Monday, September 24, 2012

Week of 09/24/2012

The “Wrong Time” Fallacy
– by David Matthews 2

Once upon a time there was a girl that I knew that I was really attracted to.  She was close to my age, very attractive and mature, and she gave the impression that she really liked me too. She worked at the nightclub I used to visit regularly, and we would talk about how we wanted to go out and hit the other clubs after she got off work.  She used to tell me all of the wild and crazy things that went on with some of those clubs, and some of the things that she would love to show me in those places.

The problem was that every time we made plans to do just that, something always “came up”.  There was always some last-minute thing that went on that would be used to ruin our after-hour plans.  Some last-minute phone call, some spur-of-the-moment celebration, some “unexpected company”, some new complication would always arise.  But there was always “next week”, right?

Eventually she quit her job at the nightclub.  She didn’t tell me, though… and apparently with good reason.  It seems that she was just stringing me along to get better tips until she could finish her college work, get out of the club, and then marry her fiancée.

Such is my life.

But that experience also gives me a unique opportunity to debunk one of the more toxic arguments that many people use to sabotage support for third party political groups.

Now contrary to what the two dominant political parties and the media would like you to believe, there have been more than just two political parties in American history.  Some of those parties were single-issue ones, such as the Suffrage Party and the Prohibition Party, but others came up because their views were not being expressed by the dominant parties of the time.

Did you know, for instance, that the Presidential Election of 1860 had candidates from four political parties?  It certainly made the Electoral College deliberations real interesting, especially since the eventual winner was a member of a brand-new party at the time called the Republican Party.

Of course the media wants us to believe that there have always been “Democrats” and “Republicans” and that it would be “great” if there was a “third party alternative”.  What they don’t want you to know is that there have been “third party alternatives” all this time.  And “fourth party alternatives” and “fifth party alternatives” and so on and so forth.  The fact that the media refuses to let you know they exist does not mean that they don’t. 

Here’s a little tip: the media sort of has a problem with telling the truth, especially when it comes to things that could imperil the status quo.

Now politicians know that their own satisfaction level – at least as a vocation – is abysmal.  One poll has Congressional satisfaction at thirteen percent, although I suspect it’s actually in the low single digits.  The Democrats are seen as being mealy-mouthed, spineless surrender monkeys, as was recently demonstrated with their own party’s platform fiasco.  The GOP have been engaging in acts of political insurrection and sabotage, doing everything in their power to get rid of the current White House occupant, even if it means destroying what microscopic credibility they have left, as well as destroying what’s left of the nation.

People just plain do not like politicians and political gridlock, and the American political system is not only the sullen example of this, but they are, without a doubt, the standard-bearers of social failure.

And, year after year, we hear the wish of a “third party option”.  But for most people, it’s just a wish.  Even though their eyes will see more than two options on the ballot, their brains will refuse to recognize that third option.

That refusal to recognize alternatives can come from two reasons.  Either they are intentionally lying to themselves and other people about what they really want, or they are systematically conditioned by other people to go against what they really want through some lofty promise that will never be made real.  Either way, we do ourselves and society in general a huge disservice when we do this.

One of the biggest passive arguments used against third parties is this idea that it’s just not “the right time” to consider those “alternatives”.  It is part of the whole “lesser of two evils” excuse and it goes something like this:

“I agree with (insert platform or position or message from other party here), however we have a bigger threat to deal with.  We have to prevent (insert other party candidate) from getting elected/re-elected.  Now is not the time to explore any other option. (Insert other party candidate) will destroy this town/county/state/country/species if he/she is elected/re-elected.  Once we get rid of this threat, then we can consider alternatives.”

Notice how they give a tacit acknowledgement of your position or stance.  They may even claim to actually support that position or stance themselves.  But that empathy is short-lived. 

“… however, we have a bigger threat to deal with.”

With that negation, your standards, your stances, your values, the things that you treasure, are summarily dismissed on this myth that there is “something worse”.

