Tag Archives: politics

Pardon My Politics: State of What Union?

WritingI didn’t watch the State of the Union address to Congress. At this point, I don’t think there’s enough money that could get me to watch that bloated orange baboon anus spewing his crap anymore. In the interest of sanity, I avoided it. However, I’m also a news junkie, so I did look at the highlights of the event. Here’s my takeaway:

Trump snubbing Pelosi’s handshake wasn’t surprising. If nothing else, and about the only thing, is that Trump is a showman. He understand optics, especially television optics, and he knows that his core audience isn’t for playing nice. It’s bad form for those of us with a more reasonable mentality that want to heal the divide, but Trump is about Trump. He’ll do what plays to his advantage and screw any unity. Pelosi tearing up his speech at the end was optics as well. While it’s viewed by some as rude, I think waiting until he was actually done was showing incredible politeness given the circumstances. Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded if the Democrats had been throwing rotten vegetables at Trump during the speech. It’s all the dignity he deserves.

Most of the address was about theatrics. The soldier’s reunion with his family, the scholarship moment, all done for the sake of television. I’ll let others go into more depth on the facts, or lack thereof, in Trump’s statements. I don’t really have the time to go over all of that here. Suffice to say that, yes, the market is doing well, but the market is not the economy. And yes, unemployment is low, but also keep in mind how unemployment is calculated, namely that the underemployed and or those who have given up looking for work are not counted. So there’s a big disconnect in the numbers and practical reality.

The big disgusting moment came with the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh. Let’s first address the elephant in the room. Limbaugh announced that he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer on Monday. Now, I try not to engage in genuine Schadenfreude. There’s finding humor in someone getting hit on the head for comedic purposes, as in the Three Stooges. Then there’s watching someone die slowly and painfully from a hideous illness, even if they’re your worst enemy. There’s a big difference. I’ve been lucky enough to not personally have known anyone who’s had to suffer through that, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have empathy. So while I don’t take joy or even wish this on Limbaugh, admittedly his track record does make it difficult to truly wish him well.

So when Trump announced that he was giving Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom, it didn’t go over too well. This is a man who has made a career out of dividing America. A man who’s been trying to Jerry-Springer things on the streets, not just for a studio audience for entertainment purposes. This is a man who said that he would abandon the US to what he considered its fate if the Affordable Care Act was ever passed into law and run away to Costa Rica (still waiting on that one, by the way). And now the orange shitstain is blatantly politicizing the Medal of Freedom by giving it to a conservative mouthpiece? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some previous winners throwing their medals away in disgust. The award is now permanently stained and will never be the same.

With the politics of divisiveness on full display and being used just to win elections, the question becomes “What Union?” We are not united in anything. There is no unity, and thus, if there is a “Union” it’s holding together by a thread. Anyway, these are just some quick thoughts and I don’t want to go into anymore detail on the speech, but I had to get this out there.

The Man in the Tan: A Poetic Satire

ThumbnailThe Man in the Tan: A Poetic Satire by Sheldon Nylander
The economy of was down.
The banks had all fallen prey
To over-speculation
And no money to play.

Obama was elected
On a promise of change,
But the conservative backlash
Was really quite strange.

The midterm elections
Came around with a bang
And the House wound up falling
To a conservative gang.

A Tea Party entered
With no scones in sight
And with a big splash of Koch
They were ready to bite.

But who would lead them
As their rollbacks began?
Then entered an old voice.
He was the Man in the Tan.

He promised them changes,
But more the reverse.
His big sticking point
Was tightening the purse.

He promised them money.
He promised them freedom.
He promised them a return
To the Nineteen Fifties kingdom.

But his views didn’t hold
With a lot of the voters.
It was the Democrats who saved
The General Motors.

“We do not like the Orange Speaker of the House.
We do not like him. The man is a louse.”

Do you like him in his ties,
Even with his bald-faced lies?

“We do not like him in his ties,
Including all his bald-faced lies.
We do not like the Orange Speaker of the House.
We do not like him. The man is a louse.”

