Monday, February 26, 2018

Week of 02/26/2018

The Conservative Fear Fetish
In a recent opinion column for the Chicago Tribune, progressive columnist Erie Zorn argues that the true strength of the National Rifle Association is not in the money they spend, but rather on the voters they rally to their side.  He’s not wrong on that.  Yes, the NRA give millions to the paid political whores that are in or aspire to be in elected positions of power and influence, but their money is no different than those of the Teamsters or the Chamber of Commerce or the various millionaire and billionaire financiers that give money to both of the dominant political parties that have run America into the ground. 
But while elections cannot be won without money, they also cannot be won outright through money.  We still pretend that elections are the “will of the people”, so you need actual votes, and thus you need actual voters that actually show up at the polling place and actually vote.  This is something that progressives and liberals have recently failed to factor in.  They can get all the endorsements they want, they can register all the people they want, they can spend all the money they want, but it will mean absolutely nothing if they can’t get enough people to the ballot box and actually vote.
This is what the NRA does.  They don’t just provide money.  They provide voters.  They know that they can count on millions of NRA members and supporters to show up at the ballot box to vote however the NRA tells them to vote.  And not just “sometime”.  Not just on “certain” elections.  Every time.  In every election.  In every campaign.  From town dog-catcher to the President of the United States, the NRA decides which candidate they should tell their loyal members and supporters to vote for.  There is not a year that goes by in America that does not have an election for some office at some time at some level, and groups like the NRA make sure that no office gets ignored.
This is important to know, people.  And it’s not just the NRA doing this.  Religious groups do this.  Business groups do this.  Parents groups do this.  The lobbying groups certainly do this.  And they do it every year, in every election that they can reach.
So someone shoots up a school full of kids in Florida and now the survivors of that shooting are pissed and they are demanding change.  But they can’t vote yet.  And the parents of those survivors are pissed and they are demanding change.  And their friends are demanding change.  And the survivors and friends of survivors of all past school shootings and all past domestic terrorist acts are pissed and they are demanding change.
That’s good.  It’s good that these people are taking action instead of just accepting those empty “thoughts and prayers” that keep getting offered in lieu of action.
But how long can you stay pissed?  Can you stay pissed long enough to make it to November for the 2018 mid-term scam?  Can you keep being pissed for the off-off-election in 2019?  If you can’t even make it to November, how the hell can you counter groups like the NRA, who are able to bring their committed voters to every election, every year?
Anger is a temporary emotion.  You can only be angry for a short period of time.  You get angry, and then time passes, and the anger lessens, and then you move on to other things.  Groups like the NRA know this.  They know that no matter how pissed other people are about what they do and what they represent, that emotion is fleeting.  Pissed-off students go on with their studies and they graduate from school and they forget.  Pissed-off parents go about their daily lives and they forget.
Why people stay with the NRA and with other political groups, no matter how extreme the position of that group, has nothing to do with anger.  The true secret behind their power has to do with something far more lasting and far more perpetuating.
They have power because of fear.
Anger is fleeting, but fear is eternal.  Fear stays with people.  Fear overrides rational thought.  Fear paralyzes people.
The NRA have power because they have continually gotten their supporters to live in fear that the government is going to take away their guns, their means to defend themselves.  Not just some guns.  Not just the most dangerous of guns.  Not just the guns of certain groups or certain individuals.  All guns.  Every gun.  From everyone… except, of course, from the government. 
And it doesn’t matter which party is in power; those members and supporters will continually believe that “the government” will take away their guns.  Not just “can” or “might”, but “will”.  They can have a die-in-the-wool card-carrying eternal lifetime member of the NRA in office, and that group will still tell their followers that “the government” is coming to take away their guns, and they will believe it with every fiber of their being.
That is the secret behind the National Rifle Association.  They keep their supporters on their side through fear and fear-mongering.  They have brainwashed their supporters into believing that any measure, no matter how slight, no matter how “reasonable”, to limit any access to guns is an invitation to take all the guns away.
