Tag Archives: conservatives

The morning after the morning after

So you think the election’s all over and you won’t have to hear the bullshit for another two months before the wailing begins for 2012. Nah, you don’t think that. You know that 2012 starts right now. In fact, it already started, back when Mitch McConnell said the Republicans’ primary goal for the next two years was making sure Barack Obama doesn’t get re-elected.

That’s a real “country first” attitude, ain’t it? Of course, it was never about country first. It was about making the other guy — the black guy, and us by extension, look like the enemy.

And hell, let’s get real. 2012 started on November 5, 2008, and the goal then, as it is now, was to do something about the black guy in the White House.

That and make sure their rich benefactors stayed that way. But an election for the real America? Depends on who you think that is.

House Speaker to be John Boehner cried, he was so happy to become the powerful speaker of the House (that is, if his new and nutty Tea Party colleagues don’t figure out he’s part of the DC establishment and run somebody against him. Mmm. I hear Eric “They shot at a building where I have an office where one of my consultants works” Cantor is thinking about tossing his hat in the ring.

But Boehner. He says the message to Obama is clear – “Change course.” True, but the course he needs to change to isn’t the one Boehner wants. Still, Obama will probably take Boehner’s advice. Democrats always do. Boehner, though, he said Tuesday night that “It’s clear tonight who the winners really are … the American people.” I guess that’s right if the American people are all millionaires or their toadies. Otherwise, that’s not us.

And it’s not even the folks who put the crazies into the House. Exit polls showed that Americans believe the top problem the country’s facing is the economy – 62 percent – with 19 percent saying health care. And the top economic problem – unemployment, by far.

America’s voters blame Wall Street for the economic crisis, overwhelmingly. So what do America’s voters do? They return the party that refuses to regulate Wall Street back in the House. Voters had exactly the same unfavorable rating for Dems (53 percent) as Republicans, and favored the Ds 43-41. But they sent the Rs back anyway.

The “American people” — not us, not the tea party, but people like Jamie Dimon and Meg Whitman.

And how did this happen? Senior citizens, who have bought the Republican bullshit about keeping government’s dirty hands off their Medicare, voted in droves. Young folks, feckless cynics that they are, stayed home and got stoned. Hey, that’s not a criticism. I mighta done the same thing if I were 20-something and hadn’t stopped drinking and drugging 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, my beloved colleagues won’t say a thing about any of that. They had their scenario all lined up well before even the early voters started casting their ballots.

Obama and the liberals overreached. The country wants them to return to the center right, where all is good with the world.

Except, as we know, that’s complete bullshit. Obama and the Democratic Congress, with the Republicans blocking their every move, have been pretty damned center right, if not outright right-right. That’s not good enough for the GOP, though, because that group has moved so far right that they’d probably drum Nixon out of the party, if he didn’t leave voluntarily. When they say “center right,” they mean to the right of, say, Charlie Crist, who clearly is too far left for the Florida Republicans. Hugging Barack Obama obviously triggers an automatic suspension of your “I’m a Card Carrying Conservative Bastard” card.

So flip on any cable news show this week and hear this: The voters are angry about Obama’s liberal overreach instead of taking care of the things that are really important, like jobs and health care …

And here’s the part you won’t hear: … like jobs and health care, which the Republican minority and the blue dogs watered down so far that it was barely recognizable just to protect the capitalist interests of the banks and the insurance companies (yeah, I know, and STILL they called it socialism).

And right after that, you won’t hear the discussion progressives have been having for months, if not years – how the fuck is it that the GOP can so completely hornswoggle voters like they do? Are this many Americans really that stupid? Or that glued to the latest episode of Dancing With The Stars?

No, my dear colleagues are already working on the script for 2012. Here’s a hint – they really want Sarah Palin to win. They want America’s first woman president to be somebody they can feel smug over, someone they know isn’t as smart as they are. That’s why they won’t stop paying attention to her even though she has dismal approval numbers across the country and her “endorsements” appear to be as much of a hindrance as a help.

But I’ll make my own prediction on that. It’ll be Mike Huckabee. He’s a cool dude, man. Plays bass guitar. You could have a beer with him, that is if he weren’t a Southern Baptist teetotaler. But he’s the perfect extremist white Christian fundamentalist conservative.

Our own leftist extremists will try to primary Obama, but they will be labeled racist for doing so. Many of them actually will be, but that’s not the real reason behind the move to get a more progressive candidate at the top of the ticket. Getting a more progressive candidate at the top of the ticket is the real reason. It won’t work though, and Obama will be renominated. He’ll keep Joe Biden. He’ll lose, because, golly gee whillickers, Mike Huckabee is just so swell.

And hey, maybe he’ll pick Palin as vice president too, and 10 years from now we’ll have completely forgotten what a creep she actually is, and she’ll win too.

All of that will happen because my colleagues won’t come anywhere near the truth about what happened on Tuesday. They’ll just sit around their tables and laugh at each others jokes and say stupid shit about how “cannibalism” kept not only Christine O’Donnell but also Christian Reconstructionist Sharron Angle from winning their Senate races. They won’t say it was because they are batshit insane, and, thanks to the spotlight that progressives – and in some cases even my dear colleagues – kept on them, the erstwhile voters in their states figured that out before it was too late.

The only place that didn’t really happen was in Kentucky, where apparently the voters are as crazy as the candidates and thought Rand Paul, the George W. Bush of the Paul family, should go to the Senate. Good luck with that, Kentucky. Hide your Social Security checks. He’ll be coming for them.

The Christianists are all whining that the Dems abandoned them this election, saying that led the fickle fundamentalists to go back to the Republicans who are the only ones who really care about them anyway. I say it had more to do with the abandonment of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, the kind of strategy the Republicans have been using for decades. The kind of strategy that got Obama elected and turned both chambers of Congress over to Democrats.

At any rate, America, caveat emptor. No returns, no refunds. The Republican-led House will keep its promises – to shut down the federal government, impeach the president, hold dozens of hearings on the first two years of the Obama administration, repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, privatize Social Security, increase defense spending, cut all social programs (eliminating many), extend tax cuts for the rich permanently, pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, decimate the First Amendments guarantees of freedom of speech and religion, expand the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and attack Iran. And that’s just for starters. They have a mandate to do all that, John Boehner says, just like George W. had a mandate when the Supreme Court gave him the presidency in 2000.

Oh and, when all that comes to bite Boehner and buds in the ass, they’ll blame the black guy.

And it’ll work too. As long as the Democrats keep up with their spineless response to all the lies and distortions.

But hey, at least half the blue dogs are gone now, replaced by bright red Republicans. That should make it easier for the White House to tell friends from enemies … oh right. Obama stepped in it when he inferred that some of the more wascally Wepublicans were “enemies.” Only Republicans are allowed to call their political opponents “enemies.”

Or “traitors.” That’s what we are to them. Certainly not real Americans. Never real Americans.

Race to nowhere

Before I get to the New World Order post — and I will, I promise — I’d like to take a few moments to talk about race. And class, but we’ll get to that later.

This country has never had a national conversation about race, although we’ve certainly pretended to. Conservatives, when they’re not forwarding racist e-mails to each other, like to claim that the election of Barack Obama as president heralded a new, “post-racial” America.

That’s quite typical of Americans, actually — to pretend those things that are unpleasant or make us uncomfortable simply don’t exist. Like when we say we “don’t believe in” homosexuality or abortion or evolution, as if those things are Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the death penalty or a teabagger who actually knows what’s in the Constitution.

Or when we say we’ve reached a post-racial society, as if no one ever, ever looks at Barack Obama and thinks, “fucking Marxist nigger.” Or says them out loud.

Now, of course, plenty of conservatives never think those words, let alone utter them. And most of those genuinely believe they are not racist. They sincerely believe that their opposition to Obama stems from his socialist policies, even though, of course, real socialists laugh hysterically at that suggestion.

And, maybe, there are a few for whom that’s true, although I kinda doubt that number is much larger than what I can count on my own personal phalanges. But the rest think they’re safe from the racist sobriquet because they don’t wear pointy hats and white sheets or use racist language.