Would you with a cup of Tea
With his policies agree?

“We would not with a cup of Tea,
And from his policies we flee.
We do not like the Orange Speaker of the House.
We do not like him. The man is a louse.”

Would you if he gave out checks
On the floor of the House complex
From Big Tobacco, with respects?
You would not feel any ill effects.

“We would not, could not accept his checks
Especially in the House complex.
Instead we need some exorcists
To remove the Man’s lobbyists.
We do not like the Orange Speaker of the House.
We do not like him. The man is a louse.”

Into the House
The Orange Speaker did swagger
With a tear in his eye
And in the other a dagger.

The first thing they did
Before getting tough
Was read the Constitution.
An empty gesture, sure, but harmless enough.

Then it began.
At the mouth they did froth.
The rollbacks commenced.
From backs they took cloth.

They held the budget down
Towards a fiscal cliff they ran.
And their leader in all this
Was the Man in the Tan.

They got them a deal
To stop short of the cliff.
Then the Man let them go
And disappeared with a sniff.

But the adjournment did come
Before the next leaf
Could be turned over to vote
For Hurricane Sandy relief.

The people did cry.
The people did clamor.
But the Man in the Tan
Kept bringing the hammer.

Reagan’s policies he adored
Although they’d proved barren,
And what trickled down
Was really just urine.

His House cut off food stamps
For the poor and the needy.
But the only ones to benefit
Were his supporters, the greedy.

The Man struck a deal
With the Senate on budgets
But reneged on that promise
For the sake of his ballots.

He shutdown the Senate.
He shutdown the House.
No one could get help,
Not even the House mouse.

The families of workers
Were the ones getting screwed,
But the conservatives balked
And continued to feud.

But the outrage came
As the Tea Party did squeeze
The checks that won’t come
To fallen soldiers’ families.

“A clean budget they won’t vote for
To fix all the dimes.”
Although they tried on healthcare
A recorded forty-two times.

But a new battle loomed.
And there was a bad feeling
As a shadow approach:
The U.S. debt ceiling!

The Tea Party said
To let it all go.
They wore it with honor,
The party of “No.”

One Representative Cruz
Would be singing the blues
That despite all the news
No one agreed his views.

The Tea Party fought.
On ideology they did dwell.
But without any giving
It would all go to Hell.

But a debt ceiling crash
Would be a disaster.
Even the Man in the Tan
Began to work faster.

But too little, too late
Did the Speaker see through
A vote to save the country
And fell the other shoe.

The markets did crash,
The world was in turmoil,
The economy floundered,
And the money recoiled.

This was a crisis
That could not be undone.
At the end of it all
The Tea Party cried “We won!”

The people cried out
But everyone knew
The House was destroyed
Without Thing One or Thing Two.

He was the Speaker in Orange
He was a Speaker in trouble
But he was just now
The Speaker of rubble.

But if you read closely
You’ll notice, my friend,
That this is a tale
That we can amend.

The battle’s not over
And if we act now
This ending can change
And I’ll tell you how.

Let everyone know
Especially the powers
That’s you’re well aware
Of the precious ticking hours.

If enough voices rise
To affect a great change
We can end this debate.
That change is in range.

Email them all.
Write to their office.
Tell them to quit fooling
With the intern’s tight bodice.

Tell them we’re tired
Of all of this strife
This isn’t a game.
This is real life!

And keep writing and shouting
And remember their votes
And their coats and their notes
And their numerous quotes.

Remember this change
Has to happen with you.
If you fail to act,
You have no right to stew.

Vote with your ballots
Vote with your dollars
With enough votes we’ll get
Through their thick earwax armors.

Contact Congress

Psychology and Politics

ThumbnailI wrote a post a few days ago about the government shutdown that struck a nerve with a few people. Personally, I don’t mind disagreement as long as the those disagreements are based on well-thought arguments and evidence rather than emotional and ideological pleas. And I’ll still say whatever I want here because it’s my website and my soapbox.

