Friday, June 29, 2012

Guns, Cartels, and Stealth

The Supreme Court Decision? Yeah, next blog post.

Meanwhile, nearly under the radar, Attorney General Eric Holder has been held in Contempt of Congress for doing what any underground sting operation has to do on a daily basis. Namely, allow some small-fish sales to take place in order to get the big fish. This is true of vice ops on drugs, sex, or in this case, guns.

As I've read it, some gun sales were allowed to take place in Arizona under the nose of an anti gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious. Some of the guns from those sales then turned up in the hands of drug cartel thugs in Mexico, where they were used to kill some people. The take on this, say the conspiracy theorists, is that this was allowed so as to make guns look bad so that anti-gun legislation could be enacted here in the U.S.

Okay, time to call bullshit. Illegal guns killing Mexicans in Mexico doesn't make guns look bad. Legal guns killing people in cities all over the U.S. makes guns look bad. And if Obama wants a reason to ban guns, he has only to look to any inner city and find the latest headline, usually no more than two or three weeks old, of some poor, black kid who got shot in the crossfire of a gang war.

So why are we persecuting Eric Holder?

Basically, it's because the assault weapons ban that was enacted under Clinton was allowed to expire in 2004 when George W. Bush failed to extend it. When that happened, automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles became legal, along with some things which have very little to do with home defense, such as grenade launchers. No, you read right. Grenade launchers! They're legal! Along with Uzis, flame-throwers, and other weaponry designed to do nothing more than turn human flesh into hamburger, such as AR-15s, AK-47s, Carbines, M16 rifles... the list sadly goes on.

Don't get me wrong. I'm in favor of firearms for personal and home defense. Outlawing things like tasers, switchblades, butterfly knives and pepper spray is insane, to say nothing of pistols and rifles. But seriously, who needs a semi-automatic to keep his front porch clean of tresspassers? What moron needs an AK-47 to shoot deer? Who stashes an Uzi just to shoot burglars? Whatever happened to the old Texan's trick of a shotgun shell full of rock-salt? Or even a Saturday night special? Yes, let's keep firearms legal. But Jesus fucking Christ let's renew the ban on assault weapons, at the very least!

The argument is put forth that we legalize assault rifles because the citizens need to be armed against an overbearing government. Okay. That was a good argument Tom Jefferson made back when the height of technology was a musket. But now, our government has at its disposal howitzers, harrier jets, aircraft carriers, stealth aircraft, night vision, infrared vision, pinhole-sized surveillance equipment, satellites that can pinpoint a penny on a sidewalk, smart bombs that can hit a mosquito in the eye, napalm...  No, we've lost the ability to defend ourselves against our government if it decided one day to become George Orwell's 1984. All we can do now is draw the line somewhere between hunting rifle and Abrams tank. I say, if it sprays bullets instead of merely fires them, it needs to be illegal.

As for legal, let's license folks. Honestly, that level of common sense is beyond obvious. We need a license to drive a 1000lb. piece of metal at 60 MPH. Why shouldn't we need a license to propel a 60 ounce piece of metal at 1000 MPH? Meanwhile, we live in a nation where we ban toy guns and keep the legal ones real! Our gun stores have a database of fraudulent credit cards, but lack a database of fucking psychopaths!

Bottom line was that Holder's sting operation didn't let anybody buy guns. The gun laws in Arizona are so incredibly weak that they couldn't stop the sale and resale of military caliber rifles. Remember, this is Bush's fault. But we prefer to accuse the man whose hands were tied of swinging his fists, apparently. Holder got a raw deal.

Look, here's the big picture: Here in the U.S., guns are legal, thanks to the NRA. In Mexico, guns are illegal, and drug cartels need to arm themselves. So they sell people in the U.S. drugs, and people in the U.S. sell them guns. Meanwhile, small amounts of Marijuana are legal in Mexico and illegal in the U.S. The market forces make the cartels incredibly strong. Those cartels then ruin Mexico's security and economy, which makes many Mexicans flee to the north. And the same NRA and anti-drug nuts who perpetuate the cycle persecute the immigrants, as if the migration weren't somehow their own damn fault. 'Round and 'round the cycle goes.

Again, I'm not saying citizens shouldn't have guns. I'm even open to the possibility that someone may even be able to own a military-caliber firearm. But don't you think that anyone who buys 15 assault rifles at a time is trouble?

