these rights have been drastically modified. Certain groups are under direct attack: the poor, the elderly, children in public education, women, immigrants, ethnic and religious minorities. The GOP is openly advocating discrimination and unfair measures, using the red herring of threats and fear.
Building a mosque? Seeking an abortion? Registering to vote? Trying to have a meal? Flying out of the Charlotte airport? Drinking water in Asheville, NC? Any of these acts are in the center of epic political battles. In NC, the Republican-controlled legislature seeks to transfer control of the nation’s sixth busiest airport and US Air hub away from the Democratic city which has operated it for 70 years. The same NC legislature wants to transfer the billion-dollar Asheville water system out of local hands. Does this sound like small government?
Republican-controlled state legislatures are able to move in lockstep to grab power because they are legislating by outsourcing. Groups such as ALEC and others are preparing legislative boilerplate in which a state’s elected officials only have to fill in the blanks and tweak the language slightly to fit the state. Abortion bills come off the ancillary assembly line.
To date, Democrats seem to follow the traditional paradigm: find local candidates, tie together a loose network of experts and volunteers, reinvent the political apparatus each election, and place its activities on a short horizon without a long-term plan, or coordinating state and federal goals.
The worst-case example of the old paradigm is the candidacy of Anthony Wiener for New York City’s mayor. While drawing lots of attention, it has generated no new ideas or focus on New York’s critical issues of job growth, affordable housing, and livable wages.
But right across the river is a solidly Democratic city rising from its legacy of corruption, poised for a recovery. It has convenience, solid housing stock, and a rich arts tradition. Its executive is a national figure, running for the US Senate. What do we know about the three candidates running to replace the mayor? Continue reading Democratic Strategic Thinkers: Take Note!
The humor in ancient wisdom and the folklore celebrated by hunters and gatherers who spent long-ago evenings and days together with family and friends found its source in paradox—that place in life and history where nothing works as it should. At least, as we think it should.
Lucille Ball was its comedic master, taking simple sketches and adding her timing, eye-rolls and physical twitches until she embodied the madness that engulfed her. It was no longer the situation that was ridiculously funny: it was her!
And nothing fixed it, either. Paradoxes, like stones in a river, can be traversed, but not solved. No engineering or spin, no rule or bill, no lie or fear will change their nature. That’s why the ancients often pointed to them as the center of not only village humor but as communal religious teaching. They require heroic courage and thinking, both inside and outside, to get past them and mark the passage.
But paradoxes have a dark side, on full exhibit in the conversations about sex and race.
Anthony Weiner offers a paradox—more pathetic than funny or religious—until you realize that his situation is not an “either/or” of guilt and penitence of personality and politics, of bad judgment and stubbornness, but is a sequel, with parts one and two. His two-step process jointly connects to the biggest voyeuristic thrill in the history of American politics. Therein is his paradox; he is using politics to further the thrill!
What’s bigger and more dangerous to personal standing and the sanctity of the inner self than sending high-definition pictures of personal sex organs to unmet strangers over the internet?
Doubling down and knowingly running for one of the nation’s highest municipal offices, the high-profile mayor of a city that is a global beacon, and announcing at the announcement that more scandal is to come, then reveling in it when it does, dragging his family along, and refusing to step down, in order to draw the maximum public attention possible to what began as a private, prurient act and turning it into a daily outing, seen in the eyes of the hundreds he encounters without shame of his being a bad boy.
So with Weiner, rethink the prevailing view: switch the roles of the election and the exposure and see them as connected, evolving stages. The campaign’s main purpose is for flaunting his flaunting. Remember the announcement of his candidacy also included the announcement of “more incidents” to come. Note there is no platform, team, volunteers.
Now focus on the campaign as the second stage as a two-part event; the first being the private, digital exposure; the second being the public, personal exposure—the largest of its kind in history, within a public crucible that heightens the exposure, contact and exuberant feeling—even as the polls drop.
His running for mayor is a part of the earlier event, a vehicle for widening the data and getting the feedback so craved; a continuum of the risk-taking exposure morphed and zoomed to the biggest possible public stage—the ultimate danger, the non-repeatable, once-in-a-lifetime thrill, driven not by plan but impulse that laid out the order for it to fall into place.
It’s not for politics that he will not let go. It’s for the same reason he sent the pictures; for him it’s the same thrill/danger/defiant compulsion, larger, grander, a public naughty.
