How do you do it Trump fans? How exactly are you able to listen to Donald Trump talk? How in the name of all that is good and holy do you withstand the assault on your senses? Are you just … Continue reading
My most favorite thing in the world literary-wise that happens at the end of every year is the Dave Barry Year in Review. When it is published, I don’t usually read it right away. I savor it–the thought of it–and let it breathe like a fine wine. Then, when the moment is just right, I make a pot of coffee, grab my laptop, and curl up just so on the couch. From the moment I begin to read, I can feel actual joy pulsate through my body. The only other way I can describe what I feel like at this time is to compare it to how I feel on opening day in baseball. Opening day is all that is good in the world. Gleeful anticipation that surges through the veins and a heart pulsating with hope is the only way to describe it. There are very few times I ever feel that kind of thing anymore. The older I get, the more I appreciate feeling that way, and the more I attempt to write about anything, the more appreciation I have for the talent of Dave Barry. Writing well is a gift. Writing well and making me quite literally laugh out loud while reading is magic.
The inartful segue I will make now is to introduce my own kind of foray into “end of the year” compilations. As you well know dear reader (old-time writing used to say that a lot so I thought I’d try it out on you), I am no Dave Barry. I say this so that you will not hold any grand illusions that I will do anything resembling what Dave Barry does…in case you were expecting that.
Now that those hopes have been dashed, and you are still reading (dear goodness, why are you still reading? Don’t you have anything better to do, like get a root canal or watch re-runs of Gilligan’s Island?), it is now time for my extremely brief and most assuredly non-Dave- Barry -kind- of- witty– end-of-the-year thingy. The following tidbits are just some of the things that I would like to not hear about, read about, or know about in 2016, because they made 2015 a veritable nightmare. Here we go…
Internet hoax posts, or satire news stories that keep getting posted even though they’ve been proven hoaxes yet people keep posting them:
Look, I understand that Facebook is not the New York Times, and maybe because I’m an over-posting freak I tend to be more aware of what is going around the inter webs more so than people who actually manage to stay off of Facebook for over a day, but for the love of Pete, please at least consider whether what you’re posting is from The Onion. I mean, it will say “Onion” somewhere (btw, they have a great “Year in Review” as well. Better than this drivel from me you betcha).
Also, Mark Zuckerburg is not, I repeat not, going to hand you a billion dollars because you copy and pasted the fact that he is going to give you a billion dollars if you copy and paste the fact that he is going to give you a billion dollars. Ok? He does however thank you for the billion dollars he made last year.
One more crazy-assed story about some freaks out of Florida who do stuff that even The Enquirer wouldn’t be able to dream up:
I’m beginning to think that Florida does not actually exist. I think if you look closely on the map, it will say The Onion across where Florida should be.
(PLEASE , if you do nothing else productive in your day, click on the link above. These are TRUE FREAKING STORIES).
OK. Done. I guess Bristol Palin and her abstinence only baby-making self will have to suffice in order to keep the Palin name alive and well in 2016.
Sarah, can you see those “Republican family values” from your house?
Republican frothing-at-the-mouth over Vladamir Putin, a.k.a, Vlad the Shirtless:
I’m not stupid. I completely understand why Republicans go around saying how awesome Putin is–’cause he imprisons girl bands and “allegedly” kills journalists and rides Cheetahs bare-chested in his spare time when he’s not wreaking havoc around the globe. I get it. But perhaps hailing this guy to highlight President Obama’s supposed “feckless” leadership should be sequestered considering, you know, he may have killed some journalists (or at least certainly encourages mistreatment of them by others). Uhm, and he invades countries for the hell of it. Just a thought.
Republicans constantly using the word “feckless” to describe the President.
Feckless- (fek-lis) adj. inneffective; incompetent.
Physician, heal thyself.
While we’re on the subject…Republican debates:
I try and I try and I try to think of other ways to inflict severe emotional and psychological pain onto myself other than watching the Republican “debates” (if I could have furiously air-quoted this I would have, but you get the point). Let’s see, there’s:
- Having someone give me an Indian wrist-burn (if you are over 50 you get this).
- Lying down in a public urinal in Times Square.
- Buying any Bill O’Reilly “Killing…” book…and reading it.
- Watching Fox News for more than 16 seconds…ok, maybe 7 seconds…3 seconds tops.
I justify watching the debates because I need to be fully informed to make a reasonable decision on who to vote for, but in reality, I actually quite enjoy screaming at the top of my lungs towards the television at something besides the New York Giants and when I am trying to turn on the tv with 7 remotes, non of which seem to work unless you have the launch code for the nuclear arsenal.
The election in 2016:
I guess I’m already burnt out because I do pay attention to politics year-round, but hearing about who will be president for a full two years before we actually will elect a new president is a lot like planning for next Christmas two days after Christmas. It’s pure nonsense. Let’s just all agree that at least the president won’t be…
STOP STOP STOP STOP NO NO NO NIET NIET NIET (for the Putin fans).
For the love of all that is pure and holy, I need—no WE need– this national nightmare to end. We need someone to step up big-time and “schlong” this “putz” back to Manhattan where he can do much less damage…as long as it’s not Ted Cruz,Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, or ___________________ (insert any Republican name here) who takes his place at the head of the polls.
Oh well. Here’s to not being shlonged in 2016!
Happy New Year all!
“I’ve seen the video. It looks to me like you don’t need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single, you know, of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that.”- Steve King (R-IA), explaining why there is no need to look into racial-profiling in Ferguson, Missouri
When was the first time you felt like an “adult”? Can you remember? I think I can. I guess it would have been the day I moved out of my childhood home into my own “place.” I felt a peculiar combination of giddy excitement and impending doom. I realized, for the very first time, that I had to start making decisions that meant looking far in advance, instead of fixating on the usual temporary and selfish moments of my young-adult world. I now was responsible for paying rent, some bills, and had to start worrying about the nebulous future. I can remember walking into my living room and sitting on a ripped-up couch cushion, placing my feet gingerly upon a basket masquerading as a table and thinking, “this is really cool…” A few seconds after that, waves of terror enveloped me. I may have even quietly gasped.