But they are. Every bit as much as the KKKers and the white supremacists. Oh, maybe they’re not as ugly about it. But on the other hand, to completely mangle something Gen. George S. Patton once said, I’d rather be lynched by a white sheeted Klansman than shot in the back by a lying teabagger.

Bottom line, I’m still dead, but at least I’d see it coming.

Of course, I’m not delusional. The teabaggers protest too much to be innocent of the racist charge. Somebody calls me racist, I roll my eyes and say, “Yeah, aren’t we all? At least I know it.”

But these conservatives (and a few others) — these people who believe with every fiber of their being that they’ve moved beyond racism because they don’t own slaves — they are just as racist as if they do.

I know this to be true. I know it because i have lived among them. They are my family. They’re probably yours, too — the people we tip-toe around, never talking about real issues to avoid having to have that discussion.

The one about race. My dad — conservative, yes — spent hours hanging out with his friends on the front bench at the garage where he worked. One of them as a black man. And yet, my dad, who doesn’t believe he’s racist, told me he just didn’t want to see a black man be president.

My sister — a liberal, mind you — bought the Obama-is-a-Muslim lies, said she couldn’t vote for him because of that. She doesn’t believe she’s racist either.

But they are. They just don’t understand why black folk can’t get over that whole slavery thihg. They don’t understand why they have to suffer for what people long dead did — yeah, they see it as suffering to have to accept that this country deliberately set out a group of people to be less than human. They do not see that lthough slavery ended in this country 145 years ago (and seriously, that’s not very long ago, but that some people seem to think it is speaks to their self-centeredness, now doesn’t it?), the effects of that inhumane treatment will last much, much longer than that — particularly since their political, social and personal ancestors perpetuated the attitude of slavery long after the slaves were freed.

Right up to now, because we won’t have that conversation. Because we won’t acknowledge the racism that lives in each and every one of us because of where we come from. Those of us who do take that courageous step take the first step toward a true “post-racial” society. Those who don’t keep us spirally in bigotry’s death grip.

The other isms and phobias fall in here too — sexism, certainly. And while America has a 500 years history of racism, it has an equally long history of misogyny that its founders carried with them across the Atlantic from a history of far longer than that. Homophobia — we count that separately, but actually, it’s sexism too. A gay man, to these bigots, is no better than a woman. A lesbian, well, when we’re actually acknowledged as existing, we just haven’t had a good fuck yet. Pure sexism.

Man-woman. That conflict is a really long one, so long that I’d be tempted to say its inherent in our psyches, and in a sense it is. The good news is we can actively work against it, just like we can racism. The problem is that most of us don’t, and won’t. Hard to, if you don’t acknowledge the problem.

But there’s one ism that actually is acknowledged, every single day. That’s classism. The haves, the have-nots. Or maybe it’s the gotta-have-its and the hell-no-you-can’t-have-its, at least how it plays out here in the 21st century. Either way, it’s an old conflict too.

The conservatives readily acknowledge this one, and willfully refuse to do a damn thing about it. Why? Because they not only believe they are superior — as they do about minorities and women and gay men and lesbians — but here is why they are superior. Because they have, and you do not. They have, and they devote their entire beings to keeping what they have and adding on. He who dies with the most toys wins. Really? What do you do with those toys after you die? As far as I’m concerned, he who dies with the most toys still dies.

Science fiction has a subset of fiction about the human drive for immortality. Invariably, those who seek it hardest are the very, very rich. But that’s an awfully sad existence, dontcha think? To live forever, just so you can collect more things, more money?

The chances of we humans locking up immortality anytimes soon are somewhere between slim and none, of course. But the haves still spend their time devising ways to get more, paying off elected officials so they never have to give any of it away to those undesirables — the poor, the minorities, the queers, the women. They believe they owe no one. That the rest of us have built this society and help sustain it so they can abuse it means nothing to them. Listen to Rush Limbaugh for a while and you’ll hear it, plain and simple. Or any libertarian — basically a Republican who doesn’t have to guts to say what he really thinks.

These folks want to kill government completely so they can pursue wealth uninhibited, and without having to deal with those pesky others.

This is, ultimately, a self-defeating strategy, and one that pretty much killed itself in the late around the turn of the last century. Short memories, these folks.

But kill itself it will, and it’ll keep coming back and doing it again, over and over, until we stop and really deal with the problem.

Just like race. It will never go away. Humanity is made up a many different races, each one brilliantly different, and yet all with a shared humanity that should be bringing us together instead of tearing us apart.

Unless we talk about it, acknowledge the fears and anxieties, we’ll all still be a bunch of racist pricks. But when we do start talking about it, start seeing each other as mere humans rather than the devil’s spawn, start embracing diversity instead of fearing it will destroy our culture — I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty glad the parts of other cultures that embraced, say, human sacrifice, didn’t make the cut — when we can do that, then we might just start to understand what it means to be uniquely ourselves.

Otherwise, we’re just a bunch of primitives hiding in our caves from the weather — and everything else we refuse to understand.

Rough times ahead; hang on for your lives

I jumped the gun Tuesday night in Fugitive Info, telling you that the Palinista candidate in New Hampshire’s Republican Senate primary lost. In fact, Kelly Ayotte squeaked out a narrow victory over an equally out-of-touch Republican who lacked a tap from Queen Sarah’s glittering scepter.

In the Granite State, of course, it really didn’t matter except for bragging rights and the chance for my colleagues to tout the Women Power revolution in the GOP. That in itself is a bit of a travesty, although, I’m sad to say, there are some women I once thought of as liberal who cast their ballots on the basis of gender, claiming that women taking some power in the Republican Party is a good thing.

To them I say this: No, it’s not. Not if the women we’re talking about harbor the same dangerous delusions and problematic policy positions as the men. And they do, although, I must admit, some of them are worse.

No, I’m afraid, changing the gender of the lunatic who have taken over the asylum is not an improvement.

Those of you who think otherwise, well, go ahead and cast a vote for womanhood. And let me know how it works out when it comes down to voting for legislation you care about.

Another sad truth about Tuesday’s primaries is that the crazies won big. From an evolution-denying, anti-masturbation gadfly in Delaware, to a racist lunatic who wants to house the poor in prisons and supports a ban on abortions with no exceptions to an intelligent former state attorney general who somewhere along the line forgot how to use her brain.

Similar nuts have already won Republican primaries in Colorado, Alaska and Nevada, and I’m only talking about Senate and gubernatorial races here. The House? Well, I fully expect it to be taken over by the crazies.

The Senate, though, maybe not. Some of those races are unbelievably close — Sharron “The football team can’t wear black jerseys because that’s the devil’s color” Angle may well defeat Harry Reid. I have no love for Reid, but damn. Sharron Angle is not sane. Joe Miller in Alaska probably will win Lisa Murkowski’s Senate seat, because Scott McAdams just doesn’t have the name recognition. And besides, it’s Alaska.

>And Christine O’Donnell in Delaware — wow, now there’s a fruitcake. O’Donnell is a lightweight who has failed to win office seven or eight times before and thinks that masturbation is evil. O’Donnell is vying for Joe Biden’s former seat. O’Donnell used to be a regular on Bill Maher’s old “Politically Incorrect” show (ABC cancelled the show in 2002 after Maher agreed with guest Dinesh D’Souza that the 9/11 hijackers were not cowards — against the American party line, y’know). The perky Christine, at the time, represented a pro-abstinence group called Saviours Alliance for Lifting the Truth (SALT). And abstinence, she argues, includes refraining from masturbation, which she sees as adultery.

But Christine couldn’t win an election for dogcatcher until she hooked up with the angry Tea Partiers, which works perfectly for her since she, too, has no ideas. But then, she is a professional politician who doesn’t pay back her campaign debts.

And then there’s Carl Paladino, who’ll be facing Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York. Paladino likely won his election on the strength of his anti-Islam campaign. “There’s no constitutional argument (against the ground zero mosque) because it’s not freedom of religion,” he says. Well, moron, what is it? “Ideology,” he says. He’ll use eminent domain to stop the Islamic community center from being built because he “heard reports” that the imam in charge is anti-American, and George W. Bush made a mistake by sending him out to talk about improving U.S.-Muslim relations.

Paladino also suffers from e-mail forwarding disease. He’ll forward anything. Before President Obama’s inauguration, he sent around an video that purported to be the rehearsal for the swearing in. It featured African tribesmen dancing. He’s also sent out porn — including bestiality — a picture of the president and the first lady as a pimp and a ‘ho and this beautiful fake inspirational image.

And what was his spokesman’s response?

Carl Paladino has forwarded close friends hundreds of email messages he received. Many of these emails he received were off color, some were politically incorrect, few represented his own opinion, and almost none of them were worth remembering.

And Palladino himself, who wouldn’t say which ones “represented his own opinion” and which ones didn’t, blamed “the Democrats” for the controversy.

And it’s not just e-mails. When Palladino opens his mouth, watch out. He seems to have a serious problem with blacks in the Buffalo education system, complaining that Superintendent James Williams got his job because of his race and that the teachers’ union president is too close to black female school board members, whom he called “the parasitc Black Sisterhood.” He stand by his comments.

Then there’s his bastard child and my personal favorite — his plan to house the poor in prisons where they’ll learn how to get jobs and “hygiene.” Oh, and prison guards will be retrained to be counselors.

That’s where we are, friends. The Republican Party is now officially the party of the crazy. But it’s hardly surprising — the whackos have been working that angle for years, decades even. And now here we are.

But here’s the thing — whenever a society nears a monumental change, there’s a sharp and sure split. Extreme partisanship becomes the norm as conservatives, recognizing that change is coming, fight harder to prevent it, to pull it back, and progressives, who know that progress cannot be stopped, push harder to make it happen faster.

This intense push and pull makes for unsettling times, and, lord, we sure have ‘em now. If the crazies pull out a lot of victories in November, we’re not going to care much for what follows. On the other hand, those among us who just can’t accept that there really is a difference between Democrats and Republicans, miniscule as it may be, will find out first hand just what that difference is. If that’s the case, then 2012 may finally bring the change we’ve been looking for as the American pendulum swings as hard to the left as it has to the right this year.

And then, later on, it’ll settle to a new center, one that’s a little more sane than the one my colleagues think of as moderate.

Or Americans will close their eyes to the insanity the right has wrought. If that’s the case, we’re really doomed.

We do have a choice here, as a people. We’re still a democracy, for now. Vote. And keep putting the truth out there about what these TeaPublicans really are all about.

The man who wanted change

This week in the crazy, it was one of us.

Well, one of us who clearly had a few mental problems — and I’m not talking about James Lee’s manifestoed belief that the world is overpopulated by “filthy” humans. That part’s true, as is the part about war being incredibly damaging.

But just because you’re right about some things doesn’t mean you’re right about everything. Lee’s chosen methods to get his point across … more than that, really. The delusional Lee wasn’t really trying to his point across to the Discovery Channel. He wanted the Discovery Channel to get his point across to everybody else for him. Bottom line, James Lee wasn’t interested in dialog or debate. He wanted absolute change.

And that is Difference No. 1 between Lee and, say, Richard Poplawski, the Pittsburgh nutcase who holed himself up in the house he shared with his mother and killed three cops. Poplawski wasn’t looking for change. He believed Barack Obama was coming for his guns because Glenn beck told him so. Poplawski wanted things to stay the same.

It’s truly disheartening when One of Us adopts the tactics of the conservatives, who generally have no internal prohibitions on using violence, physical or verbal, when they don’t get their way. We’re supposed to be better than that, aren’t we?

But alas, leftists have a history of violent outbursts too, although, as noted above, it’s generally employed in the service of change to an unbearable system. Sometimes it works for the better (the American revolution) and sometimes it doesn’t (the Bolshevik revolution in Russia).

Still … why would a guy who holds a lot of the same ideals we hold arm himself to the teeth and barge into Discovery Communications? Frustration, maybe. We filthy humans appear to have no clue what we’re doing to the planet with our pollution and unsustainable population growth. The latter, in fact, is the elephant in the room that nobody, and I do mean nobody, wants to talk about. “Be fruitful and multiply” made sense back when earth’s entire human population was maybe about 4 million widely-spread people. Now? Not so much.

Frustration, though — that shouldn’t spark violence.Iif it should, there’d be even more violence in the world than there already is.

Some of my esteemed colleagues, particularly those with progressive tendencies, are pointing to some apparently anti-immigrant lines in Lee’s screed — filthy anchor babies, etc. — in an attempt to portray him as a right-winger. But what he writes in that section reads more like an add-on — he heard this stuff on the television in the background of his delusions and thought it fit with his general “humans stop breeding” campaign, so he added it.

He wasn’t a right-winger though. They don’t come in an atheist, Darwin-loving variety, although, frankly the Darwin-loving part is a little skewed. He seems to be more interested in returning to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle pre-dating the invention of farming, and I can’t quite figure if he wants us to shrink the population or eliminate it. It was certainly more sustainable then. But he is quite right about modern life messing up Darwin’s theories a bit. Natural selection has become very unnatural selection — ain’t nothin natural about having more money than god or the ability to build and deploy the nastiest weapons.

This image appeared on a blog called Shelley the Republican that is so bizarre I suspect it may be a fake, a la Jesus' General.

But neither is wrapping yourself in bombs and bringing guns into a television network, although now we approach Difference No. 2 between our man Lee and, say, Jim David Adkisson, who charged into a Tennessee church during a children’s performance and started shooting, killing 2. In fact, Lee wouldn’t have done any damage even if he had stormed in with guns a-blazin. He was carrying a pair of starter pistols.

Adkisson, like Lee, left a manifesto — and the latest books by Fox personalities Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly — although his manifesto was handwritten and not posted on the interwebz. In it, he complained that liberalism was America’s worst problem and that liberals are “a bunch of traitors.” Oh, and liberals are evil too. That’s why he picked a Unitarian Universalist church for his attack and clearly declared it to be “a hate crime,” “a political protest” and “a symbolic killing.”

Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of them is kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather.

Adkisson fully expected to be killed by a police officer, but instead the evil liberals wrestled him to the floor, holding him there until the police arrived.

James Lee didn’t go in shooting. He did go in wired with explosives. The cops are not yet sure how much damage his homemade bombs would have done, but apparently they were not very powerful. They almost certainly would have killed him, but the hostages were likely safe unless they were very close to him. Very close.

And here we are, at Difference No. 3 between James Lee and say, Timothy McVeigh, who meticulously planned and carried out the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Cuilding in Oklahoma city, which killed 168 people, some of them children at the building’s day care center.

Despite his anti-human rant (“The planet does not need humans”), James Lee didn’t kill a soul, and likely never even planned to harm a single living human, with the probable exception of himself.

McVeigh’s body count was much higher than Lee’s, which was zero. In fact, McVeigh’s was the worst act of terrorism on American soil until September 11, 2001. And while some on the right have hailed him as a hero, he was the last American my colleagues have easily called a terrorist. “Home grown” terrorist no longer means people like McVeigh, Poplawski, Adkisson or Eric Robert Rudolph — now it just means American Muslims, because “terrorist” only applies to Muslims.

I have a funny feeling they may change their tune a bit about Lee. He wasn’t white, you know.

Lee was, clearly, a sick puppy, like, say white supremacist James von Brunn, who believed a Jewish conspiracy was afoot to “destroy the white gene pool.” To keep that from happening, von Brunn spent months planning an assault on the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. He walked into the museum in June 2009 firing a .22-caliber rifle and killed the security guard who opened the door for him.

