Conservatism

Conservatives, Have You Reached Your Popeye Point?

Immediately after President Obama won the 2008 presidential election Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, Republican leaders in the Senate and House, announced to the world, “Our number one priority is making sure that President Obama is a one-term president.”  That came as quite a surprise to those of us who thought that their number one priority was to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, that they were in Washington to promote the general welfare and the other things outlined in the Preamble to the Constitution.  Not so, as we continue to be reminded.

The Republican Party has devolved into nothing more than opposing anything offered by Democrats and the President.  They have even opposed their own bills, once President Obama said he supported them.  They continue to oppose the mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, even though it is exactly what the Republicans proposed in the ‘90’s, then accompanied by their battle cry of personal responsibility.

Since the 2010 mid-term election the Republicans have been telling us that what is most important is “jobs, jobs, jobs.”  Since that time, though, the House, led by John Boehner, has passed bills against gay marriage and women’s healthcare.  They have voted against immigration reform and have had temper tantrums against ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  None of that has anything to do with promoting jobs for Americans.  The only job related legislation the Republicans passed was one promoting jobs for our military veterans, and they had to be shamed into passing it.

Two things are clear.  First, the Republicans don’t want President Obama to have any wins, so they oppose anything he supports.  Second, the Republicans want to run in 2012 against President Obama’s record on the economy and jobs, so they stonewall any effort to make things better for Americans, completely ignoring the suffering of the people in their selfish quest for power.

They have opposed keeping our promises to creditors in hopes of blaming President Obama for a global humiliation of their own making.  They have repeatedly called the president a liar, most recently by flagrant fact falsifier Sarah Palin.  Oddly, they offer absolutely no proof of prevarication.

They call him “Mr. Obama,” instead of using the proper title, “President.”  They accuse him of being an un-American Kenyan, a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist.  In short, they have reduced themselves to being pitiful name-calling schoolyard bullies throwing taunts.

Republicans, is that all you have?  Tell us you have something more than that, because if that’s all you have, you have nothing.

There is nothing conservative about the party of personal responsibility abdicating its responsibilities.  There is nothing conservative about ignoring the suffering of the American people.  There is nothing conservative about preventing Americans from voting.  There is nothing conservative about going to war and refusing to pay for it and lying to Americans about nonexistent death panels.  In short, there is nothing conservative about today’s Republican party.  Conservatism is dead.  Radical dishonesty has taken its place.

The old Popeye cartoons had a recurring theme.  Popeye would get into terrible trouble, pummeled and nearly helpless, when suddenly he would declare, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”  A can of spinach would magically appear, he would eat the contents and be revived and then go about righting the wrongs.

The question now is whether you have reached your Popeye point.  Have you had enough of the lies, the abdication of responsibility, the demeaning of the highest office in our land?  Have you had enough of being manipulated?  Is this all you can stands and you can’t stands no more?

Get your can of spinach right now.  It’s time for you to start righting the wrongs and reclaim your party.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

For Righties

You say you’re a strict constitutionalist and you believe deeply in the principles of that marvelous document.  Let’s have a look at that

Of course, you’re a firm believer in freedom of speech.  Yet, did you howl in protest when the Republican Party set up “free speech zones” far away from their 2008 convention in Minneapolis and prevented any display of dissent that might become visible to convention attendees or television cameras?  How about when Mayor Rahm Emanuel attempted to stifle protests around the then-upcoming NATO and G-20 conferences this year with his “Sit Down and Shut Up” law?  I thought all of America was a free speech zone and so did you.  “Free speech zones,” indeed

Of course you believe in freedom of religion as outlined in the Bill of Rights, but do you tolerate those who insist that America must be governed according to their interpretation of the Christian Bible?  That religious turf grabbing has the practical effect of establishing a national religion and marginalizing anyone who is not a Christian in their mold.  And did you hit the Send button to communicate with your representatives in Congress about your disgust with the anti-Muslim hatred that now is masquerading as patriotism?  Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion or from any particular religion.