Notice it doesn’t bother him in the least.
Built on denial and blame, the GOP relies by intention and instinct on paradox. Theirs is a cultural strategy that relies on built-in paradoxes leveraged by misdirection, framed around denial, resolved by cognitive dissonance and the plausibility of blame.
Slavery is among the biggest of America’s historic paradoxes and is used to leverage racism and disenfranchisement today.
I see a neat match between our current place and the landed gentry who decided selling human beings from auction blocks was a capital idea—after trading with corrupt leaders for their capture, and disposing of those who died en route by dumping the bodies into the sea as great whites tore the flesh off the falling bones. Nothing defined America’s political parties, inside and outside, the rich and poor, and the common collective consciousness, its “governance,” like weekly arriving barks and schooners of Africans. Law, will and make-believe turned them into a half-million enslaved. Continue reading More Race and Sex
Students of astrology have long known about the retrograde function of planets, but we ignore its presence in politics. Increasingly, progress in America’s politics points to retrograde functions on both sides of the aisle.
For Republicans, it’s cuts, returns, and a retro-vision that becomes regressive, a serious intent to curtail the expansion of protections for women, restrictions on voting, increased hunger, decreased wages and jobs, and to place profit above all else, including competition, cooperation and quality of life.
When Apple is holding cash on hand, an unfettered sum greater than the GNP output of 140 nations–that puts Apple in the top 50 countries in the world–profit and its spun-off cash (not federal debt!) is crowding out economic growth and job creation, in the US and abroad.
For Democrats, it’s a series of fixes that hand out corporate welfare. It’s revisiting social programs with tweaks, patches and amended authority that offer a backdoor to special interests.
Recently the Senate, including the majority of Democrats, voted on budget guidance and recommended the removal of the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. The industry opposes the tax. Consumers will see no direct impact. But it matters to the industry; the multiplier in real numbers represents $30 billion over the next 10 years. It also matters to the budget, which would face a $30 billion hole.
Both sides of retrograde politics are being used in the attacks on the IRS. If a group is named Tea Party, associated with a historic act of civil disobedience to protest and refuse to play taxes, is it unreasonable or conspiratorial to review the applications of such groups as non-profits–especially when donations to these 501(c)(4) groups are not tax-deductible–but allow donors to remain secret? Is it dark thinking to suggest that dark money might be behind the sudden profusion of these groups, numbered among the 1,751 applications the IRS received in 2010.
So in hindsight, the term “scandal” is being applied to a incident in retrograde. For Republicans, it’s the idea that any government review or regulation is intrusive, an abridgment of freedom, the loss of democracy, a death peal of the Founders’ intent. This reverse osmosis removes all of the benefits to the public good and social order and creates an imbalance of power and wealth to which the Founders (some!) would have been inextricably opposed. But dead men make no objections. Continue reading Retrograde Anomalies
In the televised debate Monday night for South Carolina’s US House seat in District 1, Mark Sanford compared himself to Bill Clinton. Huh? Yep. The House’s most conservative Republican former member found common ground with the former Democratic president. You already know it was not an act of statesmanship. Clinton and Sanford were fallen, pushed by demons and desires into sin. Clinton looked to God for redemption. Mark Sanford turned to Bill Clinton.
Since Sanford brought it up, their sins and failings warrant a comparison, especially when a Republican in a Republican district evokes Bill Clinton as his politician savior. Is this a new thesis of mercy or an invitation to temptation? Their crimes do share elements both wide and narrow.
Narrow, as both had hot scandals. Both lied and were caught, both were in the public eye. Both had affairs. After that, the connection breaks down.
Clinton remains married. His wife is our former Secretary of State. Sanford chose divorce. He is engaged (but not yet married!) to the Argentinian woman with whom he had the affair. Clinton never ran again for public office. Sanford, who fervently supported and then broke self-imposed term limits, wants another chance. Clinton was not fined for the private use of government property. He avoided successful impeachment as the first President for whom the bill of high crime (and misdemeanors!) involved oral sex (it really is sex!). His high crime was lying about his risk-taking; his DNA was saved on a dress!
Sanford instead poetically proclaimed his love at a press conference when he returned from a week’s absence on Father’s Day weekend and asked his wife for an open marriage. He repeatedly confuses and commingles his private and public selves. Voting no on every spending bill and twice on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), he slickly slashed through his own fiscal barriers to fund his impulses and lasciviousness. He flew on his public credit card, in state planes.