Sometimes being an adult is hard.
I bring up the subject of acting as an “adult”, because it leads me to the topic of today’s hideous blog. This migraine-maker is, I suppose, more a rhetorical question.
Is there one adult left in the Republican party? One? Just one?
How about sane people? Any lucid thinkers out there for the right to hold up as statesmen?
Rhetorical or not, my query is completely sincere. The quote at the beginning of this particular, hideous blog by the wingiest of wing-nuts King, is exhibit “A.” There are some days I look at my Twitter feed and honestly feel frightened for our future as a nation. I understand we are a diverse country (and polarized unfortunately), but as I sit and type this piece, I am always struck by the vast truth– and more so–sanity divide between our citizens (we really do have a “truthiness” problem ).
There are those who get a lot of their news and information about the state of the world from The Wall Street Journal, Infowars, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News. There are also some who enlist the New York Times, MSNBC, NPR, and Amy Goodman (I’ll cop to the latter grouping). I also freely admit when I need to catch up on the week’s happenings I unabashedly turn to Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert, and more recently, John Oliver, who at least get their facts straight while skewering the particular bad actors, which is not the case with our friends on that channel that is named after a carnivorous mammal known for being “cunning” (although that network is so farcical that I laugh as heartily during Fox and Friends as during The Daily Show, sometimes).
Not for nuthin’ though, WTF is up with the Republican party and their supposed “leaders”? Literally, and not figuratively, every day there is one bat-shit crazy statement after another uttered by the usual suspects. If you don’t believe Blithering Idiot that the Republican Party has gone off the grid, here are some tasty nuggets compiled by Norm Ornstein in an article he wrote for The Nation:
- “Sex that doesn’t produce people is deviate.” —Montana state Rep. Dave Hagstrom.
- “It is not our job to see that anyone gets an education.” —Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Reynolds.
- “I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don’t represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is not going to save us. We’re going to take this country back for the Lord. We’re going to try to take this country back for conservatism. And we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in!” —Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert, at a tea-party rally.
- President Obama has “become a dictator” and needs to face the consequences of his executive actions, “whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment.” —Iowa state Sen. (and U.S. Senate candidate) Jodi Ernst, one of a slew of elected officials calling for impeachment or at least putting it front and center.
- “I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change. But I’ll simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There’s no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.” —Kentucky state Sen. Brandon Smith (fact-check: the average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees).
- “Although Islam had a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology. It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protections.” —Georgia congressional candidate Jody Hice.
- “Slavery and abortion are the two most horrendous things this country has done, but when you think about the immorality of wild, lavish spending on our generation and forcing future generations to do without essentials just so we can live lavishly now, it’s pretty immoral.” —U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas.
- “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big-bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” —U.S. Rep. (and M.D.) Paul Broun of Georgia.
- “Now I don’t assert where he [Obama] was born, I will just tell you that we are all certain that he was not raised with an American experience. So these things that beat in our hearts when we hear the National Anthem and when we say the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t beat the same for him.” —U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa.
If those comments aren’t enough to make you run screaming into the hills, how about some really fun straight-jacket material from my two favorite Congress people, Louie Gohmert and Michelle Bachmann?
In the last couple of weeks, these ding-bat, bookends weighed in on evil Obama’s secret plan for those brown children “invading” our country (remember, always use the red-meat words like “invaders” to sufficiently scare the bejesus out of the easily spooked right-wing).
With the “muscle” of the right-wing operation operating in the background, (the self-appointed “Minutemen Project,” had a call to arms from it’s great leader to grab their penis extensions and stomp around on the border in some kind of self-aggrandized and delusional fantasy that they are going to protect us from the brown scourge), Bachmann and Gohmert are going to give us the what-what on how this is going down.
First up, Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), who is a cacophony of stupid, and says so many idiotic things, so often, you could probably keep great time to his pearls of wisdom. Some of Gohmert’s latest gems :
“The congressmen (Gohmert) went on to say that “the penetration of criminals and terrorists across our southern border” represents a threat to the U.S. comparable to the threat of a nuclear strike from Iran against Israel.”
“He likened the immigrant “invasion” to D-Day, warning that undocumented immigrants were responsible for over six hundred thousand crimes in Texas over the past five years, including thousands of homicides and sexual assaults.”
“Gohmert called President Obama’s immigration policy the real “war on women” because it allowed immigrants to cross the border to rape women.”
“This administration doesn’t have the desire, doesn’t have the will to actually stop it,” Gohmert told radio host Tim Constantine. “Because they see people coming across as undocumented Democrats. And so, they want to keep the surge of people coming in illegally, even though it includes a big spike in Other-Than-Mexicans, OTMs as we call them.”
“It includes a spike in people from countries where terrorism abounds,” he continued. “We have people coming in from countries where Ebola is located.”
Now for his counterpart in a skirt. Not to be outdone, Bachmann (R-Minn) took lunacy to the next level (I keep thinking we are running out of levels like Donkey Kong, but now I’m not so sure):
“”Now President Obama is trying to bring all of those foreign nationals, those illegal aliens to the country and he has said that he will put them in the foster care system,” Bachmann said. “That’s more kids that you can see how – we can’t imagine doing this, but if you have a hospital and they are going to get millions of dollars in government grants if they can conduct medical research on somebody, and a Ward of the state can’t say ‘no,’ a little kid can’t say ‘no’ if they’re a Ward of the state; so here you could have this institution getting millions of dollars from our government to do medical experimentation and a kid can’t even say ‘no.’ It’s sick”.
The fact that comments like those cited above are even thought of, let alone spoken, is terrifying enough, but what is more disconcerting is that there is never any real condemnation of them by the party leaders. I find this interesting because it is usually the radicals on the right who wail and screetch that “Mooslims” never decry the acts of their extremists enough.
So, I ask once again, “where are the adults in the room”? Why don’t I hear or read about condemnations from the Republican party when these remarks are made?