You wanted better leaders?  Tough!  You wanted ethical politicians?  Tough!  You wanted real reform?  Tough!  You wanted a candidate with a better record of governing?  Tough!  We don’t care if your candidate is better for the nation; we have a “bigger threat” to deal with than what you want!

Think about it: you are being told to give up what you value in order to support a candidate and a party that does not represent what you value, on the distorted belief that there’s “something worse”.  And if you can be convinced to give up the things that you value, then how valuable are they really?

This goes to the very heart of political corruption!  Never mind corrupt politicians; you are being told to give up the very things that you value for a political party that clearly does not treasure those same things!  There isn’t even any money involved in this surrender of your principles! 

You guys are some really cheap political whores, you know that?  No money exchanged; no power given; all you get is the promise that “maybe” later on down the line they “might consider” some “alternatives”.

PT Barnum is laughing in his grave over this kind of arrangement!  Even a street walker wouldn’t roll over this cheaply!

And that brings us to the biggest flaw in this “wrong time” fallacy: “when” it would be “the right time”.

Let’s get brutally honest here… using their own argument, there will never be “the right time” for third party groups!  Ever!

I say this not just out of frustration, but from decades of political experience.  And the facts show that it is the GOP that uses this “bigger threat” argument the most!

In 1980, we were told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” was Jimmy Carter being re-elected.

In 1984, we were told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” was Walter Mondale getting elected.

In 1988, we were told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” was Michael Dukakis getting elected.

In 1992, we were told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” was Bill Clinton getting elected.

In 1996, we were told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” was Bill Clinton getting re-elected.

In 2000, we were told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” was Al Gore getting elected.

In 2004, we were told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” was John Kerry getting elected.

In 2008, we were told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” was first Hillary Clinton getting elected, and then Barack Obama getting elected.  (Yes, the GOP actually had two so-called “bigger threats” that year.)

And now in 2012, we are being told by the GOP that “the bigger threat” is Obama getting re-elected.

So you tell me, GOP, since yours is the party that has been using this argument the most; when would be the “right time” before you “graciously” welcome third-party alternatives?  Huh?  When?

I’m not expecting an answer, because we all know that the correct answer is “never”.  There will never be a “right time” for a third party to come in, because there will always be some “bigger threat” looming at every election!  As far as some people in the GOP are concerned, even two political parties are still one party too many.

Look at the so-called “Tea Party” group.  Ever since they got started after Obama’s inauguration, they have pretended to be an “independent” group from the GOP.  They claimed to represent that fictional “silent majority” that were angry at the “old guard” for “letting them down”.  They claimed to want to “clean house” and get in “their” people, and if that wasn’t done fast enough, they supposedly were ready to start their own political party.

But did they?  No.  They failed to show the same courage that the Know-Nothings had in the 1850’s.

When push came to shove, the so-called “Tea Party” people surrendered to the tired and old argument that “now is not the time”, and they voted for the GOP, even voting for the very career politicians that they had previously complained about.  Sure they voted in some “new blood”, but they didn’t shake up the party like they swore they would.  For all of their bluster, they proved to be just as morally bankrupt as the rest of the party.

That was in 2010, and now they’re doing it all over again for 2012.  And they expect the rest of us to do the same thing.

Again, if your values are supposed to be so “important”, then why are you so willing to sacrifice them for a promise you know will never be kept?  And why are you convincing others that they “have” to do the same?

The truth of the matter is that there is never a “right” or “wrong” time for alternatives to the two dominant political parties.  They don’t want competition.  They want compliance.  Much like the girl in the nightclub, it’s about stringing you along until there just isn’t a reason to do it anymore.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Week of 09/17/2012

Beyond Controversy
– by David Matthews 2

It was Justice Oliver Wendal Holmes back in 1919 that uttered the caveat to the First Amendment that is so easily maligned. He said “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater and causing a panic.”

Quite often people will malign that statement to simply being “you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater”, completely skipping the actual intent and focusing solely on the initial action. It changes the meaning entirely when they do that and it becomes an excuse to censor any kind of speech that “could” be considered “incendiary”. It’s like making a peanut-butter sandwich and leaving out the bread; you just end up with a mess on your hands.

