Monday, February 25, 2013

Week of 02/25/2013

Newspapers: Journalism or Propaganda?
– by David Matthews 2

There’s something to be said about small-town newspapers… the one saving grace about them is that they are not built on the idea of using scandal and sensationalism to get readers.

I have lived in many small towns – sometimes, to my disappointment – and I’ve been in a few “metropolitan” areas as well, and I can say that there is a difference between your little small-town newspaper and its “metro-sized” counterpart.

The big metropolitan newspaper needs to use big sensationalistic headlines to get the attention of the reader.  The big front page splash, the striking photo, the scandal, the news story that they want everyone to talk about so they’ll buy the newspapers.  It’s Basic Publishing 101: use the cover to get the attention of the readers.  It works for magazines, comic books, entertainment circulars, and, yes, newspapers.

And that’s not to say that the small-town newspapers don’t do that as well when the opportunity presents itself.  But the catch for them is that they don’t have to in order to keep the paper going, mostly because they’re often the only paper for the area.  Sure the folks there can get the nearby “big-city newspaper”, but that paper’s not going to have the local activities or promote the local businesses.  If Miss Bessie’s tractor gets away and runs over a fence and lets a whole herd of cattle loose onto the highway, and that’s really the only thing going on for the week, well then that becomes the big headline story for the small-town newspaper; when the “big-city” counterpart would have that same article buried in the “Local” section while they talk about the mayor’s son getting arrested for drunk driving for the fifteenth time.

What amazes me with small-town newspapers, however, are the number of so-called “experts” that exist in their readership, especially when it comes to the subject of what they call “journalism”.

Now folks, a little bit of a disclaimer here… I’ve worked with small newspapers in the past.  I was a regular columnist for a small-town paper in New Hampshire.  I did articles and helped with the editorial layout for my college newspaper.  I’ve had several articles posted in newspapers in the metro-Atlanta area. Most importantly, as a regular online columnist for almost seventeen years now, I know the difference between journalism and commentary.  I would not call myself an “expert”, but I can say with confidence that I probably have more experience in the field of “journalism” than the so-called “experts” that send letters to those small-town newspapers trying to lecture the editorial staff on that same field.

Quite often these “experts” will be offended not by an actual piece of journalism, but by an editorial or opinion article.  Criticize the stance of a certain elected official and you get a response from the “experts” that claim that what the original author was engaging in is not “journalism”.  Well of course it isn’t!  It’s called an “Editorial/Opinion” section for a reason!  They are engaging in their opinion!  What kind of “expert” in “journalism” are you if you cannot tell the difference between news-reporting and opinion?  I’m guessing it would be someone who watches Fox News on a regular basis and uses that as their measuring stick.

But perhaps more disturbing is the presumption made by these so-called “experts” under what they call “journalism”, specifically that one cannot question the actions of certain elected officials.  One cannot describe said elected official using labels that said elected official does not recognize, such as “right-wing”, “far-right”, “neo-conservative”, or “extremist”.  One cannot supposedly make reference to said official’s religious beliefs or how often said official uses their religious beliefs as a part of their political stances.  According to the self-professed “experts”, these things are not “journalism”, and thus supposedly have no place in the newspaper.

To the so-called “experts” I say this: you are free to engage in your opinion.  That’s the great thing about a country that claims to cherish the First Amendment.  But your right to engage in your opinion does not entitle you to silence the opinions of others just because you disagree with them.

Let’s get brutally honest here… what these so-called “experts” in “journalism” seem to want is nothing less than propaganda, and only the kind that reflects the prevailing viewpoint of the area, which is quite often what they describe as “conservative”.  Yes, talk about Bessie Mae’s tractor mishap with the cattle, and post the church bulletins and movie listings, but don’t talk about the elected congressman for your district unless it’s in glowing adulation of his or her stance and actions.  Don’t question said elected official’s activities or where they stand in an adulterated and outdated political spectrum.  Don’t talk about said elected official’s religious-based statements and policies unless it is in agreement of said statements and policies.  And whatever you do, do not allow a regular columnist, an editor, or even the publisher himself to post anything that does not tow the “conservative” line and reinforce the “conservative” message, because that, supposedly, is not “journalism”.

