Author Archives: Nunzia Rider

Eye on Newt

Newt Gingrich is the perfect Republican.

I’m serious. He is the consumate Tea Partier, and that, my friends, is where the Republican heart lies these days.

No more is it with the spiffy country club types who drink to excess behind closed doors and have private affairs so they can publicly criticize everyone else. Oh no. The New Republican is rough and tough and arrogant and doesn’t give a fuck about you or me or anyone else just as long as he gets his hands on The Power.

That’s Newt. He’s found the conservative populist message that could take him to the nomination — or at the very least he’ll be the guy at the top of the short list for absolute monarch when the southern states try to secede again.

Think about it. There’s a huge split in the Republican Party that they don’t like to talk about. There are those rich dandies, the monied monsters who have been grooming Mitt Romney to take over for years now. They’ve been successful thus far at co-opting the ignorant masses. But here comes Newt, and he’s learned how to speak to ignorance.

What ignorant Republican doesn’t love an arrogant asshole with as much disdain for the press, the poor, Democrats, liberals, women, blacks and gays as they have?

What “patriotic” Republican doesn’t love an belligerent jackass who believes, as they do, that America is the Promised Land and everybody else is subhuman?

Seriously. Take the suit and tie off Newt and put him in a flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off and dirty jeans with a CAT cap and steel toed boots and you got every white guy in South Carolina who doesn’t make $40,000 a year. And there are a lot of those. South Carolina — the state that ranks dead last in education, even below Mississippi.

It’s why Newt harps on “the elites” all the time. “The elite media.” “The elite liberals.” Even though Newt himself reported $3 million income last year — where I come from, that’s pretty damned “elite.”

We’ve all wondered why those not-elite types always vote against their own interests and keep sending Republicans back to Congress or state houses or wherever. Newt has stripped the nice veneer off and shown us exactly why.

The day of the dog whistle is over, my friends. Calling Obama a “food stamp president” isn’t a dog whistle, ladies and gentlemen. It’s racist bullshit.

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And there it is. Newt is the alpha male, the man’s man. Three wives, baby, each one better looking than the last. Doesn’t matter that he ditched the other two only after they got sick — what real man wants to have to deal with that? And this is South Carolina, baby. The state that didn’t bat an eye when Mark Sanford did the light fantastic down the Appalachian trail, all the way to Argentina.

Don’t let ‘em try to tell you it had nothing to do with Mitt Romney’s religion either. There is no way in hell them South Carolina boys are gonna vote for a Mormon. They ain’t even Christian. So while the polls have a majority saying that Mitt’s Mormon religion didn’t make a difference, I can tell you right now they lied about that, and here’s why:

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Yup. They’ll tell you a candidate being a Mormon don’t make a difference, and then they’ll turn around and tell you it’s important that a candidate share their values, their religious beliefs.

Used to be that Catholicism had the same stigma Mormons have now, back in the day. But no more. Catholics aren’t liberals anymore, and you can thank their stand on abortion for that. Oh, and same sex marriage. So Newt’s conversion works in his favor.

Yeah, Santorum’s a Catholic, religious fanatic too, but he isn’t mean like Newt. Today’s Republicans want mean. Ron Paul could almost fill the bill, but he doesn’t like war, likes marijuana and sounds like Mike Tyson while looking more like Ross Perot.

Gingrich owns the religious vote. He goes on and on about “anti-Christian” bigotry, as if a country in which more than 80 percent of its citizens are Christian could actually do that. But the ignorant masses firmly believe it. They believe it because THEIR values — the values they believe are the only purely American values — are under attack by a lenient, godless, liberal elite. And Newt tells them they’re right.

He’s got the lingo down. Elites in New York and Washington. Bows to Saudi king. Food stamps. Teleprompter. Extremists. Radicals. Saul Alinsky. Common sense conservative. European socialists. Ronald Reagan. Liberal media. Jimmy Carter.

He plays to the hate, blatantly.

Newt. He’s THE MAN. He is THE NOT-ROMNEY. And if the Republicans aren’t careful, he’ll be THE NOMINEE.

Good luck with that one. And do be careful what you wish for.

 

This is not what a police state looks like

Back in my early days, when I was a queer journalist in the queer press, I was even a bit queer for the queers. I ran into all kinda trouble all the time because I just wouldn’t take what somebody said to me as the gospel truth simply because they, like me, happened to be gay.

Call me crazy, but it just seemed to me that being gay had nothing to do with one’s ability to tell the truth, or, more to the point, to understand what the truth is. Sometimes, man, you’re fired from your job because you suck at it or you’re so obnoxious nobody wants to work with you, not because you’re gay.

Now, as in the case of Cheryl Summerville and Cracker Barrel, back in the day, sometimes we have what we call an open and shut case. Summerville’s manager actually wrote on her termination slip that she violated company policy because she was gay. OK, now that’s pretty obvious. Sometimes it’s not so obvious. But when somebody comes to me and says “Such and such company fired me because I’m gay,” the first thing I’ll do is ask, “How do you know?” And if that somebody doesn’t hand me a pink slip a la Cheryl Summerville, then I’m gonna have to do some investigating.

It’s not that I don’t trust you … oh hell, it is because I don’t trust you. I don’t trust anybody. I’m a journalist, for christ’s sake. I’m not supposed to trust anybody.

So when I see Occupiers marching down the street chanting “This is what a police state looks like” because the cops are making them march on the sidewalk instead of the street, I groan a little bit. For the record, THIS is what a police state looks like:

Now, that first night in Oakland looked a lot like this, especially when the idiot cops shot tear gas cannisters into a group of protesters trying to help a former Marine who’d been wounded. But that behavior got plenty of condemnation, and hasn’t been repeated to that extent. A little pepper spray? Inappropriate, yes, but good lord people, this guy was shot in the face with a tear gas cannister, from the back of an army vehicle, distance just a few yards. He died.

Really a far cry from what most Occupiers have had to put up with, not to say that police haven’t been out of line. They have. Municipal leaders have been utterly stupid, ordering cops to break up these protests. It’s not looked good for them, but it’s not looked like Egypt and the Palestinian territories.

