Sassy Liberal Recommendations 2.15.13

A few things I thought were interesting:

Hubris

Rachel Maddow is hosting an MSNBC documentary next Monday, February 18, “Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War.” The previews haven’t mentioned the book “Hubris,” on the same subject matter, by superstars Michael Isikoff and David Corn, but I can’t wait to watch it.

Robert Draper

I’m a massive fan of Robert Draper and basically consider him to be a political investigative reporting god. His recent piece “Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?” is a classically good read, with a look into the right wing intransigence on new technological tools for campaigns. It was yummy. Draper always delivers.

The Next Economic Crash is on the Way

I don’t know if I’ll be sitting here in ten years wondering why no one read this Huffpo piece on the next crash, “Wall Street Setting Itself Up For Next Derivatives Crisis, Market Participants Warn”. Plenty of analysts have warned banks will just find a way around Dodd-Frank and we need Glass-Steagall back, but since Washington has its head up Wall Street’s ass, another crash is more likely than good economic policy out of the Capitol.

Athlete Ally

I was so encourage after seeing a segment on The Cycle with Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbedejo publicizing Athlete Ally, an organization aimed at supporting the LGBT community in sports. If professional sports is “the last closet,” Athlete Ally could be an effective and uplifting wrecking ball.

Turning Texas and Florida Blue

Texas blue, Florida blue, Ted Cruz red, Rick Perry fading, Hillary Clinton comingThis is a fun piece from The Hill about the Democratic Party taking Texas and Florida. This cannot happen fast enough and I really want to be a part of it!

Best Think of The Week: Rubio in Slow-mo

I haven’t laughed out loud so much at a political fuck-up since Romney’s eyebrow raise during the town hall debate with Obama. This Deadspin slow-mo video of the Rubio dry mouth horror is priceless. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Recent Republican History, Part 3 of 3

The Tide Turns

Progress cannot be stopped. And no matter how much the religious Christian base wants to dictate American cultural norms to reflect their golden visions of the past, time marches onward. Technology has allowed society to obtain information, share it, use it to grow and raise their voices and move forward.

Older commentators are repeatedly awed by the rapid pace at which societal changes are happening. That only in 2004, the majority of Americans opposed the marriage equality and now most support it. That a recent survey indicated a greater percentage of singles did not want to date virgins than in even the recent past. Nor did survey takers find it a requirement that a partner be of the same race or religious background. A sea change, they call it.

But if we are defined by our immediate environment, than new media has redefined our immediate environment and access to information has changed our idea of normal and appropriate at light speed. Our ability to absorb data and events no matter how large or small, far or near has created a new, more educated and faster-changing generation that is empowered to make good decisions, appreciate differences and demand positive economic and social change.

With our new technologies, it has become apparent that the boogie men of the Republican electoral victories – gay people, illegal immigrants, muslims – aren’t so scary after all. People now see that the Republicans did get their precious tax cuts in 2000 and the economy LOST jobs. That the Republican leadership sold the country on an unnecessary war costing thousands of American and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. They see that the Republicans didn’t want to pay for the policies they enacted.

The public sees that Republicans have. No. Solutions.
They want to ignore inner-city violence because the majority only affects minorities.
They want to ignore women facing economic inequality and domestic violence and unwanted pregnancy.
They want to ignore the hardship and pain faced by those who would dare seek the lifelong dream of almost any human to share their life with the one they love.
They want to ignore the sick children and poor elderly to whom the health care industry has closed its doors.
They want to turn their backs on those who would risk life and limb to cross our borders only to care for their families.
They want to laugh in the face of proven diplomatic efforts and force foreign nations to bend to the will of our bombs.
The decrease of middle class wages, the growing poverty class, the expanding wealth gap have done nothing to change Republican economic policy.
They want to keep their corporate tax subsidies while using the deficit they created to attack successful Democratic policies.
They want to oppose any responsible gun control legislation despite U.S. murder rates overtaking deaths in war. Despite young children being gunned down in their classrooms.

Republicans can no longer ignore the necessity for good governance and then dupe Americans into believing that it is the government that is broken. They are broken. Their party is broken. Their ideology is broken. Gone are the days when Americans could only rely on a few newspapers and half hour news programs to understand what they are doing to our country.

Our ready access to information means people can easily choose to throw off the chains of their know-nothing origins. The right wing hermetically-sealed bubble is growing so small, it may soon burst. Corporate titans and their paid-for Washington lackeys are finding their reliable religious bases no longer large enough to dictate political outcomes.

Karl Rove, a big business scalawag, was probably so smug in 2004 as his little plan to put anti-marriage equality amendments on all the state ballots got all the religioners out to vote and drove up the numbers for Bush. His banter about “the permanent majority” revealing his delusions of grandeur and self-assuredness.