Well they’re right about one thing… what they consider to be “journalism” is nothing of the sort.  It’s public relations and propaganda.  It’s the same kind of garbage that we condemn in other nations that we deem to be communist or socialist or fascists or just plain tyrannical.  We scoff at the state of media over there, but these so-called “experts” in “journalism” seem hell-bent on demanding it here in small-town newspapers for their own stances.

One of the reasons why America has a Freedom of the Press is to be able to question the status quo, especially when that status quo is doing something wrong.  If the powers-that-be are supposed be representing all of us, then it is our job to call them out on it when they’re not.  The press is supposed to be one of the venues to do that.

Feel free to criticize the people in the press.  It helps sometimes to keep them honest as they try to keep those in power honest as well.  But if you’re going to lecture them on “journalism”, then you best know what the difference is between reporting the news and giving commentary.  And while you’re at it, you better make sure that what you’re trying to claim as “journalism” is not something that you would otherwise condemn in other nations.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Week of 02/18/2013

Of Bullfrogs and Scorpions
– by David Matthews 2

There’s an old parable about a bullfrog and a scorpion.  It’s been told and re-told as other characters.  Sometimes it’s a fox and a poisonous spider.  Other times it’s a kangaroo and a snake.  It is not necessarily the characters that are important, but rather it is how those characters act that is important.

But let us presume in this long-standing story that we are dealing with a bullfrog and a scorpion.

One day a group of scorpions and other crawling creatures are using a fallen tree branch to cross a stream.  The waters are pretty rough today, so the crawling insects are sort of happy that they have help from this branch, because otherwise they would drown in the current.

Just before the last scorpion reaches the branch, a gust of wind dislodges the branch from its spot and sends it downstream.  The scorpion is crushed.  He had hoped to continue on with the others and now it appeared that he would be stranded.

Then he noticed a bullfrog further on down the bank preparing to swim across.  He races up the bullfrog and politely asks if he could hitch a ride on the bullfrog’s back since they were both headed in the same direction.

But the bullfrog refuses, saying that he knows that if he allows the scorpion to ride with him that the scorpion would only sting him once they were in the water.

The scorpion gets indignant.  “How dare you suggest that, kind frog?  If I were to do something as stupid as sting you while we are in the middle of the water, then we’d both die, not just you.  I am insulted that you would allow your prejudice against my species to stand in the way of cooperation!  Look across the stream and you’ll see a whole group of insects and other animals working side-by-side to reach a common destination.  If they can work together, then so can we.  I promise you, on my honor as a scorpion, that I will not sting you while I am on your back.”

The bullfrog, feeling impassioned by the scorpion’s speech, agrees and allows the scorpion to ride atop his back as he swims across the stream.

Doubt creeps into the bullfrog’s mind as they are a quarter of the way across, but he realizes that it’s too late to stop now.  The current is still pretty strong and the bullfrog has to use every muscle possible to continue to reach the other side.

When the two were halfway across the stream, the creatures on the other side of the embankment pulled on up to the shore in surprise.  They had never seen a bullfrog transport a scorpion across the stream before.  They started to cheer the two on as they slowly made their way across the rough waters.

Three-fourths of the way across the bullfrog is almost beaming with joy.  Maybe he was wrong about scorpions.  Maybe they can work together with other creatures for a common goal.  Maybe his own prejudices were wrong.  Just a few more strokes across and they will be safe on the other side.

And that’s when it hits the bullfrog.  That sharp pressure right on the spine beneath the skull, followed by the tingling sensation of the scorpion’s poison coursing through his bullfrog arteries.

Despite promises to the contrary, the scorpion stung the bullfrog just a few strokes away from safety.  The bullfrog’s limbs go limp, and they both start to get carried down below the watery surface.

“Why?” asked the bullfrog with his dying breath before drowning.

“It’s what I do,” the scorpion says with a shrug as he awaits his own watery demise.

This is where the story normally ends, but let us suppose that it continues from there.

The other creatures look on in horror as the bullfrog and scorpion drown. 

The other nearby frogs demands justice for the loss of their friend. The spiders suggest that the remaining scorpions be left behind while the rest of the group continues on with their mutual journey.

The scorpions get indignant on the blame being foisted on them.  “The bullfrog should have known this would happen,” they said.  “We can’t be held responsible for our nature.  We sting other creatures.  It’s what we do.  It’s the frog’s own fault that this happened.  If he said no then there would be no tragedy.  Why should we bear the burden of the bullfrog’s foolish actions?”

