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Thursday, November 29, 2012

On The Beating Of Dead Horses

 

Obsession: 1) The compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea. 2) a persistent fixation that continually forces its way into consciousness, an irrational motive for performing trivial of repetitive actions, often associated with anxiety and mental illness. 3) the act of obsessing or the state of being obsessed. 4) an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone.

Obsession. 

That’s what they call it when people just won’t let go.

We’ve all seen it.

Some people can’t help it. Their obsession is driven by a mental coding error, an endless loop caused by genes or disease or trauma that forces their wetware into a snarl of obsessive compulsive behavior. That kind of obsession is an unfortunate illness and the afflicted often spend much of their lives trying to overcome it.

That’s not what I’m talking about here.

No, I’m talking about the other kind of obsession.

The deliberate kind.

The voluntary kind.

You all know what I mean.

That guy.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been trapped in a meeting with that guy. The one who just can’t move on, the one who just keeps circling back to the same subject over and over, who keeps asking the same damned question no matter how many times it’s been addressed, over and over and over, because he just doesn’t like the answer. It’s the same hobbyhorse in every conversation with that guy. He’s the one who thinks he’s playing the Devil’s Advocate, but in reality, he’s just an irritating asshole and everybody at the table wishes he’d shut up so they can get on with the business at hand.

You know him, he’s a legend in his own mind.

Now look, a certain amount of obsession isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. Obsession can make people excel, to strive for top grades in school or become an Olympian caliber athlete, or lead to world changing discoveries by fixated scientists who spend long nights in a lab consumed with a desire to find answers to questions only they know enough to ask.

A small amount of obsession can lead to the love of your life.

But obsession carried too far becomes a sickness, a fixation that drives people to irrational and even dangerous behavior.  Cultural obsession with grades and ranking can lead to a culture of depression and suicide as it has among some of Japan’s youth. Obsession with winning at all costs often leads to cheating, just ask Lance Armstrong or Tonya Harding. Obsession can lead otherwise rational scientists down blind alleys from which they never return.

Obsession of another kind can become stalking, or worse.

Runaway obsession is what makes conspiracy theorists.

There is no answer that you can give a Birther that will convince her the president was born a citizen of the United States. None. There is no evidence that you can present to a Truther that will change their mind about the events of September 11th, 2001. There is no effective treatment for Moon Landing Hoaxers or Holocaust Deniers or Young Earth Creationists or those people who are absolutely convinced beyond all reason that the world will indeed end this time for certain – and when the world doesn’t end, they’ll still believe because they want to believe.

These people choose their obsession. Deliberately.

These people choose their obsession because the real answers just aren’t dramatic enough for them, because reality just doesn’t conform to their political, philosophical, or religious beliefs no matter how much they want it to. No matter how many times they ask the same question.

These people choose their obsession because it makes them important, at least in some regard, it makes them the star of their own show and forces others to pay attention to them even when they turn out to be spectacularly wrong – say like Karl Rove on election night.

For these people, everything has meaning – because everything must.

Everything.

Because that’s the nature of obsession.

And sometimes events do mean something, but more often they don’t.

Because, see, that’s the thing, sometimes, it doesn’t mean anything.

Sometimes, in reality, well, shit just happens.

 

Which brings us to Benghazi.

 

Benghazi has become an obsession for a certain portion of the population.

You all know what I mean.

That guy.

That guy and his friends.

For them, Benghazi has to mean something. It just has to. It has to mean something, because they want it to mean something.

If it wasn’t an election year, if it wasn’t for their insane obsessive hatred for Barack Obama, if their guy hadn’t lost the election, well then the entire affair would have been forgotten in a week.

No, really. How many Americans died in Afghanistan that same week as the attack on the Benghazi consulate? How many? Hell, how many died this week? Don’t know? Can’t remember?

Exactly.

If it wasn’t an election year, four more dead in Libya – including a liberal ambassador appointed by a liberal president in a country that most Americans don’t give a shit about and couldn’t find on a map – wouldn’t mean a goddamned thing to Republicans.

Instead, well, obsession.

The conspiracy theory goes like this: There was an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, the attack killed Ambassador Stevens and three State Department personnel.  The Obama Administration initially said the attack was a result of a spontaneous riot, a riot supposedly inspired by an anti-Muslim video on YouTube. In the days immediately after the attack, the White House repeated this theory multiple times. Of course, the official story was wrong. Turns out the attack was an act of terrorism. Conservatives, of course, knew this for certain immediately – apparently via some magical means that the rest of us aren’t privy to.  And why would President Obama attempt to cover up terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attack? Well, the conspiracy theory reasons that President Obama couldn’t look weak on terrorism at such a critical point in the election cycle and therefore the administration concocted the riot whitewash and sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice in to sell the idea to Americans. 

Obama got reelected, so obviously the scheme must have worked. Right?

Now before we go any further, let’s be clear here: Americans have every right to know what happened in Benghazi. They have a right and an obligation to know how and why Ambassador Chris Stevens died. And they have every right to expect the Administration, any administration, to tell them the truth. And, just to be completely honest here, they have every right to expect cover-ups and lies from the White House, any White House, because they’ve been lied to far, far too often – from Watergate to Yellowcake, from the Bay of Pigs to the Gulf of Tonkin, and a thousand other lies big and small in between.

But there’s a difference between deliberate lies and honest confusion.

Sometimes shit just happens.

And there’s not a hell of a lot you can do about it.

And nobody likes that answer, but sometimes that’s just how it is.

And you should be smart enough to know that and move the hell on.

Benghazi as a conspiracy theory makes no sense whatsoever.

First, you’d have to believe that anybody in the administration thought that lying about Benghazi was a winning strategy. Especially a month before the election. Obama’s campaign team was filled with some very, very smart people, and frankly I just don’t buy it. I don’t think they considered lying about Benghazi in any fashion for even a single second. 

It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous politically.

Here’s why: If Obama knew, for sure, that the attack was indeed terrorism, he would be far better served to call it that right up front, then pledge to bring the attackers to justice, and then pull out his record of hunting down and terminating terrorists (of all origins) to back his promise (of course, then conservatives would have attacked him for exploiting his record on killing terrorists, sometimes you just can’t win).

But, saying the Ambassador was killed by a riot? A riot? Well, shit, that’s just bad planning, bad security, bad leadership. Why the hell would the Obama campaign adopt that as a strategy if they didn’t think that’s what actually happened? Seriously.  That’s idiotic.

But terrorism?

Well, hell, they’re terrorists. They plan this stuff, they’re trying to kill us, they’re armed and equipped and full of murderous intent. Even the best security can’t stop them all. Americans understand that, after Beirut and USS Cole and the Berlin Disco Bombing and the Shoe Bomber and Timothy McVeigh and  a hundred other acts of terrorism or attempted terrorism, Americans damned well understand that. Enough of them do anyway. 

Hell, the country suffered the worst terrorist attack in our history during George W. Bush’s watch, three thousand Americans died and we got to watch the towers fall over and over again on national TV, then Bush took us into two ill conceived wars, and what happened? He got reelected

If Obama knew it was terrorism from the first, why bother to lie about it? Politically it makes zero sense whatsoever. None. Nada. Zippo.

The whole conspiracy theory is idiotic.

It doesn’t make sense for the president to lie about it. However, it does make sense, good sense, for somebody else to lie about it. Not for politics, but for a very good and valid reason. One that Captain John Fucking McCain USN(ret) knows very, very well indeed. Better than anybody else in Congress.

We’ll come back to that.

Second, a whole bunch of people, from the President to the Secretary of State to the UN to the media to the generals in the field would all have had to take orders from President Obama’s reelection campaign. And you’d have to believe that the folks running the president’s reelection were so powerful in fact, that they could give those orders – to generals, to the media, to professional bureaucrats  - and have them obeyed.

You may, if you like, color me a nice shade of skeptical at this point.

Next, you have to believe that all of the hundreds of people involved thought they could get away with it for long enough to win an election. Which, obviously, they couldn’t. Even if they thought it was a valid strategy. Which, obviously, they didn’t.

The terrorist link was out of the bag within a couple of days, well before the election.

And Obama still won handily – Benghazi had little impact, if any, either way.

And you know why? Because sometimes shit just happens.

And a recent CNN poll backs that up, most Americans don’t hold President Obama responsible for Benghazi – then again, you know how Republicans feel about polls by CNN. But I digress.

Benghazi was, and is, a dangerous place. Ambassador Stevens knew that, so did the State Department and the Department of Defense, so did the CIA, so did the President.

Libya had just gone through a revolution, the government is provisional, there are armed gangs roving the street and a dozen different militias. And –  and – this is Libya, the country that has specialized in training and exporting terror since the 1970’s. Ambassador Stevens knew what he was getting into, probably far better than anybody else in America. So did those ex-Navy SEALs, trust me, they knew, oh yes they did – and not because they had been SEALs. And they went anyway.

They knew it was a risk, going to Benghazi, that’s why it’s called a risk.

Sometimes things go pear shaped, sometimes shit happens.

After the attack, it took three weeks for the FBI and US investigators to get into the city in order to figure out what had really happened – because it was so damned dangerous.

It is also worth noting that the US Consulate in Benghazi wasn’t really a consulate, but more like an intelligence post and that those former US navy SEALs weren’t, in fact, State Department employees after all but rather CIA contractors – again, believe me, those guys knew exactly what they were getting into. Exactly. That’s why they, of all people, were there.

It is also noteworthy that there were actual angry mobs incensed over the US made anti-Muslim video. People seem to forget that at the same time as the Benghazi attack, anti-American protesters were rallying in the streets of Egypt.  Should the two events have been connected?  In hindsight, no. But that’s how intelligence work is, everything is clear as a bell in hindsight. Obvious to everybody. Of course.