Now, after unleashing the beast, the know-nothings are taking over. Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Joe Walsh, Todd Akin, Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell and a whole slew of others aren’t content with simply supporting the establishment Republican Party – they want to run it. They’re no longer willing to let the big money hosses run the show as long as they can chew on the pro-life, pro-discrimination scraps.

The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

It would be a laugh-a-minute riot if these know-nothings weren’t wreaking havoc with the national government.

The know-nothing candidates are so distasteful, so repugnant to the regular, independent, moderate voter, they’re actually helping Democrats across the land seize victory and repel the self-serving policies of the economic elite.

The dependable vote of the know-nothings is now smaller in number and undependable, and has ceased to benefit the establishment – mature, but greedy – Republicans who will, on occasion, make the right choice if it is to their benefit to help the little people.

And so, the Republican Party, the party of tradition, is returning to its 60’s roots with a division between the know-nothings and the free-market, profit-margin hound dogs. Republicans always talk about how they want to return to the country to the good ole days. Funny that they always forget to mention what the tax rate was during the good ole days.

I can’t speak for all the liberals or atheists or political junkies out there, but after the torture (literally) of 8 years of George Walker Bush, we deserve this. This is fun. It tastes good. It feels good. Pour me another because I could watch this shit all day long.

Recent Republican History, Part 1

Recent Republican History, Part 2

Recent Republican History, Part 2 of 3

Christians Become the Epitome of Know-Nothing Political Pawns

Now that Republican political leaders learned they can conquer the evangelical Christian vote by catering to their social whims, they set about using those votes to benefit their corporate sugar daddies. The Republicans were now fully onboard with a right wing strategy rooted in evangelical churches to systematically limit civil liberties of others.

With this electoral power, Republicans were now free to push policies supported by big business. Clean environmental regulations became anathema to the Right. While the threat to the ozone layer by aerosol cans was accepted as fact in the 1990’s, Republican policy and message-makers, like Fox News, began to dismantle the importance of reliance on fact and evidence as a requirement to decision-making.

From the mid-1990’s on, the mostly-white, strongly Christian Republican voter hitched their wagon to the right-wing media and the successful meme that “mainstream media” was a tool of the liberal left an not to be trusted. All of the sudden, global warming was a dubious concept cooked up by ambitious scientists and their liberal supporters. That former Vice President Al Gore chose to use the fight against global warming as his platform after his 2000 electoral college loss, was the perfect repellant right wing politicians could serve up to their voters as reason to oppose any significant efforts to curb carbon emissions and impose improved environmental standards. Republican donors’ bottom dollar was at stake, after all.

The current position among Republicans is to accept global warming exists, as the weather and wrath of Mother Nature wreak greater havoc more rapidly than the Right assumed would happen, but not that it is man-made. Meaning corporate interests are still safe among Republican politicians.

The global warming argument is only one example of many in which the Republican Christian base now find it not only acceptable, but popular to disregard information and data as a tool for the creation and imposition of solutions by government. The teaching of abstinence has no positive effect on the prevention of teenage pregnancy – yet it is required for many programs if they wish to receive government funds. Trickle-down economics has been proved a failed policy again and again, yet the Republican base will always mimic the false argument that tax cuts create jobs.

In this Age of Information, as the numbers of non-religious grow, the rest of us have watched as the right wing creates a tighter and tighter seal around their hermetic bubble. It is not surprising that the vast majority of Republicans are strongly Christian and fearful of change and progress.

It takes a grand amount of suspension of disbelief for the developing mind to continually accept the stories in the Bible, as not only fact, but as guidelines for behavior. It is scientifically impossible for the Earth to be 6,000 years old, for the Earth to have been completely covered in a great flood, etc., etc. Yet, most Christians are inculcated from birth to believe these stories. To disregard their common sense.

It is no great leap, then, to ask these minds who are unappreciative of intelligence – who, in fact, refer to the left as the “intellectual elites” – to then disregard well-researched, credible data upon which to make reasonable, rational, sound conclusions. The religious Republican base is more than happy to ignore reality if this leads to the achievement of their social policy aspirations.

As the baby boom generation entered their fifties sixties, and became the demographic most likely to vote, the Republican stronghold on the electorate held fast. The older generation was also much less likely to use new technologies to obtain information. Their access to information was limited to television – i.e. Fox News – and their peer group.