They continue on their mutual journey, but the subject would not end.  The field mice suggest that should the scorpions need help crossing the next stream that they should have seeds blocking their stingers.  The other creatures that could swim agree.  But again, the scorpions wail in protest.

“How dare you suggest that we block our stingers before we work with you?  Would you fill your mouths with sand in return?  Would you dull your claws or hinder your strength?  It’s unfair for you to demand that we hinder our natures while the rest of you go about free and clear!  Is this not a free community?  Are we all not equals here?”

“Then you will be left behind the next time we come across a body of water!” proclaimed one of the voles.  “If we can’t trust you to restrain your nature, then we won’t carry you!”  The majority of the other creatures nodded in agreement.

“No!” exclaimed the scorpions.  “We all agreed to work together!  You can’t give unfair conditions this far into our travels!”

Even the black widow spiders began to chime in.  “It’s not right,” they said in agreement.  “If you castigate them for the bad actions of a lone scorpion, would we be next?”

The day was coming to a close, so the creatures decide to rest for the night and resume their joint travels in the daytime.  But when morning broke, the vole that spoke out earlier was nowhere to be found.  The scorpions claimed that the vole left in the middle of the night.  The other creatures questioned that claim until the black widow spiders agreed with the scorpions and said that they saw the vole leave in disgust.

The joint journey continued with the scorpions continuing with their protests.  They wailed and moaned about how they were being “unfairly singled out” for the actions of one, and how “anti-scorpion” the discussions have been.  They complained about bigotry and “anti-scorpion discrimination” and whined about being treated as “second-class creatures”.

Sure enough another body of water blocked their path to their mutual destination, and this time there was no tree branch to help them across.  The remaining creatures that could cross the water were hesitant about letting the scorpions ride on their backs.  But the snakes said that they would travel with creatures across the water, and even though they could not carry any creatures on their backs, they promised that they would eat the scorpions should their tails start to twitch.

A whole parade of creatures carried the scorpions on their backs across the rough body of water, with the snakes slithering alongside to keep the scorpions from acting on their natures.  Finally the last of the creatures, a wolf rat, took the last scorpion across the water and was honestly surprised as to how peaceful everything seemed to be.  There were no exclamations of outrage from the other side.  No cries of drowned creatures midway across.  On the other side of the embankment, whole rows of creatures waited just touching dry land, with the scorpions and spiders and the ants and the other creatures cheering this last furry mammal on from dry land. 

But with just a few strokes away, the rat finally realized that something was wrong.

His fellow transport creatures, it turned out, were still in the water and they weren’t moving.

As soon as he reached the limits of dry land, that’s when he felt the scorpion sting him.

“We made a promise,” he heard the scorpion say as it got off his back and onto dry land.  “We wouldn’t attack while we were on our way.  But you can’t really blame us for doing this once we got to the other side.  After all, we’re scorpions.  It’s our nature.  The bullfrog and the vole knew that.  Why couldn’t you?”

Now let’s get brutally honest here… you can probably deduce which of our almighty “institutions” represents the scorpions in our expanded parable.  They are the ones that consider themselves to be too “important” and too “big” to be held to account for their “nature”.  And to a large extent I suspect they know it too.

So I have to wonder… if we know that this is their “nature”, and they’ve demonstrated before that they will act on their “nature” at their pleasure, even to their own detriment, why should we be surprised about it?  It’s one thing to be the bullfrog and foolishly trust the scorpion, but if you’re the creatures that follow from that example, why are you making the mistake of trusting them a second time? 

It’s something we all should be considering right about now… before the next obstacle reaches us and they demand safe passage on our backs.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week of 02/11/2013

No More Saturday Mail? I Can Live With That.
– by David Matthews 2

So the big news from the United States Postal Service is something that has been hinted at for a long time now…

No more Saturday mail!

Or… maybe not, depending on who is telling the story.

The Postal Service plans on cutting off Saturday mail delivery on the week of August 5th, but apparently some people don’t think that date is set in stone.  The media is certainly a little confused about it.  Some media services claim that this is a done deal, and others are treating this as an “option” or a “possibility”.