The intent is important when dealing with the First Amendment. Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is fine if there really is one. In fact, if you know there is a fire and you fail to let other people know, you could be facing criminal charges. So it’s wrong to simply pronounce that “you cannot shout fire in a crowded theater”, especially if it is true.

It comes down to intent and what you expect that action to be. In this case, the intent is to cause harm through a panic generated by a false emergency. You know there is no fire, and you know that by shouting “fire” in that crowded theater that it will start a panic, and you know doing that will cause harm. It’s not about “shouting fire”; rather it is about what the intentions are. What are you trying to do?

This is a very fine line when it comes to free speech and it is difficult to follow at times.

Last week, on the same day that Americans were remembering the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Muslim extremists led violent demonstrations that attacked American consulates in Egypt and Libya, killing four people, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The source of their supposed outrage was over an inflammatory video posted online that accuses the founder of the Muslim faith of some really despicable things.

The attacks on the consulates and the murder of Ambassador Stevens were quickly condemned by the Egyptian Coptic Christians, by the Libyan government, and by both President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

It is hoped that the clerics that orchestrated the violent attacks will be brought to justice. No matter how outraged people are, your anger does not justify attacking innocent people that you have deemed to be the proxies of your wrath. Those clerics that instigated the attacks intended to cause harm. They need to be shut down.

But what about the video itself? What about the people behind that video that sparked the outrage in the first place?

The video has been traced back to several extremists operating in the United States. Most of them are Coptic Christians, an extremely conservative sect of Christianity that mostly exists in Egypt. Think of the most extremely conservative Southern Baptist in the United States, with all of their “eccentricities”, and multiply that intensity by ten. And then add violence. That’s the best way to describe that faction of Christianity.

The actors involved with the production reportedly did not know what the movie they were working on would be used for. Their words were supposedly dubbed-over after they were paid for their work.

So why did the people behind this video do what they did?

It’s no big secret that any depiction involving the late Islamic leader Mohammed will lead to violence. Ask Salman Rushdie if you have any doubts. But did Rushdie actually write his 1988 book with the intention of inciting violence around the world? This commentator guesses that he would say not. Controversy, yes. Discussion and debate on the subject, absolutely. But firebombings and premeditated mass-murder? I don’t think so.

Then again, that was in back 1989. We’ve had over twenty years of hindsight and many more instances of provocation and violence to deal with. We know that any kind of depiction of the Islamic prophet as anything other than as an intangible abstract will incite violence, especially if that depiction is targeted at an Islamic crowd.

We also know that there are people around the world that have absolutely no concept whatsoever of the freedom of speech and of expression, and that the only freedom of religion they recognize is their freedom to impose their religion on everyone else. We know these people exist. Some of them even go by titles like “cleric”, “reverend”, “judge”, and even “Congressman”.

So the big question is… was this intentional? Were the people behind this movie, especially those involved with dubbing over the words of the original actors, intentionally provoking violence?

I would have to say… probably.

One of the people behind the film is Steve Klein of Courageous Christians United. He’s one of those that takes “clinging to God and guns” to a new level. Klein told the Associated Press that he and his associates went into the production of this video knowing that it would result in violence. Specifically, he believed his business partner in this venture would be “the next Theo Van Gogh”, the filmmaker murdered in 2004 for doing an equally provocative film.

Said Klein, and I quote: "We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen.”

In other words, they knew that their project would cause harm. Not just outrage. Harm.

Now let’s get brutally honest here… there is a difference between being controversial and intentionally provoking violence. Being controversial means you push the limits to bring about discussion or recognition. Provoking violence means you ignore all limits and all possible outcomes and go right to the violent conclusion. Again, it’s about intention.