And as if that’s not enough, we also have third tier “journalists” (and others) whining that they’re being censored on Twitter, apparently not understanding that when one floods the timelines with the same hashtags over and over, spam-catching robots will suspend the account. Same type people claim YouTube is doing the same thing by vanquishing things lik, oh, Occupy videos, although I can tell you from my own experience — I regularly monitor these things in my actual job — that I can find any Tweet and any video, not censored unless it violates terms of service — like, you know, copyright violations — any time. Twitter and YouTube don’t have the manpower or the inclination to play those stupid games. They’re run by software, which actually can screw up and require a human to do something like de-suspend accounts.

But even the people who live in an actual police state aren’t immune to getting carried away, as if the truth isn’t bad enough. In the first video up there, a woman is brutally beaten and kicked, along with a male protester. When this photo was released, protesters seized on it to claim the soldiers sexually assaulted her. If they did, the video didn’t show it, unless it’s a cultural thing — she was wearing a hajib, and she was uncovered in the course of the soldiers dragging her around. But they also tried to cover her back up. Doesn’t excuse the savagery with which they beat and stomped her, and seriously, that’s enough. That isn’t how an army should treat its own people.

Which brings me to the National Defense Authorization Act. My, but the Twitterers have gone apeshit over this bill, which pretty much sucks. It enshrines Bush policies of indefinite detention and other such unconstitutional behavior toward terrorist suspects. But unlike what you’ve been told by those Twitterers, it does not authorize the military to indefinitely detain American citizens. Quite the contrary. It specifically exempts Americans from such bullshit.

In fact, it does not change current law one iota.

You’re safe, Occupiers.

Do we need to maintain diligence to prevent the complete destruction of our liberties? Hell, yes.

But far be it for some of our more, shall we say, excitable progressives to acknowledge that fact. Instead, they’re all about how they’re not gonna vote for Obama because he’s gonna sign the bill and allow the military to come in and arrest American protesters and hold them in Gitmo until the cows come home.

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I won’t pretend to say I know why they’re doing this. And yes, I would have liked to see a Democratic president undo the nonsense that George W. Bush foisted upon us. But frankly, we don’t live in an atmosphere that would allow that right now. Can you imagine the House ever agreeing to such a thing? The Senate, where a Republican minority prevents a vote on any bill they don’t like, which is anything Obama supports?

Not gonna happen, my friends. This is what we like call “reality.” And baby, it sucks. Big time. And still so called progressives would rather rip apart each other than focus on the real political problem we have, and that is simply this: There aren’t enough of us yet to affect the change we need. And that’s really, really frightening. If we don’t get those changes soon, we’re not gonna like where we end up.

But we’re gonna end up there as long as we waste all this time and energy denegrating the people who still have a shred, small as it may be, amount of decency left in their tiny little money-sucking hearts and let the real bad guys off scot free.

Here’s a crazy idea: Forget politics. It’s hopeless. Seek out people instead. Real people. Not rich assholes caught up in a permanent and continuous re-election cycle. Talk to the people, the American people. The ones who vote for those dicks. The ones who wouldn’t vote for those dicks if they really understood what’s going on.

And stop whining about the media. The media is just a mirror, and a cracked one at that. That’s why we get distorted news, warped messages and incomplete ideas. Teach the people not to rely on it. Teach the people to think for themselves. When they do, then we’ll see change.

And for god’s sake, be real. And pay attention, really close attention.

Take Bradley Manning, for example. He’s the guy accused of leaking all those cables to Wikileaks. His defense? He has gender identity disorder, and it affected his judgement. But what do I see out in Twitter-land? That it’s the government blaming it on his orientation. No, folks. It’s not. It’s his defense attorneys.

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Seriously, it’s bad enough out there without having to try to make it look worse. We lose credibility when that happens.

And without credibility, we have nothing.

Historical ignorance

You already know this, but the Tea Party nuts et al, and I include Ron Paul as chief among them though he’s not a tea partier per se, have no fucking clue what they’re talking about. The raise the mighty specter of the Founders for damn near everything. Or the Constitution, which, as far as they’re concerned, is a closed and static document. Not surprising since they consider the bible in the same light. The King James version, of course, from the 17th century, as if the damn thing sprung forth whole and in English at that time.

Ron Paul, for example, opined about Wednesday’s recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board to ban non-emergency phone calls and texting. Sayeth Dr. Paul,

I was thinking about that because it was in the news today. So I went to the Constitution and I looked at Article 1, Section 8. There is nothing in there about telephones. “Then I thought, ‘Well there is nothing in there about what you can do and can’t do when you are driving in a horse and buggy either.’

But did that second thought bring some sense into Paul’s head? Oh, no. He just used it for his contention that the federal government shouldn’t be regulating anything at all, that it should just be a free-for-all here on planet earth.

We know how well that’s worked out so far.

As for the Founders, well, just take a look at the bozos in colonial get-ups pretending they’re the direct descendants of the Boston Tea Party, which, in fact, was a protest against corporation getting special treatment by the English government. Got that one backwards, morons.

And they’re all up in arms to make the military bigger, to strengthen “national security,” even if it means taking liberties with our liberties, which will be just fine as long as it’s Occupiers and the like having their liberties infringed upon and not them. And that, it seems to me, goes directly against the Constitution.

The Founders themselves got that idea. Here’s Ben Franklin:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Hey, I’m down with that. But even George Washington, who was, you know, like the first president and the general who earned us our independence from England, wasn’t keen on all that military and national security crap either. Says he,

Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty.

I know, that one probably uses too many big words for some of the more unenlightened among us to understand. But back then, even the idiots had a better vocabulary, and they weren’t happy with Washington’s positions on liberty either. They accused him of bribery and treason. Sayeth George,

I am accused of being the enemy of America and subject to the influence of a foreign country.

Further, Washington said, he was under near constant attack by the idiocracy. His enemies, he said, portrayed him in “indecent terms” that could barely compare “to a common pickpocket.”

Sound familiar? Now, “common pickpocket” isn’t such a broad smear these days since bankers have been getting away with it for decades with the blessings of the Republican party and some Democrats. But back in the day, when the general attitude was more civilized and less honest, that was a very bad thing indeed.

Now, it’s true that Thomas Jefferson wrote that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” but he had in mind actual tyrants and actual patriots, not the play variety with false accusations.

Jefferson also had a few other things to say about liberty. Like

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

and

It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.

and of course

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.