Of course some politicians don’t like this idea and they think they can stop this from happening.  Congress has tried to require a six-day delivery system through budget appropriations, but since Congress refuses to work with the White House on passing a budget and has instead pushed through continuing spending resolutions, they can’t really use that to force the Post Office to keep it going.  Besides, I thought the GOP-controlled Congress hated “unfunded mandates” anyway.  Don’t their proxies on Fox News continually rail on and on about how wrong it is for Congress to require things without paying for them?

Yes, money is a key part of the problem.  The USPS is in the hole for some $20 billion (“billion” with a “B”), mostly because of a GOP-enacted rule in 2006 concerning postal worker pensions.  You know, back when the GOP was in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House?

And it’s not like the Postal Service hasn’t tried to make cuts elsewhere.  They’ve been shutting down smaller post offices and laying off employees.  Plus they’ve been continually raising the price of stamps.  Thankfully that “Forever” stamp system has helped consumers weather the transitions a little easier.

So the decision was made to end the Saturday deliveries.  Mail deliveries, that is.  They still want to deliver packages six days a week, and they will keep the Post Offices open during that time.

It’s not a cure though.  The move would supposedly only save them $2 billion, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the $20 billion they’re in the hole for.  It would also eliminate a few thousand jobs, even though they’ve been doing that for several years anyway.

Personally, this commentator is fine with the decision to end Saturday deliveries.  I don’t have too much to look forward to in the mail anyway and certainly nothing that I’m desperate to have show up immediately.  Besides, aside from call centers, Corporate America isn’t open six days a week anyway, so any mail that comes in on a Saturday wouldn’t be processed until Monday.  Banks aren’t always open on Saturdays either. 

And if you think about it, we’re really not using the post office as much as we used to.  Even if the GOP wasn’t screwing over the Postal Service, it’s still losing money.  We’re not writing letters as much because we have social media services and email and instant messaging and cellphones.  We’re not mailing-in orders because we can do that online and then have them delivered through private courier services like Federal Express or United Parcel Service.  And the push is now on for electronic bill paying and paperless statements, so those are less envelopes going through the Post Office.  We’re cutting our demand, and that’s cutting into the Post Office’s revenue. 

But it’s not really about what we the American public are willing to “accept”.  There is a much larger problem with the United States Postal Service, and that problem can be summed up with just one word: Congress!

Let’s get brutally honest here… the USPS exists as a quasi-independent government agency.  It’s part-private and part-public.  It’s supposedly a part of government and yet it’s not.  When it comes to setting postal rates and dealing with the employee problems, then it’s considered a “private” group.  But when it comes to delivery dates and breaches in the mail service, then supposedly it’s a “government entity”.

We know that it’s not a completely independent organization because it’s being allowed to run a massive debt when most businesses would be shut down.  (Not counting the “Too Big To Fail” banks, of course.)  Then there’s Congress and their asinine presumption that they are “entitled” to dictate when the Post Office should stay open and how they should fund their pension program.  Bear in mind that this is the same legislative body that made a mess out of Social Security, not to mention their own personal banking systems back in the 1980’s.

There are some people that are claiming that this is just a veiled attempt to privatize postal delivery like in Germany.  But that actually gives the GOP way too much credit for intelligence they’ve never really proven to possess.  If it can’t be explained in a ten-second sound-byte from a peroxide-blond media personality, then quite often it’s too complicated for them to figure out.

The Postal Service is in serious need of a fix, and it’s more than just finding a way to fill-in that $20 billion hole.

First and foremost, the USPS needs to get off the fence.  It either has to be a full-fledged government entity, with all of the power and oversight (or lack thereof in the case of the GOP) that goes with it, or it should be set free and operate as a completely private entity, without any of the current Congressional micro-mismanagement. 

I know the latter scares the crap out of liberals, but having the Post Office go private would actually work for their union friends.  They wouldn’t have to worry about Congressional efforts to break up the union like they saw in Wisconsin.  Plus, as long as they don’t do anything stupid like the Teamsters did with UPS back in the 90’s, they can pretty much guarantee that they’d get what they want with a private entity as opposed to a government one.

I also know that people are afraid that making the postal service private would somehow jack up the price of stamps.  Well I have news for you: it’s already happening.  It’s been going up a penny every year since 2006.  Every year.  The reason why we aren’t making as much of a fuss over it is because we have the “Forever” stamps that allow us to use what we have and not have to buy extra stamps just to cover the additional cost.