Eric Holder thought so. Just for that, he's on our nation's shit list. What a crock.

You disagree? Well, shoot me. If you can. I carry a gun.

Eric. (No, the other one.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Cure Alzheimer's

American innovation is the key to progress, or so we're always told by those running for political office.

But how do we pilot that innovation into where it belongs? Currently, the innovation is not being used wisely when it comes to gerontological care (medicine for old people) because Big Pharma has all the incentive to treat, and no incentive to cure. Hence, we live in a world where an old man can take a regular pill to give him an erection, use a regular treatment to give him his hair back, use a regular topical cream to raise his testosterone levels... Or an old woman can deal with her osteoporosis by regularly taking the drug that Sally Field promotes. Regular treatment, regular treatment, and more regular treatment. In other words, they can have their health, IF they buy their product, and use it day after day after day... for the rest of their lives.  Just keep paying us, and we'll treat you.

Anything wrong with this picture?

This creates a direct financial disincentive to cure diseases like Alzheimer's. Or arthritis, or osteoporosis, or any other number of long-term maladies. Why? Because the goal is to keep the patient coming back, of course. If the patient is cured, that means a one-time sale where the customer leaves and doesn't return. Can't have that, can we? It's a sales technique perfected by auto repair shops, plumbers, credit card companies and crack-cocaine dealers: Hook 'em in, then bleed 'em dry.

Insurance companies know this, of course. Their goal is to make sure premiums paid in do not exceed outlays paid out. (That is how they make all their money, you know.) And so will try not to get hooked in to permanent care. They would love to find cures and avoid big, long-term payments as a result. But even if those cures would save them tons of money, they can't afford to pay for the R&D. That's expensive. They have no guarantee that they will ever find a cure anytime soon to help their bottom line, and their margin of error for turning a profit is very small. And even if they did have a guarantee, their discovery would benefit their competitors as well as themselves, meaning that others would reap the benefits of their labor. Hence, no insurance company ever bothers with funding efforts at finding the cure.  Let the research departments of Universities handle that. Oh, but the research departments of Universities are having their funding slashed.

Anything wrong with this picture?

Now, let's turn the situation around. Let's say that instead of Big Insurance and Big Pharma running the show, the Government ran health care. I know, I know, the government screws stuff up, true dat. But not as much as the two aforementioned morons. Here's how the money flows when the government is in charge:

The healthcare costs are expensive, they only keep going up. How can the government save costs? (Sooner or later, they do worry about that.) By finding cures. They have to! Only curing the patient permanently will save the government any costs. It's cure-or-die when the government runs the healthcare system. But to do that, they have to commit to the R&D and hang on to it like a pit-bull on a postman's leg!

Would it work? Well, watch Europe. Their financial system is in crisis with their government-paid healthcare systems, and they are forced to cut costs. Just watch. You'll see lots of big breakthroughs coming through from there. Because the citizens of Europe will never let go of their healthcare system (they think we're crazy for trusting the insurance companies, and they're not wrong), thus forcing Europe to cure or die. I predict that many or most cures for long-term diseases will very soon come from the E.U., particularly from France and England. Even Canada.

You know, the ones with that supposedly crappy system.

Without a doubt, the insurance companies in this country will glom on to those cures and save their money without having committed any resources to finding those cures, and this will convince some that our insurance company program still works, but we'll all suffer in the meantime, digging through mountains of needless paperwork, getting screwed by corporate execs who don't have a medical degree, and dying far too young as a result.

What got my hackles up over this? Well, I'm still trying to find any way to find long-term care for my mother's Alzheimer's, and here's what I found: her lovely insurance coverage, paid for supposedly by the over-bloated Milwaukee County, is outsourced to United Healthcare - an insurance giant. And what do they say about paying for her care? Well, basically that, after a lifetime of service to Milwaukee, she's screwed. Nursing home care is NOT covered. Only in-home care is covered. When I started making plans for arranging in-home care, I found, buried in the fine-print, that only 40 doctor-ordered visits per year are covered, and a "visit" constitutes four hours in a given day.

In other words, Big Insurance has told my mother, "You're screwed!"



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Silliness Bowl, 2012

When coming down the home stretch in 2008, Barack Obama famously stated, "Now we're getting into 'silly season.'"  Well, it's that time once again.  So, in honor of the silliness which happens in politics each presidential cycle, I'm staging Silliness Bowl 2012 - in which all the screwball criteria that have been used to evaluate a presidential candidate gets resurrected and applied to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  Are we ready? Here we go!