His hand in the public till, he jetted off on taxpayers’ money. Eventually, he paid it back. But strange behavior for a man who spent his time in Congress sleeping on a couch and once gave his wife a $25 used bicycle as a combined Christmas and birthday gift! The man who slept on an office cot and voted against every budget took a state plane to get a haircut!
A wide comparison creates more stark differences between Clinton and Sanford. Clinton created 21 million jobs in eight years in office; in four years, South Carolina, with Sanford as its executive, lost 98,000 jobs, with a Republican in the White House. His current priority? In a state in the bottom five of employment, cutting the federal budget.
His claim of attracting Boeing is debunked by a well verified story that state leaders convinced Boeing that legislative support was more important than the governor’s endorsement when they were spooked and on the verge of pulling out because of Sanford’s weird behavior.
Since Sanford initiated a comparison with a Democrat in order to claim the privilege of forgiveness and equal treatment, principles he voted against and failed to fund, another comparison might be effective with a scandal-driven Democratic politician, one who sought and successfully achieved a return to public office—Washington, DC’s former mayor, Marion Barry.
First, I have met Marion Barry and Mark Sanford, and lived in cities and districts where they were elected to govern and procure progress. I have looked closely at the policies of both men and seen them on the campaign stump. Through their period of travails, I have witnessed their efforts at political comebacks. I have seen them put themselves before voters to judge not only policies and promises, but their penalties and crimes.
Marion went to jail. Mark paid $74,000 in fines. Both lost wives. But both are confident, handsome and resilient. Both are polarizing figures, with detractors and supporters. But Mark Sanford is no Marion Barry. He’s worse!
Here’s why: Politics comes down to service, money, and rights.
Mark Sanford, in his service as governor, once walked into the South Carolina State House, carrying a pig under each arm; he named them Pork and Barrel. Termed “an ill thought-out display,” deemed by the Republican Speaker “beneath the dignity of the Governor’s office,” the legislature, controlled by his own party, then promptly overturned, with bipartisan support, 100 of the 106 items he vetoed in the budget. He got his way with six.
This describes Sanford’s duty of service: sleep in his office, sleep with his fiance, proudly turn down stimulus money. And he also touts charter school reforms, including a statewide district, a reorganization of the Department of Motor Vehicles, cutting wait times, restructuring the state’s Department of Transportation, and tort reform. Jobs, wages and health, environmental protection, higher education don’t appear anywhere in his Sanford Seven.
In Congress, he wanted to reform Social Security, a program with a $2.7 trillion surplus (it added $69 billion this year!) and the lowest overhead and administrative costs of any private or public program for income security. He called it “putting tax payers first.” Really?
So he’s known for a little theater, a big temptation to tinker with public money, shorter waits for driver’s licenses, and running around the district this election with new props: cut-outs of Nancy Pelosi and waving hundred dollar bills, claiming this election is being bought—after the Republican National Committee withdrew his funding when it emerged that after repeated warnings, he was charged with trespassing at his ex-wife’s house!
“I had to make the call,” he says in his second explanation of the incident. It was Super Bowl Sunday and his wife wasn’t back yet to receive their 14-year-old son. Enter Mark.
I’m divorced. My daughter always had a key to her mother’s house. But my ex-wife never found me inside. The way you handle custody exchanges is not to enter each other’s dwellings. If the exchange or pickup is missed, you leave a message. It’s simple. “I have the child. You weren’t home yet. Contact me on what you want to do.” You reset. You don’t “make the call” to enter with ease. And then try for the moral high ground in a political ad, under the cover of great parenting skills. (Remember when Sanford was missing on Father’s Day? A time zone away? Out of touch?)
What could have been handled with a phone call or text message (Sanford lived 20 minutes away!) instead led to a full-page campaign ad to spin a clear error in judgment that millions of divorced parents make daily about custody. It also blames the media. It’s arithmetic; his errors multiply.
But what sets Mark Sanford aside from Marion Barry is his unabashed opposition to the dredging of Charleston’s harbor. Charleston ranks three or four in the nation’s busiest harbors, higher than New Orleans, Galveston, Mobile and West Coast ports. Moreover, it has an efficient connecting infrastructure of roads, warehouses and personnel skilled at trade, whose long arms affect the nation. $13 trillion worth of goods are imported through Charleston; $12 trillion are exported. The jobs, income, and multipliers are enormous. Continue reading Mark Sanford Is No Marion Barry. He’s Worse!