What really hurts the idea of going private right now is that $20 billion hole that the USPS is in.  The government can keep that kind of debt going.  Private businesses can’t.  And the longer that the GOP-imposed pension law is in place, the bigger that debt hole will grow.  Something needs to be done about that, and it needs to be done sooner rather than later.

The sad reality is that the postal system itself is an outdated medium of communication that has been slowly edging towards joining the fax machine, the telegraph, and the town crier in obsolescence.  There is still a need for it, but that need is dwindling as faster and more efficient means of sending information are becoming more prevalent.  Reducing the delivery days from six to five does more than just save money.  It acknowledges that the post office’s day in the sun is slowly starting to set.  We may not like to hear that, but it is inevitable.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week of 02/04/2013

Is The Loony Fringe Helping Obama?
– by David Matthews 2

Once upon a time, there were two political advisors; one on his way to retirement, and one just starting.  The elder advisor decided to take the younger one under his wing and show him the ropes on how to manipulate and mold a politician’s career.

So one night after a glass or two of scotch, the old advisor challenged his protégé to ask him any question about any campaign he worked for that he couldn’t figure out himself.  The younger advisor scratched his head and said that he could figure out pretty much every tactic that his mentor employed, but that there was one “controversy” that always perplexed him.

It involved a governor that the elder advisor worked for as his “press secretary”, and a scandal involving a “secret parakeet”.  The elder advisor beamed as he recounted the tale.

Not long before the governor took office, rumors were abound of a parakeet that the governor would talk to and supposedly get feedback from.  Everyone in the incoming administration would immediately dismiss the rumors, of course, but they continued to persist.  Pretty soon members of the media would ask about the parakeet and if it was advising the newly-elected governor.  When the governor denied there ever was a parakeet, the press would then ask when the parakeet died and if it was replaced with another bird.  Newspaper editorials would talk about “Bird-Gate” and cartoonists would draw the governor with a little bird on his shoulder, supposedly whispering things into his ear.

And rather than to die out over time, the rumors of this “secret parakeet” would continue to get even louder.  Former staff members would talk about smelling bird droppings near the governor and brushing off bird feathers from his shoulder.  A member of the cleaning staff would claim that there was a room that was “off limits” to them that had weird bird-like noises coming from the other side.  Eventually the governor invited the local media into that room to show there were no birds there.  But the rumors persisted, and the governor eventually left office as “Governor Bird-Man”.

The younger advisor asked if any of it was true, and the older advisor laughed.

“Of course it wasn’t,” he proclaimed.  “Who do you think told them about the parakeet in the first place?”

The younger advisor was perplexed about that and asked what possessed his mentor to come up with such a lunatic rumor.  The elder advisor explained that he knew that the media and his political adversaries would quickly zoom in on the governor’s close ties to lobbyists and to certain questionable businesses if they didn’t have something else to worry about.  So he whispered in the right ears about the governor having a fictional bird “advising” him on certain activities, and every so often he would renew such rumors with even more accounts of the fictional bird.

“You didn’t hear anyone ask about those no-bid contracts he awarded, did you?  Not a single challenge on any of his nepotistic appointments.  Not one word about the pilfered pension funds, or the sweetheart deals in lieu of criminal charges for his top contributors.  He was even able to have sex in that very room with his long-time mistress without anyone batting an eyelash because they were so focused on a bird that did not exist!”

Now the story I just provided you was, of course, fictional.  But it makes one wonder if something similar is going on involving President Barack Obama.

Ever since Obama took office, an extremist faction publicly known as the “Birthers” have been making continual claims about Obama not being a native-born American as required under the U.S. Constitution.  This rumor actually started during the 2008 Democratic Primary campaigns, supposedly from the campaign team of then-Senator Hillary Clinton, but was quickly latched on by conservative extremists after Obama was sworn in as President.  The “Birthers” would then barrage the media with claims that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, that there was no birth certificate to prove his required native-born citizenship, that an elaborate charade of fabricated newspaper articles and “Short Form” documents were created to deceive the public into thinking that Obama was born in Hawaii when he supposedly was born in Kenya, or the Philippines, or the Lost Moon of Poosh, or anyplace other than the United States.

And they don’t stop, do they?  Show the supposed “long form” and make it available and the “Birther” crowd not only claims that it’s not real, but they then claim that “nobody’s ever touched it”.  Yes, Hawaiian officials, judges, and governors, they’re calling you all liars; but that’s just par for the course.  And when media interest wanes, they find something else to focus on, don’t they?  School transcripts, scholarship applications, enrollment forms, anything that had a name that could be linked to Obama.

