Category Archives: politics

This is war

Suit up, ladies. There’s a war going on, apparently against us.

Now, some say that’s not true. Or it is true, but it’s the liberals waging it and not the right-wing throwbacks to the caveman era.

Just more of that up is down shit we got from the Bush administration for eight years.

The Republicans wanna have it both ways too. The Obama administration is bad for women, but women are doing great in this economy! Yahoo! Helps, of course, that their base apparently can only consider one statement at a time, and so any contradictory statements are not considered when a new one comes along.

So when an Ed Gillespie says on Meet the Press “The U.S. economy is a hostile workplace for women under President Obama … It’s still the economy, and women aren’t stupid,” the Republican sheeple don’t remember that women have always been at the bottom of the heap. Women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, and that didn’t just happen since January 20, 2009.

So what does presumptive nominee Mitt Romney and the rest of the cabal intend to do about it? I’ll let Joan Walsh answer that.

It’s undeniable that Romney and the GOP support policies that disproportionately hurt women. They want to cut back the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers; most recipients are women. They want to slash Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security; women make up most of those programs’ beneficiaries, too. To the extent that they, as well as GOP governors, are pushing public worker layoffs, those hit women harder too, since they’re more likely to work in the public sector than men.

They wanna do other things too, like put restrictions on abortion that lock the doctor’s opinion out of the matter. That’s Georgia, where the legislature has passed a bill that bans abortion after five months — regardless the health of the fetus, the health of the mother or even if the fetus is dead. Because? One of the bill’s prime sponsors says that he’s delivered calves and pigs dead and alive, so it should be ok for humans too.

But it’s not all about women it seems. The Tennessee legislature has been trying for a while now to ban use of the word “gay” to mean homosexual. They’ve not been successful … yet, but they did manage to pass a vague bill requiring sex education to preach against “gateway sexual activity,” without explaining what that means. Kissing? Holding hands? Running your fingers through someone’s hair? Got me.

And then of course there’s the myriad politicians who don’t think it’s a good idea to ban bullying against gay people. Gay journo Dan Savage, speaking to the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle, ran into a little of this in high school students. From David A. Graham:

In the course of his talk about bullying, Savage pointed out anti-gay activists sometimes cite the Bible to justify their beliefs and behavior. He then went on to point out that the Bible sanctions any number of activities we don’t allow today, including slavery and the stoning of women who are not virgins when married (the full text, if you don’t want to watch the video, is here), strictures he referred to as “bullshit.” In protest, some (presumably) Christian members of the audience walked out. As he wrapped up the inflammatory section of his remarks, Savage apologized for offending anyone, but undercut that apology somewhat by adding, “It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.

Here’s the video in case you do want to watch it:

And before you start whining about how do you know they’re Christians and weren’t just upset about the foul language — they’re journalism students, ferchrissake. If “bullshit” upsets them, they’re in the wrong business.

So really, it’s not just a war on women. It’s a war on everything good and decent, despite attempts to characterize it as something dirty and bad.

 

Hail and farewell, Andrew Breitbart

The crazies are already accusing President Obama of having Andrew Breitbart killed, much like they accused Hillary Clinton of having Vince Foster killed way back when. Insane conservative radio dude Michael Savage called Breitbart’s death an “assassination.” I’m thinking it was just too much cocaine for the heart.

A “suspicious package” near the home of Rush Limbaugh that brought the bomb squad running and my lovely colleagues making immediate connections to Limbaugh’s foul contraception comments probably cemented the idea that the liberals are out to silence conservative voices, at least by the Twitter reponses I’m seeing. The liberals, in case you’re wondering, are tweeting either ridiculous jokes about what the package might be (forgotten Chinese take-out, a blow-up doll, more Viagra) or cautions that we shouldn’t be wishing anyone dead, which no one save a couple of losers is doing.

Turns out it was an electronic plaque commemorating the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth (assassination?) sent by a fan who was offering the fat guy a “business opportunity.”

Still, these conservatives will go to their graves believing Breitbart was killed. Why? Because Breitbart himself, and people like him, poisoned them. They believe that liberals, progressives, Democrats are the most vile, wicked, evil, dangerous people on the planet, who will stop at nothing to impose their will on the poor helpless masses because that’s what Breitbart et al have told them.

And Breitbart goes to his grave unrepentant because, as we don’t seem to want to believe, it’s the conserverati who will stop at nothing in their fight to return the United States to We, the White Christian Straight People.

Now, some say Breitbart really wasn’t a white Christian straight supremist, and maybe he wasn’t. They say he just delighted in the fight, was single-minded in his hatred of Barack Obama and used every tool he could gather to attack him, including the racist ones. They say he’d use different tools if it were somebody else.

I say if you use racist tools, you’re a bigoted asshole, just by virtue of your willingness to do so. Or, you’re just a run-of-the-mill soulless asshole of the first degree. Which would you prefer?

