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.

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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.

Liberal Images 5/6/12

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“War on Women”: Why the Term Works

There has been a debate brewing among the Crowd Left about whether the “War on Women” is a good phrase to capture the recent legislative assault on the civil liberties of women/cisgender people. Some women, whom I greatly admire, are anti – for extremely credible and thoughtful (and thought-provoking reasons). Among them are Melissa Harris-Perry, who thinks the term, “war,” belongs to people who lived “actual” war. Okay, I get that. Then there is Jessica Luther (SCATX – a wonderful follow on twitter), who doesn’t like the term for a myriad of sound reasons.

Others support the phraseology to describe this latest assault on women’s rights: Sapphire Unbound and nonsequiteuse.

I would give a quick synopsis of each opinion/blog, but my sick 5 mo is going to wake at any moment and demand my attention. In any case, these are all excellent postings and I encourage you to read each of them in their entirety.

All of these opinions, however, deal with the term “War on Women” from a philosophical, academic perspective either discussing the appropriateness of the connotation/denotation of the language or whether it applies to and encompasses all the issues addressed under the umbrella of the term. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, read the pieces.

I am a political analyst and I am going to present my opinion in an elementary fashion, from a strictly political viewpoint without focusing on the nuance and complexity of the term.

Point 1: It is clear that Republicans dominate the messaging wars and have since the days of Ronald “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem” Reagan to Newt Gingrich, who was a mastermind at encapsulating anger at government into vitriolic phraseology attacking Democrats. Nowadays, the Right Wing has the not-so-secret weapon, Frank Luntz, an enormous success at using language to capture and direct voter antipathy into electoral victory.

Point 2: Democrats face a much more difficult challenge in galvanizing voter momentum because of the type of thoughtfulness and deliberation we are now seeing applied to “War on Women.” Republicans do not question; they obey (as evident by the unwillingness of the “sensible” Republicans to stand up to the Tea Party crowd hell-bent on dragging this country into Ayn Rand’s 10th Dimension of Hell). Democrats, however, are much more varied in their opinions and actions and are much less likely to coalesce behind a coherent message because of all the NUANCE and COMPLEXITY that applies to any topic relevant to broad, important government action.

Point 3: “War on Women” has been an unusually effective political missile for the left. Yes, this is due in large part to the thousands of attacks on civil liberties at the federal and state level since the 2010 elections. However, the term is punchy, clear, concise. It has flavor, pizzazz and is relevant to EVERYBODY for obvious reasons. WOW can be abbreviated well, it can trigger anger and provoke a voter’s chagrin. In other words, “War on Women” is the perfect example of a successful political red-flag motto. Sound the call! Rally the troops! They done gone too far this time!

Poll after poll shows that as of August 2011, women voters started heading in droves to the donkey tent. Donkey victories will mean protections for civil liberties – those encompassed by WOW and those not.

Now, we can debate and “talk amongst ourselves” about whether “War on Women” is an appropriate catchphrase. We can be deliberative and considerate – and there is a place for that. Our lack of mindlessness is what makes us valuable protectors of civil liberty and sound economic policy.

But I would rather we form a huge, fuck-off political movement behind our WAR ON WOMEN banner that storms the voting booths in November and sends packing all those who dare to challenge our rights and send our economy and middle class straight to the commode.

Boom.

What You Get When You Vote Republican (this list will be updated accordingly)

This is only a quick minutiae of the results from Republican electoral victories. Wish I had time to flesh it out more, but, alas, my children need raising:

  • New, ridiculous, big government, anti-choice, anti-privacy regulations. Here in Texas, one must now obtain an ultrasound before having an abortion. I know someone this has affected personally. They were basically a nonvoter. I wonder if this will change. Bad evangelicals! Only care about the fetus in the womb. Once it’s born, mom and baby are on their own. And Repub men couldn’t care less about this issue personally. It’s a political football.
  • Only recently has a vote for a Republican actually meant a vote for lower taxes. These ideology-driven pols are hellbent on wrecking this economy with lower taxes, which increases the poverty class, shrinks the middle class, sends wealth upwards, leaving the wealthy to horde their funds and send them overseas. A weakened middle class means a weakened economy. When will the electorate start studying HISTORY and seeing the effects of lower taxes vs. smarter taxes?
  • Speaking of history, weakening regulations is also proving to do the economy harm. Of course the Right Media Messaging Machine has duped everyone into believing it is the nanny state that has cratered the U.S. economy. Yet, allowing banks to become investment firms has wrought potentially irreparable harm. We need smart regulation, not less. Won’t get that with a Republican vote.
  • Voter Suppression. While the proven cases of voter fraud are in the tens, possibly hundreds over the last few decades and have never threatened the outcome of serious elections, Republicans are on the attack of the Constitutional right to vote. The Republican ideology only allows for the preserving of the Constitution and the invoking of the founding fathers when it is in their self-interest. The Constitution does not require voting on Tuesdays, identification or SPECIFIC forms of identification. It does not prohibit early voting. Yet, across this great land, Republicans everywhere are instituting methods of voter suppression, including gerrymandering, to weaken the ability and efficacy of the minority and leftist electorate. The repugnance of these actions is without adequate description.
  • Anti-union legislation. The ability of workers to organize is a fundamental right in this country, without which we would still have sweat shops, robber barons, no weekends, no paid sick leave, no child labor laws, etc., etc., etc. Average wages are higher the stronger unions remain. Higher average wages strengthens the economy as a whole for everyone, including rich people. Jeez, people!
  • Legislative obstruction. You know, even when W was president, things got done. Why, you ask? Because Democrats compromised. It’s what you do when you’re in Congress. It’s what the founding fathers had to do and what they intended their successors to do. The business of the country must continue. In a Republican-controlled Congress, this does not happen if there is a black Democrat president. They are remiss and derelict in their duties. In this day and age, even the most liberal of Republicans in Congress is move conservative than the most conservative of Democrats. This makes for a toxic legislative atmosphere and weakens the country (and causes infantile ratings agencies to lower U.S. ratings). Thanks, Republican voters. Good job there.
  • Poor immigration policy. There is no actual proof that the millions of illegal immigrants inhabiting this land are actually causing harm to the U.S. Again, here we have a political football. Republicans like to pick on weak groups in order to rev up their voting bloc, whether it’s gays, Muslims, African-Americans. Wait til we atheists are a bigger threat. The undocumented workers who have always been a strong thread in the fabric of America, pay taxes and provide a very productive element to the U.S. workforce. This aside, the Republicans are even against the DREAM act, which some estimates say would increase the GDP an entire percentage point. Instead, we educate some of the most innovative minds and then send them to other competitive states. Ridiculous. But maybe that’s just my liberal education talking.
  • Fantastical economic ideology. Republicans want to keep our defense spending up, yet want the budget balanced. Um, the defense budget is 2/3 of the nation’s budget. Much of that goes to defense contractors and profiteers (think KBR and all the other Cheney corporate cronies). There can be no balancing of the budget without a cut in defense spending. None. Yet they want to go after helpful social and infrastructure programs that account for a small fraction of the budget. Again, we have a political football. Yet, their actions prove how unserious they actually are about the issue. A significant number of Republican congressman who voted against the stimulus package were only too eager to parade checks all over their districts when the stimulus money came their way, taking credit for the very monetary aide they railed against. Gov. Rick Perry talks about how he knows how to create jobs. A huge portion of those jobs were government jobs and half the jobs created were due to federal funds. Wouldn’t find that information available on FOX News, would you?

I must conclude this frustrating, yet necessary exercise at this time, though this list is unfinished (plutocracy, corporatocracy, and more). Last thoughts: the majority of people I know are Republican. Most of those will readily admit they don’t know much when it comes to the issues. I think that’s pretty obvious. People wouldn’t vote Republican if they understood the actual consequences of their vote. Bush took us into two wars and gave us a huge Medicare prescription drug program and put it all on the country’s credit card while cancelling taxes and regulations that helped to maintain a strong economy. What, I ask you, ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING???