Category Archives: politics

Elitist

Yesterday I was listening to a program called “Indivisible” — one of those “intersection of culture and politics” type shows on NPR. This particular episode focused on millennials and whether they planned to stay engaged in the political process, and of course host Kerri Miller put out a special shout-out to millennial Trump voters because Lord knows, we haven’t heard enough from them.

And in general it was a fairly interesting conversation until we got to the caller from Columbus, Ohio, our millennial Trump voter. You can catch his interview here at the 22 minute mark:

I actually did vote for Donald Trump, I am a millennial, and perhaps one of the sole reasons why was just the coarse ugliness of 21st century activism. Everything from football games to flavors of ice cream has been politicized, and that type of culture is an extreme turnoff to blue collar millennials. And that’s a demographic the Democratic Party does need to pay attention to because there are many of us who do not have college degrees and are blue collar, and in general when you work with your hands it’s really hard to take the advice of people with pink hair seriously.

Cue record-scratch sound effect. Dude, did some chick with pink hair turn you down for a date or something? Poor baby.

So, got that? He voted for Trump just to stick it to the liberals. You sure showed us, boy oh boy! Har har. What a dumb fuck.

I am so sick of these people, I really am. It always goes back to their overwhelming butthurt over some imagined slight, the over-arching inferiority complex of the blue collar conservative. There’s this deeply-seated suspicion of us pointy-headed intellectuals who believe in shit like, you know, science and economics, and who have the temerity to believe that government in the right hands can function as the Founding Fathers designed it to.

But I digress. Host Kerri Miller asked our millennial Trump voter if he planned to disengage from politics, wondered how involved he’d been beyond voting in the first place, at which point I had to change the channel. Take it away:

I wasn’t involved in getting out the vote at all. I’m not affiliated with any political party at all. In fact, I’m even considering shredding my voter registration. The ugliness of the 2016 election, it’s a huge turnoff. There’s a large number of people that were independents and first-time voters, not because they’re registered Republicans or necessarily convinced with Republican principles, but it’s simply they saw no choice between a kind of pretentious chaos and a blue collar work ethic. And in the end Donald Trump despite his background portrayed himself as more sincere and he did not talk down to the blue collar demographic.

Pretentious chaos vs a blue collar work ethic? Yeah, I’ve actually heard that one before. Someone bought the Fox News Kool-ade that liberals are all on the dole while the hardworking, red-blooded, American blue-collar worker goes out and keeps America afloat for the rest of us.

We’ve been fed a lot of that horseshit since the election as the media pursues an endless analysis of the “typical Trump voter” (his sainted name be praised). Now is when I get to link to The Rude Pundit’s perfect response to this nonsense: a righteous rant called, Fuck You, Rural Elitists.

Yes, seriously, fuck you, Mark in Columbus, Ohio. I’m sorry your feelings got hurt by someone with a Yale degree who refused to accept that climate change is a hoax or Ayn Rand was anything more than a writer of bad fiction. Maybe people with college degrees actually know a thing or two, you know? That doesn’t mean that everyone without a college degree is a moron, I know plenty of smart, successful people who never went to college. But let me tell you, they’d be the last people to wear an inferiority complex on their sleeve and demand all the coastal elites worship their Carhartts.

I hear so much of this shit from so many people. Why is looking down on someone with pink hair and a nose ring — or, for that matter, a degree from Stanford or Vanderbilt — any less elitist than calling out someone wearing camo and a farmer’s cap?

And please, stop telling me that I need to “understand” these people. No, I fucking don’t. Maybe they need to understand us. How often does the news media try to explain liberalism to them? I’m not talking Fox News, I’m talking any goddamn news network. Does CNN or ABC or any media outfit ever try to explain “the typical Clinton voter” or “the Trump opposition” to these folks? That might be a start, you know?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately what we can do to change peoples’ minds, to “un-brainwash” them (to be impolite), or, as one commenter asked, to come up with some “suggested solutions to get these people to see that they are voting against their, and their families, interests.”

I don’t have a solution. There isn’t one. Study after study shows that people are entrenched in their ideas and giving them facts only makes them dig their heels in further. The problem is not political. The problem these folks have is psychological. They got their feelings hurt by some Democrat with a degree from Yale and now suddenly we all have pink hair and nose rings and should be ignored.

So take the log out of your own eyes, folks. You’re just as elitist and biased as anyone else. Maybe when you lose your health insurance and your corn exports to Mexico go the way of a fart in the breeze you can sit and think about all those kids with hair dyed from the Paas collection and mull over how it’s all their fault. Or maybe you can turn off the TV, crack open a book, and start thinking for yourselves.