The best way to explain it is if you were to walk into the worst, most hostile bar in the country. The kind of place that sweeps up the eyeballs in the morning. If you entered it by accident, not knowing what it is, and you inadvertently said or did something that ended up causing a bar fight, then it’s really not your fault that it happened. You did not expect something bad to happen. You had no idea that saying or doing something would cause a bar fight. But if you went in there knowing what kind of place it is, knowing what kind of people are in there, and you intentionally said or did the thing that you knew would start a fight, then that is provocation.

Understand that there are people that tempt fate all the time. My boss at ShockNet Radio does this when he drives around with an “Atheist” license plate and flies an atheist flag at his home. A few years back a challenge was made for people to post videos publicly denying the existence of the Holy Spirit, which according to the New Testament of the Christian Bible demands their execution. But they do this knowing full-well that the vast majority of the so-called “faithful” won’t follow through with that supposed “requirement”. There are no “angry mobs” scouring YouTube for those deniers of the Holy Spirit. Not so for those in the part of the world where their tempers are shorter than their groin hairs.

What doesn’t help is the clandestine way this video was done. Actors being told that the film was for one thing and ends up being used for another. Character names changed. Voices dubbed over. A Coptic producer claiming to be an Israeli realtor representing a fictional army of Israeli backers, and it turns out he’s a convicted fraudster on parole. And it appears that this film was being targeted at Muslims, knowing they would act in the way that they did. It does lean towards this being intentional provocation.

If the supporters were upfront about this production from day one, if they didn’t use subterfuge or make it look like they were directly targeting Muslims with their message, then that would be one thing. Then it would be a clear First Amendment issue. Even using an alias isn’t wrong in and of itself. But to use an alias pretending to represent a group that the Muslims hate worse than Westerners? That only leans the argument even further towards them intentionally instigating violence.

Make no mistake, the clerics that have actually called for the violence, that summoned the angry mobs that led to the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador, and are continuing the waves of violence around the world today, are the ones that are directly responsible. They need to be brought to justice. Even their own sacred texts supposedly say that you should not let your hatred of a people cause you to be unjust, and with this they have done much injustice. The mindless masses of the mob can afford to claim ignorance. Not so for those keepers of “the word” who ignored their own book in favor of their own egos.

But that does not absolve the people behind the video of their part in this ongoing tragedy. This video was done under a cloud of deception and misdirection. Their intentions are in doubt. They knew what kind of audience they were focusing on. If they wanted to show just how ugly and ill-tempered and ultimately fatalistic the Muslims can be, well, congratulations, they succeeded. And just as a bonus, they will get the very groups they otherwise denigrate – the ones that defend the un-defendable – to support their right to show that video.

Pat yourselves on the back, fundamentalists! Just don’t expect the rest of us to do so. We’ll be too busy dealing with the panicked “theater-goers” and the damage that is wrought from it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week of 09/10/2012

None Of The Above: The True Call For Change
– by David Matthews 2

In every election since 1976, voters in the state of Nevada have had one option that they could count on to voice their displeasure of the political choices. That option was called “None of the Above”.

Yes, Nevadans had an option on their ballots that said “None of the Above” that they could select if they did not like any of the candidates listed. If the choices were unacceptable, or if an unpopular incumbent ran unopposed, the voters simply checked “None of the Above” (or “NOTA”) and their displeasure was noted.

Granted, the NOTA vote was non-binding. The unpopular unopposed incumbent would still win. The candidate of the party with the most supporters would still win by majority vote in the other races. But they wouldn’t have the illusion of universal acceptance that most other elections across the United States have. Career politicians and their party bosses and their special interest masters would know, along with the rest of the state, that the voters are really not happy with their choices and that they want someone – anyone - better for the job.

Well apparently this is a dangerous idea for the GOP. So the Republican National Committee recently got one of their friends in the federal court to strike down the NOTA option.

US District Judge Robert C. Jones, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003, struck down the NOTA option on behalf of the GOP, buying into the claims made by the GOP that a NOTA majority would supposedly usurp any “legitimate” victory from the candidates on the ballot. According to them, there is no such thing as a “non-binding” option; either the voters vote for a candidate or they vote for “nothing”. Or, as their attorneys argued, it means voting for anarchy.