But James Lee, he wanted a fundamental change in the way we live. His delusion led him to believe the Discovery Channel was the perfect outlet to get his message out. He spent years trying to get the network to change its message, to warn the world’s people that they are the root of the world’s problems. Finally, when Discovery wouldn’t listen, he armed himself and marched into the network’s headquarters to force the network to do his bidding. He didn’t go in shooting — in fact, his guns weren’t even real. His bombs were, of course, and regardless of his beliefs and intentions or lack thereof, his actions were wrong.

Some on the right have unbelievably tried to pin Lee’s assault on Al Gore, apparently the only environmentalist they know by name. But Al Gore has never advocated anything remotely similar to what Lee did. The same can’t be said for the right-wingers who fed lies and other bullshit ideas to von Brunn, McVeigh, Adkisson and Poplawski.

If Lee had only actually been a right-winger. Then we wouldn’t have to fret for one little moment about what happened, why and how. We’d just chalk it up to Second amendment remedies and go on with our lives.

On the other hand, we all really ought to be better than that.

What conservatives don’t know can hurt you

Some of what conservatives believe defies logic. OK, a lot of it does. But far too much of it defies the truth. And I can’t figure out if they’re willfully lying or if they just simply don’t understand.

I suspect it’s both — their “leaders,” if, by leaders you mean craven hypocrites who would sell their mother and infant children if it kept them in power, know the truth but count on the average American to not know it — and believe them without question when they lie.

Hate to say it, but such is ignorance.

Take Sarah Palin, for instance — please. She’s on the record (tweeting and facebooking, of course) in support of poor Laura Schlessinger who has been forced to quit her radio show because the evil liberals won’t leave her alone about her rabid rant in which she used the dreaded n-word 11 times, totally freaking out her caller, who, inexplicably, had expected Schlessinger to help her with her problem, whatever it was.

Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence”isn’t American,not fair”)

For the Twitter impaired, here’s the translation:

Dr. Laura: Don’t retreat — reload! (I’m stepping aside because Dr. Laura’s First Amendment rights ceased to exist. Thanks, activists (Sarcasm). Trying to silence “isn’t American and it’s not fair)

Palin seems to have forgotten 2008, when Schlessinger was “stunned” and “extremely disappointed” that McCain had chosen her as his running mate.

Couldn’t the Republican Party find one competent female with adult children to run for Vice President with McCain? I realize his advisors probably didn’t want a “mature” woman, as the Democrats keep harping on his age. But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?

That’s part of Schlessinger’s schtick, y’know — the family thing. That and not whining, which is exactly what she’s done since announcing she was quitting the radio show on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

Plus, this isn’t the first time Schlessinger has mis-whined about the First Amendment. About 12-13 years ago, she went on a different tirade, this one about the dreaded homosexuals. She said gay men and lesbians were aberrations or some such nonsense, and denial of her First Amendment rights ensued, apparently by gay men, lesbians and their supporters exercising their First Amendment rights not to shop with her sponsors. As it was all at about the same time she was getting a TV show, the show was the target. It opened to pitiful ratings, because apparently masochistic losers who like to be berated by shrill non-doctors who once posed nude don’t watch much TV, and not surprisingly, didn’t last long.

But it pains me to have to remind conservatives, once again, about the Bill of Rights, in general, and the First Amendment, in particular. Here’s what it says:

Congress shall make no law …

Hold it right there. That’s as far as we need to go. “Congress shall make no law” in this case, “abridging the freedom of speech.” Did Congress pass a law kicking Schlessinger off the radio, or forcing her to curtail her bullshit while I wasn’t looking?

I didn’t think so.

These same conservatives, and it is the very same ones, seem to lack understanding of other parts of that same amendment, too, like the part that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

That’s why they can’t shut up about the not-at-ground-zero not-a mosque in New York. And to argue against it, they use all kinds of really fucked up analogies. Like, “What if the United States put a memorial to the Enola Gay in Hiroshima?”

Let me break this down for them, because I know complex ideas are difficult. First, Park51 is not a memorial to the airliners that hijackers flew into the World Trade Centers. Actually, that’s all we need to say. Same goes for the analogy wherein Japan would put a memorial to kamikaze pilots at Pearl Harbor, or Nazis put a memorial up at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Again, Park51 is not a memorial anything. It is an Islamic center that seeks to promote peace and understanding. And those are apparently concepts that conservatives have no understanding of whatsoever.

These ignorances are dangerous, and if they are indeed blind followings of lies and obfuscations of the so-called conservarati, they are even more dangerous, because what other lies can they tell that will be bought lock, stock and barrel by the ignorant masses?

A few days ago, I read an interview with a Teabagger in which he was asked if he’d actually read the Constitution, a copy of which he carried in his pocket. Not really, he said, “but I know my country’s history.” Really?

That made me cringe. I don’t expect everyone to be the history and news junkie that I am, but a little basic understanding sure would be nice. Sadly, that went the way of condiments being mere condiments in school lunches, a product of the right’s determination to keep us stupid by destroying any chance at a decent educational system in this country. So far, so good.

Conservatives sometimes, for reasons known only to them, like to deny that the United States is a democracy. “It’s a republic,” they say, which I think somehow implies that the people have all the power and the officials they elect, well, fuck them and the people who voted for them. Let’s try out some definitions:

A republic:
A state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

A democracy:
A government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

I don’t see a heckuva lotta difference, except that “republic” specifically refers to the country and “democracy” more specifically refers to the government. Whatever. They’re wrong. We are a democracy. And a republic. But to deny the former in favor of the latter is a separatist, militia thing to do — it sets up the basis for an armed insurrection.

Then there’s all the nonsense about how keeping taxes low for rich people helps the economy, creates jobs, etc etc etc. Except it doesn’t For the period of time since George W. Bush got his tax cuts for the rich passed by the same methods the Republicans now condemn when Democrats do it, there as been zero job growth. Zero. Zip, zilch, nada. Big fat nothing. Didn’t work, idiots. And yet, in the face of the obvious evidence of complete failure, the Republican leadership keeps saying it works and the ignorant masses keep believing them.

Speaking of taxes, we pay one of the lowest tax rates in the world, and the conservatives say we pay too much. That’s because they don’t want to pay any taxes. And corporations — good lord, they pay hardly any taxes on the billions they make, mostly because they hide their money in offshore tax shelters. But the conservarati don’t talk much about that.

And let’s not even get started on global warming. Sure, there’s a natural element to it. But we’ve helped it along quite nicely, thank you. And just because it has a natural element doesn’t make the idea of a world several degrees hotter than it is now and an ocean several feet higher than is now something that’s no big deal. Just ask the mastodons.

About 1,000 words or so back, I noted that some of the things conservatives believe defy logic (Obama is a socialist, secret Muslim who wasn’t born in the United States comes to mind), but I haven’t really addressed any of those. Five or six years ago, however, a list circulated that pretty much covered it (you can add whatever more modern ones you want). The gist of the list is this: IOKIYAAR.* Here it is:

  • Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you’re a conservative radio host. Then it’s an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
  • The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
  • Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.
  • “Standing Tall for America” means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.
  • A woman can’t be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
  • Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
  • The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans’ benefits and combat pay.
  • Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you run for governor of California as a Republican.
  • If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won’t have sex.
  • A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
  • HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.
  • Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.
  • Global warming, and tobacco’s link to cancer, are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
  • Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush’s daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a “we can’t find Bin Laden” diversion.
  • A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
  • Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
  • The public has a right to know about Hillary’s cattle trades, but George Bush’s driving record is none of our business.
  • You support states’ rights, which means (former) Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.
  • What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the ’80s is irrelevant.
  • Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

* IOKIYAAR: It’s OK if you are a Republican.

The end of days

There is no political solution to the mess we’re in.

I’ve said it. Outloud. There’s not a political solution for us. None whatsoever. So all this partisan posturing a lot of wasted energy. But it won’t stop, because our “leaders” won’t accept that there is no political solution. They can’t. It would be like an evangelical coming to terms with there being no god. Not gonna happen.

America is in decline, precisely because of the political nonsense we’ve been subjected to for years, decades now. It’s not yet settled how we’ll eventually fall, and, ironically enough, it will be the choices our clueless leaders make that determine our fate.