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Filed under conservatives, politics

If We Could Change The World (Again)

I’m sorry. I’ve neglected you.

Part of it is being busy with work, but let’s be honest: most of it is heartbreak, disillusionment, worry and fear. I don’t know where we’re headed but all signs point to nothing good. The level of foreign interference in this election is beyond alarming (here and here, for starters). I just don’t have the stomach to worry about trivial stuff like little kids getting their hands on unsecured guns when the entire country is going down a very dark, authoritarian path.

What this means for me and this blog, I don’t know. While I try to figure things out, I wanted to re-post this item from January 2010. I’ve come out of this election feeling like what I wrote back then is more relevant than ever. Without further ado:

————————————-

There’s been a lot of talk around the internets about the state of the national Democratic Party, the future of the Tennessee Democratic Party, yada yada. Clearly progressives are disappointed that nationally we’ve received very little for all we did to bring Democrats the majority in 2006 and the White House in 2008. Meanwhile, our state party is filled with “Democrats” like Doug Jackson of Dickson, known for his rabidly pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay positions, including a bill that would ban gays from being foster parents. And really, TNDP: was Ty Cobb, someone quite possibly more conservative than the Republican who ultimately won the seat, the best we could do?

We are not happy, and now we even have liberal activists from Berkeley and L.A. wanting to primary some of our least heinous Congress Critters. The irony is, the Republican Party is facing the same problem: its rabble-rousing Tea Party base is threatening to purge the GOP of its moderate members, sending folks like Arlen Specter over to my side of the aisle, which frankly doesn’t please me one bit. I get the concept of the “big tent” but when that tent grows so large as to encompass members of the opposite party, something’s wrong. Meanwhile, conservative Dems like Parker Griffith of Alabama have jumped ship to the Republican Party.

So what the heck is going on here?

It all looks like so much shuffling of deck chairs on the Titanic to me. While it’s endless fodder for the Sunday morning gasbag shows and folks like Chris Matthews and Politico, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the past decade it’s that ultimately, it’s all meaningless. I hate to get all super-cynical here but let’s face it: in terms of really addressing the problems people face–lack of jobs, lack of access to things like a college education for their kids, affordable healthcare, etc.–politics amounts to very little.

The bottom line is, politics won’t fix our country’s problems. We’ve been told by both political parties that politics can change things, and maybe we bought that line for a while, but ultimately regardless of your political persuasion, you must have emerged from the Oughts realizing that’s a BS line peddled by people trying to raise money. The Bush years were a big fail for conservatives, who didn’t get the small government and fiscal restraint they wanted. On the left, Clinton gave us NAFTA, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and welfare “reform,” while Obama, though in office just a year, has already escalated a war and failed to deliver the healthcare reform we need. Yes there have been a few, modest little blips of positive news here and there (mostly on the environment), but our country is sinking faster into the abyss, and it’s members of both parties who are responsible.

So, for people who really want to change things, make them better, who still idealistically believe in changing the world, what do you do? It seems our votes are meaningless. Our government is too broken, the system too corrupted to be fixed the old fashioned way. Our media no longer informs, and now we can no longer even agree on the basic facts of an issue like climate change or healthcare. Everything is just a mass of white noise, with people hollering about “socialism” and “fascism” and “government-run healthcare” and “liberal scientists” and stuff that’s so far removed from reality so as to make the debate meaningless.

I have friends who still believe in the old-fashioned boycott, who are calling on people to do things like dump their health insurance in the hopes of bringing about reform. But I’ve questioned the efficacy of boycotts for years now. We’re just too splintered as a society now.

I have my personal boycotts, I don’t shop at WalMart or any of Lee Beaman’s businesses, or any of Dale Inc.’s businesses. They’re all major contributors to Republican Party candidates and PACs and, in Beaman’s case, wingnutty groups like the Club For Growth, English First and the Swift Boat smearmongers. I don’t want to support that so I don’t do business with those folks but calling for a boycott is going to be as effective as the religious right’s failed boycott of Disney. All it did was make the AFA and Southern Baptist Convention look foolish.

Nothing is black and white anymore (if it ever was); everything is shades of gray. I remember shopping at Whole Foods the day after progressives called for a boycott because of CEO John Mackey’s Wall Street Journal op-ed. The store was as packed as ever. I didn’t join the calls for a boycott because frankly I thought it was stupid to punish a company that supports organic farming, fair trade, local agriculture, etc. because you disagree with the CEO’s position on health reform. But if that’s a boycott you personally want to support, more power to you. We all have our own personal standards, we have to wake up and look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning, so do what you’ve got to do. But making someone feel like a dick because they won’t put their family at risk by dumping their health insurance? Nah, I’m not going to sign up for that.