One thing I noticed that struck people in particular was when I referred to a “tyranny of the minority.” There were disagreements trying to point out the conservative viewpoint is not in the minority, including among conservatives in the U.S. Congress itself. They claim that they represent the interests of the majority of Americans.

One thing that’s very clear right away is how incorrect this is and there’s a single piece of evidence that shows this clearly: Elections! If a majority of Americans agreed with the conservative wing, why are they not elected to and in charge of all branches of government? We just had a major election cycle last year where the Democrats kept control of the Senate and the White House and lost seats in the House of Representatives, despite gerrymandering of districts. Clearly, it is not true that the majority agree with conservatives in this country, at least not at this time. And I don’t accept an argument of a silent majority, because if a majority is silent, then it’s useless.

However, that is not the point I want to make with this particular post. What struck me about the reactions was the rational disconnect that seems to follow a lot of people when it comes to politics. Evidence shows that conservatives are not in the majority at this time among the general population, yet they insist that they are. This isn’t unique. Liberals will also claim the same thing when conservatives are in control of the government.

It’s a phenomenon that I personally find fascinating. Aside from the intensity with which people disagree over politics nowadays, what is it that causes this particular disconnect? Part of me believes that, to start, political beliefs are themselves irrational regardless of where someone falls on the political spectrum. Politics, by nature, have to be based on ideologies at a fundamental level. Even liberal ideas such as feeding the homeless (yes, it is) are, I will admit, irrational at their core. There’s not anything I would stand to gain personally. It’s a spiritual benefit one gains from helping their fellow man. In that regard, Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy is, admitted, the most rational belief in an absolute sense.

But that’s not to say that it’s right. I and many others find Objectivist ideas abhorrent on multiple levels. So, I’m admitting that my own political beliefs are not entirely rational if my beliefs were somehow based entirely on self interest. Instead my beliefs are based on a desire to benefit everyone, to help the downtrodden, further science, promote the free exchange of ideas, and further humanity’s progress. And I can dig my heels in pretty hard over my beliefs.

So, why do people act so irrationally over their beliefs, no matter how irrational we know they are, or try to convince ourselves they are rational? And why the insistence that someone is part of a majority when they’re not? I personally believe that most conflicts of this nature stem from a basic “Us vs. Them” mentality in the age old competition for resources. Unlikely some, I don’t believe that religion is the major source of conflict. Take religion out of the equation and people would still find reasons to fight because it’s really about resources.

Convincing one’s self that their part of the majority likely comes from the desire to be part of the dominant group. People like an underdog, but not necessarily being part of such a group. With the U.S. as divided as it seems to be at this time, it’s easy to convince one’s self that they’re part of a majority and that their majority factor is simply silent. But, like I said, a majority is useless if silent, so it’s very difficult to argue it on any practical level.

I’m currently reading a book that came out last year called The Righteous Mind, which is about this subject in particular. I’ll be reviewing it once I’m done, and interested in the conclusions that the author draws.

In the meantime, however, the Dodgers game is getting very intense, behind one run in the eighth inning, so I’m too distracted to continue with this post.

Pardon My Politics: Shut It Down!

ThumbnailI’ve been meaning to say something about this, but I’ve been dealing with some health issue for the last few days which has made my thinking and writing process a little slow. Fortunately, I’m one of the people who is lucky enough to have insurance already. But I still wanted to get my opinion on record here, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

There’s a lot of arguing going on over the current government shutdown. And a lot of that arguing is grossly misinformed, and very much along the political lines that have divided the U.S. in recent years. I’ve made it clear in the past that I don’t have much love for the Democrats because they sold their souls along time ago. But let’s get something out of the way, and I’ll explain why: This is a Republican shutdown of the government, and they are solely responsible for it, not the Democrats.

As many know, this shutdown occurred because of a refusal to negotiate the Affordable Care Act (AFC), more commonly referred to as Obamacare. There’s just one problem with this previous statement: There’s nothing to negotiate.

The AFC was created and voted in by representatives who were elected by the people. The voters kept a lot of these people in office, including the President. The law was challenged in the Supreme Court and upheld. The AFC is law, voted in by representatives of the people and determined to be Constitutional.

So, what do the Republicans do? They act like petulant children and when they can’t win by following the rules of the game like everyone else, they throw the game board up in the air and storm out of the room.

There were constant complaints that the Democrats in the Senate and the President were refusing to negotiate over this (not that the President really has much to do with what was going on in the legislative branch, but whatever). But, again, there was nothing to negotiate. It was already voted in, signed into law, and passed the Supreme Court. So, instead the GOP essentially takes the government hostage.

There have been a number of teabagger Republicans who have are now lauding this move as what they’ve been working toward all along and there’s strong evidence that this is indeed the case. Republicans have been proposing resolutions to support individual portions of the government. In other words, the parts they want to keep. If you remember back during the 2012 election cycle, several Republicans openly stated departments that they wanted shut down. Since they couldn’t do that directly, they  have instead shut the whole thing down and are attempting to revive only the parts they want. Hence the reason the Democrats are fighting on this, because if they give on this point, the Republicans have no reason to negotiate anymore.

Leading up to it, I think it was pretty clear that people didn’t really understand what a shutdown of the government actually meant. The name itself sounds like all that’s happening is that the legislature simply won’t be in session and not get paid. Actually, the exact opposite is the case. Their pay is secure during the shutdown. A more apt name for it would be a shutdown of federal programs. Programs that support children and the needy. Programs that keep national parks and monuments open. Programs that are cleaning up toxic sites. And furloughing the low level workers, so they are forced to stay home without pay, or in some cases continue to work with no pay. The only people getting hurt by this are the little guy. If there is ever going to be a time where the Two Americas concept is going to come to the forefront, it will be now.

There are now reports of dissent in the Republican ranks and that a majority of the House is willing to vote on a clean resolution to end the shutdown. However, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), our illustrious and orange Speaker of the House, refuses to bring such a resolution to a vote. Again, petulant children, attempting to implement a tyranny of the minority, and quite literally holding the livelihood of millions hostage for their demands. In most other contexts, the GOP would have likely been declared a terrorist organization by now. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but it’s not that far off.

So, when people try to blame the Democrats and the President for not negotiating, it’s concerning that there’s not much of an understand of the political process. Again, there was nothing to negotiate. The law was created and voted in using the established and agreed upon rules of the Constitution that they so claim to love. Except when it’s inconvenient, like now.

Pardon My Politics: Wiretapping and Information

WritingThis going to be a very ranty and rare political post, but I’m very frustrated right now, regarding the recent wiretapping issue and the low-information that people generally seem to subsist on.

I’m listening to the radio right now (NPR, if anyone cares) and they’re covering the recent wiretapping controversy. Notice I said “recent” controversy. And here’s the controversial statement:

I have serious doubts about the effectiveness of our democracy.

Why? The answer is simple: This is exactly the same controversy as the one that broke a few years ago, relatively early during George W. Bush’s second term. It’s exactly the same. Yet people are acting like this is something new that nobody knew about until now.

So, why do I know about it? Again, a simple answer: I actually bothered to read up on it when it broke before. I read the articles. I read Shadow Factory. And it’s rather sad when I’m answering all the questions that the interviewers are putting to their interviewees before the interviewee answers them , and because all I did was read the information that was out there and remember it.

And it makes me question our society. When the average person is so low-information and has such a short memory that they act like this is anything new, I get very worried, sometimes to the point where I want to go live isolated on an island somewhere and let the rest of the world eat itself. Okay, maybe that’s harsh, but still it’s frustrating.

A common thing I hear is “I don’t watch the news because it’s too depressing,” and that makes me mad and worried. It’s life. If people aren’t going to pay attention to what’s going on out there, then I worry about them voting. I’m not calling for stripping people of the right to vote. Nothing of the kind. This is more a call-to-arms to be informed and remember. Read books and current events. Pay attention!

This is getting ridiculous people. I don’t mean to sound conceded, but I have to speak up about what I see as a serious problem.

Okay, rant over.