My first college course in anthropology instilled in me a profound appreciation for best practices. It’s been a personal mission to uncover the best ideas and chart how they work, identifying their structures and functions. One discovery has been that even bad ideas can work well. It sounds strange, but the success of an idea often has nothing to do with its truth or level of insight. Its power and influence has more to do with its context and how it functions with other assumptions and tasks.
We would all prefer strong ideas that work well. Alaska’s Iditarod grips my imagination most winters, more than the State of the Union. The long distance grit of lead dogs Andy, Larry, and Granite guiding teams through 50-50-50s—winds 50 miles an hour, temperatures 50 degrees below, with visibility less than 50 feet—across wilderness and glaciers is a test of endurance rarely seen in politics. And the Iditarod offers equal opportunity. Susan Butcher won three in a row and four out of five between 1986 and 1990, and once had two dogs killed mid-race by a pregnant moose.
Last night’s State of the Union had Speaker Boehner making pregnant moose faces; his uncomfortableness with the President’s proposals was obvious—but was it a bad idea that served, from Boehner’s view, a good intent? Did it function to keep the GOP brand alive, apart from the pockets of craziness where they are winning elections, winning not really based on their platform of budgets (most states have laws that require balanced budgets), but more on hot button issues like immigration and race, or winning in one-party states out west?
The President, often criticized as a poor team player, continued to prove he is an effective leader (Susan Butcher’s dog Granite suffered from the same criticism!) with good ideas. He has also proven he can outrun the lumbering herds of opponents who have not adapted to the new environment and are using outmoded best practices.
The silent test of last night’s State of the Union was to outflank Ronald Reagan. Even President Obama has described Reagan as someone who reset the arc in America’s politics. Yet we forget the circumstances of that reset. Reagan created the meme that all of the problems of society were created by government excess. But what were the problems?
Women pushing for access to opportunity and self-determination, blacks refusing to be exploited, physically intimidated or discriminated against; massive resistance to corporate interests; food purchased from the bins of co-ops rather than on sale in plastic packages and cans stocked by chains. Reagan realized that the government protected those actions and had played a major part in expanding these rights. He coined the idea that government “created” these problems and caused the disturbing sight of school kids being bused and women deciding about pregnancy, and colleges graduating more critical thinkers who challenged the system and the status quo. The government didn’t reflect the will of the people, the people reflected the will of the now all-powerful government. But without the help of government, the gains of the people probably couldn’t be sustained.
In Reagan’s view, stop government, stop the advance of the people. He couldn’t sell an attack against the people—couldn’t demagogue blacks, women, youth as the problem (which for conservatives, they were!)—so he brilliantly assigned blame to government and used exaggerated stereotypes to knock it down. The welfare queen and other non-existent stories were repeated until the bad idea of government’s bad ideas became the Republican best practice for winning elections. Even Reagan’s ideology of cutting taxes to provide greater wealth to the rich didn’t happen during his administration, but the idea survived and is the basis of Republican policy today.
Despite widespread thinking that liberalism (again a code word for blacks, women and youth, packaged as “growing government”) was dead, Barack Obama somehow made it through and revived it in his first term. No matter; the new GOP plan was to blame his success and go after the old groups with a vengeance. If the stimulus succeeded, blame Obama for its size. If the economy recovered, blame entitlements, loudly arguing it could be even better without them. Turn obstruction into patriotism. Sprinkle the discussion with a little of the sour sickness of race—always heretofore cured by blaming the victim. Continue reading A State of the Union Address Filled with Common Sense
Mitt Romney’s latest ploy is to pretend he is Barack Obama. For the past month, he has tried to walk in the President’s footsteps, in a brazen attempt to broaden his appeal. That ploy is a word-thin disguise to attract undecided voters and disgruntled Democrats to his radical-right positions on health, taxes, and women’s rights that these groups would normally reject.
If America accepts such a naked, transparent deceit, it has become an abuse victim, a country willing to ignore reality, past history and bad decisions, to willingly put itself at-risk by embracing all the wrong done in the name of a love for America. What kind of people try to stop the abuse by reuniting with its perpetrators? Especially when the threats to safety and security never stopped, but in the classic fashion of abusers, have increased, becoming more distorted, domineering and shrill?