Category 1: "Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" (2004, Bush v. Kerry)
As a Mormon, Mitt Romney does not drink.  In fact, Mormons eschew even coffee.
Default winner: Barack Obama

Category 2: "Which candidate will better defend family values?" (1992, Bush v. Clinton)
Interesting call. On the one hand, Obama is the first President since before Jimmy Carter to have kept his marriage vows and maintained a healthy, nuclear family. He sets a good example. (Reagan was divorced. Bush Senior was formerly the director of the CIA, do the math. Clinton and Bush Jr., we already know about.) Also, Obama supports women's reproductive care, allowing children to be better loved and cared for - which is the most important family value of them all. On the other hand, Romney has actually maintained the old-fashioned standard, marrying young and venting all sexual frustrations on the Missus. And we all know what the right-wing means by "family values." Namely, being against abortion and gay marriage. Obama supports abortion rights, while Romney has flip-flopped on that subject so often that it's hard to tell, but he's probably opposed to abortion. (We assume.) As for gay marriage, that's a bit clearer. Obama's for, Romney's against. (Historical irony note: most single-spouse laws that are on state books were put there specifically to oppose the Mormon faith, and its bigamy.) Ultimately, Obama supports real family values, but Romney supports what insanely passes for family values among the religious right. At least Romney doesn't have a daughter like Bristol Palin.
Winner: Mitt Romney

Category 2: "Which candidate is more Christian?" (Every election since at least 1972)
Let's see: Obama has been called everything from an atheist, to a Muslim, to the Antichrist Nicolae Carparthia. But the truth is that he's a member of the United Church of Christ, which makes him a mainline Evangelical Protestant. Mitt Romney is a Mormon, which is only somewhat Christian. In fact, Mormonism is to Christianity what Taco Bell is to Mexican food. Up until 4 years ago, Evangelicals would have laughed at the very notion of ever voting for a Mormon. Today, the unthinkable has happened. Several televangelists might disagree with me, but neither candidate is the ideal Christian. At least Obama doesn't try adding 15 phony texts to the Canon of scripture. Oh yeah, and Jesus was a Liberal.
Winner: Barack Obama

Category 3: "Which candidate is the Ivory Tower Elitist?" (Bush v. Kerry, 2004)
Whether the winner of this category has a positive or a negative is a matter of taste. Personally, I don't mind elitism, because if the elites aren't governing than it can only be the second-rate people who are in charge. Still, people generally see this as a negative on the grounds that they don't like someone smarter than they are in public office. Strange attitude. But let's look at this one objectively. Obama has a Juris-Doctorate from Harvard University. And Romney? He has (get this) a Juris-Doctorate from Harvard University! Plus an M.B.A. on top of that. So in terms of being college-rats, Romney wins, unless you somehow regard an M.B.A. as a negative, in which case Obama wins. (Frankly, I think an M.B.A. is just fine.) For family connections, Obama was born relatively poor, the son of an abandoned mother and a military father. Romney was born rich. Obama has no immediate forebears in politics. Romney is the son of the former governor of Michigan. It's pretty clear who the Ivory Tower guy is, here.
Winner: Mitt Romney

Category 4: "Which candidate has the hotter wife?" (Clinton v. Dole, 1996)
This one's kinda close. On the one hand, Michelle Obama has the better body, hands down. Ann Romney might be considered by most to have the prettier face. I personally don't think so, but I have to take popular opinion into account, and not just reflect my own biases. Michelle at least wears less make-up, and Ann is a fake-blond. On the other hand, both women have kept extremely powerful and financially secure men faithful, so they likely both have mad skills in bed.
Winner: Tie Score

Category 5: "Which candidate is out of touch?" (Clinton v. Dole, 1996)
According to Republicans before Mitt Romney became the presumptive nominee, it was Mitt who was more out of touch than Obama. Now that he's the last man standing, they're trying to pretend that Obama is more out of touch. Nice try! But you can't un-ring the bell!
Winner: Mitt Romney

