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The End of Politics

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In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “One of my proudest moments was when I told Obama, ‘You will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy.'” He was of course referring to Merrick Garland, who President Obama selected to replace Antonin Scalia, who died earlier in the year.

Then in 2017 McConnell said in reference to President Trump’s nominee Gorsuch, who’s appointment Democrats vowed to fight, “Apparently there’s yet a new standard now, which is not to confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that’s something the American people simply will not tolerate.”

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the state’s congressional districts an illegal gerrymander that violated the state’s constitution. The Republican-controlled legislature responded by attempting to impeach every member of the Court that voted for the decision.

And in state after state (Arizona, Florida, Maine) in this last election, Republicans went to court to sue to stop the counting of ballots.

Fast forward to last week, in an op-ed McConnell wrote on Foxnews.com, the headline was; Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?

I started writing a blog titled,” The End of Politics”, in 2016 when McConnell stated that he wouldn’t hold a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. But as I wrote it, I realized that I could have used the same title for McConnell when he vowed to stop all legislation and make Obama a one term president. It wasn’t so much about limiting the other party to one term, it was about refusing to cooperate on any legislation whatsoever, in the middle of a financial meltdown, just so the American people would blame President Obama and the Democrats.

In every instance, it has been party over government. Now any student of history will tell you that this is the way our politics have been played since the first Congress in 1774. Politicians have always put themselves and their party above the needs of the constituents.

Mitch may be the poster boy for bloodthirsty politics, but he’s certainly not the only one. The Republican controlled legislature in Wisconsin is now plotting to strip the powers from the incoming governor, a Democrat. They are taking a page from the North Carolina Republicans who also tried to strip powers from the incoming Democratic governor. The peaceful transition of power after elections is one of the hallmarks of a democracy. But democracy is not the game Republicans are playing.

From extreme gerrymandering, where in state after state the Republicans lose the popular vote only to control state house and senates, to Jim Crow era voter repression, Republicans have given up any pretense of democracy. Donald Trump declared during the 2016 election, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win”. Democracy doesn’t matter, only power.

And that’s all that’s left of the Republican party, a simple grab for power. At any cost.

But you say, the Democrats still play by the rules, they accept losing elections even when they are stolen (Gore v Bush 2000) or when the vote is so obviously skewed to one party (Abrams v Kemp, Georgia Senate 2018) through fraud. Democracy cannot survive when one party plays by the rules and the other party does not. Because what will happen, is happening, is that the party that does not play by the rules will become more and more desperate as demographics work against them. There are only so many votes you can block, or elections you can steal, before people understand what you are doing. And vote against you. And if the numbers are large enough, the Republicans are going to lose.

They are well aware of that, and well aware that time is against them. What do they do in 2020 when we vote to replace the current occupant? Trump won the last election even though he lost the popular vote, and his popularity has only decreased since then. But Trump (with the Republicans in tow) has shown a propensity to use whatever is at his disposal to further his personal power.

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle once he’s out. And we can’t go back to a time when both sides played fair, when there were disagreements, yet policy was written. Neither side may have gotten everything they wanted, but they accepted that all sides needed to be represented.

For Republicans there is only one side, theirs. There is only one way, theirs. There is only one party, theirs. The party that gerrymanders districts, that suppresses votes, that sues to stop the counting of votes, is the party that can’t understand why the voters prefer to vote for Democrats.

All of this is a run up to the 2020 election. When Republicans from the president on down continually cry fraud when they lose an election, I can only imagine what will happen on election night when the returns come in badly for them.

And I can only hope our Democracy survives it.

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The Mob

I guess it depends on which side of the divide you’re on.

60 to 70 people in front of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office holding signs saying people need to go to jail, chanting “Lock Her Up”, and calling for an end to voting. No, not calling to an end to voting, just calling for the stoppage of recording votes. Votes for the other candidate.

A mob? No, concerned citizens.

