Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives


third-party-candidate

I understand the thought process behind a piece like Clay Shirky’s “There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote”. I’d like to offer a different perspective. I chose to focus on Shirky’s piece because I believe it accurately reflects a particular perspective that is out there and the article itself is currently being shared extensively on social media and elsewhere as a school of thought some people are connecting with.

I think Shirky’s viewpoint runs the danger of functioning as a narrative for those who want to feel irreproachable in their voting decision by making any other voting choices or perspectives ineffective, irresponsible, and/or a sign of weakness. Shirky’s insistence that “Presidential voting is an exercise in distinguishing the lesser of two evils. Making that choice is all that’s asked of us, and all that’s on offer” can be seen as one example of a school of thought that indirectly (or even directly) stifles political change. It most certainly can be argued that it stifles progress.

Shirky sees only three options in voting this election (or any other):

A. I prefer Donald Trump be President, rather than Hillary Clinton.

B. I prefer Hillary Clinton be President, rather than Donald Trump.

C. Whatever everybody else decides is OK with me.

Continue reading “Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives”

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Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives

Today’s GOP Message: Stupid Is Good


Just a quick glance at some of today’s GOP news. It seems that a poll done by Esquire magazine shows that 78 percent of “Republican leaders” believe that President Obama is a socialist. Those surveyed are, according to the magazine and suggested by the answers given, not from the fringes of the party. Yet nonetheless, they seem to have no idea what actual socialism is. A similar poll earlier this month by Daily Kos/Research 2000 found that 63 percent of Republicans believed Obama to be a socialist, while 16 percent were not sure and 21 percent believe he is not.

Add to this Washington Post columnist David Broder’s serious comments about Sarah Palin being “at the top of her game — a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm.” Broder continued to rave about Palin:

“Palin used the Tea Party gathering and coverage on the cable networks to display the full repertoire she possesses, touching on national security, economics, fiscal and social policy, and every other area where she could draw a contrast with Barack Obama and point up what Republicans see as vulnerabilities in Washington.”

But my favorite is Broder’s excitement about Palin’s comments to Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Here’s what Sarah initially said:

“I do want to be a voice for some common-sense solutions. I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I’m not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I’m going to fight the elitist, because for too often and for too long now, I think the elitists have tried to make people like me and people in the heartland of America feel like we just don’t get it, and big government’s just going to have to take care of us… I want to speak up for the American people and say: No, we really do have some good common-sense solutions. I can be a messenger for that. Don’t have to have a title to do it.”

And now Broder’s admiring comments:

“What stood out in the eyes of TV-watching pols of both parties was the skill with which she drew a self-portrait that fit not just the wishes of the immediate audience but the mood of a significant slice of the broader electorate… she has locked herself firmly in the populist embrace that every skillful outsider candidate from George Wallace to Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton has utilized when running against “the political establishment.

“…This is a pitch-perfect recital of the populist message that has worked in campaigns past. There are times when the American people are looking for something more: for an Eisenhower, who liberated Europe; an FDR or a Kennedy or a Bush, all unashamed aristocrats; or an Obama, with eloquence and brains.

“But in the present mood of the country, Palin is by all odds a threat to the more uptight Republican aspirants such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty — and potentially, to Obama as well…

“Those who want to stop her will need more ammunition than deriding her habit of writing on her hand. The lady is good.”

It is both amusing and frightening to see men like Broder actually admire Sarah Palin for being the answer to this country’s supposed dislike of “elitists.” Basically, what he’s saying is that you have a bunch of under-educated people who get defensive when they can’t answer the questions they are asked or engage in a political conversation from a place of knowledge or understanding. So they’d rather have a dummy in charge (Palin, Bush, those who think Obama’s a socialist) than someone who is actually educated, articulate and can see a bigger picture.

Broder and Palin actually want us to celebrate our country’s ignorance.

“I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person.”

Really? Is that what we want from our elected officials? That they don’t know any more than we do about their own jobs?

And then, just for shits and giggles, I’ll mention Glenn Beck’s recent euphoric conclusion that the major snowstorms hitting the east coast are actual proof that global warming is a hoax. Forget about the fact that volatile weather patterns and cycles are one of the major effects of climate change. Hot or cold!

Once again, let’s celebrate ignorance and stupidity and pass it off as fact on national television. Or honor it in print.

Go, Go, GOP!

And God Bless America.

Today’s GOP Message: Stupid Is Good

Exporting Hate & Terror In The Name Of God


Sounds like something one might accuse Al Qaeda of. But what if it were suggested the United States of America were on a religious crusade all its own? Last year, former French President Jacques Chirac told the world that, while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq, then president George W. Bush appealed to their common faith in Christianity during a private chat. According to Chirac, Bush stated:

“Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

While this is old news by now and a quote I’ve referenced before, it seems to have been one-upped by a recent report that weapons maker Trijicon has been supplying high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. Army and Marines with coded references to specific Bible passages. One such reference on the gun sights is 2COR4:6, also known as Second Corinthian 4:6 of the New testament:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

These “Jesus-encoded” sights are being used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. Oddly enough, U.S. Military rule prohibits proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan. The whole notion behind this rule was to prevent any country or individual from claiming the United States was on a religious “Crusade.” Well… it seems some, including but obviously not restricted to the president who led us into those very wars, were, indeed, on a religious crusade. So where does that leave us now?