Either way, Andrew Breitbart was an asshole. And because he went after Obama and the Obama administration with racist attacks, he gained the support of the racist right. They heard what he said. They knew what he meant. And they agreed, just like they agree with Rush Limbaugh, another soulless asshole of the first degree, says the same type stuff.

Or perhaps you’ve not heard Limbaugh’s latest. He’s going after Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who was barred from speaking at Rep. Darrell Issa’s hearing on contraception. Fluke subsequently spoke at a Democratic House Steering Committee meeting. Women who use birth control are sluts, Rush says. But Limbaugh, like Breitbart, doesn’t generalize like that. Limbaugh, like Breitbart, makes it personal.

What does it say about the college [sic] co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

He kept it up a day later, demanding that Fluke post sex videos online.

Here’s what makes this kind of behavior so very bad: They make it personal. Breitbart didn’t slam the Department of Agriculture, or the Obama administration, or even the NAACP as racist when he ran edited video of remarks made by Ag Department employee Shirley Sherrod to the NAACP. He painted HER as racist. Trouble is, the full video revealed that her point was the complete opposite.

ACORN. Again, Breitbart with James O’Keefe and edited videos. ACORN was screwing up by paying people to register voters and not putting in place any safeguards to prevent their registrars from sitting at the kitchen table and filling out all the forms, but it wasn’t voter fraud. It was registration fraud — and it was stupid and preventable. But Breitbart/O’Keefe/the Right went after ACORN anyway with lies and distortions and the only organization in the country that actively works to register poor people to vote was decimated. And afterward, no fewer than three investigations, complete with views of the entire tapes, revealed that no one had broken any laws.

In both cases, here’s what happened: Breitbart made a big push with his edited videos, Republicans ran with them and started calling for heads to roll, and Democrats served those heads up on a silver platter. Then we found out it was all bullshit. A triumvirate of wrong, with the driving spark provided by Andrew Breitbart.

I could go on and on detailing Breitbart’s crimes, but there’s no reason. Breitbart targeted the innocents. Some of the innocents may not have been all that smart, and he got plenty of help from both sides of the aisle. But none of that detracts from what he did, repeatedly. And the results were invariably damaging to individual people who lost jobs, lost valuable services provided by organizations, lost the willingness to stand up for anything out of fear something like this could happen to them.

OK, so he was right about Anthony Weiner. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

It’s all part of the conservative game plan. Smear, lie, distort, ruin. Fast and hard hits that make it highly likely there’ll just be some sort of reaction before the truth comes out. The attack on Planned Parenthood didn’t work out as planned.

But that hasn’t stopped the Republicans from running with the lies, nor has it stopped their Democratic enablers from cowering and looking for fresh heads to offer as sacrifices. Hence, contraception is now controversial, and conservatives have gone all out in their once underground war to bring women back under the thumb of the patriarchs, back to the good old days when men were men, women and children were property and queers were something that only existed in pulp magazines and true crime stories.

I’m not one to gloat over a death, not even someone like Breitbart. He was, after all, a human being. I think he had children. I’m sure they loved him. But when your life is infused with such poison, well, what you do will eventually come back and bite you, sometimes really hard.

Why Breitbart and not Limbaugh, who’s been so full of the poison for so much longer? I can’t answer that. The hows and whens and wheres and whos of karma are beyond me.  All I know is what goes around comes around. You reap what you sow.

That’s not to say that Breitbart was punished for his deeds by death — because death isn’t a punishment. But what you do comes back to you. Always. Somehow, somewhere, some way, sometime. Not on your time or my time, but when it should. Breitbart is dead. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

And for those of you who think we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, who’s speaking ill? I’m just speaking the truth. Besides, Breitbart had no qualms about speaking ill of the dead. He called Sen. Edward Kennedy a “villain,” a “duplicitous bastard” and a “prick” on the day he died.

I’m more than willing to go off decorum to ensure THIS MAN is not beatified. Sorry, he destroyed lives. And he knew it.

Destroyed lives. Sounds like he was talking about himself.

 

 

 

 

 

In a world of blithering idiots …

Can it really be true that half this country is a bunch of blithering idiots? They’d have to be to believe the drivel the Republican presidential candidates put out constantly.  Look at Wednesday night’s debate, if by debate you mean “Yet another chance for grown-ass white men to lie with impunity.”

If you believed everything you heard that night, you’d think that Barack Obama is a merciless child killer (“legalized infanticide,” from Newt Gingrich). Mitt Romney said president is a godless tyrant (“attacking religious tolerance”). The worst attack on religion in history, he said. Really? After all the direct attacks against Muslims and Islam that have been so blatant over the last decade?