It has gotten so bad that more and more lifelong Republicans are leaving the flock. A few in the media who are, or were, professed Republicans, are speaking out about the wing-nuttery that has infested the party.
Josh Barro, a Republican and the politics editor of Business Insider, spoke out on this subject towards the end of last year. He admitted that part of the problem is the “conservative bubble” that too many right-wingers kowtow to, in order to keep their jobs. Barro is very honest when he admits the Democrats were “right” on some “key issues” regarding the economy, but what is more intriguing are his comments about how the party now functions in Washington:
“So the last few years at the federal level, Republicans have just not been offering good solutions to the problems that we face. And then we’ve seen over the last month that because they don’t like the things the other side is doing, they start temper tantrums and do things that are very damaging to the economy. And so I don’t know why I should look at that and say anything other than these people are crazy and awful and shouldn’t be trusted with power.”
“Crazy.” Awful.” “Shouldn’t be trusted with power.”
Thanks Josh Barrow. I think I found an adult in your party.
Now was that so hard?
The laissez-faire argument relies on the same tacit appeal to perfection as does communism.
Blithering Idiot came across an interesting piece this fine morning, and what with all in the world that is inherently maddening and juicy enough to write about (the VA crisis, the Snowden revelations, the fact that Michele Bachmann may or may not have said on Fox News that we needed a president like Benjamin Franklin again…), this is what fired me up. I haven’t written in almost 5 months (yes, I call it “writing”–let’s not quibble), so bear with me. I have been much more accustomed to retweeting other people’s pithy offerings than forming coherent sentences of my own. Today’s subject: Libertarianism.
lib-er-tar-i-an-ism (noun)- an extreme laissez-faire political philosophy advocating only minimal state intervention in the lives of citizens
The article, written by Nick Gillespie, amused and yet angered me enough to dust off the keyboard and hunt-and- peck away. The subject was the Koch brothers and libertarianism. If you are at all politically adroit, and whether on the left or right, you know who these men are. If you don’t, perhaps this
dreck blog posting will enlighten you. I sincerely hope it does. For those who do understand what the Koch brothers are all about, and why they are important to expose, hopefully my piece of crap might be worth the 5 minutes out of your life to read.
The author Gillespie is a self-avowed libertarian, which as defined above, means he hates government. Fair enough. Hate government. La la la. We all hate the government, right? It totally sucks. However, he likes the Koch brothers. A lot. Gillespie does provide a caveat in his article, when he admits that hey, while he works for the Koch boys at Reason.com and Reason.tv as editor-in-chief, and he received a grant from the Koch’s organization in order to complete his Ph.D., please don’t think he’s biased or something (nooooooooo).
Gillespie, the guy who loathes big government and exults the Kochs (and really, it’s not because they sign his paychecks or because they paid his way through school), comments on the new book written by Daniel Shulman about the brothers. According to Gillespie, this book is not the hit piece that the left would like to think it is. Nuh-uh. Instead, it shows how incredibly consistent the Koch boys have been throughout their lives about their views on government’s role in our lives. Kind of like how consistent Hitler was about blaming the Jews for all the ills of Germany (hey, everybody else uses Hitler to compare everything to everything so back off). The author then gives us a mini history lesson on libertarianism, and re-brands the most recent version, “libertarianism 3.0.” Here is his take:
1. 1960’s and 70’s- The rise of libertarianism due to the desire to not be a “liberal who grokked free trade or a conservative who was against the warfare state. ” The real division came between conservatives and libertarians over the Vietnam war, which libertarians were against. Conservatives thought they were pansies for it.
2. Libertarianism “2.0”- has been around about the last 30 years or so. In that time span, Charles Koch co-founded the conservative think-tank, the Cato Institute, and was admittedly, “the organization’s wallet.” Then, in 1980, David Koch ran for vice-president as a libertarian. The ticket called for the abolishment of Social Security, minimum-wage, and almost every government agency ever established.
3. Parallel paths-Supposedly, the “new and improved” version of the Libertarian Party has its last, best hope of succeeding through getting the Republican Party to embrace not only its economic ideology of laissez-faire, but its social tenets of “live and let live” when it comes to telling people how to conduct their personal affairs. Immigration and civil liberties are two more areas that the Koch brothers are supposedly just crazy for. Gillespie spells out just how groovy these Koch guys are. Hey, even the lefty author of the book about them, Shulman, told Gillespie that they aren’t really all about lining their pockets, so you should look at them as “outside the political villain-robber baron caricature.”
Are we talking about the same guys who are vehemently opposed to combatting climate change, bankrolling outfits like ALEC who are writing laws and handing them off to lawmakers to make voting infinitely more difficult, and are against raising taxes on billionaires?
Not to mention, aren’t these the same fellows who use shadowy organizations and PACS to lobby and push for their own agendas like continued government subsidies to prop up their oil conglomerates and their billions in profits?
Aren’t these the same bro’s who never come out in support of anyone who attempts to support all of their supposed “loves” like immigration reform, gay-marraige, and all manner of “civil-liberties,” like being able to vote without being purged illegally from a voting list or standing in line for 8 hours?
Well then, I have some questions for the author.
Have these “liberty-lovers” ever expressed outrage at the Texas legislature for trampling on abortion rights through ridiculous regulations putting the bulk of abortion providers out of business? Who does that hurt? Poor women.
Do these tycoons sleep well at night knowing they spend millions to front climate denier groups, using organizations like Americans for Prosperity, the Mercatus Center, and the Cato Institute to do their dirty work?
Are the “freedom-fighters” proud of their environmental record of paying over 50 million dollars in fines because their companies pour benzene into the water of our communities?
Also, if these businessmen are supposedly so “anti-tax”, then why are they pushing for taxes on people who install solar and wind energy in their own homes?
Gillespie is right about one thing. Charles and David Koch have remained consistent.