Category 6: "Which candidate wins his home state?" (Reagan v.Mondale, 1984)
This one is tricky, because both candidates have multiple "home states." With Obama, it could be either Hawaii, or Illinois. With Romney, it's either Michigan or Massachusetts. Obama is currently leading the polls in Hawaii by 27 points, and in Illinois by 17. In Michigan, it's much tighter. Polls vary, but Obama has led most of them by a few points. Romney leads in one or two. has given a weighted average of 5 points in favor of Obama. And in Massachusetts? Obama is absolutely burying Romney! The people who know Romney best as a governing legislator, the citizens of good ol' Mass., are favoring Obama by 20 points!
Winner: Obama

Category 7: "Which candidate has the better winning campaign record?" (Reagan v. Mondale, 1984)
Here we have an easy evaluation. Obama and Romney have both run in exactly three elections to date. With Obama, he ran for the House of Representatives in 2000, but lost. He then ran for Senate in 2004 and won. He then ran for president in 2008, and won again. That puts him at 2 for 3. Romney ran for Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994, but lost. He then ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and won. He did not seek reelection. He then ran for president in 2008, but lost the nomination. So that's a record of 1 for 3.
Winner: Obama

Category 8: "Which candidate is better liked by his party?" (Bush v. Dukakis, 1988)
This one's interesting. On the one hand, Obama has gone from being absolutely adored to being revealed to be only human. Many Democrats are disappointed. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, was absolutely despised by most Republicans, who tried desperately to find a replacement for him in Iowa, Vermont, and South Carolina, then stood back and watched in horror as the only two other options left, Gingrich and Santorum, ran out of money. Now, they're saying Romney is the best thing since sliced bread. Ah, no! You're not fooling anybody!
Winner: Obama

Category 9: "Which candidate has raised more money?"
Okay, normally, any incumbent president buries any challenger on this one. However, thanks to Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, the rich get to waste their money on lost causes as much as they want, much to the delight of television network executives (who rake in the ad revenues). So Romney is collecting more money, but for the first time in history, this is not necessarily because he's more likable. Looks like we'll finally have an objective analysis to see if money really can buy you love.
Winner: Mitt Romney

Category 10 (Bonus round): "Which candidate has the better beach body?"
Not even close.
Winner: Obama

So in the Silliness Bowl, Obama wins 6.5 to 3.5. This is not an indicator of who will win the general election in a few months, but it does give some insight, and (I hope) a few laughs.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Challenge: Give Me ONE Reason!

I should clarify something. In the previous blog post I said that I wanted the ability to vote Republican back. I should have specified, I was referring to Congress. I wasn't talking about this year's presidential election. And certainly not about Mitt Romney. No way.

There's something odd going on, here. Mitt was trailing Obama by double-digits for months. Suddenly, he wins the Republican nomination by default, has worse opening numbers than John McCain, still trails Obama by a hefty sum, but then, the economy levels off, showing only the slightest bit of temporary negative numbers, and now it's a tie? Obama and Mitt are neck-and-neck?

There's something weird going on, here. Somebody's numbers are lying. I smell bullshit! And I'm hardly a conspiracy theorist about it.

Mitt Romney may seriously be the worst presidential candidate of any party that I've witnessed in my lifetime. No, I didn't say it, the Republicans did. There is really nothing bad I can say about the guy that most Republicans have not already screamed first. My few loyal readers already know I think Obama is the best candidate we've ever had, even though his shining armor has tarnished a bit. So this should be no contest. Mitt should be getting beaten like a redheaded stepchild, short of the economy taking an absolute nosedive. Yet poll numbers are showing otherwise. I don't get it. The man who killed Bin Laden is facing off against the guy who practically invented Obamacare, who believes he's wearing holy underwear, and who has a Stepford wife, and it's even a contest?

So, I propose an experiment. Tell me why you want to vote for Romney. I WANT FEEDBACK! Talk to me! I want to see what Romney supporters think. Is this genuine support, or a sudden swelling of irrational hatred for Obama? Are there former Obama supporters out there who are disappointed in him who are willing to cross over? Are people just forgetting how crazy Romney is? Tell me why he's palatable as a candidate.

And, just as an attachment, I issue the following challenge:


I honestly can't think of one. Can you? If you can, I want to hear it. Because the only way I see it is that he's a two-faced, lying copy of Obamacare who's a bigger waffle than Clinton, and a more limp wind-sock than Bob Dole. Hey, that's what I heard from Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich AND Bill O'Reilly! Don't blame me!

Can you think of one? Just one? I'll be asking all year, so you have lots of time to think about it.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Want To Vote Republican

I want to vote Republican.  That is, I want to be able to.

