Thursday, September 27, 2012

American People Rejecting Conservative Ideology

I have been feeling so optimistic in the weeks since the political conventions as President Obama has pulled away from Mitt Romney in the polls. The reason I'm feeling this way is because that tells me the American people are waking up; they have taken a look at the radicalism of today's Republican Party and they are saying NO.

When the Tea Party won big in 2010 they got cocky and strutted their stuff on the national stage. They pushed the Republican presidential candidates to take extreme positions; Mitt Romney has not been able to recover and "pivot to the center" like most candidates do.

The 99% meme introduced by the Occupy Wall Street movement somewhat penetrated the nation's consciousness, but I think Romney's 47% comments (particularly the line that people in that group aren't responsible for their lives) really pushed the American people into a new awareness that there is something very wrong with our society.

This election was supposed to be an easy win for a Republican--the pundits have talked endlessly about how no incumbent has ever won re-election with an economy this bad. But it's starting to look like this election could be a landslide for Obama. And, in my mind, the major reason this will happen is that the American people are rejecting conservative ideology.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Three Stooges History Lesson

I recently watched “Cash and Carry,” a Three Stooges film from 1937, and was surprised by its political message. The Stooges live in a city dump (which alone makes this short worth watching—the trash is almost all tin cans with a few tires and some broken wagon wheels). After an absence they return home to find a teen-age girl and her little brother, who has one leg in a brace, living in the Stooges’ shack at the back of the dump.

The Stooges dig around in the trash and find money in a tin can. When they find out it’s what the girl has been saving for the boy’s leg operation, the Stooges say they’ll put it in a safer place—a bank—and the boy asks “But will they give it back to us?” Curly replies, “Oh sure, they didn’t used to but now they do.” This is clearly a reference to the bank runs of the early 1930’s before the FDIC was created by Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. At that time if a bank run happened and the bank closed you lost whatever money you had deposited (hence the panic that caused bank runs).

When the Stooges go to a bank they discover it would take 100 years to “grow” the money from the $62 they have to the $500 needed for the operation, so as they leave a couple of con men grab them and promise they will take them to a place where treasure is buried.

They’re dropped off at a nice home and the Stooges proceed to tear it up. When they’re digging in the basement they end up breaking into the U.S. Treasury vault. They’re caught as they attempt to leave with gold bars and bags of bills. The last scene shows the Stooges and the girl and her brother in the Oval Office with President Roosevelt. The President says he will make sure the boy gets his operation and will extend executive clemency to the Stooges. Of course Curly misunderstands and says “No way!” so Moe bops him on the head and explains that means they’re free. Curly turns toward FDR and says, “Gee Mr. President, you’re a swell guy!” and Moe adds, “You said it,” as all three look gratefully towards the president.

People today take the protections provided by the federal government so for granted. That’s why it’s easy for conservatives to make the argument that federal regulations hurt the economy. The Three Stooges provide a pleasant history lesson.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Act Don't Occupy

Today is Occupy Wall Street’s one-year anniversary. There are some protests in cities around the country today but it’s obvious this movement has died.

I think it failed because OWS became all about people camping out in city squares and fighting for the right to squat on public property. It looked like the activists just wanted to bring the country and the economy to a standstill. It appeared to promise only chaos and anarchy and destruction. No wonder most people rejected it.

What we need is for the people of this country to wake up and remake our political system with a new consciousness. And at the same time bring this new consciousness into our local business community, town by town. I feel like that is what many people are doing in many cities around the nation, including where I live (Asheville, NC).

I marked OWS’s anniversary by contributing to a local group who are acting, not occupying: an anarchist collective that runs a café called Firestorm Café and Books. They are financing a renovation by putting out “bonds” that will return 10% on your investment in a couple of months (in the form of a gift certificate).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Republicans Think They are the Only Legitimate Party

In my last post I discussed my theory that many members of today's Republican Party think theirs is the only legitimate political party. I read a couple of things today that just added weight to the theory.