Imagine what it would be like if that cult-like devotion to the Second Amendment could be applied to all other Amendments.  If that same passion could be applied to the First Amendment, to the Fourth Amendment, to the Fifth, even the Fourteenth Amendment, we’d have a different nation than we do today.
But we don’t, and we really can’t.  And the reason why we can’t is because the NRA are not the only ones that keep their followers in continual fear.
Religious groups have spread this continual fear that Atheists, Satanists, and Muslims – which, I kid you not, they actually lump into one group because they cannot see they are diametrically opposing beliefs – are coming for “your God”, just like “the government” is supposedly coming for “your guns”.  Anti-abortion groups continually keep their supporters in fear that “the government” is coming for “your babies”.  The Chamber of Commerce keeps businesses in cult-like fear that unions and “the government” are coming for “your money”.  The fear is always there, the threat of “the government” is coming “for you”, unless you do what these groups tell you to do and that you support these groups without question at every election.
And tying all these groups together, the conservative political faction in America are certainly the masters of fear-mongering and controlling people through fear. 
It doesn’t matter the specific party; conservatives have wielded fear like a barbarian cudgel.  In the 1950’s and 60’s, it was the fear of communism.  In the 1980’s and 90’s, it was the fear of drugs and drug lords.  And especially after September of 2001, the conservatives have kept America living in continual fear of terrorism. 
There is always an enemy for conservatives to use; some force that is seen as more powerful than they really are, trumped up to be more than just a physical threat, but an existential threat.  “The enemy”, they assert, is coming not just for “your guns” or “your children” or “your money”, but your very lives and the very country that we claim to cherish.
America was driven into endless war around the world based on that fear.  We are still in a war in Afghanistan and in Iraq because of that fear.  And we could possibly go to a nuclear war with North Korea because of fear, which could then mushroom – no pun intended – into conflict with China and possibly Russia. 
And it’s not just fear from outside forces, but fear from those inside this country as well.
Our current President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, got into office because of that fear.  Trump capitalized on that fear of “outsiders” in this country.  Illegals.  “Dreamers”.  Immigrants.  They’re all “coming for you”, right?  Fear of Muslims, fear of Mexicans, fear of China, fear of North Korea; it doesn’t matter the nationality or belief as long as it can be used to get the masses to Trump’s side.
And his solution, as well as those of the conservative faction, is painfully simplistic: aggression.  Force.  Guns.  Isolationism.  It’s a primal response to the primal emotion of fear.  Fight or flight, or, in this case, both.  Don’t worry about the details: let “them” sweat those out.  Just let “them” do it without question and we’ll be “safe”.
Let’s get brutally honest here… the reason why nothing will seemingly be done about anything involving politics is because we in America have been led around by our fears, and because the conservative factions in politics have come far too accustomed to using that fear to lord over us.
Of course I would be remiss if I do not point out that the liberals have their brief fear-mongering episodes as well.  The elderly and the poor are petrified that what little they already get from Social Security and other social services will be taken away from them.  The problem is that those fears are far from being unwarranted or irrational.  Those things really are happening, thanks in no small part to the conservatives.  Because they learned that they could get those groups to be afraid of something else.
No, the government is not going after your guns, your God, or your children.  But no amount of rationalization will convince the conservative masses to believe otherwise because they have been that far conditioned.  Fear keeps them in line, and all so they will vote according to the dictates of their fear-mongers.
As someone who considers himself a practical libertarian, as well as someone who cherishes freedom, this is a subject where I differ sharply from the conservatives.  Fear is the natural enemy of freedom.  Fear irrationally eliminates options from the mind of the individual, forcing them to believe that the only real options are both few and poor.  Fear prevents the implementation of both positive and negative consequence of certain choices, especially when it comes to dishing out justice for bad choices.  And fear certainly subjugates the individual, turning them into an emotional slave to what they are afraid of and to whomever is wielding that fear.
