redneckgaijin: (respectable political)
Since everybody else is saying what Clinton and Trump need to do to win the election, here's my thoughts.

WHAT CLINTON NEEDS TO DO FOR HERSELF:

Granted that the media has basically allowed, even aided and abetted, the Trump campaign to define Hillary Clinton to the public, she hasn't done herself any favors. Her campaign speeches are laundry lists of mostly small-ball detailed proposals with no common theme. Clinton needs to define that common theme, and it needs to be something beyond, "Vote for me to continue Obama's legacy" and "Vote for me because I'm not Trump." Without that theme, you don't really get the enthusaism needed for big turnout on election day... and it's been reported all over the place that Democratic voter enthusiasm is way, way down.

Trump has pulled close to Clinton both by dragging her down to his level and by offering his supporters a simple, easy-to-understand (and of course deceiving) message: "The Democrats weakened our country. We need a strong leader now to fix it, and that's going to be me." Clinton has nothing like that, and the debates are really her last chance to make that happen.

WHAT CLINTON NEEDS TO DO TO TRUMP:

Trump's biggest enemy is Trump himself. Clinton needs to lead him into making gaffes and factual errors, and that means pushing him off-balance and off-script. By all reports the best way to do this is to attack Trump's self-image. This can NOT be done head-on; Trump can shrug that off. It needs to be done in passing, a bit at a time, and carefully targeted- references to how he inherited wealth and nearly squandered it all on failed business deals, how most of his projects failed miserably, how his tax returns would show his lack of wealth, etc. This will get him angry and prone to counterattacks- and those counterattacks, though his base will love them, will destroy him with everyone else.

WHAT CLINTON NEEDS TO AVOID:

(1) Don't make the debate a referendum on Trump. If all Clinton does is give the case for why Trump is disqualified, then TRUMP WINS IN NOVEMBER. It's never sufficient for any candidate to simply say, "I'm not the other guy." Clinton needs to slip a few bits in about Trump, but her focus needs to be on why voters should choose her over any other option, even if Trump weren't in the race at all.

(2) Don't go full wonk. Clinton loves to try to teach people in her political messaging- even more so than Barack Obama. And it's boring. If Clinton details her specific proposals, the listeners will tune it out and absorb none of it. Clinton needs to stick to broad principles and intentions and address specifics only when unavoidable. KISS principle needs to be the guide.

(3) Don't try to go toe to toe with Trump in a shouting match. Responding is fine, if kept very brief and witty, but when Trump gets angry and attacks Clinton needs to stay calm and quiet. It's unfair but true that there is a lot of sexism involved in the electorate, and if they see an angry man and an angry woman going hammer-and-tongs at one another, a majority of Americans will by default side with the man. An angry man and a quiet but firm woman, on the other hand, goes the other direction.

Now for the part I hope nobody reads to The Donald:

WHAT TRUMP NEEDS TO DO FOR HIMSELF:

The Sarah Palin strategy. Palin managed a draw with Joe Biden in their 2008 debate by memorizing about a dozen talking points and steering every question to one of those. As a result, only people who were listening very carefully (I was driving and heard the whole debate on the radio) could tell how rehearsed and repetitive her answers were as opposed to Biden's. Trump needs to do the same thing: have a script of talking points and stick to it absolutely, positively, no matter what. If Trump improvises, he will be (justly) eaten alive for his misstatements of fact and his inevitable bigoted gaffes.

WHAT TRUMP NEEDS TO DO TO CLINTON:

The aforementioned script needs to have several very specific attack points on Hillary's honesty and integrity. Merely saying "Lyin' Hillary" might work on the stump to the base, but it won't fly in a debate. Trump needs to bring up specific cases with evidence for his accusations. And he needs to do this again, again, and again, dragging her down into the muck with her while appearing to be a prosecutor instead of a reckless mudslinger.

WHAT TRUMP NEEDS TO AVOID:

(1) Don't ad-lib. By all reports Trump has refused to do any prep work for the debates, insisting that he can do it ex tempore. Bad move. If Trump improvises, he gaffes.

(2) Don't miss the chance to denounce racism and bigotry. If Trump could go two weeks straight without himself or one of his surrogates making a white-supremacist remark or re-Tweet, he'd probably have this race sewn up by now. As it is, a substantial portion of normally Republican voters is currently supporting Clinton for the very reason that Trump is blatantly white supremacist. If he loses, this above all else will be what cost him the election (which is already looking like an exercise in whether a president can be elected anymore without a single non-white vote). If the opportunity comes to demonstrate that he hasn't got a white robe and hood in his closet, Trump must sieze it decisively and forcefully. If he hedges, or worse (as he has done elsewhere) he defends whatever white supremacism is at question, he fails.

(3) Don't lose your temper. Trump's charisma is based on the smiling, confident, loud Trump. The angry cry-baby Trump we see now and again will lose the election. Whatever provocation Clinton manages, Trump has to shrug it off as a lie from a desperate woman, beneath his notice. He must NOT try to shout her into submission. If Trump tries to bully Clinton as he did the other GOP candidates once upon a time, Clinton will walk away looking like a saint, leaving Trump exposed as the Satan he actually is.

WHAT GARY JOHNSON NEEDS TO DO:

Hope both candidates make serious blunders and discredit themselves, then hit every morning pundit show the next day hard and fast. Fifteen percent, Binky; it's your only hope, and you've admitted as much.

WHAT JILL STEIN NEEDS TO DO:

Quit running for public office and let someone with more credibility than a Scientology outreach flyer be the face of America's far left.
redneckgaijin: (Default)
First, read this gentle statement by LeVar Burton.

As good as the article is, it's not quite how I would respond. Here's my answers, if I had a kindergarten-age child to explain this madness to.

Why did he do it?

There are some people in the world whose minds get broken somehow. Maybe they were born that way, or maybe something built up inside them- it's hard to say. A few of these people get angry at the world, and they think that nothing they do matters. These people lash out at others, partly to get attention, partly because they don't want to live anymore and want to hurt other people before they go. That doesn't make sense, but it's true.

Could he have been stopped?

He could have been stopped, yes. A lot of people like him are stopped, one way or another. But people aren't perfect. We make mistakes. Sometimes we miss the chances to stop people like this person, and that can't be prevented. We can only do our best.

What could we do to stop him?

There are a lot of people who will say that the best way to stop people like him is to ban guns. If it could be done, it certainly would make it harder for people like him to kill so many other people. The problem is deciding whether or not it's better to take a chance on something like this happening every few years, or else to prevent all the people who DON'T shoot other people from owning guns.

We already do a lot of things to prevent things like this from happening that make life a little worse for everybody. I don't fly because of all the annoying hang-ups involved with flying since 9-11-2001, the "shoe bomber", the "underwear bomber," the "shampoo bomber," and so on. When I was a kid schools were open, and grown-ups could come visit at any time. Today schools have metal detectors and their own police departments, and you practically have to get an appointment to see the inside of your kid's school.

We do these things, and yet people like this sometimes get through anyway. This isn't because we're not doing enough. It's because we aren't perfect, and sometimes bad people just get lucky.

So we can't do anything?

I didn't say that. There are a few things we could do that we're not doing now that probably would make us all safer.

First and foremost, we could take care of the people whose brains are broken or about to break. There are always warning signs- threats of violence, cruelty to animals, rapid changes in mood, that sort of thing. Unfortunately we live in a society where too many people would rather leave these people without the care they need rather than spend a dollar more than they absolutely have to. If we, as a nation, were a little less selfish, we could make this a lot less likely.

Second, we don't need to ban guns to make it harder for people like this to shoot so many people. Gun training, licensing people who want to carry guns outside their home- these are a couple of common-sense fixes which would help keep guns out of the hands of those who might misuse them. Unfortunately the same kind of person too selfish to help the sick is also too selfish to give up an unlimited and absolute freedom to make it safer for everyone else.

Will this happen to me?

Almost certainly not. First, the man who did this is dead- he won't hurt anybody else ever again. Second, there really aren't many like him- this sort of thing happens, on the average, about once every other year in our country. In the time you'll be in school, that means not more than six schools will have a shooting like this, and probably fewer... and there are close to a hundred thousand schools in the United States. So most likely you'll never have this happen in any school you ever go to, ever.

And even if someone like this had your school in mind, the odds are he won't get to do it. Your teachers, the principal, the superintendent, and the police all work every day to make sure you and the other students are safe. Yes, sometimes they make mistakes or slip up somehow, but most of the time they get it right.

If I had a gun, could I shoot back? What about my teacher?

Should you have a gun? I don't think so, not until you're strong enough to handle it safely and have the right training to know when not to use it. Also, they almost certainly won't let you bring it to school if you had it, because they might think you were like this bad man. They would be afraid you would use your gun like he used his, and that would lead to bad things for everybody.

But if they did let you take one to school, would it do you any good if a bad guy came to shoot you and your friends?

I can't answer that one. Nobody can.

The thing is, having a gun is a very serious responsibility. If you're not careful you might shoot someone besides the bad guy. Worse yet, the police might see the gun in your hand and think you are the bad guy and start shooting at you. It's best that only people with training on when to shoot and not to shoot have a gun out in public.

Even then, the only way anyone can know if having a gun would be useful would be to experience the exact conditions of the specific incident themselves. Usually, when someone's shooting at people, it's very confusing. People are running and screaming. Bullets are going every which way. You might or might not know who started the shooting. You might or might not be able to aim at the bad guy without hitting other people. You might never even see the shooter at all.

And finally, remember: the bad guy, this man whose brain was broken somehow, is now just as dead as everyone he killed. Most of the time, dead people stay dead, and it's forever. Some people have no problem with the idea of killing other people; others can't even conceive of it. I'm somewhere in the middle; I could probably kill if I had to to defend myself or others, but I really don't want to, not even someone like this person who shot a bunch of kids because his brain was broken.

That decision- the decision whether or not to kill someone to save the lives of others- nobody should ever force somebody else to make that decision. Everybody should make it for themselves, if the time ever comes. I hope it never does.

Should your teacher have a gun? Only if the teacher is trained, and only if the teacher is comfortable with the responsibility that having a gun requires. If the teacher doesn't want a gun, isn't comfortable around guns, then the teacher shouldn't have one.

I personally would be quite happy if trained and licensed teachers were allowed to have guns in their classrooms just in case. I'd be happier still if they made gun safety training a mandatory part of lessons in school. But not everyone thinks the same as me, and sometimes I'm wrong about things, so I don't get too angry about things not being as I'd like them.

Are guns dangerous?

Yes, they are, but only if used to do bad things- or if they're used carelessly. Guns are not toys. They can potentially kill people by accident. They make people scared when they see them, which can lead to people doing stupid things and getting hurt because they were afraid. There are too many people who refuse to acknowledge this- they're the ones who say, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." What they say is true but misleading. Guns make it easier to kill people, and they make it easier for people to get killed out of fear or stupidity.

That doesn't mean guns are bad. A gun is a tool, like a hammer or a saw, only a lot more powerful. Guns require careful handling. When you have a gun, you need to be considerate of others around you. If you're not willing to be considerate, then you shouldn't carry a gun. If you are careful, considerate and trained, then you can use a gun safely for protection, for hunting, or for fun. Most people who have guns are careful, considerate, and trained, and they shouldn't lose their guns just because of those people who do bad things with them.

But remember: a gun is a thing. It's not alive. It doesn't move by itself. When someone gets shot, it is because someone was being bad or being careless. Maybe we should make the rules to prevent people from being bad or careless too often... but we shouldn't punish the gun because a person made a mistake.

(At this point my inner child has run out of questions and asked for some ice cream. I shall indulge him now.)
redneckgaijin: (respectable political)
First, read this gentle statement by LeVar Burton.

As good as the article is, it's not quite how I would respond. Here's my answers, if I had a kindergarten-age child to explain this madness to.

Why did he do it?

There are some people in the world whose minds get broken somehow. Maybe they were born that way, or maybe something built up inside them- it's hard to say. A few of these people get angry at the world, and they think that nothing they do matters. These people lash out at others, partly to get attention, partly because they don't want to live anymore and want to hurt other people before they go. That doesn't make sense, but it's true.

Could he have been stopped?

He could have been stopped, yes. A lot of people like him are stopped, one way or another. But people aren't perfect. We make mistakes. Sometimes we miss the chances to stop people like this person, and that can't be prevented. We can only do our best.

What could we do to stop him?

There are a lot of people who will say that the best way to stop people like him is to ban guns. If it could be done, it certainly would make it harder for people like him to kill so many other people. The problem is deciding whether or not it's better to take a chance on something like this happening every few years, or else to prevent all the people who DON'T shoot other people from owning guns.

We already do a lot of things to prevent things like this from happening that make life a little worse for everybody. I don't fly because of all the annoying hang-ups involved with flying since 9-11-2001, the "shoe bomber", the "underwear bomber," the "shampoo bomber," and so on. When I was a kid schools were open, and grown-ups could come visit at any time. Today schools have metal detectors and their own police departments, and you practically have to get an appointment to see the inside of your kid's school.

We do these things, and yet people like this sometimes get through anyway. This isn't because we're not doing enough. It's because we aren't perfect, and sometimes bad people just get lucky.

So we can't do anything?

I didn't say that. There are a few things we could do that we're not doing now that probably would make us all safer.

First and foremost, we could take care of the people whose brains are broken or about to break. There are always warning signs- threats of violence, cruelty to animals, rapid changes in mood, that sort of thing. Unfortunately we live in a society where too many people would rather leave these people without the care they need rather than spend a dollar more than they absolutely have to. If we, as a nation, were a little less selfish, we could make this a lot less likely.

Second, we don't need to ban guns to make it harder for people like this to shoot so many people. Gun training, licensing people who want to carry guns outside their home- these are a couple of common-sense fixes which would help keep guns out of the hands of those who might misuse them. Unfortunately the same kind of person too selfish to help the sick is also too selfish to give up an unlimited and absolute freedom to make it safer for everyone else.

Will this happen to me?

Almost certainly not. First, the man who did this is dead- he won't hurt anybody else ever again. Second, there really aren't many like him- this sort of thing happens, on the average, about once every other year in our country. In the time you'll be in school, that means not more than six schools will have a shooting like this, and probably fewer... and there are close to a hundred thousand schools in the United States. So most likely you'll never have this happen in any school you ever go to, ever.

And even if someone like this had your school in mind, the odds are he won't get to do it. Your teachers, the principal, the superintendent, and the police all work every day to make sure you and the other students are safe. Yes, sometimes they make mistakes or slip up somehow, but most of the time they get it right.

If I had a gun, could I shoot back? What about my teacher?

Should you have a gun? I don't think so, not until you're strong enough to handle it safely and have the right training to know when not to use it. Also, they almost certainly won't let you bring it to school if you had it, because they might think you were like this bad man. They would be afraid you would use your gun like he used his, and that would lead to bad things for everybody.

But if they did let you take one to school, would it do you any good if a bad guy came to shoot you and your friends?

I can't answer that one. Nobody can.

The thing is, having a gun is a very serious responsibility. If you're not careful you might shoot someone besides the bad guy. Worse yet, the police might see the gun in your hand and think you are the bad guy and start shooting at you. It's best that only people with training on when to shoot and not to shoot have a gun out in public.

Even then, the only way anyone can know if having a gun would be useful would be to experience the exact conditions of the specific incident themselves. Usually, when someone's shooting at people, it's very confusing. People are running and screaming. Bullets are going every which way. You might or might not know who started the shooting. You might or might not be able to aim at the bad guy without hitting other people. You might never even see the shooter at all.

And finally, remember: the bad guy, this man whose brain was broken somehow, is now just as dead as everyone he killed. Most of the time, dead people stay dead, and it's forever. Some people have no problem with the idea of killing other people; others can't even conceive of it. I'm somewhere in the middle; I could probably kill if I had to to defend myself or others, but I really don't want to, not even someone like this person who shot a bunch of kids because his brain was broken.

That decision- the decision whether or not to kill someone to save the lives of others- nobody should ever force somebody else to make that decision. Everybody should make it for themselves, if the time ever comes. I hope it never does.

Should your teacher have a gun? Only if the teacher is trained, and only if the teacher is comfortable with the responsibility that having a gun requires. If the teacher doesn't want a gun, isn't comfortable around guns, then the teacher shouldn't have one.

I personally would be quite happy if trained and licensed teachers were allowed to have guns in their classrooms just in case. I'd be happier still if they made gun safety training a mandatory part of lessons in school. But not everyone thinks the same as me, and sometimes I'm wrong about things, so I don't get too angry about things not being as I'd like them.

Are guns dangerous?

Yes, they are, but only if used to do bad things- or if they're used carelessly. Guns are not toys. They can potentially kill people by accident. They make people scared when they see them, which can lead to people doing stupid things and getting hurt because they were afraid. There are too many people who refuse to acknowledge this- they're the ones who say, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." What they say is true but misleading. Guns make it easier to kill people, and they make it easier for people to get killed out of fear or stupidity.

That doesn't mean guns are bad. A gun is a tool, like a hammer or a saw, only a lot more powerful. Guns require careful handling. When you have a gun, you need to be considerate of others around you. If you're not willing to be considerate, then you shouldn't carry a gun. If you are careful, considerate and trained, then you can use a gun safely for protection, for hunting, or for fun. Most people who have guns are careful, considerate, and trained, and they shouldn't lose their guns just because of those people who do bad things with them.

But remember: a gun is a thing. It's not alive. It doesn't move by itself. When someone gets shot, it is because someone was being bad or being careless. Maybe we should make the rules to prevent people from being bad or careless too often... but we shouldn't punish the gun because a person made a mistake.

(At this point my inner child has run out of questions and asked for some ice cream. I shall indulge him now.)
redneckgaijin: (Default)
Looking at the following page today:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/peacefully-grant-state-texas-withdraw-united-states-america-and-create-its-own-new-government/BmdWCP8B

Yes, that's right. 28,000 over 32,000 signatures supporting Texan secession from the Union.

This is, of course, not surprising in the least. The next county over, a Ron Paulite teabagger made news headlines by calling for the same thing- and a lot more important Republicans than him have been making secessionist noises.

So, looking at similar petitions, I find as of this writing:

Alabama - 8,555 signatures
Arkansas - 4,654
Colorado - 6,370
Florida - 8,387
Georgia - 6,414 + 5,474 (duplicate petition)
Indiana - 6,063
Kentucky - 5,945
Louisiana - 17,255
Michigan - 5,440
Mississippi - 6,026
Missouri - 4,491
Montana - 5,108
New Jersey - 4,767
New York - 5,572
North Carolina - 5,238
North Dakota - 4,603
Oklahoma - 2,164
Oregon - 5,111
Tennessee - 7,038

I'm not surprised, but I am appalled all to hell and gone.

So I'm asking you to go sign THIS petition that I just made- and pass the word and get as many people to sign as possible.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/declare-intent-use-military-force-oppose-secession-movements-united-states/tbRZFFLk

Secession may seem like a longshot... but if it happens, people like me stuck in seceding states will be in deep, DEEP shit.

We will need another Lincoln- by which I mean not a wise and clever statesman, but a man of principle willing to wade through an ocean of blood if that's what it takes to protect the nation and defend the rights of all Americans.
redneckgaijin: (Default)
Yes, I typed that.

To begin my explanation, begin with this excellent essay, particularly the following two paragraphs:

The modern American libertarian ideology does not deal with the issue of local bullies. In the world envisioned by Nozick, Hayek, Rand, and other foundational thinkers of the movement, there are only two levels to society - the government (the "big bully") and the individual. If your freedom is not being taken away by the biggest bully that exists, your freedom is not being taken away at all.

In a perfect libertarian world, it is therefore possible for rich people to buy all the beaches and charge admission fees to whomever they want (or simply ban anyone they choose). In a libertarian world, a self-organized cartel of white people can, under certain conditions, get together and effectively prohibit black people from being able to go out to dinner in their own city. In a libertarian world, a corporate boss can use the threat of unemployment to force you into accepting unsafe working conditions. In other words, the local bullies are free to revoke the freedoms of individuals, using methods more subtle than overt violent coercion.


(my emphasis added)

Now, this is the key point that always made me uncomfortable with the libertarian dogma, even when (as a representative of the party) I made it my duty to repeat the same talking points in "educating the voters." I knew that, contrary to Libertarian myth, the rich and powerful routinely violated the rights of the poor until government took power to protect those rights. When I brought up this point to Libertarians, I was reminded of the many times government violated rights, and thus that government could never, ever be trusted to protect anyone's rights. Once government was abolished brought within its proper bounds, all violations of liberty would magically cease- this was, and remains, the belief.

It is a belief without merit. Even Thomas Jefferson, the quote-worthy of all too many Libertarians (who ignore his conduct as President), knew this and said it point-blank in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...


There you have it, from America's greatest disciple of natural rights; rights cannot be secured except by government.

What does this have to do with anything, you ask? For that let us turn back to history to the Citizens Councils of America... better known, to those who study recent history or who are old enough to remember, as the White Citizens Councils.

The White Citizens Councils were the friendlier, law-abiding face of the Ku Klux Klan. Rather than (openly) call for violence and lynchings against "uppity" blacks and any whites who upset the Jim Crow system, they used their wealth as a weapon. Blacks were fired from employment and denied new jobs. Mortgages were called in early. Leases were revoked. Credit was shut off. The White Citizens Councils didn't have to lynch anyone; they could simply make it impossible for a person to live. And they did.

Libertarians- especially the ones I worked with, here in Texas- deny that such things are even possible. They have deliberately chosen not to know, to ignore their own heritage and history.

The White Citizens Councils dissolved and reorganized in the 1980s under a new name: the Council of Conservative Citizens. And the new organization, while no longer openly segregationist, still calls for the defense of "white civil rights", opposes all non-European immigration, and works for the repeal of all federal anti-discrimination laws and court rulings.

And they routinely reprint the writings and speeches of Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul. In fact, one affiliated radio show, The Political Cesspool, which broadcasts Holocaust denials and other white supremacist garbage, had Ron Paul on as a guest.

In 2006.

But let's backtrack a bit.

Beginning in 1987, as he was gearing up to run for President on the Libertarian ticket after about a decade in the House of Representatives as a Republican, Ron Paul began publishing a variety of newsletters- on politics, on investment, on culture. No bylines were given for most of the material in the newsletters, but it's currently presumed that most of the material was written by Lew Rockwell, who also wrote a great deal of material for the Ludwig von Mises Institute and other far-right groups... much of it racist.

As was quite a lot of what went into those newsletters, as came out in 2007-8 and is coming out again now that Ron Paul threatens to win the Iowa caucuses.

Ron Paul insists today that (a) he had no idea what was in the newsletters, (b) the newsletters do not represent what he believed then or now, and (c) he can't remember who the author was.

This is not what he said fifteen years ago, however.

But since Paul spoke to CNN, a number of old videos have surfaced showing him touting the newsletters that were being put out under his name. Paul's defenders have noted that even in those video clips, he does not claim authorship, which is true. Back when the issue first arose, however, he was willing to acknowledge that the words were his -- the only complaints he made were about context.


Out of context. The favorite you-caught-me excuse of conservatives for decades now.

Those newsletters and their content were, in no small part, a deliberate outreach to the racist right by libertarians. In the case of Ron Paul, it succeeded- see the 2006 white-supremacist radio show appearance mentioned above. In 2007 Ron Paul actively courted the white-power vote, most notably Stormfront founder Don Black, and then claimed to disavow their goals while cashing their checks. Nothing has changed on this front.

The white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy have not exactly been warmly welcomed. “I wouldn’t be happy with that,” Mr. Paul said in an interview Friday when asked about getting help from volunteers with anti-Jewish or antiblack views.

But he did not disavow their support. “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say — it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say,” said Mr. Paul, who is now running strong in Iowa for the Republican nomination.


Nothing to do with endorsing what they say, hm?

Ron Paul believes all anti-discrimination legislation is unconstitutional. He denies that coercion by economic means can ever happen- ignoring or covering up the example of the White Citizens Councils, which he must have encountered as a younger man in Victoria, Texas. He has called for the repeal of Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws- that is, he wants it to be illegal again for people to be gay. He stands alongside white supremacists like Rockwell and Black, Christian "reconstuctionist" theocrats like former aide Gary North, and the most hateful and discriminatory among fundamentalist Christian leaders.

And he just signed the Personhood Pledge, basically stating not only that life begins at conception but that most forms of birth control should be illegal and that the mother should be forced to jeopardize her own life and health to bring a fetus, even a non-viable fetus, to full term.

When Ron Paul talks about freedom, it's only the freedom to persecute those who are different from him, without restraint from the federal government. In his ideal world the federal government is powerless to protect your rights... but state and local governments, in cooperation with the wealthy white pillars of the community, have all the power necessary to take those rights away, or make you sign them away as a condition of business.

And a system where the minority have no rights and where government is run by the wealthy for the benefit of a few? All you need is some flag-waving and you have fascism.

Ron Paul for Fuhrer.
redneckgaijin: (Default)
For those who keep repeating the Fox news talking point blatant lie that Occupy Wall Street et al. don't know why they're protesting, here is the answer.

We were raised to believe that we lived in a country with a unique system of government and economics, where any person could do or become anything that person wished by working hard enough and being honest, and where all citizens were equal under the law regardless of wealth, race, gender, or birth.

We have seen this promise of America made a lie. We have seen hard work rewarded not by advancement or achievement but by layoffs, offshoring, and exploitation. We have seen people commit the gravest of crimes, the grossest of robberies, without shame or remorse, and evade even the threat of prosecution. We have seen America turned into a country of the rich, by the rich, and for ONLY the rich- with nothing left over for anyone else.

Here are some examples of how the American system has been rigged to benefit the rich at the direct expense and disenfranchisement of those who are not rich:

* Over the past forty years the tax code of the United States has been systematically and deliberately changed. The progressive tax system which helped bring about the great expansion of wealth for all Americans from 1946 to 1970, in which the wealthy paid the vast majority of all taxes, has been replaced by a regressive system in which wealthy investors actually pay a lower percentage of their income as taxes than a poor laborer.

* During the same period, the social safety net, established after a long struggle, has been steadily weakened and crippled. Today, while millions of poor people lose benefits that often mean the difference between home and homelessness, massive corporations receive tax breaks, incentives, and government payments funded by the taxes paid by the poor.

* During the past thirty years the overall wealth of the United States has more than tripled, but over eighty percent of the citizens of the United States have seen little or no actual gain to their own wealth. All the gains in productivity, value, and property over that period have been concentrated in the top twenty percent of Americans- and virtually all of those gains are held by fewer than one percent of all Americans.

* Today, while poverty is at an all-time high since statistics have been measured, corporate profits also are at all-time highs- yet both parties are discussing cutting taxes still further on the wealthy and on corporations while reducing or eliminating aid programs to the poor.

* Not satisfied with this state of affairs, the super-wealthy have used their wealth to take control of our entire system of government. By lobbying, funding candidates for office, and even occasionally outright bribery, they have worked to remove regulatory safeguards put in place after disasters- banking regulations enacted in response to the Great Depression, environmental regulations enacted in response to the various ecological disasters of the twentieth century.

* In the most egregious example of this behavior, a handful of financial firms took advantage of this deregulation to offer mortgages on fraudulent terms to people they knew could not pay them off, then shuffle and repackage the mortgages for resale to investors, and then take out credit default swaps as insurance on these toxic securities- thus ensuring that they would profit massively even when the whole bubble collapsed.

* When the credit default swaps triggered a collapse of the entire global banking system, the people who engineered the collapse ensured that the government would step in and bail them out at taxpayer expense, without any demand of sacrifice, loss, or accountability on their own part.

* These same people who brought about the collapse of the global banking system also made sure that the laws regulating their behavior were so weak, and those charged with enforcing those laws so indebted to the giant banks, that despite blatant and overwhelming evidence of deliberate fraud and wrongdoing not a single culprit could ever be charged, much less convicted, of any crime whatever.

Efforts by the working classes to seek redress through politics have failed, for the following reasons:

* The majority of elected officials of both major political parties in the United States have become wholly dependent upon the wealth of the top 1% of American individuals and corporations both for their continued term in office and for their post-political careers.

* By failure of political will, and by rulings of Constitutional law that equate money to free speech and grant corporations all the unlimited rights of born human beings, the ability of the richest 1% to influence and determine the outcome of elections in this country is effectively unlimited.

* Furthermore, the members of both political parties have, by mutual agreement and cooperation, engineered a system in which most incumbents are guaranteed re-election without significant opposition from the other party, while independent candidates and new political parties are shut out of the process by burdensome ballot access laws and lack of funds.

* Furthermore, even in cases where there is a chance of a competitive race, the unlimited ability of the rich to funnel funds into elections ensures in most cases that the nominees of both political parties will be those candidates of each party most favorable to the agenda of the richest and least favorable to protecting the poor or working classes.

* Thus, in a majority of partisan races, the incumbent runs unopposed; in a majority of the remaining races, the incumbent faces an opponent without the funds to run on an equal basis; and in the tiny minority of races which are truly competitive, both candidates are usually of or under the control of the richest 1%, leaving the rest of America effectively without a voice in government.

The people who participate in Occupy Wall Street and the other protests across the United States believe that this corrupt system, in which wealth is political power and in which the rich are above the law, is not compatible with the concept of a nation of liberty and justice for all. Their tolerance of the system has reached its end. Through their protests they are reaching out to the rest of America, asking them to join in challenging this corrupt system. The protests also warn the office-holders of both parties that, unless they change their ways, they can no longer rely on their support.

THAT is what they are protesting for, and they all know it. Quit saying they don't.

(I don't consider myself part of OWS for two reasons. One, I'm not actually in a park somewhere being part of the protest- I'm too poor, too far out in the country, and have responsibilities that won't let me. Two, unlike most of OWS supporters who have despaired of any direct political solution, I believe that ONLY by using what remains of our system of democracy- through either a tea-party-like political faction inside the Democratic Party or an outright third party- can we bring any pressure on government that the government cannot ignore. But I definitely sympathize with OWS, despite coming up with this.)
redneckgaijin: (Default)
Here's a bunch of links collected together in the past two days which, put together, give a bit of an image of the modern Republican Party.

Rich people less empathetic, greedier than poor people... )

GOP Rep: 'I Don't Owe $2.2 Million Because I Can't Pay It.' )

GOP State Attorney General Compares Poor People to Scavenging Raccoons )

Rep. Gardner: Losing your job to outsourcing? Just get another! )

DeMint: Obama Most Anti-American President Ever )

Rick Perry's neo-Confederate, racist ties )

This, then, is the Republican Party: completely callous to the needs of most of America, contemptuous of the poor as a class, and willing to countenance destruction of the nation if it serves their own ends.

And this is the party Obama can't surrender to fast enough in any confrontation.
redneckgaijin: (Default)
And here I'm going to descend into a bit of conspiracy theory, but I'm not identifying any Sekrit Masters or Grand Protocols or anything like that. I posted this as a reply to someone's post, and it was long enough and fits my current political thinking enough that I thought I'd better post it here too.

* The Republicans want to privatize and/or abolish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, and unemployment assistance- to force the poor to "take responsibility for themselves," i. e. accept horrible jobs with terrible work conditions and low pay. The poor would be left wholly dependent on wealthy employers.

* At the same time, the Republicans want to abolish the minimum wage and repeal child labor and overtime laws- making those horrible jobs more dangerous, lower paying, and longer hours.

* The Republicans have largely succeeded in shutting off the civil court system of justice to workers complaining of being harassed, abused, or exploited- and, through their version of "tort reform," they are on the way to ensuring that punishment for even the most obviously illegal and abusive violations of law is minimal.

* The Republicans seek to repeal all government workplace regulation, food safety regulation, and environmental regulation- so the rich can pollute, poison, and exploit the working classes to their heart's content.

* The Republicans seek to cap taxation at such a low point as to either require all regulatory and law enforcement agencies to be abolished, or to destroy the government entirely under its own debts- thus leaving the poor at the mercy of those with enough money and power to take care of their own security.

* The Republicans seek to repeal the 17th Amendment and make Senators appointed by state legislatures again- returning America to a period when one house of Congress was selected by a tiny elite of political bosses.

* The Republicans seek further, more extreme sanctions against all those who cannot demonstrate their citizenship on demand- thus creating a permanent underclass too frightened to stand up for their human rights, and thus infinitely exploitable.

* The Republicans seek nonsensical and extreme laws punishing sexuality, credos, religions, speech and press, and other social issues- creating a system in which it becomes a practical impossibility to NOT break a law, and thus be vulnerable to extortion by those who control law enforcement.

* And, through it all, the Republicans insist on vastly oversized, overpowerful military establishments for the indefinite future, regardless of any actual international threats or the best means of responding to same.

Taken all together, the Republican end goal is a feudal state ruled by a tiny wealthy elite, in which the vast majority have no voice, no power, and no defense. Destroying the economy is only one step towards that goal- and from a Republican point of view, a very useful and desirable step, as the resources of the poor will dry up long before the super-wealthy's hoards.

EDIT: And the sad thing is, not only are most Democrats doing little or nothing to stop this, some- including our president- are helping ADVANCE parts of this agenda in the name of "compromise" and "good government."

WE NEED SOMETHING ELSE.
redneckgaijin: (Default)
In response to Rep. Murtha's proposal that US forces be removed within six months from Iraq, with a small fast-reaction force to be left in the region to respond to threats to Iraq's sovereignty, House Republicans drafted and ramrodded to a vote a substitute motion.

The Republican substitute motion was a poison-pill. Instead of a rational, careful withdrawal as outlined under Murtha's proposal, the Republican motion (HR 571) only called for an immediate and complete withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq. The Democrats "protested" by voting against the motion... which means a lot of Democrat incumbents are now on the record as supporting the ongoing occupation of Iraq.

Now, there are sensible reasons to vote against an immedate and complete withdrawal. The most basic is this: some troops need to watch the others' backs during a withdrawal. Leaving an occupied country has to be done in stages for the safety of the troops involved. This point was covered in Murtha's proposal, which likely will never see the light of day again. It was deliberately ignored in the Republican proposal, in order to present Democrats the choice of either risking American lives in a rapid withdrawal or else declaring their ongoing support for the war.

The following three people, for this vote, must be regarded as courageous. They are the only YEA votes to the proposal. Only these three people believed in ending the war strongly enough to put their reputations at stake for the principle. (And considering one of the three, there's very little else GOOD in that reputation...)

YEA VOTES - HR 571
McKinney
Serrano
Wexler

Now for the cowards, the six who voted, "Present," i. e. those who could have taken a stand on either side, but deliberately chose to remain silent on the issue. A principled NAY vote could be explained on this issue, but silence is unacceptable. If any of these are your Congresscritter, please vote for their opponents in any future elections you can.

PRESENT NOT VOTING - HR 571
Capuano
Clay
Hinchey
McDermott
Nadler
Owens

The following were not present to vote. Thus I can't -necessarily- say they were cowards, but their absence from office when there is vital business before the Congress does not speak well for their work ethic, if nothing else. My personal view, until I have information to the contrary, as that these persons ditched the session to avoid going on the record.

ABSENT - HR 571
Beauprez
Berman
Boswell
Boyd
Camp
Cunningham
Davis (AL)
Flake
Fossella
Gallegly
Hall
Jindal
Kind
LaHood
Miller, Gary
Moran (KS)
Northup
Paul
Peterson (PA)
Shadegg
Towns
Young (AK)

(Yes, that's Ron Paul's name under those absent. No, I don't much like Ron Paul at all; he talks the small-governemnt talk, but when it comes down to brass tacks he's just a Republican machine tool.)
redneckgaijin: (Default)
In response to Rep. Murtha's proposal that US forces be removed within six months from Iraq, with a small fast-reaction force to be left in the region to respond to threats to Iraq's sovereignty, House Republicans drafted and ramrodded to a vote a substitute motion.

The Republican substitute motion was a poison-pill. Instead of a rational, careful withdrawal as outlined under Murtha's proposal, the Republican motion (HR 571) only called for an immediate and complete withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq. The Democrats "protested" by voting against the motion... which means a lot of Democrat incumbents are now on the record as supporting the ongoing occupation of Iraq.

Now, there are sensible reasons to vote against an immedate and complete withdrawal. The most basic is this: some troops need to watch the others' backs during a withdrawal. Leaving an occupied country has to be done in stages for the safety of the troops involved. This point was covered in Murtha's proposal, which likely will never see the light of day again. It was deliberately ignored in the Republican proposal, in order to present Democrats the choice of either risking American lives in a rapid withdrawal or else declaring their ongoing support for the war.

The following three people, for this vote, must be regarded as courageous. They are the only YEA votes to the proposal. Only these three people believed in ending the war strongly enough to put their reputations at stake for the principle. (And considering one of the three, there's very little else GOOD in that reputation...)

YEA VOTES - HR 571
McKinney
Serrano
Wexler

Now for the cowards, the six who voted, "Present," i. e. those who could have taken a stand on either side, but deliberately chose to remain silent on the issue. A principled NAY vote could be explained on this issue, but silence is unacceptable. If any of these are your Congresscritter, please vote for their opponents in any future elections you can.

PRESENT NOT VOTING - HR 571
Capuano
Clay
Hinchey
McDermott
Nadler
Owens

The following were not present to vote. Thus I can't -necessarily- say they were cowards, but their absence from office when there is vital business before the Congress does not speak well for their work ethic, if nothing else. My personal view, until I have information to the contrary, as that these persons ditched the session to avoid going on the record.

ABSENT - HR 571
Beauprez
Berman
Boswell
Boyd
Camp
Cunningham
Davis (AL)
Flake
Fossella
Gallegly
Hall
Jindal
Kind
LaHood
Miller, Gary
Moran (KS)
Northup
Paul
Peterson (PA)
Shadegg
Towns
Young (AK)

(Yes, that's Ron Paul's name under those absent. No, I don't much like Ron Paul at all; he talks the small-governemnt talk, but when it comes down to brass tacks he's just a Republican machine tool.)

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