Bear in mind that in the thirty-six-plus years of its existence in Nevada, the only state that actually has this option, NOTA has never gotten the majority in any race. But in races where the margin for victory is close, GOP bosses pompously presume that any such protest vote supposedly takes a vote away from them.

What actually bothers me is the half-assed way that the NOTA option was defended by the state. Deputy Attorney General Kevin Benson told the judge that the NOTA vote was really no different than not voting at all.

“You’re free to stay home on the couch,” he said.

With any possible respect to the offices – and nothing but – Mister Benson, you are an idiot for planting that idea, because that is precisely what the party bosses have always wanted disgusted voters to do!

Let’s get brutally honest here… it is the goal of the career politicians and their special interest “friends” to keep you, the voting public, as far away from the voting booth as possible so they can keep the power they currently have. They do not want you voting. And, in fact, they really do not need you voting if you’re not one of their die-hard supporters.

It comes down to math. Let’s suppose you have a career politician in the GOP. That career politician (let’s make him male for the sake of argument) knows that out of the whole voting populace, he can count on thirty percent of the voters to be on his side no matter what happens. He’s bought their favor either by hook or by crook, or sometimes even out of blind-stinking habit. He doesn’t have to prove anything to that group. He knows that they will be voting for him no matter what he says or does.

Now let’s suppose that the Democrats have a candidate of their own (let’s make it a woman) to run against the incumbent GOP career politician. The Democrat can count on roughly thirty percent of the voters to support her no matter what.

That leaves roughly forty percent of the whole voting populace that cannot be confirmed to vote for either party.

Traditionally, the candidates would then make a play for that forty percent; to convince those “unconfirmed” and “undecided” voters to show up at the ballot box and to vote for them. You would hear about how a candidate would “pander to the extreme” for primaries and then “shift to the middle” for the general election. This past year it was ridiculed as being the “Etch-A-Sketch” tactic.

But somewhere along the way, the game changed. Remember, this is not about the majority of the populace. This is about the majority of the voters. So if the incumbent can count on thirty percent of the voters to be there no matter what, and the challenger can only count on “about” thirty percent, then the incumbent still has the numerical edge. Rather than try to pander to the forty percent that cannot be counted on, the campaigns have decided to simply chase them away with the political equivalent of “Mutual Assured Destruction”; only with them, it’s not done for brinksmanship, rather it’s done for maximum political carnage.

This is the real reason why politics became so nasty. This is the real reason why “dirty tricks” exist and persist in America. It has nothing to do with “exposing the truth” about any given candidate. It has to do with scaring off that forty percent from even bothering to vote, and possibly even taking out some of that thirty percent in the other camp. They know that as long as their “core supporters” show up, they don’t need any more votes. They just have to chase all the others away from the ballot box.

So given all of that, where can you truly voice your displeasure about the way things are? Where is the method that sends a clear and unmitigated message that the masses are not happy with the destructive status quo?

Stay at home? That is precisely what the politicians and special interest groups want you do to! It says absolutely nothing about the way things are, because there are many other reasons why people don’t vote.

Did you forget to vote? Did something come up at the last minute? Are you even registered to vote? Are you sick? Are you in jail or hospitalized? Are you away from your voting district? Do you even know where it is? Or, as the politicians instantly brand that group to be, do you just not care? And if you don’t care enough to vote, then why should they care about you?

So how can you differentiate between political disgust and political apathy if the only supposed “recognized” option according to the GOP is to not vote? The answer is you cannot. And, again, that is by design!

The only way to truly measure voter displeasure of the parties and the politicians is if there is that specific “None of the Above” option on all ballots! Nothing else will convey that message, period!

You need to understand, as I know the politicians and their ilk already do, that perception plays more of a factor in politics that in any other vocation in the world. If you do not vote, then you do not count as far as both the politicians and the media are concerned!