And finally it is also worth noting that when former CIA director David Petraeus spoke behind closed doors to the congressional intelligence committee last week, he testified that the intelligence community had specifically removed all references to terrorists from the press briefings given to Susan Rice – so that the terrorists wouldn’t know what we knew about them.

Remember what I said about lying on purpose and for good reason?

When police are trying to catch a serial killer, they deliberately don’t tell the public everything until the killer is caught. It’s called operational security and sometimes there is a very, very good reason for not telling the public everything. Especially when you’re dealing with sensitive intelligence. And most especially when you’re dealing with Congress, who tend to put matters of politics and political agendas above national security and their oath of office. 

I used to do this for a living, I’m a retired intelligence officer, I know more than a little about congress and those people who aren’t authorized to talk to the press, but do anyway.

Benghazi was a terrible thing, but sometimes – especially in a warzone – that kind of shit happens. This wasn’t the first time and it surely won’t be the last. The only surprising part about Benghazi is that only four Americans died.

Benghazi was a terrible thing, but it wasn’t nearly as terrible as some people would like it to be.

Benghazi was a terrible thing, but it isn’t any kind of cover up.

What it is, is an obsession.

That’s exactly what the current congressional circus led by Senator John McCain is, an obsession.

The conservative senators grilling Susan Rice are obsessed with their conspiracy theory. They’re not interested in what really happened, they know what really happened. But reality just doesn’t suit their agenda, their obsessive compulsive hatred of all things Obama. 

John McCain lost in 2008, and his party lost again this year, and he just can’t get past it.

Because he doesn’t want to.

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte went on CNN’s Anderson Cooper immediately following an interview with Susan Rice and said that while she was positive Rice “certainly” misled the country on Benghazi, she was unsure of Rice’s motive for doing so.

Unsure?

Ayotte isn’t unsure of anything, she just doesn’t like the actual answer because it doesn’t support her obsessive conviction that the president must be involved in some nefarious plot to secretly kill off our ambassadors in order to get reelected so that he can turn white babies into Muslim trail mix and further his plan to neutralize Earth’s defenses prior to the arrival of the reptile armada from Zeta Reticuli (Wait, I might be mixing things up, was it Obama or the other guy who believed they were destined to become king of an alien planet? Er, you know, never mind).

And while we’re at it, ask yourself this – Obama sent in Rice to bullshit America (kind of like Bush sent Colin Powell to lie to the UN), then he threw her to the wolves, but then he wants her to be Secretary of State because why again?

I’ll be interested in John McCain’s theory behind that. No really, I need a laugh.  I hope it involves alien reptiles from outer space.

Supposedly the purpose of this congressional dog and pony show is to determine what happened in Benghazi so that we can be better prepared for future attacks.  There’s a column on CNN today written by Florida Republican, Senator Marco Rubio. Rubio says:

Because the uppermost purpose of any inquiry is to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, we need to know what measures Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken to ensure that decisions about security and requirements of U.S. diplomatic missions are given the highest priority.

Hmmm.

Then why aren’t McCain and Ayotte asking those questions? Instead of trying to determine Susan Rice’s motivations?

Why? Well because, of course, that’s not what this is really about at all.

If this was about preventing future acts of terrorism then you would see a bipartisan focus on what measures were in place, what went wrong, and what we might do about it in the future (if anything).  What Susan Rice said, or didn’t say, what she knew or didn’t know, has no bearing on the stated goals of the commission as defined by Rubio. None.  They might as well be interviewing Obama’s dog Bo.

What you have is a Republican witch hunt led by the likes of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte, among others.  They’re obsessed with finding a smoking gun, and by God they’re going to do it even if they eventually have to hire Kenneth Starr.

Preemptively vetoing Susan Rice’s nomination for Secretary of State will in no way whatsoever prevent or even better prepare us for future acts of terrorism, nor will John McCain’s sour remarks and press conferences. And the Republican led inquiry isn’t even bothering to pretend otherwise.

The real purpose of the inquiry is to get even with Barack Obama for being reelected.

The real purpose is to send a message, a two word message that begins with an “F” and ends with a “You” – maybe they should have had Clint Eastwood deliver it.

This isn’t about Susan Rice, but if they do manage to force the President to nominate John Kerry instead of Rice, so that republicans can then grab for Kerry’s Senate seat, so much the better (no, I don’t have any proof that’s what the silly obsessed bastards are up to, but then again, to use their own reasoning, I don’t have any proof that they’re not either).

You know, it’s ironic.  John McCain and his band of pitchfork wielding conspiracy nuts are accusing the President of playing Benghazi for political purposes – while they themselves play Benghazi for political purposes.

Ironic and disgusting.

More than anything, what these people are pissed about isn’t the death of an American ambassador, they’re mad that they can’t turn the death of an American ambassador into Obama’s Waterloo.

It’s also ironic that the folks most upset about the deaths of four Americans in Libya, the kind of deaths they (or anybody) are unlikely to prevent in the future, are the very same folks who adamantly refuse to do anything in any way whatsoever about the myriad deaths of Americans gunned down in movie theaters and in front of shopping malls and in their schools right here at home.

As I said, ironic … and disgusting.

John McCain should be ashamed of himself, but he lost that capability a long, long time ago, right around the same time he forgot the meaning of the word honor. 

In the final measure, we don’t honestly know if Susan Rice is the best choice for Secretary of State or not.  We don’t really know if there are better candidates. We haven’t had a full accounting of her experience and qualifications – only her actions during this one very limited event. 

Hell, we don’t even know if President Obama actually intends to nominate Rice for the position.

Should Susan Rice be Secretary of State?

I don’t know.

But I do know this, it’s not up to three obsessed Senators to decide alone.

It’s not even just up to Republicans.

That’s what Congressional confirmation hearings are for.

 

This isn’t about Susan Rice.

This isn’t even about Benghazi.

It’s about an obsession.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Your Hate Warms My Flinty Black Heart

This blog is the most stupid bias blog I have ever read. Stuff like this is ruin facebook. You stupid socialist libs are all the same. There is nothing more bias than a lib. Pathetic. The so-called author of this hitler marx propaganda is probably a black women who OBVIOUSLY hates “whitey.” Which is just stuipid big time because they pay for her everything. They were NEVER SLAVES dumbazz. Whenever you hear them talking about getting even for salvry you know its a another libby welfare moocher afraid shes have to start working for her own hair extensions! You’re the stupid. Can't even speak right like normal people. You're probably illiterate too. You idiots think because your great messiah hussein got himself reelected from buying the vote that the whole country thinks like you socialist idiots do. The idiot author has no idea what the majority of AMERICANS really believe and never will clueless just like the stupid idiot barry hussein.

I admit it.

I expected it.

I knew I’d get hate mail when I wrote the previous piece.

The title, It’s The Racism, Stupid, pretty much guaranteed it.

I’ve been doing this for a while, I can usually tell which posts will get the haters fired up, and this time I knew I’d pull in more of them than a Hank Williams Jr. concert at a tractor pull. So I kept an eagle eye on the blog comments and kept the Troll Hammer ready to pound the bastards into jam when they inevitably appeared.

And, of course, inevitably they did, because there is nothing more predictable than the tired repetitious hatred of bigots.

Some advice to other bloggers, if you really – and I mean really – want to drive a hater right off the deep end, just delete their remarks without comment.  Don’t argue, don’t attempt to reason with them, don’t allow them a platform. Just erase their remarks and don’t acknowledge their existence. Then block their IP address so they can’t comment in the future.

Trust me on this, hilarity will ensue.

As always, when denied the ability to spew their bilious frothy bilge here, they resort to email – because, By Jebus! They have First Amendment rights and they’re going to tell me what they think of me and they will not be denied!

As I said, oh so predictable, right to the bitter end.

Now, before somebody points it out, yes, you are correct, there is a certain degree of perverse irony in the fact that I delete their comments … and then write a post wherein I deliberately publish the same comments that I just deleted, along with the hate mail that I also usually just delete.

But, hey, that’s me, I’m nothing if not perversely ironic. If I ever give up the blogging gig and become a super hero, that will be my super hero moniker, Perverse Irony Man. But then my arch nemesis will probably shorten it to Pervy Ironman … which come to think of it does have a certain cachet and would fit on the spandex better. But I digress.

Speaking of ironic, how about that comment up above? Posted anonymously (but of course) late yesterday afternoon?

Isn’t that precious?

I tell you, I savor every word of that comment.

Every word.

I might have to have that comment framed and bronzed for posterity.

Can’t even speak right like normal people! I’m probably illiterate too! And I’m probably a black woman who hates whitey!

Hot damn, you know it’s going to be a good day when you get a comment like that one on a post about bigotry. I feel like that kid in Animal House when the naked cheerleader comes flying through the window and lands on his bed, “Thank you, God!”

I don’t understand people like Jim Wright. How can you be this insane? What happened to you that makes you hate God so much? Really I would like to know. Why should republicans have to change? They’re right! America is based on majority rule. We’re the majority and we represent traditional American values (i.e. God!) that made this country great. When did fiscal responsibility, freedom, morals and less government become bad things? And killing your baby is good?! I just don’t understand you. It’s not bigotry to hate homosexualism and their immoral agenda because that is a sin. Murder is a sin isn’t it? And it’s against the law, so why isn’t homosexualism? You can’t answer that, can you? I read the comments from people who cheered your “logic” but they are as blind as you are. I will pray for you all. God said to hate sin, that is the true word of God. God is not a bigot!

Well, you’re right about one thing, I have no answer to your stunning logic.

I do have a question however, isn’t a hate a sin too? Or is that just for Catholics? By your beliefs, shouldn’t we outlaw hate too?