Will we decline gracefully, like Britain, shrinking to a solidly contained unit that still battles on, but no longer the major player on the world stage it once was? Or will we crash and burn like an arrogant Rome, utterly certain of its own invincibility right up until the bitter end?

That’s the reason our political debate still has merit. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking the British path is far better than the Roman one.

Funny, isn’t it, after the Revolution and all that came after it, that the United Kingdom is on much firmer ground now than we are, and still with a monarchy (of sorts).

Of course the UK still has its problems, political and otherwise. But it no longer sees itself as an empire, a shining beacon to the rest of the world. Not even David Cameron, the conservative prime minister, lays claim to that conceit.

Quite unlike our own conservatives, who, actually, believe America is declining but can’t see that it’s their own castles in the sand that are slowly deteriorating. Instead, the conservarati blame liberals and progressives for what ails us.

Pity that. It’s a rotten shame that the very fools who led us into this mess may well be the ones to whom we hand over the reigns so they can finish the job they started.

I know, I know, our so-called liberal president and congress (at least according to the conservarati) can’t tell their own asses from the holes in the ground left by the conservatives for the past 30 years. We progressives are rightly frustrated, angry even.

But if you think for one moment … y’know, never mind. I was going to give you that tired old screed about voting for the Democrats even though they’re fucking traitors and cowards, but just this moment I’ve changed my mind. Go ahead. If you want to stay home in November to show those fucktards a thing or two, go ahead. Vote for the other guy, even. But do so with your eyes open — the Republican Congress we get in 2011 will be the worst we’ve ever seen. And Obama will have no choice but to go along with them, just like Clinton in 1995, if he hopes to win in 2012.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • At least some repeal of the health care legislation, if not all.
  • At least some repeal of the financial reform legislation, if not all.
  • More Congressional hearings on “scandals” than you can possibly imagine.
  • More good people driven from their jobs because of the conservarati noise machine than ever in the history of this country.
  • Less protections for those who need it most.
  • More spying, more torture and no attempt to hide it.
  • Less regulation on business.
  • No enforcement on regulations already in effect.
  • Drilling in ANWR.
  • More offshore deepwater drilling.
  • No money for innovation and invention.
  • More war.
  • Less civility.
  • More hate.
  • An anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment.
  • A hogtied Justice Department.
  • More tax cuts for the rich.

And that’s just what the national GOP has told us about. To really prepare for the coming … ah, I almost said “holocaust,” and even though it’s a perfectly legitimate word that is capitalized when referring to what the Nazis did, in America we’re not allowed to use real words to describe what the conservarati do. So, to really prepare for the coming conservative majority, you need to look at the state and local level. Fortunately for us, Tana Ganeva at AlterNet has already done that. Make that part of your recommended reading list. It reads like a Glenn Beck show featuring Michelle Bachmann, Tony Perkins and the conspiracy theorist down the street who has concrete barricades in front of his house.
Among the things these Teapublicans want is for the United States to withdraw from all U.N. treaties (along the way to withdrawing from the United Nations completely and kicking the organization out of the country), including the ones protecting children from things like abuse and being used as soldiers.

As Ganeva says at the end of the article, just how long do you think it will be before Eric Cantor and John Boehner bring this shit to a national platform? Think carefully before you answer, and look carefully at the direction the Grand Old Party is moving.

Remember that these are the people who think that the country can afford $700 billion in tax cuts for the rich but can’t afford $33 million for unemployment. These are the people who deny that the BP oil spill is a catastrophe and that we’re in an economic crisis. These are the people who want a year-long moratorium on regulation, on their way to a permanent moratorium. These are the people who want an offset for that $33 million for unemployment, during an economic crisis, but won’t even consider any of that offset coming from the $70 billion war machine, which we all know is one of the most corrupt and messed up systems in the world.

And no wonder. It’s run by these very same people and their friends.

If you understand all that, then you have my blessing to help them return to power. Maybe that’s what we need, to really hit bottom. Unfortunately, it’s gonna mean more innocent people lose their jobs, get sick and can’t get health care, die. But that’s OK, isn’t it? It won’t affect you, will it?

Will it?

It’ll affect all of us. You know that, I know that. The question to ask ourselves is whether that’s really what we want — to see America become the ugly, corporate-run monstrosity the conservatives want it to be — and no, it’s not quite there yet, but it will be, and soon, if we let the Republicans take Congress.

Either way, 2012 will be the defining moment of this country. If we let them take charge again, and they do what they say they’ll do, they’ll be tarred and feathered and run out of Washington on a rail in 2012. And they’ll be welcomed by the armed bands they’ve encouraged to be ready for a second civil war.

But if we stop them, America’s decline and fall will soften to something more bearable, more comprehensible. We’ll be on our way to assuming a more equitable place in the world, and we will survive it.

I don’t need to run a bunch of quotes from the crazies here to remind you. But I do need to remind you that we must take them seriously. I was visiting my parental units in their rural abode a couple of weeks ago. Political ads were all over the television, and they all boiled down to “I believe in god, vote for me.” That’s enough for the folks around there — for some of ‘em, anyway. But even my “I-voted-for-Bush-twice” parents can’t stomach those ads. They’re voting for the guy who said simply that we live in troubled times, he’s led both a company and a city in troubled times and that’s what we need now. I don’t blame ‘em. I’d vote for him too over the other guys, even though he’s a Republican too.

But elections and voting won’t fix the mess we’re in. That’s gonna take a long hard look at who we are and what we want. We progressives need to start and persuade the others to follow us. It’s happened before.

At the turn of the last century, the people voted in the same kind of “love god, love business, love the rich” politicians we have now. Thirty years later, they took a mighty turn toward the progressive. The conservarati, angry and shagrined, have been fighting it ever since.

It’s time now to put them out of their misery.

Calling bullshit

I’ve been laughing for two days. That conservative nimrod Andrew Breitbart and the PR wing of the Teapublicans, Fox News, got caught with their pants down on this Shirley Sherrod thing.

They ran with an edited video, a specialty of Breitbart’s, and then, alluva sudden, it turned out their “interpretation” of the edits was spectacularly wrong.

Of course, the NAACP and the Obama administration get black marks for this too. In typical, knee-jerk, liberal fashion, they caved to the great conserverati and blasted poor Shirley to kingdom come. Cost her her job, one she was imminently qualified for.

Ben Jealous, the NAACP president — to his credit — called Sherrod and apologized. The Obama administration? Well, the president agrees with his Agriculture Secretary’s boneheaded decision to force Sherrod out, proving once and for all that it is led by the nose by the conservati.

Here’s the thing: what Sherrod was doing in that video was having the conversation about race that we all need to be having. The one the administration can’t be bothered with, and the one the conservarati don’t think is necessary. Unless you’re a minority. White people, of course, are just the poor, downtrodden victims of the liberal drive to destroy the true American (read white) culture.

Honestly, man, there is no white culture, unless you count collecting guns and whining that they pay too much taxes in a country with one of the lowest tax rates in the world. Just about everything else about white “culture” came from somewhere else, somebody else, some other culture.

But this is not rocket science. The conservarati and their deluded followers would have us believe there is no racism anywhere. They’d have to be trying to convince us of that if they have the gall to say there’s no racism in the Tea Party.

That’s why Breitbart and Fox are after the NAACP, pretty much the same way they went after ACORN and killed it (although every investigation exonerated ACORN and we learned that Breitbart’s pimp video was bullshit too).

They’re all pissed off because the NAACP passed a resolution (which, incidentally, won’t be completely official until and unless its board passes it in October) that condemned racist elements in the Tea Party and called on its leaders to do so as well.

As usual, the conservarati lied about what the resolution said, thus creating a false controversy that my colleagues have dutifully kept in the spotlight. Contrary to what you may have heard, the NAACP did not call the Tea Party racist. It simply pointed out racist elements, you know, like the Tea Partiers who carry big posters of the president with a bone through his nose.

