Another Fourth, another episode of blissful national blindness

No red, white, and blue adorn my flagpole. No patriotic bunting arches over my front door. No fireworks await their flaming demise. I no longer enjoy the nation’s formal parting from Great Britain (which was on July 2, anyway).

2f45d-free_wallpaper_patriotic_eagle_american_flag_background-1-1024x768I suppose, at one time, July Fourth carried great meaning to all Americans. After all, because of the acts of the Continental Congress and subsequent versions of it, I can (and do) criticize my government without fear or favor. I can own a weapon. My home and person cannot be searched or seized without cause. I am not obligated to incriminate myself. I can practice the religion of my choice — or decide not to — without government coercion. I can peaceably assemble with others to protest almost any damn thing I want to. I can vote to select who will govern me. And Congress cannot prevent me from owning a press in which I tell others what I see and what I know and what I feel.

I love my country because of the ideals inherent in the Constitution and especially in the Bill of Rights.

But lately, I have come to dislike this overwrought holiday. Continue reading

Panic Button: glass house candidate throws stone

bernie btton

photo courtesy of etsy.com

Hypothetically, let’s say you lost the Nevada primary because of your failed efforts to suppress the vote in 2008. Specifically, you attempted to suppress the vote of a particularly powerful union, the Culinary Workers Union,  namely women, minorities, and working people, who caucus on Saturday, on their lunch break, on the Vegas strip, because their jobs do not allow them to go to the polls when everyone else does. Let’s say this union chose to endorse the other fellow, and you filed a lawsuit that amounted to disenfranchisement of their entire population and denial of the validity of their way of life. Let’s say the lawsuit was so abysmally unpopular that you had to politically and personally distance yourself from it, and force a smile when all the Nevada delegates ultimately voted for the other fellow. Continue reading

For 2016, re-elect Andrew Shepherd: Fiction trumps the Republican reality

the_american_president_28movie_poster29In my favorite bad movie, The American President, Michael Douglas as the fictional President Andrew Shepherd confronts his Republican challenger’s claims about Shepherd’s character.

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: Making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.

You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character. … You scream about patriotism and tell them [who’s] to blame for their lot in life … [emphasis added]

Now remove Bob Rumson’s name and insert the name of any of the recent CNN main stage GOP presidential candidates (or even Wolf Blitzer, as he goaded them into ISIS hysteria). Continue reading

Democratic Party: Come back, Dixiecrats. We need you.

What can we do to make it all right?

ICYMI, the Democratic Party has been doing some navel-gazing and just released its collection of belly-button lint for public inspection. After their embarrassing losses in the 2014 mid-terms, they finally realized they must be doing something wrong. One task force and an embarrassingly thin seven pages (9! Count the covers!) later, we discover this finding, for example:

“It is strongly believed that the Democratic Party is loosely understood as a long list of policy statements and not as people with a common set of core values (fairness, equality, opportunity). This lack of cohesive narrative impedes the party’s ability to develop and maintain a lifelong dialogue and partnership with voters.”

See, this is part of their problem, right here. Continue reading

Nota Bene #120: Crazy Ivan

“If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s earth.” Who said it? Continue reading

Who's serious about reducing the deficit?

Cut Medicare payments and tweak Social Security. Cut defense spending by directly reducing spending and getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Raise income, corporate, and payroll taxes. These issues essentially define what it means to be serious about eliminating the federal deficit, because all of them need to happen before the deficit can truly be brought under control. Serious people can debate how much of each is necessary and where to make the largest changes, but anyone who rejects even one of the issues is either ignorant of the scale of the problem, blindly beholden to their preferred ideology, or lying.

Yesterday we discussed these issues. Today we look in greater detail at the public statements of various individuals and organizations to see if they are actually serious about cutting the deficit, or if they just claim to be serious.

The Republican Party

Since President Bush II presided over a massive expansion of government during his eight years in office, the GOP has, in most respects, become the party of “spend and don’t tax.” Continue reading

Grow up and remember your youthful idealism, Democrats!

There appears to be two main narratives circulating about the cause of the widespread Democratic losses in the elections on November 2nd. The first is that the Democrats earned it because their actions over the last two years de-energized the Democrats who voted for hope and change in 2008. The second is that the Democrats who stayed home instead of voting in the mid-terms need to grow up and realize that they were never going to get everything they wanted, that Obama had done everything (or nearly everything) he could, and that they’d just shoot their beliefs in the metaphorical foot. While I’m solidly in the second camp, I remember a time when I would have related to those Democrats whose liberal idealism was deflowered over the last two years. And because I remember what it was like to be young and idealistic, I can appreciate that there is certainly some truth to the first narrative as well. Continue reading

Unsolicited movie review: Capitalism…

…A love story. Which is what the film is, an unsolicited review of Capitalism. If you’re expecting standard, Michael Moore agit-prop you’ll be mildly disappointed. If you’re expecting a full deconstruction of Capitalism, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re expecting a call to Socialism and all power to the proletariat, you’ll just be mildly confused. It’s a pretty good flick, partly because Moore doesn’t pull many silly stunts and spends less time than usual getting in your face. In fact, he’s downright nostalgic through the better part of the first half. It’s UAW, middle class autobiographical complete with old home movies. Now maybe it’s just that i was raised amidst the UAW middle class at the tail end of its existence, but this focus did a good job of setting me up. I know the way the story ends. His shots of abandoned neighborhood’s are depictions of my own mental imagery rather than cinematic. I’ve already got the sadness, confusion and anger that he’s hoping to build.

