Wednesday, March 22, 2017

We Don't Need a 'Different Kind of President' - We Need a Different President


Enough talking about how Trump is a 'different kind of President'. Enough making excuses for his unacceptable behavior. Enough saying he should be 'taken seriously but not literally'.

Do you hear what you are saying, you idiots?

You are saying that it's OK for the President of the United States to lie.

And it's our job to deal with it and try to figure it out somehow.

That is crazy talk, my friends.

This is not a question of Democrat or Republican, of left or right. To be honest, Donald Trump could have just as easily been a Democratic candidate. For most of his life, his political leanings (as well as his party registration) have been aligned with the Democratic party. His personal life certainly has not hewed to what would be considered traditional conservative values, to say the least. And many of his earliest stated positions are not typically Republican either - on trade, on international relations, on health care, on Social Security and Medicare.

So, no, we're not talking Democrat or Republican here. We're talking a dangerous authoritarian demagogue that has manages to weasel, bluster and lie his way into the most powerful office in the world.

Simply put, we have a liar as President of the United States.

I suppose you could call that a 'different kind of President'.

Barely two months in, and he has already insulted and damaged our relationship with our closest allies (Great Britain, NATO), telegraphed support and approval to some of the world's most despotic and dangerous rulers (Putin, Duterte), and provoked an unstable and volatile adversary (North Korea). He is so completely unfit for office that there is a serious likelihood that he could get us into a nuclear confrontation. Like many autocrats, he adores the trappings and public display of military power (although avoided military service of his own).  He wanted to parade tanks down Pennslylvania Avenue at his inauguration. He has said that "we have nukes - why don't we use them?"

Unfortunately, it seems that the Republican party is so invested in their agenda that they don't care what he does as long as he signs what they want him to sign. Removing him from office, even though they would still retain a Republican president, would damage their ability to move legislation with the speed that they need to enact all the pet projects that a balanced government with any input from Democrats whatsoever would prevent or at least mitigate - privatizing Social Security and Medicare, eliminating the Department of Education, the EPA, neutering the Department of Labor and the FDA, selling off federal lands, doing away with any regulatory protections from pollution, poisons, workplace regulations, etc., that could possibly hamper corporate profits, eliminating consumer finance protections against predatory lending policies, giving religious views of corporations priority over women's right to healthcare and family planning of their choosing (to name only a few.)

This is their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you can bet they are not going to kill the Goose that lays the Golden Eggs. They get the Golden Eggs, and we get the Goose.

And this is happening in only two months of this Residency.

He must go.

Before he destroys American democracy. Before the worst-case scenario, which was unthinkable for any previous American president, but a possibility now - nuclear war.

Enough. We don't need a 'different kind of President'. We need a different President.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Back To Hooterville Once Again! or, Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Wow. In one ill-fated evening, I've been thrown back to how I felt on November 4, 2004.

So, I guess I'll be firing up the ol' tractor and heading out into the back 40.

I'm going to be cross-posting on my "Price of Right" Facebook page as well, but I think a blog is right for what's going on right now. I'm not going to inundate my friends and family with my opinions who don't really want to hear political stuff or who want to come over and argue. I'll continue to post music and cat stuff on my regular Facebook page. On this page, I am preaching to the choir.

So I invite you to join me here!

The following is the first post up on Price of Right:

Last night, like many of you, I was in total shock. I love you all for coming by and sharing your own thoughts and feelings with me, and for your support. I have a lot more to say, and right now I only want to say it to you.

The main reason I wrote my book "The Price of Right" was really to answer my own question, which is why people support ideologies and policies which go against their own best interests. I knew why rich people supported the conservative ideology, but why in the hell did working people support these ideas that had an adverse affect upon them?

I learned several things on that journey.

I learned that facts don't matter.

I also learned that people have deep psychological - and physical, or genetically-based - reasons for thinking the way they do, and that when you hold a position like that, it is not going to be swayed by logic or argument. So I quit arguing and trying to convince other people to change their minds. People occasionally do, but not because someone out-argued them on a blog or Facebook post.