Sprung from the loins of their John Birch Society founding daddy, and propped up by oil wealth, they have been attempting like hell to manipulate our democracy very much behind the scenes. From the founding of the bogus Tea Party, to their disgraceful methods of hiding behind nefarious organizations that distort the truth about some of the most important issues of our lifetimes like climate change, these brothers are anything but righteous. They are not patriots in any sense of the word (hear that Morning Joe?) They are the very definition of crony-capitalists. They spend millions of dollars brainwashing middle America to vote completely against their interests. For all of their supposed libertarian ideals, they think nothing of trampling any community to further their business ventures. They are in a word, megalomaniacs. Fortunately for them, their wealth buys them privilege, the ultimate of which is the privilege of becoming unelected oligarchs.
Believe the hype.
“I would point out that if you’re a believer in in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.” – Texas Republican State Rep. Joe Barton
The title of my final, hideous blog entry for 2013 does not contain a misspelling. It is completely purposeful. A title for a blog post about New Year’s resolutions entitled “New Year’s Resolutions” would be pretty mundane, even allowing for my own lousy writing conventions.
I originally started out wanting to write about yet another blow to yet another phony-assed scandal perpetrated by the GOP called, ‘BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI!’
For those of you who have been too busy getting your party on to keep up with the news, the New York Times (which is considered a “liberal mouthpiece” according to the right—okay—sure-whatever—explain to me how they basically green-lighted Bush’s phony war then), pretty much backed-up the Obama administration and their assertions early on about the tragedy in Libya. Bottom line, it was :
…a complete mess,
…and fairly convoluted.
…much like most of my attempts at this blog thingy.
But what it was not was some cynical attempt to completely fabricate some story about an event for political purposes. Now, do I think there were extenuating circumstances like a possible CIA covert operation that had to have a veil of secrecy to it? Sure. That is looking like a possibility.
Was the administration supposed to come out and say in the hours after if happened, “Yes, we are once again attacked by al-Qaeda who planned for months to attack this embassy and succeeded, and now we are totally screwed people”? Or maybe more of the truth might be that since the Republicans voted to cut embassy spending because, you know, we need to give more tax cuts to billionaires, Susan Rice could have said on all the Sunday shows, “Hey, there is blood on the hands of those who voted to cut funds for security as well…” Right Mr. Issa?
This episode did, however, lay bare three real facts. Number one, the GOP will twist and distort anything, including tragic deaths, to serve their purposes. Number two, the GOP will never admit Obama has done one damn thing right. Finally, number three, Darryl Issa even makes scumbags wince. This entire year of 2013 was a testament to those basic observations.
I’m already bored to tears by the typical response from the Republicans and their standard talking points (Obama villainous, New York Times yucky). They acknowledge nothing that comes out after investigations that prove the right was wrong. Nah. They simply double-down.
Because I’m fairly lame-o what with all of my “touchy-feely-ness,” and have been looking back on the year both politically and personally—and often at the intersection of the two when it comes to my own take on events–I’m ending my blogging year with some personal reflections and new insights gleaned. I also would like to list some basic facts about myself before I continue, because I think it is relevant information considering the content to come:
- I am not out to kid anybody. I am no political pundit or guru. I am only a person who seeks truth, justice, and the American way. I like facts. I like reason. I like to make decisions in my own life based on facts and reason.
- I like it when legislators make decisions based on what is actually good for the country and not their own selfish devices…and when they make them based on facts…and reason.
- I believe that climate change is the defining issue of my generation and that we have totally dropped the ball on it. I understand that it is a complicated issue, but 97% of the world’s climatologists agree we are at least helping to warm up the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. That’s an “A” in my classroom, so I’m going with it. If 97% of the world’s anything agree on anything, I’m going with it. I’m like that.
- I believe in unions. I believe even in the year 2014, workers should be able to collectively bargain for fair wages and benefits. I believe that markets do not always wind up balancing the interests of workers and employers, mostly because employers often have the power to skew legislation in their favor.
- I don’t like ad hominem attacks, mainly because it proves you have no argument—and it’s plain rude…and I don’t like rude people.
- I post too much on Facebook. No, like really…way too much. I’d just like to mention that, although this little fact has nothing to do with this blog.
That said, I did have an epiphany of sorts in this, my 50th year on the planet. I have come to understand that the psychological convention called cognitive dissonance is a very real phenomena (or is it phenomenon? I always get that wrong). It has helped explain so much about not only why so many people seem to dismiss facts and reason (investigations into IRS scandal/Benghazi exonerate President Obama and administration but the right doubles-down, even after being exposed to the vetted facts), however, it has shaped some of my my own thinking about many things this past year.
Simply put, cognitive dissonance is the tension that arises when holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time. You need to diffuse that tension and you come up with a way. For example, you smoke and you know it’s bad for you but you can’t seem to quit. You wind up telling yourself that it’s okay because you really enjoy smoking, and quitting is exceedingly hard.
Cognitive dissonance theory was postulated and then examined through an experiment by Festinger and Carlsmith in 1956:
“Festinger first developed this theory in the 1950s to explain how members of a cult who were persuaded by their leader, a certain Mrs Keech, that the earth was going to be destroyed on 21st December and that they alone were going to be rescued by aliens, actually increased their commitment to the cult when this did not happen (Festinger himself had infiltrated the cult, and would have been very surprised to meet little green men). The dissonance of the thought of being so stupid was so great that instead they revised their beliefs to meet with obvious facts: that the aliens had, through their concern for the cult, saved the world instead.”
Now, if ever there was a psychological explanation for the way the right comports itself when the facts are presented to them, it is this one. It explains the love of the trickle-down theory when it has proven to be a disaster. It explains how you can be against jobs bills and then against extending unemployment benefits when jobs are scarce. It explains this supposed hatred of deficits on the right when it has been the republican presidents who have incurred them to the nth degree and democrats who reduce or slow them down. It explains how reviling Osama Bin Laden and wanting him caught or killed all of a sudden was a bad thing when it was done under Obama’s watch.