Every cult – both religious and otherwise – use fear to keep their people in line, especially when their leaders begin abusing the trust and power they are given.  Look at Jim Jones and David Koresh.  They used fear to keep the faithful in line right until their grizzly deaths.  And the more outlandish their perversion, such as forcing themselves on women, the more they ratcheted up the fear.  They were no different in mindset or motive than the modern-day fear-mongers who use fear to keep us in endless wars, keep us subjected to endless restrictions, and keep us bound to one dominant and overbearing political party over any other option.
Fear keeps battered spouses staying with their abusers.  It keeps harassment victims from reporting their predators.  It keeps people from moving on or improving their lots in life.  And it gives politicians power over us that they should never have.  And as long as we keep living in their generated fear, not only will things remain the same, but things will only continue to get worse for us all.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Week of 02/19/2018

Why Democrats Continually Lose
2018 is supposed to be the year the Democratic Party wins back control of the Congress.
Operative words being “supposed to be”.
I know the liberals will tell you that things are going great for them and they can’t wait until November for their much-needed victories in the mid-term election scam.  They believe that Americans are pissed off enough with the orange-skinned narcissist in the White House and with the GOP and their sociopathic games that they are hungry for change.  They dance with glee with every stupid Twitter-tantrum Donald Trump throws, and with every screwjob his White House gang enact, and with every embarrassing moment that goes on in the White House with Trump’s “best people”.
And yet... there is a very good chance that they will fail to accomplish this.  There is a very good chance that come November, the mid-term election scam will leave the Dems exactly where they are now, powerless and impotent.
And, if they do, they will have nobody to blame for their failure but themselves.
There are many reasons why the Democratic Party have been on the losing side of politics of late.  One of the chief reasons is the fact that their chief spokeswoman, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, is so despised by everyone outside of her district that the GOP actually use her as a straw candidate to campaign against in other areas… and win… frequently.  But rather than to throw her out on her ass, or at least convince her to gracefully retire like so many GOP legislators have of late, the Dems keep on trotting her out in front of the cameras for all to see and cringe.
Another reason is the lack of a coherent alternative for whatever issue is up for discussion.  Everything of late has been simply a “Never Trump” campaign.  Whatever Trump proposes, they’re against it.  But they don’t come up with a better alternative.  Trump’s plans and those of the GOP may suck, and they may even be outright kleptocratic in nature, but if all you’re doing is giving a Grump Cat “no” to those plans without an actual alternative, people cannot consider the Dems to be a good alternative to the GOP. 
Remember that the biggest allure to Trump in the eyes of the voters is that he supposedly would be an agent for change.  When you have a system like healthcare that is severely flawed, that is still screwing people over, and one side says they can change that, and the other side says to stay the course no matter what, which side do you think the people being screwed over will take?
But perhaps the biggest failing of the Democrats rests with three simple words:
“The next election.”
Everything that they do or don’t do is focused on “the next election”.  Opportunities to stand up and stand out are missed because the Democrats are fixated on that “next election” that keeps coming up.  It seems as if they have stopped caring about how to properly govern and instead are focused on that “next election”.
It’s been established that many of Trump’s choices for department leadership are people who are the most un-qualified for the position.  Either they don’t have the comparable experience, or they’ve been on record saying that the very position they’re nominated for should be abolished.  But when such a nomination is offered for confirmation, rather than make a public stand against them, the Dems seem to sit on their hands and keep their mouths shut and let the confirmation go through.  Why?  Because they feel they can use that in that “next election”.
Now I can understand when the Dems keep quiet because the GOP are openly sabotaging their own efforts.  The recent budget shutdown is a great example of the GOP’s self-sabotage.  When you have one GOP senator throwing a temper-tantrum and shutting down the government overnight in defiance of both Trump and party, it would be stupid for the Dems to jump in on that.  But afterwards, they were pretty silent about it.  They failed to use the opportunity after the shutdown was over to point out that it was GOP that sabotaged itself, or to point out that the GOP are the only party that have used shutdowns as political tools for the past twenty years.  That should have been a key point made in Sunday morning shows and the late-night “comedy” shows.  But it wasn’t.