Instead, I decided to focus on reaching out to the people who share the belief system I do, and hoping to empower and encourage each other. Yes, I'm 'in the bubble'. I'm in the 'echo chamber'. I'm not going to expend my energy and emotion on people who my thoughts and feeliings are just going to antagonize. And so, here, I'm not having people come shit on me and my friends. There will be deleted comments and unfriending if necessary. Being 'public' doesn't mean you get the right to come in and trash the joint. This is my home, and I'm running it.

Even in spite of how devastated I am because of last night's catastrophic events, I still believe that there is strength and power in coming together and working for progress and positive change - even if we don't see the results in our lifetime. We fight because it's right, not because we think we're going to get our way. I believe this more than ever, even if I don't 'feel' it right now.

It was, in fact, a day much like today - the waking nightmare after a gruesome election - that gave me the impetus to begin writing my blog "Last Left Turn Before Hooterville". I woke up the day after the second Bush election in 2004 and I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't believe that after the previous four years he was still in the White House. I experienced a profound sense of disorientation. I didn't know where to turn or what to do.

I had never written before in my life, but I felt, like I feel now, that it was 'write or die'. I started reading the comments on the Washington Post political site, and got into a conversation with a guy who had his own political blog. I went over there and for the first time felt like there were people who thought the way I did and wanted to talk about it. So I started my own blog. And that blog led me to a whole world of progressive thought and progressive friends - and even a book contract! I feel so lucky that I was able to have a platform to write exactly what I wanted to say.

So I invite you, my friends and loved ones, over here to chat with me - share some solidarity and hope, and channel our anger and frustration into action.

And fuck those motherfuckers.

Here is a link to the very first post I wrote on my Hooterville blog. It takes me back so viscerally to the way I felt then, which is the way I feel again now. And I would take a thousand Dubyas over the monster that has just bullied his way into the presidency.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

In Six Words: Why Government Should Not Be Run Like A Business - by Donald Trump

A favorite argument - perhaps THE favorite argument - by conservatives, when discussing government, is that it should be run like a business. This is their justification for privatizing every government-controlled agency or organization. They say that running America like a business eliminates bureaucracy, waste, fraud and needless spending. That if a business was run like the government, that business would go under. That if America was run like a business, most of the problems we face today would be eliminated.

And the corollary is, what's good for business is good for America

This is a fallacy, and I think it's time we addressed this head on:

Government and business have distinctly opposite interests.

Business is, at its core, for profit. Not 'breaking even' and definitely not taking a loss. It is simple math. Dollars and cents, nothing more.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that idea.

There is nothing wrong with the idea that the aim of business is profit. This is what drives the economy and is the backbone of the world. Supply and demand. Incentive to create something, to work for something, to achieve the things that you want - this is one of the things that 'makes America great', if you will.

But it is not the only thing.

There are things that all people need that are not profitable - in fact, they cost.

Having clean air, water and safe-to-eat food is not necessarily profitable, but they are necessary for our survival. We need to defend ourselves from attack. We need roads, we need health care, we need a national infrastructure, we need an educated people and - we need a legal system. We need laws to protect people from being hurt, damaged, stolen from or killed.

We need laws for business as well, to make sure that business can operate fairly. What if we didn't have laws that enforce contracts? If a business sold widgets to someone in advance, and then the person just took off with the widget and didn't pay, without laws that enforce that business' right to have that contract honored - "I give you stuff, and you pay for it" - that business would have no recourse. And if someone broke into the business' warehouse and stole all their inventory, there wouldn't be a thing you could do about it. The legal system that protects us all - businesses and individuals alike - has to be created and enforced by We the People. And taking care of the interests of the Amercan people costs money in the short run, although it pays off in the long run - in quality of life, in freedom, in security, in progress. But not in quarterly profit.

This is the difference between government and business.

Business is like a powerful engine - with wheels and steering and brakes, it can go where you want it to go, but without parameters like steering and brakes, it can run over and destroy people.

If the goverment is run like a business, then the only concern is the profit. And in business, people's welfare is not the most important thing. The only concern is the bottom line. For business, that's fine - it's the way it's designed. But the government exists for the interest and well-being of the people.