I have another question, since you’re going to pray for us all, what if nothing happens? What if I keep right on doing what I’m doing and my readers keep right doing what they’re doing and your unsolicited praying has no effect whatsoever?  Whose fault is it? Yours for not praying convincingly enough? Or God’s, for not listening to your incessant jabber?

What?

Look, You brought it up.  Frankly, your religion makes my head hurt.  And since you gave me a headache, the least you can do is explain yourself.

Also, I don’t think you understand what the word “bigot” actually means. But that’s not particularly surprising, given that you appear to have an astounding inability to comprehend a wide ranging variety of subjects.  Perhaps you should pray that Jesus will return in time to help you pull your head out of your ass, it seems like it might be a two person job. Maybe if you pray really extra good, he’ll bring the Jaws-Of-Life, because I think you’re going to need hydraulic help.

What crap. Typical liberal thinking. You think we don’t see what your doing with these kind of crap??? Conservatives need to stick to there guns and not fall for your smoke oil fake “change” crap. it’s a trick by liberals to destroy the Grand old party of Lincoln. WELL WERE NOT FALLING FOR IT!!!

Oh hell, he’s on to our plan to make Republicans stop acting like assholes.

You know what? Good for you. Way to stick to your guns. And your racism, and your homophobia, and your sexism, and the rest of your bigotry. Tell you what, why don’t you give me a call in ten years, tell me how that worked out for you and Mr. Lincoln.

Oh Jim Jim Jim Obama doesn’t have a mandate!! Why do you keep saying that he has a mandate?! Lies! Lies! Lies! There is no mandate. You poor liberals just can’t help yourself from lying can you? Liberalism really is a mental illness, isn’t it? When are you going to learn?

Probably about the time you actually start reading what I actually wrote.

Mandate? Let’s see, I used the word mandate exactly, hmmm, carry the one, round to the nearest whole number, divide by Jesus … OK, that’s odd. It looks like mandate was used exactly zero times.

Zero.

Man, I can’t believe I wrote a whole post about mandates and totally forgot to use the word mandate. It’s like I didn’t even write a post about mandates at all.

Well, that’s awkward awkward awkward.

Please. It’s racism stupid?  You call people stupid but it’s ok to say whites are bigots? I’m not a racist! Racism is voting by COLOR. Whites are the very least racist because whites come from all over the world in America and get married and insimilate. Have you ever heard of the “melting pot?” Irish and ggerman and Italians and Englishmen all came together in Ellis island and shared their culture and left behind their origins. Blacks don’t do that. They didn’t even come from Ellis Island like regular people did. African American? What is that? Latinos? Mexican American, what is that? Why can’t they just call themsevles American? They even want special made up holidays. Quanza? What is that? You con’t see that with Cubans they come to America and are grateful and try to fit in and don’t call themselves “Cuban-American.” They say they are American period. That’s racism stupid. Black people need to start taking responsiblty for themselves until then they shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they elect people based on COLOR like Obama.

I. Well. Um.  Wait, what the fuck did you just say?

That’s just, wow.

I’m not rendered speechless very damned often, but seriously, wow. 

“Insimilate.” Is that what the space aliens did to your mom?

I read this comment when it was posted to my blog about 4AM this morning. And no, I don’t usually check the comments at 4AM.  But as I mentioned above I was fully expecting haters so when I woke up at 4AM, instead of rolling over and going back to sleep to dream about the glorious UN led invasion of Texas, I glanced at my phone instead and there it was. I was about half awake and I had to read this idiotic comment about three times before I was sure of what it was saying. And then I still had to go down to the den and read it again on my main computer.

Boy, good thing the guy wasn’t a racist, eh? Because then he’d really be a douchebag.

So I’m a bigot am I? Well you libs haven’t even seen hate yet. Wait till I meet you in a dark alley some night motherfucker. I’ll only need one bullet.

I believe you.

I do.

Make sure you put the muzzle all the way to the back of your mouth, since you’ve only got the one bullet you wouldn’t want to miss.

Get this Romney won independents and all of the white vote. Ok. Obumer got the blacks and the latinos and of course all of the gays voted for him because he’s one of theirs. OK. And you say republicans are the ones with the problem? And whose stupid? OK. Whatever.

So, just to clarify:

If white people vote for a white guy, it’s only because he best represents their lives which, as you know, includes $200 million in the bank and a car elevator in the garage of their vacation homes.

If black people vote for a black guy (who also just happens to be half white), it’s because they’re all about the skin color. 

That about sum it up?

O’nomo wouldn’t have won if Sandy hadn’t happened and that’s a fact. If that fat lard ass RINO in New Jersey hadn’t sucked O’nomo’s dick on TV Romney would won in a landslide. We should have let them drown but now O’nomo will spend our tax dollars on the stupid traitors. Might as well, these last four have basically been Jersey Shore anyway. Hope you’re happy when O’nomo finally finishes off this great nation.

You know things have really changed when the liberals are hailing Chris Christie as fair and balanced and conservatives are the ones making the fat jokes.

There’s more, but I think that’s enough for one night.

 

And you people were worried that conservatives don’t read Stonekettle Station.

You guys are so funny.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It’s The Racism, Stupid

It is.

It’s the racism.

It’s the sexism.

It’s the homophobia.

It’s the fear of the other. It’s bigotry and bias in a dozen forms and whatever label you want to slap on it. 

Let’s just stop pretending that it’s anything else.

You know, I’d have more respect for these people, not a lot more respect but perhaps some anyway, if they’d just come right out and say it. Get it out in the light where we can look at it. Instead they pretend to righteous indignation – what? How dare you call me a racist! How dare you call me a sexist! Or a bigot! Or a homophobe. Why, I’m insulted, I’m offended that you would say such a thing. In fact, you’re the bigot because you won’t tolerate my bigotry! Yes, yes, that’s it. Bigot? I know you are, but what am I? 

And then we have to listen to their nonsense, their fear and hatred and endless bile, and we’re all supposed to act like we’re so damned stupid that we don’t all really know what we’re talking about here.

And what we’re talking about is the bigotry.

When you dig down to the bottom of it, when you cut away all the euphemistic hedging and code words, when you look at what these people are really saying, well, it’s bigotry pure and simple. It’s racism and sexism and hate and fear. You can pretty it up however you like, you can deny it all you want, you can throw in a little Jesus and the tired bit about patriotism, yes you can pretend otherwise, but that’s exactly what it is.  And don’t try to tell me that it’s not.  I’m white. I’m male. I’m straight. I hear what other white straight males say when there are only white straight males in the room and I know it when I step in it.

So let’s just cut the bullshit, shall we?

Take a look at the comments under any Yahoo! News article. Any article.  Take a look at the comments under nearly any Wall Street Journal article on politics or the economy.  Take a look at the comments on any TEA Party forum. Any forum. Look at what any conservative pundit says every single day. Any conservative pundit. Look at the statements by outspoken conservative politicians and party leaders, every single day. Go on, look.

These are all verbatim quotes from the above sites. You can find plenty more for yourself with exactly zero effort.

- The citizens who share the belief that the Constitution, Bill of Rights and our Declaration of Independence should remain as the foundation of this nation, are outnumbered today.

- he got elected because of minorities voting for him in extraordinary numbers. He had the worst economic record of any incumbent president and due to the racial bias in his favor and the character assassination of Romney, as well as the media blackout of Benghazi, he slithered like a snake into another term. Short lived perhaps - he's being busted by for his before, during and after screw ups that led to deaths of an ambassador and three others

- Romney won among the core of America, the ones who pay the taxes and drive the economic engine.

- You are the ones who call us white trash and trailer trash.... You don't like anything that is right !! As opposed to wrong. Homophobia? That implies I am afraid of homos, I ma not!! Class warfare started with Obama and him being against the rich although he is rich too. There are way too many people in this country on assistance. But there are no jobs, we can't keep doing that .Keep the illegals out, Seal our borders and no more anchor babies, wherever or whenever their parents got here. I don't care, the country has had enough!!!So have the American people!!!.

- I had a hard time looking at and listening to Obama for just four years. He doesn't look like America. Jindal would be even worse... Ugly people!!! I don't want no Indian in the White house. That black man has been bad enough!!! Clinton won't go away, he thinks like Obama, doesn't matter what you do, He thinks he's a rockstar!! NOT!!! WE will take America back!!! It is our country!!!

- Obama didn't win, the unions, the lazy, the illegal aliens and the commies and socialists won. You don't know it yet but AMERICANS lost.

That’s right. Americans

And who are Americans? Well let’s see, they’re not in a union, they’re not lazy (Lazy, we know what that means, don’t we? No Protestant work ethic for those people. Wink wink), they’re not Latino or Asian or gay or any of those people. You know, those people. You know the ones. They’re scheming to take away our country. Ours. Us real Americans.  You can tell an American, because he looks like an American, right?  And Americans aren’t elected by minorities, now are they?

If it wasn't for the 47% on welfare, barry sure as hell wouldn’t have won. You can see we are become a 3rd world country. Wait for the muslim brotherhood to take over.

Oh no, not the Muslim Brotherhood! Not that!

Welfare.  The forty-seven percent. Gee, where have we heard those dog whistles before?

How many times have you seen this meme since the election?

The population of the US is around three hundred and twelve million.  So, one hundred and fifty million, that’s about how many people forty-seven percent of the American population is, give or take.  Seventy-two percent of America is white, that leaves about ninety million people of color, of which about seventy million are defined as “black” or African American. Now  according to the US Department of Health and Human services, the Commerce Department, and the CATO institute’s own figures, a little over four million Americans actually live on welfare as of 2012.  Four million. Not one hundred and fifty million. Four million. About sixty million receive some kind of assistance, some kind of help, but they’re not living on it.  Four million, that’s the number of people on welfare. That’s about one percent of the total population (1.2% percent if you want to get precise). 

One percent and some change. Not forty-seven percent. One percent.

Of which, about two million are actually white.