I’m beginning to believe, though, that these throwbacks to the Jim Crow era may really believe that the things they do and say aren’t racist. Take Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams and his ridiculously stupid “letter” from Jealous to Abe Lincoln, in which he has Jealous complaining that emancipation means the “coloreds” actually have to work to get their wide screen TVs in every room.

Williams thought he was being cute. But he was really just being a jackass. And now this Sherrod thing — damn, even RedState’s Erick Erickson says it’s a load of crap.

But not the president. He’s behind AgSec Tom Vilsack and his uninformed decision to have his people force Sherrod to resign.

Chalk up another wasted opportunity. Here’s what Sherrod was doing. In her speech, one she’s actually delivered several times, she talks about the first time she had to work with a white farmer who was in danger of losing his farm. Now, Shirley and her husband Charles are also farmers, and back in the 1960s, they joined with a bunch of other black farmers to create a land trust called New Communities to help black farmers do what they do — farming. So Sherrod had a lot of experience, several decades worth, helping black farmers in rural area (in her case Georgia) deal with the institutional racism that kept them from getting the help they needed and that white farmers and corporations got all the time.

But one day 24 years ago, she was assigned to a white farmer, Roger Spooner. In her speech, she talks honestly about her own racism — and how it nearly derailed her efforts to help the Spooners. But she wised up and got them the help they needed, saving the farm.

What she’s doing in this speech is using personal experience to teach about changing attitudes, about stepping outside ourselves and looking at a much larger picture, in this case, once that included a white farmer in rural Georgia. It’s called a “teaching moment,” and Shirley Sherrod uses that moment well.

But then come the racists who don’t think they are, bound and determined to soil the NAACP and wrecking Shirley Sherrod’s career in the process. “This isn’t about Shirley Sherrod,” whined Breitbart on CNN.

Yeah, it is, Andy, you fucker. You made it about her by presenting what she was doing in a way you damn well knew was wrong. But that didn’t stop you, because you have made it your life’s goal to obliterate humanity from the United States of America. What a pitiful, despicable goal that is.

And how much better you’d be — we’d all be — if you realized this was another teaching moment, one in which you’d learn something.

But he won’t. None of those assholes will. Erickson, while admitting Breitbart had screwed up, nevertheless defended what the jackass was trying to do — prove that black people are racists too and that those aforementioned poor, downtrodden white people are constantly being called racist simply because they are angry that black people get all the breaks.

Like hell.

Here’s what I’m hoping for — I’m hoping that my colleagues finally get it this time that we need to be calling bullshit on this crap. We cannot continue to give these fools precious airtime to spread their vicious lies, and it doesn’t matter if they’re self-styled conservative website publishers like Breitbart, batshit insane congresscritters like Michelle Bachman or Fox Fucking News, which has been beating the racism drum for months now with no one daring to call them on it.

That needs to be all over. Conservatives have good ideas. But they don’t bother with that. Instead they instill fear and loathing in the populace by promoting complete distortions like the tale of Shirley Sherrod. It’s time my colleagues let go of the idea they have to present “both sides” to be fair. When one side believes completely insane things, you’re not being fair. You’re stupidly elevating insanity to the level of reason.

This country used to know that. But since my colleagues have, for the most part, abandoned their obligation to get to the truth and tell that out of some fear of offending the lunatics, very few of us know it now. Instead, when we turn on the television or read a newspaper we hear Jon Kyl, the other crazy senator from Arizona (what is it with that state anyway?) saying that cutting taxes for the rich isn’t spending money so it’s OK if that increases the deficit that the conservarati are absolutely apoplectic about if it has anything about helping people who need help.

I am so fucking sick of hearing the talking heads blather on with their spin-laden talking points on every goddamn cable television show. They don’t say a damn thing that means anything, and yet, there they are, again and again and again and again.

And Shirley Sherrod lost her job. But it’s not about her. It’s about killing real freedom and hitting the knees of this country with iron bars.

Oh, right. It’s the people we should be concerned with. The white people. Particularly the rich ones. And they must be Christian, and no gays allowed.

Shirley isn’t one of the “real” Americans, you know. She’s just a lazy black woman who’s worked her whole live for justice and learned somewhere along the way that justice for all really means all.

That’s something the conservati can’t accept. Damn them for it. They need to get their heads out of their own asses and live up to their (for now) false creed of being “for the people.”

The fall of the American empire

This country is fucked up, man. I’ve seen a lot in my rather lengthy years here, and I’ve never seen it like this. I know, I know, there’s some song out there that says something about “Every generation thinks it’s the last,” or some such. I hate that fucking song. And yeah, we’ve been pretty fucked up before. The Civil War comes to mind. But tell me when we’ve ever before had this harmonic convergence of stupidity, cowardice, cruelty, corruption, hatred, lies and obstruction. You can’t do it, because we’ve never had it.

And that’s just Congress. Never mind the corporations, the Tea Party, the militias, the states, religion and, of course, the people who create those monstrosities.

Maybe it has something to do with the bird we picked to symbolize our greatness, the bald eagle. Magnificent bird, but awfully lazy. They won’t leave their evening roost sites, usually on cliffsides, if there’s not enough wind because they’d rather not flap those enormous wings. And they’d much rather whack you over the head with those wings and steal the fish you just caught than catch one themselves. Ben Franklin was right about the wild turkey. Not a very attractive bird, true, but industrious and not a mugger.

Something needs to happen, and soon, before we end up crushed and broken like the Roman Empire, shattered into tiny pieces and living in a modern version of the Dark Ages.

But what the hell can we do? We elect people we think will do the right thing, and as soon as they get into office they become the same old politicians. And why not? They know which side of the bread has the butter, man, and it ain’t us.

So on this July 4, Independence Day, maybe we oughta be thinking about what kind of country we want.

Now, I know what kind of country I’d like to live in, and I’ll bet it’s pretty similar to the one you envision. But there’s an awful lot of folks out there who don’t share our dreams and hopes. But maybe they would, if only they could cut through the bullshit and understand the truth about who we are and where we come from.

Online, we largely talk to ourselves. While it’s good to know there are others as distressed as we are about the current state of affairs, we get nowhere in terms of making change happen. So start talking. Talk to your family, your friends, your coworkers. Let them see how you feel about things, not your strident ideological viewpoint, because they really don’t give a good goddamn about that. They only care about how they feel, which is why the Teapublican conservarati are so fucking successful. They play on feelings — on the scariest of feelings. But most of what the conservarati want us to fear is made up shit, or maybe exaggerated shit at best.

I don’t want to live in a world where I’m terrified to leave my house or frightened of a terrorist attack that is bound to strike where I am at that time or the coming takeover of our government by a hostile enemy. I know that bad things could happen at any time, and I know that the hostile enemy that is trying to take over our government is the very group that pretends to be the only ones who can save us. That’s a common movie plot, people. We oughta be able to recognize it by now — and that includes your family, friends and coworkers.

Michael Steele, the Republicans’ attempt to prove they aren’t a bunch of racist bastards, is a freaking idiot. And a liar. Or maybe he really believes his lies, I don’t know what’s in that guy’s head. He said last week that Afghanistan was the “war of Obama’s choosing,” that “this is not something United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”

Christ, Steele, on what fucking planet? And yet, my friends, can you even imagine how many people out there now believes exactly that.

Steele forgot, apparently, that it was George W. Bush who started that war after 9/11. Of course, Bush too quickly forgot about it, preferring instead to wage a real war of choice in Iraq. Just a few short months after he started that war, loudly declaring we’d smoke al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden out of the caves where they hid, he was telling reporters he didn’t think much about bin Laden, that bin Laden didn’t concern him. Of course not. He was working on what had been his plan all along — the invasion of Iraq.

Is that the kind of country we want? Where our leaders can’t make up their minds what the fuck they’re doing and blatantly lie about it?

Do we want a country where the party with the majority in Congress repeatedly caves to the minority on important issues they were elected to address? I know I didn’t cast my ballot for Barack Obama in 2008 so we could still keep prisoners at Gitmo who have not been charged and probably tortured, or conduct electronic surveillance on anybody we choose, American citizen or no, just because.