I don’t know about you, but that seems awfully clear to me. Looking a few more of the Founders positions sort of makes the cafeteria-style picking and choosing that conservatives employ look a little, well, cherry-picked.

The man who wrote the book on liberty, Thomas Paine, was pretty adamant too.

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

Take that, Gitmo.

And just for fun, here’s a little note from James Monroe:

To impose taxes when the public exigencies require them is an obligation of the most sacred character, especially with a free people.

Used to be that Americans understood their history, or at least the part about how and why we became a country. I can show you things Andy Jackson, that son of a bitch, said about liberty and equal rights and such, but the bastard only applied those to white people and certainly not those the Europeans stole the place from. And of course the Founders themselves saw fit to make slaves 3/5th of a person. And women? Not mentioned in the Constitution either, I’m afraid.

The point is that the Founders weren’t perfect, and neither was the Constitution. But the Founders were smart enough to realize that and set it all up so laws could be written, regulations could be established and even the Constitution itself could be changed, although that’s a tad hard to do until enough Americans evolve into sanity on whatever the issue is. Barack Obama:

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

Ah, politics. Such a load of crap, dontcha think? There’s the news this week that Obama has decided he will, in fact, sign the defense authorization act, which supposedly includes passages that would make indefinite detentions of American citizens a reality. At least that’s what all my lefty Twitterers are saying. Me, I haven’t read the bill, and I doubt they have either. I’m not saying it isn’t true, mind you. I am saying we don’t know until we read the damn thing. Rep. Adam Smith has read it. In fact, he worked on it. Read what he has to say about indefinite detentions of Americans here.

Whatever the truth of the text, Obama withdrew his veto threat because they came up with some “softer” language on detentions and a couple of other things. But I’m seeing all these lefties swear they’ll never vote for Obama now.

Is that wise? Isn’t that how we got eight years of George W. Bush? Do we really want to elect Newt Gingrich? Or some other nutcase who has yet to appear on the horizon? I don’t think Sick Rantorum has had his time in the front-runner’s position yet. OK, so maybe Republicans could come to their senses and nominate Huntsman or Johnson or somebody else who hasn’t succumbed to brain rot. But don’t hold your breath.

And don’t give me any bullshit about how we need a viable third party. This isn’t the 19th century when that worked. Or actually didn’t, when you look at the history. I’m afraid I’m with the general on this one. George Washington opposed parties, period.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

Again, probably too many big words. But here’s the gist: Parties are a bad thing because they tend to create a slavish loyalty not to the country or the people but to the party. That shouldn’t be allowed to happen, but since we already have parties, we’re gonna have to really be on guard to keep the parties’ natural tendencies from engulfing us.

Oops, too late. We failed on the “uniform vigilance” thing.

The Founders, they may have done and said some stupid things, but they were sure right about what it would take to maintain the liberty they fought for. And we have let them down.

War and money

Some things I just do not understand. OK, I don’t understand a lot these days. I try, I really do. But it takes so much effort to understand why people cannot see what is perfectly clear to me.

On Wednesday, for example, GOP senators unveiled their new tax plan. They’ve dropped their objection to the payroll tax cut extension, but they’re still holding firm on their opposition to taxing the people who can actually afford it. But they’ve got a plan, they do, to pay for that extension, and here it is:

New “class war” battlefield: instead of taxing millionaires, Senate GOP would strip their eligibility for unemployment comp, food stampsWed Nov 30 22:23:31 via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Whoa. Now that’s just a terrific plan. The other part of the plan is to “allow” the filthy rich to “voluntarily” give some of their hard earned cash to the government.

Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

Just makes me want to pull out my hair. And then I remember that I’m not going to understand it because I just don’t think like that. I think that as human beings we should be in the business of helping each other, not making a profit. I think that if one of us is oppressed or bullied or stigmatized or ostracized or hated or hunted or killed then we all are. I think that money is an artificial construct that causes more problems than it solves, especially the way we handle it — treating it as if it has value in and of itself instead of its original intent, to make exchange and barter a little easier. And I think that excessive amounts of money in the hands of a tiny few is insane.

Call me crazy. You won’t be the first.

But here’s something I’m not crazy about. War is illegal. It’s true. The United States and several other countries made it illegal in 1929. Seriously. I kid you not. Of course, since then, we and those other countries have worked hard to make it only “aggressive” war that’s illegal, but that’s not what the Kellog-Briand Pact says. Also known as the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War and the World Peace Act, here’s what it says:

ARTICLE I

The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

ARTICLE II

The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.

ARTICLE III

The present Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties named in the Preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited at Washington.

This Treaty shall, when it has come into effect as prescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long as may be necessary for adherence by all the other Powers of the world. Every instrument evidencing the adherence of a Power shall be deposited at Washington and the Treaty shall immediately upon such deposit become effective as; between the Power thus adhering and the other Powers parties hereto.

It shall be the duty of the Government of the United States to furnish each Government named in the Preamble and every Government subsequently adhering to this Treaty with a certified copy of the Treaty and of every instrument of ratification or adherence. It shall also be the duty of the Government of the United States telegraphically to notify such Governments immediately upon the deposit with it of each instrument of ratification or adherence.

IN FAITH WHEREOF the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed this Treaty in the French and English languages both texts having equal force, and hereunto affix their seals.

DONE at Paris, the twenty seventh day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight.

The signatories “agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.” They “solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.”

Sounds pretty clear to me, but then, as we’ve already established, I don’t seem to think like an awful lot of people. I do seem to think like David Swanson, whose latest book is When the World Outlawed War.

The thinking of the peace movement of the 1920s comes out of a different world, and getting back into it may be difficult for a lot of people. One doorway in, I am hoping, is through realization that a law still on the books outlaws war. While banning war may be unimaginable, war is in fact already banned. Every war since 1929 has been illegal. Every act of war has been illegal.

Laws are, of course, what we make of them. Some laws are forgotten, others expanded to completely alter their meanings. The Bill of Rights now applies to corporations, while the Kellogg-Briand Pact is considered archaic — but that is purely for cultural reasons; the Pact has actually never been repealed.