Want to do the math yourself?

No?

Okay, what all this means is that of the non-white population, ninety-nine percent aren’t living on welfare. 

But what’s the statement here? Half the population is on welfare. And who are the folks on welfare? What color does popular perception paint their skin? About half of them are white, but that’s not really the color you think of when somebody mentions “welfare,” is it? Most of the white people on welfare live in the poor rural South and are hardline conservatives, but that’s not really the location or the party that comes to mind when people say “welfare,” is it? 

Be honest, what do you think of when you hear “welfare?” 

What you should be hearing is a dog whistle.

And while we’re at it, what color is the Third World?

What are we really afraid of here? Go on, you can say it – but then again you really don’t have to, do you?

Forty-seven percent, it’s complete bullshit, just another manufactured bogeyman.  But there it is, ingrained in the public mind and no amount of math will ever dislodge it. 

Why?

Because that’s what a different forty-seven percent of the population wants to believe.

We’ll come back to this meme in a bit.

Oh, hell, let’s come back to it right now.

This is too good to pass up. So here’s a quick “Caption This Post” of our favorite moocher with a big ol’ bufforilla ass…

That’s the lead-in to a fun little contest on the Angry White Dude blog.  Who was the mad little white dude talking about? “Moochelle” Obama, of course. Isn’t that clever? Moochelle.  You can thank Rush Limbaugh for that one. There’s a whole internet meme that makes Moochelle demotivational posters.  Moochelle, do a search on that name, see what you get. Because, apparently, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard, someone who has worked her entire life, first as a lawyer, then as the highly successful executive director of a large non-profit, then an Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago and then Vice President of Community and Student Affairs, not to mention a member of the board of TreeHouse Foods, and whose salary placed her well into the upper 1% of American income and who pays more in taxes than most Americans gross in a year and has long before she ever became First Lady, is a “mooch.” 

She’s also a “Silver back gorilla” and has a “big ol’ bufforilla ass.”

Gorilla. 

Again, you want to do the math or shall I?

No matter that by any definition Michelle Obama is an educated eloquent successful accomplished professional  – who, I might add, put her own career on hold and took a subservient role to her husband’s goals, a position hard line conservatives think is the proper place for a woman – as an African American, well, she’s still just a gorilla, a monkey, a mooch. One of the “Forty Seven Percent” sponging off real Americans. 

You know, it’s funny, the same people who call the First Lady a mooch are the same people who bitch about how lazy other folks are, who mock others for their weight and tell them to get off their asses and exercise – and yet when Michelle Obama busts her own ass day in and day out to eat right and exercise and set a decent example for our overweight youth, she’s a still a mooch and gorilla. 

You know what the single largest search on my website is?

“Michelle Obama posture.” 

Gorilla. Bufforilla. Go on, tell me it’s not racism. Show me the same comments about Barbara Bush’s tush. Nancy Reagan’s work ethic. Or Pat Nixon’s posture. Go on. I’ll wait.

Google Sasha and Malia and see what you find.  Don’t eat anything first, unless you like being sick.

Then go right on and tell me it’s not racism. Go ahead, make me laugh.

Tea Party Nation blogger Judson Phillips came up with an idea: he wants conservatives, i.e. Real Americans, in the Electoral College to go on strike. That’s right. Do what they’ve been doing in Congress for the last four years, obstruct. 

See, the idea is to prevent validation of the election results, both the popular vote that conservatives are so big on and the Electoral College vote, both of which they lost decisively.  Phillips’ idea is that if he can get enough conservatives to hold up the final electoral vote validation, then the Electoral College deadlocks.

Then the House of Representatives gets to decide who the next president will be by Fiat.

And the House is controlled by Republicans.

Isn’t that beautiful?

The Tea Party, the folks who claim to love democracy and The Republic oh so very much, who lay claim to being patriots and the only real Americans, who are overwhelmingly white to a degree that makes any other race utterly insignificant in their make-up, want to override that self-same democracy and install their own President directly. 

Why?

Royce Latham, one of Phillips’ readers explains:

Sexual perversions and drug use of the Obamas…forged birth certificate…voter fraud of biblical proportions. Why are we talking secession instead of removing the New York Times and supporting citizens' Grand Jury indictments [sic] against this unbelievable treason, felonies and usurpations raining down on us on a daily basis?

Sexual perversions? Jesus Haploid Christ, I’ll bet money that Royce has Birth of a Nation on Blu-Ray.

And then there’s all the rest of it, like a song you just can’t get out of your head, birth certificate, voter fraud, treason, usurper, oh woeho, do wop do wop, raining down on me.

Everybody, sing along, you know the words.

Again, don’t think it’s really racism?

Think I’m exaggerating?

Take a look at the comments regarding this idea on the President Mitt Romney 2012 Facebook page.  Also, take a look at how many “Americans” really, really like the idea of aborting democracy and just taking over when they don’t get their way.  Facebook commenters come with pictures, note the demographics. 

Hey, I’m just saying that if there’s that much white sauce in the fondue, you’re probably going to find a stack of crackers nearby, that’s all.

Look at this. Really look at it.  Those angry pinch-faced TEA party loons aren’t claiming voter fraud, not really. Hell even Allen West has finally conceded. They’re not calling for new elections, not really. They admit, finally, that Mitt Romney lost and that Obama won.  In fact, the entire idea of locking up the Electoral College tacitly acknowledges the validity of the election, that a majority of voters wanted Barack Obama to have another four years.  So they’ve hit upon an idea to bypass democracy and the Republic, disenfranchise those voters, and install their own genuine Old White Guy.

Honestly, the only way you get to this point, is if you see half the country, and especially people of color, as not real Americans. 

Note: the deadlock idea is about as valid as creationism by the way. Doesn’t work. The electoral college was designed to keep soreheads from taking over America not help them.

Funny thing, when these people claim to love the Constitution, they literally mean the Constitution as originally written – the one that left three quarters of the population, women, blacks, and the poor, as non-enfranchised chattel.

And that’s the world they want to return to.

Which makes this last week all the more ironic.

A while back, Rick Santorum told conservatives they were stupid, and they cheered him.

Last Monday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told Republicans to "stop being the stupid party."

Jindal admonished the GOP to make a concerted effort to reach a broader swath of voters with an inclusive message. 

It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments -- enough of that. It's not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can't be tolerated within our party. We've also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.

I’m not exactly sure how you insult the intelligence of voters who think “bufforilla” is an acceptable label for anybody, let alone the First Lady, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

"If we want people to like us, we have to like them first," Jindal said on Fox News Sunday. What a concept, eh? It warms my heart to know that Bobby Jindal likes me, and just in time for Christmas too! Why it’s like a Doctor Seuss story – and Bobby’s heart grew two sizes that day!

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney apparently didn’t get the memo, he’s going around telling these same conservatives that the only reason Barack Obama won is because he gives free stuff to lazy minorities who don’t work and aren’t real Americans. Boy, that’ll get ‘em to like you.

Mitt’s not only still losing this election, he seems hell bent on losing the next one too.

In the weeks since the election, Republicans have come to the conclusion that “The White Vote” isn’t the automatic win it used to be.   The GOP has come to the sudden and unpleasant realization that by the next election cycle – or the one after that at the latest – the United States will be using the word “minority” to describe an entirely different demographic. 

The glum and frightened look on conservative faces isn’t that they lost per se, rather it’s the same look an alcoholic gets when he realizes there’s only a swallow left in the bottle.  

If they want to have any say in how this country is run in the future, they’re going to have to change the Republican party to reflect a representative cross-section of America. 

It’s really that simple.

Because, see, it’s the bigotry, Stupid.

It’s not just the Dick Mourdocks and the Todd Akins and the Michele Bachmanns, it’s not just the Rush Limbaughs and the Glenn Becks and the Ann Coulters, it’s not just Bill O’Reilly and RedState and Tea Party Nation – it’s the whole damned constituency.

It’s the overall racism and sexism and misogyny and religious extremism.

I’ll tell you exactly what it is, it’s the people who can look at an accomplished well spoken wealthy black woman, the First Lady, and see only a welfare dependent moocher, a monkey, a gorilla, a nigger.

It’s the racism, Stupid.

It’s the racism and all the rest of it. It’s the sexism. It’s the homophobia. It’s the gibbering fear and the paranoia.

It’s the goddamned bigotry.

It’s the bigotry and it’s in everything.

Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert warned conservatives that the country was going "center-left" on issues like gay marriage.  When he was asked what Republicans could do to survive the shift without violating their principles, he said:

If you must discuss it, stand by your beliefs, but please, for the good of the party, try not to sound like a jerk.

For the good of the party.

Not for the good of the nation.  Not for the good of the people you’re trying to attract.  For the good of the party

What Herbert doesn’t seem to understand is that those beliefs make you a jerk, no matter how nice you phrase it. When your position is that of denying others their piece of the American dream because you just plain don’t like them, you are a jerk. It’s really just that damned simple.

You. Are. A. Bigot.

At the same Las Vegas meeting, former Reagan adviser Bill Bennett told the gathering:

You can articulate your opposition for example to same-sex marriage, but you can do it in a dignified way, in the right language, in a forceful way that shows you're not a bigot or intolerant.

You know, you can only make the facepalm so many times before you end up with a headache.

Again, what Bennett just doesn’t seem to get is this: no matter how “dignified,” no matter the “language,” you’re still an intolerant bigot.

You. Are. A. Bigot.

Not one of these conservative leaders stood in front of their party and said, “Enough! We can no longer tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, the hate and the fear in our ranks. We must change. We must honestly acknowledge that America has changed and we must change with it. We must discard the past and move forward and become the party for all Americans. We must lead. We must stop referring to our fellows as communists and Nazis and Bufforillos. We must become a movement that is truly worthy of the title The Party of Lincoln!

