Tag Archives: 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:

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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.

20 Comments

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.

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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.

10 Comments

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.

10 Comments

Filed under Nashville, politics

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Someone check the campaign donations to Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander and see if there are any ceiling fan manufacturers on that list:

I can’t pass this up: Tennessee must have quite the ceiling fan lobby. As we mentioned earlier this week, Rep. Marsha Blackburn has introduced measures to defund DOE’s work to improve the efficiency of ceiling fans in recent years. So, it stood out to ME that one of the bills on the ENR agenda today is one from Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander to “remove the authority of the Secretary of Energy to amend or issue new energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans.”

Yes, we absolutely must have inefficient ceiling fans. Because freedom. And reasons.

BTW, wonder if Marsha was able to unload all those inefficient lightbulbs she was handing out for Christmas one year.

(h/t to Jamie in Comments)

[UPDATE]:

Ah, thanks to Joe in comments, I found this in the 2013 memory hole:

Ceiling fans: Big government, or just hot air?

While making homes more energy-efficient is a legitimate, even vital goal of federal policy, government agents aren’t about to pry inefficient fans from the ceilings of American homes. That didn’t stop Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, from pushing a measure to block any new federal energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans — or from defending that measure in overheated terms. “We’ve already seen the federal government stretch their regulatory tentacles into our homes and determine what kind of light bulbs we have to use,” Blackburn said on the House floor. “Now they’re coming after our ceiling fans. It is a sad state of affairs when even our ceiling fans aren’t safe from this administration.”

Actually, it was President Bush and a Republican Congress who called for national efficiency standards in 2005 as a way of preempting state regulations; the Department of Energy began taking steps to implement national rules this year. As well it should have: Home appliances represent a huge opportunity to reduce energy consumption, and many ceiling fans use technology that is decades old.

And for all Blackburn’s zealfor liberty, it’s also noteworthy that one of the nation’s top ceiling fan companies, Hunter Fan, is in her home state. Roll Call reported that the company has already complained about the potential costs of new rules to the Energy Department and asked for a delay “until there are further advances in fan technology.”

None of which has stopped Hunter Fans from saying all the right “green” things on its website, such as:

It’s a promise—your Hunter ceiling fan can have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

“It’s a promise”? Really? That promise is looking pretty damn empty.

9 Comments

Filed under Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee

They Are Children

Arkansas’ Tea Party Senator Tom Cotton, showing yet again that he’s not ready for prime time, decided to call the Iranian foreign minister a coward on Twitter:

Cotton

We all know that Cotton is an idiot, but this reaches a new level of hilarity. A United States Senator calling the Iranian foreign minister a coward on social media? What are you, 10 years old? Is this seriously how you think the U.S. Senate should address foreign policy issues?

So much for “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” Tea Party idiots like Cotton have it resembling a schoolyard.

4 Comments

Filed under Republicans, Tea Party

SHOCKED To Find Gambling In This Establishment

Conservatives are finally learning that grifters gotta grift and a whole lot of them are doing it on their side of the aisle. Hilarious.

I love this:

For example, did you know that despite the fact that it raised a staggering 13 million dollars, The National Draft Ben Carson for President isn’t affiliated with Ben Carson and the small percentage of money it spent on independent expenditures didn’t go to him?

I’m sorry but Ben Carson is batshit insane. He’s a loon, barking mad, a total crackpot. If you’re giving money to get this raging narcissist elected president, I don’t feel sorry for you. You’re as divorced from reality as he is.

Sigh. If only someone had seen this coming.

Oh, wait. We did. Hell, we told you Sarah Palin’s teasing “campaigns” are nothing but one giant exercise in graft.

Don’t say we didn’t try to warn you. But no, you were too busy waving your Gadsden flags and screaming about socialism to pay attention.

Sucks to be you.

3 Comments

Filed under conservatives, Republican Party, scam, Tea Party

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.

10 Comments

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!

5 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, politics, Republican Party

There Is No Common Ground For You To Find

I don’t always agree with Chris Matthews of “Hardball” fame, nor do I even like him especially — he’s enamored with the sound of his own voice and the cleverness of his own ideas, and honestly if I hear one more time about how Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan shared a collegial glass of Scotch, I’m gonna puke. But every now and then he’s right, and you can tell he’s right this time because the wingers are going apeshit about it.

Last night I caught the tail end of “Hardball” and his final bit (called, unironically, “Let Me Finish”), and he addresses something that’s been bugging us lefties for a long time. (Click the funky link below as I can’t seem to embed the MSNBC videos, unfortunately, FYWP).

Matthews observes, correctly, that governing isn’t about “finding common ground”: there is no common ground to find. That’s why we have two parties in the first place! Republicans have their way of doing things and Democrats have a different way. That’s kind of the point. How progress is made on issues is through compromise, not looking for common ground where none exists.

That’s what “bipartisanship” means. It means compromise. It doesn’t mean one side gets the other one to do it their way. Compromise means your side gives a little, my side gives a little, and together we forge a solution that addresses the issue of the day. Not: you do everything my way and shut up.

As I said, wingnuts are going apeshit over Matthews’ words — I think they’re a little embarrassed that he called them on one of their favorite ploys, which is to not give an inch and then whine and moan that those mean Democrats refuse to be “bipartisan.” I’ve been writing about this nasty little trait of theirs for yearshere’s a choice post from over four years ago, here’s another one from just two years ago — and I’m certainly not the only one whose noticed this mutating definition of “bipartisanship.” I’m just thrilled that one of our gasbag pundits has finally gotten a clue, too.

Check it out:

http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_hardball_6fin_141105_368168

2 Comments

Filed under bipartisanship, Chris Matthews

Charlie Brown, He’s A Clown

[UPDATE]:

Welcome, Wonketteers!

[UPDATE] 2:

Pith reports that state Dem leaders saw this debacle coming but were powerless to stop it (why I have no clue. How about a campaign that says “DON’T JUST VOTE FOR THE FIRST NAME ON THE LIST THEY’RE PROBABLY DUMBASSES. THINK BEFORE YOU VOTE.” Whatever). Anyway, Mary Mancini’s name is being floated to replace Roy Herron, and I think it’s a damn good idea. She’s probably tuckered out from the state senate race though.

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Unless this is some kind of scam, this is the guy who won the Democratic nomination for the Governor’s race in yesterday’s primary. His “maine intention” is to bring the Bible back to schools, he wants to raise the state speed limit to 80, tells everyone to join the NRA, and wants to “buy hugh deers for our Wild Life areas.”

His was the first name on the ballot; as we’ve seen in the past (*cough*cough*Mark Clayton*cough*cough), the first name on the ballot is usually the craziest mo-fo hoping to scam state Democrats into the nomination. Looks like it’s working. (No, I did not vote for him. I would not be scammed.)

This is a ginormous embarassment for the TNDP. Another illiterate clown running on the TNDP ticket. I don’t understand why we can’t find a decent Democrat for these races. Yes, Bill Haslam will most likely win but for crying out loud, a campaign now lays the groundwork for future races.

I just don’t get it. Why does the TNDP want to be associated with illiterates and buffoons?

19 Comments

Filed under Tennessee, Tennessee government, TNDP