This group is much more likely to believe in conspiracy theories much like the latest that President Obama covered up the killings in Benghazi to win the 2012 election. This group is much more willing to believe any false narrative that shores up their belief that their way of life is the right way and only way to live. That undocumented workers and gay marriage are a threat to the fabric of American society. That minorities vote democrat merely because they want to mooch on the responsible members of society. This group is told repeatedly by right wing media that they are good and everyone else is evil and if they vote Republican, their values will be upheld and everyone else will be responsible for themselves just like they are.

The fervent Christian base became the know-nothings that were easy prey for big business. These sitting ducks were easily manipulated into supporting economic policies that were harmful to them. They were so ready to swallow this ideology which soothed their egos, that the only acceptable policies became that ones that reinforced their judgements of others and a potential solution outside their line of thought was completely unacceptable.

In the end, these upper class white male politicians and business leaders repeated whatever script they had to regarding social and civil policy to get all these know-nothings on board as they pilfered and plundered the U.S. (and world) economy.

Up next:
The Tide Turns

Recent Republican History, Part 1

Recent Republican History, Part 3

Recent Republican History, Part 1 of 3

I don’t know about everyone else, but this political junkie, a.k.a. government major, is having spectacular time watching Republicans in the throws of an identity crisis. Republican history over the last ~50 years is incredibly interesting to me and now, in the Age of Information (this cannot be understated), we basically have a front row seat to a huge transition that will affect U.S. government small and large for years to come.

The cliche “history repeats itself” and philosopher George Santayana’s quotation, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” are playing out in real time on our national theater of the absurd.

Mass Exodus of Conservative Democrats to the Republican Party

The Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s led to a great purging in the Democrat Party. Those who opposed integration, including large swathes of the South, changed their voter card to Republican. In rural areas, this transition has been slow – which is why areas of Texas countryside might still have a majority of voters registered Democrat while voting overwhelmingly for Republican candidates. This is also why Oklahoma, perhaps the slowest progressing state in the country, is also the only state in the country that had more counties go red in 2008 than in the previous election.

This is why I cringe when people say the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln. Not so, really. The demographic that populates the Republican Party today would have in no way supported Lincoln or his efforts. The current Democrat Party is the true standard bearer of Lincoln’s policies.

The make-up of the Republican Party during its massive transition in the 60’s had quite a similar representation to the current one: the know-nothing, conspiracy theorists, as personified by the John Birch Society and the “fiscal conservative,” low-tax, laissez-faire, plutocracy, corporatocracy supporters. Of course, I’m simplifying because this. Is. A. Blog.

Role of Christianity in Republican Victory

In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s ascension to the presidency, solidified a marriage between these two parties by A., catering to the religious right and B., enforcing extreme messaging discipline. The Moral Majority movement illuminated the reality that low-tax, profit-worshipping Republicans can attain greater levels of victory if they also appear fervently Christian and support legislation catering to strongly-Christian voters. Wealthy white men who previously couldn’t have cared less about a poor teenager’s pregnancy termination now had the strongest of principles opposed to the medical procedure.

The rise of Prosperity-Christianity and the mega-churches during this time-period is no coincidence. No longer were Republican voters chained to the main legacy of Jesus Christ of caring the poor and the sick. Religious leaders across the land began indoctrinating their legions with the idea that God and his son want their followers to be prosperous, even rich.

The right wing leadership, including church leaders, created a culture in which it was through the church that people should care for the poor, not the government. Church donations were the method by which one helped their fellow man, while government was called the false idol and the paying of taxes an insupportable exercise in all but the most minimum of circumstances. Instead of supporting Planned Parenthood, a health provider for millions without health insurance, most highly-religious Christians endorse adoption programs run through churches, especially in the event a gay couple would choose to adopt an orphaned child. The Catholic Church, who runs a large amount of adoption agencies across the countries, would prefer an infant remain in a foster home rather than have two loving parents of the same gender.

Over the years, the Republican party became consumed by an un-Christlike, yet highly religious ideology. This would eventually help herald the undoing of the Republican Party on a national scale. The state scale is still a story untold.

Next up:

Christians Become the Epitome of Know-Nothing Political Pawns

Recent Republican History, Part 2

Recent Republican History, Part 3

Review: Frontline’s “The Untouchables”

After hearing a substantial amount of recommendations for Frontline’s “The Untouchables,” my husband and I came away last night with one reaction: Outrageous.

Granted, this is a common sentiment we illicit whenever absorbing details of the cause of the 2008 economic collapse. Now, 4.5 years later, we’re responding to the Justice Department’s complete impotence in their duty to hold wrongdoers accountable.

PBS, though, the bastion of public information delivery, was on it. “The Untouchables” presents an investigation regarding the lack of prosecutions of Wall Street executives in the wake of the economic collapse. Most viewers, I’m certain, come away with the overwhelming sense that the Justice Department has dropped the ball.