Men in white shirts and ties banging on the doors of the Supervisor of Elections where a group of election canvassers in Miami-Dade County were meeting to try to figure out how democracy in Florida should move forward. But led by a Republican Congressman (John E. Sweeney), protestors stormed the office, hitting and kicking people trying to shut down the recount. Protestors who were hired and worked for republican organizations. They were effective. The Canvassing Board agreed to shut down the recount effectively handing the presidency of the United States to George W. Bush.

A mob? No, constitutional warriors.

A football game in Denver. The Broncos played the San Diego Chargers for the AFC Championship, with the winner going to the Super Bowl. The Broncos lost and the city rioted. The fans are white and despondent.

A mob? No, just dedicated fans.

Thousands of people went to Washington to protest the placement of a misogynist, a proven liar, and a partisan hack to the Supreme Court. The people were passionate in their protest against what they considered an affront to the sanctity of the Court. Most were women who knew that if Judge Kavanaugh were seated that he would rule against Roe v. Wade.

A mob? Most certainly. People who disrupt an orderly proceeding should be arrested.

Citizens of Ferguson, MO, protested against the fatal shooting of one of their sons by a police officer. The citizens were African American, the 18 year old murdered by the policeman was African American, and the policeman was white. They believed that Michael Brown was shot for no reason, and then was left to die on the street as the police officers watched. These same citizens had been subjected to years of abuse at the hands of the white police and the local government, and they had had enough. So they did the only thing left to people without anything, they stood up and said, No More.

A mob? Oh most assuredly, which is why the police brought in armored cars and reinforcements to insure that the African Americans knew their place.

A politician hounded out of a restaurant because people are angry with his efforts to subvert our democracy. A Press Secretary, a mouthpiece for an authoritarian fascist wannabe is denied dinner in a restaurant by the staff that wants nothing to do with her. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called a fascist because her department is taking immigrant children from their parents and locking them in cages.

A mob? Maybe not, but certainly left wing activists looking to overthrow our government.

In a country that was founded on revolution, inciting revolution will land you in very hot water. But it’s the definition that matters the most. When the right kind of people revolt, it’s a march, a rally. When the wrong kind of people revolt, it’s a demonstration, a stoppage, a strike. Our current president said about the protestors outside the Supreme Court, “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law – not the rule of the mob.”

Democrats have become too dangerous to govern. That’s an interesting, and dangerous, statement. What that says to his supporters is that democrats are dangerous, that they should be handled differently. Which is a euphemism. A call to violence.

Our democracy is currently working the way it should in Florida, Georgia, and Arizona. Provisional and mail-in ballots are being counted. The only problem is that they are being counted the wrong way.

They’re being counted for the mob.

The Stranger Redux

I first posted the blog below on September 5, 2016. This was during the campaign for the presidency of the United States. I need to get back to writing, get back to trying to release the pressure that I feel. Pressure from the Fascism creeping over our land. What I wrote back in September of 2016 feels even more dangerous today. Because the stranger is now at our door.

…………………………………………………………………….

We’ve seen his type before. Sometimes dangerous, sometimes not. It just depends on the guise in which he comes.

He’s seen standing outside a country general store in the 1880’s selling a cure all. Except the cure all is made of poison. He knows it but doesn’t care. He tells the crowd in front of him that for only fifty cents this will cure every ailment that you have.

He’s seen standing on a street corner in Eastern Europe in the 1910’s handing out pamphlets blaming everyone’s misfortune on the Jews. Telling the crowd that all their problems are not their fault, but the fault of Jews stealing their homes and money.

He’s seen under a tent in nowhere USA in the 1920’s, sweating with everyone else on a sweltering August evening selling a cure all. Except this cure all is in the form of religion. Telling the poor unfortunate crowd in the tent that it’s not their fault, that they just don’t believe hard enough. And that they can reach eternal salvation for only a small donation.

He’s seen on a platform in Moscow in the 1920’s telling the crowd that it’s not their fault, that they have been misled. That it’s the fault of foreign subversives and Jews, and that if they put his party in power, that the people will own everything.

He’s seen in a piazza in Rome in the 1930’s exhorting a crowd telling them that he can get the country back to greatness. That he can make the trains run on time. All they have to do is believe him and elect his Blackshirts to power.