Oh, sure, maybe it sounded a little like that, but that’s not really what they said, is it?

No, not really.

Of course not.  No GOP leader could say that, because, well, then he’d sound like a liberal, wouldn’t he?

Instead, they’ve decided to fake it.

Because, when it comes right down to it, well, it’s the bigotry isn’t it?

We’ll just pretty it up. Put some lipstick and new dress on it – because, hey, the lazy welfare dependent Forty-Seven percent is too damned stupid to notice anyway.  They’re just gorillas after all, monkeys, right? Poor and stupid and easily duped. Hell, they don’t even speak English, most of them.  If Obama can fake them out, heck, how hard can it be. Right?

We haven’t heard “separate but equal yet,” but then we really don’t have to, do we?

What’s the Jean Giraudoux quote? 

The secret to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

Republicans are going to have to do more than fake it. 

They’re actually going to have to change. 

They’re going to have to do something about it for real.  They’re going to have to stop being the last refuge for racism, sexism, homophobia, religious extremism, and all the rest of it. 

And if they don’t?

Well then in less than a decade they are going to find out exactly what it’s like to be a minority in America.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Weakest Link

 

Remember Calvin & Hobbes?

What am I saying? Of course you do.

It was only the best comic-strip ever drawn. Like ever.

My favorite installment, besides Spaceman Spiff of course, was at the end of the first “Transmogrifier” story arc.

The Transmogrifier, for those of you not familiar with the astounding brilliance of Calvin & Hobbes, is a fantastical machine invented by the strip’s main character, Calvin. It is based on the infinite malleability of cardboard box technology and is powered by imaginarium. It bears a striking, if inverted, resemblance to Calvin’s time machine and the spacecraft he and Hobbes used to become the first six year old and tiger, respectively, to reach Mars. The Transmogrifier’s primary function is to transform boys into other lifeforms, such as  eels, slugs, bugs, and small dinosaurs. 

In this particular installment, Calvin and Hobbes are standing in their yard next to the machine discussing their recent groundbreaking experiments with lifeform transmogrification.

Hobbes: Your machines works amazingly well.
Calvin: It’s my own design.
Hobbes: What will you do with it now?
Calvin: Good question… (About this time, Susie Derkins, the slimy girl next door, happens by. Calvin raises his voice) …although I suppose we could turn Susie into a BOWL OF CHOWDER, if we could just get her in the machine!
Suzy doesn’t break stride and snarls over her shoulder, “Leave me out of your life’s plans, you little weirdo.”

 

God, I miss Calvin and Hobbes, and most especially the biting sarcasm of Susie Derkins, a girl after my own heart and who bears an unnerving resemblance to my own wife, especially the biting and the sarcasm part. 

 

What brings this up?

We the people.

Lately, these last four years anyway, I’ve been hearing We The People a lot.

I mean, like a lot.

Now, sure “We the people…” sounds pretty damned awesome when you put it in front of an entire Constitution, but I’m pretty sure Thomas Jefferson used the phrase only once, maybe twice, in conversation before George Washington called him out on it. What’s this “we” shit, Tom? You got worms or something?

Lately, every time, every single time, I hear the phrase, “we the people…” it’s almost always followed by some cockamamie demand or nonsensical scheme for “fixing” the United States of America.

We the people.

Oh, please.

Google “we the people” and see what you get. Go on, it’s fun. Like hitting your thumb with a hammer is fun.

We the people demand an end to war.

We the people demand the truth about the alien spaceship recovered from Roswell, New Mexico.

We the people demand to know the truth about fluoride.

We the people demand disclosure of bigfoot!

Remember that joke with the Lone Ranger and Tonto surrounded by hostile Indians? What you mean “we,” white man?

Like that. Exactly like that.

What do you mean “We?”

We the people? We? We, as in all of us? Who, exactly, appointed these lunkheads to speak for all of us? I don’t remember voting on this, because I’m pretty sure I would have voted them right off the island instead of electing them spokesman. Not even if I’d been drinking, because, seriously, I’ve never been that drunk. Never.

We the people. You’re kidding right?

I’m going to be honest with you, it seems to me that a lot of the people lately are, well, idiots. And by idiots I mean the drooling hairy palmed kind who are fascinated by their own bellybuttons. I’m sorry to be the one to point this out, but there it is. Idiots. The people are idiots. And I really don’t want to be included in any “we” that also includes them.

Leave me out of your life’s plans, you little weirdoes.

In states with concealed carry permits, when confronted by the police you are typically required to inform the officer immediately if you’re packing heat. I think we need something similar for idiots. I think they should be required to begin all conversations with “We the People” proclaimed with ponderous gravity and their arm raised like Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. See, that way the rest of us will know right away. Oh, you’re an idiot. Excellent. Now I don’t have to waste time listening to the rest of your silly jabber. Well, goodbye then and remember, first pants, then shoes.

Typically, these idiots are the ones screaming the loudest about having a voice in government.

Which is probably why the Founding Fathers specifically decided to form a Republic instead of a straight up democracy. 

Now granted, the First Amendment does give all American citizens the right to petition their government, even if they are idiots.

But up until recently, it’s been a huge pain to petition the government.  Which, upon reflection, was probably on purpose because it cut down, somewhat, on the idiots.

Theoretically you could talk directly to your congressional representative or senator – if you were the CEO of Exxon, say, or like really, really hot and not particular about banging creepy old men who smell of bourbon and dollar bills. Or what you could do is create a petition and then hang out in front of shopping malls pestering the hell out of random people for their signatures. See, that’s where the checks and balances part comes in, you’ve got to really want something if you’re willing to put up with the abuse of the general public in person, because, as I’ve mentioned, most of them are idiots. Once you’ve convinced, oh, say, like bizallion people to sign your piece of paper, you can either mail it in to the government or simply shred it yourself at the nearest Office Max.

However, when Barack Obama was sworn in, he brought a charming optimism to the Oval Office and he ordered the creation of a new White House website where citizens could directly petition the president and actually get answers. If twenty-five thousand people are willing to put their name on a petition, the President has promised to provide a response.

Because, really, what could go wrong with that? Right? Hello?

So far, eighty-two petitions have been answered by the President – including a detailed response to The People’s Freedom of Information demand for full disclosure of Obama’s beer recipe. The People had a right to know if there were any Muslims hiding in there, among the hops.

The White House calls it We The People and it ushered in a new era of closeness between The Idiots People and their elected leaders.  The website provides guidance for creating your own petition on behalf of the rest of us. Petitions should follow a specific format and should be on subjects that are of concern to all Americans.

Here’s an actual example from the website:

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States of America, pursuant to the Bill of Rights, Amendment One, declare that we are grieved over the presence of "CHEMTRAILS" in the airspace over the U.S.A. and hereby petition the United States government to take immediate action to cease all Geo-Engineering, HAARP & "CHEMTRAIL" activity in the airspace over the United States of America. WE, the People, further DEMAND an immediate, thorough and honest investigation into Geo-Engineering, HAARP, & what the substance called "CHEMTRAILS" actually consists of and discover the true purpose of spraying America (and its people) with harmful substances. THEREFORE, it is concluded that Americans are, and have been, under attack and have become the victims of BIOCHEMICAL WARFARE. We deserve answers to these charges.

Now that you know what this is all about, let’s see what The People have done with their First Amendment rights besides requesting more government issued tinfoil for their Magic Negro Ray Cranial Protection Cap and bun warmer.

Yes, let’s just take a look, shall we?

Let us just.

As I write this, there are one hundred and ninety-six petitions on the website.

At least one third have something to do with secession from the United States of America.

Texas leads the way with over a hundred and ten thousand signatures – most of which are from people in the other forty-nine states. Ouch.

Oregon wants to secede but remain an “ally” of the United States. Or in other words Oregonians would like all the benefits of being Americans, but without having a stinky black guy in charge.

Fourteen thousand people have signed a petition asking that all fifty states be allowed to secede, and then form their own nation together. Apparently they want to call it “The United States” to distinguish it from the nation they’re planning to secede from.

There’s a petition to require all seceding states to pay off their portion of the national debt before they secede. 

Now, I got to thinking about that. If we coupled this petition to the previous one, we might actually have a workable plan. Step 1) Pay off your part of the debt. Step 2) secede. Step 3) Once all fifty states have seceded, reform the Union debt free

Or, and here’s an idea, we all secede from Texas!  Sure.  See, we all  sneak out one by one without paying and then secretly reform the United States – leaving Texas stuck with a $16 Trillion tab. Hilarity ensues. 

Alternatively, if Texas stops acting like a dick, we could take them with us … and stiff Guam and Puerto Rico!

What?

Oh, right. I’m goofy.

Have you seen the actual budget plan?

Exactly.

Fine. Just think about it. That’s all I’m asking.

A number of cities within the seceding states have started petitions to secede from the seceding states and rejoin the United States – I recommend we call that the “West Berlin” option and I’m waiting for the petition from the seceding states requesting that the United States pay for a wall around the cities that succeeded in seceding from the seceding states.

Then there are petitions demanding that the secessionists self-secede or be unceremoniously stripped of their citizenship and deported to the country of their ancestors. I think this is a bit unworkable and it will probably end up costing us more than it’s worth, so I’m starting my own petition demanding that Obama issue an executive order making it legal for any loyal citizen to give any secessionist an atomic wedgie – alternatively you may key their Hummer.

Now not every petition on We The People comes from crazy secessionists.