I’m curious if the set up works for others from a different background.

Continue reading

At this point it's all we've got

A funny thing happened to me the other day. I walked into a conversation at work about the health care reform bill, and without any provocation from me i got to hear an interesting view on the matter from a thoughtful, intelligent man who’s every bit a capitalist. He attends church regularly and describes himself as a right-leaning libertarian. He’s from a staunchly Republican family. He likes Rush Limbaugh. In other words, he’s a far cry from a bleeding heart, dirty-fucking-hippie liberal as you’re likely to find. You know what this man said? He said that he’s in favor of universal coverage, but that the bill being voted on looks like hell and that he can’t see how it will fix any of our health care problems.

Now tell me that this bill is the best we can hope for, and do it without blaming what we’re getting on evil conservatives. This bill is not the best we can get, but it is exactly what Obama and the DLC types wanted…because they’re not on your side.
Continue reading

When Jesus Attacks! Why don't we care that the Catholic Church is officially whipping Congress?

Part 2 of 2. (Read part 1…)

It’s Time to Separate Church and State, Once and for All

If you recall, anti-Catholic prejudice was once a problem for Catholic politicians in the US. John F. Kennedy went so far as to address the issue head-on in his 1960 campaign – probably because he didn’t feel he had much choice. Here’s what he told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12 of that year:

I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters — and the Church does not speak for me.

He went on to assert his respect for the separation of church and state and vowed that Catholic officials would not dictate policy to him. As noted in part 1, the times, they have a-changed. Continue reading

Nota Bene #107: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #101: Your Pal, Mike S.

“The guys who are shooting films now are technically brilliant, but there’s no content in their films. I marvel at what I see and wish I could have done a shot like that. But shots are secondary for my films, and with some of these films, it’s all about the shots. What’s the point? I’m not sure people know what points to make.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Summer of Hate provides a watershed moment for "reasonable Republicans"

I’m not a Republican, but I know many people who are. I have GOP friends, co-workers and family members, and for that matter I used to be a Republican myself. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, to be sure. But it’s true.

It’s no secret that I don’t agree with the GOP on much of anything these days, but there’s kind of an odd element to my conversations with Republican acquaintances lately: a lot of them profess significant disagreement with the platform and policies of their party, too.

Taken in a vacuum, this is hardly surprising. Continue reading

Democrats to Progressives: We're just not that into you

not_that_into_youA modest proposal, perhaps.

It’s been entertaining watching American public “discourse” since the election. (I use that word in its broadest, most ridiculous sense, since nothing that hinges so completely on self-absorption, rank ignorance and pathological dishonesty can be accurately characterized by such a noble word. But indulge me. I’ve been working on my irony lately.)

On the one hand you have conservatives fainting dead away that we’re now in the clutches of a “socialist” president. Never mind that these folks wouldn’t know a real socialist if he was gnawing their balls off. Never mind that most of these folks think “socialist” is the French word for Negro. Never mind that Obama demonstrably is to socialism what Joe the Plumber is to brie-sucking Northeastern intellectualism. As arch-conservative TV pundit Stephen Colbert says, “this is a fact-free zone.”

On the other you have the righteous outrage of the progressosphere, which feels six different kinds of betrayed by a president who promised them the moon and stars and has now left them to what looks like at least a four-year walk of shame. If I might borrow from an old fraternity joke, imagine the following scene from the Oval Office: Continue reading

The empire strikes back

It is a dark time for the rebellion.  Although the Bush administration has been defeated, imperial troops have co-opted groups like MoveOn and vast swaths of the Democratic Party in their continued pursuit of global dominance.

Evading the Imperial Department of State, a group of freedom fighters without a leader has withdrawn to the remote corners of the blogosphere.

The evil lord Barack Obama, obsessed with imperial glory, is dispatching thousands of new storm troopers and imperial governors into the far reaches of South Asia…

Continue reading

The hundred and eighty third time's a charm

One hundred and eighty-three times.  It must have been that last one that made KSM say, “Oh fuck it, what do you want me to say?  Where do I sign?”  Any in-depth reading of the depravity to which the Gestapo and the SS sunk tells the story that we don’t want to hear.  Any perusing of the memoirs penned by those who managed to walk out of the Lubyanka sings the same refrain.  There should be no surprise in any of this.  Don’t be surprised by the insects, and don’t be surprised when we someday find out about the rubber hoses and the 12V batteries attached to genitalia.

Continue reading

Devil, meet Deep Blue Sea: how much should progressives spend reaching out to progressives?

I recently offered up an open letter to America’s progressive billionaires where I noted how much better conservatives have been historically at making best use of their intellectuals and at assuring that those laying the foundation for political action were taken care of. That is, the Daniel Bells of the world didn’t have to slave at two jobs to scrape together half a salary, and as a result they were able to do important work that paid off – and handsomely – for their patrons.

In truth, the problem runs deeper than just “our side’s” billionaires, or so it appears. It started the other day when some prominent Left Blogistanis decided they weren’t going to keep their mouths shut anymore. The first shot was fired in a Greg Sargent piece at Who Runs Gov: Continue reading