If only twenty percent of the registered voters bother to vote in any given election, then the politicians and the media will focus all of their attention on that twenty percent and forsake the eighty percent that did not vote. That twenty percent becomes the new one-hundred-percent. And if three-fourths of those actual voters vote for the incumbent, then it becomes a “landslide majority”, when, in reality, it only had the support of fifteen percent of the registered voters.

Adding a “None of the Above” option throws a monkey-wrench in their game. It gives the people who would otherwise stay at home a reason to voice their objection to how things are, and do it in a way that cannot be whitewashed by the politicians and the media.

In the 2010 Senate race in Nevada for incumbent Harry Reid’s office, 16174 votes were cast for “None of the Above”. While it would not have changed the outcome, the politicians cannot ignore those votes either. Those are sixteen thousand voters in Senator Reid’s district that did not stay home. They did not just toss their hands up and say “They’re all crooks, so why bother?” They did not choose “the lesser of two evils”. They didn’t just pick a name at random or try to write-in their dog. They specifically selected “None of the Above” and told both the Democrats and the GOP “You have failed us.”

Imagine what kind of shockwaves would result if a NOTA option was required for all elections in America! Think of all of the supposedly “secure” incumbent offices that would suddenly find out that their “unchallenged support” is really a myth. How many people that would otherwise not seek public office for fear they would not “stand a chance of winning” would suddenly get newfound confidence after “None of the Above” became an option?

And contrary to the lies spread by the GOP, a non-binding option really does mean non-binding! Their own party here in Georgia recently asked voters in their non-presidential primary four questions about abortion, casino gambling, legislative ethics, and charter schools. While I’m sure the GOP would be quick to follow up the majority support over banning abortion and re-regulating charter schools, I seriously doubt that they would ever follow through with casino gambling or ethics reform. If the GOP truly believes that nothing on a ballot is “non-binding”, then I challenge them to follow through with that when it comes to supporting casino gambling, as the majority of GOP voters in Georgia so approved!

Our career politicians currently hold power based on the tenuous idea that is “by the consent of the governed” and that this “consent” is granted through the majority of voters. But in their efforts to silence dissent and silence voters through their various schemes and manipulations, we discover that this idea of “consent” is really just a myth. It’s not “consent of the governed” as much as it is “manipulating the compliant”. It is a state of de facto despotism where a tiny majority are able to rule over the masses through fraud and manipulation.

In other words, in squelching “None Of The Above”, the GOP as a party has shown their true political colors. They are not supporting a democracy inside a republic as their predecessors once did. They are instead supporting an apathy-fueled kleptocracy.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week of 09/03/2012

Real Issues Or Fake Issues: Choose
– by David Matthews 2

Suppose you were in a desert with a bunch of people, and you come across a merchant’s tent. You volunteer to meet with the merchant to negotiate some water for your group.

The merchant gives you a choice between two one-gallon jugs to purchase. The first jug is clear and you see that it is full to the brim with water. The second jug is darkly-tinted, and you don’t know what it is in it other than a label on it that says, in quotations, “Water”. The first jug is heavy and feels like there is water inside it. The second one is not as heavy, although it does feel like it has something inside it.

The merchant tells you that you can only choose between one jug or the other, that you will not be able to choose the other jug once you have made your decision, and that all sales are final.

You choose the second jug, confident that you have made the right decision because the second jug says it has “Water” in it. You take the jug back to the group and they open it to discover it has nothing but sand.

The crowd is upset with you, but you assert that it wasn’t your fault. After all, the jug said it had “water” in it, and you had no idea that it had anything different because the jug wasn’t as clear as the first one. You try to go back to the merchant only to discover that the merchant had already moved on.

The group continues into the desert, clearly suffering from the lack of water, and you come across another merchant tent. You again volunteer to meet with the merchant in hopes of redeeming yourself.

A different merchant gives you the same deal. Two jugs, one clear, one tinted. One clearly has water; the other has a label that says “Water”. You try to ask about the first jug, but the merchant says he cannot tell you anything about the jugs. It’s up to you to decide which of the two jugs you want to purchase.