First: Tom Toles is my favorite editorial cartoonist, and his blog posts are almost as good as his cartoons. In today's "Friday rant" he says he is gasping with dismay at the incredible attacks by Republicans against Obama:

They really DON’T consider him [Obama] qualified to be president, and if it’s not a made-up story about his birth-certificate, or a made up story about his religion, a made-up story about him “apologizing for American values” will do. Anything will do, because the conclusion comes first, then the mis-reasoning.
This is nearly terrifying. This is a rip in the fabric of who we are as a society. Because here’s why. If they hate Obama that much, and don’t respect the minimum standards of recognizing his legitimacy, then what about the half (or more) of the country who will vote for Obama in November? They hate you too, and they don’t respect your legitimacy either. Take a look down THAT road and see what you see.
Second: the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, is considering removing Barack Obama from the state's ballots because he "lacked sufficient evidence about his birth certificate." This is completely insane.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Politics Isn't a Blood Sport

Bill Clinton gave an awesome speech at the Democratic National Convention. There was plenty of powerful material in there, but one phrase in particular stood out to me: "Politics isn't a blood sport."

I think this speaks to what is wrong with the Republican Party—and this isn’t something that has just happened in the last few years during the TeaParty-ization of the party. Clinton praised Obama for being committed to “constructive cooperation.” He cited as examples the fact that Obama brought into his administration Republicans (Secretary of Defense, Army and Transportation) and two former opponents from the 2008 Democratic primaries (Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden). Clinton went on to say: 
And the signal that sends to the rest of the world, that democracy does not have a -- have to be a blood sport, it can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.
It’s obvious from the Republicans’ actions in the last three-and-a-half years that they no longer believe in constructive cooperation, but people act like this is something new. However, there is an ugly side to the right-wing that has existed for a long time. In fact, I think there is a large contingent in the right-wing who believe that only Republicans should be in the White House.

When Bill Clinton took office in 1992, conservatives immediately went into attack mode, devoting enormous resources in the attempt to discover anything, no matter how insignificant, they could use to discredit Clinton enough to defeat him in 1996.

When the election of 2000 was being disputed in Florida, mobs gathered outside the Vice-presidential residence in Washington, D.C. (where Al Gore and family were living) yelling, “Get out of Cheney’s house!”

The attempts to delegitimize Barack Obama are legion, and I don’t think it is all about race. It also stems from this underlying belief that the White House belongs to Republicans, and any Democrat who has the temerity to be elected is, by virtue of being a Democrat, an illegitimate president.

This is the thinking of authoritarianism: there is one legitimate political entity. It is very dangerous for the future of our country.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Salute to Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac caused the Republicans to cancel the first day of their convention in Tampa, Florida, and now, a week later, is going to bring a lot of rain to the first day of the Democratic convention. Is this Mother Nature trying to get our politicians' attention?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Peace Candidate Always Wins

Bill Maher is celebrating his show’s 10-year anniversary. Every week he shows a memorable clip from a past show. In the August 31 show’s clip he was speaking to Ron Paul in May of 2007. Paul said, “The peace candidate always wins. Logic tells us we can make a better world in a much easier way than causing wars.” Paul was talking about the 2000 election when George W. Bush said he opposed Clinton’s nation-building adventures and the attempts to make America the policeman of the world. Bush had insisted that his administration wouldn’t do those things (which they of course proceeded to do but it was too late then), and that’s one of the reasons W. beat Gore.

I was struck by this comment because I have had the opinion that Americans are a war-like people. Maybe that’s not true. Maybe we’ve just been manipulated over and over again. I thought of WWI—Woodrow Wilson won because he promised to keep America out of the European war, but as soon as he won Wilson started figuring out how to get us into the war. The U.S. didn’t join in WWII until we were actually attacked. Nixon won in 1968 partly because he said he had a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War—he didn’t but we didn’t find that out until after he was elected. I’m sure a historian could provide plenty more examples.

In 2008 McCain was joking about “bomb bomb Iran” while Obama talked about healing our relationship with the world. Obama won. Romney just made clear in his acceptance speech at the convention that he has embraced the neocons of the W. era. Romney used bellicose rhetoric not only about Syria and Iran but also about Russia. I found myself wondering, ‘could this Republican war-mongering mean Obama will be re-elected?’

In this show’s New Rules Maher made a fascinating comment about the Republican Party’s attempts to erase the past. For a party that positions itself as the guardian of traditional values, of the Norman Rockwell-America of our dreams, in last week’s convention they worked hard to obscure their own recent past. The most recent Republican president and both the most recent view-president and vice-pres candidate weren’t invited: no W., no Cheney, no Palin.