The second amendment was crafted to ensure that immediately following our revolutionary days civilians could quickly be conscripted into an army in case the British invaded again.  The second amendment wasn’t and isn’t about the right to own an unlimited stockpile of weapons of war.  Since you probably don’t think the British are going to invade any time soon, why exactly do you think you’re guaranteed the right to own those assault weapons?  Charleton Heston’s “cold dead hands,” testosterone-filled declaration may give you a dark side thrill of self-righteousness and cause your blood to boil, but your weapons cache is far more likely to make some innocent person’s blood spill.

If you’re a strict constitutionalist, are you taking action to stop Republican state legislatures from stealing the right to vote from millions of our fellow Americans?  You should be in the front lines fighting that unconstitutional threat to our democracy.

The framers of the Constitution had a well-founded and deep seated distrust of excess power in a few hands.  So, as a strict constitutionalist, you must be outraged over fabulously wealthy people stealing our elections from you and our fellow Americans.  What action are you taking to counter that theft of democracy?

If you’re a strong supporter of our military, you probably thank soldiers for their service and perhaps you attend parades in their honor.  But did you scream at George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld when they sent our soldiers into battle without personnel and vehicle armor, leaving them vulnerable to being blown to bits or left with debilitating brain injuries from roadside bombs?  Are you sending checks to the VA so that we provide the after-action medical help our injured military people need, rather than making them wait a year for medical help?

Surely, you’re marching in protest against the war in Afghanistan, where most of our military deaths are due to bullets fired by the very Afghan security forces our soldiers are training.  Part of “provide for the common defense” – that’s from the Preamble to the Constitution – means protecting our military people from pointless conflicts that produce little more than dead soldiers.

The Constitution that you hold as sacred is just as sacred to the rest of us, so here’s my proposition for you:  Take a break from waving flags and slinging epithets and start taking action to protect the Constitution.   It is long past time that we stop the outrageous screeching that serves only to make us feel powerful for a moment and instead start honoring our duties as Americans.  That’s where the real power of the Constitution lies.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Common Wisdom

We all know that the country is center-right.  Perhaps it’s there as a result of a pendulum swing from the socially farther left pendulum of the 60’s and the politicians and pundits now like to tell us we’re center-right almost as throw-away line.  Or maybe people just keep saying that and have done so for such a long time that we’ve come to believe it, but repetition doesn’t make the claim accurate.  Take a look at just a few issues before us.

Jobs – About 306 million of we 307 million Americans want the government to take energetic action to ramp up the economy and create jobs.  The noise from the far right is the only thing that is making it seem like there is huge opposition to that.  As a nation, we are left of center now on jobs.

Voting rights – Americans believe overwhelmingly that all of us over the age of 18, with the possible exception of convicted felons, should vote.  That’s pretty much smack dab in the center, not center-right.  On the other hand, there are Republican strategists who have openly stated that the only people they want to vote are those who will vote Republican.

In the 2010 election many states voted far right legislators into office and they have enacted laws they have fraudulently proclaimed are to protect us from a blight of voting fraud.  The thing is that voting fraud almost never happens – not even in Chicago.  These laws serve solely as an obstacle to voting for young people, the elderly, the poor and those in minorities who tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic.  Let’s see, righty R’s preventing D’s from voting.  Hmmm.

Immigration – Most of us believe that if people do something wrong that they should bear the consequences.  And most of us believe that children of illegal immigrants, born in this country and who have broken no laws should not bear those consequences.  Righties don’t want to pass the Dream Act and they are completely out of step with the majority of Americans.  The R’s continue to oppose it because they’re afraid they’ll get “primaried” in the next election by a fanatic on the lunatic right fringe.  That keeps them disconnected from everyone but the aforementioned lunatic right fringe.

This issue is complex, but as a nation we’re pretty much in the center.

Taxes on the wealthy – Depending on the week and the poll, anywhere between 62 – 80% of Americans favor increased taxes on the rich.  Only the righties who signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes, along with some already wealthy people are opposed to that.  That is to say, the country is center-left on this issue.

Contraception – Do you really need an explanation about this?  Even 98% of Catholic women have used some form of birth control and only some fundamentalist righties have a problem with it.  It’s just that a few of them have very loud voices.  We Americans are far left in favor of contraception.