Cognitive dissonace explains why there are birthers. It explains the Benghazi obsession. It explains why people who thought there was such a thing as the dreaded and insideous…duh, duh, duhhhh–Obama phone— still can’t quite grasp the real facts about it. It explains why people who claim (they) “aren’t racist” still postulate that President Obama “isn’t like us.” It explains how on one hand he is a bumbling, ineffectual leader and yet he is Hitler-lite. It just does. And for that little bit of knowledge that I stumbled upon this year, I am grateful.
However, as this year progressed, I began to ponder that I might have been subject to this effect in my own political thinking and stances. I am nothing if not willing to accept my own shortcomings. It may take a while to get there, but I usually get to the happy place of introspection (usually around this time of year).
There is another psychological term called “confirmation bias” which basically says that we tend to surround ourselves with people who think like us. We also read or watch things that we tend to agree with because we need to ignore or dismiss anything that threatens our “world-view.” It makes so much sense and none of us are free from this reality (you may think you are, but you aren’t.) So with that in mind, this past year, I made a decision and a concerted effort to try to see things from another point of view. I knew it was not going to be easy. I knew it might cause me some pain. But I soldiered on, even knowing the risks.
I made myself read the musings of right-wing bloggers. I forced myself watch shows like “The Five” and “Fox and Friends” and “The Factor.” I had truly felt I had maybe fallen into the trap of rigid ideology. As much as I knew that my beliefs were my beliefs, I held them for a reason, and felt like they were pretty much well-reasoned, well-researched, fair, and free from most bias, I also knew that if I did not allow myself to really try to “understand” and “listen” the other side, I would never be completely satisfied with myself and my choices.
So I did just that. I watched these shows a little more. I listened to right-wing radio. I made an honest attempt to hear them out. On my way home from work, I (gulp) made myself listen to Sean Hannity (Rush Limbaugh was completely out of the question because I’m not a self-hating, masochist for goodness sakes). Admittedly, it was excruciating. It was infuriating. I’m not kidding when I say I must have screamed “f*** you” at the smirking images on my tv screen at least 50 times this year. I watched a succession of blond Barbie-dolls on Fox sashay across the screen and tell me that Obama was the devil while I screamed into my pillow. In my car, it was no less pretty. “What an a**hole!” was not only summoned to mind, but loudly verbalized– numerous times– during my commute home from work. It got so bad that I could never listen to the right-winger stuff before work, or else it would put me a way bad mood to start my day. It wasn’t always that these talking-heads were saying things that just weren’t true, which was like half the time to be sure. It was also the way they were saying them (I have tried to explain this to my daughter a million times. “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that annoys the piss outta me.”) At least at the end of my work day, I could pop open a beer to mellow out or go hit the heavy bag at the gym to release my fury.
Here is what I learned from this exercise in 2013 in a very, tiny, nutshell.
I’m a liberal and proud of it…
…and the right is nuts.
Now, I know what a lot of you are thinking. ‘She didn’t keep an open-mind. She is a dyed-in-the-wool-wussy libby and nothing could change her views.’
And you know what I say in response?
You might be right.
But I swear I made myself really, really see if there was anything that I could agree with. I know that I would probably never switch teams, but I’m not that dogmatic that I don’t think that there aren’t issues or pieces of legislation proposed by the teapublicans that I couldn’t possibly latch onto.
Why? Well mostly I couldn’t find very much they were for. And anything they were for, were non-starters to me because sometimes—facts:
- Tax cuts for the rich has been the standard-bearer for decades with the right. The facts are in. THEY DON’T CREATE JOBS BUT SIMPLY MORE INCOME INEQUALITY. PERIOD. Sorry for shouting but this one makes my head hurt.
- Being against the ACA is NOT a policy. They keep saying “repeal and replace”, “repeal and replace”, but they HAVE NO REAL IDEAS TO REPLACE IT WITH. Sorry. Shouting again. I apologize. Hey, guess what? The cost of healthcare was admittedly going to bankrupt us very shortly if we did nothing to change course, which we all agreed upon once upon a time. But because Obama did this and corporate suits no likey, we have this loggerhead.
- They refuse to address climate change. They refuse to accept scientific and world-wide agreement. Why? Publicly they think that Noah will send an ark and save us. Seriously, this happened. But in reality, they are there to protect business and corporate profits. That one really makes me angry.
- They want to destroy unions. One of their big pushes was “right-to-work” laws that they are trying to push through every legislature in the country that is republican controlled. Right-to-work is union-busting and wage-reducing. It truly should be renamed, “the-right-to-work-for-less.”
- The disgusting attempts at voter suppression this past year were completely transparent to anyone with a brain cell still functioning. The “solution looking for a problem” was in full effect in 2013. In one state, Indiana, the officials who claimed that these voter ID laws were so necessary, could not find one damn case of in-person voter fraud!
- The party of “get government off my back” was truly the party of “get government into my uterus” in 2013. When you figure this one out fellas, get back to me.
- Shutting down the government is not a grown-up policy. It was destructive on so many levels. And yes, it really was the teapublicans fault. Just stop it. It was.
Besides the dearth of policies or ideas from them, honestly, I would estimate that roughly 75% of what I heard or saw from my little quest was this ‘we hate everything this president does’ drumbeat. That was pretty much it. It just didn’t matter what Obama did, they really, really, frikken hated it. When you combine that with the total distortions, if not out and out lies, like my favorite example of the disingenuousness from conservatives like Hannity , you have the reasons why I “yam what I yam” in the succinct words of Popeye.
Believe me when I tell you that I was genuine in my quest to see the other side’s views. I would deposit some of the information I saw and heard and swish it around in my brain for a bit, trying to see if I would have some great eye-popping moment, some reason to agree with them. Gimme something. Anything.
For many of the aforementioned reasons, that koombaya moment with the GOP never came. Maybe someday. Maybe in 2014. I won’t hold my breath, though.
And perhaps that is just the way it is.
I think like this. You think like that.
I’m a bleeding heart. You’re a heartless conservative.