Creating awareness of a law will not lead to its immediate enforcement, of course, but the Outlawrists of the 1920s didn’t believe they would end war in their lifetimes. They believed that Kellogg-Briand would begin to delegitimize war, to stigmatize it. In fact, after Kellogg-Briand, territorial gains through war were no longer recognized, and following World War II the act of making war was prosecuted as a crime for those on the losing side. But the process of delegitimization of war has stalled and back-tracked. The body of law and the world court that the Outlawrists envisioned have never been attempted. It is time we picked up where they left off.

Back then war could be seen as something that backward Europeans had dragged the United States into, albeit with help from greatly resented propaganda that had been produced by President Woodrow Wilson’s PR team. If you ask someone in the United States if they are for peace today, they may tell you that they like peace but wouldn’t want to oppose wars. Even in the 1920s, the United States was making war in Nicaragua and threatening it in Mexico, but peace was still considered the norm. Then wars were imperialistic or humanitarian or racist, and conceivably avoidable. Now wars are necessary to protect us from evil. In other words, they are defensive. This is a result of the twisted interpretation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact that was used to prosecute Nazis. A treaty intentionally created to avoid banning “aggressive war,” in order to ban all war, was transformed into a ban on aggressive war at Nuremberg. Every war since has had to be “defensive.”

Pro-war attitudes today are not insurmountable. Popular opinion turned against the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars fairly quickly and never got behind the Libyan War nor our various drone wars. But there is a more important difference that you mentioned between the 1920s and today: the rise of the military-industrial complex. It had been around since the Civil War. The Navy was being built up at the same time that the U.S. Senate was ratifying Kellogg-Briand. But the weapons companies were not pulling Congress’s strings in the 1920s. Farmers, who wanted Europeans to buy more corn and less weaponry, had more influence than arms merchants. In addition, congressional districts were smaller, bribery was illegal, newspapers were fairly diverse and credible, television didn’t exist, gerrymandering had not been perfected, and it was common for members of the House and Senate to oppose the positions of their political parties. Women got the vote in 1920. Jim Crow laws prevented many African-Americans from voting, and eighteen to twenty-year-olds still couldn’t vote, but the robber barons didn’t run the whole show — and some of them invested heavily in peace activism.

The deck is stacked against us today, and we know it. Outlawrists in the 1920s didn’t imagine they’d live to see success, but they did believe success would likely come in a future generation, step by step. They believed that outlawing blood feuds and dueling and slavery pointed the way toward outlawing war. They believed in cultural progress, even if it came slowly. So, they happily worked for what they believed to be a just cause, for what William James called “the moral equivalent of war,” and they seemed in my reading to go through fewer cycles of optimism and pessimism than do most activists today. They seemed to exhibit, in fact, less interest in what their cause could do for them than in what they could do for the cause.

Read the rest of what Swanson has to say here, in an interview conducted by Bruce Levine. And think about it.

What if we cut through the bullshit fearmongering of the right and the left, of frightened people who believe that someone, somehow, from somewhere is out to get us and we have to be prepared to stop that from happening? What if we turned the other cheek to those who were out to get us? What if we made it clear that violence of any sort is shameful and wrong?

What if the rich didn’t feel they had to amass huge amounts of money to protect themselves from the rest of us? What if they felt all that excess would create a world in which they didn’t need it to feel good about themselves?

What if, indeed.

Occupy everything

Maybe I was wrong. It’s possible. I’m the first to admit I’m not always right, although I am quite frequently. But this Occupy thing seems to have more legs than I gave it credit for.

Of course, it has those legs because of the utterly stupid response of several mayors and police departments, most notably, and most recently, Oakland.

As I write, New York protesters have just taken New York’s finest on a merry chase through Manhattan, ending up with two groups of protesters, one in Union Square and another back at the occupied Zuccotti Park, which they’ve dubbed Liberty Square. When police arrived at Union Square, the few hundred protesters simply split into several smaller groups, ducking into the subway, leaving the park or simply hanging out together.

And in Oakland, where idiocy ruled Tuesday night when police broke out the tear gas and “non-lethal” projectiles (aka rubber bullets, which are anything but non-lethal), the protesters are back, and so are police.

Oakland’s mayor, Jean Quan, says she doesn’t know who ordered such stupidity, which doesn’t look too good for her, and if she doesn’t, then I wonder if it’s about to happen again. B ut she promised a “low” police presence until she gets it all sorted out.

And someone was using “flash-bangs,” also known as concussive grenades, which emit a bright light and a loud bang to disorient whoever is the target. Oakland police chief Howard Jordan says it wasn’t his guys, and it may not have been. But if that’s the case, then somebody wasn’t doing a very good job of coordinating the efforts.

A former Marine, Scott Olsen, was hit in the head by one of those “non-lethal” rubber bullets. He fell to the street, and within moments, other protesters arrived to help him. But “somebody” — some police officer — tossed a flash-bang into the center of the group. It’s on video, near the end of this KTVU clip.

Olsen, by the way, is in critical but stable condition with a fractured skull.

And that sort of thing, my friends, is what’s going to make a bunch of ragtag protests actually mean something. City governments could have ignored it, kept a small police presence to make sure nothing horrible happened, and eventually Wall Street would have gotten what it wanted and it all would have gone away with nobody paying much attention. Instead, New York started with pepper spray and orange fences. Washington joined in with the pepper spray, and both departments employed some questionable arrests. Denver police, too, got a little heavyhanded. And even Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed, who promised protesters they could stay until November 7, inexplicably changed his mind and sent in the APD just a few hours before the Oakland debacle.

Still, it wasn’t the police state marchers chanted about. Not until Tuesday night in Oakland.

Oh sure, every at every protest there are rumors that the cops are moving in. One day they’re even accurate, when the cops finally do move in. Following the protests on Twitter is an exercise in hyperbole. Until suddenly, like in Oakland, it isn’t.

And that’s why American are taking heed. Because what happened in Oakland isn’t supposed to happen here, not to a bunch of peaceniks beating on bongos and dancing in the streets. Because whatever you think of hippie types, only the most absurd right-wingers really want to punch ‘em.

So, I was wrong. Mostly. I still can’t stand drum circles. And while I much prefer a leaderless society, I have my doubts that it’ll fly in America, at least not for a few more years. And I’m not yet convinced that the old Stiff Records motto — “Money talks. People mumble.” — isn’t still the rule of the day.