We request that Barack Obama be impeached for the following reasons.
1. He proclaimed war in libya without getting congress approval first. Article I, Section 8- Only congress can approve to start war.
2. Obamacare is unconstitutional. Forcing US citizens to get health insurance whether they want it or not.
3. Obama disrespects our Constitution calling it flawed and trying to change it even after taking this oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the united States."
4. Appointing agency “czars” without Senate approval.
5. He’s black! Oh my God! He’s so black! There’s a black man in the WHITE House!
(Ok, I just added number five in myself. But it seemed to fit)

There’s another one that petitions Barack Obama to allow the public examination of his birth certificate and school records.  I’m onboard with this, but only if Donald Trump is also required to admit his hair is really the malignant offspring of a unholy mating between biochemical warfare created from “CHEMTRAILS” and John Boehner’s self tanning lotion. Also, there should be some Nazis in there somewhere.

There’s a petition that demands the United States Government finally admit that Israel was responsible for the 9-11 terrorist attacks. I’d like to add an amendment to this petition making Ghana responsible for the sinking of RMS Titanic and designating Denmark as the scapegoat for Disney’s John Carter disaster.  Also, while we’re at it, let’s pin the blame for Windows Vista on Rhode Island.

In the “be careful what you wish for” category, there’s a petition to make President Obama implement a policy for declassifying discoveries by NSA Mathematicians (I swear I’m not making this up).  I used to work for NSA, I know a few of those “mathematicians.” I’ve had to sit in briefings while these socially awkward Wizards of Warcraft fumbled through a hundred Power Point slides filled with indecipherable gibberish. I’m not sure what the petitioner is expecting, but if you need a powerful sleep aid that will drop an ox, this would be it.

Then there’s the petition demanding that we “Stop destruction of our U-233 for more NASA space exploration, new cancer treatments, and thorium based energy abundance.”  Ah, yes, the Free Thorium Brigade.  They’ll be up to 25,000 signatures in no time.

My personal favorite is the petition that wants the White House to “Outlaw offending prophets of major religions.” I’m hip. Let’s outlaw offending prophets.  I’ve got a list of prophets who offend me, where do I sign? Also can we add in preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis, mullahs, shamans, witch doctors, and Ted Nugent?

Now it would appear that the entire site is filled with secessionists and conspiracy nuts and Obama haters.

And it is.

Because, really, didn’t see that one coming, right?

However, there are some, a few, petitions that are well reasoned proposals and I think the president should consider these seriously. Such as:

Nationalize the Twinkie Industry (America cannot afford to lose the sweet spongy goodness).

Build a statue of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 on the lawn of the White House (because he’s done so much for us!).

Establish a new legal system of motorcycle riding "Judges" who serve as police, Judge, jury, and executioner all in one. (I AM DA LAAAAW!).

Have the president attend a Fark.com party, if scheduling doesn't permit at least have a beer with Drew Curtis. (I admit, this would be seriously cool).

This is what We The People have done with their First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the government.

We the people. I hate to be this way, but how about you weirdoes leave me right out of your life’s plans, Okay?

 

But, hey, I’m sure they’ll totally do better with their Second Amendment rights.

There’s probably no need to worry.

But I digress.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lost Horizons

He was the numbers guy, but in the end his numbers were all wrong!

Sounds like the tagline from a forgettable SyFy Channel movie involving a Hollywood supercollider made from Christmas tree lights and low budget GCI, a physicist played by C. Thomas Howell, a buxom lab assistant with a pair of silicon enhanced God particles, and a portal to an evil alternate dimension of evil, doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s the tickler for John Dickerson’s excellent article on Slate today: Why Romney Never Saw It Coming.

Which, come to think of it would also make a good title for a movie starring C. Thomas Howell.  But I digress.

Dickerson begins:

Mitt Romney says he is a numbers guy, but in the end he got the numbers wrong. His campaign was adamant that public polls in the swing states were mistaken. They claimed the pollsters were over-estimating the number of Democrats who would turn out on Election Day. Romney’s campaign was certain that minorities would not show up for Obama in 2012 the way they did in 2008.

The Romney campaign, along with conservative leaders and the usual frothy red-faced pundits, reported a steady increase in Romney’s popularity beginning when they declared Mitt the “winner” of his first debate with President Obama.  By the day of the election they’d gone from mere optimism to rapturous predictions of certain victory personally endorsed by Jesus himself.

Meanwhile, polls not affiliated with either the Romney Campaign nor Rupert Murdock’s media empire continued to show Obama with a narrow, but measurable and decisive, lead. Those polls indicated that minorities would turn out in record numbers, and that they would vote overwhelmingly for Obama – along with a lot of white people.

We don’t believe the numbers, we don’t believe  your data, conservatives sneered dismissively.

We don’t believe those lazy shiftless minorities will get off their welfare dependent asses and actually vote. Mitt doesn’t need to worry about them, they don’t matter. What matters are real Americans. Real Americans like us. And we’re coming to take back our country!

We don’t believe the liberal media!

Which is too bad really, because it turns out the “liberal” media was right.  It was the conservative media that was padding the numbers – along with quite a few other things as it turns out, but we’ll come back to that.

So convinced were Republicans of their victory, that the Romney Campaign had already bought and paid for a huge fireworks display with which they intended to kick off their victory celebration.

Romney himself penned only a victory speech – never believing that he might have to concede. 

Sadly, the speech he ended up giving in his final moments as a presidential candidate was quite likely the first and only time during the entire campaign that we actually saw the real Mitt Romney, sincere and likeable, finally free of his party, a little humble, no longer pretending to be an extremist, no longer pandering to hardline conservative voters and TV personalities who really didn’t like him anyway, no longer the clockwork golem jerking to the bony clenched fist of the GOP. That man, that Mitt Romney who gave that off the cuff concession speech, that was a man who could have been president – if only he’d shown up during the primaries.  I honestly felt sympathy for him in that moment. Just as I did, briefly (very briefly) for John McCain four years before, when his mask finally crumpled and a tired beaten old man who had once been a hero stared out of our TV sets.  Unfortunately, McCain almost immediately returned to pretending at extremism in a pathetic attempt to remain relevant while the actual extremist monster he’d unwittingly unleashed continues to blunder randomly around the countryside roaring incoherently and attacking the villagers.  It remains to be seen if Romney will follow the same pattern, or if he will actually live up to his concession speech. I see his little hunchbacked assistant has already returned to the lab.

Conservatives were dumbfounded by Obama’s victory.

They just couldn’t believe it.

They still don’t.

 

As I’ve said elsewhere, gravity is a bitch.

 

It should have been no surprise at all. 

Of course, since the election, the pundits and the politicians and the political strategists and the prognosticators and the money people have, one and all, been scrambling to show why, in fact, they weren’t actually wrong.  It was the size of Obama’s war chest they say. It was rigged ballots. It was the hurricane. It was Satan.  It was some kind of mind bending Negro Mojo or Project HAARP. It was women and Hispanics and especially African Americans who didn’t stay home like they were supposed to.  It was ORCA. It was the forty-seven percent.  It was this and it was that and maybe it was C. Thomas Howell and his evil army of evil from beyond the portal of evil.

But you know what? The simple truth of the matter is this: conservatives have nobody to blame but themselves. 

They shouldn’t be asking themselves why they lost, they should be asking themselves what else have they got wrong?

When you base your strategy on what you want the intelligence to be instead of what it actually is, you end up with a flawed strategy.  Always.

And then you lose.

That’s how the universe works.

Gravity will kill you, whether you believe in it or not because the universe just doesn’t care what you believe.

If Romney’s advisors didn’t believe the polls, then they should have hired a non-partisan outside agency to validate the data one way or the other.  And if the results showed that they were behind, instead of denying it they should have adjusted their ground game accordingly. 

Instead, Romney had people blow smoke up his ass until his colon resembled beef jerky.

Hiring people who only tell you what you want to hear is a bad, bad, bad habit to get into.

It’s bad for business – because it leads directly to bankruptcy and the collapse of financial systems.

It’s bad for the average Joe – because it leads to signing an interest-only mortgage for nearly a million dollars on a house that is worth maybe a quarter of that.

It’s bad for a candidate and bad for the Republic – because it makes for ignorant frightened hysterical citizens.

And it’s bad, very bad, for national leaders – because, among other things, you could end up invading other countries on faulty pretexts and having to stand before seven thousand cold steel boxes at Dover Air Force base as a result.

You might get away with it for a while, you can maybe believe what you like for a time without consequence, but sooner or later reality tends to come roaring ashore and drown your whole damned city. It doesn’t matter if you believe in climate change or not, hurricanes don’t care what you believe.

Pilots call it spatial disorientation.

Sometimes spatial disorientation happens from damage to the inner ear, or from disease, or drugs, or a lack of oxygen. 

But more often it happens when you lose the horizon.  

It happens when you lose your reference points and your perception doesn’t agree with reality. You become disorientated, your inner ear spins, and you suddenly stop being able to tell up from down or if you’re diving or climbing.

A pilot can regain control – by trusting the instruments and disregarding scrambled human perception.

But it takes training.

Nearly half of all aviation accidents can be attributed in some manner to spatial disorientation, because many pilots aren’t instrument rated and they fly beyond their capability to recover. 

It takes training and practice to recover from spatial disorientation. It takes a deliberate effort.

Just as it takes training and practice and discipline to accept military intelligence, even when it contradicts the commander’s preconceived understanding of the battlespace.

Just as it takes training and practice and discipline and maturity of thought to accept emerging scientific evidence, to accept political reality, to accept changing demographics and changing attitudes and sampling data, especially when that information contradicts long held religious and/or political beliefs. Especially when it contradicts what we want to hear.

That’s why our public schools are so important, that’s why education itself is so very important – it’s not that we teach the next generation what to think, it’s that we teach them how.

If they know how to think, they’ll figure out the what on their own (of course, that’s really the rub, isn’t it? And why so many people fear education. And that’s really a whole other essay).

Now to be clear, a little healthy skepticism leads to better thinking.  Of course we shouldn’t always trust our instruments, not without cross checking and calibration and proper understanding of the data presented, that’s why pilots (and scientists, and engineers, and military commanders) perform preflight checks before they pull the wheel chocks. It’s a process, and it takes training to know if your instruments are operating properly, just as it take training to develop proper thinking habits and a healthy skepticism.