Yet for all of the hair-brained schemes that make asses out of people like Donald Trump, one has to wonder what else has been going on during that time.  What questions are not being asked while the focus is on an issue that was already resolved over and over again?

How about the folly of turning to so-called “economic advisors” that have made their money exporting jobs instead of goods?  How about the sweetheart deals brokered with the financial institutions, where they pay a pittance of a fine instead of going to prison?  How about the promises that were outright broken?  How about the screwjobs that continue to be played out on the American people, despite assurances to the contrary?

All of that takes a backseat to the “Birther” noise.  The controversy that supposedly “cannot die” because too many people behind the noise are making money and getting attention over it.  And as long as the “Birther” people are busy making noise, the media is not focusing on the real things that are going on under Obama’s watch.

Of course it’s not just the “Birthers” involved with the insanity.  You also have the people that believe that Obama is a “secret Muslim” and a “Manchurian Candidate”-style sleeper agent from the Soviet Union programmed to overthrow America by… sustaining pretty much every Bush-era policy and program.  Revolution by status quo?  Genius!  Who would have thought of that?

No, it’s not supposed to make sense.  It’s just supposed to hit upon the fears and prejudices of a small but very vocal portion of the populace.  People that aren’t afraid to spread this insanity through email postings and forum messages and phone calls to talk radio stations and billboards that then get the attention of the media.

And how about the elections?  That’s probably the most ingenious part of it all.

The lunatic fringe have pretty much taken root inside the GOP.  No big surprise, really, when you realize that many of them consider themselves to be conservatives or so-called “Tea Party” people anyway.  Bear in mind that not all of these conservatives or neo-conservatives or even so-called “Tea Party” people are members of the lunatic fringe.  But there are just enough to taint the whole group, especially when the rest of the faction stay silent.

And clearly the GOP has been stymied by their “friends” in both the 2008 and 2012 Elections.  Between John McCain being told in an open microphone by an elderly woman that Obama was “an Arab” and Mitt Romney being (finally) called out on his claim that Obama engaged in a non-existent “apology tour”, the GOP has given Obama the edge by comparison.

It is one thing to fabricate an issue when none exists, but even when there are legitimate issues that the GOP could have used to sink Obama’s 2012 campaign, they stick with the lunacy. In fact the “Birther” issue has seemingly taken a life all its own.  When facts are presented to debunk their fiction, they just amp up the fiction, and then claim that there’s some other document, some other form that would supposedly validate their claims.  They just have to force the White House to “release” it.

So that makes me wonder… and this one will probably blow your mind…

What if - and this is pure speculation here - what if the whole “Birther” issue was fabricated by Obama’s campaign people in the first place just to make the GOP look bad?

It certainly would explain how the issue just would not die, even when the myth is busted.  It would explain why the subject keeps coming back up like a bad TV commercial and take time and energy away from the legitimate issues.  It would explain how attention-mongers like Donald Trump could put on the antics like he did on the “Birther” issue without consequences.  Why be punished if it’s all just part of a show?

Let’s get brutally honest here… whether they know it or not, the lunatic fringe have been working for the benefit of President Obama.  They have made his positions appear to be that much more legitimate, and they have denigrated the credibility of Obama’s biggest critics simply by mere association.

The backlash to this has already begun.  Members of the GOP are already started to figure out that they cannot expect to win on a national level if they’re seen as the big party with all the crazies in it.  Governor Bobby Jindal says that the GOP has to stop being “the party of the stupid people”.  Fox News executives decided that this means getting rid of Sarah Palin.

Both are good starts.  But for every Congressman Todd Akin being bounced for his exposed lunacy, there are still others like Paul Braun or Michelle Bachman still waiting in the Congressional wings for the next verbal bomb that will reinforce the idea that the GOP is the “Nutcase Crazy Party”.  And in the process they make Obama look that much saner in comparison.

It is said that those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.  Maybe this is what finally does in a dominant political party like the GOP.  Maybe they just spin off into utter insanity to where the masses just say “no more”.  As a libertarian, I would certainly welcome the demise of either of the two dominant parties.  I just would be bothered by the idea it would have to be done at the expense of the United States itself.