But these Occupiers — they’ve got spunk. And unlike the infamous Lou Grant (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” kids, circa 1970 — Google it) I love spunk.

On lifestyles, agendas and recruiting

Ever since the extremists have taken hold of the Republican Party for good, we’ve had a new influx of fear mongering about “the gay agenda.” Hey, I’m down with that. Some of what my fellow queers have in their “to do lists” scares the living daylights outta me, too, although none, that I know of, is hellbent on destroying the institution of marriage or indoctrinating children into the gay lifestyle.

And that’s another annoying thing. The gay “lifestyle.” What the hell is that? As comedian Liz Feldman so aptly put it,

It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage, or, as I like to call it, “marriage.” You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car, I didn’t gay park it.

Yeah, and I like to grill out. I don’t gay grill. I also read a lot, but I don’t gay read. I just read. I just grill. I just park the car. I just have lunch. And were I to get married (which, incidentally, is not something I would do), I would just get married.

Maybe that’s why I don’t like nouns. They get adjectives attached to them. I don’t like to call myself a writer, because it too often gets “gay” or “lesbian” or “political” or “bad” attached to it. Yes, I am a lesbian, and yes I am a writer, but the two aren’t very related, you dig? I prefer to say I write, because that’s something I do. I am a lesbian, and I write. Verbs, they get adverbs attached, but it’s not the same. I do, actually, gaily write sometimes.

I’m fine with being a lesbian, because that’s something I am, not something I do. It doesn’t come with a lifestyle or an agenda. It just signifies that I’m gonna find intimate companionship among members of my own gender, if, of course, you buy it that there are only two, but that’s a whole ‘nother column.

A lifestyle tends to be something chosen. You know, like living in a cabin on top of a mountain or living in a cute little house on the beach and all the attendant lifestyle matters that come with those choices. But I could be gay or straight living on top of the mountain or on the beach, and very little else would be different. Oh, sure, maybe I have more k.d. lang on my iPod than the average heterosexual woman, but so what?

Being a vegetarian is another lifestyle choice, as are having an iPod and dressing in drag. So is religion. Yes, religion. Religion is 100 percent a choice, and your choice about that is 100 percent protected by the constitution, unless you’re Muslim. Of course, it doesn’t actually have a Muslim exclusion clause, but it’s the standard interpretation among the otherwise strict constructionist extremists who think the constitution only deals with things that were available and in use in the late 18th century. Except of course for Rick Perry, who thinks the Constitution was written in the late 1500s.

But religion. Man, that’s a lifestyle. This group doesn’t eat meat, that group doesn’t drink coffee, this group doesn’t dance, this group doesn’t drink alcohol. And all the groups think they’re right, and everybody else is wrong.

I happen to think that as well. I’m right, y’know, that religion is quite possibly the source of all our problems, right after money, although religion and money do tend to go hand in hand. For some, money is religion. But the whole idea of an invisible god … well, let’s just say there are an awful lot of contradictions. And then there’s the deification of human beings. That’s a little much in my book. I bet I could get a buncha fools to follow me around and then declare I’m holy if I gave them enough wine and fish. I’m just sayin’.

But religion, man. Those religionists like to say we queers “recruit.” Seriously? Please. But what the hell is proselytizing if not recruitment by an unspellable name? And what about all this religionist effort to impose some arbitrary “moral” code on us all if not an agenda? And don’t even get me started on what’s “moral” and what’s not after the state of Kansas decriminalized “light” wife-beating.

See, I’m thinking all this bullshit about the “gay agenda” and the “gay lifestyle” and “recruiting” is just one big example of projection, because nobody does those any better than unthinking religious fanatics.

Now, I know that not all adherents of religions are like that, nor do all religions require stupidity as a prerequisite for membership. Buddhism, for example. In my limited experience with Buddhism, actually, I tend to think of it as less of a religion and more of an experiential philosophy. There really aren’t any deities to speak of, just as far as I can tell some interesting symbolic characters, some guy who lived a long time ago known as “the Buddha” who told everybody he taught not to believe a word he says until they’ve experienced it for themselves and a bunch of really peaceful, calm practitioners, some of whom have experienced more of what the Buddha talked about than others and spend a lot of their time teaching what they’ve learned. And saying not to believe it unless you experience it for yourself.

Not at all the same as some of the Christianists who encourage others to experience Lord Jesus in their lives and who, in my humble opinion, are just a tad bit delusional about what that experience was.

It is a bit of a lifestyle, although unless you consider peace and harmony with the universe an agenda, there’s not much of one of those. I know, some people do, mostly the aforementioned religionists. Me, I tend to think of peace and harmony with the universe as The Way Things Were Meant To Be before humanity got a little carried away with the free will thing.

I do have a personal lifestyle. It involves reading a lot, watching cop shows On Demand, being outside as much as possible, keeping my car in decent working order, keeping the cats fed and their litter boxes clean, some travel, staying up late because I work late, visiting friends and seeing the Buddhist Girl, who tells me not to believe a word she says unless I experience it myself, as much as possible. Oh, and gadgets. I love gadgets. And coding, which is poetry. I also like flying kites and running radio controlled boats. Very little of that has anything to do with my being a lesbian.

I also have a personal agenda, or, as I like to call it, ulterior motives. Those have nothing to do with you and never will. Some are directly connected to my being a lesbian, but again, not gonna mess with your life.

That whole “agenda” and “lifestyle” idea is just so foreign to me, really. It makes no sense, complicates things way too much. Involves too many people sticking their noses in things that have nothing to do with them. I’m not particularly fond of marriage, so I’m not gonna do that. Maybe you do like marriage, but don’t like gay marriage. Fine. Don’t marry someone of the same gender. Problem solved.

And please, don’t gay park your car or have gay lunch. It’ll just confuse people.

 

 

The chains that bind us

You didn’t really think all that brouhaha over funding the government back in the summer was the end of it, did you? Of course it wasn’t. Super Committee aside, this Republican Party is going to take every opportunity it can find to strangle the government and force it to bend to the will of its rich benefactors.

And Democrats seem powerless to stop it. I suppose that’s only natural, liberals being prone to compromise in a way that conservatives are decidedly not. But what it’s done is leave us with a far right party and a center right party, while the nation as a whole — its people, that is — keep moving forward.

