Monday, February 27, 2017

Week of 02/27/2017

D Is For Dummies
A couple of weeks ago I posted my argument for what the liberals need to do in order to redeem themselves after the 2016 Farce.  I said something that too many people refuse to hear, namely that the Democratic Party has long outlived its usefulness and it needs to die so that other parties can step up and oppose the Cult of Trump.
The feedback I got from certain Facebook circles was that of disdain.  They agreed that the Democrats have become failures because of “certain factors”... i.e. Russia and Trump... but they weren’t ready to pull the plug on the party.  They still live in the phenomenally delusional bubble that the Democratic Party is the only thing keeping America from tyranny and that all they have to do is just try harder.
And I sorta-kinda expected that.
I want you to think back about 150 years, give or take a couple of them.  Do you really think that the people behind the Whig Party were wanting to pull the trigger on their own dominance?  They were fractured, fragmented into splinter groups over divisive issues like ending slavery.  They even had their own “Tea Party” group called the Know-Nothing Party, and, unlike the 21st Century version, these guys actually broke away from the Whigs to form their own separate party.  They didn’t just “threaten” to break away because they didn’t think they were being “treated fairly”.  No, they actually did it.  They showed courage instead of whining like today’s pampered entitled red hats.
So can you imagine what was going through the heads of the Whig Party in the middle of the 1850’s?  Imagine being told that a new party was being formed on top of the already-formed Know-Nothings called the Grand Old Party.  If you were a Whig, would you want that to happen?  No, of course not!  They would say they just need one more win, one more victory, and they would be back on top, where they belong.
That’s where the Democrats are right now.  They lost, and they don’t want to accept the reality that they lost in a race that was quite literally hand-picked for their “destiny” candidate.  They would rather blame it on Russia, bad weather, a flat tire, a broken alarm clock, bad traffic, and not on the asinine idea that people would pick the candidate that is the second-worst and think that Hillary Clinton was it.
But I will say this: there are plenty of people in America that do like the Democratic Party and they want it to continue to go on just has it has been.  Unfortunately for the Democrats, all of those people that love the Democratic Party as it is today have the letter “R” affixed to their names, or they’re affiliated with the people with the letter “R” affixed to their names.  They absolutely love the Democratic Party.  They really do!  They don’t want it to go away!  Why should it if their continued ineptitude guarantees a virtual one-party rule for the GOP?
In the world of professional wrestling, there are a group of wrestlers known as “jobbers”.  They go through all of the training, all of the workouts, and they are considered to be just as essential to the business as the named “talent”.  Some of them even have their own unique ring names and personalities.  But they have no illusions about why they are there.  They are there to make the “talent” look good.  Sometimes they win, but it’s not because of skill.  They win those rare matches against the named “talent” because it is to advance some overall script.  Or sometimes it’s because the “talent” really screwed up and was injured.  But the point is that the “jobbers” know that they are the designated losers.
It’s the same way with the Washington Generals, the basketball team that, until 2015, always faced and usually lost to the Harlem Globetrotters.  Sure it’s a “real” game for the most part, but they’re not there to play the game, never mind to win.  They’re there to make the Globetrotters look good as they put on a show and eventually win the game.  In other words, they’re there to lose.
Well let’s get brutally honest here... that is the Democratic Party today.  They have become the “jobbers” of national politics.  The GOP knows this.  The talk radio propagandists know this.  The cable news propagandists know this.  The various newspaper propagandists know this.  People on the internet know this, and these people believe the stupidest things in the world put before them!
This has been made very true by recent events.  As I mentioned in my previous article, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was already proven to be a grossly incompetent Speaker of the House, decided that the strategy for getting back majority status would be to simply let the GOP screw up and then the voters would somehow “learn” and vote out enough GOP legislators to give them majority status.
In other words, Pelosi’s political strategy is what most of us do as a financial strategy.  We go buy lottery tickets and then hope to win the jackpot.  She does nothing to help earn the party’s support by the very voters they need, and she just hopes that the GOP screws up enough for her to win the political lottery.  After all, that’s how she got to be Speaker in 2007 and then lost it in 2011.  Why should she change it now?
And then, just two days before this column was posted, the Democratic National Committee decided that the leader of their party would be... a block of wood.
No, seriously, they elected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as their chairman.  Who, you ask?  Yeah, I know.  I said the same thing.  But apparently he’s the chosen guy from the donor class, the same people that made the Democrats what the Whigs were in the 1850’s and also were the ones that decided that Hillary Clinton should be President in 2016.
But it’s not like the Dems had too many choices.  Many people wanted Congressman Keith Ellison to be the chairman.  But Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, was backed by the “Bernie Bros”.  You know, supporters of the “uppity” Senator from Vermont who “dared” to challenge Hillary in last year’s primary battle.  Party bosses and donors do not like having their choices questioned, even when they are in the wrong, so anything Bernie Sanders touches is poison to them.  But, hey, at least the block of wood saw some potential and made Ellison the vice-chairman.  Nice consolation gift.  Thanks for playing, and don’t forget to tip your waiter on the way out because he’s still having to pay for all of the bad decisions made from the Great Recession.
Let’s put it this way, when President Trump congratulated Perez for winning the chairmanship and said that it will mean still more victories for the GOP, you know that the Democratic Party is nothing more than the “jobber” party.  Even the people that were criticizing me on Facebook and claimed that I was off-base for suggesting that the Democratic Party needs to die were saying after the vote that the DNC committed political suicide.  (I won’t hold my breath waiting to hear them say that I was right, of course.  That would be asking too much.)
You want this to change, progressives and liberals?  You’re not going to get it from the Democratic Party any more than the people that wanted change in the 1850’s were going to get it through the Whig Party.  The question that you need to ask yourselves is “What are you going to do about it?” 
Your options are limited with the Democrats.  You know that they’ve failed you and they’ve failed America.  You can’t vote out the Dems in Congress making the bad decisions.  You can only vote out the ones in your district.  You can’t vote out the party bosses.  They’re too well-entrenched and they have the support of the billionaire class.  The only way you can fire them is if you fire the Democratic Party and support another party.
They do exist.  The alternatives - plural - have been there for years.  You’re the only reason why they haven’t already replaced the Democrats.  Not the party bosses.  Not the corporate-owned media.  Not the billionaire class.  Not the courts.  Not Russian hackers or Vlad Putin.  You.  Individually.  This is on your head.  Yours.  Your vote, your choice, your fault.
The people in charge of the Democratic Party believe that you are all mindless dummies that will vote how they tell you to vote.  They will never change what they are doing because they believe you will moronically march to their drum beat.  The GOP expect you to support the Democrats because they believe you are all mindless dummies.  They mock you in their media circles, making fun of your moronic obedience to a party that betrays you and sells you short, knowing that you will go back to that same party in some asinine idea that it’s either that or nothing.
You want to surprise the GOP and the Cult of Trump?  You want to make them scared of what you can do?  Break from the script, break from the “experts”, break from the PAC-paid bosses, and look at those other parties that you previously dismissed.  Don’t wait until 2020.  Call for a new party now, and you’ll either see the Democrats go the way of the Whigs, or you’ll see a party that really is more receptive to you and what you want.  You can either stop being affiliated with the party of “jobbers” or you can continue to validate everything they say about you.
Your call.  What are you going to do about it?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Week of 02/20/2017

Today’s Red Hats Are Yesterday’s Black Shirts
Since this column is being posted on Mattress Sale Day… oops!  I meant President’s Day… it’s only fair that I start off with a little timely history lesson.
Warfare in the time of George Washington was in the process of evolving.  In his time as a colonial officer of the British Army, warfare was “professional”.  It was formalized to an absolute degree.  The troops would be organized into rigid formations on the field of battle.  There were rules that had to be followed.  Soldiers would move when told to, fire when told to, and only retreat when told to, otherwise they would stand there like nimrods and most likely get killed; especially if they were at the front of the line. 
It was a game of “gentlemen”.  The warfare had to be limited to the “field” like it was a sporting event.  Civilians and other non-combatants, including and especially the medical people, were not allowed to get hurt.  In fact, spectators used to line up in “safe” areas outside the “field” just to witness the battles, like people do today for professional sports.  This was how warfare was waged in the day.
But during the French and Indian War, our young Mister Washington saw something that not only shocked him, but it would later give the American Colonies an edge when they would initiate the first and original “Brexit”.  The French and Native Americans that fought against England did not fight like the British did.  They didn’t line up in rigid formations like nimrods to simply stand there and get killed.  They hid behind rocks and trees.  They didn’t fight in groups, firing all at once when ordered to.  They attacked individually, stealthily, hiding for cover so they can reload.  They changed the rules of combat, which gave them the edge.
Of course, the old ways would not die off easily, which was why General Washington would have the advantage over the British during our own “Brexit” struggle.  There would still be formalized warfare, but eventually it gave way to the more “informal” version. 
Warfare would continue to evolve over the centuries since.  The “field of battle” was irrelevant by the time of the Civil War.  “Non-combatants” were no longer considered off-limits.  Infirmaries were not longer “out-of-bounds”.  War was no longer fought with just soldiers, ships, guns, and cannons, but now also with deadly gasses, chemicals, high-yield explosives, sabotage, and something far more dangerous: propaganda.
A hundred years ago, in the shadows of World War I, warfare took another dangerous turn in certain parts of Europe.  A different kind of “army” arose to wage a different kind of warfare. 
In 1917, the old Czar family in Russia was kicked out of power through unrests started by starving people rioting.  An urban myth suggests that the original Russian Revolution was started by old ladies in a bread line being told there was no bread, and it simply exploded from there.  There was no talk of communism or socialism or any kind of “isms”.  Only pissed-off people that were tired of being told to sacrifice everything for stuffy elitists that risked nothing.
The “founder” of communism, Vladimir Lenin, was nowhere to be found in Russia at the time.  He was in “exile” in England when the springtime revolution happened.  I’m sure that had to piss him off.  The audacity of the masses to have the revolution he was calling for and not bother to involve him!  He had to go back to Russia and mobilize his people together and sabotage the efforts of the interim government for him to set up his own revolution in October and eventually create the United Soviet Socialist Republic, or the Soviet Union.
This little bit of history is also important, because it shows a much different kind of warfare being waged.  An internal warfare to control the masses and gain power in government. 
It is a pattern that would repeat itself in the two decades that follow in two other countries: Italy and Germany.
Italy’s fascist thug, Benito Mussolini, rose to power because of not only unrest and deplorable conditions of the previous leaders, but also because of his own private “army” called the Voluntary Militia for National Security.  A group that could be easily identified by their distinctive black shirts.  But they weren’t waging war against another nation.  They were waging war against their own people.  They were there to shut down any voices of unrest or opposition.  In other words, if you weren’t a supporter of fascism, even if you were peaceful, you were in the crosshairs of Mussolini’s black-shirts. 
It would later be parroted by another gang operating in Germany being led by a certain diminutive Austrian-born loser who somehow managed to take over that country and most of Europe within a decade.  But rather than use black as his group’s distinctive uniform color, the Charlie Chaplain lookalike had his thugs wear brown shirts.  Again their purpose was to squash any kind of opposition to their agendas.
The countries and names and shirt colors were different, but their purpose was still the same: control the message by silencing the other messengers.
The citizen “militia” may be laughed off as some fringe group of wannabe soldiers preparing for a war that only exists in their heads, but history continues to show that they should not be dismissed.
The Vietnam War showed that insurgent strikes by “lone wolves” can be just as dangerous in the field of battle as troops of soldiers.  The terrorist attack on the Muir Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the anti-abortion terrorists of the 1990’s showed that self-appointed “soldiers” were just as much a threat to a free society than any black-or-brown-shirt regiment.  And these were both before the events of 9/11.
Even worse, these “citizen soldiers” really were answerable to nobody but themselves. 
Remember when the U.S. Embassy in Iran was taken over in 1979?  “Officially”, the Iranian government had nothing at all to do with it.  After all, it was taken over by a bunch of “students”.  Otherwise it would have been a clear act of war by a hostile nation.  This was the only thing that kept President Jimmy Carter from asking for a full-on declaration of war from the Congress.  This little touchy nuanced line from ruling religious party in Iran that the hostage-takers were simply “students” that were not answerable to anyone but themselves. 
Same with the “lone wolves” of the 90’s.  Anti-abortion terrorists and “militia” people like Eric Robert Rudolph, Clayton Lee Waagoner, and Tim McVeigh were answerable to nobody but themselves.  Sure, many of them shared rhetoric and had the same goals, but they couldn’t be tied any one leader or any one organization.
Fast-forward to today, and we see history repeating itself in the form of the orange-skinned-wacky-man himself, President Donald Trump.
People have been wondering why President Trump is already putting himself into “campaign mode” with barely even half-a-month into his new three-ring presidency.  Why is he even talking about the 2020 elections when he hasn’t even demonstrated his capacity to run the country today?
Some people think that Trump is simply returning to his “comfort zone”.  He really did love the campaigns.  He loved speaking to his crowds of “deplorables”.  After all, he was the one who said that he loved the “poorly-educated”.  His words, not mine.  Google it if you don’t believe me.
But as a student of history – and, really, we all should be at this point – as well as a student of religious extremism and a student of politics, this commentator sees more into what Trump is really doing.
He’s not campaigning.  He’s revving up his own version of the black-shirts.
Only these “black shirts” aren’t wearing black shirts.  Well, some of them may be.  Instead, they’re wearing red hats with “Let’s Make America Great Again” stamped on them. 
Yes, the orange-skinned-wacky-man has a red-hat army.
Of course they won’t tell you that they’re part of any “army” or any other kind of “formal” group.  They’ll just call themselves “concerned Americans”.  “Concerned Americans” that just happen to think that nobody should ever question the Narcissist-in-Chief, even when he does things that would cause one to question his sanity.
These are the same “concerned Americans” that attack stores like Nordstrom, who decided to end their ties to Ivanka Trump.  That scream at Fox News when one of their own media personalities dares to question their Messiah-in-Chief and demands that media personality be fired instead of singing from the Trump hymnal.  That jam up the phone lines of talk radio to say that their messiah can do no wrong and anyone who says otherwise is a damned Hillary supporter.  That demand that the rest of the GOP tow the Trump line, no matter what.  And if those GOP politicians waffle, they are the ones that demand their resignations. They eagerly sing from the Trump hymnals and they expect the rest of us to do as well.
And let’s get brutally honest here… Trump needs these red hats to be his unofficial army of thug enforcers, because that’s the only way he can stay in charge.  He can’t trust the media in its current state to help him.  His narcissism will keep him off-track with every little piece of criticism hefted his way.  And even though he has the full power of the United States Armed Forces as well as a whole alphabet soup of federal agents with the power to arrest and kill at his command, he can’t use them as his personal goon squad.  Trump would have to answer to the actions of those people.  Not so for his red hat supporters.
Remember all of those protesters at Trump rallies that got punched out by Trumpets as they were being led away?  Trump certainly didn’t help matters when he promised to pay for the legal fees of those Trumpets.  But he also wasn’t held to account for that either.  Don’t think for a moment that someone like him wouldn’t notice that little detail.
Trump’s narcissism may hinder him from being a good president, but that isn’t what really makes him dangerous.  What makes his White House tenure dangerous is his legions of red hat supporters that are no different in mentality or motivation than the “citizen soldiers” of the anti-abortion terrorist attacks of the 1990’s, or the “students” in Tehran, or the black shirts in Italy.  The ones that trade a bully pulpit for a goombah’s truncheon, plead persecution when caught, and sing “God Bless America” when they get away with it.
It’s all just another way of waging war when the enemy is part of your own country.
Yeah, wouldn’t that have made President George Washington proud to be an American!
(I’m being sarcastic about that, in case you were wondering.)