I don’t want a country, in fact, whose people think torture is OK. Waterboarding. It wasn’t an unknown technique when we suddenly learned we were doing it. It has a long and ugly history, and for that entire history it’s been labeled torture. Right up until George W. Bush admitted we did it. Then suddenly it was just a “harsh interrogation technique that some consider torture.” Really? Fuck that. Waterboarding is torture.

Actually, watching our government implode is torture. Watching Teapublicans get everything they fucking want in a bill and still refuse to vote for it is torture.

These guys started out Obama’s administration saying they wanted it to fail. They’re doing a great job of making sure that happens. Is that the kind of country we want? I don’t think so.

And it’s only gonna get worse, I tell you. We’re on a rapid slide to a catastrophic failure, and we’re getting awfully close to the point of no return. Think it’s bad now? Put the Republicans back in power in Congress. Or elect more Blue Dog corporate slave Democrats. See what happens then.

The Republicans want a government that caters to the rich, that makes them more powerful than they need to be. They don’t give a shit about you and me, and they especially don’t give a shit about the poor or anybody not white. Except Michael Steele, apparently, and maybe Alberto Gonzales.

That’s why they go on and on about socialism and Nazism and terrorists and Muslims and immigrants. It’s why they destroyed ACORN. It’s why they’re doing everything they can to save BP and nothing to save the Gulf Coast.

And a lot of people who are not completely destitute or unemployed buy into their crap. Know why? Because they still cling to something that was never true — that elusive American Dream of someday being one of the rich guys.

Not gonna happen for most, because what they don’t understand is that to become one of those guys you have to sell your soul, or not have one to begin with.

I don’t want to live in a soulless country. It sounds to much like late Victorian England, with debtors prisons and despicable orphanages and health care provided by Jack the Ripper types if you can get it at all.

No, I want a country that cares about its people, not its profits. I want a country that sees despair and bends to lift it, that educates its children in the ways of science and history, that encourages innovation and invention and gives those children the means to create.

Instead, though, we have a country that devalues education, cuts funding and then wonders why China is leaping ahead of us economically.

We have a country that values killing people more than it values saving lives by keeping our own infrastructure in good repair.

Some Republican last week lamented that our economy was going the way of the Roman Empire, blaming Obama and Democrats for that, naturally. He was half right. Our economy is collapsing, but it’s 30 years of conservative fuckery that’s cutting the legs out from under it.

How quickly we forget. Obama entered his presidency in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and Republicans have screwed up every single thing he’s tried to fix it.

It was going to be a long, hard road anyway, but now it’s gotten longer and perhaps impossible to travel.

I’m angry as hell at the Republicans for that, and angry too at Obama and the Democrats for letting them do it, for not countering their scary rhetoric.

So if they’re not gonna do it, we have to. Not just to ourselves, but to everyone. It’s our last chance to turn this ship of state around. It’s hard work, and it will take a long, long time.

But the alternative is just too painful to even imagine.

Just how fucked are we?

A majority of Americans support Arizona’s attempt to become a racist police state. Now, a majority also thinks the new law out there in the wild west will lead to racial profiling, but, hey, what’s a little racial profiling among friends, huh?

If that’s not a direct indication of the racist hearts of Americans nowadays — that people don’t care if the brown and black people are profiled — then I don’t know what is. If it were the other way around, d’ya think they’d like it so much?

Remember the Arizona deputy who was shot last week? Originally, we were told he was shot by illegal immigrants. With and AK47. Now, I’m thinking that not too many illegal immigrants carry around AK47s, but what do I know? I’m just a dirty miscreant hippie. But sure enough, we find out later that the dudes who shot the deputy (but not the sheriff, who wasn’t there) were dug smugglers. They may well have been in the country illegally, but they were also doing something quite illegal at the time. Same with the rancher who was shot and killed on a ranch, the incident that got the Arizona legislature on this kick to begin with. The illegal immigrant in question was a drug smuggler.

In fact, virtually all the crime that the legislature was looking to cut down on with this crackdown on illegal immigrants is done by drug smugglers. But instead of looking at the drug problem, the lawmakers made a law that doesn’t just target drug smugglers. And it doesn’t just target illegal immigrants. It targets anybody who looks like they might be an illegal immmigrant, which, in Arizona, means anyone who isn’t white.

Of course, the supporters of these kinds of measures won’t tell you about the drug smugglers. But they will spare no expense to tell you about the scary, scary Mexicans swarming across the border by the millions to take your jobs and usurp the benefits paid for by your tax dollars (the very same benefits, by the way, that most of the supporters of this kind of law don’t want you to have either).

I’m sure you’ve seen and hears the teabaggers going on and on about how Obama is shredding the Constitution. But from just that little discussion above, it’s damn clear who’s doing the shredding these days. But this is what conservatives do. They accuse the reset of us of doing what they’re doing, putting us on the defensive because damn we don’t like to be accused of being unAmerican.

The eight years of unmitigated fear mongering we had during the Bush administration has very nearly killed us. Far too many folks fall for it now. You and I are at an extreme disadvantage, and yes, my colleagues are quite culpable in that.

Speaking of my illustrious colleagues, they’ve spent much of the last week goading Republicans into complaining that Faisal Shahzad, the incompetent Times Square wannabe terrorist, got Mirandized. Not that it took a lot of goading, because these country-lovin, Constitution-supportin, gun-totin hypocrites live by the Constitution’s exception clause, wherein all the rights and responsibilities iterated in our ruling document apply to everyone except the people they’re afraid of. They also use the exception clause to exempt certain member of society — them — from certain laws. Pretty good racket they’ve got goin there.

See, the thing about conservatives is that they are completely convinced that they and only they have the right to rule. They are never wrong, always right, and the rest of us need to shut the fuck up and get out of the way.

But let’s get back to Shahzad, shall we? What a loser. Dude even bought the wrong kind of fertilizer, a mistake conservative hero Tim McVeigh certainly didn’t make. But boy those conservatives are just riddled with fear over this guy. And it’s all Obama’s fault, of course. Obama’s fault that he got naturalized and the security checks didn’t flag him, because, you know, terrorists, being Muslims, are bound and determined to attack the United States from the day they are born, unlike, say, white guy and Christian Joe Stack, who’d just had enough of the socialist government of the United States one day and flew his airplane into an IRS building.

Shahzad was also “allowed” to get on a plane. Incompetence! the conservatives scream. Yeah, but there’s just one little thing wrong with that. Shahzad got on the plane because hemadehis reservation on the way to the airport but didn’t pay until he was there. So he wasn’t on the passenger manifest right away. But by the time he had actually gotten to his seat, he was, and Customs and Border Protection took him off. Then the plane started to leave, but CBP called it back to make sure they had the right guy — and that the plane was safe.

And then there’s the Miranda thing. As if they didn’t get enough of that with the totally incompetent wannabe terrorist underwear bomber. This time, though, there was a difference — Shahzad is a citizen, although, of course, not a real citizen since he was naturalized. But the damn Constitution says that makes him a citizen.

That wasn’t enough, though, to stop folks like John McCain and Pete King from saying it was a mistake to read him his rights, even though the attorney general told us that he’d waived his rights and kept providing information even after he was Mirandized.

Pete King even had the quote of the week.

I know he’s an American citizen, but still.

But still. Joe Lieberman has an idea, though, to take that “but still” right out of the mix. He’s introducing a bill to strip terror suspects of their citizenship. And ship them to Gitmo.

Just gotta be a suspect, man. That’s the American way. If we think you’re guilty, you are. Especially if you’re not White Like Me.

And that’s the way the Arizona law reads too. Just gotta be a suspect. And you’d better have you’re papers in order. But there won’t be any racial profiling, y’know.

And of course, the failed Times Square attack has the conservatives falling all over themselves to be the first to say that it proves we need stricter immigration laws, just like they did after 9/11. Couldn’t be more predictable. Some congressman, whose name I flushed out of my mind, even issued an incomprehensible news release in which he said that the failed attack in Times Square justified the Arizona law.