A number of interviewees, including former Senator Ted Kaufman, who was a placeholder for Vice President Joe Biden until the 2010 midterm elections, give the impression that it was not only possible to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt on the part of numerous Wall Street executives, but that these indictments should have gone forward.

The theory is posited that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who announced his upcoming departure from the Justice Department soon after the airing of the program, was simply fearful of taking any case to trial and losing, as well as doing damage to the economy.

The documentary also backs up one of my takeaways from Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind (I’ll have a review of the book in an upcoming blog). President Obama, who enjoyed vast support among Wall Street during his first campaign for president, wanted to unite the country and not engage in a legal blow-torching of the banking and investment sector the way most of us wanted. Secondly, the Obama economic team experienced great dissent, but one of the prevailing assumptionswas that the economy was weak and dependent on Wall Street and no policy should be done that would undermine confidence or hurt the banks further.

And so, there appears to have been placed a teflon shield around many of those involved in the rampant fraud and abuse that allowed Wall Street to concentrate much U.S. wealth to the upper economic echelons, decimate the middle class, and bring the global economy to the brink of utter destruction.

Should we all shut up and simply say thank you as the Dow has enjoyed considerable growth and the U.S. has avoided the dreaded “double-dip” recession? Absolutely not.

The wealth of the average U.S. household has declined significantly. The wealth gap has grown, which helps our economy continue on shaky ground. Millions of people worldwide have suffered tremendous harm to their livelihoods and the lives of their family due to the gross negligence of these financiers.

That these people should enjoy their high life and freedom after bringing the financial system to its knees is beyond credulity and illustrates the gross negligence on the part of the Obama administration and Congress. The Dodd-Frank legislation is small consolation considering the deregulation that led to this collapse has never been rectified. The U.S. is ill-protected from another dramatic financial down cycle – the likes of which will, again, wreak havoc on the lives of those lower on the economic totem pole.

The lack of oversight on Wall Street has simply pushed this country closer toward plutocracy and the government has participated almost to the point of criminal collusion. LIke someone hinted in “The Untouchables,” we need regulators for the regulators.

Shame on the whole lot of them.

Government IS Part of the Solution

If you’re a regular viewer of MSNBC’s The Cycle, and I consider myself a 25-30% viewer, you’ll witness co-host S.E. Cupp repeatedly present the tired, easily-refuted, main argument of the Republican Party. It never fails. Across the wide spectrum of discussion topics addressed during the show, S.E. Cupp can be trusted to assert that, no, government cannot solve the problem.

The latest iteration I can recall of her using this refrain was to refute the effects of gun control. Government can regulate guns, but murders will still occur!

Other than her support for marriage equality, S.E. is quite the mascot of Republican ideology: government has no part to play in solving the problems of this country.

Which is so hilarious, because THAT’S ONE OF THE MAIN FUCKING POINTS OF GOVERNMENT.

Drinking clean water? Why, thank you, government. Not drinking clean water? Well, who should you contact? The government!

Car deaths super high? Hmmm. Government: Let’s regulate car speed and require passengers to wear seat belts. Surprise! Car deaths greatly decrease!

Lots of airliner crashes and deaths. Government: Hey, airlines, get your shit together and here are some regulations to follow. U.S. airliner crashes diminish dramatically.

Obviously, I could go on and on.

Republicans believe in the fundamental free-market society. Keep government out of everyone’s bidness and it’ll all shake out the way God intended. Wall Street should police itself. Yes, yes, an unregulated Wall Street managed to dupe borrowers and investors across the U.S. and other countries, causing the global economy to approach collapse (which government prevented), but hey, DETAILS.

Corporations should self-regulate and we shouldn’t worry about oil-spills or fires at refineries. Civil rights totally woulda happened by now, even in the most rural of localities, if we had left it up to the states. Children’s toys wouldn’t have lead and asbestos wouldn’t be coating our living and working habitats. Restaurants would most certainly enforce health standards, no matter the cost, or go out of business after sickening or even killing how many people? But the restaurant is no longer in business. So, see, the system worked. Who cares about granny whose death could have been prevented? It’s all just part of the laisez-faire cycle our founding fathers intended!!

The problem with this argument is that the politician, donor, or voter who believes it also generally places profit margin as their #1 priority. How else are we supposed to maintain superpower status? They do not concern themselves with the good of the general public if it interferes with money-making. They do not understand that the American economy fails or succeeds according to the status of the middle class, not the wealthy few.

The average American, however, does not have a seat in the boardroom to demand proper procedures are followed. An American living in downtown San Francisco cannot legally require the local legal system in Mississippi to prosecute a white men responsible for the murder of a black man trying to register voters.

Americans have only one concrete method to protect themselves and each other from corporate malfeasance and local abuse of power. The federal government. We have a Constitutionally-protected say in the make-up of our federal government. This is all we have. This is it. It is ours and it is priceless.

Americans have elected lawmakers to the federal government who have, many times, chosen to do the right thing. Is the federal government perfect? Not by a long shot. But perfection cannot be the standard for every government action.

Murders will still happen with gun control, but the death tolls will be smaller.
Deaths in car crashes still happen with seat belts and speed limits. But there are far fewer deaths than before the federal government required these changes.
Planes will still fall from the sky, but at a much lower rate.
More minorities vote because of federal government intervention.
Fewer factories spill their wastes into drinking water sources for neighborhoods.

Government is not always the solution and rarely solves any problem completely. But this is not the point. The government is the tool we use to make the country, the world better. We have done this repeatedly and will continue to do so.

This reality is one of the reasons Republicans continue to lose votes. People see, especially because of new media, that their votes matter. Government CAN and DOES help people. And when you place in charge of government those who do not believe in its appropriately-given power to run a country well, then government is handicapped and cannot help those who are in need. And we are all in need at some point.

It is not an accident Republicans are losing and will continue to lose. As long as they misuse the office they are given, as long as they stifle the entity which allows our country to be great and then blames the nature of the entity itself, more and more see through their erroneous ideology.

Government is not THE solution, but it can be part of it. Republicans, like S.E., are so hellbent on finding arguments that support their ideology, they are never in search of real solutions. To them, a solution cannot be 25% or 65% effective; it must be 100% or it is a failure. And no solution is 100%. They pigeon-hole government and then carnival-bark that government does not work.

This Sassy Liberal is now saying WE ARE OVER IT. WE ARE ALL OVER IT. We have access to information now and DATA and STATISTICS and the “spending problem” myth and “government is bad myth” have been debunked. No real solutions to offer? Then don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Done.

The Right to Offend

As a Texan, I am, by constitution, friendly and congenial to most anyone. I love to have a good time and I love for everyone else to have a good time. That’s why we Texans love Texas. No matter our political, religious or college football loyalties, we are generally polite and considerate of each other enough to get our party on and leave the inner bitch at the door.

This is quite the handy personality considering I live amongst and am related to heavily-leaning right wingers, Fox News watchers, Rush listeners, Alex Jones readers, Obama deplorers, firearm devotees and Bible beaters. Don’t get me wrong, I llloooovvvvveee Dallas. I really, really do. But everyone knows what our batshit-crazies in the ballot booth hath delivered to us as governor and that our state legislature is erasing decades of reproductive rights for women, trying to get Christian lessons taught in public schools, and also pissed off the Justice Department with voter ID laws aimed at handicapping the minority vote. Hoooray.

How do we, citizens and voters, be the change we want to see and push, pull, and shove our state and country toward the progress we seek to achieve? I’m a liberal atheist. How do I, as busy mom of an infant and toddler, have skin in the game, put my money where my mouth is and work for a better world for my boys?

Raise my voice. Raise all our voices. Be it blogs, be it conversation, be it my Obama/Biden t-shirt in the grocery store. The best way we can be a force for good is to be visible and audible in our goodness. But if others don’t like our version of good, or are even offended by it, are we still doing good?

Yes. Groupthink has been the anchor that has kept Texas and the rest of the South resistant to modernity and the inevitable arc of history. Everyone assumes everyone else is Christian and pro-life and Republican and anything outside those bounds is cold, uncomfortable and to be avoided.

Change is unavoidable, however. The DFW area has one of the largest, if not THE largest, groups of free-thinkers in the country. How did this happen in such a deeply religion-entrenched metropolis? An atheist or agnostic here started a group and then another and then another and then attendance at free-thinker meet-ups exploded. All because a few trailblazers raised their voice.

Breaking free from the groupthink, from the borg of the close-minded, by simply speaking up is the biggest, most effective tool we have to exert change peacefully and effectively. It takes bravery to tell someone you do not agree with them.

Many times, this does include offending people – especially those self-righteous enough to consider their opinion sacred and untouchable as our culture has led many religioners to believe. But when religion has become a weapon of oppression, it is the responsibility of the rest of us to raise our voices and join together to illuminate a path to for those who wish to escape the bondage of their culture, family or groupthink – even if we risk offense to the stalwart ideology of those who live with certitude.

Jon Stewart once said, “I’m not going to censor myself to comfort your ignorance.”

In a free society, freedom of speech bears with it the right to be offended and to offend. It is an immature, intractable mind that cannot tolerate disagreement. If we adhere to those standards and believe politeness to be our first priority, we slow our development and we inhibit the change necessary for a better world.

We cannot be afraid to say what we think or fear what others will think of us. It is not okay to hide behind a religion in an effort to stifle the rights of others or dictate the will of your neighbor. It is not okay. I will not bow to others’ expectations or cultural norms that would hinder a cleaner, freer, more humane society. We must do good by being good and talking good. Even if it’s bad.

I exert my right to offend others and appreciate their right to speak their truths. May we all find celebration in our mere ability to discuss and disagree without hate or violence or fear of imprisonment.

Ted Cruz a Texas Embarrassment

Ugh. Pouring cold water on yesterday’s Yay, Republicans! post.

As a Texan living in Texas, I slogged through the Republican presidential primary season with gritted teeth and utter upset stomach that the nation would witness the buffoonery that has served as our governor since George W. Bush was first elected president. Jesus Christ that was painful. The fact that I never voted for the Perry is little to no consolation since I’m surrounded by people who did. He won’t debate his Democrat opponents for governor – and the primary season fully displayed the reasoning behind his decision.

And while I haven’t agreed often with Phil Gramm, Kay Bailey-Hutchison or John Cornyn (who have served as senators since I came of age and truly awoke to our political process), they have comported themselves in a relatively dignified manner.

Following Kay Bailey’s retirement from the Senate, her preferred predecessor was the reasonably stately David Dewhurst. As you can guess, Reason won’t get you far in a Texas Republican primary and Ted Cruz (sigh) won. Democrat Bill White – an extremely knowledgable and adept former Houston mayor lost the race and Texas is much, much the worse for it.

Ted Cruz basically has the bio, aside from being born in Canada, Marco Rubio wishes he had. While Rubio is slowly attempting to navigate the murky waters of Republican politics to succeed in his natural habitat of Jeb Bush-style Right Wingery, Cruz may have the brain power to make good decisions on behalf of the American people, but lacks the judgment to pivot away from the swan-singing Tea Baggers.

Honestly, I hoped that honorable position of U.S. Senator might temper Ted Cruz’s more assclowish tendencies. This has not been the case. And it’s a good thing I don’t gamble much.

Only recently, Ted Cruz referred to war heroes and Vietnam veterans former Senator and our next Secretary of State John Kerry and former Senator and probable Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel as “less than ardent fans of the military.” Ted Cruz, shockingly, never served in the military. He voted against Kerry’s confirmation and has signaled he would vote against Hagel’s. Ahhhh, the repeated meme about men who never served in war being the first ones to trumpet it…

So, now we’re stuck for the next six years with Cruz’s mantra that government is evil, spending is evil, Obama is evil, healthcare for poor people is evil, the NRA is God and corporations are God and the whole, tired, failed schpeel that sent so much of the electorate begging for four more years of Obama.

I’m embarrassed for Texas. I’m embarrassed for me.

It’s time for Texans to get their shit together, start paying attention to local politics. Because most Texans do not agree with the inanity our politicians practice in and trade on (Louie Gohmert). A large percentage of eligible voters don’t cast ballots and the Democrat Party has treated us like grotesque stepchildren when this state is ripe for a color change. Now is the time. We cannot let boobs like Rick Perry and Ted Cruz define our state any longer. They represent our nightmarish past.

Let’s reclaim rights for women, gays and minorities. Demand our education funds and disaster relief. Let’s send these ideologues with their harmful legislation packing. Let’s show Cruz that giving him six years in the Senate was a rookie, Tea Party mistake and atone for it afterwards by sending the best politicians our state has to Austin and to Washington.

Salon has a short, decent write-up on our new senator here.

Republican Future Encouraging

No. I have not been kidnapped by aliens or some clandestine Mexican drug mafia that wants Republicans to stay in power so the arms shipments south of the border can continue uninterrupted. Hear me out.

I’m not saying anything many haven’t said recently. The departure of Sarah Palin from Fox News was one of the many recent flares being shot by the Republican establishment to signal that they are taking their party back, gosh darn it! This little Tea Party experiment was a fun overreaction by old white people to the abysmal presidency of W and the ensuing ascendance of a, eeekk!, black man to The White House.

But, seriously. Actual, unadulterated, measurable lunacy can only survive the national political spotlight the same length of time a trashy reality show can hold the nation’s attention. Not long. At first, a stunned moderate and liberal audience watch the “grassroots” movement unfold with a little trepidation, and then a lot, as the ‘Baggers took the 2010 state and national elections to begin systematically suffocating (which is their intention) the government to inefficacy – which, unlike wealth, trickles down until the citizenry begins to feel the sting.