Kinda reminds me of my days in the gay press, when the gay boys were all up in arms because the paper I worked for wouldn’t run sex ads and actually reported on the community outside the bar culture — including lesbians! “The Lesbian Home Journal,” they called us, derisively, just because we were inclusive and not exclusive.

The candidates use these talking points like they have a basis in reality. But ask them to back ‘em up — something no one ever does during these debates, which is why you so rarely see NPR anchors moderating — and they come up with nothing. That’s because they are lies.

What kind of presidential race is this? In 2008, of course, they did all these same things, but then they denied it. No, we didn’t say Obama is a traitor. No, we didn’t say he was Muslim. No, we didn’t say he was unAmerican. We can’t control what some of our supporters say.

But now they are saying it, right out loud. No denial possible, it’s all on tape. But I don’t think they want to deny it. They’re gunning for votes from the blithering idiot crowd.

More from that debate: Newt the Historian says this is the most dangerous time the world as ever seen and that Obama is the most dangerous president as regards national security we’ve ever had, with Mitt Romney chiming in that the president has done nothing (other than take out Osama bin Laden, end the Iraq war and send military help to end Gaddhafi’s reign of terror, to name a few) to make the world safer.

Obama is shrinking the military, too, these guys say. Making us less safe (be afraid, be very afraid). Yeah, that’s kinda what happens when you end two wars. Not to mention budget cuts agreed to by Republicans in Congress.

That dreaded “Obamacare” is costing jobs! And money! Well, yeah, if you’re counting insurance executives. But in the long run, the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act will cost nearly twice the billions keeping it in place will save. A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting family, and my dad and my cousin’s husband started talking about Obama being the Worst President Ever. And my cousin chimed in that it was just horrendous that Obama would want “us” (we taxpayers) to pay to educate the poor so they can get better jobs, and, y’know, not need welfare. “They just don’t want to work,” she said. “Do you even know any poor people?” I asked. No answer.

Meanwhile, the husband started whining about “Obamacare” and how he resented paying for it. Really? And who do you think pays for it when people who have no insurance go to the emergency room for general health care? Again, no answer.

Rising gas prices, too, are the president’s fault. Interesting that when bad things happen under a Democratic administration, it’s the president’s fault. But when the same bad things happen under a Republican president, the president has no control over it.

There’s a number of factors pushing gas prices up, not the least of which is butane. Butane, you say? Yes, butane. It’s a common, and dirt cheap, additive used in gasoline — but only during colder winter months. Once it starts warming up, butane starts evaporating, and the oil companies replace it with other, much more expensive additives. There’s also the demand coming from India and China pushing the prices up, not to mention our own love affair with wasting gasoline known as spring and summer vacation time.

And there’s one other thing, along with the Republican plan to drill the hell out of everything that can be drilled. Even if if that were to provide enough oil to make a dent in the US dependence on countries that actually have enough oil to use, there’s this one tiny problem: American refineries are already running at capacity.

Rep. Allen West, Insane MF-Florida, is a black guy who hates the president.

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I have a better question. Why are you driving a Hummer?

And let’s not even get started on this birth control thing. I said 40 years ago that if the conservatives manage to get Roe v. Wade overturned, they’d set their sites on contraception. Looks like they’ve decided not to wait.

Rick Santorum’s the queen of that deal. Plus he says Obama is running the country with a theology that is not based on the bible. First, I hope he’s not running the country based on any theology. That’s kinda unconstitutional. And if Little Ricky thinks his theology is not based on the bible, what does he think it’s based on? The Quran? Newt Gingrich is in on this too. The Obama administration thinks the president is superior to the pope. Hey, Newt, in the US government, he is!

Here’s another from Newt. He blasts Obama for apologizing to Afghanistan for the accidental burning of Qurans “on a day when an Afghan soldier murdered two American soldiers.” Apparently, we’re supposed to behave abysmally and never apologize for being ignorant assholes because that would be “surrendering.” Or taking the high road.

And it’s not just presidential candidates going all out. In Virginia, they tried to require “transvaginal” ultrasound — that’s one with penetration — before a woman could have an abortion. Now why would they want to do that? Think about it.

Virginia and other states are pushing this “personhood” thing too — that a fetus is a “person.” Yeah, and so is a corporation. Just let me know when one dies for the country. But a fetus — y’know, if birth control and sex education were a little better here (and sex education is another thing these bozos hate) then there just wouldn’t be that many abortions. And remember — making abortion illegal (or making a fetus a person) won’t stop abortions. It’ll just make ‘em more dangerous.

See, these Republican creepos are vindictive bastards. They’re gonna punish you — torture you — if you don’t fall in line and worship at their altar. Especially if you are anything but the straight white Christian guys they are. Are you listening, Mitt Romney? You too, Newt and Little Ricky. The evangelistas you’re after don’t really see you as any more Christian than they do Mitt. So it really doesn’t matter how many letters Cardinal Dolan writes urging the Catholic bishops to push for some kind of conscience act, allowing people to not do anything if it violates their Christian beliefs (somehow I’m betting that no other beliefs will count in this), you’re still gonna be a heathen.