Women’s choice – The majority of Americans continue to be pro-choice, although by a smaller margin now than in past decades.  In part that’s because of the loss of institutional memory of how things used to be before Roe v. Wade.  It wasn’t pretty.  We are center-left on this.

Global warming – It’s not just all the environmental scientists; most Americans believe that the Earth is getting warmer and that mankind’s activities like burning fossil fuels is contributing to it.  The only question is why anyone denies that.  To find the answer, follow the money.  It’s way on the right.  (Ref: “And another thing” below)

Social Security & Medicare – These are the two most popular programs ever created by the federal government and America is far left on them.  Only the righties want to abolish or privatize them.

Note to budget hawk absolutist righties: We made a contract with the American people, who pre-paid for these services and we must keep our word.  I know you’ll understand that.

Education – The righties want to abolish the Department of Education at both the federal and state levels.  They are starving schools of funds, so teachers, administrators and janitors are being laid off.  School maintenance and improvement projects are being halted and the disparity between the education of our poor children and the rich kids who get to go to elite schools continues to widen.  Our children are suffering, their future becomes bleaker every day we fail them and we are putting the future of America in peril.

Americans don’t like this.  They want their children to be educated and think public education is a very good thing.  The righties are completely out of sync with America on this.  This country is way left on education.

Healthcare – Most Americans want the government to do more to fix it.  All that is standing in the way is the resistance borne of the hundreds of billions of dollars being collected every year by the medical insurance companies, big pharma, big hospitals and a few others.  We’ve tried letting the market fix this.  That has resulted in our having the most expensive healthcare in the world, while at the same time we’re getting just middling results.  Only the far righties with megaphones attached to their faces think that continuing to let the free market work is the solution.  We want affordable healthcare and are at least center-left on this issue.

The list can go on until sunrise.  Those saying that we are a center-right nation have either bought into the Big Lie or think they will benefit by making you believe it.

It turns out that the common wisdom isn’t so common, nor is it so very wise after all.

—————————————————————————–

And another thing .  .  .

Have you seen the TV commercials with the pleasant looking blonde lady in a black pants suit talking about American energy?  She tells us how plentiful it is and all we have to do is go get it.  As an example, she walks across a map of the lower 48 and tells us about, ”  .  .  . tapping Canadian oil sands for U.S. consumers.”  Sounds great.

Except the plan for the Canadian oil sands crude is to transport that heaviest, dirtiest crude oil with the greatest global warming footprint via the XL Pipeline to our gulf coast for exporting to other nations.  I need for them to explain once again how that stuff is for U.S. consumers because I’m not seeing how exporting it makes it for us.

One last comment: That ad and the others like it are sponsored by the American Petroleum Industry, the promotional organization of Big Oil.  Just so you know.

“We move through life like a man in a rowboat, looking back even as we move forward.” – William Landay

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

O’ See Can You Say?

Scratch any neo-con and you’ll instantly hear the vision: “We want small government, low taxes and the government out of our lives.”  Clear, crisp and compelling.

Scratch a progressive and you’ll hear paragraphs of theory and a rant that will make your eyes cross and will hurt your brain.  And the message will change with each progressive you listen to, leaving you confused and reaching for something solid on which to steady yourself.

The righties have been selling their message consistently at least since Richard Nixon.  He wanted to discredit the press – he called them the “eastern liberal press.”  They were the people he saw through his paranoia as always attacking him.  So, he had his felon vice-president Spiro T. Agnew call them “nattering nabobs of negativity” and Agnew used that moniker over and over.  It didn’t matter whether people knew what a nabob was, because the message that the press can’t be trusted got through.  And it is continuing to get through.

The attack on the press (now the “media”) has most recently and shrilly been blared through the snarling lips of Sarah Palin, who calls the press the “lamestream media,” which is odd, since she is a regular on Fox News, making her part of the “lamestream media.”

The press used to be called the Fourth Estate.  It was seen as a de facto check on government and was trusted to do that job.  Not so much any more, though, after 44 years of being slimed by the self-appointed Republican attack machine.

Ronald Reagan was up front in selling distrust of government.  He told us that the nine most feared words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”   He played into people’s stereotyped attitudes and frustrations and got himself elected as the head of the government, strangely doing this by denouncing government.