I leave you with one of my all time favorite quotes from Craig T. Nelson, the actor from “Coach” fame. He personifies this idea of cognitive dissonance pretty well:
“I’ve been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No.”
Have a stupendous, healthy, and rocking 2014 my friends.
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
What am I doing here at 5:27 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving, trying to write this hideous blog when I have a project due for my master’s program in a week and need to be working on that?
It is only because I’m once again slapped in the face with the bitter reality of bogus stories emanating from the crap factory that is Fox “News” that I sit here sipping coffee with my trusty sidekick Bruce, the fat orange cat, sprawled out over half of my keyboard.
My problem is that when I come across sleazy attempts to make people lose their humanity, I find myself getting increasingly agitated and need to get the disquieting thoughts out of my head through this vehicle.
My problem is now your problem.
So there’s this John Stossel nimrod whom I’ve watched since I was pretty young on the news. He was one of those “news busters” types. He’d be the one going “undercover” at the amusement park to show us how the workers at the stands actually crazy-glue down those bottles you throw a baseball at in order to win a Teddy Bear.
You know, real hard-hitting stuff.
Well he has somehow managed to land on Fox News Business doing pretty much the same thing, except now he can peddle his libertarian bullshit to all the angry, white males who tune in to get their tighty-whiteys in a twist.
I guess it’s “hip” to be all libertarian today. Cool. Whatever. “Sex, drugs, John Galt and no taxes or regulations too!” you can fit on a bumper sticker so have at it!
Besides the fact that libertarianism is conservative ideology on meth and real libertarians vote in lock-step with corporate and rich republicans, what makes me nuts about the Stossel mentality is that when you set up artificial stings like the stunt he pulled recently (he’s done it before-it’s his shtick), you dehumanize us all. In Stossel-land, everyone is a huckster if you can find one bad apple…oops, a poor bad apple. The rich ones are forgiven because they are the sterling ones, the “job-creators.” You’ve never found Stossel setting up a sting in a Wall Street corner office, have you?
In case you missed it, Stossel went “undercover” as a homeless man. He wound up making bookoo bucks after just one hour (a whole 11 dollars), enough he calculated, to live high on the hog at about 23,000 a year! It proved, I tell ya, proved that giving your hard earned money to worthless pieces of shit is not only stupid you liberal panty-wastes, it is also criminal because it enables the bums to buy beer and cupcakes and besides, most of those street beggars are frauds!
This prig, who looks like he is eating a lemon at all times, felt “foolish and uncomfortable” begging for that whole hour. Then, after generous people dropped their Washingtons in Stossels scam cup, he told them what idiots they were for doing so. Just for good measure, he went on a Fox morning show to spread his message to millionaires like Elizabeth Hasselbeck who was all clutching her pearls over the idea of making homeless people seem worthy of our hard-earned scratch.
Stossel makes the claim that “most” of the people on the street are bogus. They are all living out in the Hamptons and take the train into the city to sit on the sidewalk for 8 hours a day and make more than minimum wage! Homelessness isn’t actually real, or terrifying, or dangerous, or even necessary according to the mustache. Heck no! Homelessness is a money-maker and the sooner you stop caring and giving, the better!
First of all, I don’t know where Stossel gets his “facts” from, but he couldn’t be more wrong. Most people you see sprawled out on the bird-crap painted sidewalk are not there “making a living.” Many are mentally and physically disabled. Most of the money they get from kind-hearted people is used for food. If you want some facts from some research done, click here.
It is so enlightening that Stossel never takes the perspective of the beggar. Has he ever researched how it feels to sleep on the street overnight in bitter cold or searing heat? Has he ever stayed in a homeless shelter for a week to gauge how the conditions are for people and families hard up? No. He actually makes the case that this is a great gig! He really, really, really wants to make us all feel so stupid and preach to us as to why we shouldn’t throw a quarter into some poor dude’s grimy cup.
Stossel is the real huckster, who makes his very ample living by selling fear and loathing.
Yes, John, homeless people are lazy, drug-addled, dregs of society and the only way to help them is through some “tough-love.” Instead of sparing a dime, perhaps you should give ’em a little kick and tell ’em to get moving and get a damn job! See how easy that is?
Poor always = lazy.
Homelessness always = your fault.
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Blahbity- blahbity- blah.
I compare this story to the one I ran across this morning about a Mormon bishop who dressed up as a homeless man and fooled his own congregation. He wanted to see the reactions of his “flock.” He was told to leave the premises by one member of the ward and he felt that the children were the ones who were most sympathetic to him and wanted to help him the most.
Mr. Stossel would call this bishop an “enabler” because he is trying to “humanize” homeless people, I suppose.
This day after Thanksgiving I give thanks to those who choose humanity over the faux Christianity of the Elizabeth Hasselbecks of the world and the Ayn Randian worldview of people like John Stossel.
Hey Stossel, go set up shop at JPMorgan Chase and we’ll talk. I hope you would come away thinking that we should stop molly-coddling those rich banksters. That is because when they make too much money from peddling bad loans and tanking the economy, they can buy a lot of coke.
And we shouldn’t “enable” them, right?
- Ho Ho Ho! Fox News Exposes Panhandling Scammer: John Stossel (crooksandliars.com)
- Fox News Chastises People For Giving To The Homeless: ‘You’re An Enabler’ (thinkprogress.org)
- John Stossel warns not to give to homeless people who are probably all just John Stossel in disguise (deathandtaxesmag.com)
- Fox News Chastises People For Giving To The Homeless: ‘You’re An Enabler’ (worldobserveronline.com)
- ‘Young Turks’ mocks ‘Fox prick in disguise’ John Stossel for ‘homeless’ act (rawstory.com)
“Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be, but before you start pointing fingers make sure your hands are clean.” -Bob Marley
I haven’t written in a very long time, primarily because I have returned to school which takes up any free time and/or energy I have. Of course, silly rabbits, that does not mean I’ve not had a lot to say. That does not mean that I’ve given up attempting to figure out how to make my voice heard and attempt to make change through activism, e-mails, calls to my representatives, etc. That also does not mean I have stopped trying to get to the facts– and cut through the b.s.– to somehow get to the truth hidden in the gooey center of most issues.