He’s seen in Germany in the 1930’s at rally after rally telling the crowd that it’s not their fault, it’s the fault of the Jews. That the Jews stabbed the country in the back. And he can make the Fatherland great again, as long as they trust him.

He’s seen in Washington in the 1950’s telling th citizens that if they love their country, that they have to turn in the subversives and communists. That if they only get rid of the filth that he can make the country great again.

He was seen in country after country in the 1960’s telling his countrymen that now the white oppressor is gone, that all they have to do is put him in power and he will make their life better. That he will rid their new country of the wrong types and make it pure again.

He was seen in Cleveland telling his supporters that he will make their country great again. That by jailing the opposition, by deporting the illegals, by building a wall, he and only he can improve their life. That he can take them back to that time when only they had power.

He’s always been, and he always will be. Preying on the weak and the unfortunate. Telling others what they want to hear. Coveting power only for himself. Destroying the rest.

We’ve seen his type before.

Just trying to live my life

It’s been a year since I’ve posted, and prior to that I was spotty. Life got in the way certainly, but mostly I find myself tired of being angry all the time. Don’t get me wrong (and believe me, I know I write this more for myself than anyone actually reading it), I still care about politics and the direction not only of the country but the world, but I feel that I have less and less to do with any of it.

Have you read the paper lately (has anyone read a paper lately?)? It’s all bad news. Fascism and authoritarianism is on the rise, striding the globe. There is not one country that’s safe, including ours. I’ve lived a good life, white, male, in a country that caters to such. But I berate myself that I haven’t done enough to help others, to help humanity in general. And the worse the news gets, the more I think I should help.

And how I admire those that do. To be young and idealistic. Storming the barricades, taking it to the streets. Yes I know I still could, and the fire is still there though it may be only embers on a cold night. But I also have responsibilities. To my wife, to my family. Unfortunately storming the barricades doesn’t pay well these days (and yes, it never has, monetarily). But perhaps that is the way the system was set up, so the more “responsibilities” you have, the less you are able to protest against the state.

But I want back in, even if I have to sit in the gallery and the only sound you hear from me is a light applause.

This is a start.

The Death of The Republic

The death of the Republic for me started on February 16, 2016. That is the date that Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Because with his death, the Republican Party signaled to the world that the experiment had ended. That is the date that a few old white men decided that their grip on power was more important than a branch of government. That one of the three branches of government would remain ineffective as long as they were the minority party.  
Their gambit worked. Because the majority party followed protocol and did not force a vote through. They won their gambit because the majority played by the rules. They won their gambit because the majority party believed in the tradition of 250 years of government. They won their gambit because they believed only in the naked use of power.
This is not a democracy. This is becoming an autocracy. Democracy has been in decline for the last few decades. Since President Clinton came into office, we entered a stage of neoliberalism. And with neoliberalism, the country moved away from its concern about protecting its citizens and insuring that the institutions that protect them remain. It moved towards a system where everyone was on their own. Where the rich were free to exploit the poor, and the poor were free to die on their own.  
Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee were the pinnacle of democratic neoliberalism. Our betters decided who would become president, and anointed Hillary Clinton as our savior. It didn’t matter who was running, they were not the anointed. So they were pushed aside. And what the masses wanted didn’t matter. They were tired of war. They were tired of being used. They were tired of watching their betters continually destroy our institutions so that they could enrich themselves.  
And the masses wanted different. What that different was, they didn’t care. All they knew was they didn’t want their betters telling them to be quiet and accept the world given to them. Accept that they must do with less. Accept that they didn’t matter anymore.  
And so they voted. And they voted wrong. Are they to blame? Are the ones who voted to elect a narcissistic unhinged zealot into office to blame? Well, yes. But, and there is a big but, the masses have been abused for a generation. They’ve been lied to for a generation. They wanted something better. Different.  
So now we have peoples from all over the world turned away from our borders. We have more money for guns, but none for butter. The people of the United States of America will now get different.
Just not the different they thought.  

Finding Someone to Blame

The human animal is a very funny beast indeed.  No matter that a human is presented with facts, they will to their dying breath find someone else to blame for their own actions.