Conservative bloggers are all over that too, except for the most part they’re calling for stricter regulations against Muslim immigrants, rather than Arizona’s unwritten Hispanic rules.

So how fucked are we? Unless and until a whole lot more people take the blinders off and see what they’re doing to themselves, not to mention the country, I’d say we’re pretty damn fucked. And I didn’t even get to the part about the Ayatollah Limbaugh’s new theory: that environmentalists blew up the Deepwater Horizon as some sort of black flag operation to discredit the oil companies, as if they need any outside help.

Limbaugh and the other conservatives who are playing that song do so because that’s something they’d do. They don’t get it that the rest of us don’t operate like that. We care just a little bit more about honesty and integrity, fairness and justice.

That puts us behind the 8-ball sometimes. But in the long run, it’s the only way to go.

Recovering from stupidity

We’ve got a problem.

I’m not talking about our political woes, up to and including the politically-led bankruptcy of everything good and decent about this place we call our country, although that’s  certainly a problem.

No, the problem I’m talking about may well be the underlying source, the wellspring from which that particular malignancy has sprung.

The problem we’re facing now is that we have too damn many stupid people.

And no, I don’t mean uneducated people. I know some pretty darn smart uneducated people, and god knows some folks with all the degrees money can buy are just plain damn stupid. And that’s what I mean.

But it goes beyond just having too many stupid people. It’s almost like we want people to be stupid. And we certainly don’t want them to go the way of natural selection. No, we coddle them.

You heard me. We coddle stupid people. We make their lives comfortable and safe so they won’t hurt themselves or other people too badly. Look at all the ridiculous warning labels we put on things so the stupid people won’t do something stupid. Except they will, or maybe even come up with something even more stupid than what’s on the label.

How about a fishing hook with a label that says “Harmful if swallowed?” No, duh. Really? Washing machines carry labels warning not to put people in them. An iPod Shuffle warns not to eat it. A blender label warns not to try to stop the blades with your hands. A hair dryer warns that it shouldn’t be used in the shower. An electric router (for carpenters not computers) says that it shouldn’t be used as a dentist’s drill. A night time sleep aid that warns it may cause drowsiness. A stroller suggests removing the child before folding for storage. A clothes iron warns not to iron clothes while you’re wearing them. The label on a Batman costume says the cape won’t enable flight (because everybody knows Batman didn’t fly).

I know. You’re all out there saying, but Nunzia, those labels are really there to protect the manufacturers of the products from ridiculous lawsuits.

Yeah, from stupid people! Back where I come from, there’s a common joke. Ready? OK, here goes:

What’s a redneck’s last words?

Hey, y’all, watch this!

Stupid people, I tell you.

And what happens when you coddle stupid people and protect them from the natural laws of evolution? Well, they do more stupid things.  And more stupid things. And then more, and pretty soon, their stupidity starts to affect the rest of us.

Take Arizona, for example. The home state of John “I’m only a maverick when I”m bucking my own party, otherwise I’m a partisan hack” McCain has now made apartheid official policy.

OK, that’s an exaggeration. But you better not forget your wallet when you leave the house, because police don’t have to have a reason to ask you for your papers now. Well, they do, kinda. It’s supposed to be some reasonable reason to suspect that you might not be in the country legally, but that’s not defined. The governor promises training, but I suspect when it comes down to it, the only reasonable reason to suspect that you might actually be in the country legally will be if you’re blonde and blue-eyed. Like the governor. I doubt Arizona has too many problems with northern European illegals.

On the other hand, I’d be really keen to find out who a Navajo or Hopi officer would reasonably suspect might be in Arizona illegally. Hope the governor is carrying her papers at all times.

Now, before my conservative friends start clenching their asses so tight they can’t breathe, let me say that our immigration non-system is fucked up, seriously. But you don’t fix it by putting a bunch of local deputy sheriffs on the streets and tell them to make sure everybody’s legal. You also don’t fix it by deporting 12 million people, as many conservatives would like to do. Know why? Because it would cost more than it costs to bail out the conservatives’ buddies in the banking industry, which, incidentally, they’re all trying to pretend they oppose now. What we need is a little common sense and not the fear and anger ginned up by politicians aiming to take full advantage of their unthinking constituents.

Of course, that’s kinda the prescription for anything that ails us right now. Quit playing the stupid for fools and get real.

Back to Arizona, though, which doubled down on the stupid. The governor hasn’t signed it at this writing, but the legislature passed a bill requiring that presidential candidates prove they’re U.S.-born before they can be put on the ballot in the state. They say it had nothing to do with our Kenyan-born president, although it was sponsored by people who believe the president was born in Kenya even though he’s already proven he wasn’t. No word on who in Arizona will be the final arbiter of the veracity of Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate, which has already been proven to be real and legitimate.

The stupid gets worse too. How about a Republican contender for Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada who thinks people should barter things like livestock and house-painting for health care? Sue Lowden was actually quite clearly talking about bargaining on the price of health care when she used the word “barter.” But when she was given an opportunity to correct herself, she doubled down and said she meant to say barter, that there was nothing wrong with that because “in olden times” it was perfectly acceptable to bring chickens to the doctor’s office.

I was willing to give Lowden the benefit of the doubt in the beginning — who hasn’t used the wrong word before? But that got harder when she insisted she meant what she said. And the real proof of stupidity was actually using the phrase “in olden times.” Seriously, Sue, you’re not old enough to say that and not appear stupid. Get with the times.

On the other hand, Lowden was once Miss New Jersey and second runner-up in the Miss America contest. That’s not to say that beauty contestants are all stupid. And remember, some very smart people are also quite stupid.

Speaking of women, conservatives have a problem there with the stupid too. Erick “I cleaned up my act (sorta) so I could get a gig with CNN” Erickson of Red State had no problem tweeting about “ugly feminists” who should “get back in the kitchen” back in February, after he had supposedly quite tweeting stupid things like calling a Supreme Court justice a “goat fucking child molester” and urging that conservatives go beat their congresscritters “to a bloody pulp” (a sentiment that resurfaced in one of Erick’s blog posts just a coupla weeks ago). The Medina County, Ohio, GOP also sees women as slaves cooks too. It sent out a flyer to voters urging that they put Rep. Betty Sutton “back in the kitchen” and elect a Republican instead. They apologized, of course — they always do — but they’re only apologizing that they were stupid enough to say what they think out loud, not that they’re misogynist assholes.

And there’s just not any need to go into the stupid displayed on race and gays. Seriously.

The worse stupid of all, though, is all the lies. Mitch McConnell is still pretending that the financial reform bill will codify “too big to fail,” which is stupid when you look at reality and realize TBTF is codified NOW. But my colleagues are busy coddling the multi-chinned one. Instead of saying, Mitch, baby, that’s a lie, we’re just doing what we usually do. We put on a Democrat to say no, that’s not right. We report, you decide.

Fuck that, man. You can’t decide if all we’re doing is playing stenographer to spin doctors. The financial reform bill, which is pretty darn weak, just like the health care reform bill, but is nevertheless much better than leaving things as they are, which apparently is The Republican Way. Now, the bill’s not gonna end TBTF, but it’s not gonna set up an endless litany of bailouts either, as McConnell insists after his brazen meeting with the Wall Street fat cats to get his talking points in order.

What, does he think we’re all stupid?

Well, that’s kinda the point. The liars and obfuscators in Congress count on our stupidity. And that’s not just The Republican Way, it’s The American Way.

The good news is that we can recover from stupidity. It doesn’t have to be fatal. But it takes, first, an admission that we are stupid, and that the entire country has become unmanageable because of it. And then we have to reject the coddling, and stop coddling each other.

After that, we begin the long hard climb out of the hole our stupidity as dug for us.

I know, it sounds terrifying. Thinking for ourselves, actually reading things and understanding them rather than depending on the familiar lying faces on what was once affectionately called the “boob tube” (and not because it featured women’s breasts).

But we can do it, I know we can. Just take the first step.