He told us he was for small government, low taxes and the government out of our lives.  Then he set about massively increasing government, raising taxes twelve times and building national debt that surpassed all other presidents combined.  Yet strangely, he’s still remembered as the president who was for small government and low taxes.  That disconnect can be traced to neo-cons selling the Reagan image (not the substance) consistently for twenty-four years, so that few Americans hear the lie and realize that the Republicans are largely responsible for the terrible economic situation in which Americans find themselves and their country today.

At the most recent Republican primary debate one of the candidates used the post office as an example of government failure and illustrative of how we don’t want government running our healthcare.  The South Carolina Republican audience loved it, even though the post office is a model of low cost mail delivery that consistently produces excellent results.  It was fiscally solvent until the Republicans required it to fully fund the pensions of workers not yet born.  Furthermore, the government runs Medicare and nobody on Medicare – not a single person – will say they don’t like it.  Still, the image of government bungling and inefficiency sells to an already jaded public.

The point is that the Republicans have had great success in keeping their hands on power by selling a clear, crisp and compelling vision in a clear, crisp and compelling way.  And they have done that while pursuing exactly the opposite of what they promise.  To be sure, that dichotomy is not solely the province of Republicans; however, what is most important to learn is the excellence of their messaging.  It sells.  It gets votes.  It wins elections.

People have chuckled for decades over Will Rogers’ declaration, “I’m not a member of an organized political party.  I’m a Democrat.”   Somehow, that isn’t quite as funny today, when America is desperate for organization around a clear, crisp and compelling vision that is worthy of us and doesn’t pander to extremists.

We’re struggling through the largely fact-free world of politics with little but lies and distortion to be seen.  It’s time the progressives got it together to produce a clear, crisp and compelling message to go along with a clear and vibrant strategy.  The best products don’t always win, but the best marketing does.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Not Very Brave New World

During one of the Republican primary season debates Wolf Blitzer posed a question to the candidates about healthcare.  He imagined a young fellow who was significantly ailing and was in the emergency room of a hospital where they determined that he would die if not treated immediately.  Blitzer further said to imagine that his hypothetical subject was without financial means and did not have healthcare insurance.  His question was about what the hospital staff should do.

After a couple of beats someone in the audience shouted, “Let him die.”  There were cheers from others in the audience.  And every one of the Republicans running to be the party nominee for the office of President of the United States went silent.  Not a single one of them stood up to the hate, nor chastised the meanness of the shouted comment.  Not one had the spine to display compassion for a fellow human being.

They displayed that same kind of spinelessness at another debate when a gay serviceman was shown on video with a question about gays serving openly in the military.  Audience members booed him and once again these would-be leaders were silent.  Be clear that this soldier is a man who puts his life on the line every day to protect those very same candidates and audience members, yet the candidates displayed neither spine nor compassion for him or for others like him.

Those yelling the loudest today are the far right radicals and they are not conservative.  They are not even defenders of the Constitution.  They are short sighted and closed-minded bullies masquerading as bible thumping Christians.  America is suffering through an aggravated case of absolutist minds and it is killing our democracy.

In the early part of the last century one of the hateful signs hung on the doors of some companies read, “No Irish need apply.”  There were signs all over the Jim Crow south that read, “Whites only.”  And for decades and perhaps centuries there was and, in some places there still is, a “gentlemen’s agreement” to exclude Jews.  That’s rapidly metastasizing to include Muslims.  It’s more complicated than this, but at root it is a discrimination against anything that is not “us.”

We are seeing a willful brain numbing that says that anything that is not just like “us” is wrong, unpatriotic, godless and perhaps evil.  How odd that is in a country that draws its strength from its diversity.  We’ve always had that schizophrenic duality, but now the hateful side, the Mr. Hyde personality, is dominating the landscape in a razed earth war against everyone and everything that is not just like him.  Worse, those who would be leaders are spineless against Mr. Hyde’s voice of hate and exclusion.

This is America, so the haters have the right to their hate and the candidates have the right to their cowardice.  The key question is this:  How long will you tolerate the hate?

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

1 5 6 7 Scroll to top