Monday, July 1, 2013

Time to dust this off again...a public service announcement and a word of warning...

Well, I've finally hit a milestone.  I've outed myself sufficiently on FB as someone with a liberal mindset, so much so that one of my FB acquaintances who takes offense at what I say in response to posts about current issues has seen fit to unfriend me and send me an IM about it.  I responded by saying it was fine with me, and I wouldn't miss his posts (probably because I'd already set them to "do not include in your newsfeed.")  But if it makes him feel that he's struck a blow for truth, justice, and the American way by unfriending bleeding-heart-liberal-little-ole'-me, then good for him.

But, I figure I'd better put this up as a disclaimer and general public service announcement.  I wish, too, that FB had some sort of permanent sticky note feature such that people like me, who definitely have ideas that others may find annoying/irritating/outright wrong/offensive, could post an "advisory" about what will be in our news feeds, and those who don't wish to see posts of this nature should set their FB pages so that our posts/activity do not show up in their newsfeeds.

So by way of public service announcement and disclaimer, This is from Mike Konczal at the Next New Deal blog, and I think it encapsulates what I believe pretty well:

There are several key institutional features of liberal political structures shared across a variety of theorists. First, there’s a set of basic rights each person equally shares (speech, association, thought, religion, conscience, voting and holding office, etc.) that are both fundamental and inalienable....
Second, there’s a public political authority which is impartial, institutional, continuous, and held in trust to be acted on in a representative capacity.
Third, positions should be open to talented individuals alongside some fairness in equality of opportunity.  This does not mean that positions in representative government are for sale to the highest super-PAC bidder...
Fourth, there’s a role for governments in the market, for the following things:
 Public goods and services
Checking market failure
Providing a social minimum, i.e. a "floor" beneath which it is impossible to fall, because providing such a floor demonstrably improves the quality of life for all people. Far too many people are ready to write the poor/ unemployed off as acceptable collateral damage, convinced that their circumstances are evidence of their own fecklessness, that they are hardcore lifelong con artists with exquisite grifter skills gaming the system en masse,  or that there is something "broken" about them.  None of which are true for me at least, but that's my own personal anecdata...
That being said, I also think the following: I believe discrimination is wrong.  I also believe that in the social/political context, marriage is a state recognized by civil law, which conveys benefits and obligations under law on those who are granted this status by society, it is a civil rights issue, and denying rights that would otherwise be granted under law to a specific group of individuals because of a certain characteristic (say, skin color, religious affiliation, sexual orientation) is by definition, discrimination.

I'm troubled by the unbending ideology on the right (trickle-down economics, no new taxes--ever, government is the problem), in the face of mounting evidence that these ideological shibboleths don't actually work.

As to how these don't work, Paul Krugman explains it much better than I ever could, and then Christopher Neyland's comment is likewise illuminating as a 30,000 foot overview of what went wrong, how it went wrong, and why it's still wrong:

It really is amazing. It's as if the modern day Republicans don't want to acknowledge that their economic policies were enacted, and failed on a large scale.

We cut taxes, even corporate taxes, and cut taxes some more (estate, individual, capital gains, dividends), and "allowed free markets to work" with round after round of financial deregulation, culminating in the death of Glass Steagall and the allowance of unregulated gambling in derivatives markets, and didn't see more economic growth, but less. We didn't see more economic opportunity, but less. We didn't see more tax revenue, but less. 

What we did see when modern day Republicans were able to enact their economic policies were higher deficits, explosions in debt levels, and the shift of the nation's income away from the middle class and towards the true owners of the modern Republican Party, the 0.1% of our population which benefits from modern day Republicanism. 

Now, according to modern day Republicanism, the problem is a health care scheme not even enacted yet, a lack of school choice, and, of course, more tax cuts for corporations. 

It really is something. The combination of historical and economic ignorance really is staggering.

The hits just keep on coming with the GOP. Talking head pundits like Limbaugh, Hannity,  Coulter, Beck, etc., are more readily identified by the general public, than are Republican elected officials. Their retired veterans (Sen Dole, Sen Snowe, etc.)  are lambasting them as being too negative, too out of touch, and unable to come up with anything resembling a positive agenda. Per one of their own internal polls, young people equate Republican with close-minded, old, and scary.   That, and the fact that every time a serving Republican elected official weighs in on biology or other "science" topics, they insert both feet into their mouths and chew vigorously viz. the esteemed gentleman from Georgia (Saxy Chambliss, R-GA), on the causes of rape in the military; The esteemed representative from TX's assertion that 20-week old male fetuses masturbate in utero (!); Trent Franks (R-AZ) and company's house bill to limit abortions to 20 weeks gestation, a measure shot down by the AZ state supreme court as unconstitutional; Phil Bryant's (R-MS), statements attributing the decline in educational attainment to the influx of women in the workforce. 

There are no leaders per se within the Republican party who have not outed themselves as at best, hopelessly out of touch with reality, or at worst, obstructionist, hostile to anything resembling a liberal viewpoint, or batsh*t insane.  

Even better, those Republicans who feel that blind, unthinking fealty to the Tea Party movement in their ranks is a virtue are now turning on and publicly castigating those of their number for the rank heresy and outright apostasy of breaking faith and agreeing to compromise with "libruls."  Marco Rubio, once darling of the right wing and seeming heir-apparent to the RNC presidential nomination, is now being thumped by Sarah Palin, for having the temerity to support immigration reforms that the left has agreed to (though why anyone listens to Sarah Palin at all on anything having to do with politics is a mystery to me).

I'm troubled by ideology in general as the end in itself, and  not as a tool, a means to achieve the desired ends.  This has led to politicians' and people in general's unwillingness to work constructively with people who do not think like they do, or view the world in the same way that they do. It really scares me that right-wing ideologues would rather take a chance on crashing the economy (AGAIN!), than work constructively with "infidels" on the other side of the political spectrum, or to tolerate anyone in their ranks who dares compromise with liberals (see Fox "news" once and future Pundit Sarah Palin and Marco Rubio). 

Liberal zealots who castigate the president for "giving in" to the Republican ideologues because he dares to try and compromise with them also scare me just as much, for exactly the same reasons. If we are unwilling to work together to come up with a sane, compassionate and effective solution to our problems, then what hope is there for any of us? To pass beyond communication (and compromise, and consensus) is indeed to pass beyond salvation. 

I hope we ALL remember the blatant irresponsibility happening across the country in supreme court decisions, in insane attempts to push divisive culture-wars legislation at the state level,  in 2014.

If the above ideas upset or offend you, please don't read my posts, unfriend me on FB, or adjust your FB settings so that you don’t see my activity on your newsfeed.  

If you want to unfriend me on teh interwebs and subject me to electronic public shunning, go right ahead.  Just don’t bother IM’ing me to say you’ve done so.  I really don’t care.

You have been warned...