That’s what I mean by failed opportunities.
Another failed opportunity was the tax plan that Trump and the GOP managed to get through.  Yes, the fact that they did manage to get their act together and pass one of Trump’s key points did come as a surprise even to this commentator.  We all got so used to the gang that couldn’t legislate that we just took it for granted that the GOP would continually let Trump down.
But here’s where the Democrats failed on it... first, they put Nancy Pelosi’s nasty face in front and complain about “crumbs”, which allowed Vice President Pence to school her on criticism and make the phony promise that it would be “Christmas”.  (I’ve talked about this previously when it came to those so-called “$1000 bonuses”.)  Then they failed to point out that this much-promised “Christmas” would not be the $4000 income increase that Trump and the GOP originally promised.  Not only that, but House Speaker Paul Ryan, aka “Mister Budget”, actually stepped in the mess by telling one struggling American that she should be proud of her meager $1.50 increase because it would supposedly pay for her Costco membership.  Of course, “Mister Budget” quickly retreated on that and deleted his own Twitter-twit post, but, again, nothing from the Democrats to follow through.  Just another failed opportunity.
Let’s get brutally honest here… the Democratic Party have gotten so used to being the fallback party for when the GOP screw up that they just presume that the voters will automatically flock to them at some point.  If not for this election, then for that infamous “next election”.  So why should they do anything to get the voters to support them?
Unfortunately for America, the lazy complacency of the Democrats is costing them in ways they are not yet aware of.  The orchestrated insurgency of the GOP during Obama’s two terms in office resulted in numerous judicial vacancies.  Vacancies that are now being filled by the GOP in record speed with their judges.  That’s not something you can fix come “the next election”.
With every department head filled by a Trump appointee, previous policies that protected Americans are being dismantled.  The Federal Communications Commission, now under the control of a Trump appointee, dismantled common-sense Net Neutrality regulations in favor of big corporations and their parasitic philosophy of plunder at all costs.  Protections that cannot be simply walked back into place come “the next election”.
There was a very good reason why the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau was created, and that was because of the rampant parasitic greed that was present during the Great Recession.  But now that Trump has neutered that agency and turned it from protecting Americans to protecting corporations, Big Corporate is free to prey on Americans with impunity again.  That, too, cannot be simply walked back come “the next election”.
In short, the damage may already be done thanks to the GOP.  Imagine if the Dems do take majority control of the Congress and they somehow manage to neuter the GOP minority from their insurrectionist ways and they start walking back all of those Trump changes.  How many of those will be blocked in the new conservative-leaning judiciary thanks to all of those newly-appointed judges?  And, again, they can’t walk those back with an election.  Let’s also not forget that the justices in the Supreme Court are not getting any younger.  The moderate and liberal-leaning justices will either start retiring soon or else they’ll pass away on the bench.  The pool of available nominees is no longer as “progressive” as it used to be.
This is why I and several others have argued that the Democratic Party needs to die in order for America to survive.  They have become lazy and complacent, thinking that everything will go just fine and all they have to do is wait until that “next election”.  They don’t have to sell an alternative.  They just say that the GOP’s programs won’t work.  That is not leadership.  That is the mentality of a slacker.
There are really four choices in every election, despite the lies of the media and paid political “experts”.  There is the GOP, the Democrats, an independent or third-party or write-in candidate, or not voting at all.  As long as the media and the paid whores who call themselves “political experts” continue to spread the Orwellian lie that there are no independent alternatives, the voters will either choose between the fascistic and sociopathic GOP, a slacker party of losers, or else they will not vote at all.  Unless the Dems clean up their act, or else they end their party and allow another to take its place, the pissed-off voters will choose to not vote at all, and thus cement the GOP’s virtual one-party rule.
And that is something that cannot be fixed come “the next election”.