In fact, Romney wants to deny the abuse and put it on Obama, the blame-shifting that is the hallmark of dysfunction. Fault is always on somebody else. The interior narrative goes, “My errors, of which there are none, were made in good faith. Can’t you see my desire and devotion? And I have to be this way because of what happened.” Abusers rearrange the details of history to fit a narrative of good and evil that distorts and conceals truth and freedom. So the slaps and screams, the seething anger, the spontaneous rage, the stripping away of dignity, the shredding of self-worth, the putdowns and retorts, the demeaning language breaks the victim’s will.
Some in America have brought into the blame-shift. Victims beget victims. Their experience of abuse becomes a template. It recreates itself and perpetuates itself when it hits a tipping point. I have seen this with inner city crack epidemics in eastern cities; an out of control dysfunctionalism that altered the social fabric and changed the arc of success put in place by previous generations. I can tell you that healthy common sense is hard to recover for people conditioned to thinking abuse is a way of life. Continue reading Abuse Is Always in the Name of Love
An Open Letter to George Will:
RE your latest embarrassing journalistic endeavor:
Since the launch of Romney’s disastrous campaign, I have been greatly amused by the lengths to which Republicans have gone to explain why Obama is ahead in the polls. I’ve seen every excuse from that damned (albeit non-existent) librul media viciously attacking poor Mitt, to his not yet having hit his stride – which, according to the GOP, will happen any day now.
And now you’ve come up with this:
“… the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president.”
In bygone days, I would have described the proffering of this theory as the bottom of the barrel having been officially scraped. But given what I’ve heard from GOPers over the past few months, I realize that barrel has become not only a bottomless pit which Republicans continue to mine for the most ridiculous reasons for the failures of their candidate and party, but a veritable cesspool from which to draw stench-imbued mud to fling at their opponents.
“That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up.”
One does not require sensitive olfactory receptors to smell the racism, Mr. Will. Its offensive odor has permeated the political air since the current President of the United States had the uppitiness to run for the highest office in the land, and those of us who have come to “judge a man not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character” enthusiastically elected him to that position.
The Republican propagandists have been out in full force of late, Mr. Will, sounding their dog-whistles in hopes of rilin’ up the good ol’ boys enough to get them to oust that colored fella from the White House come November. And I see you lost no time jumping on that bandwagon – but then you undoubtedly felt compelled to. When you are attempting to shore up a party that has become a magnet for racists and bigots, you have no choice but to appeal to the intellectually-challenged knuckle-draggers who will vote for Romney on the basis of his being white, without regard to anything of more import.
Throughout his presidency to date, Obama has been disrespected by your party members in ways they would never disrespect a white president. And they’ve done so without fear of political consequences, secure in the knowledge that the majority of their fellow Republicans are in complete agreement with the idea that a black man is simply undeserving of the same respect.
When was the last time you heard a Democrat yell “You lie!” at a Republican president during a SOTU speech – even when Dubya was clearly lying when he spoke about WMDs in Iraq? When was the last time you saw a Democrat ranting about a candidate’s adherence to a “radical form of Christianity” – even though Romney’s Mormonism is considered by many as a radical unChristian cult? When was the last time you read an article by a Democrat insinuating that a GOP candidate’s mother was a whore who starred in porn flicks, or that his children were the product of his wife’s rampant promiscuity? Indeed, when was the last time you heard a Democrat describe a sitting Republican president as a “pin-up”?
Despite the vitriol that exists between the parties, Mr. Will, there are certain lines that everyone has traditionally accepted as not to be crossed – lines that seem to have disappeared the minute a black man was inaugurated.
In a rare moment of candor, Lindsay Graham recently summed things up rather succinctly: “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long-term.”
Tell me, sir, how one needs an extraordinary sense of smell to detect the racism in that comment, and how the notion that your party is dependent on keeping white folks pissed-off enough to vote against blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other non-whites is not the obvious message. The term used is “angry white guys.” Why was it not “angry Republicans” or “angry conservatives”? We both know the answer to that question, don’t we?