And a perfect illustration of this was given to us by none other than Donald Trump.

Last Monday, at the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said, "Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, 'Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.' Well, it did collapse."

Trump replied, "That’s called business, by the way."

In those six words, he made the case for not only why he is unfit to be President (or even dogcatcher) but why government should not be run like a business.

Running the country like a business means money first, people second.

Being a wealthy businessman (I don't say 'successful') is not a reason why Trump should be elected President. Because he is proud to profit by the hardship and losses of the American people.

This is his priority, and it is his prerogative as a business person to at least attempt to do so.

But the President is a public servant. The President's interest has to be first and foremost that of the American people, not his own wealth and power. Do you really believe that if those were to come into conflict, that the People's interests would prevail?

Me neither.

Donald Trump himself has told us in six words why he should not be President.

Believe him.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Get Out The Vote - Start NOW!

Democrats, progressives, liberals, whatever - just a thought. The election is a year away. When voter turnout is low, Democrats lose. When voter turnout is high, we win. We are the natural majority, but we don't vote as often as we should.

This next coming year is important - not just for the Presidential elections, but the downticket elections as well - city, county, state, boards of education, Congressional, gubernatorial. This is where we often drop the ball. This is how we lose the House and Senate, as well as the local elections that determine what goes on in our own communities, and where the right-wing fringe people get their footholds.
Mid-term elections - those are vitally important and we don't participate like we should. And when the only people who are paricipating are the fanatical true-believers, they are the ones who get elected.

Wonder how we got hijacked by the far-right religious fringe, and the ultra-Tea Party wackos who are hell-bent on bringing the whole government structure down, and don't care who gets hurt? Wonder how they got to set the horrific agenda before us and are seemingly unstoppable even by the leaders of their own party?

It's because we are not getting out the vote. We're not voting on a local level, we're not voting in mid-terms (which is where our Congress and governors get elected) we're not participating on a national level - and these people ARE. Remember that.

Please, please - start thinking and planning about voting and participating NOW. We have a year before the presidential election, and the primaries are coming up in the spring. If we're not happy with the way things are in politics, we need to do something about it now - not wait till after the elections and bitch.

So, in conclusion - VOTE! Get your friends to vote. Get your family to vote. Help people who are not registered to vote to register, and if they need help getting to the polls, help there too. 

I also recommend becoming a pollworker! It really helps get you involved in the process. It's fun. Your fellow pollworkers are other people interested in the political processes, and, whether they share your political persuasion or not, they're usually pretty interesting people. You get a sense of pride from perfoming an important public service - dare I say THE important public service in a democracy. You get to meet your neighbors and people you might not otherwise run into - plus, it pays! I really enjoy it and look forward to it. I've been doing it for 10 years, and now my younger son does it with me. He came for the check and stayed because he liked it. Now he is on the list to do it every election.

It's simple. When we vote, we win. Let's start thinking about this NOW.


Saturday, October 03, 2015

Hope You Like The Sh*t Show, Progressives - We Let It Happen.

Every single day, the Republican Party goes further and further into far-right-wing extremism - so much more radical than it was when George W. Bush was in office that it's hard to believe. Issues that we thought had been settled long ago are now under attack all over again - a woman's right to decisions about her own body, the separation of church and state, civil rights, voting rights, care of the environment, the right of workers to organize, Social Security, even the Department of Education and public schooling. Science itself is not just questioned, but utterly denied, both by religious extremist nutjobs and corporate behemoths whose interests are threatened by facts.

Remember that there are two major lanes to this Republican Highway to Hell: Far-Right Religious Extremists (FRREs) and Big Business/Big Money Repubs (BBs). Neither of them can prevail on their own, but they both believe they can use the other to achieve their ends - and so far, they have been right. They have separate agendas, and they will ignore their differences as long as possible for the 'greater good' of Republican Party dominance. Intersecting with those two major lanes are the Tea Party nutballs and the Libertarians, who can share some values of both, but can throw a monkey wrench into the agenda of the two majors as well.