If voting doesn’t work, and boycotts don’t work, what will? Increasingly I’m convinced that the only thing that will change the world, indeed the only thing that ever has, is the creative arts. Music, literature, art, film: these things hit people on an emotional level, they can transform one’s view of the world and engage people in a way that politics does not.

(To the conservatives rolling their eyes at me right now, let me remind you: Ayn Rand still has a movement today because of her books.)

So I’m going to challenge all of my liberal friends to get creative this year. Now is the time to take an idea and put it to music, movement, poetry or canvass. Take your view of the world and write a short story about it and put it out there. The mass media has changed, the gatekeepers are gone. Anyone can put their work on the internet, on a blog, on YouTube or iTunes. Now is the time to express yourself. Enough with the electioneering and fundraising and petitioning. Now is the time to touch people where it will do the most good: in their hearts.

And to my creative women friends, I’d like to call your attention to the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project’s 2010 call for entries for its spring Women’s Work showcase. All sorts of creative arts are represented, not just dramatic works. Check it out!

So my liberal progressive friends: Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is simple. Express yourselves.

Now get busy.

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Filed under art, politics, politics and film, rants

Grab The Popcorn

[UPDATE]:

Boehner’s Communications Director, yesterday:

“He’s not going anywhere,” said Boehner’s communications director Kevin Smith. “If there’s a small crew of members who think that he’s just going to pick up and resign in the middle of his term, they are going to be sadly mistaken.”

Nobody really saw this coming. Wow.

—————————————————————

Bye, bye Boehner and boy it’s gonna be fun to see who the Teanuts rally behind. Personally, I hope they pick the craziest Wackaloon in the Tea Party caucus. Louie Gohmert? Marsha Blackburn? Steve King? Scott DesJarlais?

As we march into an election year, with the House of Representatives in the hands of the craziest of the crazy, whose only reason to exist is to grandstand and pout and tamp their widdew feet over Obamacare and abortion, I think a Speaker Gohmert or Blackburn would effectively kill off the Republican brand for good.

Good riddance.

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Filed under Congress, politics, Republican Party

Nashville Mayor’s Race Gets Ugly

Election night update:

Going negative failed.

Dear David Fox: you had me at “focus on our infrastructure” and “we don’t want to be Atlanta.” You lost me at the pathetic “Megan Barry is a godless liberal” BS.

For my non-Nashville readers, we in Music City will elect a brand-new mayor on Thursday. The incumbent was term-limited, so August’s general election presented voters with a large buffet of fresh faces. Now we have a runoff between the top two contenders: Megan Barry, most recently an at-large councilmember, and David Fox, a hedge fund guy and former chair of our school board.

Nashville’s mayoral races are non-partisan, though Nashville is a blue dot in red Tennessee. This means most viable candidates for office are usually Democrats — or at least they say they are. And in my 30 years in this town I’ve always known our mayoral races to be mostly drama-free affairs. Not this time, though.

The first sign this campaign was headed to crazy town was when Fox’s wife, Carrington Fox, appeared in ads saying Barry championed causes that are the “extreme issues of the social left.” What those causes may be are left to the imagination. Doesn’t matter.

The message was clear: Barry is a LIBERAL. Gasp.

Not long after that, the Fox campaign started running radio ads in African-American markets calling Barry an atheist.

OH. A godless liberal.

Now we’ve hit a new low with some ex-councilmembers of the conservative persuasion making the ludicrous claim that Barry omitted “under God” every time she recited the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of council meetings.

And I guess she forgot to wear a flag pin, too?

This ridiculous labeling — liberal, atheist, godless liberal — is extraordinary for a mayoral race in Nashville. It’s the kind of thing one is more accustomed to seeing in hotly contested senate races, even presidential races. The fact that Fox is working with conservative groups out of Texas may explain some of this strategy. Others have suggested Fox’s real ambition is the governor’s seat, and this mayoral race is just a “branding” exercise toward higher, statewide office. Maybe.

I will say, there is an awful resonance to these attacks on Megan Barry. Are we really wondering if she says “under God” when she recites the Pledge of Allegiance? What next, rumors that she’s a secret Muslim? Studied at a madrassa? Maybe she was born in Kenya, too? Hey, David Fox: should we ask to see her birth certificate?

These are ugly, personal attacks, and while they don’t have the same racial undertones of the right-wing’s attacks on President Obama, they come from the same place. Label the opposition as “other,” “different,” and “not one of us.”

In other words: Unfit for office.