Automatic reflexive denial is not healthy skepticism.

And reflexive denial, this spatial disorientation, has became a habit with a significant portion of our nation, this refusal to face unpleasant truths because we don’t want to hear what the universe is actually telling us. I saw it over and over again when I worked in military Intelligence. I saw it in the business world. I saw it in the mortgage bubble and the economic collapse.  And I see it all around me now, in the recent election, in the public perception, this spatial disorientation, this denial of what our instruments are really telling us.

The dumbfounded state of the republican party today is a symptom of a much greater disorientation.

For the last two decades conservatives have increasingly indulged themselves in willful spatial disorientation, denying the reality of nearly every aspect of our world from evolution to climate change to the changing demographics of the United States. In the last four years it has reached a fever pitch of denial.

You can find a chart and a detailed list of Obama conspiracy theories here, it’s mind boggling.  Everything from the stock Oh Noes! Obama is a Mooooslim, to He wasn’t born here it’s twue! to Obama is gay, to Obama is really a space alien.  Go on, follow the link, it’s safe and it’s worth a couple minutes of your time.  Note who is saying this stuff, those are the people who shape today’s GOP, those people right there – and don’t pretend that they don’t because if you read the comments in forums where conservatives hang out, you’ll hear this stuff repeated almost verbatim.  Romney himself repeated some of it, and so did prominent members of his campaign, party, and financial supporters.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Of course Obama couldn’t be all of those things. 

No ordinary human being could.

Exactly, that just proves he’s the superhuman demonic Anti-Christ!

Yeah.

This kind of nonsense, this faulty reasoning and hysterical panic, this kind of spatial disorientation, has very real consequences. It impacts our entire country, from education to the budget to those people who want to secede from the union right on down to the man in Florida who killed himself because Barack Obama won a second term.

It’s spatial disorientation.

Conservatives have lost their horizon.

When your perception becomes disconnected from reality, doubling down on the spin only gets you killed.

The way to save yourself is to ignore your inner ear, take a deep breath, look down, find your horizon, trust in your instruments, and calmly take corrective action. 

Reality, no matter how painful, no matter how disorientating, trumps illusion every time.

In the end, it wasn’t that the numbers were wrong, it’s that conservatives didn’t want to believe reality.

So they didn’t.

And that’s why they never saw it coming.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

With Friends Like These…

You’ve seen the movie right?

Thelma & Louise, I mean.

Yeah, you’ve seen it.

People called it the “Chick buddy movie.” I don’t know about that, seems to me that if you’ve got buddies like either Thelma or Louise maybe you should take a moment and reflect on why your life keeps biting you in the ass.

But I digress.

Anyway, to review: A waitress and housewife despair of their crappy lives. One night, rather than confronting their problems directly and doing something to actually improve their lot, they decide to hit the road. Bad choices and antisocial behavior ensue, one thing leads to another and eventually Louise kills a guy to prevent an assault on Thelma. Now, granted, in the context of the story, the guy probably needed some serious maiming, but killing? Of course, that’s what happens when you solve your problems with guns, things often get out of hand. Predictably, yet again instead of facing their problems directly and taking responsibility for their actions, the protagonists give into paranoia and panic and they just keep making things worse. Deliberately so. They blame everybody else for the situation and drive around the country getting even with every stereotype that they imagine ever did them wrong and leaving a trail of wreckage in their wake, never once taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.

Eventually it all catches up with them and in the film’s final iconic moment they hold hands and drive right off the edge of a cliff into oblivion.

Now, there are people, of course, who cheer that final moment as some kind of triumph, who see Thelma and Louise, unrepentant, as some kind of heroes who held tight to some nebulous undefined higher truth even as they roared headlong over the edge of the precipice and plunged grinning to their deaths while shouting Yeeeehaah! at the top of their lungs.

Screw you, World, that will show you.

The entire movie is a ninety minute self absorbed masturbation fantasy ala “Look what you made me do! I’ll kill myself, then you’ll be sorry, yes you will!”

Looking around today, I wonder if we’re not living our own Thelma & Louise.

In a case of raging Obama Derangement Syndrome on steroids, a woman in Arizona tried to kill her husband yesterday by running him over with a Jeep – because he apparently forgot to vote. Holly Solomon blamed her husband for the President’s reelection, an argument followed, the husband got out of the car and Solomon chased him around the parking before crushing him between the fender and a light pole.

She says she just wanted to scare him.

I suspect she succeeded, I know I would be scared shitless of that murderous psycho.

She apparently missed the fact that it would have taken an additional two hundred thousand non-voting Arizonians to flop Arizona’s eleven electoral votes from Romney to Obama. Solomon is in jail on attempted murder charges and her husband is in intensive care. According to people who know her, Solomon “really” hates President Obama and is convinced that his reelection will put an additional financial burden on the family – what impact attempted murder, aggravated assault, an extended hospital stay, and (I assume) divorce will have on the family finances I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader.

For what it’s worth, Solomon is pregnant – but the good news is that she won’t have to worry about the medical costs associated with delivery while in prison.

But I digress. Again.

Since last week’s re-election of President Obama there’s been a run on guns.

In some places, particularly in large areas of the Southwest and here in my own very, very red state of Alaska, gun sales have increased by over five hundred percent – despite the fact that there is no, repeat no, legislation currently pending to change federal gun laws in any way. Despite the fact that conservatives still hold the majority in the House and, along with a number of moderates and even a few liberals, would be very, very, very unlikely to pass any legislation restricting gun ownership. And despite the fact that even in the wake of the mass shootings in Arizona and Colorado, President Obama has repeatedly said that he has no intention whatsoever of taking up gun restrictions or Second Amendments rights.

Despite all of this, people who claim that they have no money, who are worried that Obama is going to come take what money they do have, are somehow managing to find enough money to buy guns and ammunition like Thelma and Louise spending what little they had on booze and cigarettes instead of getting out of their shitty relationships and fixing their lives.

And speaking of lousy relationships, once again Texas wants a divorce.

The logic apparently being that if at first you don’t secede, try and try again.

Texans have been trying to secede since the day they joined the Union. Or some of them anyway. There are about twenty-five million pointy-toed shitkickers who call Texas home, about twenty-five thousand of them have signed a petition on the White House We The People website asking President Obama to allow them to leave the United States and strike out on their own.

Now, Twenty-five thousand sounds like a lot, but in reality that’s one tenth of one percent of the state’s population who think they want to opt out of America.

The petition for secession goes like this:

The U.S. continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the U.S. suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect its citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.

Heh.

It would be almost amusing to let these people have their way – just to see if they could maintain that “balanced budget” and that standard of living without money from Washington while at the same time having to assume their own national defense including a standing army, air force, and navy along with highway construction and maintenance, education, research, scientific advancement at levels necessary to remain competitive in a global economy, weather prediction and communications (including satellite based systems), energy and water infrastructures, and so on right up to disaster relief (no small thing in a state prone to hurricanes and drought).

I can’t wait to see their faces when they realize that we’re taking the Navy ships and the Air Force jets and Army tanks with us, along with all the classified military systems and equipment, not to mention the intelligence and information infrastructure – see, we don’t share that stuff with enemy nations, though they can sometimes buy the lesser export versions. I suppose, if we were generous, we could let them keep the Texas National Guard’s equipment even though the federal government paid for almost all of it. Of course, there’s a catch – we’ll come back to that in a minute.

The petition specifically calls out the TSA, so I guess we’re free to take all that airport security with us too – along with federal funding for the runways and terminals and GCA systems and radars and computers and parking lots.

Speaking of airports, it’s going to be damned thin at George H. W. Bush International Airport when Continental and United Airlines pull out, they are after all American companies, and since Texas will no longer comply with TSA regulations, neither airline, nor any other American one for that matter, will be able to operate from the foreign soil of the Republic of Texas.

Maybe Texicans can park their horses in the space where the jets used to be, I dunno, I’m sure they’ll think of something.

It would be interesting to watch the Republic of Texas come to the realization that they are downstream, literally, from the United States: downstream for water, electricity, commerce, produce, animal feed, manufactured goods and etcetera – not to mention that the majority of the oil and gas feeding Texan refineries comes from the north, along with the money that finances it all.

The majority of goods flowing through Texas ports would dry to a trickle, because, see, while twenty-five million sounds like a lot, population wise it’s nothing in a global economy. 

Also, you’ve got wonder where they’ll get the gold to back their brand new Texas Sawbucks, maybe Glenn Beck will loan it to them.

I want to be there on the day that Texicans suddenly realize they are a non-voting member of the United Nations, assuming that Texas joins the UN in the first place, and that they can no longer face the rest of the world with the might of the United States of America at their backs. I want to see the expression on Texas’ face when they realize that they have no more say in global affairs and international matters than Bumfuckistan.

I wonder if they’ll still be as eager as they are now to declare war on Iran.

The cornerstones of Texas’ economy, shipping and commerce, NASA and aerospace, energy, military, federally funded higher education, will all suddenly disappear along with federal infrastructure jobs. And manufactured goods, along with water, oil, natural gas, electricity, grain, food, and all the rest of it will suddenly become much more expensive in the Republic of Texas, unless, of course, Austin decides to become a signatory to NAFTA and all those other free trade agreements.

I wonder what they’ll do when all the communications, long distance and international phones, cable TV, internet, banking Telex to name a few things, shuts down? After all, those are American communication satellites up there. Wonder what it costs to develop your own space program? Since Texicans are opposed to anything resembling a free handout, I wonder if the DOD could disable GPS over the new Republic? Just a thought.