All this talk of a third party, something in the middle, is completely ridiculous. Democrats are already there. What we really need is a truly progressive party. We’re out of balance because we’ve accepted the right-wing meme that they represent the true position of Americans and Democrats are far to the left, when in the opposite is actually true.

Yes, boys and girls, the wishy-washy Democrats are pretty much the party of moderation, the party that represents what most Americans are looking for. The Democratic party we have now — wholly unsatisfying to progressives — is America. But my beloved colleagues are too wrapped up in their beltway bubble to see that or even understand that things might not be as their Republican overlords tell them it is.

This is frustrating. It’s so fucking obvious to most of us and yet so beyond the grasp of those who tell us on the nightly news, and 24/7 on the cablers, what it’s all about.

What they, and conservatives, don’t understand, is that the center moves. It progresses. The center used to be in that backwards-looking, archaic place the Republicans thrive in. It isn’t now, and no amount of wishing it were so will make it go back.

But we’re stuck in this ugly place until my colleagues learn to tell the truth, until they know that the Republican party in general, and the tea party specifically, are behind the curve and will soon be left to the mites of history’s dustbin.

And journalists will be left there too, if they don’t wise up soon. Americans are unhappy with the direction government is going, not because it’s led by Democrats in the Senate and the Oval Office, but because those Democrats consistently forego their positions of power to give an old way of thought fresh power. But in the black and white world of Washington, it’s all an either-or proposition. Either you go with the Republicans or you don’t.

Frustrating, and sickening. How far back will this regressive suction pull us before the line finally snaps and we are jerked into a new world wholly unprepared?

When that happens, and it will, we’d best be prepared to help our new arrivals understand where they are and why. They’ll need it.

It’s hard now, but keep this in mind: The pull of progress has left the Republican Party dragging its heels in the past. It can decided to move itself forward with the rest of us, still representing a conservative viewpoint, but one grounded in reality instead of a drive to survive.

That’s where we are now. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have the leeway to consider the rest of us anymore. Their decisions are wholly based on what they think will get them elected or re-elected. And since our storytellers keep telling an old story that no longer has any basis in reality, too many people remain caught up in that polarizing position. Either-or. This or that.

This is the way things work. Conservatives resist change. They drag their heels. They dig in. They hunker down. And they fight back with the viciousness of a cornered dog, one that realizes its entire world is about to change completely. Liberals and progressive pull us forward. It all works quite well when conservatives inch forward, bringing up the rear and discarding the outworn ideas that no longer have any purchase on the real world.

Right now, though, those outworn ideas are still holding on, and the Republicans are giving them voice. Be gentle with them, my friends. It’s going to be a shock when the change finally comes, as it must.

Republicans are stuck, and Democrats can’t move forward without them. Republicans are entrenched in an extreme ideology that has no place here. Their good ideas are tarred with the bad from the past.

Until they let go of that, we’ll stay right here, caught in an uncivil war of someone else’s choosing.

Attention whore

Anybody besides me take note of Sarah Palin’s sudden appearance in Iowa during the straw poll? Does that girl crave attention or what?

She starts this bus tour. It doesn’t get her enough attention, so she quits. I mean, suspends it. Right before the straw poll, she announced she’s un-suspending it, in Iowa. So there she is, getting attention. And once the cameras are all gone from Iowa, so’s the bus tour.

And now Karl Rove says she probably is going to run for president. I don’t doubt it. It’s the only way she can get the cameras on her steadily. My colleagues will dote on her every word, the way they dote on Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry now. They seem to like the truly crazy.

But Palin’s popularity is so low at this point that there’s really no way she can win the nomination. Unless she has the self-awareness of, say, Moammar Gadhafi, she has to know that.  So it’s all about the attention.

Being governor of Alaska was too hard with too little payback, so she quit. The bus tour, not enough payback, so she quit. Signing her name to ghost written books, OK, but book tours, too annoying. Appearances on Fox, great.

But most of America has wised up on Sarah Palin. They see her for what she is — a petty local official who duped a state into electing her governor and then duped John McCain into selecting her for his running mate. The Alaska part was easy. Big state, small population. John McCain? Apparently, he’s an idiot.

Palin’s left her mark on American politics, for sure. Now it’s no longer necessary to have any understanding of how things work, either globally or domestically, to run for office. Pithy Facebook notes are acceptable ways to communicate weighty ideas. Twitter commentary is the new soundbite.

Ignorance, it’s the American way.

Palin paved the way for Bachmann, and she and George W. Bush set the stage for Rick Perry. My colleagues and the Republican establishment seem to think Mitt Romney’s the eventual nomination winner, but my money’s on Perry. And hey, he can choose Palin as his running mate too. They’re a better match than McCain-Palin, that’s for sure.

But vice president … surely Palin knows that’s the forgotten office. Nobody really thinks about the vice president unless there’s a question about the president’s continuation in office, or a tie in the Senate. Did you know Joe Biden’s in China this week? Outside the United States, it’s pretty common knowledge.

When Palin throws her hat in the ring for president — because she’s pretty much worn out the will-she-or-won’t-she meme — we’re in for months of the same bullshit we had during the 2008 election. Bullshit attacks on Obama, crackpot economic ideas, lies about what’s going on, utter ignorance about the world. Not to mention those pleasant Palin fans who populate her rallies. The real Murikans. You know who they are.

They’re not you and me, or anybody with half a brain or has mentally and emotionally progressed beyond 10th grade.

Because that’s Sarah Palin’s biggest contribution to the process: The sophomorification of American politics.

The downgrade

So Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. long-term debt from AAA to AA+ (with a negative outlook). Ouch. Yeah, it’s a bit of a joke. After all, these are the jokers who declared Lehman Brothers AAA a month before they went bankrupt. They rated junk mortgage securities AAA, leading directly to the financial mess we’re in now. And we can argue till the cows come home about whether S&P oughta be in the business of downgrading our credit rating because our political system is so dysfunctional.

Doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they did. They looked at the recently completed debt ceiling debate and determined that although we haven’t defaulted, and probably won’t in the near future, our idiocy is so complete that creditors should think twice or more about extending further credit.