Big Business (with a few exceptions) has absolutely no interest in the religious or social agenda of the Religious Extremists, but they sure do have an interest in an obedient, cohesive voting bloc that will pour all of its unmatched organizational resources into doing the bidding of whatever leader they believe in, so they will spout whatever the religious wackos demand of them - and those demands are getting more and more extreme and dangerous all the time. What does matter to Big Business are lower taxes and de-regulation, and they are willing to promise whatever they need to in order to get them.

Another basic divide is between the Right Wing Elites and the Right Wing Populists, and this is where the Tea Partiers and Libertarians come in. Big Business is mostly about the Elites, and the FRREs mostly come down on the side of the Populists, but the BBs want the loyalty of the Populists, and the FRREs want the power of the Elites.

Tea Partiers/Libertarians are a big factor here as well - they share some values with both sides. They are Populists (some religious, some not), but they want the lower taxes, military might and de-regulation that the BB Elites want - only more, and they are willing to pull the whole structure down to get it. BB Elites have no interest in pulling down the structure. They like it just fine the way it is, because it is specifically structured to benefit them at the expense of everyone else.

These 3 Populist fringe factions (FRREs, Tea Partiers and Libertarians) are not all-powerful on their own but, put together, are such a sizable portion of the Republican Party  today that Big Business Elites and old-style conservative Republicans have had no option but to go along and make whatever 'deals with the devil' that have to be made in order to hang on to power. Being the elitists that they are, they have looked down upon those factions as useful idiots that they can placate with promises and accessions to religious and social demands that don't affect the basic financial and corporate power structure (or so they think!). They have believed up to this point that they can control those fringe elements, but in the last few election cycles the traditional leaders of the party have lost any power they have over the religious and Tea Party fanatics, and are being pushed aside. They are still getting what they want - lower taxes, military spending and de-regulation - but the price they are paying for that is a drive straight through to Crazy Town.

And this, my friends, is what has brought us to where we are today - to Donald Trump, to Dr. Ben Carson, to Carly Fiorina. To Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee. To the complete shutdown of a working government. To the eradication of the separation of church and state, and the dominance of religious belief over the rule of law, and over scientific fact. To out-of-control mass murders every few months - in the name of 'freedom'. To racism re-entrenched and intensified. To the literal destruction of the planet we live on.

We have allowed this to happen.

At some point, we - Democrats, liberals, progressives, whatever we call ourselves - must take ownership of OUR part in this.

We have not stopped them, nor have we even made any more than a token and half-hearted effort to do so.

When every few months innocent people are gunned down in mass murder-suicides, we don't stop those responsible - the gun lobby and Second-Amendment radicals who prevent any reasonable gun control legislation - any at all - from even being considered.

When union after union is shut down and neutralized, we let it happen.

When crazy laws are made like "Stand Your Ground" that allow people to murder with impunity, we let it happen.

When Wall Street and banking greed decimated the economy, and we allowed them to skate off with nary a slap on the wrist, and actually become MORE powerful, profitable and too-big-to-fail as a result, while the rest of us have yet to recover from the damage they inflicted, we let it happen.

When there are so few elected officials who stand up for real progressive values - and, don't lie; these ARE the values that most of us believe in - that you can count them on one hand, it's because we aren't electing them.

When institutionalized racism and white privilege is the norm, we are not challenging it.

What Bernie Sanders is saying is absolutely true.

We need nothing less than a political revolution.

What we are up against is too strong to change with a few rallies, slogans and Facebook posts.

It is going to take a real political revolution. From the ground up - from us. From all the people who have watched this happen. Standing by and hoping that our politicians will change this will not work. Expecting that if we deal fairly and respectfully with Republicans, they will meet us halfway will not work. It hasn't so far.

I have been afraid for a long time that things will have to get terribly bad before people will demand a change. This is what happened during the Great Depression. It took people literally starving in the streets for an FDR to be able to implement something as radical as the New Deal. Republicans fought against it tooth and nail, of course, but the public embraced it and those policies got us out of the Depression and gave us the strongest, biggest middle class America has ever known - the very era that conservatives think of as 'the good old days when America was great', and say they want back, but their policies have destroyed.