Again you choose the tinted jug that says “Water” on it, because you believe that the clear jug could be misleading. After all, water is not the only liquid that is clear. It could be alcohol. It could be kerosene. It could be poison. Besides, you couldn’t have two merchants pull the same deception on you, right?

You take the tinted jug saying “Water” on it back to the group, and once again you discover it has nothing in it but sand. And again, you try to go back to the merchant only to find that he has also already moved on.

The crowd is angry with you, but again, you all press on, with some of you collapsing from the heat and from dehydration.

After the first few deaths, the group finds a third merchant’s tent, and this time the group wants to send someone else besides you to bargain for some water. But before they can decide, you grab what little money the group has and charge on over to the merchant’s tent.

Different tent, a different merchant, but the same choice all over again. Two jugs; one clear, and one tinted. One that clearly appears to have water in it, and the other simply has a label that says “Water”.

What do you think the consequences will be if you chose the tinted jug that only said “Water” on it and you find out that it also had nothing but sand?

This is the problem that the GOP has that nobody wants to talk about.

The GOP has a credibility problem that they don’t want to address, and yet they expect people to continue to trust them and to mindlessly pledge their support to them. It’s a credibility problem they need to overcome if they want to win come Election Day, but they carry on as though they don’t have a problem to begin with.

Here’s the problem: much like the merchant’s choice in the desert, the GOP is offered a choice between a clear issue to resolve and a murky lie that is labeled as “Real” to give to the crowd. Time and time again, they chose to go after the murky lie instead of addressing the clear issue.

Take, for instance, healthcare reform. While there were some nuggets of reform that were needed, the overall discussion was sabotaged by those that were screaming about a supposed “Marxist takeover” of the healthcare industry and putting in “death panels”. The overall rhetoric of lies and misinformation coming from the GOP allowed President Obama to slip the program through Congress and sign it into law. And it’s only after it was sustained by the Supreme Court did the real tricks come out, such as the new taxes that would be added and the games played by the insurance companies to screw over the American people. These could have been addressed and maybe even stopped if not for the fact that the GOP and their myrmidons were ranting on and on about what the reform program did not have.

In other words, the clear issue of added taxes and required insurance for everyone was ignored in favor of murky stories of “death panels” and this delusion that Obama would somehow get between you and your doctor instead of the big insurance companies. And, for the record, the only “death panels” that exist are the ones belonging to the insurance companies when they decide what kind of life-saving treatment they will cover.

Of course in that instance there was a reason for the murkiness. The big insurance companies did not want their complicated role in this whole affair exposed, which is what would have happened if the GOP stuck with the clear facts.

But in other instances, it seems like the GOP is more fixated on imaginary fears than dealing with the clear issues that are before them.

While banks were caught robo-signing foreclosures, the GOP was busy complaining about whether or not Barack Obama was born in the United States; a matter that even the highest court said was already met and was moot. But that didn’t stop the barrage of fraudulent documents that were manufactured to sustain the myth that Obama was somehow this “secret Marxist Muslim operative born in Indonesia”.

The party that pushed for the bailout of the airlines in 2002 and of Wall Street in 2008 all of a sudden becomes the party of the “fiscally responsible” when they’re not the ones in the White House. Every department is suddenly a waste. Every budget is suddenly way-too-much. Every penny suddenly needs to be micro-managed and micro-accounted. Every expense suddenly needs to be slashed like the GOP was Jack the Ripper at a “Pimp-n-Ho” convention.

Every budget expense, that is, except for the Drug War. And the Department of Defense. And Homeland Security. And the Department for Faith-Based Initiatives. And the Justice Department’s supposed “Obscenity Prosecution”. And the Federal Communication Commission’s enforcement of “indecency” rules. And a few other programs that select members of Congress deem to be “essential”, but, otherwise, slash away.

The party of unlimited universal war wants to micromanage the budget and screams bloody murder about deficits and yet still expects a blank check for war. Does that seem clear to you?