Now, that would probably suit the TeaPublicans just fine. They seem to relish the idea of the United States becoming a backwater country where the majority of its citizens have little to no access to decent health care or education. And why wouldn’t they? Stupid, sick citizens are much easier to bully into submission. And the handful of others who know better? Just throw ‘em in jail, shoot ‘em if you have to. That’s what they do in places like Zimbabwe, Syria, Yemen and Iran. Never let a little inconvenient truth bother you.

And all of this could have been avoided. We’ve had so many chances. After Reagan put us on this wretched road to ruin, Americans wised up after a term of George Bush Sr. and elected Bill Clinton, at the time branded The Most Liberal Man On The Planet although he was a Blue Dog at best. Never mind, though, he was certainly far better than another four years of GHWB, or, god forbid, one of the other whackos who could have been on the Republican ticket. You know, people like Pat Buchanan and David Duke.

The GOP Noise Machine went into high gear of course, lying and stretching the truth at every possible moment to paint Clinton as Evil Incarnate. It worked to some extent, but it didn’t wholly work because Bill possesses one of those thing the Republicans like in their candidates: He’s Affable. You wanna have a beer with him. So what if he had sex with that woman? I mean — and here’s where the Right Wing Crap Machine worked wonders — look at that bitch he’s married to.

But after two terms and a deficit surplus, the Noise Machine had also done a job on the man who should have been Clinton’s successor, the truly more liberal Al Gore. And Gore was hampered by a tendency to appear rather wooden, plus, it appears that an awful lot of Democrats/liberals/progressives at that time had not caught on to the Republican Bullshit Machine strategy: Lie at every opportunity, and make the other guy out to be in league with the worst things you can think of. And if all else fails, ridicule from the lowest common denominator.

Thus, George W. Bush. Of course, the conservatives needed a little boost from the Supreme Court, but honest to god, it never should have been close enough to go there. The Noise Machine works very, very well, indeed. See Kerry, John – Swiftboating.

After eight years of up is down, black is white and Alice doesn’t live here anymore, it’s a wonder any of us could even walk. But walk we could and unbelievably enough of us had seen through the LSD haze to actually not give the presidency to another Republican. But the Noise Machine had a hand in who did select too. See Clinton, Hillary – Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

Again, we selected a very moderate, albeit black, Democrat who was again portrayed as The Most Liberal Man On The Planet despite no evidence to support that contention. But we, suckers that we are, thought we had a chance. My god, a black Democrat in the White House, majorities in the House and Senate — we’re saved!

Except we weren’t. The right started its anti-anything but them campaign with its most ugly component yet: Racism. Well, they actually tried that with Bill Clinton. Who do you think came up with “the nation’s first black president?” Problem of course, was that Clinton clearly isn’t black.

Barack Obama is, and racism is a ready-made weapon so easy to deny. “Tar baby!” “Oh, I’m sorry if anyone was offended. I didn’t mean that as a racist statement.” And, with our well trained stenography pool ready to bring every utterance to the national media, nobody but us crazies ever challenged the clear bullshit. So while the our so-called journalists bring on birthers to talk about whether or not Obama was born in the United States (doesn’t matter, idiots, his MOTHER was), nobody challenges the racism fueling charges that Obama is from Africa, that he’s Muslim, that he’s anything but a good ol’ boy. Seriously, do you honestly think that conversation would be going on if Obama’s father were named Olsen and he was born in Norway?

But the Machine had done well making sure a natural compromiser was elected president. That’s what community organizers do, yknow. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but when one side deviously plots to suppress the other side and uses good intentions to doom the process from the start, well, that’s another matter.

And then there was the Tea Party, rabidly taken up by my colleagues in the stenography as some kind of populist movement despite the clear evidence that it was and is funded by billionaires and political insiders. Follow the money, my friends. Follow the money.

And the politicians, never ones to take any kind of principled stand (with rare exceptions. See Sanders, Bernie – Socialist, Vermont), bent and twisted any which way the wind blew to make sure they stayed in office.  Then came 2010, and the intentionally ill-informed won big in those places where once more moderate conservatives might have flourished. And now, the stage was set.

A barely Democratic president, a Senate with a narrow Democratic majority, a House full of full-on crazies with little to no understanding of anything beyond Well, sheeit, I’m a US Congressman now! and a House constituency of the ignorant masses who don’t realize Medicare is a “socialist” program nor that their champions have every intention of destroying it.

Oh, and the completely out in the open No. 1 goal of the Republican party: Get rid of the black guy in the Oval Office in 2012 if not sooner.

So despite Standard & Poor’s culpability in the our economic morass, somebody there had the sense to realize that the United States was indeed on a slippery slope and it isn’t one to socialism. It’s sliding into what’s much closer to the corporate-run colonies of the British, Portugeuese, Dutch, Spanish and French empires. Seriously — they were all about profits and coopting some local group to give their corporate rulers some legitimacy. And the corporate rulers, of course, answered to the crown back home.

In America, though, we’re dispensing with the crown. The corporate rulers answer to no one.

And that’s very, very dangerous, something even Standard & Poor’s can’t ignore. The debt ceiling fight, then, was our last chance before someone outside started taking action. Obama must have known. That’s where the Grand Bargain came from. It was the only adult proposal made, one that in all likelihood would have satisfied S&P that we were seriously about fixing the economy. Of course, just lifting the fucking debt ceiling and focussing on a jobs plan probably would have worked too, but the TeaPublicans would have none of that and instead pushed for this showdown, a playground battle royale.

So Obama offered the Grand Bargain and the TeaPublicans, so enamored of their rich overlords that they cannot conceive of taxing them one penny more than they already are, poor over-taxed bastards, said no fucking way. And the pitiful “debate” that followed showed S&P, and every other sane person on the planet, that the lunatics indeed have taken over the U.S. government, and no one is safe.

The reasoning, which people who aren’t TeaPublicans actually note contains criticisms of both Republicans and Democrats, is far more damning to the GOP. Here’s the full report, go read it. You can be sure the TeaPublicans won’t. They were satisfied with the press release. But here’s the key passage. S&P says the recently completely debt ceiling deal is a step in the right direction, but is not sufficient to correct the slide. Previously assessments have given the United States the benefit of the doubt, S&P says, assuming that reason will overcome the pitchfork-bearing masses. No more:

Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.

And there you have it. If those tax cuts don’t expire, S&P says, the credit rating will likely slip to AA. Killing those tax cuts off might — might — “stabilize” the rating at AA+.