This is Politics 101 for national races. Making it a part of our supposedly non-partisan local races? Uh-uh. You lost me. Voting for David Fox is endorsing the kind of smear tactics that have infected our national discourse for the past 8+ years. Do I want this dirty pool to pollute my city? No, thanks.

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Filed under Nashville, politics

Jeb Bush Not Clear On How The Internet Works

Good grief:

 

Jeb Bush, a rumored 2016 Republican presidential candidate, just decided to publish hundreds of thousands of emails sent to him during his time as governor of Florida. On its face it seems like a great idea in the name of transparency, but there’s one huge problem: neither Bush nor those who facilitated the publication of the records decided to redact potentially sensitive personal information from them.

“In the spirit of transparency, I am posting the emails of my governorship here,” a note on Bush’s website says. “Some are funny; some are serious; some I wrote in frustration.” Some also contain the email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of Florida residents. The emails are available in Outlook format, and can be searched on the web at Bush’s website.

 

Holy identity theft, Governor! Not exactly an auspicious start for the campaign here.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, politics

“A Dark Week For Republicans”

Conservative writer Chris Ladd’s 2014 mid-term post-mortem has just now crossed my radar and let me say, he basically echoes what I wrote the day after the midterms: this is good news for Democrats and Republicans actually got quite a spanking.

It’s a great piece so read the whole thing but what’s really interesting is what he has to say about “BENGHAZIIII!!!!!ELEVEN!

This is an age built for Republican solutions. The global economy is undergoing a massive, accelerating transformation that promises massive new wealth and staggering challenges. We need heads-up, intelligent adaptations to capitalize on those challenges. Republicans, with their traditional leadership on commercial issues should be at the leading edge of planning to capitalize on this emerging environment.

What are we getting from Republicans? Climate denial, theocracy, thinly veiled racism, paranoia, and Benghazi hearings. Lots and lots of hearings on Benghazi.

It is almost too late for Republicans to participate in shaping the next wave of our economic and political transformation. The opportunities we inherited coming out of the Reagan Era are blinking out of existence one by one while we chase so-called “issues” so stupid, so blindingly disconnected from our emerging needs that our grandchildren will look back on our performance in much the same way that we see the failures of the generation that fought desegregation.

Cue the Friday news dump and the shocking news that House Republicans decided Benghazi is not, in fact, Obama’s Katrina:

“An investigation by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee has concluded that the CIA and U.S. military responded appropriately to the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012,” The Post reported, “dismissing allegations that the Obama administration blocked rescue attempts during the assault or sought to mislead the public afterward.” It also found that while the talking points Susan Rice delivered in the wake of the attack were inaccurate, it was because of conflicting information coming in and not a scheme to hoodwink the public. All the conspiracy theories about a “stand-down order” and whatever else they’ve been talking about on Fox News were emphatically rejected.

I guess the Republicans have decided they have raised all the money, ginned up all the outrage, and generated all of the mailing lists they can from this Fauxtroversy. Midterms are over, mission accomplished. I’d think the sane wing of the Republican Party had decided to dial back the crazy in preparation for 2016, but of course the party of crazy just can’t help themselves. Lindsay Graham is having a hissy, Ted Cruz is full on foamy-mouthed over immigration and will probably revive his demands for a Senate Benghazi witch-hunt … it’s just all too delicious to be believed, and just in time for GOP primaries. Awesome!

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, politics, Republican Party

Kewl Republican Kids On Twitter

Best parody account EVER:

TweetMovies

TweetParents

TweetFLUKE

GOP50s

OK maybe not best ever, but I’m dying to know who’s behind this parody account. It seems to have sprung up out of nowhere.

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Filed under politics, twitter

Controlling The Beast

Interesting:

In a warning shot to outside conservative groups, the National Republican Senatorial Committee this week informed a prominent Republican advertising firm that it would not receive any contracts with the campaign committee because of its work with a group that targets incumbent Senate Republicans.

Even more striking, a senior official at the committee called individual Republican Senate campaigns and other party organizations this week and urged them not to hire the firm, Jamestown Associates, in an effort to punish them for working for the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group founded by Jim DeMint, then a South Carolina senator, that is trying to unseat Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and some other incumbents up for re-election next year whom it finds insufficiently conservative.

Thus the civil war inside the Republican Party has spread into the politico-industrial complex. I’m trying to think how blacklisting contractors who work for Tea Party candidates will do anything constructive. Aside from inflaming the base, isn’t that kinda going after low-hanging fruit?