Try to follow the logic behind this string of events: then-Senator Obama pledges to shut down the prison in Guantanamo Bay. What do to with the detainees who are suspected of engaging in acts of terrorism? Well, now-President Obama says he needs to give them their day in court. “No can do” say the GOP. “That would encourage terrorism” they claim. So what do we do with them? Give them back to their home country? “No can do” say the GOP. “That would encourage terrorism” they claim. Give them a military tribunal? “No can do”, say the GOP. “That would encourage terrorism” they claim. So Obama is stuck with the detainees in Guantanamo Bay and then the GOP turns around and says “A-ha! Broken promise!”

Then there’s the ever-rotating “Duck Season/Rabbit Season” game they have played. When Obama talks about creating jobs, the GOP screams “deficit”. When Obama talks deficit, the GOP screams “tax breaks”. When Obama talks tax breaks, the GOP screams “deficit” again. When Obama goes back to talking about the deficit, the GOP then says “Where are the jobs, Mister President?”

That kind of shtick is only funny when it’s done on a Vaudeville stage, and even then only once.

Then there’s Obama’s supposed “World Apology Tour” that the GOP, even to this very day, claim to have happened in 2009. You know, I was alive and awake in 2009. I remember quite well that Obama did not go on a supposed “world tour” to sing Brenda Lee’s classic song “I’m Sorry”. But everyone on the GOP side from flaky dog-barking FoxNews media personalities to 2012 GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney all claim that is precisely what Obama did in his first year in office.

It’s a lie. They know that it is a lie. And yet they expect people to believe their lie; to take a drink from their tinted jug of sand and actually believe that it is water.

Then we have the pattern of character assassinations that conservatives have engaged in, both in slander engaged by conservative talk show hosts, and schemes orchestrated against people such as Shirley Sherrod. And in Sherrod’s case, the character assassination committed against her, which ended up in her losing her job, will go unpunished, because the man behind that crime is dead. But all of these actions had the same effect: political manipulation of government agencies for their own benefit.

In the world of ordinary people, if one were to perpetuate a misrepresentation for material gain, that is called fraud, and it is a felony offense. But in the world of the GOP, that very same action is apparently called “politics-as-usual”.

It also makes one seriously question the credibility of not only the GOP, but of their appointed champion. Since Romney claims that Obama spent his first six months with an “apology tour” that never happened, does that mean, then, that Romney’s pledge of a “jobs tour” for his first six months in office would also never happen?

I haven’t even gotten to some of the things told by Romney’s running-mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, such as the marathon he never ran, and the closed GM plant that tried to blame Obama for.

Let’s get brutally honest here… how the hell can anyone believe a single thing that the GOP as a political party claims to represent when they adhere to lies and misrepresentations? How are they expected to be given any kind of trust when they cling to lies instead of addressing the clear issues that are in front of them?

When President Bill Clinton admitted he lied under oath about his activities with an intern, his confidence and his credibility were immediately put in doubt. His word could not be trusted. When President George H.W. Bush went against his convention promise of “Read my lips: no new taxes”, even members of the GOP had to seriously question his credibility after that. That question of his credibility was almost as responsible for him losing his re-election bid as was the economy.

So how can a political party be given any kind of trust when they would rather play on lies and misdirection than to address the clear issues put before the American people? How can their candidates be trusted in governing a nation when they would rather spend time on manufactured phony issues such as birth certificates, fictional “apology tours”, and “government death panels”? How can they be trusted to actually help create jobs when they only use the issue as a bad political shtick to divert attention from another issue they don’t want to address, and then abandon that issue the moment the subject is changed?

The answer is painfully simple: you don’t. You find someone else who can be trusted. It doesn’t have to be Obama and the Democrats either; but that is a subject for another column.

The man in the desert who constantly makes the wrong choice for the group is either held back or else he’s left behind. Either way, he cannot be allowed to make bad choices that endanger the group.

The same holds true to the GOP. They claim to be the better party. They claim to be the party of “values” and “responsibility”. The burden is on them to demonstrate that, and that cannot happen so long as they prefer to cling to murky and fabricated issues instead of dealing with the clear ones put before us all.