The American people were lied to about WMDs, our own CIA directly misled Congress, we defied the United Nations, we angered and alienated much of the world with that defiance, we resorted to torture tactics we swore we would never use, we engaged in a preemptive strike against another country for the first time in our nation’s history, and over 100,000 human lives have been lost that would not have been otherwise… At what point do Americans realize that the Bush Administration turned the United States of America into a rogue nation and desecrated almost everything we have claimed to stand for? And still I see people finding reasons to support that same administration, all the while professing that President Obama is attempting to destroy our nation, trying to make us a socialist country, a totalitarian country, even a fascist country.

So while the largest corporations in the States get fat on the blood of Iraq, including Trijicon who have a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corp and even more to the U.S. Army, America’s own citizens have been tossed into a deep recession. And the president who has managed to prevent that recession from becoming a full-on depression, all the while trying to repair a deeply damaged health care system that doesn’t care for its own, has come under attack as a man who is trying to destroy this country and everything it stands for.

At what point do we heed the lessons and shame of Joseph McCarthy and the fear that drove that man and his many, many followers? At what point do we face up to the fact that our country and its citizens were lied to, led astray? At what point do we, as a nation, choose to enter into adulthood and face our own demons? When do we, as Dick Cheney would call it, “Man-up”?

A recent hearing in the U.K. on that country’s involvement in the war in Iraq revealed that the U.S. was already discussing plans to invade Iraq less than a month after George W. Bush took office. This was, if you haven’t already figured it out, long before the 9/11 attacks. These plans are well-documented in the Downing Street Memo transcribing the minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair’s senior ministers on July 23, 2002.

That same recent U.K. hearing also reportedly revealed that Blair lied to the public when he claimed that Britain’s objective in the invasion of Iraq was ‘disarmament’ and not ‘regime change.’

Too bad we haven’t yet had hearings of our own on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe it would open some of those tightly shut eyes still mourning the loss of the good Christian president who so valiantly protected our nation through what is known as the Bush Doctrine which includes a policy of “preventive” war which held that:

The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD.

To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression.

But what is it we’ve actually done? According to the above-mentioned U.K. hearing:

In the public record, there is a large amount of evidence that vividly illustrates Bush’s long-standing intent to invade Iraq, Bush’s willingness to provoke Saddam Hussein into providing a pretext for war, the fact that the Iraq war began with an air campaign almost a year before the March 2003 invasion and months before Congress approved the war, Bush’s widespread attempt to crush dissent and manipulate information to justify the lies he used to start the Iraq war and the lack of planning for the aftermath of the Iraq war as well as the lack of a fundamental understanding of the Iraqi society.

To further illustrate then President Bush’s “mission” as he saw it, I quote a passage from his 2003 State of the Union address:

“Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”

Unfortunately, men like George W. Bush never seem to understand that what they see as the “right” way for America is not the only way. I’m not saying all nations shouldn’t be free, I’m saying that we, America, do not have all the answers and it is beyond arrogant to assume we do. It is downright criminal to take that misguided belief and stake human lives on it. Especially when that belief is weighed down by religious conviction; by a man and an administration with little understanding of the culture, people and religions of the countries they are invading. Many great nations before ours have fallen in pursuit of the very same fallacious ideologies that drove Mr. Bush and his followers.

But how do you get a country and its people to follow along on such a path? Author Naomi Klein wrote in her book The Shock Doctrine that the Bush Administration exploited  a “window of opportunity that opens in a state of shock, subsequently followed with a comforting rationale for the public, as a form of social control.”

For any country to grow, it must take a cold, hard look at itself. It must ask the difficult questions. We have an opportunity now to start fixing the deep damage that was incurred during the Bush Administration and the 9/11 attacks on our country. Both victimized the American people. Neither wound is anywhere close to being healed. But in taking that deep look, we might find that we–as abhorrent a notion as it is–may have temporarily become our own worst enemy and the exporters of the very thing we claim to be fighting against.

Exporting Hate & Terror In The Name Of God

Colin Powell Endorses Obama


“I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities — and you have to take that into account — as well as his substance — he has both style and substance. He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president…

“Now that we have had a chance to watch [Sarah Palin] for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she’s ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made…

“Mr. McCain says that [Bill Ayers is] a washed up terrorist, but then why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have the robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that’s inappropriate. Now, I understand what politics is all about, I know how you can go after one another and that’s good. But I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It’s not what the American people are looking for…”

When asked about claims that Barack Obama is a Muslim, Powell stated:

“Well, the correct answer is, [Barack Obama] is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

“[John McCain] is essentially going to execute the Republican agenda, the orthodoxy of the Republican agenda with a new face and a maverick approach to it, and he’d be quite good at it, but I think we need more than that. I think we need a generational change. I think Senator Obama has captured the feelings of the young people of America and is reaching out in a more diverse, inclusive way across our society…

“Those kinds of images going out on al Jazeera are killing us around the world. And we have got to say to the world, it doesn’t make any difference who you are or what you are, if you’re an American you’re an American. And this business of, for example a congresswoman from Minnesota going around saying let’s examine all congressmen to see who is pro America or not pro America, we have got to stop this kind of non-sense and pull ourselves together and remember that our great strength is in our unity and diversity. That really was driving me.”

When asked about the Democrats policies being “socialist”, Powell commented:

“We can’t judge our people and hold our elections on that kind of basis. Yes, that kind of negativity troubled me. And the constant shifting of the argument, I was troubled a couple of weeks ago when in the middle of the crisis the campaign said ‘we’re going to go negative,’ and they announced it. ‘We’re going to go negative and attack his character through Bill Ayers.’ Now I guess the message this week is we’re going to call him a socialist. Mr. Obama is now a socialist, because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have. Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who pay them, in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there’s nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more or who should be paying les, and for us to say that makes you a socialist is an unfortunate characterization that I don’t think is accurate.”

Colin Powell Endorses Obama