There are some areas where the illumination of truth and reason cannot penetrate the miasma of “Don’t Believe The Liberal Media” and “Marriage is Between 1 Man and 1 Woman” bumper stickers. In these areas, people’s lives can become as painful as Republicans can possibly make it and the electorate will still blame the “liberal” government.

But, for the rest of the country – Republican policy and practice simply became wholly unsupportable. It became mean – a dry remnant of W’s “compassionate conservative” ideals. It was as if the soul of Dick Cheney had been wrenched from his artificial heart and laid bare across the steaming residue left by the undeniable hypocrisy of the Moral Majority and the profits-at-all-costs economic vision of the right wing sugar daddies. Republicanism had morphed into a grotesque mockery of civics found unpalatable by most.

This Republican implosion has been a longtime coming. Since long before Obama’s first election and the foundation of the recent “Tea Party,” the marriage of the unscientific Conservative Christian to Ayn Rand-flavored economic “solutions” (cough, cough) that became the foundation the Republican Party succeeded with it’s incredibly effective TV and radio messaging.

Hee hee. But now we have the internet, bitches. Information is widely available and no longer in the hands of a few media conglomerates who control the messaging. Opinion, like this one, is free and encouraged and accessible. We can join politically online despite being separated by geography.

And so, we have tools, weapons, an arsenal of intelligence and facts and critical thinking and ambition that have shoved the ineffectual and oppressive Republican ideology to the curb. The 2012 election was like a baptism by drone for the Repubs as the whole nation watched Fox News and right wing media and politicians implode on their own balloon of hot air. I almost kinda felt bad for ’em.

Now, they must change or die. And they will adapt. Perhaps not as fast and far as we’d like. But global warming will once more be spoken of as fact. The growing legions of non-believers will show religion its proper place in the public square. The tax-and-spend debate will push and pull throughout eternity, but the right wing will find ways to wrap their tongue around the word “revenue.”

The states will be slow to come along, but they will. Republicans will eventually find themselves on the outs locally as well, cause we gots the internets everywhere, y’all, and people power will snuff that Tea Party batshit out like it was just a rich man’s fart after a long sittin’ at the dinner table.

We women, gays, minorities, AMERICANS are standing up and dragging the yocals into future. The lives of the RWNJs will improve because of our efforts. But they won’t know it, because Fox News won’t tell ’em.

I’m encouraged. And a little hopeful for those little baby Republicans. Welcome to the world of Reason. We’ve missed you.

Angry Atheists

Keli Goff posted a blog on The Huffington Post that pretty much said, blah, blah, blah, why are agnostics so angry, blah, blah, blah, they shouldn’t be so angry, blah, blah, blah, I only know four agnostics, blah, blah, annoying worthlessness.

As an atheist, I feel compelled to explain our “anger.”

Preface: 1. I’m sassy, not angry. 2. I skimmed the last 2/3 of her blog because the first third was so annoying. Don’t judge, you’re probably only skimming this blog right now. 3. I’ll be speaking of atheists as though we are a homogeneous group in complete agreement about everything (Which is quite untrue. You wouldn’t believe how many non-believers favor Ron Paul. Blech. And I disagree with Bill Maher all the time, especially on his aversion to meat). 4. I’ll be lumping agnostics in with atheists for the purpose of this blog. I know the debate and nuance regarding the distinction between the two, but please, time is money, people. 5. This blog will be just as annoyingly long, if not more so, than Keli’s.

Keli G. is a prime example of a minority group failing to understand the oppression and experience of another minority group. This is an understandable reality. People shouldn’t expect black people to be in total lockstep with the LGBTQIA community simply because black people have faced extreme oppression. Black women are the most Christian demographic in this country. Oppression does many things to a group of people, but it doesn’t guarantee empathy. Her lack of understanding and attempt to suggest to us an alternative approach to thinking and behavior simply illustrates the age old adage that she should walk a mile in our shoes before declaring judgement.

Now I begin my bulleted, therefore easy-to-understand, list of atheist grievances.