But without the devastation of the Great Depression, there would not have been the public will for the New Deal to happen.

So I fear that things may have to get worse.

Yes, I am supporting Bernie Sanders. I am sending him money. But, as Noam Chomsky says, Bernie Sanders cannot save America. Only a true political revolution can do that. Only a willingness to stand up and confront these Republican bullies toe-to-toe, which up till now the Democrats have not done. But they won't do it without the American people demanding that they do so. That was the first thing President Obama said when he got into office: "Make me do it." Mostly, we didn't.

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, NRA. You're not killing our children any more."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, radical "religious" Republicans - we're keeping Planned Parenthood and giving them even more money because women have a right to affordable health care and you don't have the right to deny it to them."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, for-profit prison industry - you are not going to get rich by destroying the lives of Black Americans to fill your occupancy quotas."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, Wall Street and Big Finance - if you steal from us, you will pay us back AND go to jail."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, greedy Congress - full-time work should pay a living wage. Don't deny us that and at the same time vote yourself pay raises, gold-plated health care and fat pensions."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, corporate lobbyists - our government is not for sale. We will finance campaigns, not you."

Until the American people say, "F*ck you, Supreme Court - money is NOT free speech and corporations are NOT humans."

Until the American people stand up, say it and mean it, nothing is going to change.

So, until then, progressives - enjoy the show. Because we can't just blame the Republicans. It's OUR show, too.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Yes, I am #FeelingTheBern.

OK. Let me start by saying I love Bernie Sanders, and have for many years, long before he was on most people's radar. He stands for my values and the issues I think are important, and he always has. He has never been anything less than authentic, passionate and committed to liberal values.

However, when people would ask me what I thought about Bernie running for President, I was ambivalent. He is so effective as a Senator and a member of Congress, and I was afraid that with the political climate the way it is, that he would not get very far. I wasn't sure that America was ready for Bernie's message, even though I have been for a long time.

But, I have to say, I'm really excited about how America is responding to Bernie. He is bringing it like no one else. Whatever happens, he is getting the progressive message - the REAL progressive message - out there, without apology, without compromise, without fear. He truly is speaking for working people, for poor people, for social justice, for civil rights, for a fair and living wage, for real democracy for all of us, not just for the richest among us.

Click here for more about Bernie!

This is what I have wanted to hear from a Democrat for years - really, all my life -  and had just about given up hope that it would ever happen. And, unlike most politicians, he's not just saying what he thinks will get him elected - this kind of talk is not what passes for 'conventional political wisdom'; it's the exact opposite. He is saying what he has been saying all along, and his record shows that he is not just saying it but doing it. He is calling for real political revolution - and Americans are hearing him. If he is courageous enough to get out there and say what no one else - not Republicans, not even other Democrats - will say, then he has my support all the way.

I'm volunteering, I'm contributing, and I will be writing and talking. I'm ready for the revolution.

So - yes, I ‪#‎FeelTheBern‬. ‪#‎BernieSanders‬ ‪#‎Bernie2016‬

Friday, September 11, 2015

Liberal Values are American Values

I believe that liberal values are American values. Here's why:

For starters, liberals fought for America's independence, freed the slaves, and gave women the right to vote.

The Mt. Rushmore Presidents--Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt--were each considered radical liberals in their day. 

Below are major American achievements that liberals fought for, and conservatives opposed:

  • Independence from Great Britain: Conservatives, who then were called Tories, were against the War of Independence.
  • Separation of Church and State: This great achievement was eventually embodied in the First Amendment of the Constitution's Bill of Rights.  It was opposed by conservatives who wanted to preserve the special status of established churches in Virginia (the Episcopal Church) and Massachusetts (the Congregational Church).
  • Freedom of the Press: Conservatives distrusted a free press.  This provision, which was fought for by liberals, also made its way into the Constitution's Bill of Rights.
  • The Abolition of Slavery:  At the outset of the Civil War, abolitionists were regarded by conservatives as dangerous extremists.  Most were persecuted and many were killed.  Some religious denominations split over the issue.  Today's Southern Baptist Convention owes its origin to conservative Southern ministers who believed that the Bible approves of slavery.  The Republican Party--which for decades was run by liberals--was formed to prevent the spread of slavery into the western territories and states.
  • The Pure Food and Drug Act:  A liberal extremist by the name of Upton Sinclair wrote a book called The Jungle which described slaughterhouse practices so vividly that a reluctant, conservative Congress was shamed into creating a federal agency with the responsibility to test all foods and drugs destined for human consumption.
  • Women's Suffrage:  Generations of women lectured, wrote, lobbied, marched, and practiced civil disobedience in order to get the right to vote.  They were called liberal extremists, and worse.  Only a few early liberals lived to see final victory in 1920.
  • Equal Rights For Women:  The Equal Rights Amendment, which has been introduced in every session of Congress since 1923, was passed by Congress in 1972 but failed to be ratified by the necessary number of states.  Conservatives successfully kept it from becoming law. The dangerous wording of the Amendment is as follows: "Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex."
  • Birth Control:  In the 1870s conservatives in Congress passed the Comstock Law which made it illegal to disseminate information about birth control practices.  In 1938, in a case involving liberal extremist Margaret Sanger, Justice August Hand lifted the federal ban on birth control.
  • Child Labor:  Liberal extremists called "muckrakers" exposed horrible abuses of hundreds of thousands of child laborers. In 1916 Woodrow Wilson pushed the Keating-Owen Act through Congress which banned articles made by children from interstate commerce.  The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.  Not until  the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 did any meaningful child labor legislation succeed.
  • The Repeal of ProhibitionThe 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale and use of alcoholic beverages, was opposed by liberals. It was  repealed in 1933.
  • Social Security: Before FDR introduced Social Security in 1934, most elderly Americans lived in poverty, yet it was fought by conservatives as a socialistic scheme. Without it today, most elderly Americans would still live in poverty.
  • The Tennessee Valley Authority:  This creation of the Roosevelt era brought cheap electric power to rural areas of the economically devastated Depression-era South.  Private firms had passed on doing it themselves because it was too big and not lucrative enough, but TVA was branded as Communistic.
  • The United Nations: The UN is a favorite whipping boy of conservatives.  Conservatives in another generation killed the League of Nations, which if properly implemented, might have prevented WWII.  Undoubtedly the UN is flawed and often ineffectual, but the world would be a more dangerous place if there were no forum for all the nations of earth, rich and poor, dangerous and peaceful, to talk, talk, talk before they fight, fight, fight.
  • Desegregation of America's Armed Forces:  President Harry S Truman, by executive order, ended Jim Crow practices in the U.S. military.  His civil rights initiatives split the Democratic Party.  Strom Thurmond, a staunch Southern conservative who later became a Republican Senator from South Carolina, ran for President as a Dixiecrat, and carried four Southern states.
  • Civil Rights: Over the fierce opposition of conservatives, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed which made racial discrimination in public places such as restaurants, hotels, and theaters illegal, and guaranteed voting rights. President Lyndon Johnson, who had supported segregation while he was a Texas Senator, was branded as a traitor by conservatives.
  • The Environmental Movement:  John Muir, Benjamin Harrison, and Teddy Roosevelt led in the creation of national parks and the preservation of wilderness areas over the opposition of conservative forces led by mining and timber companies and developers.

To be fair, it is true that conservatives have founded and generously supported hospitals, orphanages, museums, schools and colleges, historic preservation, and a wide range of philanthropies. They have created parks and beautified cities.

But conservatives have been on the wrong side of a shockingly long list of major developments that have made American a better place to live--as the above list should make clear. (There are hundreds more that can be added.)

This is because, historically, conservatives generally have been naysayers, defenders of the status quo.

Sometimes conservatives do get it right. But that shouldn't surprise anyone. If you say No to everything, you're bound to be right every once in a while. 

The next time you hear someone saying that liberals are a threat to America, tell them to take a history lesson.

Harry Truman used to say, "The only new thing in the world is the history you don't know."