I believe in free markets.  I believe in less government intrusion.  I believe in lower taxes for myself, and not putting too much of a tax strain on the wealthy.  I could vote Republican, couldn't I?

Unfortunately, no.  Because I, with my Libertarian leanings, am in the center, and that makes me a radical, pinko, left-wing communist.

Used to be that I could find at least a few Republicans who were pro-choice.  Maybe once in awhile, I'd find one that supported labor.  I might even find one that thought the whole gay marriage thing was just one big distraction from more important things.  But no.  With Schwartzenegger gone, the last Republican in the center went the way of the Dodo.

Of course, the way to fix this is to always vote Democrat until somebody on the Right decides to join the rest of us common-sense folk out here in the land of reason and science.  But this has been a long time in coming.  We centrists might feel compelled to vote for someone on the Left who stinks on ice, just to make sure we get a few more rational people on the other side, but fortunately, we don't have to do that.  We have what should be a shoo-in with Obama, who inherited a mess and cleaned it up pretty damned well, all things considered. Instead, it's actually looking like a fight.  Against a holy-underwear-wearing fool whose own party says is a two-faced liar.

I can finally ascribe a name to this, and maybe in my arrogance, I believe history will agree with me on the title. The era we live in today is the Great Ideological Holocaust -- an age where ideas, not people, are arrested and thrown into concentration camps by right-wing radicals.

Where are you, Paul Tsongas?  Where are you, Lamarr Alexander?  Where did everybody in the Republican center go? Please, come back! Don't leave us here, stuck with nothing but Ron Paul!

On second thought, never mind.  I found someone who is Republican, but in the center.  His name is Barack Obama.

And he's a pinko commie just like me.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Have Been To The Mountaintop

I sometimes despair of anyone diving a damn about truth the way I do. These days, all people want is their truth, rather than the truth. There is no willingness to let go of pre-set notions, no desire to explore new possibilities, and people will seemingly shove broken glass into their eye-sockets and jam icepicks into their ears before they allow themselves to see or hear one new thing. All day and all night long there are talking heads whose full-time job is to do nothing else but spread hatred, fear and ignorance over the airwaves, and working stiffs everywhere listen to them – in their cars, at their workstations, or just watching the “news,” accepting it at face value without any filters. All the while these titans of the mainstream media will decry, of course, the mainstream media, as if somehow that’s not what they, themselves are.

And I wonder when it will end. When the fuck will this shit end?

That’s when I remember that, for all the fighting so-called conservatives do, they are always on the inevitable losing end. Read some of the transcripts of conservative radio broadcasts from the 1950's and you'll see what I'm talking about. They always lose! Yes, they have lately won in every political area except one – young people. Sure, the Young Republicans are big on campus, but they get bigger as the overall percentage of young conservatives get smaller, and what’s left of them are forced to huddle together for warmth. The percentage of people who embrace gay marriage among the next generation is ridiculously in the majority. So is the acceptance of evolution, and the rejection of fundamentalism.  The percentage of youth who are liberal is greater than it was when the Baby Boomers were young, and look what they nearly did! (Before they lost their way.)

This is why "conservatives" always lose and "liberals" always win. But damn, they sure do put up one hell of a fight on their way down!

The #1 media outlet for liberalism is The Daily Show. It’s a comedy.

Because what passes for conservatism today is a joke.

Do you believe government should dictate the terms of our everyday lives? Of course not. We all don’t. But if you’re a “conservative” you do!  Live and let live has nothing to do with the gay rights fight, according to you.  American freedom and pursuit of happiness be damned, you want Uncle Sam to roll into people’s private lives with an Abrams tank, rip the marriage certificates away from happy and committed couples who aren’t necessarily in your back yard.  You also want to tear the elderly’s ability to die with dignity away from them, even as they are desperate to preserve what they’ve worked so very hard for their entire lives.  You want to ruthlessly throw pregnant teenage girls into the endless jail of poverty and despair which is unprepared motherhood.  Why not throw away the key while you’re at it? Oh, but you do. You demand that they remain married to their irresponsible sperm-donors, as if knocking up a young girl were somehow indicator of being a young man with a bright future. You dare draw the line at conception when all of science shrieks that the brain defines the onset of a human being. You call this preserving the integrity of marriage? You call this “family values?”

If you’re conservative you believe in investing wisely. You believe in preserving your nest egg. Unless that nest egg happens to be our pretty, blue Planet Earth. Then you spend it like a drunken sailor, as if being broke afterward somehow didn’t mean our own demise. When you spot a downward trend in your stock portfolio, you adjust it, knowing that it’s not wise to put your money in jeopardy. Yet when that same downward trend manifests itself in climate, well, then, it’s no big deal, right? Just be an ostrich, poke your head in the sand, and it will all go away. Won’t it?

Your children smell your bullshit. They always have. They always will. It will take generations, but you will fail. You always do.

Can’t beat ‘em. Might as well join ‘em! Unless you’re the type who prefers to slowly and painfully pull the bandage away instead of just ripping it off and getting it over with. It takes all types.

Ah, but the generations it takes to pull that bandage slowly away are getting longer. The old farts who espouse the shit that plagues us just get older, and older, and older. It used to be that the cycle would only last 65 years. But 65 is young in human years today. Even one’s 80’s can be productive, and that means another 20 years of bullshit, at least. And the science they hate may help the old men who hate it live even longer, so that they can espouse even more climate-change denial, creationism, homeopathy and anti-vaccination crap.  Talk about biting the hand which feeds us!

Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even though the distance to the end of the tunnel is getting greater.

I have been to the mountaintop. And I have looked over, and I have seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know that we, as a people, will get there!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Blame It On Television!

"It's the fault of that doggone television!" We've heard curmudgeons make that claim for generations. But for once, I think it might actually be right. The more I look at how deep the divide is getting in our country, at how partisan it is becoming, at how irrational people get when the subject of politics comes up, the more I think there really must be an intellect behind it all, deliberately fanning the flames.

Here's why: The old saying goes, "Follow the money." In recent days, with politics, people don't really seem to be doing that. With all the political fights going on, and all the hoopla surrounding the upcoming presidential election, everybody is well aware that trillions of dollars are being spent. In the Wisconsin recall elections, virtually nobody is going to change their minds, yet billions are going into ads. One critic called that money, "thrown into a deep dark hole." But is it really? Where is all that money going?

Not down a hole, that's for sure. Almost without exception, it's going into advertising. And who sells the advertising? Why, the television networks, of course!

They're cleaning up! Again! All that money is going into the bank accounts of the TV people.

Think about it.  Whatever channel you happen to be watching, chances are it is probably owned by one of only a handful of companies. Comcast, News Corp., Clear Channel, and Time Warner.  One way or another, the money flows primarily to those four giant mega-monsters. There are some, like CBS, Gannet Co., or Viacom, who are fairly well-established, but they are dwarfed buy the Big Four.  Comcast and Time Warner are ramping it up on the left, while Clear Channel (a.k.a. Bain Capital/Thomas Lee) and News Corp are ramping it up on the right. The one controls CNN and MSNBC, the other controls Fox News and conservative talk radio.

And I dare to say that these four companies are in league with each other to make our political divide as wide as possible in order to soak up as much ad money as they possibly can!

I was in the middle of some mundane activity before last weekend when I finally made the connection regarding this, and the thought just plain stopped me dead in my tracks. Of course! It makes perfect sense! Why didn't I think of it before!?

Hell, why didn't we all realize it before!?

Check this out...

Classical Marketing 101: 
1. Create a need. People have to feel that they really need the thing you're selling. America is under attack by (pick one) a.) a bunch of hybrid-driving, latte-drinking atheists who want to kick God out of our nation, legalize abortion, make your sons and daughters marry gay people, allow Mexicans to overrun us and wreck the economy with bleeding-heart tax-and-spend programs to sustain poor trash! b.) a bunch of pickup-truck-driving, gun-toting, Bible-thumping hicks who want to take away all your contraception, force women back into the kitchen, and wreck the economy with excessive tax breaks for the ultra-rich and huge military budgets meant to do nothing more than kick the crap out of non-whites worldwide.
2. Provide a product to fill that need. Here's the solution to all our problems: Our beloved candidate! (Applause!)
3. Ramp up the product value. Our candidate will save us! But if our opponent wins, we'll have no jobs and life will suck forever!
4. Create a sense of urgency. You have to donate! You have to be active! You have to vote! This may be the most important election in our lifetimes!

True, every electoral campaign has used these four steps since the invention of Democracy, but the difference today is that it's the news media which is saying these things now. Cable networks, local networks, all have people on staff, paid full-time, doing nothing else than selling one side or the other on the political fight.