In case you’ve been living in a cave, Mr. Will (which I often suspect you do), let me introduce you to your party:
Your party is Rush Limbaugh, who called Obama a “half-frican American” and an “affirmative action candidate.” It is lunatics like Orly Taitz & The Birthers, who would never question the citizenship of a white president. It’s the people who spray-paint “Obama is lyin’ nigger” in public places. It is people who carry “Go back to Kenya!” placards at political rallies. It’s the guy who hung Obama in effigy on his front lawn, eerily reminiscent of photos of blacks who were lynched for attempting to vote in the south.
It is people who continue to promote the stereotype of blacks being the majority of welfare and food stamp recipients, despite the statistics that disprove this notion. It is George Allen’s “macaca moment,” it’s the New Jersey first-grade teacher who referred to her black students as “future criminals” on her blog, it’s the people who proudly affix “Don’t Re-NIG in 2012” bumper-stickers to their cars.
These are your people, sir – and if they weren’t recognized as such by your party, you and your fellow Republicans wouldn’t be pandering to their racism in a desperate attempt to break the colored fella’s hold over guilt-driven white folks reluctant to see their favorite “pin-up” replaced.
It is not just your candidate that stinks, sir – it is your entire party, whose base now consists of illiterate Teabaggers, religious fanatics, Muslim-hating extremists, and delusional dumb-asses who spend their lives parked in front of Fox News, absorbing the drivel spewed by people just like you. Continue reading The Great WHITE Hope
Milt Romney’s campaign reveals three phrases. First: “failed,” which labeled every idea, action, and presidential step as wrong. Second: “blame,” which faulted micro-community trends and global, macro-trends as Obama’s mistakes. The third and current: “doubt,” which assesses Obama’s body of work (policy, personal character) as inadequate and intolerable. “Failed” delivered body blows during the primaries and after; “blame” launched before the NCAAP speech and continued to the convention. “Doubt” now deepens (“He’s a good man,” “he just doesn’t get it.”) and opens the door to failure and blame to conclude that Obama is (no doubt!) irretrievable.
Anger, fear, and disgust are the three top notes of the Romney campaign, but fail, blame, and doubt give the campaign a sophisticated emotional strategy, a multi-tiered series of complex steps to channel outrage and hostility into exuberance against President Obama and votes for Romney.
Analysts missed these subtle but powerful changes of tone and direction, especially the introduction of doubt, with its list of lies as evidence that enables hate to be embedded in the open. Why doubt now? Doubt is civil but deadly. “I doubt” sounds more humane than “I hate.” Doubt is the transformative stage, the call for action, an emotion of assessment and judgement. Doubt casts its shadow on the future, is put forth as the decision paradigm. It appeals to all with rigid or mixed feelings about Obama.
The President’s response, which is to ignore the attacks by discussing America’s future, rightly points out that unless we go forward, nothing will change. In fact, matters will get worse–especially if we accept an appeal to our worst instincts. Three things any elder can tell you about living: rough patches in life occur without being anybody’s fault and with little you can do except weather the storm until conditions change; look high and low before you abandon a search; and you can’t pour corn from an empty sack.
It’s evident as Democrats stretch the helping hand to every hamlet, building a community that Old and New Testament standard bearers and others of faith can embrace, the GOP rejects its path of history, tradition and progress, pointing out on social media that 150 years ago, Democrats were like modern Republicans, xenophobic, biased, restrictive, hungry for power and eager to subjugate others by gender, color, preference, and stereotypes. It is amazing that a 150 year-old bridge of bias is still alive and thriving. Having changed parties and mutated into a more virulent strain, it has new food: the budget. Debt, deficits. Disasters. The new shape of the old distrust.
And when the numbers don’t add up, Romney-Ryan add in the old social values, amplifying the threats lampooned in Reconstruction cartoons: party and privilege are more important than the people, encouraging decline and decay within the heart; putting forth that some don’t measure up and never will, danger lurks. They say: stupid can’t be fixed with hope.
Democracy’s nemesis is fear, not dictatorial force. Herd fear, ridicule its “failure,” pretend government is a shopping spree. But spend billions to amplify its dread as media, once the watchdog, loops its clips, saying only, “wow.” Wow.
Large and small, this election will measure a direction for tomorrow’s America. The Republicans seem interested in a last stand. When power and privilege, as they see it, is returned to the right hands and protected from those who would share it with others in a national shopping spree. Democrats see it as a step forward, a means of touching many hands and preserving the tried paths that bring progress and prosperity, education and health care. Continue reading Doubt and Absent Details