Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The GOP has won and will continue to win if you look at it this way.

Apart from the Presidency, the Republican Party is sitting pretty in the 22 or so states they dominate. They've gerrymandered those states ruthlessly & passed laws designed to suppress Democratic voting blocs--especially blacks.

So they're created a kind of New Confederacy among those 22 states, able to resist Washington's efforts to civilize them because they can rely on their representatives in Washington to block nearly anything a Democratic President and Senate majority tries to do to them. They can't lead the nation through the Presidency & a Senate majority, but they've ensured that the nation can't lead them either.

They did this by using the rigidity & extremism that moderate conservatives and some political observers--such as the NY Times' Charles Blow--say is a problem for them. But it's only a problem if they still believe they can dominate America. If they're content with dominating the New Confederacy and hamstringing Washington from affecting their domain, it's a winning strategy for them, just as it is.

And since their voter base is undereducated, aging white men and their wimmenfolk, mostly imbued with a brand of political Christianity harsh enough to justify calling them the Republican Brotherhood, it's easy to get their base to believe anything that fits their fears and prejudices.

"For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived, & dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, & unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
-John F. Kennedy

How to discuss ObamaCare with your Tea Party friends & relatives

My fellow Democrats--here's how to talk about ObamaCare with your Tea Party relatives, workmates, and acquaintances:

Don't. Make them talk about RepubliCare. That's the Republican Party's alternative to ObamaCare.
I realize it's a challenge, since they never, ever talk about it, and have never offered a single piece of legislation that would implement it.

But just as you can make a drawing from "negative space"--shading in everything but your subject--you can describe RepubliCare and its consequences precisely:

It's what we'd have if ObamaCare were repealed and nothing introduced to replace it.

It would be the status quo for American healthcare, the most expensive on the planet on a per capita basis, with some of the poorest health outcomes (if you aren't a millionaire) of any advanced nation. It's the system every sane economist says is completely unsustainable. And of course RepubliCare strips you of any protection from your health insurers, letting them cancel your insurance the moment you really need it--as has been SOP for decades.

Force your Republican friends & family to tell you first, exactly what RepubliCare is, and second, exactly how its provisions compare with those of ObamaCare.

Don't let them bring up any other theoretical health plan. The GOP has offered NOTHING but repealing ObamaCare, so nothing but the old status quo is exactly what they must defend.
They keep trying to get us on our back foot to defend our law. Don't fall for it. Make them defend theirs.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

It seems more like Trayvon Martin was convicted of attempter murder, doesn't it?

Trayvon Martin’s posthumous conviction for assault with intent to kill, along with the letters here justifying that conviction, show the longevity of the South’s Myth of the Black Brute. Southern slaveholders created this myth to justify their abuse of blacks. After the Civil War they continued it to justify their virtual re-enslavement of blacks.

In the 1970s the GOP inherited it as part of Nixon’s Southern Strategy–only now it’s hidden in terms like "Urban Drug Gang" and "Chicago." Meanwhile America’s criminal "justice" system prosecutes and sentences blacks vastly out of proportion to whites arrested for similar crimes.

This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the huge number of jailed black men used to justify imprisoning even more black men (and then disenfranchising them).

In reality, poor uneducated blacks are about as likely to commit violent crimes as poor uneducated whites; ditto black doctors vs. white doctors. What drives violent crime is poverty, undereducation, police misbehavior, easy access to firearms...and being Southern. The South’s cult of violent "honor" stems from the brutal exigencies of slavery, living on in these Stand Your Ground laws.

"For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived, and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

--John F. Kennedy

Zimmerman was not found "innocent."

This is a point the right wing Constitution-thumpers don't seem to get: the American criminal justice system, taking into account human fallibility and evidentiary problems, is designed to let many guilty people go free in order to ensure that no innocent people are proven guilty.

This is what "innocent until proven guilty" means.

So the jury may well have felt that Zimmerman was guilty--just not past "a reasonable doubt."
That's a heckuva long way from thinking he was innocent.

And there's the added problem of the "stand your ground" law, written up by the NRA and obediently put into the books in states controlled by the NRA's political arm, AKA the Republican Party. The "stand your ground" law makes it so difficult to convict anyone of murder that police departments hate it while criminal gangs love it.

So the jury may have obeyed Florida's "stand your ground" law's dictates while feeling that this law is bad law. In states that rule out citing "self defense" if you initiated the altercation, Zimmerman would have been found guilty of manslaughter. That's what juror B29 was trying to say, I believe.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

ObamaCare vs. RepublicCare

Given how America's political system works, the only alternative to ObamaCare is RepubliCare.

But while the GOP and its friends have spent over $400 million telling you how awful ObamaCare is, they haven't spent a cent telling you what their alternative is.

I can tell you what it is, though:

1. Repeal ObamaCare in toto.
2. There is no "2."

So RepubliCare is for-profit medicine by the medical-industrial complex, for the medical-industrial complex, by the medical-industrial complex.

RepubliCare is overcrowded emergency care facilities being used by the poor as their primary care. RepubliCare is your health insurance that you paid into for forty years getting canceled as soon as you really need it.
RepubliCare is private health insurance for those whose employers don't provide health insurance plus freelancers plus retirees, which provides excellent care for millionaires, while the rest find it's either too expensive to buy or whose deductibles are so high it's useless.
RepubliCare is the most expensive per-capital healthcare system on Earth, with the worst outcomes for most people compared to those of other developed nations--the healthcare system growing in costs so rapidly that it's consuming the American economy--the healthcare system every responsible economist said is unsustainable and running us over a cliff in short order.

ObamaCare has plenty of shortcomings--mostly due to compromises made at the behest of those who are now trying to kill it. But it's a dream compared to the nightmare of RepubliCare.

So--the next time your Republican friends, family and acquaintances want to talk to you about how awful ObamaCare is, make them do so not against some imaginary ideal but against the reality of RepubliCare.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Here's an easy way to distinguish the civilized world from the rest.

I'm in the process of buying something on eBay from a professional eBay seller. Reading the fine print, I came across this notice:

"Due to custom issues and heavy lost packages, we DO NOT ship to the following countries/regions: 
1. Africa, 
2. South America, Central America, Mexico, 
3. Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Israel, Italy, and 
4. Asia (except Singapore and Japan)."

The civilized world, then, would be:

1. All the English-speaking countries outside of Africa--that is, the U.S. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K.

2. Western Europe except for Italy, but including Poland, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia.

3. Singapore and Japan

4. All the Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations (unless they're too small to get listed on the shipper's do-not-ship-to list, which is conceivable).

I wasn't surprised at Italy showing up on the prohibited list; I was surprised by Israel, because I like it, and Belarus, because it's an authoritarian dictatorship. Maybe Israel is not so much crooked as highly customs-restrictive. I don't know.

But in general I think this eBay shipper's list tells us a lot about the current world, and gives a handy way to divide all the nations into two buckets. 

Most Republicans sincerely believe they aren't racists--and that if they are it's an irrelevant smigen.

Black pundits keep saying they want a national dialog on racism.

Whites greet this with the enthusiasm that the average guy shows when his girlfriend says she wants to talk about their relationship.

But beyond the universal human reluctance to discuss the defects someone else thinks we have, the Republican Ministry of Propaganda has done a bang-up job of enabling whites to sincerely believe that America doesn't have a Race Problem.

1. Black hustlers. From local community activists angling to get taxpayer-funded grants for bogus projects to black congressmen enjoying long-term sinecures due to Republican gerrymandering (packing and cracking that assembles all the black voters in a region into one super-safe district in order to make the surrounding districts equally safe for Republican pols), there surely are blacks who exploit white guilt for personal gain.

Of course this doesn't mean that there's no real racism, but it gives an excuse for whites looking for that excuse.

2. No laws discriminate by race. The old Jim Crow laws are all gone, though as recently as the 1960s some lingered on, as with the laws against interracial marriage.

Of course laws do now discriminate by race. They just do it once removed. Thus the mandatory sentencing laws about crack cocaine are wildly disproportionate to those about cocaine, even though the two drugs differ about as much as regular salt differs from "sea salt." Or take the laws make running a state's elections a partisan office. Nothing racist about that, right?

Only those laws result in blacks having to wait up to 8 hours to vote in black-majority precincts, while whites wait...well, how long have you (if you're white) ever waited to vote?

Or take the laws making it possible to charge teens as adults. Tot up the stats and you'll find that this is done to black teens way more than white teens.

Or take the laws disenfranchising felons for life. This happens to white felons just like it happens to black felons. Only blacks are charged as felons for crimes that when whites do it, they often get to plea bargain the charge for the same crime down to a misdemeanor. 

And the public defender system is a sick joke. Indigent defendants get a few seconds of a harried public defender's time--just enough to recommend a plea bargain that has most black defendants pleading guilty to a felony (and that lifetime disenfranchisement) in exchange for doing five years instead of ten for a crime he may or may not have actually committed--but the conviction makes the DA look good for when he runs for Governor.

Thus if you look at the stats, it shows the "crime playing field" massively tilted in favor of giving white lawbreakers a break and black lawbreakers (or just lower-class blacks who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time) the exact opposite.

Blacks know this. They know how often they've been stopped for "driving while black" or even just "walking while black." Or being followed by store security when they're shopping--as the President of the United States said yesterday had happened to him repeatedly up until he became a state Senator.

Whites don't know this, because it hasn't happened to them, and they're disinclined to believe blacks who talk about this. The statistics prove that the game is rigged against blacks, but most people--whites and blacks included--are too innumerate to understand statistics, and instead go by personal experience. They know people can lie with statistics, so they use that as an excuse to dismiss all statistics (at least the ones they don't like), instead of educating themselves about statistics.

3. Blacks look scary. It doesn't help that it's so fashionable for black teens to adopt a gangsta "look." Or that rap songs and videos glorifying thug behavior and appearance are so popular. The days of Harry Belafonte or Nat King Cole being the face of male black entertainment are long gone. There are still lots of "nice looking" black male entertainers, like John Legend and Bruno Mars, but the thug-looking kind predominate.

Of course this doesn't mean a black teen who looks like a thug is a thug, and black teens dressed like choirboys still get profiled and pulled over, but it doesn't help. Blacks have a right to dress however they please, just as women do, and I support their rights as American citizens to do so without harassment. But thug-looking black style does contribute to whites feeling that the Zimmermans of the world following and confronting the Martins of the world is justified.

4. Race discrimination now goes on without words. If someone who sounds black / has a black-looking name applies for an apartment rental around the country, in a remarkable number of instances he finds that the apartment was just rented. But then when a white-sounding/named person with exactly the same credit score, quality of references etc. applies for that "just rented" apartment, magically it's now available.

Scenarios like this play out in innumerable ways on a daily basis. But because the "for rent" signs no longer say "Negroes need not apply," whites who want to fantasize that society is now color-blind get to do so.

4. Many whites act as if racial discrimination abruptly winked out of existence around 1970. The white Southern establishment used race as its foundation for keeping poor whites quiescent for a century and a half, figuring that if they feared blacks enough they'd ignore the fact that both poor whites and poor blacks were getting screwed over by the same people in the same way. They were right.

Well, the need for the Southern white establishment to keep poor whites voting for rich whites in order to keep the boot heel on black necks didn't vanish in 1970. Anyone who thinks it did is either a racist or someone who lacks critical thinking ability.

In 1950 a white Southern pol would say "Vote for me and I'll keep them cullud fellas in their place." In 1970 a white Southern pol would say "Y'all know what ah stand for." And so they did.

And of course this extends outside the South to most of the parts of the country dominated by uneducated whites--rural white America--all those Red-colored congressional districts.


When the laws and the enforcement of the laws of cities, counties, states, and the nation are carefully rigged to work against people who don't look like you, only without every saying in so many words that's what's happening, it's easy for shallow people to delude themselves into thinking that our society is color blind.

Hah. I experienced the way things work back in the hippie era when I had long hair and a Fu Manchu moustache and drove a funky car. I got profiled and stopped too, then. Only my problems went away as soon as the cop and I talked, due to my polite middle-class speech/actions inside the hippie garb (plus the fact that I wasn't stoned). But I saw how things worked when you aren't "correct" looking.

With the Zimmerman case, just ask yourself these questions about what the Sanford, Florida police department would have done if:

1. Martin was a year older, carrying a gun as well, beat Zimmerman to the draw and claimed self-defense because Zimmerman scared him, under Florida's Stand Your Ground law (which both the judge and jurors in the Zimmerman case used in the particulars of the judge's instructions and the reasoning the female white jurors brought to bear on whether or not to convict "George" as they thought of him, vs. "that black punk").

2. Martin was white and Zimmerman was black, with cops arriving to find the black man holding a smoking pistol standing over the body of a white man (and yes Zimmerman was and is a white man by normal standards).

3. Martin and Zimmerman were both white.

4. Martin was a young, attractive, female white corpse at the feet of Zimmerman.

Theoretically the outcome should have been identical in each of these scenarios. Do you think it would have been?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Responding to the GOP's condemnation of Lberals/Democrats

The Liberal Democrats seek political power by the creation of strife.
They attempt to turn black against white.
They attempt to turn man against woman.
They attempt to turn rich against poor.
They attempt to turn labor against small business owners.
They attempt to turn debtor against creditor.

Here's my response:

Yes, despotic movements always claim that all discontent is due to "outside agitators." Morsi in Egypt. The Mullahs in Iran, Southern whites back in the '60s, who were sure that "their" cullud folk were perfectly content until them Jewish college boys from the North came down to rile them up
Meanwhile the Republican Ministry of Propaganda seeks to distract us from:

1. Their war on blacks, spearheaded by their 22-state coordinated program to suppress the black vote, along with a 40 year campaign to "get tough on crime" that puts blacks in jail more often and for far longer than whites apprehended for comparable crimes, then disenfranchises all those black men for life

No wonder they've given up on the black vote.

2. Their war on women who are young &/or single &/or educated &/or not white Anglo &/or not fervent fundamentalist Protestant/Catholic &/or urban, via a national campaign to keep women ignorant about reproduction and fertility control options, keep them from getting HPV vaccinations in time for them to help, keep them from getting abortions even if they've been raped regardless of their age, keep them from getting birth control if they're underage.
No wonder a majority of women consider the GOP the party of old paternalistic white men--white men who adore "their" wimmen, just like they once adored "their" cullud folk.

3. The war on the poor and the middle class, seeing the former's real wages drop and the latter's stagnate for 30 years while the income of the .1% skyrockets in the same timeframe while corporate "welfare" also skyrockets while education and assistance for the neediest is continually cut back to the point where medical care for the poor approaches that of a third world country.

4. The war on small business by the GOP and it big business patrons. Walmart enters a town and dozens of small businesses die, with no net increase in employees there. Farm subsidies that favor a short list of huge agribusinesses hugely while doing nothing for other farmers. Helping big corporations outsource their pollution to all the small businesses and individuals around them. The special breaks and loopholes for big business written into so many bills in the dead of night. The GOP talks "small business" but it's smoke and mirrors.

5. The war on debtors. The GOP's machinations have turned the average college grad into a debtor who may not be able to repay his college loans until he’s middle aged, creating a generation of anxious, compliant workers–workers who can’t escape the burden even if they go bankrupt. Predatory home loan operations where buyers are lied to about the loans by the lenders, and then hundreds of thousands are foreclosed on illegally–going on to this day–while the loans are sold to pension funds and other investors as safe according to bought-and-paid-for ratings agencies, combining to implode the American economy in 2008–and not reformed to this day due to GOP rules manipulation in the Senate.

But Goebbel’s Rules of Propaganda state that you should always accuse the opposition of doing what you yourself are doing so they’ll be distracted into defending themselves instead of going after you. As the entry I'm replying to demonstrates.

The Democrats are no angels, as consulting and will tell you. But those same sources will show that they’re pikers next to the GOP.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Republican Party is not like the Taliban!
The Republican Party has not become like the Taliban. But it has become like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Both are paternalistic, theocratic, ideologically rigid, and reject the fundamental concepts of democracy. Both just use the mechanisms of democracy--whether they're in the minority, a small majority, or a large majority--to impose their different versions of Shariah Law on the rest of the population, secure in their certainty that God is on their side--and forgetting Lincoln's fervent wish that he could be on God's side instead.

The Republican Brotherhood gets itself elected through appeals to independents' fiscal conservatism, along with leveraging the corporatists' propaganda and patronage war on government regulation, piggybacking on aging White Southerners' continued hatred of the federal government for taking away their slaves over a century ago.

They get elected on fiscal/small government conservatism, but then when they gain power they immediately squander any spending gains with huge giveaways to their corporate patrons and ignore their "small government" mantra by imposing theocratic regulations of people's private lives, particularly where abortion is concerned.

They betray their authoritarian bent with things like laws and regulations requiring medically unnecessary vaginal probes--digital rape, in other words--and forbidding doctors from even mentioning the possibility of abortion.

And of course the Republican Brotherhood betrays its theocratic bent by trying to criminalize abortion every way they can.

But also, like the Muslim Brotherhood, they're crafty. They continually howl about abortion being murder--but then they let the "murderers" off the hook. That's the women and girls getting the abortions. If the Republican Brotherhood was true to its own beliefs they'd be trying to get getting an abortion declared premeditated murder, subjecting women getting abortions to the death penalty in death penalty states.

And they'd be doing the same to couples getting in vitro fertilization, since that entails discarding many embryos.

But the know America's women would promptly toss them out of office, so they reserve their wrath for the abortion providers--which also betrays their paternalism. Them wimmen just don't know what's right, doncha know? So we'll go after them men doctors who are leading them astray...
A majority of Americans have had it with the Republican Brotherhood, but the Brotherhood has now gerrymandered the states it controls so that even though they'd have lost their House majority in the last election if all congressional districts were apportioned on a nonpartisan basis, they retained control. Now they're exercising minority rule--the antithesis of democracy.

Likewise the minority of Republicans in the Senate are using every trick in the book to control legislation and appointments, and to cripple the Obama Presidency in every way they can, regardless of the effect on America.

The Republican Brotherhood functions as a primitive tribe, one whose beliefs are not to be questioned, with anyone who disagrees considered a traitor or an enemy.

Hence their rage at so-called Rinos--that is, people who would have been in the Republican mainstream before the party got commandeered by the aging, undereducated Southern whites who are now its backbone.

Within a few decades it will become a regional party unable to elect a President.
Meanwhile we have to contend with their persist efforts at voter suppression and gerrymandering and promiscuous filibustering.

And their efforts to regain their paternal control over women's lives and insert themselves between women and their physicians, effectively seating themselves in the doctors' offices.

Monday, July 15, 2013

There's one thing we can be certain of about George Zimmerman

He's not a Neighborhood Watch volunteer.

Whether you think he's a hero or a zero, this is not a matter of opinion. It's plain fact.

Neighborhood Watch rules nationwide include:

1. You are never armed.

2. You only go out in teams of at least two volunteers.

3. You never engage with people you think are suspicious.

4. You call the cops, then back off.

No Neighborhood Watch operation would tolerate someone like George Zimmerman in their organization.

Yet all the media--liberal, conservative, in-between--persist in calling him a "Neighborhood Watch volunteer."

He is no such thing.

Yes he's being allowed to singlehandedly change the definition of Neighborhood Watch organizations as something very close to vigilante operations. That's just one adverse consequence of his actions.

Republicans lack the courage of their convictions about abortion

Republicans (up to and including the official Republican Party Platform) treat abortion as murder.

Yet they only talk about abortion providers as the murderers. Yet if abortion is murder, then a woman--or girl--who decides to get an abortion is guilty of premeditated murder and should be subject to the death penalty in death penalty states.  

Yet they only go after the abortion provider. If someone hires an assassin to kill someone, the person doing the hiring is exactly as guilty in the eyes of the law.

And of course the same goes for low-fertility parents desperate to have children who get in vitro fertilization--which involves discarding many fertilized embryos.

So unless the Republican Party is going to start passing laws going after women who get abortions and in vitro fertilization, and start convicting and executing them (along with their boyfriends and husbands where they're complicit)(challenging the Supreme Court to stop them)---all their talk about "infanticide" and "baby murder" is a baldfaced lie. They don't mean it. That, or they don't understand the consequences of what they're saying.

We need to start challenging Republicans to have the courage of their convictions, because doing so about abortion will set a majority of American women against them (along with most educated people). Tell them to put up or shut up. Otherwise they're all hat and no cattle.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The GOP should now be called the Republican Brotherhood

Has anyone noticed how the Republican Party--in Texas & elsewhere--has come to resemble the Muslim Brotherhood more & more?

Of course neither a Muslim Brother nor a Republican Brother would recognize this. But what the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt did the moment it gained power & what the GOP is doing in Texas & other states it controls are similar on the process level: that is, gain power by demagoguery & promises of moral & economic reform; then, when in power, ignore economic reform while focusing on (1) rigging the game to consolidate their power & (2) enacting the rigid rules of Shariah Law, one by one.

The Christianist version of Shariah Law starts with abortion, which Christianists regard as murder--even when the mother's life is at stake, even in cases of rape, even in cases of incest when the mother is, say, a 12 year old girl.

Of course if abortion is murder, then any woman who gets an abortion is guilty of capital murder--a death penalty offense in Texas. Along with any woman who gets in vitro fertilization in a desperate effort to have a child, since it always involves discarding many fertilized embryos.

So every time a Christianist talks about abortion as murder, ask them what they're doing about making it capital murder to have an abortion? After all, if it's murder the doctor performing the abortion is just the hired gun. The murderer is the pregnant woman...or girl.

The only justification a Christianist Republican could have for not making it a death penalty offense to get an abortion is if they regard wimmen as incapable of informed consent--like the Muslim Brotherhood does.

Democrats need to flush the Republican Brotherhood out in the open. Make them campaign to make getting an abortion a capital offense--which it most certainly is IF it's "murder." Or to admit that they're lying demagogues when they use that kind of language--unless they believe women should be equated with children in the eyes of the law...

Monday, July 1, 2013

The GOP's "Hastert Rule" tells you everything you need to know about today's GOP

For years now the Republican Party leadership in the House has worked under a simple rule: if the House is majority Republican, no bill will be allowed to come to a vote unless the Speaker of the House is sure that a majority of Republican Congressmen will vote for it.

Speaker Boehner just reaffirmed this (there have been exceptions in the past), as a no-exceptions principle.

This matters. It means that what a majority of American voters want doesn't matter. And that what a majority of House Representatives want, working as representatives of their districts, doesn't matter either. All that matters is whether the bill being considered is considered good for the Republican Party.

This is baldly and unapologetically putting Party before Country. I'm sure that both parties want to help their parties. But usually, when there may be a conflict between Party and Country, at least the Democrats try to rationalize it. The GOP doesn't even bother. The Hastert Rule (named after the GOP Speaker of the House who formulated the rule) means the GOP's Prime Directive with ALL legislations is "What helps the GOP?" Period.

Fitting for the party whose rank and file members mostly believe that "compromise" is a dirty word.