This is why the MSNBC vs. FOX News fight exists. This is why Clear Channel stands opposed to Jon Stewart and the Podcasts of Air America.  The bigger the fight, the more money they make!

All this time we thought that we were victims of the big-money spenders, like the Koch brothers or the teachers' unions. WRONG! We aren't the victims, THEY are! They have been DUPED into shoveling endless wheelbarrows of money directly into the already massive vaults of the television networks! They have duped US into contributing to the problem with our take-to-the-streets protests and our puny, $50 donations. And they only want more, and more, and more...

Shit! Maybe the "fairness doctrine" wasn't such a bad idea, after all.

In the words of Bill Maher, New Rule: 50% of all campaign donations must go to either paying down national debt or paying for national healthcare! Enough is enough!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Betrayed - By the Middle

One odd thing I've noticed about Scott Walker vs. Tom Barrett is the polls.  Poll numbers prior to Tom Barrett winning the Democratic Party nomination showed him leading, or nearly leading Walker.  After he won the nomination, suddenly he dropped several points, and Walker suddenly held a greater than 50% margin - something he never had. What's going on, here? Who did this bait-and-switch in the poll numbers, and why has this lead for Scott Walker apparently stayed put ever since?

The answer has to do with the people who are normally the smartest cookies in the bunch: the Wisconsin Moderates. These are the balanced people, the swing voters, the brilliant few who bother to see both sides. Their apparent take on the recall is that there shouldn't be a recall, not because they like Scott Walker, but because they are against partisan fights causing the early loss of a job. Theirs is a protest vote. They're not voting for Walker, they're voting against the recall.

I understand their thinking. Wisconsinites are supposed to be the cool people, the ones who can lay back, enjoy the good life, and not get uptight about things. (Unless it's a Packer game.) To this view, hauling off and firing a governor for being extremist is an extremism in itself, and just as bad. Walker won in 2010, and that's that. We'll sort it out in 2014 as part of the due process.

And there's Walker's margin of victory for you. 7% of people who dislike Walker, but also dislike the recall.

Well, this is proof that even the most balanced of us can fail to keep their eye on the ball occasionally. Recall elections are part of the "due process" as well.  The signatures were legit, the will of Wisconsinites was heard, and the recall is taking place.  That's just plain legit. And if you don't like Walker, and you have a second chance at voting for the right guy, why not get it right this time?

Let's remember that Walker won in 2010 because the majority stayed home. They figured it was typical laid-back Wisconsin politics-as-usual. The Obama-haters then took the day. In other words, it was EXACTLY the same recall mentality the center opposes, just directed to the right-wing. They couldn't recall Obama, so they got out the vote during a low-turnout year and elected Walker instead. The governor became someone to the right of Joe McCarthy. And now, after likely as not failing to vote at all, these stay-at-home folks are going to vote against the recall because it's - what? Not the Wisconsin way? Because it undoes this mistake? They're going to oppose the "extremism" that could erase the extremism? They're going to oppose healing the Dairy State? Oppose teaching extremists that they can't get away with it once we start paying attention?

Some of us feel that Walker hasn't done enough to warrant being fired. But if igniting a near-revolt in the very first two weeks of office and turning Wisconsin politics into a modern-day version of the Hatfields and McCoys isn't bad enough, what the FUCK does it take? Does he have to illegally use Milwaukee County staff members to wage a gubernatorial campaign? (Something which he very likely did!) Does he have to get a blow-job by an intern? Drive a girlfriend off a bridge? Does the governor have to be a convicted pedophile?

Nah, even that wouldn't work. We Wisconsinites are such a forgiving lot. Punishing a criminal is such a damned chore, such a needless hassle, we'd rather let the crook get away with it. It' s so much easier. It's the Wisconsin laid-back way.

Walker has become the Republican's Kennedy - he can get away with anything. He can do no wrong.

When Walker wins on Tuesday (and I predict that tragedy will happen), I suppose I could blame these 7% in the middle who swung in  his direction. But I can't. Not when 35% believe that right-wing extremism is actually an option. Not when these self-same will vote for any Republican, no matter how covered in shit he is. It's their fault. They swarmed the ballots during an off-year, and then convinced enough of the center that they're actually entitled to their victory, even if they trash the place.

Well played, my dear extremists. Well played.