What it does mean is that in order to freely express my views now, I am left only with the option of writing snarky quips in the comment sections of Facebook news feeds to peck at the festering sores of ignorance. But alas, the very act of arguing with a Teapublican troll can be at once an exhilarating, and yet despairing, undertaking. Pointing out to someone on the inter webs, whose Facebook handle is “Obamasux”, that perhaps their “theory” that President Obama was surreptitiously responsible for the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook because Adam Lanza’s date of death was incorrectly typed into a Social Security death database, was perhaps a smidgen daft, leaves me acutely unfulfilled.
So today…today I decided I was going to take a few minutes before starting the laundry to vent. Today I am dipping my toe back into the murky waters of the blogosphere to matter-of-factly confer a Blithering Idiot observation. This will not be any fact-checked or link-filled essay, opining hilariously about the latest
non- scandal scandal-du jour. There will be no Sarah Palin dispatch to poke at and ponder. Nope. Today I will write what I’ve been thinking about for some time, but perhaps have been too cautious and perhaps too timid to say, because it strikes at the heart of people’s character. I wish to illuminate the duplicity of people’s beliefs as compared to their actions.
The last few months, heck, the last year, has been pretty much a depressing cascade of one piece of bad news after another for our country. NSA revelations, Syria, tepid employment numbers, the supposed IRS debacle, more gun-rampages by lunatics murdering people at airports, workplaces or schools, and of course, the latest whipping-boy… THE OBAMACARE ROLL-OUT…
But today none of that matters. Today, this is what is really bothering me.
Because of the sequester, and as of Friday, the food stamp program will be cut by about 5%. Food stamps. These two little words are a fire starter for this country. Being “for them” or “against them” is akin to holding a big, neon sign that says either, “I’m a limp-wristed liberal” or “I’m a cold-hearted scumbag.”
Neither is true.
For years I have watched various Facebook friend’s news feeds displaying their “likes” of various memes on Facebook having to do with this subject. Have you seen the one where it says we should be drug-testing everyone who applies for them, or the picture of this white trash yahoo with tattoos, Bud in hand, arrogantly leaning against a beat-up pick-up truck that says, “If you can afford beer and cigarettes, you don’t need food stamps!”? That one especially always gets gazillions of “likes” with the requisite “hells yeah you lazy-assed muthaf*kkers!” pasted all the way down the grammatically defective comment feed.
I’ve also listened to people at work or out in “polite” company who bitch and moan about this or that, and often hear the rants about EBT cards (food stamps) and the “scam” and “disgrace” that they are.
Because clearly people, everyone using them is able-bodied and just too damned lazy to get a job. They are nothing but low-life moochers, standing in the Food Lion aisle, their carts stuffed with lobsters and rib-eyes, their necks adorned with diamonds, sporting the latest couture, talking on their Iphones, who then have the balls after stealing our hard-earned tax dollars, to hop into their Escalades and drive away as we are left in line with nothing but a dented Hamburger Helper box and bitter resentment.
I know, I know.
And here is what may surprise you. I am in sympathy with some of the rants a wee bit more than you might think old Blithering would be, but the reason is not really because I think the diatribes are substantially true and as widespread as people make them out to be. When you actually look into the program, the public’s perception turns out to be a distortion of reality. Most people using SNAP are working people, and if they aren’t able to work, they can only get a few months of support. Most people who use the program are off it in a few months. Most assuredly, most people would rather not need to enroll in this vital government “safety net.” But the perception out there is, no matter what we know to be the facts, that food stamps= parasite.
That being said, I actually do have an issue with any fraud and abuse of SNAP, although the statistics say that fraud is relatively minor in this program and has been steadily declining with better oversight, technology, and administration. However, I certainly don’t like it when anyone tries to game the system. It isn’t something that I dismiss as completely unworthy of anger or disdain from the public. I get it. However, that statement of acknowledgment comes with a king-sized caveat, because likewise, I have an issue with fraud and abuse of any system of governmental largess, whether it is iniquitous tax-loopholes given purely as a gift to the rich and powerful who subsidize their campaigns, or continued subsidies to entities like oil conglomerates who make billions in profits (sometimes quarterly). I despise bailing out Wall Street hustlers with our tax dollars and not attaching massive strings to it to stop them from rewarding their own flagrant criminal behavior, like absconding with golden parachutes or pocketing colossal end of year bonuses, after literally bankrupting their clients and nearly the country.
But here is what really makes me exasperated almost daily. It is something that has bothered me for a long time. I have a more substantial beef with individuals who conveniently and consistently forget their own “taker” scenarios. It is usually here where I split the blanket with my self-righteous brethren on most occasions.
I could dish about the corporate welfare run amok in this plutocracy we call America for pages. I could quote facts and statistics about subsidies and tax breaks for businesses who abuse workers and the taxpayers all the live long day.
But, what I would say to those who fume over SNAP, or any “safety-net” program, is, look in the mirror buddy. Look really long and look really hard, because chances are, my friend, you have a lot more in common with “those” people than you care to admit.
Too many Americans believe that they are above “taker” status. Statistics say, they are dead wrong.
There are very few people in life who don’t stumble financially at some point or another. people lose jobs, get injured, have unforeseen accidents or calamities that befall them.
There are also very few people who don’t “take advantage” of what the government has to offer.
What? WTF are you talking ’bout? I pay outrageous taxes, and I don’t live off of the government! I’m so sick of lazy-ass people looking for a hand-out!
The thing is Mr. or Mrs. Outraged taxpayer, your claims of purity are pretty much bullshit. And here’s why.