What about the sugar daddies financing these folks? It’s fine to go after an ad agency, but what about the people paying the bills? What about the Koch Brothers or people like Nashville’s own Lee Beaman, a generous contributor to affiliated groups like the Club For Growth (a major backer of Ted Cruz) and Americans For Prosperity. Wonder if any of these people will get their hands slapped? It doesn’t sound like it.

The problem with the Republican Party, as I’ve written a gazillion times, is that the moderates are already extinct from a functional perspective. Even the most reasonable Republican imaginable, once elected, ends up playing on the same team as the knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who remain stubbornly committed to failed policies and ignorant ideas like “defaulting on our debt is just a pin-prick.” Time and time again we see the so-called “moderates” kow-tow to the mouthbreathers; this is how we ended up with a shuttered government for two weeks, folks. Even our spineless governor, Bill Haslam, is too weak-kneed to take on the fringe.

I’m reminded of a quote from a book I read years and years ago — I think it was Asne Seierstad’s The Bookseller Of Kabul — where a Pakistani man says he doesn’t support the brutal tactics of the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan, but he thinks Pakistan could benefit from “just a little bit of the Taliban.”

But there is no “little bit.” It’s all or nothing. And it’s the same with today’s Republicans. There’s no “little bit of the Tea Party,” it’s the whole thing. They just shut down the entire government because the moderates are extinct as a party force. That should tell you something right there.

The fact that party leadership still thinks they can control this beast they created without going after the Hydra’s head — the Koch billions — is just pathetic.

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Filed under politics, Republican Party, Tea Party

American Ignorance

One of the more amusing things about the internet age is how all of us have become instant experts on really complicated issues virtually overnight. Most of us don’t know shit about anything but that doesn’t stop any of us from taking to the internet to weigh in on the finer points of, say, Senate parliamentary rules, or the intricacies of healthcare policy, or “what the Founders wanted.” Never mind that people write PhD dissertations on some of this stuff, but now Joe and Jane America are suddenly experts and have no qualms telling everyone else how wrong (or right) they are.

And yes, myself included.

That’s all well and good but if you’ve ever been involved in any local issues you realize that most Americans, regardless of economic status or educational background, are idiots. This is something I have seen first-hand at several neighborhood meetings over the past few years, as our neighborhood battles zoning issues and development pressure.

Folks, we are clueless about the basics of American civics. This shit should be common sense and yet, people just want to get their way and really don’t seem to care about things like, well, laws.

What’s even more ironic is that 9 times out of 10 it’s me, the progressive-liberal-ex-hippie-Commie-Socialisticky-anti-American-terrorist-appeaser who has to explain to the conservative-Republican-Tea-Party-red-blooded-true-Merkin-Patriot How Things Work. For example:

• Yesterday I had to explain to a physician that no, buying an ad in a newspaper is not a free speech issue and yes, a newspaper publisher has the right to refuse an advertisement without it being a violation of your Constitutional rights. No one has a constitutional right to buy a newspaper ad.

• A year ago I sat in a community meeting and was dumbfounded to hear a far-right patriotic Tea Party neighbor ask our councilman — I shit you not — why the city can’t prevent the local university from buying up houses in our neighborhood.

People, this neighbor has so many flags, bald eagles and Americana tchotchkes on their property that their house practically screams the Star-Spangled Banner. Every election their yard advertises support for the most far-right, Tea Party candidates to crawl out from under the conservative rock. And yet they want Metro government to tell people who they can and cannot sell their homes to? Seriously?

• Last week I had to explain to a neighbor why you can’t demand Metro government deny construction permits to a property owner when the zoning says they can build the horrible thing they want to build.

I mean look, I know “all politics is local,” but these are basic, common sense things. Just, you know, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Pretend you’re the one wanting to build something or buy a house or sell a house or whatever. Do you want the city telling you what you can do?

It just amazes me that we live in an era when our national discourse is swayed by average citizens acting like experts on the most complicated shit imaginable, yet I go to local zoning meetings and find out these same people are fucking idiots.

No wonder our country is so messed up.

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Filed under politics

Twitter Feed Of The Day

Tom Matzzie, former D.C. head of MoveOn.org, just live-tweeted former NSA and CIA head Michael Hayden’s “deep background” interview on NSA spying, which he gave while on the Acela. The irony here just overwhelms: the former NSA chief and CIA director giving “deep background” interviews bashing the administration on NSA spying, doing it in a public place, and getting eavesdropped on in the process. This is all waaaay too meta for me.

You can read the feed here, or, read the screen shots. I tried to put it in chronological order, and ended up messing it up:

Matzzie 4

Matzzie2

Matzzie

Matzzie3

Mwah. So much for “deep background.”

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Filed under NSA, politics