I am referring in this instance to Conservatives in relation to Muslims.  

Oil was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938.  Every day since then the West has been meddling, subjugating, and interfering in the affairs of every country in the Middle East.  We, meaning the West, have supported every despot in the region in order to keep the oil flowing.  And every despot in the region has used torture and murder against their citizens in order to stay in power.  

And then in our infinite wisdom, the US decided to invade Iraq.  This one action has been responsible for destabiling the entire region.  And by destabilizing I mean that hundreds of thousands of people have died, and millions have been displaced.  Entire regions of the Middle East are now uninhabitable.

And you wonder why certain Muslims want to kill Westerners.

I guess the only question I have for Conservatives is, are you really that ignorant?  Or are you so afraid to look into the mirror and see what we are responsible for?

Confronting our Beliefs

I’ve been thinking a lot about propaganda these days, especially as it relates to politics. Propaganda is described as information, especially of a biased nature, used to promote or publicise a particular political cause or point of view. But is propaganda also advertising, or vice versa? Looking at the definition I would say yes.

One thing that propaganda and advertising have done well is to co-opt symbols to influence decisions. You only need to look at Nike, Armani, Mercedes-Benz to name three. These symbols hold value for people. But these symbols also came at a cost. Millions and billions of dollars spent reinforcing to the public that these symbols are the pinnacle of their respective industries. Reinforcing to the public that in order for them to be successful, they need to have these symbols, and the products along with it.  

What propaganda has done even better is to reinforce in your daily life the absolute certainty that our way of life is the best on the planet. Even when facts are presented showing that other countries have a higher standard of living, people believe what they have been taught to beleive. What they have been born to believe. That regardless of everything else, they believe. That is propaganda.

The Republican Party, being so closely aligned to the business interests in this country, have benefited enormously from this relationship. Because not only has the Republican Party used propaganda (as the Democrats have), they have the resources of the business world to be used to support their views. And what this combination of corporate/right wing politics have done is to insure that their interests are promoted against the greater good.  

One instance that comes to mind with this combination of corporate/political propaganda are cigarettes. “Cigarettes were recognised as the cause of the epidemic in the 1940s and 1950s, with the confluence of studies from epidemiology, animal experiments, cellular pathology and chemical analytics. Cigarette manufacturers disputed this evidence, as part of an orchestrated conspiracy to salvage cigarette sales. Propagandising the public proved successful, judging from secret tobacco industry measurements of the impact of denialist propaganda. As late as 1960 only one-third of all US doctors believed that the case against cigarettes had been established.” (From Robert N. Proctor, Tobacco Control). But propaganda, however successful wasn’t enough. The cigarette industry gave millions to politicians to insure that studies were buried, that hearings weren’t held, that the public wouldn’t know what was killing them. For them profit was worth more than lives. And for the government, insuring business profits is more important than protecting its citizens.

As was the government calling in the National Guard to quell protests throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Every factory owner faced with its workers unionizing, when they couldn’t quell the protestors with union busting thugs, they called the Governor to bring in the troops. And the Governor complied. Whenever it’s a stand between citizens and business interests, the government stands firmly behind business (and yes, there have been exceptions).

The US has been built on the idea that what is good for business is good for the country.  

Propaganda.  

Business is only good for its shareholders, not for its citizens. Government is not run as a business because it is run to promote goodwill amongst its citizens, to help them, to provide security for them.  

Since the 1980s, Republicans have been telling the citizens of the US that government is the problem. And that business is the answer. They hammer this point home every day, though ads, rallies, and speeches. Over and over again. For over 30 years. Every young person in this country has been born into this, understands this, and believes wholeheartedly in this.  

Why?

Propaganda.

With the confluence of propaganda from the right (read corporations) and a government built to acquiesce to business, our country has now reached the nadir of this in the form of Donald Trump.

So this is now where we stand. A country that has a misogynistic, racist, habitual liar as candidate for the Republican Party. And the questions everyone asks is how did this happen? How can people be so blind?

Propaganda.