So what’s it all mean? Basically, we’re screwed. And the Republicans and Democrats are to blame. The Republicans for all their lying and bullshit and the Democrats for showing their bellies every time the GOP or Fox News yells “Boo!” And that dysfunction, which is what S&P is talking about, isn’t likely to change, because our politicians are too addicted to being in Washington to see what’s really going on in the world around them.

Instead, they’ll take what S&P says and make further cuts into “entitlement” programs, along with things like education, public safety, environmental regulation, banking regulation — basically anything that a civilized society needs to thrive — keeping only enough to maintain the military dictatorship the Teahadists so desperately yearn for.  Austerity times 1000. This is how Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, and we really do have weapons of mass destruction.

I don’t pretend to know why the rich want it this way (even less why the lied-to masses work so hard to make it happen), but I do know this is how they want it. Follow the money. At the end you’ll find people like the Koch Brothers whose only goal, for some unfathomable reason, is to get richer.

I also know it will get better. But not, apparently, before it gets a whole lot worse.

Stuck in the middle

I noticed during my reading this morning that someone else — maybe Andrew Sullivan? — had beaten me to the punch on this one, but I’m gonna say it anyway.

The purpose of the debt debacle is to gather ammunition for an impeachment.

Frankly, I’m surprised the whackadoodle House hasn’t already done that. Guess they’re setting it all up just in case Obama wins a second term and they get their expected majority in the Senate. #seenthismoviebefore

It’s been clear since the Clinton presidency that Republicans, especially the wackier end of their spectrum — which is about all that’s left now — do not see any Democratic president as legitimate. Look at the crap they pull. Lying about Al Gore’s statement about the internet. Swiftboating John Kerry.

They’ve had a hard time with this president. The Kenya thing hasn’t gathered much traction. He’s not getting blow jobs in the Oval Office. What better to do than trash the economy completely and let him take the fall, right out the door.

Isn’t that what they said in the very beginning? That they wanted him to fail? Nothing about wanting the country to succeed, just wanting this particular president to fail.

That’s just the Republicans in Congress, of course. The rank and file have other ulterior motives, most of which are egged on and stirred by the Congresscritters and their bosses in the right-wing hit media. The rank and file, they’re just rabble, y’know, but rabble can serve a good purpose when you get ‘em all stirred up with lies and fearmongering. The not-even-below-the-surface racism is a sure-fire hit.

Add my beloved see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil colleagues to the mix and you have the most dysfunctional country in the world this side of Somalia. In the civilized world, the main response has been one big “WTF.”

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. There isn’t a debt crisis. That’s wholly manufactured by the right, spread by the media and bought lock, stock and barrel by Democrats. Making this Custer’s Last Stand is a little like having a huge argument over whether to pay the water bill while the house is burning down.

So while all this political posturing goes on, Americans are still out of work, have no insurance and are sinking in this morass of an economy launched on the downhill fast track by Ronald Reagan.

See, here’s the thing. Government revenues are down because the rich skate and because unemployment is high. Spending is up because we’re fighting three wars (at least) and unemployment is high.

The rabid see the common denominator there — unemployment — and thinks the answer is to cut social services. The rest of us see the common denominator and think, “We need to raise revenues and cut out these bullshit wars.”

Three percentage points. From 35 percent to 38 percent. That’s all letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich would do — raise the rate three points. And that’s not on all the rich’s income. That’s only on income above $250,000. That’s why it’s called “the top rate.” But the Republicans can’t let go of this “raising taxes” meme — because it works on the rabble, who will never hear that the United States has one of the lowest tax rates in the world.

They won’t hear it because they only listen to the echo chamber that echoes their own views uncritically. Easiest way in the world to control a significant number of voters.

Speaking of echo chambers, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so finely tuned. For days, it’s been harping on Obama — “where’s the plan,” say all the pundits, the presidential cabinets and the rabble that completely lacks any ability to think for itself because, apparently, that’s socialist. Never mind that it’s the job of Congress to come up with the plan.

When the House passed Boehner’s debt bill the other day, my inbox was full of press releases, by Twitter stream full of tweets — all talking about Obama’s supposed “lack of leadership.” I may actually agree on that one, but not for the same reasons. After all, what do they think all those meetings were?

As I’m writing this, the players announce they have a deal. It pretty much sucks, all the way around. Who’s surprised? Rock, meet hard place. It could be a whole lot worse though, and it could be a whole lot better. And, of course, the echo chambers are in full force. The Republicans are declaring victory except where they aren’t, and the progressives are declaring Obama a complete and utter failure worse than George W. Bush and possibly Herbert Hoover.

Just a little note on that and then I’ll get to my real point: The spending cuts don’t go into effect until 2013, the very same day the Bush tax cuts for the rich are set to expire. Let’s see what happens between now and then.

Now, my real point. Progressives, this is something we are just going to have to learn to live with: We will never, ever, ever get legislation we can approve of unconditionally. Ever. Never. Not. Gonna. Happen. Know why?

Ever heard of the bell curve? It looks like this. And in the case of society, the bell curve is constantly in motion. Moving forward. Progressing. Always. At times the people on the curve move backwards, or regress, but the line itself — forward.

So what you have is progressives out on the forward end of the curve. There aren’t very many. As you get closer to the center, there are more people on the line. Then once you pass over the very center, the numbers decline again until you get to the Tea Party, where, again, there are few.

So, you say, shouldn’t progressives and Tea Parties get their way about an equal percent of the time, seeing as how they are roughly in equal numbers?

Well, no. And here’s why:

Remember, the line is moving forward, into the unknown. Progressives are driving that forward move. The Tea Partiers are back there at the end of the line trying to at least hold it still and if possible pull it backwards. They get more of what they want all the time because of a) inertia and b) fear of the unknown, both products of the vast middle. But, because society does march ever onward, progress happens regardless. Just considerably slower than any of us want. It’s the evolution of humanity.

So, anyway, back to my original premise, that this whole mess is about impeachment or some other way to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama. It’s what they do. They hate Democrats, liberals, progressives, progress, change, open society, growth and especially people of color and queers. It’s who they are. Obama may not be much of a progressive, or even a liberal sometimes, but he’s a pragmatist about where we are. And here we are, stuck in the middle.