  • I don’t care if you find this self-indulgent conceit; it is true at this day and in this time. Athiests/agnostics are more informed and educated than the average citizen. An overwhelming majority of the scientific community does not believe in a supreme being. Only 2% of prisoners in the U.S. are atheists. An understanding of the history of Christianity and religion itself provides a clear illustration of Christianity as a business/political tool that renders belief in Christian doctrine almost silly and yet it is the basis for so much prejudice and hate. It is difficult to watch over and over Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, John Hagee and all the rest use their position, due to religious fervor, for certainly evil purposes. These men wield powerful influence for ignominious purpose because scores of the population believe the ridiculousness in the Bible is true and divine. This is irritating and frustrating as all get out. It’s not that Christians are on the default stupid list, but you never see news stories about Ponzi schemers targeting a group of atheists.
  • If Christians were Christ-like, we would have no beef with them. Alas, Christians are by far one of the most hateful, exclusive, intolerant, mean, judgmental group of people to grace this planet. Visit Austin for a weekend, where quite a bit of the populace is atheist. You will find warm, friendly welcomes everywhere you turn while you drive a few hundred miles north to Oklahoma and you’ll find some very negative religious vibes. I know. For something awful I done in a past life, baby jesus seen fit to make me live in OKC for almost two years. I only survived by drinking heavily. You want to find a group excepting, understanding, engaged, interesting and friendly peeps – visit your local atheist meetup and the odds are you’ll have a good time and leave with an exhilarating afterglow from the presence of people who welcome your experience, not just your wallet. Maybe I oversold that a bit, but you get the point. Now for the requisite disclaimer that I know a ton of Christians who are loving and friendly and warm and cuddly. I live in Texas for chrissakes.
  • Public perception of atheists is, for not one comprehensible, defensible reason, HORRIBLE. Closet atheists blanket the land of the free and the home of the brave. Visit clergyproject.org. Visit an atheist meetup. You’ll encounter person after person who lost acceptance from all of their families and friends because they don’t believe in a god. The stories posted on Friendlyatheist can be heartbreaking. A 2006 Univ. of Minn. study found atheists to be the least trusted of minority groups, behind Muslims, recent immigrants, and homosexuals. USA today reports of a small study by the Univ. of Oregan found that: “The study, conducted among 350 Americans adults and 420 Canadian college students, asked participants to decide if a fictional driver damaged a parked car and left the scene, then found a wallet and took the money, was the driver more likely to be a teacher, an atheist teacher, or a rapist teacher? The participants, who were from religious and nonreligious backgrounds, most often chose the atheist teacher.”What the fuck is wrong with people?! I’m one of the nicest people I know!
    Think about it. Obama is probably a closet atheist and has to stay that way because his elected office dreams would have been toast were he to be honest and open about this non-belief. And it’s not just the president. Try being an atheist in the South. Mum is the freaking word if you aren’t a churchie of some sort. Revelations of this flavor get people faird (fired) down here in these parts. Teachers are mean to your kids; neighbors won’t let their kids play with yours. Media outlets won’t run your advertisements. If we looked different, we’d face any and every form of discrimination legal and otherwise. Imagine your mom and dad disowning you because you took a look around and said, you know what? The evidence isn’t there. I just don’t believe all this baloney. That would make a person angry, Keli Goff.
  • Much of the terrible, civil rights-limiting legislation passed these days has its foundations in religious doctrine. Atheists think of gay issues as their issues, women’s reproductive rights issues as their issues. You will search long and hard to find an atheist opposed to gay marriage or a woman’s right to choose an abortion. That is due to the fact that these are merely two examples where offensive legislation has its roots in religious doctrine, where believers choose to thrust their prejudice upon the rest of us, defending their repugnant ideals and actions by clinging to the false notion that the U.S.A. is a Christian nation, the “Founding Fathers” ordained it so. While they will remember the Constitution’s tenets well enough to permit those of other religions to legally worship, they continue to foist their “beliefs” on the rest of us, limiting our freedoms to choose to do in our private lives what we will. They would use the government to control others, while screaming foul the second the government forces them to respect the will of others. They eagerly accept government funds and tax exemptions while decrying government control and inserting opinion into the political sphere. Their actions are nothing sort of detestable, hate-fueled hypocrisy of the shadiest sort and they bring shame upon this country – which belongs to ALL OF US. So, why would we be angry, Keli Goff?

You know that bumper sticker: If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. Well, maybe the question isn’t why are agnostics (and atheists) so angry, it’s why aren’t we angrier. Maybe if we were, Scott Walker would have lost his recall election, Republican billionaires wouldn’t have so much power over our electoral system, religious leaders would be deterred from attempting to determine the direction of the legislative agenda, corruption wouldn’t be so completely entrenched in our state governments, etc., etc.

If you find our anger unpleasant, Keli Goff, than so be it. I would say you are then an obstacle to progress. Our anger will help change this country for the better, whether we are enjoyable to be around or not. Perhaps one should try to understand why a group of millions of people are the way they are before suggesting they should all change.

And, P.S., I’ve only scratched the surface about why we angry.

And can someone set up a meeting between Keli Goff and Jamila Bey??

Which States Ban Atheists from Holding Public Office?