I have to wonder if they’ll continue to buy spare parts for their castoff National Guard F-16s and M1A1 Abrams tanks from us, or if they’ll find it cheaper to buy their military hardware from Russia like other Third World countries. Of course, I suppose they could import all the raw materials they need for a modern military and build their own equipment including the space-based components – be interesting to see them tool up and do that without borrowing money from China. Personally, if it was up to me, I’d impose a tariff on every single product headed south, including water and all that fracking gas, until Texas paid back every dime ever spent there in federal money – but then I’m a vindictive bastard, I am.

I want to be there when Texas realizes what the phrase buffer state means.

See, when Texicans finally secure their southern border against illegal immigration from Central and South America, from terrorists and drug smugglers, they also by simple fact of geography end up protecting the forty-nine remaining United States (and Canada) from the same – at no charge to us. And everything they need to close that border, guns and barbed wire and chain link fence and high-tech detection gear, patrol trucks, and everything else, they’d have to buy from us, or China, or India.

Yes, that’s right, The Republic of Texas would have to pay out of their own pockets to defend a country that they despise.

That would almost be worth the price of admission right there.

Here’s a thought, is it in our best interest – the United States I mean – to allow the Lone Star Country to become a nuclear power?

I really don’t think it is.

After all, you never know what those crazy religious extremists might do if they got their hands on a bomb. And they already hate us, right? By definition.

But I digress yet again.

Texas, of course isn’t the only state suddenly interested in secession. Citizens from Alaska, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama and New York have all filed their own petitions for secession.

They’re all ready to give up on the United States, because Obama got reelected to the office of President.

They have so little faith in the country they profess to love that they’re willing to abandon it straightaway rather than help us fix it.

Because they think we’re about to drive off a cliff.

It’s ironic. These states, these people, these patriots, these Americans, share equally in blame for the current situation, for our economy, for our government, for the debt, for the partisan divide and the extremism that pulls us apart, and while they yammer on about “responsibility” their answer to the situation is to run away. Literally, just run away. They want to take all the good stuff and leave the rest of us holding the bag. 

They actually visualize secession like a divorce where they get the house and the car and the kids, and their former spouse gets stuck with alimony and the credit card bills and the mortgage.  That’s exactly what they intend for us.  As if they have no responsibility for their part of this mess at all.

Just like Thelma and Louise, their solution isn’t to face the problem squarely and do what is necessary to fix it.

Instead they’re trying to talk the rest of us into a road trip.

And, you know what? It’s entirely possible – we could end up like Thelma and Louise, we could shoot a guy and rob a store and  generally behave like louts, we could drive right off the looming cliff and plunge to our deaths screaming all the way.

Yes, we could do that.

We could engage in a mutual murder-suicide pact.

 

Or, and here’s an idea, we could choose to not to.

 

It’s really just that simple.

Here’s what we could do instead, we could take responsibility for the state of our nation and demand that our elected representative stop screwing around and get to the work we pay them for.

The so-called Fiscal Cliff is a bullshit made up crisis.

That’s right, it’s made up.

It’s a mutual murder-suicide pact entered into by a handful of angry petulant children masquerading as Senators and Representatives who are hell-bent on taking the rest of us down with them because they didn’t get their way in the last few elections.

This crisis exists solely because Congress has so far refused to take responsibility for their own selfish juvenile actions and for no other reason.

The congressmen perpetuating this hoax are little different, mentally, from Thelma and Louise, or those two assholes who shot up Columbine High School – they’ve got a list of imagined grievances a mile long and it’s not enough that they do themselves in, they intend to take down as many of their fellows as they can.

Look what you made me do! I’ll show you, I’ll drive us right off the cliff and kill us all and then you’ll be sorry.

And it’s not just the Fiscal Cliff, it’s all the rest of it too.

This congress, specifically the House, has stalled for the last two years in an attempt to blackmail Americans into giving them the Senate and the White House.

They picked a bad strategy and it cost them. They lost. The message from the citizenry couldn’t be more clear.

Now is not the time for a road trip, now is the time when adults need to put away childish things and get to work.

Look here, neither side is entirely wrong.

And neither side is entirely right.

The election is over, both sides need to put aside their selfish personal bullshit, both sides need to immediately marginalize their extremists, and both sides need to sit down as adults and start getting shit done.

First, call off the crises.

Just that, call it off.

Tell America, tell the world, hey, you know what? This is fucking nuts. We’re not going to drive off this cliff. We’re not. So stop worrying about it, we’ll fix it.

And it’s easy to do, reach an interim budget deal or extend the deadline for sequestration.

If you have to, extend the current tax levels for one year.

If you have to, delay implementation of certain provisions of Obamacare for one year.

And so on. It’s so easy a lame duck session of congress could have it on the President’s desk by Thanksgiving.

It’s really just that simple.

It can be done with the stroke of a pen.

This is will immediately stabilize the stock market and the economy. Everybody immediately benefits. Rich people, poor people, Christmas retailers, everybody.

Should we have to do this? No, of course not, not if congress had been doing their jobs all along, but that’s water under the bridge. Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda. We have to play it as it lies now.

Carve out some breathing space and get down to business – with the actual intention of fixing the problems and not making things worse by doing stupid shit over and over.

Anybody not intent on fixing the problems, marginalize. Period. Leaders of all parties need to lead. They need to send the following message: You’re either part of the solution or you don’t get a vote, decide which one you want to be.

Now for the real work:

The debt must be brought under control. The left thinks so, the right thinks so, the middle thinks so. We’re all agreed at the start.  It doesn’t matter who thinks so more.  If we go over the cliff, we all die. The solution isn’t one size fits all, unless we want to end up like Greece, and both sides need to face reality.

We keep saying we’re worried about the mess we’re leaving our kids. Fine, then don’t do it.

If you’re truly worried about our future, truly, then let’s do what is necessary to fix it.

How do we fix it?

Well it won’t be easy. We have to start with taxes.

Everybody, left and right, agrees that the tax code is a mess. Congress doesn’t want to raise taxes on the rich. Why? Because most of them are rich, a lot of them are millionaires, and the rest make well above $250K a year, that’s why.  It’s a conflict of interest.

Tough shit, time for Grover Norquist to be run out of Washington lashed to a rail. He’s not doing any of us any favors at all.

Norquist gets one vote, just like all the rest of us – it’s time for conservatives to remember that.

If we’re really serious about fixing the debt, then we should let the Bush Era tax cuts expire, all of them.

Now it doesn’t have to be all Bush Era Tax Cuts or no Bush Era Tax Cuts.

We could compromise and split the difference with a progressive tax increase, but everybody needs to pay more. And a lot more folks need to start paying, Mitt Romney was right in some regards, the loopholes need to be closed (Ironic, coming from a millionaire who didn’t pay taxes for a number of years, but I digress).

And maybe we do need to cut the corporate tax rate, maybe by five or ten percent instead of Romney’s suggested twenty percent.  But, and here’s the thing, we should get something for it. I.e we cut the corporate tax rate with the caveat “We cut taxes on your business, you hire people here at home in return and pay for their healthcare without whining. Period. No excuses. You don’t hire people within a year, we raise your taxes to make up the difference.” Exactly how many you hire, and how much less your taxes, are simply details that need to be worked out. And again, one size doesn’t fit all, big business and small business could have different thresholds.

I like Romney’s idea of a fixed limit on deductions. Tax experts, both left and right, like it too. Let’s do it.

I also agree with conservatives that we need to eliminate outdated and excessive regulations that cost us money to enforce and that restrict the growth of business. The best part about this is that most federal regulatory enforcement comes from the Executive Branch, which means the president can suspend or eliminate onerous regulation via Executive Order right away without waiting on legislation. Hell, ask Romney if he wants the job of identifying which regulations need attention, after all, he’s looking for a job and he’s supposed to be the expert.  If he really wants to help the country like he says he does, then he’ll work with the rest of us to get it done.

Entitlement Programs do need overhaul – including Obamacare.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, all need revision. And there are freeloaders who are abusing the system and should be cut the hell off.

Entitlement Programs need review by adults, without hysteria and fearmongering and threats.

There’s plenty of room for savings and plenty of ways to make sure everybody is taken care of without leaving future generations out in the cold.

The government does need to be cut back.

Starting with the Department of Defense.  Yes, that’s correct. We need to significantly reduce the defense budget, maybe by as much as one third. We spend more than the next fourteen nations combined on our military at the expense of everything thing else. That’s crazy.  We need to dump expensive systems that will never, ever, pay for themselves along with excessive bases and pork barrel programs – and I’ll cover some of those things in a future essay, perhaps later this week. 

Every single division of the federal government can be made more efficient, smaller, leaner, and cheaper. Conservatives are absolutely right about that and liberals know it. That doesn’t mean we should chop off our nose to spite our faces, or drive off a cliff to spite everybody else, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.

We just have to get to it. Now, while we still can.

I’ve heard a number pundits and politicians opinion that the fiscal cliff is a good thing. That sequestration will force us to cut spending across the board and will force us to raise taxes – both of which will make us finally do something concrete about the national debt.

This is a true statement, just as it’s true to say that the Titanic disaster was a good thing because it forced us to adopt more stringent maritime safety regulations and develop better survival equipment, navigation, collision avoidance sensors, and iceberg detection. However, the good things are small damned comfort to the people who went into the water that night.

It’s true in the same sense as saying Columbine forced us to adopt better safety procedures to protect our children.

It’s true, but the cost is very, very high.

And there are better ways of improving the future.

We can’t fix what’s wrong by running people over in the parking lot or by stocking up on guns or by running away from the problem to form our own little countries.

Sure, we can solve the problem the same way Thelma and Louise did, but there turns out to be unpleasant side effects.

 

The simple truth of the matter is this: the crisis we face, the crisis we are being told we face, is false. 

There is no crisis.

Unless we make it so.