Just like the rest of us.

I suspect they’ll keep going. They’ll keep calling us names, vile and vicious names, and tell us we do the same. Really? Show me a Democratic presidential candidate who’s said the equivalent of any of the above. Show me a Democratic state senator who’s done the equivalent of refusing to honor the Girl Scouts because he thinks they’re the operative arm of Planned Parenthood, supporting abortion and homosexuality. Show me a liberal religious sect that is in Africa persuading governments to impose the death penalty on Christians. And, oh yeah, the Obama administration demanded that Iran reverse the death penalty on that Christian pastor — not that demanding Iran do anything ever works. I suppose you think Obama should bomb them for it? Oh wait, but you’ve already said that if we keep Obama in office, we’ll be using nuclear weapons in no time. Mmm. Project much?

And to answer my own question, yeah, it indeed appears that half the country is a bunch of blithering idiots. With no shortage of monsters ready and willing to take advantage of that.

Rick rolled

It had to happen sooner or later. Sick Rantorum made the trifecta this week, winning in three states in one day and become the latest in the GOP’s desperate attempts to find a presidential nominee who is Not Romney.

Newt Gingrich sure didn’t last long. Not a surprise. I guess the only thing worse in these bigoted bozos’ eyes than Romney is Ron Paul. Somehow I’m just not expecting a Paul surge anytime soon. Not that the Texas congressman hasn’t tried. He’s pulled out all the backwards nonsense he promoted in those newsletters he denies having any responsibility for. Funny that he still backs the concepts though.

He’s gone all anti-gay and anti-minorities of any kind. But unless he drops the anti-war stuff, he is going nowhere in this Republican Party. And if he drops the anti-war stuff, then he loses all the fake progressives who ignore his bigotry and prejudice to fall in line behind him on the peace platform.

But Sick Rantorum. I just don’t seem him as the nominee though. He’s just not … he’s not manly enough. The guy wears sweater vests, for christ’s sake! Who does that? Mr. Rogers at least wore a button up cardigan! Seriously, a sweater vest?

I think he may have gotten a pity vote in Colorado too. He tried to go all Ben Nighthorse Campbell there with a bolo tie. Took it off for the next stop, though. Guess they told him it looked stupid. But they coulda at least told him why. It looked stupid because he was wearing it with a button down Oxford.

And Minnesota? Hell, that’s Michele Bachmann’s state. He’s the only one left to the right of her both politically and mentally.

Rick’s Catholic, and unlike Newt Gingrich, who converted to try to shore up his religious cred, has always been. But he’s a Catholic of the Vatican variety and not the more liberal American variety — you know the type. No abortion, no birth control, no gay sex, no gay marriage, no masturbation. No fun.

That is one thing about the Catholics though. They’re honest about everything they don’t want, unlike American evangelicals who prefer to take it one or two issues at a time. Like abortion, they’re into that, but they haven’t gotten started on contraception yet. Don’t worry though. They will. They’re all about controlling the women. And so far they’ve stopped at making us queers second or maybe third class citizens. They’ll get to jailing us or killing us later. Well, killing us is tacitly OK, of course. I mean actually executing us, the way they’re setting up several African countries to do. It’s the evangelicals, y’know. They’re behind that.

In fact, they (and the former senator from Pennsylvania) would be delighted if we had an extremist Christian regime every bit as limiting and barbaric as the extremist Islamic regime in Iran. It’s just that Christianity is right, y’know, and Islam is wrong. At least that’s what they they. Personally, I think they’re all wrong.

But I digress. Sick Rantorum is the new belle of the ball. Will he be the Not Romney who actually wins? I kinda doubt it. Cracked me up the other day when he said that neither Newt nor Mitt could beat Barack Obama, as if he could.

Honestly, though, we live in a country that elected George W. Bush twice. Anything is possible.

So, progressives, don’t get all giddy because the GOP voters are toying with possible nominees you think are way too out there to possibly pose a challenge to Obama. Anything could happen.

And besides, there’s still all those anti-Obama “progressives” out there who are bound and determined to do what Mitch McConnell could never do on his own — prevent a second term. I understand McConnell. But the progressives? That didn’t work out so well back in 2000 as I recall.

And it’d be even worse now, because if somebody doesn’t pull away and win this thing soon, the Republicans might have themselves a brokered convention, and that could mean the whole thing’s up for grabs.

I’d really prefer not to find out who the whackadoodles at the convention might pull out of the wings to run if they can’t decide. But I can guarantee it won’t be pretty.

 

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.

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/#!/polerin/status/148205431150477313"]

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.

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.