First of all, as far as this food stamp issue, I have looked at the stats. The amount of fraud in the food stamp program is not what most people think it is. The amount of people who are “able-bodied persons who are unwilling to work” is also not what most people think it is. The fact is, most people don’t know all the facts about the SNAP program, but why the hell should that surprise anyone, since most people don’t know the facts about much of anything in this country, but sure talk like they do.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been around the block a bit. Eons ago, I worked in the restaurant industry, which afforded me the accumulated knowledge about a lot of different types of people. Rich people, poor people, smart people, dumb people, alcoholics, drug addicts, sex-addicts, nice people, mean people, generous folks and greedy ones too. There is no school in the world that could have taught me the valuable insights as to the nature of people like working in that atmosphere for over a decade. The bottom line is, you learn a hell of a lot in a place where everybody knows your name…and your dirty little secrets. What I’ve learned is that it is usually the most self-righteous people that you have to watch out for. The ones who are always pointing fingers are often the ones who have the most to hide. Often, people like this have a tendency to forget how much they
game benefit from the “system” as much as any “freeloader” on SNAP. Couple that with my age, and I can honestly say my data banks are pretty jam-packed with anecdotal evidence that most people are delusional when it comes to how they got to where they are.
There are a hell of a lot of citizens out there who hate the pieces of trash sucking up our tax dollars by taking food stamps, but who think nothing of their own liberal use (and often forget their use) of the government slush fund.
Here are just a few “for instances.”
Hello Mr. “Self-made Man”, you are to be admired what with your spectacular job as a hedge fund manager at “Paper-Pushers Inc”. Your job nets you some hefty paychecks, that’s for sure. The fact that you earned that money all on your own, without any sponging off the government what-so-ever, is a fine example of what America is all about…except…what about this?
Let’s talk about all of those taxes you pay to the government to fund the lazy “takers” out there? You must be getting zonked, right? But wait. I see here that you only get taxed at the capital gains rate (15%) instead of the “ordinary income” one (39.6%)? Huh? That could seriously change the digits on those paychecks.
I suppose you have conveniently forgotten that it is the
outrageous tax-loopholes rules written by Congress, who are lobbied by the financial interests ( like your firm) that allow you to keep much of that “hard-earned” money through these little schemes?
Next, how about we examine hard-working, average “Joe.”? Joe wouldn’t dare take food stamps because he hauls his butt to work every, single, day to earn his keep. He worked hard in college to get this job. He hasn’t taken a penny from the government and never would because he isn’t a deadbeat.
EXCEPT, you actually have had a little help from the government Joe, right? I mean, you did take out quite a sum of money through the government-backed student loan program in order to get through college right? You did have a work-study program that helped you make a few bucks (mostly for those keggers– am I right Joe?) while you made your way through, correct? You did go to a fine public college, which was much cheaper than a private one, and propped up by the taxpayers of that state, correct? You do use your mortgage interest deduction to reduce your taxes and shhhh, you maybe… just maybe… do overestimate your “charitable” giving for the year just a smidge…wink-wink.
Say it ain’t so, Joe?
How could you forgot those little nuggets, Joe?
Finally, how about you Ms. Self-righteous Taxpayer? You are enraged by those stories you see on
GOP tv about some low-life who surfs all day and takes $136 bucks a month from the government (us!) because he is too lazy to work! Yup, that’s pretty devious I’d say.
Let’s just first forget the obvious fact that you hit the parent lottery and mommy and daddy have made sure that you would never have to worry about a monetary issue in an entire lifetime, no matter what you did or what catastrophe might befall you. They paid your way through the best schools. You didn’t have to work like Joe while going to school because you were bank-rolled by the folks. Good for you! Lucky girl. But please understand something. Not everyone can breeze through life on that magic carpet that you know will never let you fall. Like, if your car breaks down and needs major repairs, no worries, right? Dad will make sure you have a vehicle next day. Thanks dad! You lost your job due to downsizing? Well that stinks. But don’t worry, due to the folks
bank account generosity, you’ll be just fine as you search for that next job. I mean, it’s not like you would be some low-life taker using food stamps, right? You will just never understand how people get themselves into all of that nasty financial trouble, will you? Why can’t people save their money for that looming disaster so they won’t need to depend on the government (us!) to bail them out? Right?
Yes, I know the last vignette had nothing to do with government, but for me, it falls under this delusional aspect of how individuals determine self-worth. The illusions that too many people have of their own integrity and purity is laughable. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care who you think you are. Chances are, you have “taken.”
My point is, there are millions of people out there who benefit from government programs or legislation who think that it is absolutely not the same as taking foodstamps to get by a rough patch in life. Unemployment insurance is a Godsend to those who go through unfortunate circumstances and lose a job. Disability is there when workers are injured, or permanently disabled. Social Security picks up the pieces for people like Congressman Paul Ryan whose father died and who used that check from Uncle Sam to get through school…and who now wants to make cuts to the program and privatize it, because we “just can’t afford it.”
You may work, and work hard, and good for you, but what you fail to see is that most people who are in the SNAP program are working.
You may work, and work hard, but the stats say you probably benefitted somewhere, somehow by government programs.
You may work, and work hard, but there may come a day, when life hits a speed bump, and you may need a hand up for a bit, whether it’s from mommy and daddy or grandpa or Uncle Sam.
That doesn’t make you a moocher. That doesn’t make you a taker. It makes you human. And it should make you happy and proud that you live in a country that takes care of people who need taking care of for a while.
Don’t be “that guy”, like Paul Ryan, who pulls the ladder up behind him once he gets to where he needs to go.
…and check the mirror once in a while.
- America’s Other Undeclared War: The War against the Poor (themochapikachu.wordpress.com)
Happy Summer friends!
If you are a reader of old Blithering Idiot you may have noticed that I have not posted in a while. It’s not because I’ve run out of things to say, but because I am fooling around with another blog. Since I really don’t have much free time (summer notwithstanding), I decided to start to write about current issues using a lot less words (stop cheering). It is called, “Here’s What’s Wrong Today in 500 Words or Less.” Please don’t count the words. I am as bad at math as I am writing.
It’s the same old me but can be digested in a lot less time. That means less of a chance to develop a headache from the poor grammar, syntax, and overall awful writing.
Please check it out and if you like it, sign-up for it!